"One day at a time, sweet Jesus
That's all I'm askin' from You.
Just give me the strength to do everyday
What I have to do..."
That's what was in my head this morning when I woke up. Marilyn Sellars sings the perfect scratchy vinyl version on youtube. (I'd publish a link to it for you if I could figure out how. Still working on the techno part of this blog). But, it's interesting that a song will sound in my head at just the time that I need a little encouragement. My friend calls it a "companion song". That's a perfect description. I could use a companion right now.
Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with life. Like today. I'm working on two very big projects at the same time, the garden revamp project and the re-do the guest bedroom project, both of which need my full attention. At the same time, I look around and see all the other garden projects waiting for me. Then I look around the house and see the purge the linen closet project, the reorganize the pantry project and then there's the Garage with a Capital G project where all the extraneous things from the previous projects pile up. Projects, projects everywhere!! Arghhh! Maybe I shouldn't look around so much.
I have to remind myself that they don't all have to be done immediately and I can set aside the jumble and overwhelm and just focus on one thing at a time. Like getting the guest room done before our family arrives this weekend, and then our friends after that. Everything else can line up for second place. Except the plants my friend gave me. They have to be planted several days before yesterday.
Oh dear, what's a girl to do? Well, first off, she shouldn't panic. What's the worst that could happen? The plants will languish in wait, the weeds will keep growing, the pantry and linen closet will remain unchanged and the guest room will be just a mattress on the floor. The only thing possibly harmed in this scenario would be the plants. Which may now be dead.
Okay... so what's the best that could happen? Everything could magically get done and done perfectly without me exerting any energy whatsoever either physically or mentally. Or I could move forward and calmly apply my gifts and talents to accomplish the tasks before me and learn to enjoy the process of "living in the midst life", and understand that it's ok to feel the pressure and pull of life's inevitable events, big and small, for there are blessings to be reaped from that.
Since I don't believe in magic and I need to exercise my "moving forward skills", and I am motivated by love and the deadline is just two days away, I think my choice is pretty clear. The most important thing for me to focus on today is the guest room because that most closely involves relationship and love. No, my family and friends don't need a fancy guest room to sleep in while they're here but I love them and I'm so happy they want to visit, and it's a blessing for them, and for me, to be able to provide them a comfortable and pleasant place to rest.
So, there. Thanks for helping me sort this out. I know what I must do. I'm gonna get those plants in the ground!! <kidding> They'll be fine. And though there are love and blessings to be had in accomplishing the myriad other tasks I could do around the house, today I'm gonna go for the guest room kind.
I've finally come to realize that it's okay if others don't agree with my opinions or the way I conduct my life. To some my life may seem random, without focus or purpose. It seems that way to me sometimes for I have not accomplished any great thing, by the world's standards. But I have been married to the same man for 38 straight years-in-a-row-one-right-after-the-other, and we like each other better now than when we married. That's so amazing, especially when I think of those difficult times when we could have chosen to separate. Each time we chose to work it out. Those were the best decisions I ever made.
I believe all things work together for the good of those whose hearts are seeking after God. All of the things and events that have happened to us, all the choices we've made in our lives, the things that make up our individual histories, are all integrated into the people we are today. The good, the bad and the ugly, to quote a famous saying.
Problems may occur if we deny those events, decisions, choices. In fact, I'm going to be bold and say that problems will occur if we deny our past. Like our Creator YHWH, we are made body, soul and spirit to reflect Him, Father, Son, Spirit; yet in a mystery yet to be fully understood, integrated into one. If we have unresolved issues hidden in our hearts it affects our entire being and eventually those deep things will work their way up like rocks in the ground work their way to the surface to bend the blades on our lawnmowers.
We have to accept the choices we've made and make amends if we need to and are able. That means we need to ask for forgiveness from God and others, or extend forgiveness, even if it's <gasp!> God we need to forgive. We also need to forgive ourselves. Forgiveness is the great releaser. It frees us to let go of the event, removes the hook from our heart that continually catches us so we are free to be healed and move forward into life.
