What cometh before a fall?

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

So says the writer of Proverbs, anyway. (16:18 if you’re playing along for points.)

This evening just before things were completely dark outside, I heard our wind chimes singing mightily in the back yard. I rushed out the back door, grateful the rain had stopped, if only for a moment or two. The chimes were glorious and a fitting “Amen” to a weekend of rain and wind. And then… I hit a slick spot on the slate pavers on our patio and went DOWN in a glorious splat.

Yes. Ow. Very much ow.

IMG_4914I sat there for a moment, the wind knocked out of me, in pain. Nothing appeared broken. The only thing sprained is my dignity (even though no one was there to see my acrobatics, I did have to text my beloved to come and help me stand up, as I was shocked and wobbly.) I left a large dry spot on the slate approximately the size of my backside, and a lovely mossy skid mark on my jeans.

The Proverbs quote came to mind. I don’t believe it was a haughty spirit that caused my butt-first landing. I thought wryly to myself that actually, in this case, inattention came before the fall. Or maybe it was rushing. Or perhaps multi-tasking.

Sometimes stuff just happens. This wasn’t out of meanness. It wasn’t to teach me some cosmic lesson. It was just the cumulative effect of six inches of rain in 3 days on a slate patio.

My pants will wash and I imagine any bruises I’ve collected will fade in a week or two. At the moment, I’m headed for the couch with an ice pack and an afghan and maybe some crocheting. It’s not been the best of weeks, to be honest. But not the worst, either. I’m grateful for friends, for family, for a steadying hand when I need it the most.

Whatever has caused you to fall flat today, may you leave the buttprints behind, and know that the universe is not conspiring against you, either.

A heart song that has been speaking to me this week is this song “You Say” by Lauren Daigle. May it encourage you.

Cleaning and rebooting

IMG_48334 boxes of books
3 bags of recycling
2 bags of shredding
1 (almost) clean office

(Sorry. No partridge or pear tree! But I do have a very friendly cat.)

In their early school years, we would have a “clean out my desk” day with the kids. It seemed like a good time to get back in that habit myself, even though there’s no one living here going back-to-school tomorrow. (We do have teachers in our family, but they are all out-of-state.)

I was also inspired to do some cleaning of my home office because it will have to absorb everything from my office space at church. I really needed to think about books, equipment, supplies and storage reorganization. Some items I had absolutely no problem putting into the discard pile. Some items I couldn’t wait to shred. And some gave me pause as I thought about an event, feeling, or person that they brought to mind.

I was pretty ruthless. Seminary papers? Recycle! Textbooks and manuals that are out-of-date? Recycle! Old OPM paperwork? Shred! Journal articles, old bulletins, church-specific materials? Recycle! Scholastic book about cats? Donate! Folders of schoolwork from our daughters? HA! Give them the stuff and let THEM sort it. 

I was making great progress until I came across some painful memories from a previous  employer. Years ago, I had written on it “demon folder” as a warning that the contents might be toxic and even traumatic. For some reason, I wasn’t able or ready to let go of those papers. But it seemed right to do it today.

Stopping to regroup, I sat for a while and processed the very real feelings of hurt, of disappointment and disillusionment. It still sucks. And in one of those very opportune moments of the Divine, a song popped up on my playlist:

Because there had been enough distance, it wasn’t as difficult as I feared. Some therapeutic shredding helped, as did a handy box of tissues. I realized how much I’ve grown past that period in my life. God is gracious.

I’m not quite done with my office clean-up, but I’ve made progress. There’s a flat surface to use my laptop, and even a space to spread out papers. The charging station for my hand-held devices is where I can reach it! (Shocker.) I found a quote or two that I’ve tucked under my desk blotter for encouragement.

I guarantee you a week from now, it won’t look this nice! But I won’t miss those shredded papers and forgiven memories.

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Raging imperfection. That’s Real Life.

Today was a snow day. It was not a “day off” for me — I still had phone calls to make, emails to read and answer, and charting to finish. And then other minutia that I never get around to for work, until I have free time. And I did shovel the driveway and the front walk (and my arms will hurt tomorrow, I’m sure.)

But I had a huge list of things I wanted to do around the house, and none of them got done. Zero. No laundry. No real baking or cooking (a favorite snow day activity). No reading. No writing projects. (There’s a quite a few.) No clean-up in my study, which is a disaster area, after doing the tax prep. UGH.

It reminded me that so much of blogging and social media is about perfection, or lack thereof. A whole crew of comedians make their money by showing typos and embarrassing photos of other people. There’s even a show about “FAILS” which rewards someone who fails the least with $10,000.

So here’s some random photos from my day. And if you feel a little behind-the-curve on life, take heart. We’re all in this together. It’s just that we don’t put it up on Pinterest. Or blog about it. (Oh… wait…)

Not started – that baby will be in college before my gift is done.
Not put into boxes until Lent. Still in a pile of boxes in my living room.

 

Not vacuumed. Christmas gifts are put away (hallelujah). But the room is still cluttered.

 

See? This imperfect human is doing a fine job. OK… adequate. I didn’t burn dinner, and no one was hit by a runaway snow blower! (It was close, though.) I held a cat, watched the snow fall outside my window and even shot a few pictures with my “real” camera! (I’ll upload those eventually.)

