During our extended dryer illness,
James realized that the dryer that I own and the one that he owns
are nearly the same make and model.
Since he is living at my house right now,
and his dryer had also been making a funny sound in his apartment before moving back home,
he began contemplating using parts from both machines to create a working single model.
He has never worked on a dryer before,
but decided to take a look at it.
And by “took a look at it,” I mean
he googled dryer schematics,
did some heavy research on forums
and began taking both dryers apart.
I’m pretty sure that he spends as much time doing research on a repair
as he does ON the repair, when he dives into the uncharted territory of a new job.
He made major renovations inside my dryer.
His dryer had two heating coils, but the heat reflective pan wouldn’t work in my dryer.
So, he altered the pan in my dryer to accommodate both coils.
He had to switch out the blower on my dryer
but it vented in the opposite direction of the original.
This required major repositioning of the blower and the venting system.
These are only two of the problems that he explained to me
while the drum of my dryer sat in my kitchen
and I waited for him to finish the job
in his spare time (which is slim). He got the dryer running.
It worked well …. for a few weeks
before something inside began to make noise again.
My memory is sketchy on some things, but I’m pretty.sure that my dryer was purchased new
around the time that Joy was born.
That would make my dryer around fourteen years old.
Considering that it worked hard for a family of five for at least ten of those years,
(with folks moving out and staying out … or moving out and back in during the last four)
it is no surprise that it has simply … tuckered out.
And James’ model was nearly the same age.
After James decided that the appliance was truly broken beyond repair,
a thought occurred to me.
James has no training in dryer repair, but he was willing to work to figure out how a dryer operates.
He did all the right things … as far as he could tell.
He looked up the schematics from the maker.
He read about problems and sounds and symptoms to isolate the problem(s).
He took time to seek wisdom from people with greater experience.
He asked questions and listened to answers.
But, he was using parts from two failing … worn …. broken appliances
to try to create a working model.
We … broken people … do the same … all the time.
We try to find ways to repair our broken hearts
through another broken person.
We search for the perfect person who loves us
rather than the one we can best serve.
We date and break up and date and break up. We search and hunt and watch for a soul mate.
We marry and divorce and remarry again .. and again.
We find ourselves bewildered because we think we have control and our actions should be enough.
Like on the dryer repair, we work, remove, replace, reposition, and redirect … to no avail.
In reality, there is only one way to create a beautifully operating instrument
from bits of broken … wounded … dated … and worn on this earth
and that is through God who knows our hearts and loves us anyway ….
through Christ who redeems us and fills in our gaps … caulks our cracks …. and smooths the roughness …
through God’s Holy Spirit who fills us and walks with us … guiding and leading ….
strengthening weak places, shining light into dark corners ….
Our dryer is dead and gone. There is no plan for James or I repairing it.
Our hope of fluffy, sweet clothes from that machine has been removed.
In fact, we put our home and our own lives in danger from trying to get THAT machine
to do something that it is no longer capable of doing.
But, there will always be hope for you and I in the spiritual realm.
We live in a broken world … but our inner world need not be a shambles.
We cannot fix our broken hearts with another person … no matter how much they love us.
The only way to operate on this earth without completely falling apart …
is through the power, energy and wholeness offered us through God alone.
I refuse to gripe and complain.
When I fuss about _____________ ,
that negative energy … those critical words
influence the people around me.
My own spirit is influenced as well.
IF I had been entertaining thoughts of dislike,
my speaking those words
confirms those thoughts
in the part of my brain that processes language.
That conversation … that complaint filled chat …. gives the grade
and says, “Yes. This is crappy. This is bad. Wallow in it.”
And, oh how quickly we can travel the downward spiral to
“I deserve better. “
” Why do things like this happen to me?”
” Why is this so hard? Why is every.thing so hard?”
I refuse to go there.
Simply because I have so much. I am so blessed.
I have made it my intention
to look for the good in every situation.
For weeks and weeks our dryer made a really unusual sound
that escalated to an annoying, scary sound.
