So, I’ve done a load or two of laundry in my day. In fact, I’ve probably done at least a load or two of laundry per day for over 25 years. Having a large family has helped me do my share and more of this chore.
I’ve learned a lot. Separating is imperative if you have a new red shirt. With six males in the house, pink was never a dominant color choice. Another thing is that you can’t overload the bin. If you overload the bin, well, the laundry doesn’t get clean, the washer starts to thump, and bump causing the launderer (me) to run frantically from one side of the house to another before something snaps (in the washer of course.) One more thing. Never, ever, ever put a white sock in the load with dark sweaters. Never, never, never.
Why is this you ask? Because one seemingly innocent move like putting a white sock or two in a dark load of clothes can create hours and hours of painstaking removal of lint from dark sweaters. Either that or the sweater gets put away for years. Or the sweater is worn with lots of little white dots all over it. It’s not a fashion statement to be envied…trust me. I’ve worn those sweaters a time or two (or two hundred).
I have also wasted precious time trying to de-lint the sweater that was a cohabitant of the sock(s) in the washer. Yep, I’ve wasted precious, precious time using every form of lint remover there is in an attempt to remove what could have easily been prevented by just not putting socks into the washer. “A stitch in time saves nine” is one way of saying that… a white sock kept out of the washer saves a lot of annoying lint removal later on…
And why do I blog of this today? What’s the deal with the white socks? Well, I just did a load of black clothes and almost dropped a pair of very white wooly socks in to the washer. Yikes. I did get them out in time, but immediately was thankful for the analogy. Because why?
Well, I was thankful for the analogy because words…words are much like socks. One white sock in a load of black, one bad apple in a basket of fruit, one ill-timed ugly word in a conversation….they all seem to have the same effect….lots of wasted energy and time.
See, ill-timed, reactionary, words that aren’t thought through, well, they have an impact much like the white sock in a sea of black. They waste a lot of time, energy, and ruin something that was good. Words matter. Spoken and unspoken, they matter. What we think and feed in our minds matter way before they come out of our mouths in words.
I love the way the Bible likens words to a rudder on a ship, for they do steer and lead and direct not only the people in the conversation, but can impact those we never even meet. Words matter. The Bible also likens words to a fire…fire can warm or be useful, or burn and be incredibly destructive. Just ask the people who love the beautiful mountains of North Carolina….a campfire can be a beautiful thing, but a fire untamed, un restrained, in full-on fury is terrifying, destructive, and devastating.
So, am reminding myself to be careful. I’ve gotta be careful with fruit ….(note to self: gotta get those bananas out of the fruit bowl today..either to make banana bread or trash them because they will soon lead to some bad apples.) Also, I’ve gotta be careful with socks and breathe a huge sigh of relief that I just rescued the black sweaters from a pair of hidden white socks. And, way most importantly, I’ve gotta be very very careful with the words I speak out loud and even the words I don’t say.I’ve gotta filter the words I hear through what I know to be true. I’ve gotta be careful with the words that are spoken to me in anger and hurt and be determined to have a teflon spirit. I’ve gotta be careful with words. Period. What I let in. What I let out. What I do with both.
Words are rudders. Words lead the heart, the mind, the soul, and we are to guard our hearts with truth. Period. Reactionary words happen. They just do. Forgiveness needs to happen then too. But more than that, it’s such a great thing to be well equipped with truth from the Word of God that acts as a filter, a dryer’s lint guard if you will, to get all the fluff out of the way and stay clean, dare I say, “pure”. That’s what the Bible says…How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to Your Word.” Psalm 119:9. And if it can keep a young man pure, well, am thinking that it will definitely have a great impact on keeping others on the right track. So here’s to throwing away bad fruit, keeping laundry sorted, and hiding God’s Word in our hearts, (order of importance reversed of course!)
And if you get a chance, read Psalm 119. The whole thing. It’s awesome. Talks about how God uses His Word to revive our spirits, enlarge our hearts, keep us on the right track. His Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. His Word refreshes and gives hope.Hiding God’s Word in our hearts, meditating on it and filtering our thoughts through the treasure of Truth found in the Word can prevent so much waste in our hearts, minds, and lives. Yes, it’s definitely worth the time to read…Kind of like those white socks…being mindful can prevent a lot of annoying wasted time, energy, and even heartache later on. And unlike the effects of white socks on sweaters, the impact of words can last as long as the memory allows and can lead us down paths that are difficult to redirect. Here’s to letting that ‘lamp unto our feet’ help keep us on good paths. Just a few thoughts as I did my laundry and rescued my sweaters from a few white socks.
Psalm 119 – ALL oF it is so good, but below is just verse 11 through 32.
How can a young man keep his way pure?
