Today’s Front Porch ~Five Minute Friday

Today I’m late in getting to this Five Minute Friday with Kate and the gang.  I’m still nursing sick people in our house and trying to keep the healthy from going stir crazy… but enough of that.  Here’s our word prompt for today: VISIT

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I lived in the same house until I left for college, and in fact, my dad lived in that home until just a few years ago. I love that house with its wrap-around porch and shady front yard.

I have many memories of sitting on the front steps, talking of the neighbor news and all those who drove by. The front porch stairs were the “home-free” for our late night kick-the-can games and in the hot summer months, mom would sit in her folding lawn chair snappin’ beans and swattin’ flies.

We had a neighbor across the street who would sit on her front porch as well.

She’d rock in her chair with a damp dishtowel draped across her shoulder. She’d wipe sweat from her brow and over the years she would holler to us yonder, “I see you’re home visiting your mom! How long ya back for?” And Mom would say, “Go talk to Betty… she wants to see you.”

Countless times through the years, Mom and Betty would wander across to one another’s front porch visiting and sharing the news of the day.

There’s a solid bridge that can be built from one front porch to another. In my growing up years, Betty was a solid friend to my mom across the street.

Nowadays, we might miss that front porch feel. I don’t live on a quiet street in a residential neighborhood and my neighbors have no front porch with chairs for visiting. But even though those days are gone, a new front porch has taken its place. It’s this keyboard I tap away on.

I connect with more neighbors from all different walks of life, living in different states and even different countries with a click of a few keys and a Wi-Fi connection.  My front porch is now more than a simple wrap-around.  My world is wider and my ability to build a strong bridge with many neighbors is easier than ever.

Some might say it’s impersonal but I have found it quite personal. I write emails, texts, private messages and comments to many throughout the week. I’m encouraging and sharing life, love and Truth through the tapping out of the keys. It’s the way we connect now and build those bridges to our neighbors far and near.

One of my favorite all-time movies is “You’ve Got Mail.”   There’s so much in that movie that I love, and today’s applicable quote is when Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) is talking about email and she says this wonderful line:

“The odd thing about this form of communication is that you are more likely to talk about nothing than something but I just want to say that all of this nothing has meant more to me than so many somethings.”

And when you think about the front porch of yesteryear wasn’t it just that — a bunch of nothings that you chitchatted about for snippets of moments over many-a-days. Yet you knew when the tough times came and you needed a friend that neighbor would step out and over to your front porch, bringing a cup of coffee and a warm smile. All those nothings turned into a beautiful something of friendship and community; building a bridge and spanning the years.

So today, I encourage you to visit with those neighbors near and far. Connect and reach out to old friends and new acquaintances, build bridges and open up to community. You never know the life giving connections you’ll find on the front porch of life.

The Ramblings and Nothingness of a Normal Shopping Day

Normally when I write to you there’s some kind of encouragement or meaning behind what I’m writing… but tonight it’s a different case. I have 2 sick people in the house and so my normal conversation patterns have been stifled. Two of the people who usually listen to all my ramblings are both feeling under the weather so I decided to just share my ramblings of the day with you.

See, I normally shop on Tuesday; getting all of my errands done on one day, but because of some other events yesterday the shopping was pushed off to today. And normally I have a shopping “somebody” with me. I like to have a ‘tag-along’.

I know some moms like to go it alone but I actually love having an extra somebody with me. I like having someone who will wait in the line while I go back for something else. I like having someone to pack up the groceries and put the cart away in the parking lot. Someone for me to share all those quirky items out there that someone is trying to sell me.

Emily is my normal shopping ‘somebody’ but with great sadness I must inform you she’s not feeling well today.

And in my household when one does not feel well this mama drops into hyper-germ mode. I immediately quarantine the ill-feeling body to their bed. There’s no going out or going in… similar to the city of Jericho… it is tightly shut up. The invalid gets assigned a bathroom and no healthy person is to venture into that abode until the sick person is well and that facility is cleaned. I’m the only one allowed into the ‘sick’ room and I diligently wash my hands with soap and warm water along with drying my hands on a paper towel upon each exit from the room.

It’s been pretty effective. Very rarely does the illness travel through the house or from person to person. But today I ended up with two sick people, with different symptoms, picked up at different places. The same rules previously stated apply to them which means I’m just washing my hands a lot more and traveling the stairs more frequently.

And because they were feeling under the weather and there was no one shopping with me to share in my ramblings of the day I’m sharing them with you.

On shopping day I always ask the family, “What do you need?” and today one of the requests was deodorant.  I like to choose my own but I’m at a loss to choose for others.

And what is this?deodorant

(HINT:  The lower left hand corner of this product label?)