Then … it would quit being noisy and work fine.
THEN …. it would fall ill again to some malady.
When drying clothes, I checked the dryer every fifteen minutes
to make sure it was drying without overheating.
I cleaned out the venting system.
I added a fire alarm IN the laundry room …. as a precautionary measure.
The thought of being the girl who lost her home to a fire
and had to call her First Responder/Fire Chief father to break the news
made me breathe shallow and almost break out in hives.
I was careful to pay attention to this issue.
For a little while, the drum of my dryer
spent time in the middle of my kitchen.
We finally reached a point that we had to stop using the dryer.
Though James worked on it, it couldn’t be repaired properly.
For now, I wash clothes at home and dry them at the laundromat.
And I love it. What might sound like a job to dread
is actually a wonderful blessing.
Rather than doing laundry here and there during the week
and tossing it into the dryer when I can
and then folding it when I can squeeze in the time,
my whole routine has changed.
Once a week, I wash every.thing that is dirty
and take it to the laundromat
where all my loads are tossed into dryers in a row
and they all dry at the same time.
In thirty minutes, the clothes are dry
and in another fifteen, they are sorted and folded.
*bam* I’m finished.
There have been many times in married life that I have done the same.
I had forgotten how nice it is to take a job that is usually very long,
and sandwich-squoosh-it into a compact, fast little task.
I had forgotten what it is like to be among others, working alongside on like-minded task …
everybody busy and focused.
Today, I found myself singing Christmas songs while I folded laundry.
The man folding clothes next to me commented about my being happy
and I replied, “I have a home. I have children who are my friends.
I have clothes to wash and dry. I have a car to bring me to a laundromat.
There are so many who are less fortunate than me. Why would I not sing and be happy?”
From there we discussed our children, our Christmas shopping lists
and our favorite holiday songs. It was such a pleasant conversation ….
one I would have not been privy to enjoy
had I done laundry at home.
And our laundromat of choice, Lucy’s Laundry on Washington Road, is owned by a friend.
It’s clean, open long hours and close to our house.
The business offers wifi and has an assistant on duty who is always friendly and helpful.There is a children’s corner with toys
that is painted with a playful design that was artistically designed and executed by another dear friend.
I am reminded of the verse in scripture that says,
Choose this day whom you will serve. (Joshua 24:15)
I could choose the grumpy way of the privileged world … complaining that the laundromat is an inconvenience.
Or I could choose to praise my God who has given me much,
who cares for me, does not walk out on me and provides for me in ways that refresh.
I choose gratitude.
As I walked through a craft store the other afternoon,
doing some leisurely window shopping for Christmas inspiration,
I was taken aback
to the point that I *gasped* out loud and tears welled up in my eyes.
This Woodland Santa has crystal blue eyes
that sparkle with happy
not unlike my own Father’s baby blues.
And a crimson Cardinal is perched on the tiny tree Santa holds ….
with a dollop of snow atop his little feathered head.
Do you know that Cardinals choose a mate for life?
Have you ever noticed how the male will visit a feeder first
and then chirp back to his bride to “Come along! It is safe!”
Sweet, protective groom.
I prefer fabric with texture. I love tans, browns and greens.
And my home is decorated with snowflakes, pine and jingle bells at Christmas.
Isn’t he fitting?
And this hat with a whimsical curl. How fun! Santa’s walking stick reminds me of James. When we were all younger, we would camp and hike as a family. He would often find a stick, straight and strong. Using his rugged pocket knife, he would carve designs up and down that timber rod as we sat around the fire. He still holds those walking sticks dear.
This is my only Santa. I don’t believe there is another in all of my Christmas decorations.
In fact, I don’t remember us ever owning a Santa at all.
To think …. I waited fifty years for this man!
This week, we’ll pull out the crates and unpack the jovial.
I didn’t decorate for fall this year.
There didn’t seem to be enough time or energy to get everything done,
so decorating didn’t make the “must do” list.
But, Christmas cheer is a must.
