He Loved First ~ Five Minute Friday

Wow, these Fridays roll around fast.  We are here with Kate Motaung again and the gang at Five Minute Friday.  We are given a word prompt and each write for 5 minutes.  And today will literally be 5 minutes, since I’m heading out the door for a conference.  Our word prompt this week:  Because

Go

I am not perfect at love.  I wish I was better.

Better at loving, better at being kind, better at building others up with my words and actions.

It’s a fight to put aside my own self and look to the needs of others.  It’s one thing to see the need, another to do something about it.  I can see needs but how often do I put them aside to accomplish and be about getting my own agenda done for day.

And often those deeds to be done aren’t huge and hours of time would not be needed instead they are small, like a smile and kind word to the slow cashier or a wave to the one who is in more of a hurry than me.

It may be small but putting myself in the place of serving others instead of serving myself does something in me.

I’m not perfect and I have my failings.  I’m not always kind, even though I would want people to think that about me.  How easily we conceal instead of live real.

So today I’m living real.  Living in the place of listening for ways to love and doing it well.

I’m not perfect in my loving yet I am perfectly loved.  And because He loves so well…so perfectly, I’m learning to love better. Because He loved first.

STOP

 

 

It’s Our Time and Our Place #TellHisStory

I’m from a small, farming community in Southwest Iowa. It’s in ‘fly over country’, as some might say.

On one of our final days of our 28-day-journey, we were visiting my hometown’s museum.

My sister and I went from exhibit to exhibit, reading the stories of those from before and my heart whispered again, “Each one is a story…and He knows them all.”

museum pic

I stood there surrounded by pictures, artifacts and writings from earlier days and this simple truth dropped into my mind:

In their time, they were just living their days. They simply worked hard, plowed their fields, taught their children and washed their clothes.   Their focus wasn’t fame or how their picture would someday hang on the wall of a museum. Yet now we read their stories and we marvel at their perseverance, their fortitude and their willingness to live out their story despite hardship, sickness and loss all mixed in.

For the stories of our lives, He marks out our appointed times in history and the places where we live.

God placed us at our particular place and time in the story so that in the living out of our days we would find Him there in the midst of it all. (Acts 17:26-27)

Our story is important and makes a difference.

It’s our time —- the time when He placed us.

It’s our place —-the place where He planted us.

It’s in our time and our place where we make the difference for Him.

Our story line weaves in and out with others. We’re not a solitary book on the shelf but our lives are a part of a series with many editions, preludes and sequels.

One leads to another… one life touches another.

We each are a story written with purpose.

We may feel our bindings are worn and our dust covers are gone… we may have torn pages and feel that somewhere a chapter has gone missing.

But just as we have to read some stories all the way until the end before it all makes sense, we also must trust God, the Author of our stories, until the end to see the meaning in it all.

We may never end up on a museum wall or be rich, famous or known by the masses, yet our story matters.

We each have a place we are going….we each have a place we have been.

There are still chapters to be written, still characters to enter and some who will leave. There are great moments of love, adventure and excitement along with many days of just “plowing the fields and washing the clothes.”

Our story will bend, twist and sometimes throw us off-balance. Yet when we trust The Author, we see even in the not so pretty chapters there is beauty in our stories…written with love and purpose.

Our challenge is to be okay with our story.  Be okay with where He has placed us and when He has placed us here.  He knows what He’s doing…Let’s trust Him…the Author of our faith.

 

Linking up today with Jennifer Lee Dukes

An Update on the Ant Rant and the First Day of Autumn

For those inquiring minds, the ant infestation has been eradicated.  After many product and method suggestions, I went with what I had in my house…water and vinegar.

It took the wiping down of cupboards and discovering an open bag of powdered sugar way in the back of my pantry that sent me on a full cleaning spree.

After the disposal of anything open and accessible to the ant population, along with wiping down all the shelves and cupboards with a vinegar/water solution, the ants have disappeared from the kitchen.

I was feeling pretty victorious about the whole ordeal until Friday evening.

I was lying in bed attempting to take in a good book while Emily sprawled across our bed and chit-chatted away.  That’s when I noticed a teeny-tiny ant trying to sneak past my peripheral vision.

{Just so you know…that ain’t happening!  I’ve got some highly trained peripheral eye muscles that hone in on any critter movement in my domain.}

I turned my head and noticed a flurry of activity coming out from under my bed skirt.

Emily was commissioned to grab the RAID spray — I wanted quick action extermination!

This is my sleeping domain, people!  It’s the place where dreams of these creatures crawling into my facial cavities have awakened me at night.

The idea of this dream coming true brought on the total spray down of our hardwood floor, followed by massive ant death and a clean up of the excess spray and teeny-tiny carcasses.

I repeated the process of the vinegar/water solution wipe down on our bedroom floor and from that time on, there have been no teeny-tiny ant sightings in this domain.