By keeping it according to Your word.
With all my heart I have sought You;
Do not let me wander from Your commandments.
Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You.
Blessed are You, O LORD;
Teach me Your statutes.
With my lips I have told of
All the ordinances of Your mouth.
I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
As much as in all riches.
I will meditate on Your precepts
And regard Your ways.
I shall delight in Your statutes;
I shall not forget Your word.
Deal bountifully with Your servant,
That I may live and keep Your word.
Open my eyes, that I may behold
Wonderful things from Your law.
I am a stranger in the earth;
Do not hide Your commandments from me.
My soul is crushed with longing
After Your ordinances at all times.
You rebuke the arrogant, the cursed,
Who wander from Your commandments.
Take away reproach and contempt from me,
For I observe Your testimonies.
Even though princes sit and talk against me,
Your servant meditates on Your statutes.
Your testimonies also are my delight;
They are my counselors.
My soul cleaves to the dust;
Revive me according to Your word.
I have told of my ways, and You have answered me;
Teach me Your statutes.
Make me understand the way of Your precepts,
So I will meditate on Your wonders.
My soul weeps because of grief;
Strengthen me according to Your word.
Remove the false way from me,
And graciously grant me Your law.
I have chosen the faithful way;
I have placed Your ordinances before me.
I cling to Your testimonies;
O LORD, do not put me to shame!
I shall run the way of Your commandments,
For You will enlarge my heart.”
I hadn’t been to the beach for awhile, so I just couldn’t pass up the chance to breathe in a little ocean air over Thanksgiving break while we were visiting family who live near the coast. Even just a little time at the beach was better than nothing, for sure. My niece was ‘bored’, so she came with me and I’m so glad she did.We walked and talked and saw lots of people there who seemed to be getting their ocean air fix as well. There were couples walking hand in hand. There were people walking their dogs. There were some teenagers in the waves swimming, and older folks just walking barefoot in the sand and dipping their toes in the ocean every once in a while like yours truly. But then, I saw these two boys and I just had to smile.
It brought me back to a place in time when my kids were little and would do much the same thing.These two boys with rake and shovel in hand, were digging as fast as their little bodies would go. They didn’t talk much at all, just kept their noses down and worked and worked to accomplish the goal that they had set. To be honest, I’m not sure what that goal was, but the determination in their little bodies and faces sure made it apparent that they knew what the goal was and that’s what mattered! (I’m thinking it was probably trenches and ponds and dams…I think those are sometimes more fun than castles anyway…)
Now to the rational mind, this kind of thing was just a lesson in futility. I mean, what can two boys with two shovels and determination do to make a difference with the waves and the wind? I mean, obviously whatever they did would disappear and be swallowed up in the waves when the tide came in, right?
Of course it would. I mean, everyone knows that the things we build in the sand will often not last for hours, let alone a day.
But it seems that young boys often have a good grasp of what we adults can often forget. Working side by side with a common goal is fun. Work and play can be interchangeable. Making a difference in our little area is making a difference period. Trenches and ponds and castles of sand can be rebuilt again, and again, and again. Failure helps us think critically. Challenges help us grow. The ocean comes in just one wave at a time, and fills the gaps one wave at a time. Ocean water can be guided by little shovels. That’s some pretty powerful stuff for two little boys against the landscape of a vast ocean.
So much of our work, our adult ‘stuff’, our so-very-important projects, well, aren’t they oftentimes a bit like castles in the sand? They matter, they are appreciated for awhile, but then, they disappear into the landscape as if they were never even there, like sand castles swallowed up in a wave. Life is so very full of loss. It just is. Relational, Material, Financial, Professional, Physical, Medical,….we all have our own areas where we can point to our losses…when what we worked towards or for, is all of a sudden, or gradually, swallowed up till there’s very little recognition left. Castles built. Castles lost.
But here’s a little something these boys reminded me of… the beauty of the process is as significant (or maybe even more significant) than the accomplishment of the product. It just is. For oftentimes, the stuff that outlasts winds and waves is the stuff that no one can see, the “stuff” that makes us who we are, the relational, untouchable “stuff” that no one can take away.
Our lives leave traces behind. Legacies. Not just when we die. When we live. Day by day, moment by moment, we matter. (Way more than stuff). These little boys I didn’t even know inspired me. (Who knows, maybe they’ll even inspire you!) And no matter what material “products” we attain or lose, who we are in the use (or misuse) of those acquisitions is what makes the difference. How we impact others…. what light we shine or don’t shine…that’s where the impact lies. And it’s often in the processes, the hard day in, day out work, that we grow and change and inspire without even realizing it.I’m pretty certain those hardworking little fellows didn’t even realize I was there…let alone that their little hearts were encouraging mine. The insignificant little things are often the significant big things. Hopefully so.