And this sweet Santa will help us commemorate.
I find that I reach for my camera less and less.
I am home and still and just soak it all in … still and quiet.
But, today, as I think about all my blessings.
I decided to grab my camera to remember what life looks like
before everyone is up and moving
before friends arrive
before life gets busy.
I have learned
to let it go.
Don’t fret over the mess when company comes.
Just enjoy the people … in the mess.
And I am learning to let other things go.
Our table isn’t complete. It is forever changed ….
not by death, but by choice.
It is still a hard pill to swallow.
But, I rejoice in the small things that surround me.
There is great freedom and peace here now!
Our home has many beautiful plants
that we faithfully bring in on cold nights.
They make our deck happy during summer
and bring life inside when it is below freezing overnight.
I am thankful for smoke that billows from a faithful smoker
and wood drenched in water and flavored with garlic and orange that slowly infuses a bird.There is fire in the fireplace
that warms our world.
Light reflects on glass ….
an amazing feat, if you think about it ….
glass being transparent.
Words on my wall remind me to
I listen to John Denver sing “Oh, it’s good to be back home again,”
and I ponder home.
I’ve heard “Home is where your Mom is.”
I like that. So, home for me is far away ….
with my mom on the other corner of our fair state.
But home is also here …. because I am mom.
Each of my little ones are here to celebrate and give thanks.
Life is good
and blessed. My mantle is scattered with findings …
a beautiful scrap of paper in an interesting shape,
and a twisted bit of grass that is comforting to view.
Joy wanted these pencils …. just sticks … filled with colorful lead.
It makes me happy that she walks by and admires them. James does the same.
Those two … so very much alike in many ways.
Glory, sandwiched there in the middle, my Sunshine and Butterflies girl. I am thankful for a coffee ring on my counter
and a gorgeous ceramic cup.
The dribble is evidence that I still have a few wonderful pleasures that are so sweet to my soul.
Creamer with a bit of coffee poured in. A comfort food, if I have one.
And this turkey bag? I love the geometric pattern … rhythmic and balanced and sturdy and white.
I cut it off the bird and will use it later in some art project.
It makes me happy to see beauty in the common.
Leaves sit on my deck
too damp from recent rain to crunch the way fall leaves should.
We’ll sweep them away soon … but for now, they remind me of the sloughing away of summer
and the stillness of winter.
They are good.
The watering can sits idle.
She’ll only be used a few times this winter.
She is bathed in light … and cobwebs. As much as I used to love Sweet Gum balls,
having several trees in my yard has led me to not care for them so much.
But, tiny ones
make my heart sing.
Isn’t she precious …
almost hidden in the shadows.
Terra Cotta sits dormant, as well.
Yet, I know, spring will inch near
before we expect it
and this earthenware will be busy
with new life.
Here is hoping you find beauty in the common
in the everyday …
those things that you see all the time.
May they richly bless you this Thanksgiving day
No matter what life looks like …. busy or empty … chaotic or slow, may you search and find joy.
Whether you find yourself tending a tiny, exhausting newborn, or loud, demanding toddlers,
surrounded by raucous, outrageous teens, sitting in an empty nest or anything in between …
may you find the joy in today.
There may be a dozen around your table or you may find yourself alone.
Whether you are at the start of a marriage with a new family
or alone because your life and family fell apart, may you find joy.
No matter what life looks like … there is reason to rejoice.
Praise because your struggles make you stronger.
Be thankful for warmth or food or shelter …. in excess or scant … there is reason to praise.
May you find those joys. May you search for the blessings. May you count it all joy.
You’ve heard phrases like “Bad company corrupts good character” and
You become like the the five people you spend the most time with.
These are true in friendships,
but think of how much more like they apply to marriage.
Snoopy and Charlie Brown get it right here on this pin:
It’s not where you go in life, it is who you travel with.
Marriage is the uniting of two spirits.
“The man said,
‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.’