My plea to you: Give yourself space. And grace. And tackle a little something tomorrow, once you dig out the car and feed the cat and make coffee and figure out if you have clean clothes for work and… (you get the picture!)

The 63rd Day

It’s the 63rd Day of Christmas. I counted.

I’ve changed vestments from Advent to Ordinary time to Lent.

I’ve had the flu, traveled to a conference, and worked too many hours, and have been so tired that One More Chore wasn’t gonna happen. The Christmas tree stayed up.

Then February came. It was time to watch The Olympics as any dedicated couch potato would do, and lead the Ash Wednesday service. And a family member had minor surgery.

But that was not enough! I procrastinated on tax preparation (that’s almost done) and ignored the vacuuming until the dust bunnies picketed me. I have several sewing projects piled high. To keep my mind sharp, I am reading three books at once. My ability to find things to do except for that one task I MUST do is legendary.

How do I know this? It’s simply that, finally, on the 63rd Day of Christmas, we took down the tree. I think that to celebrate my birthday in June, we’ll put the boxes away.

I just wanted to let you that besides making procrastination an art form, I’m a real human being who loves Jesus and hates certain chores.

As you were.

Of Toilets and Taxes

IMG_0721
This is how I feel about housecleaning… and taxes.

I knew my job list for today when I went to bed last night. I wasn’t excited then, and I wasn’t as the day went on. It was a simple list:

  1. Clean the house (most of it) in preparation for a bunch of Johnnies coming for a few nights next weekend
  2. Do an estimate of the taxes and start that blasted FAFSA

I’ll admit it. My attitude sucks when it comes to doing these tasks. I reflected on why that might be. It’s not just that they are time-consuming and never seem to be finished (though that is a large part of it.) And I also recalled last November, when I tried to focus daily on 30 days of Thanksgiving, and had remarked on my tendency to whine.

So, I tried to turn it around… Why is it a good thing that I have to clean my house? 

  1. I have a place to live
  2. I have the energy to clean
  3. I have indoor plumbing (!)
  4. I have cats who leave tokens of their love everywhere (cat hair; not headless mice!)
  5. I have clothes to wear and food to eat

IMG_0731Now then. What’s so good about taxes? And FAFSA? This was a little harder.

  1. I have an income
  2. I have a high enough income that I have to pay taxes
  3. I have a child who is a good student and doing well in college
  4. After 9 years, I almost understand FAFSA

At the end of the day, the floors got a once-over, the kitchen had an initial cleaning, and the bathrooms are not as disgusting. I will never be an accountant or run a housecleaning business. But I am grateful for the many, many good things that these two chores represent.

Blessed be.

Celebrate always, pray constantly, and give thanks to God no matter what circumstances you find yourself in. (This is God’s will for all of you in Jesus the Anointed.)

I Thess. 5:16-18 The Voice

Little foxes

The day started with a sense that it was not going to be my day. SQUISH!  Yes, I stepped in a fresh pile of cat hork… and had to change my socks… and wash my feet…

EWWWW! Really, cat?

I cleaned up some of the mess and left the rest to dry. Not to worry, I was ready to leave on time and headed to the car. I was looking forward to going to church. Except… the battery was dead and my trusty, rusty Pilot would not start. Not even with the battery charger.

RATS.

I had two choices. I could sit and whine and grumble. Or, I could spend the morning in relative quiet with 2 cats, my Bible and some music and be thankful for a warm home and some lovely amenities.

I confess I started off grumbly. Reverend Chaplain Cranky Pants had to have a little pity party, and then get over it.

I mean, really. I wasn’t out on the highway. I had three or four electronic devices at my disposal, plus two cats and a warm afghan. And the last cup of coffee from the pot… and I realized what my problem really was.

Catch the foxes for us,
        those little foxes that menace the vineyards,
    For our vineyards are so vulnerable when they are in full bloom.
Song of Solomon 2:15 The Voice

My problem is called INGRATITUDE. It’s a picky, little, conniving thief of Contentment. It creates an issue when there isn’t one. It’s the kind of sin that creeps in and robs us of joy and the ability to see alternatives or options. My “little foxes” colored my perception of my health, safety and well-being.

I stopped and changed my attitude. Played my piano. Colored a labyrinth. Made plans for my Lenten discipline, a coloring template from Praying in Color. Prayed for my family and my patients. Held a purring cat.

This evening, (after we got the car started… fingers crossed for tomorrow!), I saw this lovely sunset.

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And even more striking was the reflection of the sky in the snow melt at the bottom of our driveway:

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Maybe that’s all I need to remember… to reflect back to the heavens the faithfulness of God. Even when I don’t feel like it. ESPECIALLY when I don’t feel like it.

1 Praise the Eternal!
All of you who call yourselves the children of the Eternal, come and praise His name. Lift Him high to the high place in your hearts.
2 At this moment, and for all the moments yet to come,
may the Eternal’s name ascend in the hearts of His people.
3 At every time and in every place—
from the moment the sun rises to the moment the sun sets—
may the name of the Eternal be high in the hearts of His people.
4 The Eternal is seated high above every nation.
His glory fills the skies.
Psalm 113:1-4, The Voice

Thanks be to God!