Those little boys were most likely not cognizant of the fact that their little heart and minds and hearts were so growing in the process of digging the trenches. They were focused on the goal, the task, the team effort. But that’s the beauty of working hard…so often it’s not about what we work for, but about the amazing growth that occurs during the process that makes all the difference in how we do or do not impact those around us.
So, here’s to so enjoying our castles in the sand… working for them, using them, sharing them, admiring them, but also, letting go of them when times of loss may come. Because castles in the sand? They are temporary…but those things we can’t see…the intangibles of who we are, what we are, who God is, and what we do for Him…that, THAT is what lasts and what no one can take away.
One of my all time favorite verses is 2 Corinthians 4:17-18. It says, “For our light and temporary affliction is producing for us an eternal glory that far outweighs our troubles.So we fix our eyes, not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” A dear friend of mine and I have reminded each other of this verse time and time again. Through day to day struggles. Through marital issues. Through births and raising of children. Through relational challenges. Through financial strain. Through the death of her child (yes, even that…) Through, through, through…one thing remains. Through castles built. Through castles lost. Through castles restored.
We can hope in the midst of any of those stages because we have faith in the Unseen God who is and loves and redeems.
We can press on with our little rakes and shovels with faith and tenacity and hope because we believe He IS. The work He does in our lives is about so much more than end results like castles. His work in our lives is about knowing and serving Him in the midst of what we face each day with determined and child like faith.
Keep pressing on, friend. Even when you can’t see the results, maybe there’s something more than ‘results’ going on. Just a reminder inspired by two hardworking and determined boys, a rake and a shovel, and a sea of sand and waves.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.
It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
Love the words of Ann Voskamp, and the reminders to live intentionally each day. ‘Grateful joy’…love that she has the word ‘grateful’ before ‘joy’ because am thinking that joy often follows being grateful, thankful, aware of the gifts in our lives and around us. Am thinking ThanksGiving leads to ThanksLiving, and ThanksLiving leads to Joy. And here’s the thing. Like Ann said, “Any amount of grateful joy changes the present.” It just does.Love that amazing truth. May you and yours (and I and mine) live in those moments of grateful joy today❤
Blessings and Happy ThanksGiving~
“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.”
“God never gives us discernment in order that we may criticize, but that we may intercede.” ~ Oswald Chambers
So, I’ve been trying to ‘de-clutter’ the house in my spare time. I could expound on that statement for days regarding the clutter, the trying, or the spare time. But I’ll spare you all that conversation. What I do want to share is one of my little findings. It was a letter written by one of my sons and it made me laugh and think and cry and all of that wrapped up into one. But more than anything else, it just helped to remind me of the incredible value of a little pause, a little think time, a bit of reflection.
I’ll set the stage for you. One of my children who will remain unnamed had stitches 5 times before he was 5. 5 times. There was some definite caution (FEAR) wrapped up in me in terms of being able to keep my children safe (ALIVE) when they were little. I mean with 6 kids so close in age (oldest to youngest was 8 year span), well, I was concerned anyway. But when you throw a fast moving, funny, and active middle child in the mix…well, the fear gets kicked up a notch. On this particular day, the ‘kid’ was 12. He was jumping on a trampoline and being totally wild. And little brothers much younger were also on the trampoline. He was told to give the little ones a turn (without having a kid twice their size wildly jumping). That’s how I remember it. His take was a little different…
Well, let me back track a little. I’ll let him explain his take in his own words, but first, wanted to share that in the middle of the big conflict over the jumping wildly on the trampoline, he was strongly encouraged to come inside and take a little time out. (little or big depending on the response…) And he was told to write how he feels. He did just that. (I have laughed so hard over this…I don’t remember if I did then, however….)
Hmmm.. Okay. So he wrote how he feels. But then, he really let it out…
…here you go…next page…
Well, long story short, the tone changes a bit from the beginning of the letter to the end. Amazing what a little reflection, a little time, and a little dealing with the situation will do to turn a moment of “I HATE YOU” passion, reaction to an “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it, I was just saying what I felt.” This precious son of mine was in the midst of a bit of (mandatory) processing that was strongly encouraged by his mom via the highly effective mode of time out. Because not many good things come out of a situation when we merely feed what we feel over without filtering it through the truth that we know. And sometimes, that takes a total removal from the situation that is feeding the feelings. and most times, it takes time. Because what I feel…what I feel can change sometimes with the wind. But what I think? What I think, process, and ponder sometimes takes time and perspective but will have an incredibly huge impact on where the next steps will lead. Sometimes feelings put a blindfold on perspective for sure. Think time takes the blind fold off.
