Thursday, January 29, 2009

Life on the Grumble Track

Funny how little grumbles often turn into big gripes. Big gripes turn into major complaints. And major complaints can turn into chronic dissatisfaction.

Tuesday found me complaining about my cold garage, where my washer and dryer live. This time of year, when night temps reach into the 20s, it's not the place I want to be. Never mind that I don't have to haul laundry to a stream and scrub it against rocks. Never mind that I just have to push a couple of buttons and return in an hour to retrieve fluffy, dry, dewrinkled clothes.

When I'm feelin' grumbly, stand back.

So I sorted five loads of laundry in piles, and decided to get to it early the next morning. As I stepped back into the warm house, I revisited the same old thought: Sure would be nice to have a laundry room inside where it's warm! (In Summer, I grumble that it's too hot out there: Sure would be nice to have a laundry room inside where it's cooler.)

Fast forward to the sound of rushing water. I had stepped out into the garage to get something from my freezer, and discovered water gushing from the top panel of the 50-gallon water heater. It must have flowed for at least three hours, because when I discovered it, the garage was flooded 2-3" deep. After my initial panic, I was able to turn off the water and survey the mess. And you know what I thought?

Ohmygosh, imagine the damage this would have caused if it had happened inside! It's much easier to deal with a flooded garage (read: concrete floor) than flooded flooring and carpet.

Sometimes it takes a watery detour to pull me off the grumble track.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Are You a Lighthouse?

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." - Plato

I toured a lighthouse a few summers back, not intentionally, but because the tour guide happened to spot my husband and I during a lull in visitors and coaxed us inside for a look around. We climbed a dizzying number of stairs while he gave us his usual spiel--how supplies for the structure had been transported by ship around the cove, being careful to avoid the dangerous currents and rocky shore. He went into detail about the light itself, and described the fellow who weathered forty-something winters at the assignment.

I thought about life on that damp hill, and how the beautiful view must have faded in time, like every scenic wonderland does, once you see it a few times too often. And I wondered, what would drive someone to give all those years to sending out a signal to people he'll never meet? Was he ever tempted to leave and become a farmer or a plumber or an elevator service man?

Anyone who would stay that long, season in and season out, had to be committed to something greater. He must have found his calling in warning ships and fishing boats away from storm-churned inlets. He felt purpose in the results of his labor. And maybe, just maybe...he saved a life or two without even knowing.

Lighthouse people are like that. Maybe you know a few yourselves--special folks who look after your well being without lording it over you, like the neighbor who shares her garden vegetables just because, or the friend who checks in on you when you're sick. It could be someone who has lived several decades longer than yourself, who leans forward in her chair by the window to share an experience that may help you bypass a serious mistake. Could be a teacher or coach...a parent or protective older sibling.

And could it be that you're a lighthouse person, too, and don't even realize it?


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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dixie-Cup Love

"A kind heart is a fountain of gladness, making everything in its vicinity freshen into smiles." -- Washington Irving

I've toured 15th-century castles in Europe, where royal families dined at thirty-foot-long tables surrounded by gilt-edged mirrors and wall murals. I've enjoyed catered conference meals with groups of writers, and shared a plate of peanut-buttered crackers with a contented 97-year-old widow who didn't realize she was poor.

I've had the pleasure of touring the White House, as well as the Catacombs in Salzburg, Austria, a dark cave on a hillside where early Christians buried their dead and also gathered secretly for worship services.

Both appreciation and misunderstanding have visited my life. Happiness and sorrow. A quiet peace, and room-pacing worry. I've been on the receiving end of beautifully wrapped gifts, but have been equally WOWed by a Dixie-cup bouquet of wildflowers from a granddaughter who loves me unconditionally--no strings attached.

Life is a myriad of experiences, a hilly road that meanders across uncharted territory, through blind intersections, and around sharp corners. None of us knows what a day will bring, but I do know this: A little Dixie-cup love goes a long way, anytime.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Adam Bender Story

It's easy to grumble about little inconveniences in life. Life is often difficult and unfair.
Then along comes a story like Adam Bender's, a little boy who was born with cancer, and all the petty annoyances and inconveniences dissolve.

This video blessed my heart. It's a good reminder of what's really important in life, and how we can rise above anything, with God's help.

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Glance

Today I saw another homeless person, huddled in an old beat-up car with his sleeping dog. It took me back to four years ago, when I exchanged a glance with a weather beaten man traipsing up the highway. Here's a blog entry I made in April 2005 at my Macromoments blog, titled "The Glance."

