Sunday Morning Coffee: Perfectionism

Perfectionists tend to think of it as a strength. Any strength taken too far becomes a weakness.

I’ve been making sleeping mats out of used plastic bags. These are distributed to the homeless in Pottstown by a gentleman from our church. I enjoy the work, and especially when my back is misbehaving, it’s something I can do as a ministry when I can’t do much else.

My most recent project is one I’d had in mind for some time, and I finally finished it yesterday.

Here’s a picture:

May be an image of indoor

Think of it as modern art. The colorful blobs are flower beds. The grey strip is a walking path. Sandy brown beaches, a lake complete with ducks and a boat, hills, a sunset, and lots of cloudy blue sky.

I’m not satisfied with it, but I’ll refrain from picking it apart. Whoever gets this mat isn’t going to be worried about the flaws ūüôā
So why do I say that perfectionism can be a weakness? Well, for one thing, it robs a person of the joy of the journey. When all you can see are the flaws, there’s no satisfaction in the hours and hours of work involved. That’s a weakness.

Perfectionism is a good thing in a lot of ways. We want perfectionism in our medical care; in our mechanics; in food handling, and many other professions. We need to learn to check, double-check, and check again when we’re dispensing medicine, or exercise advice, or child-rearing wisdom, just to name a few things.

But when one is never, ever willing to move forward for fear of being wrong, then nothing is ever accomplished. When we do finish a task and then pick it apart to everyone else, it robs them of whatever pleasure they can receive from it.

You know, the only artist I know of Who makes NO mistakes at all is God. His creation is a daily blessing. Every new little baby is a masterpiece of His creation. We should take great joy in His perfectionism, because He is incapable of making an error. He is all things to all people, able to meet every need and every desire that honors Him.

Doing this mat has been a lesson in humility for me, because I’m not an artist, and this was a difficult task I’d set for myself. Many times I had to pray, “Lord, please keep me patient. Help me not to quit.”

So the mat will go to church with us this morning, and my friend will gladly accept it to be given to someone who is in need.

All things do work together for good when we know that we are working in His will, for His purpose.

Mind Clutter

Saturday morning.¬† Yesterday I spent most of my day cleaning out, sorting, boxing up the overflow in my closet.¬† Now I have a much more accessible wardrobe, arranged by type and color.¬† No, I’m not OCD¬† ūüôā I just like not having to sort through things I don’t want to find things I do want.¬† Before, it looked something like this:

Image result for crowded clothes closet

It feels really good, a project I should have done long ago but kept putting off.¬† Some of the stuff will go to donations.¬† Some will stay in storage in case I ever, ever get back down to the sizes I boxed up. I know, wishful thinking. I did get rid of things that are so dated that I wouldn’t want to wear them anyway.¬† ¬†Now, it looks more like this:

Image result for organized clothes closet

Doing that long-avoided chore has motivated me to do the same thing in my dresser drawers. That’s today’s project. Shouldn’t take as long, and I suppose I’ll find things I’d forgotten I had.

While I worked, I thought about how necessary it is to do an “organize-sort out-throw away” spiritually, too. I’m not as busy as I was during the years when my kids were all home, growing up, getting into high school with all the activities that included. Life has settled down a good bit. It’s not my hours that are crowded these days so much as my inventory of books I want to read, paperwork to catch up on, the blogging I do, the book I’m working on. Sometimes I need to just BE with the Lord, without all the busy-ness that can crowd Him into a corner of my heart and mind.

Taking inventory spiritually isn’t hard, really.¬† It’s just a matter of recognizing what gets in the way of having the kind of walk with God that I need and want. So what needs to go? Well, less time on Facebook would be one improvement. If I took the time to read every single thing that shows up on my newsfeed, I’d never get anything else done all day.¬† I’m not on any other social media, just that one.¬† It’s enough.

I don’t watch TV during the daytime, usually.¬† That’s not a trap I’ve fallen into. But books?¬† Yes, I still love to read.¬† Books are like chocolate. You can never have too many.¬† My collection needs a good sorting out/throwing out. Wait–throwing out BOOKS?¬† Isn’t that illegal or something?¬† No, but it’s very hard for me to do, even when I’m pretty sure I won’t ever read a particular book again. Most often, I give it to someone else.¬† There’s also a bookstore downtown that takes donations.¬† I could always check out whether or not the Good Will or Salvation Army stores accept used books, too. Or the library.

What it boils down to, more than physical objects or activities, is spending more time in the Word; more time in prayer; more time with uplifting Christian music and listening to some of my favorite preachers.

