Clean It Up

photo-1538758414587-f5e9255b9a13Every now and then, I clean my electronics. Not the physical electronics but the content – text messages, desktop shortcuts, and more.

There’s something about cleansing, purging, and organizing. It is freeing. It invites me to move forward unburdened, to take new steps that are lighter.

Do something today that forces you to choose between what to keep and what to let go of; make a decision to move forward with a bit less burden. It doesn’t have to be drastic. But make it wise.

Then take a step forward.

Sweet Moment

hqdefaultI had a list of things to take care of the day of my oldest daughter’s wedding. First, and perhaps my favorite responsibility, was to pick up and deliver both daughters to the maid of honor’s house to get ready. On the way, we picked up Starbucks for everyone who would be there.

Parking was limited, so they ran in to place the order while I sat nearby in the car, ready to pick them up. They wanted to put the specific names on the cups to help each person in the wedding party feel special (and to keep track of the drinks). It would be helpful to have their own Sharpie and write the names instead of the barista – to save both time and frustration. But did I have a Sharpie in my vehicle so they didn’t have to take the barista’s?

Well, yes. They weren’t surprised. They grew up with a small supply of commonly-needed items in the vehicle. To me, it’s easier to keep some of those items conveniently on hand instead of looking for something to use or making a run to a store.

As I sat in the vehicle waiting for my girls, I reflected on the many times I’d waited for them over the years. I thought about the many times I’d had the chance to drive them here and there. Instead of getting annoyed with the schedules, I often savored those moments in the car through the years. It was good time to catch up and share our lives.

I love being a mom. It has been fulfilling, purposeful, and energizing. It’s been frustrating, exhausting, and painful. There have been wonderful moments every step of the way. And I am grateful. I appreciate the relationships I have with my adulting girls. Motherhood is still not simple or easy, but it is good.

I watched them exit Starbucks together, smiling as they chatted, hands full with drinks, including one for me – my favorite peppermint hot cocoa. They also gave me one more thing when they settled in: my favorite Starbucks sweet treat, the birthday cake pop.

I was instructed I needed to eat the cake pop while they were in the car. They knew I had not eaten breakfast, something I wouldn’t recommend to them with a long day ahead but would tolerate for myself. But they would not tolerate it for me. They insisted I eat, even if it wasn’t the most nutritious of breakfasts.

I complied. After all, it was a birthday cake pop. Not only was it a sweet treat, it was sweet that my girls were trying to take care of me. They ganged up on me with their bossiness…and their love.

As we pulled away from Starbucks, my eyes nearly leaked. My girls are growing up. Our relationships have changed and have deepened. I pray we continue to love each other well.

 

Looping Back

photo-1526566661780-1a67ea3c863e“I was in a bad place in my marriage and in my life, but I am sorry. I shouldn’t have complicated yours.”

I was watching a movie, and the statement caught my attention. Of course, it wasn’t real life, but it reminded me of the honesty people can have with themselves and others. At least this character (or the writers of the movie) acknowledged the impact one person’s choices can have on others. Just because we’re struggling doesn’t mean we have to suck people in. Yes, we do life with others, but how we do life with others matters.

We all know the saying “hurt people hurt people.” But what do we do once we realize we’ve hurt people? Do we rationalize our impact on others and chalk it up to “I did the best I could and everyone will just have to deal with it”? or do we reflect and say, “Wow, that is not what I intended. I need to loop back and repair some things.”

What we do in the moment impacts others. How we continue to reflect on and move on from those hurtful moments matters, too. Perhaps even more. We don’t have to get stuck in the past, but sometimes we need to loop back into the past in order to heal, pick up pieces, and help others, so we can all move forward in healthier ways.

 

Play Work

photo-1509911197971-c9aee632d72bI like to work at my mom’s house. I’ve written about some of my adventures while working with her. I call working at her house “play” more than work. It’s relaxing to me. She makes a list, and I get some things done and feel helpful. We usually enjoy a meal together, and I go home with a sigh of contentment, appreciative for my relationship with my mom.

I enjoy doing life with her.

With my oldest daughter’s wedding and some other commitments, I didn’t feel as if I’d had much time to work with her, so I made sure to set aside a recent Saturday to catch up with her list. I was ready, or at least, I thought I was.

On her list was “clean the basement.”

Have I ever mentioned I grew up in a farm house? The basements of old farmhouses are not exactly the most pleasant places in the world. But I said I would do whatever she needed, so I tackled it.

