Spring

cherry-blossom-white-sky-bloom-48133.jpeg   I’m not sure when the first day of spring is. Never mind, whatever day the first poppy blooms, or a robin wings toward my rose arbor with a stick in her mouth, or a little girl in a sundress and white patent leather shoes dances down the sidewalk, those are the first days of spring. I like spring, but I don’t have allergies.

Around here, almond trees blossom first. It’s the only snow the Central Valley of California ever gets when they start dropping their petals. (Except maybe every ten years, for about a half hour.) The ground is carpeted in white, and people go into the orchards to take pictures of rejoicing.

Another terrific thing about spring is baby calves and lambs. All clean and jumping. Nudging their moms for milk and exploring their world. Soft to the touch and smelling earthy. And baby chicks are soft, too. I know you knew that already, but I would have been remiss to leave them out.

And then there’s turning on the swimming pool solar and checking the thermometer each day to see whether I can put in my toes yet. Brushing the conditioner and skimming almond blossoms off the top. Dreaming of the feel of the water rushing past and the Marco Polo games we’ll play.

And don’t forget planting the garden. The sweat of digging out the burmuda grass runners is exhilarating. Placing tiny seeds carefully and staking tomato plants, oh yeah. Holding the old man (a tender term) to only three screamingly hot pepper plants. Watering, scanning for new weeds, I love it!

So, let’s hear it for spring! Get out there and revel!

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Thicccc

I discovered there’s a new word among the younger set this week. Funny how things happen.

I’m a woman blessed with dutch legs, short and sturdy. Sometimes they come in handy, but they didn’t do much for a little girl who wanted to be a ballerina. Mom said, “You can’t be a ballerina, your legs are too thick.” So I took a few tap dancing lessons. Not my style. The end, well not exactly.

I was telling this story to a group of ladies at my church the other night, and one of them said, “You have it made.”

“I do?”

“Yes. The new word for really great, terrific, awesome, is thicccc, and the more cccs you put on the end, the better it is.” She wrote it on a 3×5 for me, and I have posted it on the mirror.  I am thicccc, and I’ve come a long way, baby.

Resolutions, bah humbug!

Have you heard the saying, “Want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans?” So what’s He laughing about? Our inability to do what we know we ought to? Maybe. Our inabilty to consider the rocks we may encounter in our paths? Maybe. Our inabilty … Maybe.

On the other hand, have you heard the saying, “You aim at nothing, that’s what you’ll hit?” I think that thought pattern may be where New Year’s Resolutions came from. You may think, based on the title of this blog, I’m one of those slugs who parks on the couch, moving only to replenish the potato chips. I’m not. Unfortunately, I’m seriously goal- oriented, sometimes to the exclusion of actively loving the people I’m supposed to love. Can you relate?

I’m actually this odd conglomeration of motivation and laziness. Some days I find myself puffing because I focused so hard on what I wanted to get done that I paid no attention to my body crying for rest. Other days I’m weary, and I don’t care what doesn’t get done. Some days I’m committed to losing the ten pounds I gained during the holidays, and others I don’t understand why calories have to count or my body needs exercise. One thing I’m sure of, I’m tired of guilt based on whatever.

What’s a person to do?

Build our houses on the rock – Jesus. Let Him share our yokes. Follow Him. Stop orbitting ourselves, since we are unable to plot the course anyway. Sunday school language, you say? What does it really mean? Guilt should be like a cop’s ligths in the rear view mirror. When we feel it, we’ve started doing our own things again. So we stop the action. We hunker down and pray,  which doesn’t mean we do all the talking. We listen, and His small voice will plot us a course correction. Or we pull out the Word, find a word in the back that matches what’s bugging us, and flip around until the words give us His answer. Yep, simple, but marvelous at the same time. Here’s a way better saying: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” Prov. 3:5-6 So, who needs resolutions?

Family

It seems appropriate on Thanksgiving to say what I know about family. I think it’s possible there’s a myth of the perfect family we all think someone else has. Nobody farts at the table, brings less food than they should, or cusses in front of the children. The men do the dishes instead of playing or watching football, or the women do them without complaining, or they do them together and then all play football. I do not believe this family exists. Families can be “cussed,” as my beloved Pastor Yaeger used to say. That would be cuss-ed, not spoken ill of. So what do we do about that?

