Learning to be like Smokey

My friend Audrey (hey, #9!) once jokingly told me that if there was actually such a thing as reincarnation, she’d like to return…as one of my cats. Yes, she did. I laughed because I knew exactly what she was talking about.SONY DSC

My cats are big boys. They are loved and they know it. They are healthy and well-fed and we have conversations all day long every single day. They are totally relaxed here at home and love nothing in this world better than for me to have a seat so they can jump up and get comfortable while getting a kitty massage. Incidentally, they also follow directions pretty well, but I don’t think that’s the part Audrey was talking about…at all. (ha!)

My cats also seem to take turns following me around. Today is, apparently, Smokey’s turn to be the shadow cat. Shadow cat duties include following as closely at my feet as possible without tripping me up, making sure to be noticed at every turn and generally reminding me that I am loved in return for all the good providing I do for them. You may have noticed that these aren’t the behaviors of a cat that could be described as “aloof.” There’s a really good reason for that. I’ve never had one of those cats. Ever. And I love that…most of the time.

This morning, however, I was sitting in my grandmother’s chair in the living room listening to the start of a sermon on revival when I felt like I needed to cut it off and go get in the Word for myself.  You know, for some personal revival. (Imagine that?! God being personal!) Anyway! I turned it off and reached for my Bible, opened it up and began to pray for God to speak. And then Smokey jumped up on the arm of my chair. I rebuffed his efforts to crawl into the open pages and returned to the Word asking God to reveal something to me. I asked him to show me how I needed to respond to whatever He chose to show me—even if it was scary or something I didn’t really want to hear. There are things I need to know and answers I’d like to have. And Smokey settled down on the arm of the chair and just leaned into me…hard…before trying to become one with my lap again. It was annoying.

I got up and moved myself to my chair in the keeping room, got settled, opened the Bible to the chapter I’d been SONY DSCreading (2 Corinthians 13) and became fascinated with 2 words in Paul’s verse 11: “…Become complete.” Be complete? Be complete. Wha…and then Smokey arrived in full force to attach himself to the arm of this chair, too…and lean in hard…again. Deeeep sigh. Small prayer for focus. Return to the Word. Head butt. Be complete. Head butt. Be complete…

And suddenly I got it. I read that verse one more time, closed my Bible, and put it on the table…whereupon Smokey and all of his 17.6-pound-gained-weight-on-diet-food self totally took over the now vacant lap and purred like nobody’s business the moment I laid my hand on the side of his trusting little face…as he leaned into my hand with everything in him.

God and his funny, funny sense of humor. How like Him to answer my prayer with an illustration to boot! Although I am not yet completely like God, I need be more like Smokey. I needed to be reminded that He is in charge of meeting my daily needs and providing for my welfare. I need to follow closely after God every day and not get in His way. I need to be just that determined to crawl up in His lap and get some one-on-one personal revival. I need to lean into Him and be completely satisfied with Him as He works in me so I can become complete IN Him. (And I’m really, really happy that He won’t get the least bit annoyed when I am determined to be with Him so completely!) I’ll have you know that there was definitely some personal revival in my heart today!

Reincarnation isn’t an option, but object lessons are always appreciated because sometimes I can totally miss what’s going on right in front of me. Here’s hoping we’ll all become a little more like Smokey in this life, so that in the days ahead, we become more like our great and wonderful God!

“Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of peace will be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11 (NKJV)

Isn’t that great?! Choose to do these things and the God of peace will be with us!! Now, that’s what I’d call a really personal revival.

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Joy in the corner

There’s a very small corner in my dining room. It’s where the opening to the kitchen, the dining room and the living room converge. It’s tiny and, although the three rooms are generally bathed in a gorgeous natural light, this little space is usually much darker. It’s where I put my coat rack and a small table for the usual things that need to be dropped as you come home and start to unwind…the place where you unload all those necessary things from the day that cover you up and weigh you down no matter what season it might be.

I see this corner throughout the day as I go about my housekeeping and my chair faces that direction when we are in the living room in the evenings. As I said, it is small and a bit dark and…it always makes me smile. Yes, smile. You see, not everything in the corner is dark. There’s a small glimmer of silver hanging there on the wall almost–but not quite!–out of sight from most of the people who pass through those openings and on full display from the comfort of my oh-so-very-vintage chair that used to belong to my maternal grandmother all those years ago. That chair was her unintended throne during the holidays or any time our very large and very loud family gathered together. That chair was where she sat so she could see everyone and we could all get a good view of her while she opened up our tokens of love and held small children in her lap while she listened and smiled at all the melee around her. That chair makes me happy…even though I cover up that raucous brown and gold printed fabric with a beautiful throw of red and green and cream roses. My grandmother would have really liked that throw.

She would also have approved of that small silver gleam from the corner. joy

It’s actually a Christmas ornament from a long-ago ornament swap party, but ever since I laid a very enthusiastic claim to it, it’s hung on the wall somewhere in my house year-round. It isn’t an expensive bauble and it still hangs by the silver ribbon that it came packaged in that night. Just three little letters hanging from a tinselized ribbon (and yes, I did just make up my very own word there…but it fits) and the letters are: J O Y.