Let’s hope the quick extermination and wipe down action have done the trick.

Thanks to all of you for your suggestions of extermination and expressed sympathy toward my plight through this whole ordeal.   I’m hoping we don’t have to travel this road again and that this will be the end of my teeny-tiny ant rant!

Tomorrow is the first day of Autumn…my absolute favorite season.

It’s now time for cute boots, cozy socks and snuggly scarfs.  I’m already digging out the sweaters because WOW… it was cold today!

Despite the chill in the air, I love autumn.

The brilliant colors of harvest, pumpkins, and apple-picking all make autumn my favorite.  It’s that little warmth of summer leftovers and the crisp air of winter trying to sneak in without completely taking over that make me want to hang out in the backyard with a good book, warm drink and cuddly blanket.

Every season brings new decorations for the front porch. Matt and I spent an afternoon last week, cleaning off summer and welcoming autumn.

Matt asked me why scarecrows were called scarecrows.  And through my extensive “grownin-up Iowa” farmer knowledge, I explained how farmers dressed up sticks in the middle of the cornfield to scare crows away from the farmers fields…hence the name scarecrow.

He glanced down at the scarecrow in his hand….

“But these aren’t scary, Mom….they’re soooo cute!”

autumn welcome2

And in all his cuteness, he proceeded to place them all over the front porch welcoming friends, strangers and any kind of creature…except the ant!

Happy First Day of Autumn everyone!  Bring on the leaf piles!

autumn welcome

 

My Own Hold ~ Five Minute Friday

It’s Friday once again and we are linking up with Kate Motaung for Five Minute Friday.  This is where we are each given the same word prompt and we write for 5 minutes.  No over-thinking, editing or working too hard, it’s just a chance to write together.  Come join us here.  Our word prompt for this week is: HOLD

GO

Unpacking the autumn decorations, all the plastic pumpkins are in my arms.  I’ve already jammed the smaller ones inside the larger ones to conserve space…that way I  can hold more.  

I fumble around placing the smaller ones in-between the crevices of space left in my arms.

I drop a few and bend down to pick them up again, but in my pausing and bending, more fall out and soon I’m just in a hot mess.

I’m holding too many things.

I can’t physically carry all that I’m holding onto, but I keep trying only to drop more.

With my arms piled high and full to capacity there is no room for more…more of Him and more of what He wants, desires and has planned for good.

I carry needlessly.  I carry things not meant for this time or occasion.  How easily I empty my arms only to fill them again with things I pick up along the way.

That’s where I fumble and become weary… it’s in that “holding too much” place.

54210-pumpkins

And when I’m holding too many of my own things, my own agenda, and those things I pick up because I feel it’s expected of me… that ‘s when I can’t hold the things He has for me.  No room for Him.

No room for the things I should carry….those things He has created for my fit…created for my arms to carry.

And until I let go of my own hold, my arms are too full to hold what He has for me.

It’s when I delegate all those pumpkins into a large basket and let the basket hold them  that my fumbling and juggling stops and the yoke is easy.

His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Lord, may I continually trust you with my holdings.  Placing all into Your care and holding only what you have designed for me.

 

STOP

A Complete Rant about These Ants

Now before I get on with more stories from our journey across the continent and the telling of near glacial lake skinny dipping and the need for always packing a change of clothes, I have an ant infestation that needs to be gone!

For those who know me well, I’m not a bug person.  I have no problem crushing them with my bare hands and reducing their short life span to an even shorter one. I DON’T DO BUGS and when they cross the threshold into my domain all bets are off.

I have a kitchen window above my sink and for the last few months tiny, tiny ants have found their way through the screen and made themselves at home in my kitchen.  For the most part, I have simply muttered an unkind word in their direction and then ended their life with the touch of a finger.

They began inviting their friends and relatives so I upped my game and put out the Raid ant bait traps….to no avail.  I feel they check in at the RAID TRAP motel, go for swim and move on out without taking the poison with them because their population has grown.

Now for those wondering… I keep my kitchen pretty clean.  Dishes are done each night, food put away, counter wiped down but each morning I find them bidding me, “Good morning!”

We went away on our 28 day journey and now we have returned to much larger ants and a marching army of the tiny ones.

I have brought out the big guns of the RAID ant spray….which kills on contact…but who knows what else it kills in the meantime….especially my lungs!  Hack, hack!

I’ve had dreams of them crawling up my face and into my ear canals, up my nose and through my hair…this is scary stuff, people!

FULL DISCLOSURE TIME: Now after this next bit of information you might just give up on me completely but I need to be honest.  Today, I might have found the culprit of enticement that has brought them.

On either side of my kitchen window are small shelves for little knickknacks.  I confess, I’m not a tea drinker and I don’t use sugar in my coffee…I feel I’m sweet enough…at least that’s what Dave says.  But I do keep a couple of sugar bowls for my tea drinking mother-in-law and friends who drop in.