Who seriously needs “96 hour protection” for deodorant? I was always taught this was a daily application, and sometimes more frequently if needed, but really 96 hour protection!!! That is 4 days, people!

Who thought up this advertising scheme? “Yes, this is so potent and effective you only have to apply it every 4 days.” Can I just tell ya, I have 3 teens in my family and I have never told them, “Here, kids, this one you only have to apply on a 4 day rotation basis!”

Are the advertisers trying to say it’s a stronger smell or is this product for profuse sweating? Because the 96 hour protection statement says to me, “Hey, this will make me smell good for 4 days!”

There were differing hour protections you could buy if you wanted more options than just every 4 days.  You could pick 72 hour, 48 hour or 24 hour protection as well —whatever fits your stink expiration time schedule.

I can imagine the inventors of this deodorant calling up their mother and saying, “Hey mom, I know you were trying to teach me basic hygiene 101 when I was living at home but now I’ve invented a 96 hour protection deodorant so people don’t need to practice basic hygiene on a daily basis. They can now stretch it out to every 4 days!”

I tried to share my little discovery with my cashier but she didn’t find any humor in my thought process. She just rang up my purchase and handed me the change.

I would have shared this with my shopping ‘somebody’ but there was no one with me, hence the “deodorant selfie.”

This is just a sampling of my ramblings and nothingness that you miss in my life on a daily basis. If I would have had a shopping ‘somebody’ today, you might not have ever heard this story or known that there is now deodorant out there that need not be applied daily!

This is big news and I thought you should know!

You Get Me ~ Five Minute Friday

I’m so happy it’s Friday!  We are with Kate and the gang with our Five Minute Friday.  Kate provides the word prompt and we free write for 5 minutes.  We link up over here and share our words together.  You are welcome to join us!

The Word Prompt today is: OPEN

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Sitting around the table with these friends. I can whisper to myself, “These girls get me!”  I can shout it from the rooftops and it would still be the same… “These girls get me!”

I’m away this weekend with a group of my favorite people on the planet…. Pastor’s wives or more politely named, “Ladies in Ministry”  both are titles but not truly all we are.  I’ve been coming to this retreat for 13 years and each time God opens the door for new friendship.  It’s a time of renewing and deepening the well and finding there is always room for more.

These girls know the struggle of a Sunday…getting kids out the door and hoping they all have shoes. (Double points if they match).  They get the whole spit shining cherub faces and matting down turkey tufts of hair that won’t stay down.

This weekend is about being real.  No pretenses or putting on but a chance to open up, dig deep and replenish what has been given out.

We laugh, cry, listen and understand.  We pray, encourage, build up and care deeply.   We need this in our lives.  We need a place to be real.  It’s that open door; walking with others who know this road and sharing stories of those who are in the trenches with us.

We are more than our title or the name giving by others.  We are funny, lovely, fragile and strong. We love fiercely and bleed when things cut deep. We care for the hurting and journey alongside others through the beautiful and the ugly. We are a sisterhood; bound together by His love and His calling.  We love His church and love His people.

I get you, girlfriends, and I’m so thankful you get me!

Lent snuck up on me this year

I knew it was coming but I’ve been in the throes of kidz church for the last few weeks and I’ve been lost in their age group.  My world has been homeschooling, grading papers for quarterly reports, preparing for upcoming speaking events and all around ministry that I missed this whole thing of Lent beginning today.

Emily and I were doing our normal shopping yesterday.  Well, actually we were ecstatic about shopping because hey, the sun was shining brightly, the wind wasn’t blowing profusely and my van reported the outside temp was a balmy 19 degrees.  It’s practically a heat wave compared to the arctic tundra we’ve been living in lately.  It was so warm that we did all our shopping with just an extra sweater because it was just too warm for a winter coat!

As we were driving through downtown, the radio announcer informed me, “Tomorrow is the beginning of Lent.”  I turned to Emily and said, “Tomorrow is Lent?!?!”  And she replied, “Yeah, Dad talked about it on Sunday.”  Which again….lost in Kidz planning and execution. (Not of any kids mind you, just the plans.)

I instantly felt…well… behind.

  • I haven’t prepared.
  • I haven’t thought this through.
  • What am I going to give up?
  • What am I going to set aside for the next 40 days that will help me put my focus on God? 
  • What will I give of my own wants or needs to hear from Him what He wants of me?

This can be a struggle.  And it should be.  It’s a giving up of ourselves to remember and reflect on what He gave up for us. 

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By the time I was ready for bed last night I had narrowed down some things I was going to give up for Lent.  One of them was sleep.

Now, before you get all crazy on me, I’m NOT giving up ALL sleep… just an extra hour in the morning. I’m waking an hour earlier to set aside more time for Him.

Looking at my life, there’s not much I could think of to “give up.”  My time schedule is pretty much that… scheduled.  So what is the most valuable thing I can give up?  It’s my time.  Giving up more of it to Him.