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife,
and they become one flesh.” (Gen 2:23 & 24)
I hear …
if he is a liar, I will be influenced to become one …
if he is a gossip, I will be transformed into one ….
if he is self-centered, I will be pulled towards self-centeredness …
if he enjoys porn/speeding/stealing/gambling …..
you name the weakness _______________ …
being in his presence will be tempt me to go in that same direction.
Of course, we can fight this and resist …
but I can at least say in my own life, I refuse to spend my days “fighting” and “resisting.”
I will choose friendships and relationships that
reinforce my good character and bolster my strength to push away the bad.
I love the question, “When you are with him, does he make you a better you?”
THAT is the ultimate test in friendship.
I really don’t think we will fully understand the depth of this intimacy and connection,
but the longer I live, the more vividly I see the integration.
When I first saw this video, I thought about marriage ….
the intertwining and merging of spirits
and how one soul influences another.
We THINK we stand alone,
but like these metronomes,
we are influenced by the movement, rhythm and balance
of those around us.
The New York Times reported in this article from a study by University of Michigan,
“The increase in facial similarity results from decades of shared emotions, according to Robert Zajonc, a psychologist at the University of Michigan, who did the research.”
It happens in the physical world
and I believe it happens in the spiritual world … this entangling.
In many ways, the physical world is given to us as a tangible representation
of the unseen, spiritual activity that operates behind the veil of earth and flesh.
Our denial or disbelief void the spiritual laws no more than
denying gravity’s existence will allow us to float rather than stay grounded on earth.
I watch in wonder.
I think about those that are in my inner circle.
I think about those who have walked out.
I’m thankful that I know that my life is rich in people
who offer a strong, positive influence on my life
for good, for reaching higher, for becoming stronger, more honest and more authentic.
I have said it before: Choose carefully.
Choose your everyday friendships carefully,
but, most important … choose your spouse carefully.
Because …. two become one.
This past year, I found myself in one of those monthly, long distance conversations with my father where you go through the list of family members and friends. We discussed weather, ailments and plans for the future, who is doing what and what comes next. As usual, we covered the kids and both my mom and dad.
Sandwiched in that conversation was this beautiful statement that I never asked to hear
or even imagined as a thought to be entertained. My dad apologized to me.
I still remember one of the conversations that directed my decisions when I was young. I remember that my dad told me that it is important to choose a major in college that would give me a good base for a job with a lucrative income. He suggested that I go into the business field. If I ever found myself divorced, I would then be able to make a good living.
I still remember that conversation in part because
I had never considered that I would ever find myself divorced
and “business” felt very foreign to me.
But, I took his advice. After I received an Associates Degree
from a small liberal arts college where creativity and individuality were fostered,
I found myself at Georgia Southern heading towards a business degree.
What I remember about Georgia Southern was feeling lost.
The school was huge. I lived off campus and had no friends.
I remember that I was absolutely blown away by the computer class that I took that first quarter.
I’m guessing, 30 years ago, it was more about coding than anything else. It was tough and I bombed it.
I’m fairly certain that I had a second academic class .. that I also failed.
But, the class that I remember well was an art class. We were allowed electives
and my heart chose a creative course. I knew I needed a creative outlet.
We had an entire quarter to do three or four projects. The projects could be in any medium that we chose. I remember that they had very loose parameters and I was SO excited. The one thing that was fixed about the project was that each of the items created had to use the same subject. The subject that I chose to use was a flamingo.
I still remember what my flamingo painting looked like. It was abstract and quite geometric.
I remember being pleased with my final pieces, but I was especially pleased with that painting.
But, overall that quarter I did poorly. I was put on academic probation.
I had recently met and started dating my ex-husband.
We married that May and I did not return to school for almost 25 years.
My father’s advice was logical and strong. It was what he knew to be right. It was good advice.
And yet, it may not have been the best advice for me.
But, as we played catch up that afternoon many months ago,
I found my father … a man over 75
apologizing to me …. nearly 50
about an event that happened over a quarter century ago.
I was moved.
Thankfully, my father and I have never had animosity between us.
