The really spectacular day…

IMG_20170527_180617889It doesn’t take much to make us happy. Well, some days it does, but it’s usually stuff like spending time together and having both of us healthy at the same time and holding hands and having our cat, Smokey, oversee our every move. (As you can see from the photo, he thinks this is HIS blog today.) We have had just such a day.

We had planned a whole long weekend at home trying to kick the yuck of the previous weeks out of our lives and I had all the food choices figured out and ready for the grill, a slew of old movies and maybe a board game or two lined up along with the knowledge that we had a whole extra day to add to the mix on Monday. I woke up first and quietly made my way into the living room to break my way gently into the day. It wasn’t long before my husband joined me with a mischievous grin on his face. I could tell he felt better just by the way he was grinning. (MAJOR praise!)

“You know what I want to do today?” he asked.

“You want to go out for breakfast.”

He shook his head from side to side and began to spill out his plan for the day. Just the idea that he felt up to it made me want to join in the fun, so we made quick work of our morning chores and off we went. It took us off our beaten path and it was worth every single second.

When we arrived at our destination we giggled like school children. We held hands as we crossed the parking lot and shared one last (really big) grin as opened up the heavy doors and stepped inside…and then we parted ways. You would have thought it was Disney, but we had just entered the hallowed space that is the Barnes and Noble.

Let me pause here and let you exhale that great big breath you’ve been holding, ok? I know. That probably wasn’t even close to what you were expecting, but believe you me–it was a big deal to us. Even better? We made a pact to split up and go whichever direction we wanted and stay as LONG as we wanted…just because we could! Outside of a public library or a botanical garden, there’s just about no other place I’d rather spend some time than a room full of words all put in different orders and ready to share something new and pertinent with you if you just pick up the ones written in the right order to appeal to you.

We had traveled over an hour just to get to this one. Oh, there’s one about 20 minutes closer, but THIS one has a P.F. Chang nearby…and that cast the deciding vote on the matter. When our adventure–and yes, it qualified because we braved Atlanta traffic and survived all sorts of perilous drivers on the road there and back! In fact, I am actually the only one who made all the right moves on the entire trip there and back, y’all! It is harrowing to know that that many people who can’t drive actually do so!…ANY WAY!… When our adventure was complete, we each had a bag full of books and magazines with hours and hours of fun, entertainment, learning, and mind adventures just waiting to be started. We made another stop on the way home to get some minor fixes made to a recent purchase and then, to top it off we made a stop by the Sonic on the way home and purchased TWO Route-44 Fresh strawberry slushes…and if that doesn’t sound delicious to you, then we’re not sure you’ve really lived. (grin)

We heated the PFC left-overs from lunch while we got in our comfortable clothes. Actually, that last sentence should be more accurately translated into, “We then got into our pajamas at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon and settled in for the long duration!” Now that we’ve made sure Smokey has properly settled in for appropriate oversight and the delights of Crispy Honey Chicken with brown rice and the egg rolls have been consumed, it is here that we find ourselves…hoping and praying that one day you’ll manage to have such a splendid outing with someone you love this much and that you won’t let things like being over an hour away and not being on the schedule or feeling silly that if you’re going to go to all that trouble it better be something more spectacular than a bookstore and some really upscale Chinese food. (Fried green beans, y’all. Fried green beans. It would have been worth the trip just for the appetizer!)

The moral of this story is this: don’t wait to have a spectacular day until you can pay big bucks and do something stunningly grand to impress people. The little things actually make the bigger impact when you consistently fill your life with loving people, delicious food, and good words all written out in a way that makes you smile…and maybe even ones that will inspire you to get out and do something that wasn’t on your agenda at the beginning of your day, either.

Grace and Peace, y’all! I’ve got a stack of books to dig into right now! (happy dance, happy dance!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Things in common…

I love fiction—it is a great way to just escape for an hour or two.  My life is not something that needs to be escaped as a general rule, but sometimes I love the opportunity to just be somewhere else without having to pack and drive, so fiction can be the perfect (and cheaper!) solution.  When I’m in a reading mood, I immerse deeply (woe to the one who interrupts me!) and I read quickly…so quickly, in fact, that my husband has declined to spend further gift money on books for me because, “Twenty dollars only lasts you about an hour or two and then it’s just gone and you need something else!  It’s too frustrating to think that the gift is gone that fast.”  I happen to agree with him.  That’s why I love having access to 3 different libraries.  These days, I try to reserve the book money for those I think may actually become permanent residents on my bookshelves…along with many, many others…one day I’ll count them, but not today.

