Sorted Past

The most difficult part of downsizing is sorting and deciding what to keep and what to do with what I don’t. The process has been a painful one in many ways, but it has also been a very freeing one. Starting is the most difficult part of any process, so God gave me a three-week window in which to work. While the girls were away, I had the freedom to work through my past as I packed. I needed time to remember, sort, and let God help me pack for my move.

As I’ve packed, the smallest objects have triggered my biggest memories and led me down the path to my past. I’ve downsized several times in the last thirteen years, but I’ve never had a move like this before. I’ve gotten rid of things I didn’t want or need before, but I’m giving away things I love and didn’t imagine I could ever leave behind this time. My heart grew along with the piles that formed as I sorted my past with my present and future in mind.

Technology helps immensely, and that’s been a big lesson in my moving forward. Simplifying became my mantra, so I made the decision to move into the 21st century in regard  to music, movies, books, and photos. That was not an easy decision for me, but it was one that opened up a great deal of space. While the kids were away, I uploaded over six hundred photos so I didn’t have to decide which ones to hang on the walls of my new apartment. I plan to display them all on my television screen. I gave my CD’s, DVD’s, and both players to the girls because I don’t plan to use them anymore.

The most beautiful side effect of sorting is seeing the joy others find in my treasures. That has been especially true with my books. The museum in town was happy to get my old books, and several wonderful young teachers are treasuring my old classroom treasures. I was deeply touched when I listened to one of them telling me how much she loved going through the student writing I gave her. My students loved to read each other’s work and the writing of their parents. Now, her students will be able to read the work of their parents and their grandparents. That makes my heart happy!!

I don’t have a sordid past, but with God’s help, I do have a sorted past. That has been the beautiful blessing of the Lenten season this year. I go into Lent with an agenda, but God always has a different plan in mind for my heart. I usually go with mine and suffer through the season; but occasionally, I let go of my plans, go with God’s, and find the transformation He has in mind for me.

Sorting my past has made this move amazing. I finally understand that purging must come before packing, and that’s lightened my load in an amazing way. There’s nothing sweeter than the peace that comes from knowing I am moving in the right direction without my old baggage, and knowing my treasures are in good hands. I know that with all of my heart this morning 🙂

Baggage

 

The Elephant in the Room

Moving into a new place is exhilarating and exhausting. The exhilaration comes when I do what I can; the exhaustion comes when I try to do what I cannot. I was completely spent by the time my living room furniture arrived at eight last night. Sidewalks go in today, and it will take two days for them to settle and dry. I was determined to get my furniture in the apartment before the work started.

The lady at the furniture store told me the furniture would be delivered between three and six. My discomfort began at four and reached panic stage at six. I called the store and was assured the furniture was on its way.

I only live a few minutes away from my new apartment, so I kept moving what I could until they arrived. I got a call around seven from a worried young man. He apologized and told me the truck had given him trouble all day. I could tell he was upset, so I told him I was fine and not to worry. He assured me I would have my furniture before eight. I relaxed knowing help was on the way and grabbed another load from the house.

I allowed worry to invade my space. Like an elephant in the room, it overshadowed everything else and spoiled what should have been a beautiful day of moving. I went outside to look for the truck because I was concerned about the unfinished drive and the coming darkness.

The sweet town I love was lighting up, so I stopped to watch. I knew I would love the night lights, but I was shocked when I looked up and saw the mountains in the distance. My new views were as beautiful as the ones on the mountain. I looked up at God, shook my head, and thanked Him for wowing me, once again. He smiled back and reminded me that He was God after all. I tend to forget that when I get caught up in my plans.

Frustration came from trying to move the elephant in the room without any help. I hate to ask for help. I want to do everything by myself and everything for everyone else. It’s no wonder I wind up winded and worrying! The only good thing about frustration and exhaustion is the sweet sigh of release that comes when I know I can do no more. I was right there when I noticed a big, white delivery truck passing by my drive. The good news is that there is a wonderfully paved parking area for state cars next to my apartment. I waved at the young man driving, and told him to stay right where he was. It would be much easier to unload from there.