I love the verse that says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think on these things. Whatever you have learned and received and heard from me, and seen in me, put these things into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.…” Philippians 4:8 I haven’t always liked it however. Years ago, I just thought it was a bit unreasonable. I mean, life is hard. There are a myriad of negative, negative, difficult things that need to be dealt with. Always. Life is full of daily issues that arise that seem anything but positive. We sure don’t need reminders to see them.
And maybe, just maybe, that’s the thing. We don’t need reminders to see the difficult. Like my son who was dealing with the grave injustice of having to not jump like a wild man when bouncing little brothers on the trampoline, we have a difficult time seeing things clearly while we’re in the middle of our battle. This son of mine was not going to get perspective while jump, jump, jumping in the midst of a mom who was “redirecting” and little brothers who were flying high in the sky with each jump. No, tough to get perspective there. We need to step back, pause, and determine in our minds to think. Think on what? Think on the positive the good, the silver linings and the “where-do-I-go-from-here”s….so that when we rise and walk, and get back on that trampoline, well, maybe our perspective will be a bit more positive.
(And social media. Wow. It sure doesn’t help with the lack of think time. We live in a world of social media that jumps, clicks, and sends in the drop of a hat. It’s easy to be so reactionary and quick to respond without filtering anything through our minds when interactions are just a click away. And that leads to a slippery slope of relational struggles or having to back track on what was said to “everybody” in the middle of the moment. So many battles today are being fought because of a lack of think time. How we feel doesn’t have a chance to be filtered through truth because it’s put out there in cyberspace and people react to the “how I feel” and expound on it and pretty soon the page of “how I feel” turns into a banner that is hard to take down. )
When my kids were little, I used to talk about the need for a Truth bath…..a bathing the mind in the Truth of God’s Word that gets rid of the dirt and filth and things that so weigh us down. Lots of things can weigh us down. Even good things. Sometimes we need redirections. We need a pause. Not just every once in a while…but daily, sometimes hourly depending on the need. A truth bath helps with that ‘de-cluttering’ of mind and heart, and helps us rise more ready to take the next step and face what we need to face with strength and courage and dignity.)
I’m not sure that when my son rose from writing this letter that he rose “with dignity” and loved well and all that. (I do remember that we had to make a trip to the hospital, for he did, indeed have a broken nose…hmmm…). But I absolutely love the way this ‘kid’ of mine was teaching me way back then. He could’ve sat there and stayed on page 2 of his writing…the reactive, intensely emotional, “I HATE YOU!” page. But he didn’t. He processed. He BREATHED. He thought. He dealt. We need to deal to heal. (That’s a mantra of sorts for me these days.) And then, as we do, the healing comes, the perspective changes, and we can see with more clarity our worlds and our part in them.
So, even though ‘de-cluttering’ my home is a good goal, a greater, incredibly more impactful and necessary goal is to make sure that I am daily, hourly, continually ‘de-cluttering’ my mind. (Funny how a ‘de-cluttered’ mind can also help lead to an undivided heart.) I am so thankful for the truths of God word that wash away the nonsense and all of the extra things that weigh me down. God calls us to a life unhindered, a life of freedom, a life lived by grace. He lived that example for us. He spent time with God. He knew His purpose. He stood strong amidst the struggles and did not waver, but courageously and lovingly did what He was called to do. And that made all the difference for us. So, am thinking that following His lead, asking for His help, and bathing our minds (and hearts) with the Truths of His Word can allow us to rise up renewed.
We might have to start out on the “How I Feel” page, but hopefully, we can allow ourselves to process and renew our minds so that we can live lives without regret. Yes, we’ll have our scars (and broken noses and things…), but as we lay those down and offer them back to the God who knows and loves us well, well, He can use even them. Keep pressing on, friends. And be sure to pause and take a little think time when ya need it. I’ll do the same. And as the verse below says, as we look to Jesus, we won’t grow weary and lose heart. Joy and a renewed heart can come in even the most difficult of places…ask me and my son…a little think time can make a world of difference.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross,scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
“Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.”
Psalm 1: 1-3
P.S. To the moms out there who think that your words and lessons and encouragement aren’t sinking in? Just a little reminder that they probably are so much more than you might think. The processing has to go on on the inside of our children before it comes out on the outside. At least that’s the way I’d prefer. Inner heart right to impact outward behavior rather than just the outward behavior right and hardened hearts. Yeah, the messy outside leading to healed inside.
P.P.S. Oh, another word to all the moms out there who are in the midst of the intensity of the moment…I found that mandatory time outs helped me a bit on occasion as well. Even if it’s hiding in the laundry room or the garage for a few minutes could grant a bit of much needed perspective.