If you’ve been anywhere near the Books on the Table page on this blog, you may have noticed that the content hasn’t changed since I started.  There’s a reason for that:  I’m taking my time.  Actually, I’ve read at least 20 books—generally fiction—in the last 2 months. (Keep in mind that I had some vacation time on my own last month!)  By the time I could sit down and list them all, I could have been half-way through one, so I picked that option.  The ones listed on my blog page are the ones I’m taking in steps.  Sometimes you just need to go slowly so you can get the full effect of something.

Right now, I’m slowly working my way through Jen Hatmaker’s book,  7:  an experimental mutiny against excess.  The book is Jen’s chronicle of her decision to rebel against overindulgence in the seven areas of clothes, shopping, waste, food, possessions, media and stress.  Her writing style is extremely casual, honest and often hilarious—and all with the purpose of illustrating how she was drawn closer to God by giving up or at least severely limiting some things that society insists are just normal parts of life.

I was drawn to this book for several reasons.  The number 7 has always been a significant one for me—there are people in this world who receive emails, notes or packages from me signed only with the number 7 and they know exactly who sent it.  One of those friends (my #2) started her own experiment of a similar nature a few years ago.  In it, she decided to focus on the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23.  During her year devoted to self-control, she had a different area of focus each month as a way to curb her natural inclinations and increase her dependence on the Holy Spirit for strength in her daily life.  It was fascinating to hear about her struggles and her triumphs in her quest to become more like Christ.  For those two reasons alone, I just HAD to buy this book.

Right now, I’m in chapter 4—the one where Jen gives up/severely curtails her exposure to media.  That’s something we’ve been discussing at our house for years.  (Note that I said discussing, not necessarily doing.)  As I’ve been reading, I’ve been amazed at how different the two of us are.  We’re both women who love God and want to be more like Him.  We both love our husbands and our families.  We have both been incredibly blessed.  We have so much in common—and yet the things we’re drawn to are often so radically different.  Things she has trouble with I could sail through and things I’m not sure I’d ever even contemplate, she sees as simple.

I love that.  It reminds me again that the God we both serve made us different on purpose.  He made you different on purpose, as well, but He never made any of us in ways that go against His will as defined in Scripture.  We choose to do that on our own.  Psalm 139 declares that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”  I think somewhere deep inside we know that and yet we often forget it.  We also forget that it applies to those around us.  We get this idea that if they’re doing something different from us…then it must be wrong.  After all, it couldn’t possibly be us, right?  That’s where we start judging…and where we get off track.

Reading Jen’s book this morning, made me think about 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV):  “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape that you may be able to bear it.”  It was the “common to man” phrase that struck me.  All of us face temptations.  That’s the common part.  The things that tempt us may be different and our resulting struggles may appear to be more or less socially acceptable depending on what temptation we’re facing, but the struggle to do the right thing is common to all of us who follow Christ.  Let’s not get bogged down in judgment of others because their battle is different from our own.  In other words, let’s not let judgment become one of the main things we have in common.

No matter what battle you’re facing today, remember:  God is faithful!  Take the way of escape provided and be grateful!

Self-evident

Have you ever bought one of those For Dummies books?  I have.  Actually, I’ve bought 3 of them now.  The first two were for my husband as he tried to brush up on a subject and was having difficulty locating other materials.  I was in a local bookstore, saw two on that topic and thought I’d help him out by getting them.  He thumbed through them rather quickly and put them on a shelf up above the computer…and hasn’t touched them since.  I believe that was about three years ago.  I’ve seen them every day since then that I’ve been at that computer and so has he.

At first, my feelings were a bit hurt because I thought I’d done this great thing for him and there was practically zero resemblance to the “Way to go, Becky, once again you’ve saved the day!” outpouring of thanks I had been expecting.  Actually, his response was more along the lines of an absent minded shoulder pat kind of ‘thanks’ and a frantically renewed search online.  I was mildly offended…but I didn’t say anything. (Something those of you who know me may find a bit hard to believe, but still true, nevertheless.)