The direction I think is best is not always the best one to take. God knew the right driveway for the two young men who emerged from the truck expecting a tongue lashing after a very long day. We all laughed when I told them God knew the way better than I did. They put blankets on the ground leading to my porch and proceeded to cover anything that might be marred by their moving with more blankets. I marveled at their manners and their methods.

The young man driving was a lanky country boy with big blue eyes and a soft southern drawl. The man helping him was short, stocky, and spoke with a heavy Mexican accent. He looked concerned about my placement of the love seat and said, “What about there?”

I looked where he was pointing and said, “That’s perfect if it will fit!! Do you mind to move it again?”

He smiled broadly and said, “Not at all!!”

I enjoyed talking with the young men about their long, difficult day and realized they could move what I could not, but even they could not move a truck that didn’t want to be moved. We all need help when it comes to elephants, and we all have different ones to move.

As I was drifting off to sleep, God reminded me that He would take care of the elephants if I would get out of His way and let Him do what only He can do. I’ve been trying to figure out how to move an elephant since mama died, and it has worn my heart completely out. God, and two very sweet young men, reminded me to leave the heavy moving to someone else. Help is always there, and there’s hope in that help! I can spend a lifetime trying to move an elephant, learn to live with it, or let God transform my heart by moving it for me.

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From Stagnant to Still

Stagnant Water

You know the feeling you get when you want something and just can’t figure out what it is? I had it and hated it yesterday. A sense of longing filled me, and I couldn’t focus on anything except figuring out what I wanted. It took all day and most of the night for me to realize stagnancy had replaced my stillness.

I graze when I’m empty, and that causes overfilling and under satisfaction. My exercise routine has been disrupted by the weather, and munching has caused me to slowly settle into a stagnant state. The trouble with settling is getting back into action. I needed rest this winter, but my body at rest has tended to stay at rest. I needed was an external force to get me going, and I knew One Who could do just that.

I had an English teacher in high school who loved the old Latin proverb “Still waters run deep.” She said it frequently, and I often wondered if she was trying to get me to be quiet. I was a bit of a babbling brook in high school and still am in uncomfortable situations. I understand babbling, but stagnancy was beginning to stink. My heart longed for the deep movement of still waters, so I went to the Source of Living Water and asked for help.

The difficult lesson in lethargy is that the longer I stay stagnant, the greater the force necessary to get me going. God made it clear in the wee hours this morning that the power that raised Christ from the grave is in my own heart. There is no greater power in existence, but God will not force His power upon me. I must come to Him. In the coming, I see how far I’ve wandered. I have to travel the road that took me off course in the first place. As I backtrack my way, I find the humility to go His way.

Stillness is a constant movement that draws me closer to God, to myself, and to those around me. Rushing leads to babbling, and that takes me further downstream. Settling brings stagnancy, and that’s the worst state of all. I’m hoping the image of a stinky stagnant pond will keep me from wandering and help me move toward His still, deep waters because my heart will never be satisfied with anything less.

The beauty of still waters is that they reflect whatever they are facing. David paints a beautiful image of such water in Psalm 23:1-3

 God, my shepherd!
    I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
    you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
    you let me catch my breath
    and send me in the right direction.” (The Message)

I love this interpretation because it describes my own heart. God gave me drink from His quiet pool, let me catch my breath, and put me back on the right path this morning. I love it when He does that!

 

Still Waters

Morning Moon

The full moon put on a beautiful show this morning. I’ve always been fascinated by its reflected light, especially in the morning. Most prefer to watch the moon at night, but I’m a morning moon person. I live on top of a mountain, so the sun rises in front of the house and sets in the back. My bedroom faces the west, so I get spectacular sunsets most days. I love to sit and watch the sun go through her nightly ritual and don’t like it when she closes the clouds in front of her. Sunsets are fast, and I miss many because I’m not paying attention. The moon takes its time, and I love that about moon sets in the morning.

