Monthly Archives: June 2014

cultivating “interruptibility”

photo by rory finneren

photo by rory finneren

a while back, i had a dream that i was trying to paint & people kept interrupting me & i kept getting pain all over the place. i was so angry throughout the dream due to the interruptions.

sometimes i get frustrated when roo wakes up sooner than expected & i have to stop whatever i’m doing.

i’m trying to cultivate a lifestyle & mindset of “interruptibility.” i really don’t have much choice! but i’d like to intentionally welcome it,be okay with it, maybe even glad for it. after all, interruptions are often the spice of life & bring the most delightful detours. some of the course changes in my life have become my new purposeful path. i think the Way of Christ is always fraught with what we may deem as interruptions. holy interruptions. opportunities to serve others, to spend time with God, to share Christ with someone. but we often bypass them because they’re inconvenient & we “have better things to do.” we have schedules & to do lists & deadlines & goals & meetings. we don’t have time to… fill in the blank.

but i’ve found that these very interruptions i don’t have or make time for might be the most important things i could do all day. it makes me think of the rock/pebble/sand illustration on priorities — where you can fit much into your life/vase if you properly prioritize [put rocks in first, pebbles next, & sand last] rather than filling up your life/vase with the same amount of sand first & then not having enough room for the pebbles & none for the rocks. interruptions can be the larger stones, but what we often choose over them is just sand. years ago, when we were working in campus ministry, shaun did a series of devotionals about time. he taught that instead of “making time” we need to use God’s time wisely. still sage advice.

i’ve said for years that the “theme” of my 20s, God’s overarching lesson for me, was letting go & letting God. cliche, but true. [cue your favorite version of the song “let it go” now… you’re welcome.] it usually takes me some time to figure out the next lesson He’s prioritizing for me. i’m starting to wonder if this concept of flowing that i’ve been focusing on this year is what He is prioritizing in my 30s. to flow, cultivate interruptibility, set right priorities. to stop worshiping my schedule & to do list. to have goals centered on Him & His plans for me. i’m not sure what concise catchy cliche i could sum all that up into, but i’m sure He’ll inspire me when the time is right. i was 25 before i recognized the big picture lesson He was trying to teach me in the season of my 20s. of course, i wasn’t looking for it then, so it took a while to open my eyes. now i’m looking for it, wondering, anticipating. i love learning. it’s not all easy lessons or reading good books. God specializes in “field work” & learning by practice, trial & error. it’s difficult, but never dull! and as far as i can tell, He seems to really love “pop quiz field trips” that throw a wrench in your whole day, your plan. interruptions. if i’m going to learn about Life, to be His student, i have to be ready & willing for these interruptions. even excited for them. as if they were the real “to do” for today.

how do we intentionally cultivate interruptibility — godly vision to see what’s most important in the moment? i am not sure. but i’ll keep you posted on what i learn. have you tried to create margin in your life for interruptions? what has worked for you?

words to LIVE by #11 >> on intention & other things

design by danae<><

design by danae<><

when i was a kid, i bought a framed poster at a yard sale with a sort of poem on it. it was titled “how to be an artist” by sark. make friends with freedom & uncertainty. take moonbaths. listen to old people. i loved the long string of random bits of advice, some that seemed silly & some sage. and i’ve loved lists like this ever since.

i stumbled upon the one above by mary anne radmacher within the last year, & i like that hers is particularly practical & practicable.

