“Special Handling Required”

This time of year all the package handlers are busy dropping off the bounty of online shoppers’ purchases to millions of doorsteps around the world.  

It’s a wonder that most of it arrives on time and in good condition.  

amazon boxes at door

I suspect though, that you, like me, have gotten one or two boxes over the years that arrived dinged and damaged, battered and broken.

While it can be a real hassle to get the product replaced, it’s usually only a matter of time before a brand new “whatever” arrives.  

People aren’t so easily mended, though.  

And I think we forget that.  

People are more fragile than they appear. Words are more piercing than we realize. We should add in an extra notch of kindness and gentleness whenever we can.

~Gavin Ortlund

I have friends that take more care with their smartphone than with their spouse or children or parents.

Things can be replaced.  People can’t.

Mass produced consumer goods-no matter how expensive or treasured-are worthless compared to a heart.

In an age where clicks and phone calls make it possible to fix so many things, they are rarely helpful in fixing relationships.

“Special Handling Required!” should be plastered across every human’s forehead.  

People are irreplaceable, fragile, beautiful gifts.  

More valuable than anything we could ever buy.  ❤

words and hearts should be handled with care

 

 

 

 

Lessons From a Bear: Small Brain, Big Heart

I went to see the movie “Christopher Robin” awhile back.  

I’ll be honest-it’s pretty much stock-in-trade standard Disney fare where things turn out well in the end.

Of course, I know that things DON’T always turn out well.

In fact, they can turn out very, very badly.

Awful, in fact.

But Pooh helped Christopher remember what was really important.

winnie the pooh feel love

And it’s not money or houses or anything else you can buy in a store or online.

It’s people.

Living souls are unique creations, singular blessings, unrepeatable gifts and they deserve my time and attention.

Because no matter how cherished or expensive, everything else can be replaced.  

winnie the pooh 100 minus one day

A High Price to Pay

I have learned a lot in these four years since Dominic ran ahead ahead to heaven.

But what a price to pay for wisdom!

It’s certainly not one I’d have agreed to up front.

Yet, here I am, older and oh, so much wiser, than I would have been if I had not buried a child.

Sometimes I resent that I wasn’t given the choice.  I would trade any wisdom, no matter how beautiful and valuable for the life of my  son.

No contest.

But since I cannot have him back, I’m trying hard to pay attention to the lessons grief is teaching me.  I try to embrace the insights sorrow is showing my heart.  I will not treat lightly any wisdom I may find in this Valley.  I won’t dishonor my son’s life by making little of the things his death has revealed to  me.

And I will not stay silent.

I will shout from the rooftops, from the hillsides, from any bit of altitude I can gain that the most important thing in life is love.

Love of God.

Love of people.

Nothing else really matters.

love God love others rocks

Everything else can be bought and sold.

But love cannot be traded for money-it is priceless, eternal and immortal.

Our bodies don’t last forever, but love does.  

Our hopes may be dashed, but love lives.

Our breath may be exhausted, but love never runs out.

the answer is still and again love

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.

  • 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.

cropped-img_3258.jpg

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.

Simple.

Free.

Authentic-Self-752x490

* 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

 

Priorities

Browsing a book store (a favorite pasttime) I came on this selection in a collection of poems by Robert Frost:

A Time to Talk

When a friend calls to me from the road

And slows his horse to a meaning walk,

I don’t stand still and look around

On all the hills I haven’t hoed,

And shout from where I am, What is it?

No, not as there is a time to talk.

I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,

Blade-end up and five feet tall,

And plod:  I go up to the stone wall

For a friendly visit.

It pierced my heart.

How many times have I chosen to ignore a friend’s need for companionship-brushing past importantly as I pursued the day’s tasks?

I’ll get around to it when I have more time,” I think to myself.

And then one day there is no more time.  The friend I kept putting off has left this world for the next and I can’t retrieve the missed opportunities.

Nothing stings like words unsaid, hugs not given or love left bound in a heart instead of set free to bless another.

C.S. Lewis said:

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”

And I think I don’t have time?

Of all the souls born on this planet, Jesus had the most important work to do.

Yet He purposed to include people at every turn.

He healed the sick.  He spoke hope to the woman at the well and the woman caught in adultery.  He rebuked religious leaders who were more interested in burdening the faithful than guiding them to God.

Jesus walked everywhere-surely it would have been more EFFICIENT to let the Holy Spirit whisk Him from place to place as He did Phillip after speaking to the Ethiopian.

In walking, the Light of the World  was building relationship-He was speaking truth to the twelve who would be the foundation of His church.

And relationship takes time.  There is nothing instant about it.

It is clear from the life of Christ that after His Father, people were His priority.

Few of us will be called to great public tasks or lofty visionary ministry.  But each of us has been called to carry the light and life of our Saviour to every person we meet.

If we are to follow in the footsteps of our Master, then people must be our priority too.

So I will set aside my “to do” list when someone comes calling.  I will cross the street to meet that person I remember from school or church.  I’ll send a card to the sick relative and remind her that I love her and will pray for her recovery.

I won’t lock love in my heart and hoard it like gold.

I’ll shed it abroad so that it speaks courage to everyone I meet.

“Imagine what our real neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered, as a matter of course, just one kind word to another person.”
– Mr. Rogers