When It Rains, It Pours: Priorities

I woke up this morning to a downpour.

That’s not unusual for this time of year where I live.  I had even anticipated it by (unusual for me!) checking weather last night and securing all needful items under cover.

But as I was sitting in the dark, working on blog posts, I heard my beagles begin barking.

beagle face

Again, not unusual-sometimes they smell or see something hidden from my senses in the dark cloak of early morning.

But then I began to hear random clinking and bumping and finally, scratching on the front door.

So I got up to investigate.

Two of the beagles had escaped their pen and were having a blast in the rain and mud.  They ran to greet me, making sure their wet, nasty tails and bodies hit every part of my lower leg so I could carry the aroma of wet dog back inside with me.

Years ago I would have fussed and fumed, gotten dressed and waded through the wet to put them back in their pen-staying outside (even with thunder and lightning!) until I had patched whatever breach they had managed to create in order to escape.

But this morning I just turned on the porch light (to let them know I was here and aware) and went back inside to my coffee and computer. *  I’ll venture out when the sun’s up and I can see what I’m doing.  It’s just not worth getting worked up over.

I have changed since sending a child ahead to heaven.

Things that used to make me apoplectic don’t even raise my eyebrows anymore.

I’ve developed a whole new set of priorities. They serve as filters and make it easy to decide in an instant if something’s worth my emotional, physical or mental energy.

It’s actually a really short list.


  • People I love and care about.
  • People I can possibly help in some way.
  • People who don’t yet follow Jesus.

always leave people better than you found them

Do I love and care for my many critters?  Absolutely! 

I am a shepherd by heart and by trade.


But things?  Nope.

They are meant to be used-meant to be an aid to living not a master of my life.

I made a lovely (insert sarcastic tone here) “pinstripe” down my nearly new truck last September while at my parents’ home.  After a brief moment of disbelief and a few expletives, I moved on.  It absolutely does not bother me.

Panties in a wad over inconvenient circumstances? Not so much.

Maybe I have to rearrange my plans but that’s so much easier than never being able to make plans with that person again.

I’m finding this new way liberating.




* Full disclosure:  After I wrote this, just as the sun was rising I HAD to go out and get those mischievous little buggers.  Tail-wagging but carnivorous, they were chasing my poor rooster.  So I spent almost an hour trying to wrangle their wet, muddy, stinky fannies back into their pen, block the escape route and pray that they didn’t repeat the maneuver.

BUT I was still smiling.

Laughing, actually.

On a scale of 1-10 it didn’t even register.  🙂

And a fellow farmer friend sent me THIS, which made it even funnier:

goat i must go my people need me


Grace Gifts of Grief

It was a long time before I wanted to believe that I received any gifts worth keeping from this life I didn’t choose.

I knew I had tears, pain, agonizing sorrow, loss, heartache, dashed hopes, empty arms.

If I could give those back and regain my son, I would do it in less than a heartbeat.

I can’t, so I’m left here to ponder what else I’ve received from burying a child.

And I am learning that I have been given some gifts I truly cherish, although the price was higher than I would have willingly paid.

I call them grace gifts: heart-expanding, hope-enlarging,

I am learning compassion, which is something very different than sympathy or pity which are compassion’s paper stand-ins.

My heart is tuned to the suffering of others in a way I never knew before, even if their suffering is very different than my own.  

I have been given new eyes for the people around me.  I’m not as quick to decide I know someone’s story based on the clothes they wear or the car they drive.

I’m more patient with strugglers and stragglers although I am less patient with braggarts and bullies.

I’m more inclined to listen than I used to be.

My heart writes my “to do” list instead of my head-people over projects.  Every. Time.

I love harder but more loosely than I did before.  I’ve learned you can only hold onto this moment, this smile, this hug and the rest is in God’s hands.

I am quicker to forgive-myself and others-because we are all failures in one sense or another.  

I speak blessings aloud instead of simply in my head, too embarrassed lest anyone should laugh at such an archaic tradition.

I am learning to let go of my own and others’ expectations.

I shed tears when I need to, smile when I want to, belly laugh when I can.

I’m very much NOT the person I was before Dominic ran ahead to heaven-in many ways a sadder person.  

But in many ways a wiser one as well.

Be Present

I remember the first year cell phones became common among my children’s friends.

We hosted an event at our home and I watched, amused, as the guests realized, one by one, that there was NO cell service out here in the country.

get smart hear me now

Cut off from their electronic connection to everyone not in attendance, they were forced to be fully present with those that were.

Some of them embraced the opportunity while others bemoaned the fact they had to carry on face-to-face conversations.

And when they found out we didn’t have cable TV, well, THAT was a whole other disappointment!

What seemed natural to me and my family was unusual and uncomfortable for most of them.

Being present takes effort.

It’s so much easier to listen with one ear while pointing the other toward Facebook, YouTube, music or some other distraction.