In an effort to eliminate this ant infestation, I’m on a wipe-down cleaning spree. So, when I took ahold of the sugar bowl off the top shelf, a somewhat high-pitched screech came up from my lungs… for behold, I opened the lid and found the complete royal court of those king-sized ants!!!

They have now been eliminated and their royal reign has come to an end!

Yet those tiny ants are still about and the spraying of that harsh ant spray all around my cooking area isn’t sitting well with me.  I’m now on the hunt for some kind of safe AND effective remedy for extinction before this mama does something drastic….like move!

Are We Ever Really Ready? #FMF Friday ~ Ready

Now that I’m getting back into the groove of life. I’m once again joining up with my friends at Five Minute Friday.  This is where we are given the same word prompt and each write on that word for 5 minutes.  We link up over with Kate Matoung and encourage one another with words.  Come join us!

 

Today’s word prompt is: READY

GO

“We head south today.” That’s all Hubby said and the tears fell.

On this long trip of dropping off our daughter for college, we had planned stops along the way. People to see, places to go, mountains to climb and water slides to conquer but today was the day we were heading south towards Seattle.

I wrote in my journal that day:

Before on this trip we were always heading north. We we’re continually moving up, stepping higher. But today….today we begin the descent. There is no more heading somewhere else.

Even though this trip has been heading us toward this ultimate destination of taking her to a new place to live, the words, “We’re heading south today” hit heavy in my gut.

Excitement builds for her…as it should.  Each mile traveled carries us closer and builds anticipation.

I’m excited for her and this new beginning in her journey. Time has moved quickly and she’s grown up before my very eyes.

Grace carries me through as I swallow hard each mile that ticks by. I can’t stop the miles and I can’t stop the tears.

It’s a process and today’s a hard day as we begin heading south.

Are we ever really ready for the day we let them go?

As parents we raise them to let them go and I’ve heard that many times, yet when we are faced with that moment it’s harder than you think.

A month before our trip, I met with a good friend.  We sat in the coffee shop and sobs literally poured from my eye ducts.

“I can’t imagine leaving her. I can’t handle walking away from my daughter and leaving her behind.”

And my friend’s words of wisdom…a mom who has been there…spoke:

“Rachel, no matter how you imagine it….. no matter how bad you think it will be…it’s going to be worse!”

Wow! That just oozed with soothing sympathy.

But she went on,

“So stop imagining how awful it’s going to be and instead live in the joy of the days you have with her now. Know it’s going to be bad… yet live in joy today and for all the days you have with her…and then…when the day comes…let it be terrible….let it be hard. Because it will be….and nothing you try and do to make it not be hard will work.”

And she was right….and that’s why I love her!

So we played, we laughed and I smiled at my grown-up girl as she packed herself away in boxes and suitcases. We shopped, drank coffee, and shopped some more.

I loved each moment and snapped pictures in my mind for my memory bank of life.

And ready or not…the day came…and I wasn’t ready….no one ever is.

It’s tough and it’s hard and tears still come reliving that moment as it unfolded.

But this is what I know now…. It’s a necessary step for us and for them.

We let go of familiar to experience something new

We move forward to move closer to Him.

And whether we are ready or not…He holds us either way.

STOP

 

Everyone Has a Story- #TellHisStory

Driving through Chicago, the rain pelted our windshield faster than we could wipe it away. Lightning splintered across the dark sky and we kept driving through.

Our goal when driving is always get to the other side of Chicago before stopping for the night. Starting a day with Chicago morning traffic is never a good idea. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

The rain continued and we pressed on….just get to the other side!

There are rail stations down the middle of Chicago’s I-80. Commuters and students wait on the concrete platform for their next train.

As we passed, some stood and watched the night sky in the direction of their coming train. Others passed the time on their smart phones; catching up on the day’s events or finishing up those last-minute assignments.

As we drove by those waiting in the dark, our oldest tossed this out, “Every one of these people has a story….if we followed any one of them, they would each have a place they are going….each have a place they have been.”

I sat and pondered this as we drove on.

I thought about how some are rushing home to those they love, others will have only the quietness of their surroundings to welcome them, while another may have no home at all.

Each one has their story with their own characters and scenes. Each one has a story line, intro, middle and end.

And as we kept driving and wondering about where each person’s story on that platform would take them, the thought echoed in my mind and I spoke it into the darkness…. He knows every story.

He knows our story.

This was the first night of our journey and this thought traveled with me throughout our time. Everyone has a story.

I kept bumping into this thought and kept hearing His whisper,  “Everyone has a story….and I know them all.”

Canmore

From the city crowded with buildings, lights and traffic to the wide open spaces of the prairies, dirt roads and fields, each one lives out their story in their own setting, style and genre.

And that is the beauty….everyone is a story and He knows them all.

From the city glow to the lone barn light….He is there.