Friday, November 29, 2013

Five Minute Friday Is On Hiatus

Well, Friday is winding down and apparently no Five Minute Friday link-up today. It seems that Five Minute Friday is off for the holiday. But just in case the Accountability Police are checking to make sure I'm keeping my resolution, I feel like I should write a little something for Friday. So let's make up our word prompt, shall we? I know - how about ridiculous?

Every year, the calendar seems to speed up. I don't mean that time seems to be passing more quickly and how have we already reached December? I mean the media and retailers' efforts to rush I found candy corn in the store in July, for goodness' sake. Candy for trick-or-treaters followed not long after. And then, whoosh! November 1 - no more candy corn to be found; Christmas candy crowded the shelves.

And Thanksgiving? I've always thought Thanksgiving gets a raw deal. People think roasting a turkey is terribly difficult. It's not. There are very few Thanksgiving hymns in the hymnals. Oh, wait. Does anyone still use a hymnal?

This year, I began to wonder when our country was going to stop acknowledging Thanksgiving completely. "Black Friday" sales started a week (or longer) before Thanksgiving. One retailer opened at 6 a.m. and other stores opened mid-afternoon and in the evening on Thanksgiving Day. No more waiting until midnight. No, sir. Someone even said that Thanksgiving was being referred to as Brown Thursday. Followed by Black Friday. I had the television on as I cleaned my kitchen floor this morning and actually heard a commercial that "Black Friday specials aren't over yet." It wasn't even 8 a.m.! Shouldn't Black Friday specials last until the end of business on Friday? Or at least until noon?

And the morning news report contained the mandatory report on the mobs at various stores in the region. My question is this: Is it worth it? Is it worth the $20 you save to stand in the freezing cold and risk being pushed and shoved (at the very least; trampled to death at the worst) when you likely could get the same deal or close online or tomorrow or some other time before Christmas?

Next up is Small Business Saturday (this one I can actually get behind) and then Cyber Monday. (Cybershopping is the way to go, in my opinion.) I haven't heard a retail-related moniker for Sunday yet. Maybe crazy shoppers still need a day of rest.

What's heartbreaking most of all is the fact that all of this retail insanity is all about getting more stuff that we don't need. Instead of taking one day of respite from the crazy, our culture ramps up the ridiculous.

As for me, I'm going to try hard to focus more every day -- not just on Thanksgiving - on what I've been given, the blessings I have, how well I am provided for, and how to share those blessings with others.

And no, I won't be buying Valentine's candy when it hits the shelves December 26.

Friday, November 22, 2013


Well, hello, Friday. Nice of you to roll around again once more. It is damp and dreary out, but every Friday can't be balmy and sunny, right? It's time again for Five Minute Friday and this week's word prompt is fly.

Words. They fly so fast out of my mouth sometimes. Sometimes that's a good thing, like when I'm cheering on a nephew at a soccer/football/basketball/baseball game or yelling "STOP!" to a little girl so furious with her father that she's blindly running away from him and directly into the path of an oncoming car in the parking lot.

But too often, when the words fly, it's in anger or judgment. It's me quickly expressing my opinion, offering an unsolicited opinion or giving unnecessary commentary. Controlling what I verbalize will be a lifelong effort for me. I've made some progress, but I'll likely be winging my way to heaven still working on using my words well.

Last night, we sat at the same table having the same discussion about the same challenge. Again. One more time. It probably won't be the last. At the heart of the issue is an individual's words and the corresponding heart attitude from which the words come. And as usual, we were sorting through our words and our heart attitudes and reactions to this situation. Anger, disappointment, frustration, grief.

This time, the words didn't fly as fast as they usually do. They still flew, but at a more measured pace and more succinctly. I think I'm tired of hearing my self say the same words that come from the same heart attitude. I don't have a solution to this challenge and it's something that could last as far into the future as I can imagine.

As I sat there last night, listening us to vent the familiar emotions, I came to the same conclusion that I need to continue working to surrender this situation, along with my words and my reactions to it, once again to the only One who can bring about the change we seek. I need to measure my words that are spoken into the situation and about the situation. I need to shut down the words I think or speak or write when they are not helpful or pleasing or encouraging. I must learn to apply Solomon's words:

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
- Proverbs 16:24

Friday, November 15, 2013


It's a brisk Friday morning and today's Five Minute Friday word prompt it tree, which makes me think of climbing trees, but it's far too cold for that  (and I'm also far too old for that). Right now, the trees are shedding their leaves faster than the rakes can keep up with. Palm trees are blowing in Haiti, where two friends are wrapping up a week of service, but another tree comes to mind this morning.

My mother is working on her family tree. It's my family tree, too, but she's the one doing the exploring, the legwork, the climbing. I feel a disconnect from the tree, since I have only vague recollections of my mother's sisters and mother, and I don't remember her father at all as he died when I was an infant. Beyond those generations, the names and faces are just people from another time and place.