More time memorizing God’s Word. There’s a huge key to keeping that spiritual inventory under control.¬† Hiding God’s Word in my heart, that I might not sin against God (Psalm 119:11). Keeping my mind centered on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, praiseworthy–these are the things to think about (Phil. 4:8).¬† That means I don’t spend any more time than necessary thinking about the wretched¬† political state of my country.¬† I keep up, I know what’s going on, but if that’s what I fill my mind with all day every day I’m going to need to see a counselor ūüôā

Cleaning out closets and drawers is good.  Cleaning out mind clutter is even better.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Viruses are Nasty

I got up on Friday feeling just fine. Went to the dentist and still felt fine. It wasn’t until later in the day that all my muscles started to hurt, and I couldn’t get warm.¬† No appetite, and my temp went up a couple of degrees.

The only thing I can figure out is that I’ve been fighting a cold for a couple of weeks now, and maybe it finally decided to¬† leave, but not without a rip-roaring farewell party.¬† I’m still weak this morning, and can’t seem to get enough sleep. So far, the coughing and sneezing have stopped. Sure did put a stop to my plans for the weekend, though. I’ve been pretty useless.

So I’ve been thinking about how my virus can be compared to sin. It can creep up on you a little at a time.¬† Remember I Peter 5:8? “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”

 

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Some years ago, I learned that there is a substance in a lion’s paws that absorbs sounds, so that when the lion is¬† stalking prey, there is almost no noise as each pad sets down on the rustle of grass and twigs.¬† ¬†That’s Satan, padding quietly about, looking for the weak, the one separated from the herd, the old, the sick. The vulnerable.

We are all vulnerable to temptation and sin.  And when it gets a strong hold, as in II Cor. 10: 4-6, it takes  the power of the Holy Spirit to  break the hold of sin and send it packing.  In the process,  there can be some damage, and confession and repentance must be a part of the process.

Just as we try to prevent physical illness by eating well, resting, exercising–so we must be on guard against spiritual illness by staying in prayer, in the Word, and fellowship with God’s people .¬† Physical health must be purposefully maintained. So must spiritual health be purposefully maintained.

 

Weekend Wanderings

It’s so pretty outside.¬† It’s the last few days in October, and we have crystal clear blue skies, colorful trees—but lots of their leaves litter our lawn.¬† The temp is somewhere in the mid-60’s, which in my mind is just perfect. No wind, bright sun.

If you suffer from SAD, please go talk a walk today before evening sets in. You’ll feel better ūüôā

I had a haircut appointment this morning, and then stopped at the Walmart for some groceries.¬† If you’ve been reading¬† my blog for some time, you may remember a post in which I described a sweet little girl who had a smile for everyone, and what fun it was to watch grumpy old adults respond to her sunshine.¬† I decided to make it a point to smile at everyone whose path crossed mine. Can’t hurt, and maybe someone else will catch the bug.

Here’s the link to that post:¬†friendly child

So there I was again, in my handy little electronic cart because, even though my back is feeling much better, it gets tired quickly with bending and lifting.¬† I was motoring along minding my own business when I heard, “There she is!¬† That’s the one I was telling you about!”

Well, of course I looked all around, curious as to who was creating such a to-do. And I saw two older folks–even older than I–grinning at me like a couple of Cheshire cats. disneycheshirecat

What could I do?¬† I grinned back. I said, “Hi, how are you today?”

We had a short conversation. Seems the woman had told her husband about this person who always smiles at her whenever they happen to see each other at the Walmart. She was amazed that a complete stranger would do something so, well, strange.  We ended up laughing as I told them about the little girl who got me started in this journey, and we all  turned away smiling.

And then, out of no where, I thought of my mom. I used to dread going to the grocery store with her because the minute she walked in, about fifteen people, including customers and employees, would pop out of the walls and¬† call out to her. “Hey, Ms. Fullmer!¬† Is that your daughter from Pennsylvania?¬† How y’all doing today?”¬† And then they would launch into what was obviously an ongoing conversation about various relatives and their doings, which my mother knew all about.¬† Cashiers would actually motion her over to their lane, wanting to get to chat with her.

This is my mom when she was 69, a year younger than I am.now .She was all dressed up for my oldest son’s wedding.

mom68

She’s been in heaven for five years now, and I’m sure she’s spent time getting to know everyone there, catching up with her friends and loved ones and generally being sociable.¬† She told me once that when she and dad were just starting out in the ministry, she was very shy. Dad was tall, a big man, and she would do her best to hide behind him when they entered a room full of people.

She sure did change over the years. Dad used to shake his head when she told him she was headed off to grocery shop, and would be back in about an hour.¬† He said to me once, “She’ll be gone for up to three hours, and come home all in a rush to get supper started. She never accounts for her visiting hours.”

