I am clutter.

I am clutter.  I am stuff.  I collect things.

I feel good when I see a trinket that my mom and dad brought me, back in 1970-whatever from some place they were visiting.  They have travelled all over the world and brought something back for us girls each time.   I look at these things on my bookshelf and feel warm goodness.

I don’t see the dirt collecting around it or the way the books are pushed back against the wall because of it.  I just feel my parents there with me for a moment and feel loved.

I like to have things around me that remind me of the past.  It happens that we moved a bit growing up – dozens of times.  So somehow things connect all those memories together for me.  They are a thread.  Whispers of the past come back for just a moment.

Stuff, there’s that word again. Too many pens and pencils shoved together into a drawer from a past project and end of year desk cleaning at school. Pencil runts with great erasers or fully unused one with no erasers.  Extra large school erasers, so many  that they get included in the plastic army man battle in the bath!

Now, that stuff should be saved and more importantly used.  When the kids come home saying they need another binder or spiral notebook, it is all too easy to stop over at Walgreens and pick one up.  I suppose I could walk upstairs and filter through a bunch of old spirals, tear the perhaps thirty pages of used math problems out, and hand it over.

Yeah, I realize how lazy and stupid I sound. But I would do that.  I have done that.  There are a lot of moments when I think “I might have one of those here — somewhere” but I actually have no idea where it is.  I think it would take less time (and effort) to “Just Buy One.”

Just Buy One.

The antithesis of simplicity and I must repent of (as in change) this way of thinking.

Today the sun is shining and all week I’ve refused to wear a coat.  Sure, it’s still 30 degrees outside but the sun is shining people!  You have no idea how great that is unless you’ve lived a winter in the Midwest.

Spring will be here any day now.  I believe!!!!  I could easily let myself get giddy about the promise of fresh air, the anticipation of opening up the windows and seeing blooms poking up through the snow.  Oh, just the word “bloom” makes me happy after what felt like a really cold winter.

An opportunity to get things in order!

I will be decluttering, cleaning, and organizing.

[Tom is euphoric right now somewhere at work and he doesn’t even know why.  Just the possibility of me working on decluttering makes him happy.]

So, because this is how I stay motivated, I’m checking this book out of the library (Uh huh, I said that.  I will not buy it!)  Organized Simplicity, and joining something called Project: Simplify.” I’ll be sure to take before and after pictures — No matter how humiliating it feels and keep you posted.


www.Simple Mom.net

I Looked Up and The Sky Was Blue: What I Want vs. What I Need

I looked up and the sky was blue.

I don’t know why that is so important, except that it is — blue — today.  And I would have missed it, if I hadn’t looked up.

There are so many days when I don’t. Because it usually looks like this.

How often do we miss out on the amazing beauty in our life because we just don’t look up?

“What if we believed in the deep places, the darkest recesses, that God always provides — and not barely, but abundantly?   Wouldn’t we always be at peace — no matter what?  What if thanks in all things actually could be easy — because we believe that God always gives us the thing we exactly need? What if gratitude was as natural as breathing, because we knew in our bones that the air we breathe is grace? (… A Holy Experience)”

We are having an ongoing discussion in our house about “Needs vs. Wants.”

Do we need cable?  Do I need books of my own or will the library suffice?  Does my daughter need rain boots or want them? Why won’t snow boots work in the rain? Do we need Ezekiel 4:9 Organic Sprouted Whole Grain bread or just want it?  Are we desperate for fizzy water (what we call mineral water in our house) or can we live without?  Does the cat need a new collar when her old one works perfectly well?  My daughter is concerned that she (the cat) got her feelings hurt because she received the dead cat’s collar.  Hm … Does Tom need seven or eight guitars, even if they are a knock off brands from China?  But you see what I mean?  And that’s just scratching the surface.

“Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matt. 6:8).

“My God shall supply all your needs, according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:19).

Things.  Needs.  Wants.  It’s hard.  It’s complicated!!!

I think we have many different motivations for making change in our lives.  It is smart or prudent or loving or generous or “the adult” thing to do.  I’m thinking of money and resources now, all the stuff of life.  To begin to make those choices because it is all God’s anyway, well, that’s a whole other league of maturity.  Dang, why is it so hard?

What I’m talking about here is complicated.

Our motivations.  Why do we think we need all this stuff?  Cable.  Books.  Rain boots.  Gourmet food.   Stuff for the animals.  More than one of anything? Yes, I have money on the brain.

But it is more than that.  It’s about being discontent on a deep, cellular level.  My pastor called it a cancer and I think it really is.

If you have spent time overseas or simply in a different less abundant and materialistic culture you likely were  floored by how great that was. For me, a summer pared down to a forty pound backpack was still more than my Russian students had.  I seriously never wanted to come back to America.  I felt for the first time an incredible freedom from caring about the things that are so important in America.

I believe.  I believe that God will care for me all my life.

