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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Better Things Part 3, AKA, Juggling

In the immortal words of the Rolling Stones, "I try and I try and I try and I try," but I can't seem to keep all the balls in the air at once.

Take today, for example. I've cleaned the bathroom (and myself). I sorted through clothes to give to Purple Heart. I went through some papers. And I made a phone call, while showering (where would we be without cordless phones? oh, right, we'd be forced to do one thing at a time, like they used to in the good old days). Yet my to-do list remains unbearably long. 

My file cabinets are desperately in need of thinning and reorganizing. I have piles of papers atop said filing cabinets, which don't quite fit into any one category, but must be weeded through, for they're overtaking the room.

There are letters to write and coupons to sort. Oh, and did I mention children to be tended to? Granted, mine are pretty much grown, but they still come to me for advice and guidance (bless 'em, they haven't figured out yet that Mom's fount of wisdom is in dire need of new plumbing).

And let's not forget the holidays are coming. I have groceries to purchase in bulk so I can save a few dollars on a turkey (which nobody may be gobbling, since we're not sure yet who's eating where - guess that bird may have bit the dust for nothing). There are stocking stuffers to acquire and decorations to dust off. And, in the midst of everything, there's the minor issue of home repairs (that chimney isn't gonna clean itself, and the creosote is calling) and bill paying (those creditors don't seem to understand I'm busy). Oh, and dare I forget the minor issue of employers? At times I've been known to bemoan the fact that, "My jobs are really cutting into my free time!"

Despite all this confusion, yesterday I made a radical decision to spend quality time with a friend. I didn't have time for this, mind you, as elections are coming up (for which I am not informed), and I'm behind in my cooking (my son's been dutifully eating tuna fish and leftover chicken for the better part of a week, bless his indiscriminate little palate). Still, I threw caution to the wind and made the time. 

Granted, my friend didn't say much, but was quietly present while we went about rekindling our relationship, which these past few weeks has been somewhat neglected. We pored over a book and basically just chilled together. Although quite familiar with the text, he smiled slyly when something struck me as new that he was already well acquainted with. He seemed content to listen to me read, amused when the thin pages stuck together. He was in no particular hurry, and pretended not to notice my occasional glances at the clock as I contemplated the next things on my packed agenda. In short, my friend seemed not at all disturbed by the fact that I was less than fully present for our rendezvous.

When all was said and done, though, both of us realized the day was richer for the time we had spent together. And he never once made me feel guilty for thinking I had better things to do than hang out with the king of the universe.

For more like this, check out: Morsels for Meditation...: Life is a Full-time Job

Morsels for Meditation...: Better Things

Morsels for Meditation...: Better Things Part 2, AKA, Puddleglum's Save

Monday, October 13, 2014

Spricket Warfare

This past summer, my son's girlfriend enlisted me to "babysit" for her two bearded dragons while she went on vacation. I grew fond of the little guys (well, we think they're guys, but there's a certain amount of gender-confused behavior which has us referring to the latest arrival as "he/she"). I cleaned up their surprisingly smelly droppings and shuddered while shoveling live worms into their expectant gullets (after removing a tub of said worms from the refrigerator, where they were nestled alphabetically beside wieners and Waldorf salad). I drew the line, though, at tossing live, calcium dusted crickets into their tank so they'd have the thrill of the hunt. If I want to watch nature doing its predatory thing, I'll tune into the Discovery Channel, thank you very much.

Had I known I'd soon be facing an infestation of sprickets, aka, cave crickets, aka, things that make me go "Aaaaaahhhhh!!!!!!!!!!" in the night, I might've saved the worms for a rainy day, parked the lizards in the basement, and let the two species duke it out. Alas, I was not so foresighted, so am left to take on the creepy critters with only the aid of a fly swatter and my 17-year-old son, whose devotion to me does not extend to playing Sir Galahad with eight-legged vermin.

These disgusting creatures have done more than gross me out - they've disrupted my whole schedule on several occasions. Since they make their home in the basement (read, my basement, for which they pay neither rent nor homage), I'm forced to go toe-to-toe with the nasty buggers anytime I seek the extravagance of a clean shirt. I've had varying levels of success in my escapades; yesterday I snagged two with the first swat, but this morning I had to clean up not only a cricket carcass, but also the remains of my breakfast, which had not quite finished digesting. JK. But trust me, it wasn't pretty.