They were a good match, my mom and dad. He mellowed as he grew older, and so did she—as most of us do—but her social butterfly phase didn’t mellow.¬† It blossomed.

She and that little girl in my Walmart would have taken to each other, I think.

July 4th

Saturday morning. ¬†I’m changing all my headers, as I do every month.

I love July. ¬†I’ve always thought it was very cool to have a birthday on the 4th, and this year I’ll be hitting 70!

The Fourth of July is a wonderful day for America. We take the day off for picnics, parties, parades, and fireworks in celebration of the birth of a new nation, independent of any controlling forces except our own elected Congressmen.

I’ve always thought that the Declaration of Independence was poetic in its language:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.‚ÄĒ¬†

Of course there is much, much more.  It is a wonderful document, unique in its inception, and created by a consensus of some of the most brilliant minds in our history.

As I read over the entire document before posting this, I was impressed again at the moral courage and dedication it took for the signers to go public in their desire to throw off the control of the British government, and ¬†the taxes and regulations that came with it. Some of the signers lost their health, their wealth; some spent time in prison; some suffered beatings and attacks on their families; some died for the “treasonous” act of putting their names to this document.

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When I finished reading, I prayed as I often do: “Heavenly Father, let us never forget how this nation was conceived, founded, and built to provide a place for freedom for all; freedom to worship as we choose, without imposing our faith on others against their will; freedom to speak our minds without fear; freedom to work and to thrive by our own efforts. Help us to be thankful for the freedom we still have in this country, even as it is being eroded by our own comfort and laziness, to educate ourselves and be cognizant of those who would destroy us for their own gain. Protect us from those who would change our beloved country into something governed by religious zealots, bigotry, and hatred that aims to control us in every detail of our lives. Give us a spiritual revival, Lord, ¬†before we become too weak to stand in our own defense.”

As you enjoy this holiday weekend, take a few moments to remember our history, and to thank God for the privilege of living in America.

Singing the Blahs

You know how sometimes you have a day in which you just don’t care? ¬†Don’t want to do a thing but indulge yourself in books, tea, and maybe something sweet? ¬†So you let everything else ¬†go begging–cleaning, laundry, shopping–all the mundane things of your normal ¬†life. They’ll be there when you come back from your selfie-day. ¬†Your ME time, which is a term I find utterly ridiculous. Women need to realize that they’ll have plenty of “me time” ¬†at a later point in life. ¬†You have to work for it, earn it. The cool thing about taking a day off now, at this point in my life, is that it really doesn’t hurt anyone else. I don’t have children who need to be cared for, and Terry has never been a high-maintenance guy. ¬†He’d rather be the caregiver than the care-receiver, which is a blessing for me when my back plays havoc with my life.

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So I indulged myself yesterday, took my day off. Read, watched some funny retro TV. Took enough time to get supper under way, but took the easy way and stuck it in my slow cooker. Nice. If I had to account for every minute of my day, I’d be in trouble.

So am I all energized, full of plans, rushing forward into a day of productive activity?

Nope. ¬†The biggest trouble with indulging myself is that I just want to do it all over again the next day. ¬†That would be today. ¬†And Terry is ¬†gone for several hours today, so there’s no one being all industrious and making me feel guilty.

Actually, I do feel guilty. ¬†I’ve got the lazy woman blues. ¬†And there’s a¬†Matlock mystery marathon on ALL DAY today. ¬†Yikes. ¬†It started seven minutes ago, and this first episode is one I haven’t seen before. So I’m watching it. After that, maybe I’ll redeem myself by finding something important to do.

I’ve got the lazy woman blu-hues!

Can’t think of nothin’ good to dooo-hooo!

Don’t want to move my lazy bo-hones!

I’m here at ho-ome all alo-hone,

Not even talkin’ on the ¬†pho-hone!

Oh yeah, I’ve got the lazy, crazy doin’ ¬†nothin’ blues ¬†ūüôā

An Answered Prayer

One of my sons who moved to California in September finally landed a job today after a four-month drought. ¬†This is a tremendous blessing, and I can’t even tell you how relieved we are.

He called it a Christmas miracle. ¬†I just think it was God’s timing, God’s way, because it turns out it’s the most perfect job he could have ¬†landed. Sometimes it’s very hard to wait on God’s best, but it always comes at exactly the time it was most needed. ¬† These four months have strengthened my son’s faith rather than cause him to give up in discouragement. ¬†And that’s an answer to prayer as well.

