I am an avid reader. Books are on my list of Top Ten Things I Have To Have. They may even be on my list of Top One Things I Have To Have. Close, in any event.
Fiction, non-fiction, biography, sci-fi, children's, history, religion, classics, I read them all. Well, except horror. I don't like horror. Some books are just bubble gum for my brain; some are seriously thought-provoking; some are dry and informational; but the only One that has fundamentally changed my life is the Bible. There is much to be learned from books, even some of the more unlikely ones, but every life lesson I have learned from any other book I have found as well in the Bible.
I have always been a seeker, something my mom apparently recognized, because she bought me my own Bible when I was around the age of five or six. This was long before the days of special kids' Bibles in 14 different versions, and what I got was good ole' hardcore King James in a faux leather white cover with print so fine I almost had to have a microscope to read it. But I was not deterred. The day she gave it to me I sat myself right down on the kitchen floor and started in Genesis 1:1. When bedtime rolled around I was almost done with the first chapter, so I was allowed to stay where I was until I finished.
That's how my Bible reading began. I wish I could say I read it faithfully every day. I could say that, I guess, but it might not quite be truthful, which kinda goes against the whole concept. But I do get it in more days than not, so there is that.
How my Bible reading ends...I haven't come that far. So far, so good.
I once had the Friendship I Wish I Had. She was the friend who loved wholeheartedly and absolutely unconditionally.
It was a pretty unlikely friendship. She was in her 50's; I was in my 30's. Her life was all put together; mine was a big, fat mess. She was all empty-nested; I had a house full of kids. She was so much fun; I was a stick in the mud. She was young in her heart, younger than I was; I was so swamped in my dailiness, it was all I could do to get by. I'm not sure we had anything in common, except that we both loved to laugh, and we laughed at the same things. That was enough all by itself. My sense of humor has always been rather skewed, and she got it in a way hardly anyone else ever did or has since.
Once she brought my newborn baby boy a gift of a pink outfit. Not what one usually brings to a boy, but, as she explained, it was too cute to pass up, and pleeeeeze, would I allow her to give it to him? We both had a good laugh about that, and I laugh about it still.
Every so often I and a couple of my kidlets would collect a batch of the local freebie newspaper and take them up to her house where we would sit around her table and pick out the typos and other errors and laugh til we cried. Just thinking about it cracks me up all over again.
My life was rife with problems; her life was perfect. Ok, maybe not. Looking back now from an age beyond where she was then, I suspect maybe she did have, or at least had had, a problem or two. But she had learned how to cope, and she kindly and generously shared her wisdom and her self with me.
I don't remember its exact Beginning. But I perfectly remember its sad Ending.
You are born. The biggest Beginning of them all. You think being a baby will be boring, since you can't do a thing other than sit around. You are wrong. Being a baby is exciting! Every day is is full of discoveries and new thrills.
The firsts come quickly: your first time to roll over, your first tooth, your first time to sit up alone, your first step, your first boo-boo, all Endings of your total dependence and Beginnings of your eventual self-sufficiency.
The stakes get bigger. School Begins, school Ends, work Begins, and just like that, Z-I-P! The Ending of your childhood and the Beginning of Personal Responsibility. Aaahhhh! Now you can really start living. PSYYYCH!
There are many Endings and Beginnings along the way, all generally involving a certain amount of the bittersweet. Sometimes things don't exactly suit you, and you can't wait to see them in your rearview mirrow. When that happens, you are ecstatic!
Then again...sometimes you like things the way they are, and you wish they would never change. But you can be assured they will, sooner or later, one way or another, because to hold the note is to ruin the song. When that happens well-meaning comforters tell you when God closes one door, He opens another one, and this is often true.
At this point however, my feeling runs to the sense that sometimes when a door is closing, it's just a door slamming in your face. Because from this End of things, I can see that in the Beginning, life is full of possibilities, but when all is said and done, in the Ending, it is just full of improbabilities.