Yesterday I was forced to rudely awaken - literally - a fellow believer, and I suspect my interruption was as unpalatable to this Christian brother as the aforementioned leggy pests have been to me. I could hear the discomfort in his voice. The distastefulness of the matter I brought to his attention. And yet the necessity of acting when one is called upon to act by forces over which one has no control. In short, I had no choice but to enlist the aid of this individual in a spiritual matter, and God left him no choice but to step up.

Oh, he could have said no. He did beg off for an hour or so, during which time I prayed God would equip him with whatever he needed to meet what was clearly a challenge to him. Judging by the call from him after he processed my request, he must have prayed and received guidance that this was, in fact, a mission from God, and not just an unpleasant chore to do on a rainy Saturday morning. The annoyance his voice contained earlier had morphed into softness. The coldness was replaced with warmth. I sensed I was speaking to a man who was stepping far beyond the bounds of his comfort zone into unfamiliar and messy territory - perhaps stirring memories that had buried themselves and didn't appreciate being unearthed.

But wait. It gets better. Later in the day I received another call from this brother. I hadn't expected that, frankly. I figured he would "do his duty" and that would be that. Instead, he wanted to chuckle with me over the fact that, despite his attempts to arrange things according to his own timetable, God had orchestrated events to suit His own purposes (imagine that). This veteran believer, whose knowledge and background in Christ far surpasses mine, seemed happily amazed at the Lord's doings. Like Jonah, who tried so hard to circumvent God's will, he ended up stepping right into it.

So what's the takeaway? I detest dealing with creatures that have the spindly creepiness of an arachnid combined with the high-jumping capability of Charles Austin; that said, I don't get to decide what takes up residence on my basement walls. I can scour websites to find out how to get rid of the nasty things, but in the meantime, I simply have to cope with what is. It's nice to know, though, that I don't have to be bested by something with limbs like bent spaghetti. With fly swatter in tow, I'm gritting my teeth and engaging the enemy.

I think my friend with the unpleasant task found much the same thing. God always equips us for what He asks us to do. Despite our foot-dragging, He also has a knack for getting us to the battlefield right on time.

"You armed me with strength for battle; You humbled my adversaries before me." Psalm 18:39

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Giving Back

Dear Readers,

I must apologize for being off the radar for several months. After attending the conference to which I clumsily pay homage below, I was guided to restructure many facets of my blog. This was a time-consuming but beneficial exercise, and I thank you for your patience. And now, without further ado...

To whom much is given, much is required.

Much was given me this past summer; now much must be given back.

I was privileged - and I do mean privileged - to attend the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference from July 30  through August 2, 2014. Though I'm blown away by the generosity of spirit shown me by writers, editors and agents situated on varying points along the "success continuum" (which I put in quotes because our heavenly father does not impress as easily as this silly world does), I'm absolutely flabbergasted by my Lord's graciousness to this would-be scribing servant.

Marlene Bagnull, the "backbone" of the conference, is as delightful in person as she comes across in cyberspace. Her frequent lapses into public prayer during meetings remind one and all of the real reason she puts together these grueling, growth inspiring seminars. More than once during the program, I said to myself that this was as much a retreat as a "how-to" symposium. Without her "arms" and "legs" - cleverly disguised as behind-the-scenes individuals who do the grunt work of scheduling, registering and weaving loose ends together - she readily admits the whole program would be a disaster. I'm resisting the urge to name-drop any further, because I doubt it would glorify the one who really made this happen. Suffice it to say, there was credit aplenty to share.

On another note, let me state that dollars don't get pried easily from my hands. In my younger days, I would've called myself cheap (which really resulted from a fear I didn't realize I had that I'd better protect what was "mine" or be left with nothing). At this point, I'd say I'm a careful spender and hopefully good steward of the resources with which I've been entrusted. Notwithstanding, I found myself led to part with mammon during the course of the conference. I contributed to missionary collections, for one thing, which supported people whose callings seemed heartfelt and causes, contagious. In addition, I couldn't help but linger at book tables and scoop up a few titles from authors whose hands had shaken mine during the conference. As I articulated to a fellow conferee, it seems reasonable that if I'm going to enter into the writing industry, it makes sense I should invest in it. There was no shortage, by the way, of folks giving their materials and services away for free. It's just that I felt a prompting to return to these selfless scribblers a bit of the bounty they so selflessly showered on me. 

Now it's back to the grunt work of editing and sending manuscripts, as well as taking up my novel, Belabored, where I left off before all this busy-ness began. Belabored is a labor of love, one I believe my heavenly father has commissioned me to write. I covet your prayers as I strive to fulfill the goals He sets for me, and leave off the ones that bring Him no glory.