When the moon is full, its light wakes me early. It’s like the little girls when they come running down the hallway for breakfast. They have been gone for a week, and I’m missing our sweet morning ritual. I’ve had a different routine this week; I’ve enjoyed having coffee and watching the full moon fade into the horizon. I love the views from my bedroom; a dear friend calls it my window to the world. I so needed this time on the mountaintop, and I wouldn’t give anything for the two years I’ve spent with my son and his family. I will have a very different view from my new home in town, but I’m looking forward to watching the town awake.

I love people, and I love Bryson City. God brought me to these mountains in 1970 to attend college, and I never went home. I’m sure my grandfather would say I came home. My father argued with me when I decided to live in the mountains. He said, “I worked my ass off to get out of those mountains, and you moved right back up there. What does that say??”

I smiled and said, “That one of us has some sense.” He had to grin because he did love the mountains of his childhood. He was worried about making money and getting away from what he saw as backwardness. Mama embraced the mountain ways and knew what every plant in the woods could cure. She missed the closeness of the mountains and longed for them her whole life. Like her, I can’t wait to get back to mountains when I am exposed in the flatlands for a while. They surround me like a warm hug and make me feel protected.

I believe we all have a place that speaks to our hearts. The mountains speak to mine in a powerful way, and that has never been more true that during the past week as I’ve had time to stop and sit and stare. God shows up in those quiet moments, and I know I am exactly where I am meant to be. Daddy understood. The city called out to him in the same way, and he never regretted listening to its call.

The moon takes a long time to let go in the mornings, and it becomes more beautiful as it pales. It is sitting in the distance reminding me that it will be back in the morning. I’ll be waiting with the wide-eyed wonder of a child and a cup of great coffee.

Moon Set

God Smiled With Me

I asked a master carver how he created a life-like bear from a lifeless piece of wood. He smiled and said, “I simply cut away everything that isn’t a bear.” God reminded me of that conversation as He chipped away this week. The process was painful, but the peace that came was well worth it.

God’s Word cut deeply, leaving me exposed, vulnerable, and ready to soak in the love He poured over me. I wonder what a carver would do if the wood questioned and fretted while he worked.  I think he might just toss it into the fire. I can just imagine a piece of walnut saying, “Are you sure you know what you’re doing? You’re not getting rid of that, are you??” I squirmed, cried, questioned, and yelled at God the whole time He carved.

If God were the Smiter I continue to imagine Him to be, I would have ended up in a pitiful pile of dust on the floor. Like a master carver, God sees what I cannot. He sees love when I see failure. He sees love when I see imperfection. He sees me, and He will let me see me if I allow Him to get rid of all that isn’t what He wants for me. At the peak of my struggle yesterday, I caught a glimpse of myself in His Son’s precious love. I relaxed into the image and let His love wash over me.

I have amazing sisters and friends who have always seen the image I saw yesterday. I have become very adept at looking away or making jokes or excuses when those I love try to get me to see myself as they do, but I opened my eyes and my heart to God yesterday. I saw what He, and they, have always seen. I smiled, and God smiled with me.

Gigi at 62

Like Ruby Slippers

As I prayed last night, God showed me that I have always had the power to change the direction of my heart. Like Dorothy’s ruby slippers, my heart will take me home. I’ve wandered down many yellow brick roads searching for something I had all along. It boils down to trust, and I didn’t trust my heart. Neither did Dorothy. She wandered in Oz when she could have been home with those she loved. I’ve done the same.

God reminded me that I didn’t trust Him or His promises. He didn’t put on a fancy show or perform magic tricks like the Wizard. He did something much more spectacular. He waited while I wandered, and never stopped loving me. He knew I would eventually find the truth that would transform my heart and bring me home.

I’ve been the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, and the Lion on this journey, but I think Dorothy best exemplifies my search for love. When she looked down at those ruby slippers, she knew what she wanted. When I looked into my heart and saw the beautiful truth that had always been there, I knew the same.

Oz didn’t give Dorothy or her friends anything they didn’t already have. He simply saw in them what they could not see in themselves. That is the transforming power of  love. When I feel it and know it is within my own heart, my journey changes in a powerful way. I can go home. I can love and be loved as I never imagined, and I can be who God created me to be. That’s as transforming as it gets.

There's No Place Like Home

There’s No Place Like Home