I’ll tell you something else that’s a Christmas miracle. ¬†Hearing the conversations all over the house with all my family home. ¬†Hearing the kids laughing. ¬†Right now they’re outdoors–it’s very warm here–playing hide and seek. ¬†Every now and then I see a flashlight beam. ¬†They’re having a blast. ¬† ¬†Enjoying the wonderful meal that Ken put on tonight with a little help from Mike and Janan. Looking forward to more fellowship tomorrow, and to the Christmas Eve service; then Christmas day itself. ¬†Hard to realize it will all be over in just three more days. ¬†I will treasure every moment.

God is good, all the time.

Just Writing out Loud :)

It’s late. ¬†I came in here to shut down the computer, and got the urge to write. ¬†Everyone besides Terry and me went out to Hershey today, and they’re not back yet. ¬†The house has been incredibly quiet after two days of lots of noise. ¬†Good noise.

Sure is nice to see my kids and grandkids. ¬†The grands are all growing up so fast! ¬†The oldest is 18 now, and the youngest is already six. You know, when you’re young you think you’ll never grow old, and the time seems plenty long enough. ¬†Now, however, it’s as if the sixty-eight years behind me were lived in a nano-second. ¬†Of course, my ¬†children who range from late 30’s to mid-40’s put the lie to that notion ūüôā

We got news yesterday of the sudden death of the husband of a young friend who is only in her mid-30’s, with three children to rear. ¬†Another ¬†death of a young man in his early 40’s, leaving wife and at least one child. This kind of news leaves me just ¬†speechless, and heartbroken for these young women who never dreamed they would be widowed so early in life.

We all know that death is a part of life, but we don’t really expect it to be a part of OUR lives! ¬†At least, not until we’re so old that we don’t know a thing about it any more.

Be thankful for your spouse, your children, your grandchildren. ¬†Don’t ever take them for granted. ¬†We are not promised that our lives will be without loss and pain; only that God will be with us through the loss and pain. ¬†We do need to learn to cherish the moment.

So. ¬†I didn’t intend for this to be maudlin or preachy. ¬†Just putting down words as they form in my mind. ¬† I’m missing our son in California, who couldn’t be with us this year. ¬†He’d have so enjoyed picking on his big brothers again. ¬†Also missing his girlfriend, who flew to Slovakia to be with her parents over Christmas. ¬†She’s ¬†a sweet girl, and we’re enjoying her very much.

All right, that’s enough. ¬†It’s almost exactly ten o’clock, and if I’m not in bed before Ken and family get here, I’ll be up until midnight hearing all about their day ūüôā ¬†That will wait until tomorrow.

If I don’t stop in again before Friday, I wish you all a wonderful Christmas, and thank you for being loyal readers and friends.

And to all, a good night ūüôā

 

Thanksgiving

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day here in America.  Of course,  visions of pilgrims in tall black hats, their wives in mob caps, Indians sharing their knowledge and their food, that first feast that went on for several days, crowd into my mind.  History revisionists keep trying to alter how events happened, but we still have the original diaries and letters of people who were there to keep us straight.

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We know that hundreds fled Europe in order to be free to practice their faith; we also know that it was a long struggle in the New World before it became universally safe to practice one’s own faith without fear of ¬†legal reprisal. Not everyone who fled religious persecution in Europe was ¬†a Puritan. There was, for instance, the Catholic colony (Maryland) and the Quaker colony (Pennsylvania). ¬†Later Rhode Island became known as “the little Baptist state.”

I just deleted a couple of long paragraphs. I don’t want to focus on the negative this morning. ¬†Instead, I want to be thankful that today I will spend a lot of time in the kitchen, prepping for tomorrow’s meal. That my kitchen is new, beautiful, and very nearly finished. That we have more than enough food. That we are healthy and still able to host the meal here. That I still have one daughter and her family who live nearby, and will grace our table tomorrow. That it will be a relaxed, calm day. We will enjoy the food. The men will probably work on a couple of projects together. We’ll play games, and the kids are all old enough to enjoy doing so. ¬†We have no avid football fans in the mix, so the TV won’t be on. I’m thankful for that.

You won’t see me until next Monday. ¬†The kids traditionally stay overnight with us on Thanksgiving night, and I’ll be busy with that. ¬†On Monday, we’ll resume our study in Ephesians, Chapter 2 and verse 4. ¬†I’m thankful for that little gem of a letter, and I hope it is blessing you as well.

So I’m wishing you all a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving Day. I pray that you will indeed find many things for which to be thankful. ¬†If you are traveling, that you will be safe. ¬†If you are staying home, that you will enjoy a day with friends and/or family.

May the God of all comfort give you peace and hope today, tomorrow, and every day.