And believe me, sleep is a precious commodity in my world.

As I fell asleep last night, I felt pretty good.  My mind rationalized,  “This will be okay.  I will just have to discipline myself to get to bed earlier so I can rise earlier.  This is do-able…  It should be fine.”

And it was all fine… until about 11:30 pm when the phone rang, waking me from my peaceful slumber.  By 12:15 am, I was back asleep.  At 2:25 am, Matt came in and asked for a drink of water. (In his whole existence of almost 6 years, he has never asked for a glass of water in the middle of the night.)  At 4:45 am, my psychotic cell phone went off with all kinds of beeps and rings at full volume for no apparent reason.  And as I muted my phone before it could wake my dear sleeping husband, I thought to myself, “What is going on?”  and then I remembered, “It’s the beginning of Lent.”

This is what I have come to know:  When you set your heart and mind towards a certain goal, there is going to be opposition.

Discipline and a giving up of ourselves takes a self-will and determination to press on despite obstacles or deterrents that come up against us.  And with that Meet the Robinson’s famous quote, we must “Keep moving forward.”

So as we begin this Lenten season,

  • What is there in your life that you can set aside or give up for 40 days that will turn your focus more on Him? 
  • What can you give up that will help you remember and reflect on what He gave up for you?

From past experience let me remind and encourage you that this giving up is not always easy but it’s always good.  It’s good for our souls.

It’s a time for us to refocus our lives, reorient our direction and remember His giving up for us.

Let’s start together with a prayer.

Jesus, we thank you for your sacrifice.  We thank you for the giving up of yourself to make a way for us to get to You.  Now for these next 40 days, we give up of ourselves to come nearer to You.  Help us, Lord, to focus on You more than on ourselves; to orientate our lives toward You more than our own agendas; and help us to remember that in this giving up these small things in our lives, it is nothing compared to Your sacrifice for us.  Thank you for Your giving up for us.  May what we give up for these next 40 days honor You and bring us nearer to Your heart and what You have for us.  We love you, Jesus, and in Your name we pray, Amen.

Keeping my Head ~ Five Minute Friday

It’s Friday!  And that means Five Minute Friday with Kate and the gang.  We free-write for 5 minutes on the same word prompt.  Today’s word:  KEEP

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The day began so well.

I was wearing warm fleece leggings and a cute new skirt. (Don’t you find that days go better when you’re happy with your clothes?)  Mine does anyways!

Yet the day began to head downhill when the ketchup and mustard combo slipped out of my hamburger and plopped onto my skirt…. eergghh!!!

I quickly whipped it off, poured on the Shout and hung it up to dry.

That was a manageable issue.  Then my phone rang.

It was my teenage son calling from his cell phone on the other side of the field.  Della was loose and not listening to reason.  “Mom, could you please bring me her leash and collar?”

And there it all began.

Trudging out into the knee-deep snow, filling up my boots with the cold, wet stuff and the wind blowing in my face.  I can tell you Della ran quickly to me when I called… until she got a little closer and saw my face.  I think she had second thoughts about coming near.

I’d had enough of this mess.

“I’m getting out of the house.  I’m going grocery shopping!”  I say to no one in particular.

Dave answers back with… “Take the car.  The wipers on the van need fixed….. Oh, and you’ll have to put all the groceries in the back seat.  The trunk is full.”

I now have to wear my clunky boots because my other ones are full of snow from the field.  I discover I can’t feel the clutch and acceleration pedal well with my clunky, oversized snow boots and they keep getting caught between the brake pedal and that column running down the middle of the car.

I decide to pull over and drive without my boot… that would be safer.  Which then I soak my sock with the snow that my clunky boot left behind on the floor board.   Eerrgh!!!!

I’m not far from the house so I turn back and get different boots.  (I know you’re thinking how many boots does this woman have?)  I live in the north, people.  Multiple boots in different colors, styles and functionality are a necessity!

As I headed out again, I was determined to keep my head clear and focused.

Then….

  • I had no quarter for Aldi’s
  • I dropped my favorite pen in between the car seats
  • I moved an open box from the back seat to the front and spilled the contents out onto the wet floor boards
  • A creepy guy was following me around in the store.
  • I tried to lock the car and instead set off the car alarm in Wegman’s parking lot and couldn’t get it shut off.

To say I was losing it might be a correct assessment. It was a good thing there were not others in the car to hear my ranting.

And that’s when it hit me.

The words of Lysa Terkeurst came into my head, “If this is the worst thing that happens to me today, it’s still a good day!”

I gave myself a little talking to and said just that…. “It’s still a good day!”… followed by “Rachel, let’s be thankful!” 