Sometimes that works. Sometimes it doesn't. A case in point:
Answering the ever-annoying RINNNG!!!! of the telephone yesterday I was greeted by a sing-songy Edith-Bunker-like female giggle ~ giggling which alllmost masked the roar of the heavy male bellow in the background. Piecing her little bits and snippets together with his occasional "TELL THEM.............." interspersed among the general "#$*%!*@%#@**^+#$^ " I managed to discern what had happened.
It seems that this household had been having trouble getting their laundry dry, so, as anyone would reasonably expect, the handy husband of the house decided to D.I.Y. Off he went to Lowe's to buy the latest "AS-SEEN-ON-TV" gadget, the one that cleans out your drier vent, putting an end to laundry day woes.
As soon as he got home, he got right to work. First step: pull drier away from wall. So far so good. Carefully following the directions, he ran the wire brush through the wall and up the drier vent. Noooo problem. But right after that, things started to go south. Still following the directions, he tried to pull the brush back out, but Uh-Oh. It wasn't coming back out. It just wasn't.
One can spend only so much time on something that doesn't work and clearly isn't going to. So, as any handyman would do, he grabbed his fishing pole and stuck it into the black hole in hot pursuit of the wayward brush. You can probably guess what came next. The fishing pole lost sight of its task, allowing itself to become distracted by the brush, and the next thing you know, they are in solidarity. Two comrades, united in purpose, out on strike.
And that's when Mr. DIY conceded defeat and called for help. Or more accurately, hid his own face and had his wife call for help while he lurked in the background barking out instructions.
As things turned out, there was no budging that pair. They are there to stay.
So Mr. DIY's next project: Reroute the drier vent. This is a simple process of another trip to Lowe's for a mile or two of drier vent ducting, and some circular saw blades; then cutting a hole in the wall, another one in the ceiling, and another in the attic; finally cramming the ducting up between the studs in the wall and out the roof, capping the hole and sealing around the vent to keep the water out when it rains.
A quick calculation revealed that the $85 he saved on the cleaner covered a good part of the supplies from Lowe's, and didn't touch the cost of the rerouter. That bill hasn't come in yet. But it will, because Mrs. DIY, a little (or a lot) poorer and a little wiser is, at this point, a little gun shy. Sure, she knows her hubby is handy, but she doesn't want him touching this one.
Takeaway: The next time you get an urge to save some $, well....make sure you can afford to.
"For who has despised the day of small things?" Zechariah 4:10
Smallness tends to get a bad rap. We want bigger. Bigger is better. So says the common wisdom. So we are conditioned to think.
But I'm not so sure about that. When I think about the things that make my life happy....a visit with a neighbor, a phone call from a kid, a card in the mail, sheets smelling of fresh air and sunshine, a baby laughing, hot water and soap and towels for a shower any time I want, a rainstorm, fresh peas from the garden, a good book, a smile and a hug, a pot of orange tea, an opportunity to help, a free cup of *senior* coffee from McDonald's, the sound of the wind chimes in the breeze, a Bible study with my friends, a funny joke, a text from the 1LT...there aren't that many big things on the list.
The small things, it would seem, are the big things.
It's GARDEN time! Garden conjures up alllll sorts of possibilities. All of them good. Even the tired aching back after you spend the day pulling weeds out there. Because there's nothing like a good, honest tired.
I am allll about fresh food. What a shame that so many children are growing up today thingking food comes from HEB. They do not even know that it comes out of the ground.
We live in a part of the country where gardening is pretty ongoing. Even in the dead of our version of winter we have hardy, hearty greens growing out there. Collard greens and chard and kale, which has been enjoying a new status as the darling of healthy smoothies and snacks in the form of kale chips. They are just growing away out there, with no input at all from us.
January is pea-planting time around here. Sweet little peas, my very favorite! They never make it to the table in our house. We go out there and eat them right off the vine, and if you're not careful, someone will beat you to it.
My favorite thing about the garden is how it connects us with ourselves. I am firmly convicted that God put Adam in the garden for a reason. It wasn't a random selection. God could have placed Adam in a city or any other place, but He chose the garden, the place where we connect with the creation and with the Creator. The kiss of the sun for pardon. The song of the birds for mirth. One is nearer God's heart in the garden. Than anywhere else on earth. ~ Dorothy Frances Gurney