It’s not as though this was a huge rift that needed healing.
We’ve never wasted time angry at each other.
I don’t ever remember spending a single day “not speaking to” my father.
And yet, those few words, offered great comfort. They were accepting and strengthening.
Through the years, I’ve heard some very good advice concerning forgiveness and apologies.
is to learn to accept the apology that you were never offered.
And the best advice of all
is that the only apology that is too late
is the one offered to someone who has already died.
We all make errors. We all find ourselves needing to say, “I’m so sorry” for something along the way.
An error doesn’t become a mistake, until you refuse to correct it. - Orlando Battista
The person who believes he owes no man an apology is only fooling himself.
I am thankful that my father is a humble man. He is honest and forthright.
His word is good and his intentions are upright.
What a sweet blessing to know, too, that he knows that he is not above making mistakes
and that years after an event, when it comes up in conversation
he is quick to offer an “I’m sorry.”
Yes, the power of a Father’s apology is mighty.
Thank you, daddy.
I love you.
My backyard has so many trees that very little sunlight makes it to the ground. The spots of sunlight that do are little patchy areas that move with the afternoon. If I want to soak in some Vitamin D and sunshine, I head to the front. I’ll lie on my back and watch the clouds move with my arms spread wide. There is a slight incline in my yard so I almost feel invisible … I don’t think people really even see me lying there when they drive down the street.
If Smudge is outside, he hears me. And he comes to visit.
He is usually very evasive when he is outside. He is afraid if he gets close enough to any family member, we’ll snatch him up and take him into the
prison house. For the most part, he’s an “outside-all-day” and “inside-all-night” kind of fella.
But, when I go out and lie down in the grass, he’s figured out that he’s safe from entrapment. So, he’ll come close and let me pet him. He’ll rub on my feet.
He’ll climb across my back and sit down …. like I’m piece of furniture.
This guy … he’s my favorite.
Most of our homes have offered him ample green space to explore. I’m thankful as he enjoys and even prefers the outdoors.
Though he’s not a young man, he’s still agile … well balanced and quick.
While neither Smudge nor I are true “Snugglers,”
on occasion, he’ll join me on the couch.
Not so long ago, I woke up to find him asleep on top of me.
That was kind of a surprise.
If Smudge belongs to anyone in our home, he belongs to James.
And when James moved out over a year ago, Smudge mourned.
No. Really. He was angry, hurt and pouty.
I can’t explain it in a way that does justice to the attitude,
but it was big.
He didn’t like affection.
He didn’t even purr as easily or as often as he always had.
James lived away from home for almost a year.
When he moved back home, the world was right again with Smudge.
It took a bit of time, but the boat self-righted.
The thing that brings me some of the most joy about this furry feline,
is watching my boy love on him.
When James comes home from work, his first question invariably
is “Where is Smudge?”
If I don’t have an answer, I’m called a “Bad Cat Mom.”
This is serious business.
So, there is this daily quality time that goes on between them.
It’s a friendship. It’s a common affection. It’s a thing I love to watch happen. This guy … might be a pet
but he’s an important part of our family
and brings me great joy.
Yep, Smudge makes me super happy today and every day.
What makes YOU happy this marvelous Monday morning?
Lately, the topic of cruising has come up in conversations. A cruise is such a treat … a gift … a treasure!
There is such pure joy in getting away from all responsibilities and distractions.
It is a lavish indulgence to have someone pamper you, cook for you, think ahead with you in mind and clean up behind you.
And doesn’t it seem as though every sense is more keenly aware of the surroundings?
A cruise generally takes you to an exotic, adventurous or splendidly gorgeous place.
It is a wonderful thing to spend time to rejuvenate, relax and energize.
As we turn the corner to move from fall into the Thanksgiving / Christmas/ Hanukkah /Kwanzaa holidays,
may you find a way to spend a few hours pampered … away from responsibilities and distractions.
Make a way to rejuvenate. Find a way to relax. Make time to energize.
And may this weekend, include at least a small sliver of time for that.