I’ve seen some folks turn their backs on each other. Now, I’m not saying there isn’t a place for that. If you’ve explained to your relative, whom you did not get to pick, that their words or behavior are causing you a problem, let’s say at least three times, and the response is something like, “Can’t help it. That’s just how I am,” a little back-turning may be instructive. That’s assuming, of course, that in your heart of hearts, you are willing to forgive should they repent. See, there’s this stuff in the Book that says if we don’t forgive, God will behave in the same manner. Gives you pause, doesn’t it?

When the family gathers, like today, if the warring parties can put their differences on the back burner enough to acknowledge each other’s presence, that’s pretty good. At least it cuts the other family members a break. We just won’t sit you next to each other, being the considerate folks we are.

However, there are those, who shall remain nameless, who not only refuse to repent, but traipse blithely on dropping bombs on others just to show who’s boss. The outcome being that someone refuses to see someone else. Great, now what? Well, pilgrim, you gonna be having Thanksgiving all over the place. Now isn’t that an Irish way of dealing with it? I say that because the Irish believe you are never lost, you are just enjoying new vistas. These resilient people find a way. So, find a way. Divvy up the fam to various houses, or fly from one to another. That’s grace, right?

Just remember one thing. There is something about blood relation that God planned into us. It’s like our DNA calls back and forth, or something. That relative that drives you nuts is going to be in trouble one day, if not now, then later. When s/he is, all this hoopde goes out the window, and the family rallies round. So, if you can, why not do it now? Save a lot of stomach knots. Just sayin’.

 

You Only Get One Life

When I was  young, the manipulation of some of the adults around me caused me to decide that once they didn’t have control anymore I would make my choices, and I’d make them count. In that thought process somewhere came the knowledge that there is some finite number of choices in each life. As I began to make them, I realized that each choice narrowed the choices that followed it, for the most part, unless I wanted to start completely over. Once or twice I did. But for the most part, the choices were set in concrete. Life, unlike television, has very little channel changing.

So what? So, live. Start right off. The earlier you start, the more choices you get. Don’t wait for someone to come along with the answers. The only place you’ll find answers is the Bible, or your holy book of choice, but even there  you have to apply them to your life. Even people, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists, etc. don’t have the answers for YOUR life. They may have advice, but you have the choice.

You  strike out and start a course. Find out what you’re good at, what you enjoy, who you were meant to come alongside, etc. If you head a direction that doesn’t fit, learn from it. Make a course correction. But, for cryin’ out loud, don’t just sit there. Or worse, let the winds blow you here and there, and never set a course at all.

Early on, you  make choices about the meaning of life. Why are you here? What are you here for? What’s your value? These are the ones that narrow your following choices. For example, if I believe there’s no god, I  and my world got here by chance, then I don’t need to obey much of anything. What’s the point? When I make a choice that crosses someone else’s choice, though, the law of the land will narrow my future choices.  On the other hand, if I believe there’s a god, how that affects my choices is going to have a lot to do with whether that God is involved in people’s lives, in fact loves us, or whether he spun things off and went off to do his own thing, or maybe doesn’t really care for us and gets a kick out of the times we go to war, hurt each other, or suffer in other ways.

For me, making my choices count meant to make the world better somehow. I tried the welfare department first. I found it doesn’t make the world better. It maintains the status quo. I tried public relations, helping people put their best foot forward. That was a step better than the welfare department, but just barely. When I came to teaching, which was one of those times I completely started over, I found a place to make the world better. At least on most days.

A choice that’s set in concrete is the one to become a parent. Once you’re pregnant, you’re going to deliver, unless you kill your kid. That choice changes life, don’t let anyone fool you. We all know there are parents, and there are parents. I’ve found that my  definition of love guides my parenting. If love is making sure my kids get everything I wanted but didn’t get, parenting looks one way. If love is grace tempered with truth and truth tempered with grace, then parenting looks completely different. If love is hovering over a child to prevent the natural falls of life and their consequences, parenting looks one way. If love is slowly opening one’s hand over the years, letting children learn from consequences, until they can fly on their own, and have been guided to consider their own choices, parenting is a whole different ballgame.

Jesus told a story about two guys building houses. One put his back into it. He dug down to bedrock and put a firm foundation under his house. The other wasn’t thinking about what might happen next, he chose to build his house in the sand where he stood. When storms came, the house on bedrock stood. The house in the sand was obliterated. His story is a picture of life. He was saying we should do our homework, especially about spiritual matters, like whether He is God. If He’s God, the bedrock, do I build my life on Him? That’s the most crucial choice we’ll ever make. And it’s best if we make it before the storms start.