Sometimes the dirty jobs are the most rewarding, because you can see the difference you’re making.

There are some dirty jobs on your list, or perhaps on the list of people you love and want to help. Don’t avoid the dirty if you are determined to be helpful. We can’t pick and choose when we want to help others. Sure, you might end up tired and dirty through the process, but you’ll see some progress at some point, too. If nothing else, be grateful for the connection you have with others, doing life with them.

Find Some Comfort

photo-1539539797640-ae765135788bI recently took care of one of my grand dogs for a few hours. My daughter and son-in-law only needed me to check on him, but he likes to play with my pup, and I thought he might be alone for too long after they had recently been gone several days, so I picked him up to hang out with me at my house.

He gets super excited to see me, but when it’s just him and me, he settles in quickly. He played with my pup for a while, then we went inside to watch a movie. He paced for a bit, looking out the window often to check on my pup. I tried to make sure he had just a couple things he was familiar with to help him settle in and be comfortable. It didn’t take him long.

He reminded me of how important it is to find some familiar, comfortable things when we build relationships or reconcile with people. We’ll have some struggles, challenges, worries, and anxieties. We won’t always feel comfortable, but we can help put each other at ease by considering not what makes us most comfortable but what is helpful for the other person.

It seems like common sense, the basics of hospitality, but common sense is not so common anymore.

Instead of focusing on your own comfort so much, consider someone else’s. What does someone need in order to heal or work through a relationship challenge with you? Be humble and honest enough to go there with them. What does someone need in order to take a step toward seeing the truth of a situation? Step there with them. What does someone need in order to feel as if they belong? Shift enough to sit with them in that place even if you know you’ll need to shift again soon.

Finding some comfort isn’t just about yourself. It’s about others, too.

My Class

photo-1472162072942-cd5147eb3902Two years ago, I read to a local kindergarten class. Their eyes were wide with excitement as I read Listen, Buddy. They asked creative, inquisitive questions, and I declared them “my class.” I promised them I would read to them every year through the fifth grade.

Last year, I read Wooway for Wodney Wat, one of my daughter’s favorites. Since she’s a teacher at the same school, they especially enjoyed it.

My class is now in the second grade. The teacher they have doesn’t typically invite readers, but he made an exception (partially because I motivated him with homemade chocolate chip cookies). With the popularity of The Wonkey Donkey, it was easy to choose what to read. My daughter had recently bought it for me to practice my grandma reading skills. I thought most kids would be familiar with the story, but only a few said they had read it.

It was fun to see their excitement when I arrived. They wanted updates on Buddy and Wodney Wat, as if I kept up with the fictional characters’ lives.

It took only a few pages for them to catch on to the rhythm of the story line. They were soon chiming in anytime there was a “HeeHaw” involved. They giggled, and their laughter was infectious.

The time passed too quickly, but they needed to get on with their learning, and I needed to go back to work. I’ll see many of them in the hallways or throughout the community, and I’ll definitely see them again next year.

Despite only seeing most of them occasionally, it’s fun to feel connected to them. They always welcome me and seem excited to see me.

My investment in them is quite small, but it is something. I never feel as if they minimize my time with them, and I know I treasure it.

Refuse to minimize your investments in others. Of course, also refuse to rationalize when you are slacking in your generosity and service. But know what you give with humility and joy will ripple into others’ lives.

Chipped Off Pieces

photo-1497864149936-d3163f0c0f4bSome days, something breaks off me.

It’s not a bad thing. Apparently, there are many things that are part of my life that God continues to chip away at. I doubt I feel it some of the time. Other times, it hurts. Still other times, the chipping away feels good.

There was a day like that recently. Something broke off me and it felt like a release.

It was a simple day. I worked, shared travel adventures with my daughter’s fifth grade class, delivered packages to businesses for an upcoming community festival, and more. I loved pouring into others. I loved doing life alongside others. And as much as I was doing with others, I also knew people were praying for me throughout the day. I exchanged messages with people.

As I drove through town, reflecting on the dozens of conversations and contacts I’d had throughout the day, I sighed with contentment.

The day wasn’t about me. Of course, it involved me, but there was so much weaving of lives. Connections are powerful and nourishing.

There is contentment in intentional humility and service as we consider and engage with others.

When we are humble, we don’t have to hang on. We settle in. We’re willing to give and to let go. We trust God to chip off what needs to fall away from us.

And we can sigh in contentment.