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Posts Tagged ‘time’

Summer’s End

End-of-Summer

Farewells are always a sad thing, and saying good-bye to summer is particularly sad.

For many it is back to school tomorrow, marking the unofficial end of summer and the beginning of fall.

On the Pacific Northwest, this summer has been quite perfect. The sun shone almost every single day, the temperature ranging from 24-27˚C (75-76˚F), and periodic breezes.

For myself, this summer has been one of cleaning, and re-organizing our house … really a summer of ‘nesting’.

First I sold or re-purposed the furniture in one of the bedrooms of our International students, who is not returning. Then I cleaned the room thoroughly, touched up the paint, and we moved hubby’s office into that small, but quiet space.

Then came bedroom number two, where we were planning to move our eldest daughter. With the help of the men in the house, the room was emptied of all contents, flooring and doors (bathroom cabinet door included). Then the walls and cabinets were patched, cleaned and painted. The walls papered, trim added, laminate installed, and the finishing will continue even into the fall (but she and all of her worldly belongings have been moved in, making it a very feminine space).

The final renovation was to our daughter’s ‘old’ bedroom, where our other International student would be moving into. More patching, washing, and painting of walls. The carpet ripped out, to be replaced with the better carpet from his previous bedroom. Then his furniture and belongings were set up in his new home.

There was furniture refinishing, ‘stuff’ thrown out, given away or taken to the thrift shop, organizing of closets, re-purposing of unused household items, elimination of dust bunnies and completion of previously uncompleted projects.

Now, as the calendar-full months have arrived, I am looking at re-organizing, re-purposing of another resource … time.

Somehow that seems much more daunting than painting, wallpapering and re-organizing ‘stuff.’

In the summer, we ‘get’ to share our time, but time in the busy winter months, when more responsibilities and more programming exist, it can get stolen out from under us.

I think that is the sorrow in saying farewell to summer … the freedom of time that exists in the summer, that does not exist the rest of the year.

In the summer we are more free to stop what we are doing and just chat with our kids, we are more free to put down that paint brush and meet a friend for coffee, we are more free to sit in the sun/the shade and read a book to it’s delightful end, we are more free to stand on a sandy shore and just … inhale.

For me, that is what summer is, a time of freedom, a time to inhale.

And now, as we exhale all of what summer offered up to us, may we carry the freedoms with us, and still find a way to steal from time so that we do not forget to inhale.

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7ee97921ff712da3685331b1bc56d6a1One day a verse was read and the words ‘freewill offering’ stood out to me like neon lights in the black of a night.

What is a freewill offering?

According to my research, it is what it says; a gift of money, time or resources that is given without being forced, without the receiver even knowing that it would be given.

So, if you stay late after work to help a customer, a student, a patient … you have given a freewill offering.

If you put cash in your ‘offering’ envelope, above and beyond your normal ‘tithe’ … you have given a freewill offering.

If you make your dinner, and double the recipe, and take it to the house of a neighbor … you have given a freewill offering.

But, the concept of there being a freewill offering also indicates that we are expected to give, without choice (free will), a certain amount first.

That means we are expected to give of our time, our money, our resources.

Expected giving …

That means that some part of our whole (our whole bank account, our whole waking hours, our whole life) is not, nor has ever been our own.

It is expected that we give to our governments (“So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” Matthew 22:21), and for those of us who are followers of Christ, we give to His work, in both (not one or the other) our time and our physical resources.

And after all that ‘expected’ giving, then we give from our own free will.

To do so as a group would mean that, like the Israelites whose “hearts were stirred” to give to the tabernacle (Exodus 35), we might need to be told to stop giving.

They received from Moses all the offerings the Israelites had brought to carry out the work of constructing the sanctuary. And the people continued to bring freewill offerings morning after morning. So all the skilled workers who were doing all the work on the sanctuary left what they were doing and said to Moses, “The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the Lord commanded to be done.” Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work.” Exodus 36:3-7

Imagine if we lived in such a way that our freewill giving exceeded the needs!

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“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Matthew 6:21 has great meaning for me, but it has been haunting me lately.

I fully understand that whatever we treasure is what holds our hearts, but what is the ‘treasure’ that this verse refers to?

191cd71c32b32d23ffe64781368f6800The treasures in my life will be different from yours, but we all have them.

Often it is said that if we look to where we spend our money, we will see where our priorities, our treasure, is located. Our spending is so darn … clean these days. We do not give to the church from what is in our pockets (perhaps because there is nothing in our pockets), we place a written (post-dated) cheque or it is automatically withdrawn. We do not give to the poor, a representative send us information on how they help the poor, and request that we ‘support’ them in their meeting of the needs of those with less. We do not give gifts that bless individuals with love and appreciation, we hand over a plastic card, so that they might purchase whatever their hearts desire (I am not saying that I do not like gift cards, in case anyone thinks differently … after all my birthday is coming … but, I digress).

I think though, that I have been haunted by this verse lately, not in the context of my money being my treasure, but my time.

I made a conscious effort to note how I spent my time on a recent Saturday.