It’s a lot harder to sit quietly through the same story you’ve heard every Christmas.  It requires self-discipline to lean in and love on that difficult aunt or uncle who can be so critical but is really so desperate for compassionate companionship. It is unnatural to lay aside our own desire to be the center of attention and make room for someone else instead.

But being present is the present only YOU can give.

wherever you are be all there

And it is the present that others will remember long after the trinket you bought them has been lost or broken.

So put down the phone. Turn off the TV.  Hide the remote and close the apps.

BE with your people.  They, and you, are a gift.

Today is a treasure that will never be repeated.  

Treat it that way.  




The Irresistable Power of Love

As you gather with loved ones today, can I tell you something oh, so important?  

Don’t wait for that phone call or red-letter calendar day to reach out.  Don’t let busy-ness overrun your life so that it squeezes out what and who is really important.  Don’t let twelve months separate this time and the next time you talk to the people you care about.  

love the ones god gave you

When you think about someone-call them or get in touch in some way.  We have the potential for connectivity as never before.  There is really no excuse for not sending a text or an email or a Facebook message.  Don’t just think about it, DO it!

Love is irresistable when it’s not just a feeling.  

love is not what you say it is what you do pooh

Love in action can break down walls, build bridges, overcome evil and speak courage to broken hearts.

There is so much we cannot control in this world-so many hard things we cannot stop from happening. 

But when we choose to love-really, really love-we can create pockets of peace and places of safety. 

Never underestimate the power of love.

the answer is still and again love


Being There: No Substitute For Showing Up

I totally get itwe are ALL so busy.

Calendars crammed weeks and months in advance and no white space left over to pencil in lunch with a friend even though we desperately NEED it.

It seems impossible to make that call, write that note or stop by and visit a few minutes.

How can I meet my obligations if I use precious time doing the optional?

But when the unexpected, unimaginable and awful happens, suddenly that calendar and all those appointments don’t matter.  Balls drop everywhere and I don’t care.

Because when your family or best friend needs you, you come-no questions asked.

You toss a few necessities in your carry-on, lock the door, unplug the coffee pot and RUN.

You connect that phone to the car charger and dial away as you drive down the road.

And you show up.

Because when someone needs you, REALLY needs you, there is NO SUBSTITUTE for presence.

And the world keeps spinning.

All those “important” commitments cluttering my calendar are still there.  But a few phone calls later and they are easily rearranged. Medicine refills can be sent almost anywhere.  Church responsibilities can be shouldered by someone else.  Social dates can be rescheduled.

The only thing that matters is being exactly where your heart tells you it needs to be for exactly as long as you need to be there.

But you don’t have to wait until it’s an emergency to show up.

If it can wait if it HAD to, then it can wait.

You will not be going over a “to do” list with your last breath.

Choose to make people a priority right now-you might not get a second chance,

cant change the beginning but can change the ending




It ALL Matters

I hate to admit it but I not only like to prioritize tasks I often prioritize people.

I divide them into two columns “Matters”  and “Doesn’t Matter” and give different weight and time and effort to each one depending on which side of the paper they are listed.

While that’s just fine for inanimate objects or household chores, it’s just plain wrong for relationships and people.

Because when I’m approaching another human being bearing the likeness of the God Who made him or her, I don’t get to decide how valuable they are.

That’s already been decided by Jesus Christ.

you are worth more than many sparrows

So my responsibility is to do precisely that task I have been sent to do at that moment-whether it is offering a smile, taking a meal, lending a helping hand or writing a note or making a phone call to encourage a tired heart.

Because it ALL matters.


Who’s Gonna Miss You Baby?

Busyness has become a national idol-we rush from commitment to commitment, signing up to fill every single minute with something, anything that makes us feel important, valuable, irreplaceable.

Of course we have job and family obligations-as we should-but we don’t feel fully accomplished until we have colored in the edges of our calendar until no white space remains.

Because we think that if we don’t show up, people will miss us.  We think that if WE don’t do this or that, it won’t get done.  We are absolutely certain that our input is critical to the success of every mission, every committee, every project.

Can I let you in on a little secret?  It’s not.

One of the inconvenient and difficult truths that has been burned in my brain since Dominic ran ahead to Heaven is this:  his absence didn’t make a bit of difference to the world at large.

It only made a difference to the hearts that loved him.

He was editor of a law journal-guess what?  It was still published.

He died days before final exams.  They happened anyway.

His apartment? Cleaned out and rented to the next in line.

His commitments? The hole closed up around the space he would have occupied or it was filled with someone else’s body and energy.

He is truly missed by those for whom his absence was inconceivable, not by those for whom his absence was an inconvenience.  


So my take away is this:  I will not waste my time running here, there and everywhere.

I will not spend my life energy on things or projects or activities that don’t matter.

I am not going to invest the scarce resource of the rest of my life in busyness.

I will give everything I’ve got to hearts and lives and people.  I will pour myself into projects I’m passionate about, people I love and pursuits that will outlive my few years on this earth.

Because busyness does not define me.  

Love does.

leaf heart