While waiting for the gas station attendant to fill my tank, I pulled out a To Do list to add a note to myself. That's when I detected movement out of the corner of my eye, and glanced just in time to see a hunched-over man ambling up the road. He had the appearance of someone who'd been carrying a heavy backpack for years, someone who knew exactly when and how to shift the pain from one shoulder to another. In a strange sort of way, he seemed almost comfortable with his load.

I guessed he was around late fifties, with a face so weatherbeaten and leathery, it was hard to tell where the dirt ended and his tan began. Dressed in a tattered brown tweed coat and loose-fitting, camouflage pants, he marched to a cadence nobody else could hear. He'd wrapped a frayed scarf around his neck twice, in an attempt to ward off a strong south wind, but from his expression, it seemed the wind was winning. I wondered how many harsh winters he'd marched up other roads similar to this, on his way out of yet another town.

Gripping my pen through warm winter gloves, I felt a sudden twinge of guilt. My car was certainly warmer than any place he'd laid his head in recent days. But logic took over, and I began to reason away his pathetic situation. He has choices, like everyone else, I thought. Probably let drugs or alcohol ruin his life and lost it all.

I hated thinking such thoughts, but I didn't know where to mentally file vagabonds. Maybe he loved life on the road like the fellow in a recent newspaper interview. But what if he didn't? How was I to react to someone whose life was so distant, so out of synch with mine? Surely not like the woman in the Safeway parking lot one Thanksgiving, who plopped a raw turkey into a transient's rusty old cart, then mumbled, "Happy Holiday!"

The man glanced up to find me studying him. In the shadow of a floppy-brimmed hat, soft brown eyes stared back at me. This stranger with the hurried, hunched gait paused at my door to tip his hat and smile. It was like a scene straight out of an old western movie.

I smiled back. And you know what? For a quick moment, I felt a human connection that made me hold his glance a few seconds longer.

Then I looked away, mostly so he wouldn't see my tears. Dear Lord, this was somebody's baby boy! I didn't know whether I was praying or pitying him, but I know one thing: God felt very near.

Hadn't this transient entered the world kicking and squealing for attention? Hadn't someone wrapped him in a cozy blanket and welcomed him into their family? Didn't they cuddle him and coax him to speak his first word? Who was there to cheer him on as he took his first wobbly step? Did he have brothers? Sisters? Parents who loved viewing the world through his dancing brown eyes? Maybe...or maybe not.

God gazed at me through the eyes of that passing stranger, to pierce my apathetic heart. A single glance on a windy afternoon rolled back the years, to remind me of another moment in time when God first declared me lost, but loved me anyway.

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Music for the Soul

One of my favorite composers is Andrew Bocelli. His music lifts my spirit and brightens any day. One of my favorites is The Prayer. Here's a video in which Bocelli and Celine Dion perform together.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Warmth of Home

Some things take longer to thaw than others. A stubborn determination...frozen icy heart. But with or without our permisssion, God aims light exactly where he wants it. Like mid-morning sunbeams weaving through the woods, he lifts shadows and awakens his world. He has a gentle way of exposing selfish motives, stirring up passions and gifts, and massaging half-hearted commitments. God's light transforms everything it touches.

Our God is the first hint of dawn through tightly drawn blinds, and the last sunburst before dusk pulls the shade on Today. And whether we choose to acknowledge him or not, he remains the Alpha and Omega--the Beginning and the End; the thawer of hearts and the Rescuer of lives & souls. He is the glue that holds this fragile world together, and the net that catches us when we fall.

God notices our comings and our goings, our times of soaring and times of waiting; and our appointments with joy and sorrow. He satisfies our hunger and thirst, provides shelter and clothing, and walks Tomorrow's path before us. He was there long before "Once upon a time..." and will be there to punctuate all of Eternity.

When icy winds blow (as they're bound to blow from time to time), God invites us inside, to warm ourselves around his toasty hearth. May each of us feel the warmth of Home today.

"God's word vaults across the skies from sunrise to sunset, Melting ice, scorching deserts, warming hearts to faith." --Psalm 19:6 (The Message)


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Plenty to Celebrate

ave you heard the good news? In spite of the ongoing barrage of unsettling news in the world today, there's still plenty to celebrate. Unless you enjoy feeling on the bottom rung of every ladder...unless you thrive on woe-am-I's, what if's, and if only's...and unless you live and breathe disastrous news, this blog is for you.

This, my first post, is more of an introduction of things to come.

I won't be posting typical headlines.
I won't be posting dumb facts or stories about idiotic people doing outrageous things.

I will post anything that strikes me as inspirational and uplifting. I realize it might not be your cuppa tea, but then, maybe you aren't into tea. That's ok.

We need to laugh and celebrate life. I hope you'll share this link with your friends and contribute your own inspirational stories and links, too.

Are you with me?