  • 6:30-9:30am – writing and researching (with a little laundry thrown in there)
  • 9:30-10:30am – tidying, making a ‘to do’ list
  • 10:30-11:00am – ablutions (one needs to be clean)
  • 11:00-12:00 – errands
  • 12:00-1:00pm – taxiing kids and friends
  • 1:00-4:00pm – thrift store shopping with daughter and her friend
  • 4:00-5:00pm – more taxiing of kid and friend
  • 5:00-7:30pm – baking
  • 7:30-8:00pm – dinner with hubby and son
  • 8:00-9:30pm – making frame for bathroom mirror
  • 9:30-10:00pm – writing blog post for next day
  • 10:00-12:00 – chatting with hubby, playing mindless game to prepare me for sleep
  • 12:00 – lights out

And that was my day!

Now in there were a few short conversations with my other kids, texting with friends, and bathroom breaks as well.

This day was a good one, in my economy of time, as I got to invest in one child significantly, and accomplished both things that needed to be done as well as things I wanted to do, for my own well being.

But, what it reminded me, is that choosing how to spend my time means making intentional decisions to prioritize well. Had I not intentionally offered my time to my daughter and her friend, I would have chosen to spend my time more self-focused!

I ALWAYS choose to spend my time self-focused!

The only way to change that is to be intentional about how I spend my time.

I need to plan.

I need to think ahead.

I need to meet the needs of my loved ones by giving my time to them, in ways that they desire, not necessarily the ways I desire.

If I am to say, with any measure of authenticity, that my family is my treasure, then I need to choose wisely how I spend my time.

I challenge you to record how you spend your time today, or, better yet, yesterday when you didn’t have this to remind you of your treasure.

Just sayin’.

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As I arise on this final day of a two week long break, I open my eyes to all that has been accomplished, as well as all that has not been completed.images-1

Two weeks away from work, away from school, commitments, pressures and deadlines will end tomorrow (Monday) morning when the alarm rudely rings at 5:55am.

It has been a time of celebrating, both Christmas and New Years. It has been a time of cocooning within our own four walls, with times spent with friends, and times spent with only our Fab 5. It has been at time of intense cleaning, purging and sharing of our stuff with others. It has been a good time.

As the two weeks of celebration and relaxation come to a close, as the New Year is barely underway, thankfulness fills every part of my being. It has truly been a blessed break.

Time is a gift that is so sweet, so very, very sweet. It is something we all have, although often is short supply. It is something that we love to give, something that we give grudgingly. It is something we either have too much of, or not enough, and never the right amount at the exact time we need or want it most.

When our children are young and demanding we desire more time for ourselves, more time away from our children. When we grow old we desire most to spend our time with our children, we dream of the days when the demands tired us, we regret that the busy years are gone.

When we are young we count sleeps (okay, some of us do not outgrow this stage … but, I digress) to the times and events that we look so forward to, when we are elderly we awaken and count the blessing of awakening for “one more day.”

I regret the end of this time of break, yet I have lived long enough to know that I am blessed to have been given the gift of this time. I was also blessed to have been away of the gift that is was before the break began, resulting in a return to work with less regrets and more sweet memories to take into this work week, and new year.

Christmas break 2012, and Christmas itself, has been the sweetest Christmas in my memory. I will leave this house, and separate from hubby and the kids with delightful memories to sit back and ponder with great thanksgiving.

It has been …

… yet there is so much to be, if I can appreciate every day in this intentional, thankful heart of blessing of the gift that this time is for me, for we.

Your life
is like the morning fog–
it’s here a little while, int
then it’s gone.”
John 4:14

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Spring in our house means one constant, consistent thing … pool repairs!

This is our ninth spring in this house, and every year we attempt to open our in ground pool only to discover that another something needs to be replaced, fixed or upgraded … and I begin to contemplate moving … to a home without a pool.

Oh, I know, after the broken parts have been fixed, after the chemicals have done their miracle and changed the waters color (like a mood ring), when the heat of July and August arrives, I will be diving into that pool with great thanks that we live where we do. For now, I anticipate yet another bill, and wonder just how many hours I have to work to pay it off.

If you have been to our home for a cool dip on a hot day, you might not believe my reference to cesspool. Check out the photo to the right … This dastardly pool not only had a part on the pump that needed to be replaced, but it currently more closely resembles the swamp outside of Shrek’s home than a refreshing, crystal clear place of recreation and rest.

This is the way of owning things … they end up owning us.

I remember, years ago, Bill Cosby had a comic sketch about our ‘stuff’, and how it leads to needing places to store our ‘stuff,’ and how we need to get insurance for our ‘stuff’ in case something happens to our ‘stuff’, and on and on. I now am starting to understand what he was talking about.

Most days I feel as though I am owned by my ‘stuff’ and it is controlling every important decision that I have to make.

If we own a vehicle, we need to maintain it, repair it, protect it. All of that takes time and money.

If we own a home, we also need to maintain it, repair it, protect it. All of that takes time and money too.