live with intention. this is one of the greatest mantras for the student of Life. we must be deliberate in soaking up the moments, lessons, memories, & emotions. i’ve written a lot on this topic. walk to the edge. this has literal & figurative implications. in a literal sense, i’ve never needed to be told to walk to the edge because it’s my favorite place to be when outside hiking! but figuratively, that’s another matter. i have to work much harder, taking deep breaths & baby steps, to muster up the courage to come to the edge in life. the challenges & changes. the unknown. but every time i do, i learn that it’s worth it. it’s as exhilarating as the edge of a cliff, looking down upon a vast expanse of nature & feeling on top of the world. listen hard. as a talker, i need this advice on a minute-by-minute basis. even when i’m not talking, i am not always a careful listener or observer. but it’s in listening & observing that we learn best about other people. practice wellness. i firmly believe in a holistic approach to health — body, mind, spirit. i don’t practice it well, so i have much room for improvement. summertime seems a perfect time to work on it for me — with the fresh fruits & veggies in abundance & the hot sun giving me a thirst for plain cold water, with our annual pilgrimage to north carolina to see friends & family & spend a week at bible camp, teaching & learning, healing & being healed. i want to practice wellness better even today. play with abandon. it’s amazing how a child will transform you back to youthfulness. i’ve known this for many years from working with teens, but now taking care of roo everyday, i’m finding a kind of playfulness i didn’t know i was capable of. and i’m kinda loving that part of staying at home with my baby. laugh. this is an easy one for me anyway, but roo increases the laughs in my life exponentially, mostly when she laughs! choose with no regret. i’m not sure what all i think about this piece of advice. i think it’s a pretty loaded statement & one that needs more mulling over… continue to learn. well, you had to know this would be my favorite! student of Life & all. there are things i’m learning on purpose this summer like watercolor painting & cross stitching, & many more lessons on the horizon yet unknown. appreciate your friends. i’m not very good at this & desperately need to be better. it’s not that i don’t emotionally appreciate my friends. i just am not consistent about demonstrating it. do what you love. this one is easy for me because i already do! i work with teens, i help others find their passions, i design, i write. it’s crucial to one’s quality of life, whether it be via your job or hobbies. and i don’t mean “do whatever makes you happy.” i think there’s a huge difference. happiness is a fleeting feeling. love is a stronger motivation, not necessarily an emotion. do what you’re passionate about in life, what you were born to do. figure out what that is & pursue it relentlessly. live as if this is all there is. obviously, i don’t believe this life is it as a follower of Christ, & i don’t want to exclude eternity from our thoughts. but living today as if it’s all i get before i enter eternity is worthwhile indeed. that’s how i choose to take this last statement of advice.

i could write so much more on each of these capsules of wisdom, but these are words to LIVE by, so instead of just talking about them, let’s put them into practice, shall we? i’m going to get off this computer & go play with my daughter before i make a yummy snack with fresh produce from our garden. what are you going to do right now to start living with intention?

that time i didn’t know my neighbor died…

neighbor

 

it was an ordinary weekday. we were talking about our ideas for landscaping our front & back yards. we really want to build a fence between us & the only neighbor behind us that doesn’t already have their own fence up. not because we don’t like that neighbor, but because their yard is really ugly. i commented that we actually like jim pretty well. shaun replied, “jim died two months ago.” 

my brain has been a little fuzzy lately. between being a new momma & battling a sinus infection & allergies that are exacerbating my fibromyalgia, remembering things is not one of my strong points lately. so, i racked my mind a minute before i was sure i didn’t know this yet.

“what?” i sputtered.

“yeah, he passed away a couple months ago from cancer.”

i knew jim had had cancer, but his treatments had been going pretty well. that was the last i knew anyway. how dated was my information? i realized i hadn’t personally spoken to jim in at least a year, maybe longer. shaun’s the one who really talks regularly to our neighbors. i’m good friends with our neighbors across the street from us — a sweet older couple who are retired farmers & an older woman who has lived in that house for over 40 years. but i don’t talk to the ones behind us or down the hill from us much. okay, at all. i don’t even know the name of our “next-door neighbor” down the hill. i’ve felt bad about that before. but not enough to do anything about it. 

[as i sat here typing this, i kid you not, one of our neighbors from across the street walked over to deliver a plate of strawberries they grew. oh, the irony.]

back to the story at hand: that time i didn’t know my neighbor died. i was shocked from the news of his passing. turns out one of his sons [the “good” one] is living in the house now. i clearly haven’t met him yet. shaun has. that’s how he learned about jim. two months ago.

i’m ashamed of myself for not knowing that my neighbor no longer lives behind me & no longer lives. i claim to be a christian, & if i am serious about that claim, then i am serious about following Jesus & His way. it was Jesus who said, “‘you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, & all your mind.’ this is the first & greatest commandment. a second is equally important: ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ the entire law & all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments” [matthew 22:37-40, nlt, emphasis mine].

i don’t know about you, but i want people to notice when i die, to care, to miss me. i want people to notice me while i’m alive, too… if i am to love my neighbor as myself & as i want to be loved by others, i must notice them, know them, care for them. and while every person i meet is my “neighbor,” my actual geographical neighbors are most definitely my neighbors! and if i am to follow Jesus, i must notice them, know them, & care for them. i don’t want another neighbor to die “on my watch” without me having any idea. i want — i need — to cultivate relationships with them. i remember when jim first got cancer a few years ago, i thought i should take him a meal. i didn’t. i’m pretty sure that was a prompting of the Holy Spirit that i ignored. i don’t want to make that same mistake again. i want to follow Christ & love my neighbors. after all, that is how i best show God that i love Him. and it is how i best show the world the love of Christ for all people. for them. 

so what am i going to do? well, first i’m going to make some cookies & take them to my neighbors. the ones across the street. and the ones behind me. and the ones down the hill. it’s about time i met them all.