Not too long ago, after I had recently started a new project, I found myself in another bookstore—not local, this time.  I was having a grand old time looking through the magazine section, the history section, the cooking section, the art section, the…well, you get the drift…I wasn’t terribly focused on finding a specific resource that day.  I was just having a ball just being in a bookstore without a time limit and without a specific target in mind.  The bookstore visit was my gift from my husband who knew that I’d been under a good deal of stress and had followed his agenda throughout the rest of the day…it was my reward for being such a sweetheart, you know.  (Yes, I know:  My husband is a prince!)  I’ve found that when God wants to get my attention, He can do so in a variety of ways, so I wasn’t specifically looking for anything, though my eye had been caught by several glossy publications about my new project…and they were included in my growing stack for purchase.

I had finally covered the entire store—at least those sections that typically interest me, in any case–and was beginning to think about heading toward the check out area when my husband called to me from a totally new-to-me area of the store.  He had located several books about my new project and had been standing there giving them a review.  (Have I ever told you how great my husband is?!  So kind.  So helpful.  So supportive!  I really do love that man!)  In any case, he had two or three options he thought might work for me and his favorite of them all was the For Dummies guide—even published this year!—so you just knew that it had all the latest information I’d need!  I flipped through it, noticed a whole section on my particular area of interest and quickly added it to the pile.  We checked out and headed home where I immediately added my new book to the table by my chair for later review and reveling.

The next day, once I had the house to myself, I turned on the music and sat down to increase my knowledge and enhance my newly acquired skills.  And that, dear friends, is when I found out why they named this series For Dummies.  Between the covers of my newly purchased book was a whole host of information that didn’t make a hill of beans difference to me on what I was trying to learn.  In fact, the only pieces of information that I have found to be valuable was contained in the first couple of paragraphs under the section I’d been so pleased to notice in the store.  After that…nada…nothing…Not A Thing.  At first, I was frustrated.  Then I was annoyed.  And then I just had to laugh.  I mean, what could I say?!  The title of the book spelled it out as clearly as was humanly possible for me—and everyone else!—when it said, For Dummies!

I’m not entirely certain, but I think there may have been some payback involved…

(And since it took him three years to do this, I may need to add “so patient” to my husband’s list of virtues.)

Word collector

I’ve always loved words.  One of my aunts tells the story of when I was around 3 years old and I “read” her my book…and how she was amazed that I was right as I flipped through the pages.  No, I wasn’t a child prodigy.  I had a mother who read to me so much that I had the book memorized so that it looked like I was reading it to people.  It amazed my aunt, however, and cemented in her mind that I was brilliant in the way that only a doting family member can be convinced.  She still seems to be convinced…and I’m grateful for that.  There’s nothing quite like words of encouragement from someone who loves you.

I’ve collected words for years.  Quotes, verses, songs, poems, fiction, books and books and stacks of books…tomes of collected wisdom and entertainment, visits to foreign lands where I will never go, travels to times I can never live in this life—all of that, ready for me to choose my adventure at any given moment.  Heady stuff!

 Since my family was full of educators and pastors, we were always reading and we were often in church.  We were that family that was not only there every time the doors were open, we opened the doors.  Was it any wonder that I grew up with Bible stories that were as fresh in detail to me so that they all felt like my extended family, too?  I’d heard these stories all my life just like I’d heard the one where my Uncle Cotton…well, that’s another story…we’ll wait on that for now.  My point is that I grew up always surrounded by love, always encouraged and always cherished as I grew up.  Words were everywhere and they brought life to me.  Eventually, they brought the Word of Life to me.  I could relate to one who was called The Word.  That made sense to me and I never questioned that He was who the words of Scripture said He was.  I’d seen Him—and unconditional love–in action since I was a child.

 Maybe that’s not your story at all, but it doesn’t change His.  God loves you.  He thinks about you constantly.  He’s preparing a place just for you and He wants you with Him forever.  He’s got His own collection of words for you and today just might be the day that you need to spend a little time checking it out.