So then we need to work more (our time) to make enough money to cover the costs of the ‘privilege’ of having ‘stuff’, and we need to use our ‘free’ time to look after this ‘stuff’ (I personally spent over eleven hours, on a delightfully sunny Saturday, working on our yard and pool ‘stuff’).

In the meantime, as we work to pay for, and work to maintain what we have, we need to remember that our ‘stuff” is not as valuable as the people in our lives. In the spring, we slave for as many hours a week as we work our jobs, to maintain the home and pool that we have so that our children can enjoy these things, and so that we can enjoy our time with our kids … in the summer. All the while, we are presently not with our kids.

I wonder what they would choose? Would they choose big yard and pool over time with mom and dad on a more consistent basis?

It makes me wonder … is it worth it?

Even in the Bible, in Ecclesiastes, it says, “all things are permissible.

It also says, “but not all things are beneficial.”

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I love to anticipate things to come. I love to plan vacations, and times away with hubby. I love to count down weeks to school breaks (currently only five more weeks of work until summer break starts …). I love to dream about concerts and other events that I have tickets to, I awaken and my mouth starts watering as I contemplate what I will prepare for dinner.

My brain loves to focus on the good things to come. It is a survival tactic, to get through the more mundane parts of life (this is my undiagnosed ADD talking). It is my way of focusing on the prize that is to come.

I plot and plan, I dream and scheme, all with the hopes of ordering my future fixation … whatever it might be.

It is not bad to look forward to good things that we anticipate coming our way. It is just that we must keep in mind that our planning for future events and experiences is not guaranteed.

I might plan a vacation, and then something comes up that requires I change those plans. I might be looking forward to a summer off, but when a job comes up that could ease our family finances, I need to take it, and forgo that time of R & R. A concert that I have tickets to might get canceled. I might plan something amazing for dinner, but because I end up taxiing kids all afternoon, that gourmet dinner is substituted with hot dogs.

In the midst of my plotting and dreaming, my hopes and dreams, life happens. It is rarely what I would have chosen the path of my life to be.

Even worse, though, than having my plans not be fulfilled, is that I can be so fixated on what is to come, that I forget to enjoy and fully live in the present moment. My eyes can be straining so hard to see the future that they cannot focus on what is currently before me.

That might mean that I am missing out on the beauty, the lessons, the preparation for whatever is around the next corner. In my preoccupation with the future, I might be missing out on the gift of the present time.

“Today is mine.
Tomorrow is none of my business.
If I peer anxiously into the fog of the future,
I will strain my spiritual eyes so that I will not see clearly
what is required of me now.”
Elisabeth Elliot

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Within twenty-four hours I had been deeply moved, deeply honored, deeply grieved.

The source of my experience were my three children, and each had communicated the same desire of me … to spend more time with me.

I felt one main feeling … guilt. Guilt that they felt that they had been lacking in time with me, guilt that I had not made more effort. Guilt that there simply are no more hours in my day. This one heavily weighted me down as a mom, as I laid my head on my pillow that night.

For all three to actually come to me meant that this feeling of not having time together has been percolating in their minds for more than a few days, more than a few weeks. I felt awful.

The worst of this whole thing was that I knew they were right in saying so. For weeks, I have been thinking to myself, I feel like I need to be more intentional at spending time with my kids. The problem is, I only thought it, and, although good intentions are good, they are not good enough.

My mother heart was torn.

When, as a mother, you have failed, and you know it, it hurts. When you know others know it, it hurts even more. When your own kids know it, and express it … sigh … it feels as though you have failed at your most important reason for being.

Now that it has been a number of days since my three communicated this to me, and I feel a bit better able to see things in a more balanced, less pained way. My kids messages to me were not all bad, they were an … announcement, a wake up call, and it was one I plan to answer!

The first realization was one of success … my kids TOLD me what they were missing. How many times I have asked them to tell me their thoughts, their needs, and they did this.

The next was one of wake up. When our first daughter was born, I wondered, as I looked around at families, how a parent could evolve from the newness of baby love to not talking with their teen. I had made it a goal way back then, to not lose the baby love phase with my kids, and this goal needed to be revived … now!

The final realization was that I am human. This is something I know, but not something that my expectations of myself allow when it comes to my kids. But, I get caught up in the immediate of life. I get tired. I say yes to too many things. All that to say, I need my kids help in meeting the expectations that they have of me, and I have of myself in regards to how I love them. So, I have asked each of them to help me find a way to meet this mutual need. This is still in progress, but I expect that they will each send me a note, leave a post it on my mirror, send me a text, email or a FaceBook message to let me know when they need my time. And, I will make time for them.

In the meantime, I awoke on Mother’s Day with the iron in my soul that they would not go to bed feeling that they were lacking in time with me. So, after church, I informed them that they would be having lunch with me. We left church, and headed to the grocery store deli where we chose sandwiches and snacks. Then we four (no dad, and no one else … not even the beast) drove to a beautifully shaded park, ate our lunch, took pictures and laughed together.

It was so good to spend this time together, just us four. My heart felt full!

I am so glad that they each told me what they were missing, and that I had the unusual wisdom to hear their hearts with my own. Perhaps their outward cries, came from what my own heart was missing too.

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