When I moved to this new house, it seemed most appropriate to place it in the darkest corner of this house full of light so it could shine all the more. Real joy is like that too, you know. Sometimes it takes a bit of a dark patch to really let you appreciate the next time you experience joy and give it it’s proper due. It’s also good to keep joy in sight and refer back to it as often as you can…otherwise you can become a serious stick-in-the-mud even in places where there’s plenty of light to be had.

I know some of you have been struggling lately. I guess that’s pretty universal, isn’t it? I wish we could gather in my living room where we could pray together and laugh loud and long while we figured everything out…or at least figured out how best to respond to all of the crazy going on in the world, but that’s not possible today, so I’m just sitting here praying for you and wishing you can find your own joy in the corner where you are…and knowing that God in His wisdom knows just what we all need and how we all feel…and it reminds me of this sentiment from the Apostle John all those years ago:

“I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.” 2 John 1:12

Wishing for the visit, waiting on the answers and choosing to look for the joy…

Grace & Peace!

So when did THAT happen?!

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later, right? There comes a time when you realize that you’re now the age that you never thought you’d reach. For me, I guess that one is happening this year…50…and it is happening in just a few weeks. I mean, actually, it’s like a goal–only no one I know really talks about it very much. No one says, “Oh, boy! I can’t wait to turn 50!” and yet, it shouldn’t be a surprise when actually happens to you. Right?

It’s a bit strange, really, I mean it’s not like I didn’t know I was actually headed there (and I’m hoping to go a lot further, thank you very much!), but at the same time, fifty?! Shouldn’t someone about to turn 50 feel older than I do right now? Maybe even a lot older?

I’ve never been a math whiz, but I can manage a checking account and I can make change at art shows and I can even do most sales percentages in my head while I’m shopping, but for some reason I’ve always had to stop and actually do the math when someone asks me how old I am. I usually take some time before I respond to that question…every single time. I guess I could put it off to being stunned at the very rudeness of being asked (ha!), but honestly, it’s not that at all. It’s because I actually have to stop and count. Yes. Every single time.

For years, I was stuck at the age of 18. It was just my “go-to” age when someone asked. Then, it became 23. Some time after that it became 30, then 35, and then…well, I just forgot to think about it anymore until I turned 40. Incidentally, I’ve been 40 for almost 10 years now. (grin) It’s not that I hate birthdays. In fact, they were always a cause for celebration when I was growing up and I still like having them, but I guess I just forgot to think about the fact that I was actually getting older and that number was climbing right along with me.

It crept up on me recently. Someone I know and love–who I always think of being about the same age that I am–casually mentioned that they were going to be 53 years old this year and I very quickly did a head-shaking double-take and became very, very grateful that we were on the phone instead of face-to-face right then. Additionally, there’s been a serious rash of “look at my really gorgeous new grandchild!”-photos (and they are ALL gorgeous, people!) on Facebook recently…from children I remember being behind me in school–you know, those who are WAY younger than I am. Again, not a judgement call, just a wake-up call!

A couple of weeks ago now, I posted an anniversary message to my husband of 22 years and out of the many voices giving us congratulations came two lovely ladies from my childhood who started talking about how they remembered when I was just a little thing and how they couldn’t believe that I could possibly have been married for that long and I was like, “Seriously! Right?! How could all this life I’ve lived been happening while I wasn’t actually aging?!”

The government has recently decided to help me remember that I’m having a milestone birthday this year, however, by sending me their latest estimate of my Social Security benefit estimations (Personally, I think they’ve over-estimated that it will still be around when I’m actually old enough to get them, but whatever!) and two days ago, I got the requisite AARP card information with a list of discounts that I will soon be eligible for…and, once again, there’s the gray hair thing.

When I decided to stop covering up all the gray that’s actually been with me and multiplying since grad school, I forgot about what that might do to those who never actually knew that about me before. I like it. My husband likes it and I’ve gotten several compliments from those around me here who only know me like this. My mother-in-law says she likes it, but actually, she just stares at me intensely like she’s trying to figure out if that’s really me every time she sees me now before she says something sweet about how she just loves my hair now.  (big grin!–actually, that makes me laugh every time it happens!) I was getting it cut again today and sharing that with my hairdresser when I suddenly remembered that my own parents have never seen me with gray hair and no attempt to color it. Since I’m heading back to see them in the next few weeks I decided that I should at least give them a bit of time to prepare for it, so today I told my mother that I have gray hair. Talk about a milestone!

Her response: “Really?!

“Yes,I just thought I’d better let you know before I headed home again…and, by the way, I’ve got WAY more than Daddy does, ok? It started in grad school and I just decided that I was tired of covering it up.”

“Well, that’s ok,” she said. “Mine started when I had you.” (I guess that should have told her a lot, right?)

We laughed about it and I decided right then that I’m not really that old, after all. I’m still my mother’s baby, it’s only 50, and I plan to live forever. I’ll start thinking about getting old when I get to be my mother’s age…and I’ll still probably have to stop and do the math even then.

 

cropped-heart Grace & Peace!