This does not mean, however, that we can flaunt the bad or even good choices we've made in life, for that demonstrates pride in ourselves and shows we find our identity in our hardships or accomplishments; or our accomplishment in overcoming our hardships; or in ourselves, a tenuous being who is changing every day. But neither should we deny them if we are to be whole and available to engage with others and embrace life in our present.
Measure by measure, freedom comes from the balance of embracing our past tempered with living honestly before God, ourselves and others. If someone asks, tell them the truth, using wisdom as to how much you tell them. Some are unable to handle the whole truth all at once.
This is a process that is never complete, will never be complete. For the rest of our lives there will always be another rock that will surface. This, too, is something we must accept. This is one facet of how a life must be lived. Acceptance of our past coupled with the pursuit and allowance of healing will birth a life well-lived with as few regrets as possible.
I really did know what I was getting into when I decided to tear out all the lupine in the driveway circle. We had done it once before. It is hard, dirty, frustrating work ripping out those dead, dry, brittle plants whose tap roots can be up to 3 feet long and, I don't know, 8" around at the top tapering down to a point at the 3' mark. They are really pretty and green in the spring producing beautiful yellow bract-like flowers and when massed together are very attractive. But when the flowers fade into dry seed pods, they literally explode and shoot the seeds everywhere to ensure next years crop. Then the plants seriously degrade into dry, brown, scraggly messes. Lupine are very invasive and very persistent. So I knew I had my work cut out for me and I had a plan to transform the scrubby circle into a lush example of nature's beauty.
After working for a day by myself, my strong hubby, Ron, volunteered to help. Every difficult job goes easier with a buddy, and in one mighty and valiant effort, we cleared 3/4 of the circle before we ran out of oomph. We still had to haul the mess back to the burn pile and thankfully I was inspired with the idea to work smarter, as they say, and use the truck to deliver them to their fiery fate. Brilliant!
So now there was only a "little bit" left for me to finish up the next day while Ron went to work. I thought, "No prob. I can handle this bit", and tore into it with great optimism, in spite of the soreness from yesterdays effort. After only about 15 minutes of slipping down the sloping side of the circle, attempting to effectively wield my shovel against those evil shrubs whose cantankerous and mischievous tap roots invade the plumbing systems of China to tickle the bums of proper Chinese ladies, and whose branches fight back slapping me in the face, smearing dirt in my hair, shoes and down my shirt stuffing what little available space remains in my bra, I was exhausted. I plopped down on the log bench under the maple tree in tears. "Why am I doing this? I just wanna be done. This is so freaking hard! What are you trying to teach me?"
After I caught my breath a bit and got over myself, a few thoughts began to surface inside from the place where God speaks to me. They went like this: "Are you really going to let these measly shrubs defeat you? You are smarter and stronger and tougher than they are. Look inside, find your strength. Be persistent and complete the job."
Persist. Persistent. Persistence. Continue despite opposition. Endure, recur (do it again). (Webster's Dictionary).
The word stuck out like a cross between a spanking and a pat on the back. Is that a definition for life in general or what? Life can sometimes give us a spanking and make us cry. Things don't always come easy. Especially the good stuff. I had to pull myself out of myself and make the sacrifice to finish the job I wanted to do. Most everything requires a sacrifice. Of time, of energy, of money, of love, of strength, of endurance, of ego, pain, forgiveness, of, of, of...
It's just so plain freaking, hard sometimes but we have to persist, make the sacrifice and move forward. Even if it's just pulling up one root at a time with a slip back down only to have to climb back up to do it again. But it's worth it. Worth the big and little sacrifices. Opposition and persistence make us strong and, when we look back to see how far we've come, brings fulfillment and satisfaction to our hearts.
And this is important, we have to remember that when life spanks us we need to give ourselves a pat on the back by looking around to see how much we've accomplished, how far we've come. It's an immediate reward and encourages us to continue, to "recur", to do it again. There will always be another opportunity to exercise persistence. My next opportunity is at hand. I must complete the job I started, finish the clean up and replanting. When it's all done, and it'll take a while, I'll have to persist in it, I can look back, remember what it was, see what it is and, with "recurring persistent patience", imagine what it will become.