Not that good things will always happen to me or that bad things won’t. Rather that in the midst of life and its icky messes God is here and he loves me.  I’ve never had the courage to read the book of Job all the way through because I’ve always thought that if I read it God will think I’m ready to live it.

I have never felt persecuted.  Even in the midst of my father’s illness and mother’s illness going on at the same time.  Even with major depression not receding no matter how much effort and work I spent on it.  Even needing medication and finding out I was pregnant.  And then losing the baby.  Losing my father.  Helping my mother get into recovery.  Already struggling with my own addictions.  Even in the midst of all that — which I found myself recounting to a friend the other day — I believed. Deep down I believed God would care for me.

I’m reading, slowly as it applies, The Women’s Bible Commentary. (see desc. below)  As I was reading about the Psalms I read this:

“Those who speak with complete candor in the presence of God, those who articulate their doubts and their pain as well as their trust in God are all included among the faithful in the Psalms.  Women who have been taught  (like children) to be “seen and not heard” in relation to faith and religion should notice that the very act of putting anger, impatience, and frustration into words often enables the speakers in the Psalms to come to a renewed sense of assurance in God’s continuing care. The confessional stance of the Psalmists (their willingness to articulate feelings of anger and pain as well as joy in the presence of God, their refusal to submit passively to oppressive circumstances, and their confidence in God’s concern for their needs) has had and continues to have a significant influence in shaping the theology, the piety and the lives of many women.”

This has been my experience.  I think this is why during all of that which I listed above the one thing I was able to do was cry out to God.  Many times by writing but also with friends, and in prayer or through reading Bible, especially the Psalms.  My bitterness toward my parents manifested in depression, low self-esteem, alcoholism …  My poetry is so real because it came from that core.

When I first wrote it was God cleansing and healing me.  A secondary result has been how my words have helped others — perhaps jog a mind or heart to circumstances  between themselves and God.  That was an unexpected delight.

Do you believe God will care for you, abundantly?

If you aren’t sure cry out to him.  He listens.  He is good and he is our Shepherd. (John 10)   This section of scripture describes the most incredibly loving relationship between Jesus and people.  He calls his sheep by name.  The sheep know his voice.  Jesus is the gate for the sheep.  Whoever enters by Jesus will be saved and will come in and go out and will find pasture.  The thief comes to steal kill and destroy.  “But I came that they may have life and have it abundantly!”

Write thy blessed name, o Lord, upon my heart, there to remain so indelibly engraved, that no prosperity, no adversity shall ever move me from thy love.  Be thou to me a strong tower of defense, a comforter in tribulation, a deliverer in distress, a very present help and a guide to heaven through the many temptations and dangers of this life.

— Thomas a Kempis

I want to be content.  I want it to be true of me.  All I need is my pasture.  And the Good Shepherd calling me by name.

Be well, Melody

I highly recommend The Women’s Bible Commentary if you preach or teach, especially if you’re male.  It will give you a perspective that you cannot possibly have since you are not a woman.

From the back of The Women’s Bible Commentary — an outstanding groups of women scholars introduced and summarized each book of the Bible and commented on those sections of each book that have particular relevance to women, focusing on female characters, symbols, life situations such as marriage and family, the legal status of women, and religious principles that affect relationships between women and men.  (It also has a huge bibliography!)

why must winter come? (a poem)

why must winter come?

it’s fall and yet i walk about the yard in shorts, constantly aware of the heat.  cool enough.  gorgeous leaves, made of reds, yellows, browns chewed into smaller pieces, set aside for the spring.  the grass is still green and growing, fighting.   for it has something more to show for itself.  as i blow the remaining sticks and other fall debris i wonder if it is tomorrow that will bring the cold?

it’s fall and yet the windows are open, as i sip a cold clausthaler and listen to the neighbors’ rowdy party music, i long hop the fence.  i’m not finished with summer yet.  somehow the heat makes it linger on.  the nights are starry and the moon was bright last night.  with the windows open a perfect sleep comes.  down comforters likely out too soon but feel anticipatory.  as i put the fire pit aside to mow, perhaps the last of the fall, i hope we use it again!

one last fire, outside before the morning dew on the lawn freezes and i wish again for a heated garage.  i blow the leaves out of the garage — again — and again as they seem to fight me. wondering how it got this way, again.  the indiscriminate pile-up of bikes, discarded furniture, forgotten projects, and garage sale finds all manage to keep it something other than what it was supposed to be.

and as i sweep the summer’s storm of activity away i think of winter wishing, wondering, what will it hold?  if summers are for friendship, and water toys, laughter, smoky grills, and cold beer what does winter’s promise hold?  for those of us who hold on tight to the warm weather and outdoor chores, the possibilities and hope that come from growing things.  Somehow, i must allow winter to come.

then i will settle in to short nights and freezing toes in the morning.  pull out the wool sweaters, accepting that summer is fully gone.