  • The sun is shining.
  • The snow is melting.
  • I’m not sick.
  • My family’s not sick.
  • I have money to buy food.
  • If snow in my boot, wet sock, dropping pen, and car alarm mishap is the worst that happens to me today… it’s still a good day.

And isn’t that true.  Our perspective can be skewed by the small inconveniencies.  We forget to keep our focus on the important… keep our hearts in a place of thankfulness.

I chuckled at myself thinking this would make for a great Candid Camera bit and when I got home and told Dave, he just laughed, gave me hug and said, “This is going to be a blog post, isn’t it?” 

I guess it is.

People with their minds set on You, You keep completely whole, Steady on their feet, because they keep at it and don’t quit. Depend on God and keep at it because in the Lord God you have a sure thing.  ~ Isaiah 26:3-4 (The MSG)

When the world hands you cold and snow… make an ice rink!

The white stuff is piling up and the wind is blowing cold. I’m wiping Della off with each trip she ventures into the outdoors.  She must jump through the snow to travel anywhere and so she brings in enough snow with her to form a good-sized snowball.

The boots are piled up by the back door and we inevitably get our socks wet as we step from our boots to our warm slippers.

I love the beauty of winter as I take it in from my patio window.  I enjoy watching the snow hang heavy on the trees and cover the earth like a blanket from the inside of my warm, cozy home.  Being out in it and actively participating in the playing of snow is not one of my favorite things.

In each of our ways we, as a family, take full advantage of being snowed in.  I huddle down in fuzzy blankets and books…. they bundle up and brave the cold.

My part in this whole adventure of winter is cooking up high carb meals and pouring the hot cocoa.  The rest of my winter-loving, 1/2 Canadian family take up the challenge of clearing the ice once again.

For my man, snow days and cold temps equate perfect days to lay down one more layer on the ice rink that has taken up residence in our backyard.  He’s pretty happy this winter with the success of this year’s rink.

He’s learned some new tricks of the trade that have made this the best rink yet.

  • We now bring in the Ultra Hose Deluxe storing it in our summertime cooler.  This keeps the water from freezing inside the hose.
  • My kid’s bathtub now has a hand-held Zamboni camped out in it
  • And my patio chairs sit in the middle of the yard and serve as benches for resting hockey players and tired feet.

That is one of the many things I love about this man:  He makes the most out of what he’s given. 

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The snow is coming in full-force today and dumping a good 10 inches onto their rink.  The wind is blowing hard and the temp sits at 9 degrees yet they’re out there shoveling because they know if they can uncover what is buried underneath… reveal what is hidden… a great treasure of fun is going to be found.

There is joy in the hard work of what they’ve done together.

They’ve all put time in, planned it out and dedicated time to this project together.  It’s all this working together that makes it this beautiful moment.

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They are not just laying one frozen water layer on top of another but they are laying down moments upon moments that are shaping who they are becoming.

Their time, effort and energy are put into something they are building together.

And isn’t that true of each of us.  When we pour ourselves into our passions there is an energy and drive that pushes us forward. Even through the exhaustion that our dreams take to pursue He gives us joy and energy to keep moving forward in it.  We are truly living —  Living and taking in all that God has poured out on us.  We can find joy in what He has given.

And when the day is done, there’s a hot meal to fill their bellies and hearts are full as we share together the moments made from dumped snow and frozen water.

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Wait… don’t hit publish! ~ Five Minute Friday

(Edit:  After publishing this blog, I noticed I forgot a title so it’s an add-on.  With no over-thinking, I typed what was first in my head… “Wait!… don’t hit publish!”  It’s goin’ be a Happy Friday!)

Wow, this week has been a quick one.  Here we are again with Kate and the gang for Five Minute Friday where we free write on the same word prompt.  No over-thinking, just pounding out the keys for 5 minutes.

Today’s word prompt: Wait

GO

There are some things I don’t like to wait for… traffic, slow check-out lines, coffee in the morning.

Yet there are other times, I’m the one saying, “Wait!”

  • Wait… I don’t want to go there.
  • Wait… I’m not ready
  • Wait…I don’t think I can do it

In all those times, it’s my fear that holds me back. It’s not knowing what’s ahead and wanting the answers before I go forward.  I want to know if I go in that direction, I won’t fail.

But sometimes that just isn’t possible to know.  Sometimes He asks us to go whether or not we succeed.  Because sometimes it’s not in success that we learn but in failing and trying again.  We learn to trust and not hold back when He says, “Go for it!”

I’m learning in this stepping out into the unknown that it’s not in knowing all the detailed steps ahead but in knowing the One who is giving the instructions.

It’s in trusting Him; having full confidence that He knows the way.  So I listen for instruction.  Going forward when He says “go”  and waiting when He says “wait.”

STOP

Friends, have a happy Friday!

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