My mother's interested in connecting the branches between family members, recording births and deaths, and putting siblings with the right parents. More interesting to me are the story tidbits that sometimes come out when I ask about her progress or when we teach her how to scan another unsmiling face from a 100-year-old photograph. It's the stories that help these ancestors of mine come to life and become more than a photograph. Stories of families not visiting or communicating, husbands keeping their wives sequestered from their families, sons moving back to the farm when their fathers died, losing the farm in the Great Depression, moving families to where the work was ... Some stories are true, some are rumored to be true like the story a great-uncle and his buddy (who later married my great-aunt) who supposedly got two girls pregnant and then shirked their responsibility by vanishing to Nebraska.

While I'm really not interested in who begat who or who is my seventh cousin twice removed, I do enjoy the stories that make the people. I'm always up for a good story and when one emerges from my family tree, all the better.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Siri's Got Game

People have been amused by Siri for years, but I'm an Apple hold-out, so I haven't spent much time chatting with her other than to occasionally query a destination on my husband's phone. On Halloween night, the flow of trick-or-treaters was nothing more than a sluggish trickle, so I amused myself with a little girl talk. Siri was not impressed.


Friday, November 8, 2013


Happy Friday! The weekend looms near, which means raking leaves is on the agenda. It's also time for Five Minute Friday. Today's word prompt is truth.

We only have two small trees in our yard, yet when the autumn winds blow, our yard is quickly covered by leaves from the neighbors' yards. That seems to be a theme for us; it was the same way in our last house. While I don't relish the thought of spending Saturday afternoon cleaning up leaves, the truth is that I love living in a neighborhood with mature trees that we can enjoy spring, summer and fall.

One of the tasks on my to-do list that is oft-neglected is cleaning the shower. I detest cleaning our shower (for a number of reasons) so I usually only do what's necessary to keep it in moderately good shape. It's time for a full-on scrub-down, including scrubbing the tile grout. The truth is, I love the finished result when I put in the elbow grease, so I should just stop procrastinating and get to it.

Life is hard and it's easy to become overwhelmed by bad news on the radio, political arguments, family concerns, fear of the unknown. In some seasons, wave after wave after wave crashes on the shores of life. The truth is, there's something to be grateful for in each wave and looking for the blessings can redirect my heart and mind away from the waves and onto the hidden treasures.

Every day in November, I'm posting something I'm grateful for on my FB page. I know some people may think it's trite and probably I should write a gratitude post every day of the year, not just during the month when our country celebrates Thanksgiving. The truth is, sometimes I need to rejuvenate an attitude of gratitude and daily FB postings for a month seem like a good way to hold myself accountable.

The truth is, there is much in life to be grateful for and when my focus is on gratitude versus complaint, my outlook is more positive, my joy is more complete and the journey of life is sweeter.

Friday, November 1, 2013


Happy Friday! Happy November! The temperature is mild enough that I've cracked a few windows to let in some fresh air this morning. That may change if we have another deluge of wind and rain, but until then, I'll enjoy the uncharacteristically warm temps. Friday means it's time for another Five Minute Friday writing exercise. Today's word prompt is grace.

If I ever had the opportunity to name a daughter, her middle name would have been Grace. Grace is more than a beautiful, classic name. That name would serve as a reminder of the grace I've been given, the grace I continually need, and the grace I am perpetually learning to offer. (It's extremely unlikely that I'll ever have that naming opportunity, but I do have a niece named Grace and she makes me smile.)

This is a season of life when I feel I'm confronted on the topic of grace at every turn (even on Five Minute Friday). I'm doing a Bible study on grace and while the intention of the study is to live fully in God's grace, I find myself challenged on how little grace I show others, how sparingly I give grace, how challenging it is for me to offer grace fully and completely - no strings attached.

Sometimes grace is easy to give, but other times my judgments, impatience, or pride find me struggling or failing to give grace - either in person or in my mind (my mind really is a battlefield). And just when I need another reminder, someone shows me grace and, when I take time to realize I have been given the gift of grace, I am surprised and reminded once again that no one deserves grace. It's not earned, it's offered.

So what happens when I (or you or anyone else) fail to show grace? We may have a momentary sense of superiority, but I also find a check in my spirit that I've failed. And what happens when I (or you or anyone else) reach beyond myself, lay myself down and successfully offer grace to someone? I don't know what it's like for you, but for me, I feel a sense of "wow, I'm getting it. It's still hard and I didn't necessarily want to do it, but I did. Baby steps."

There are opportunities to show grace everyday. To my family, to fellow drivers, to an e-mail correspondent, to a FB poster, to the person ahead of me in line, to myself. Really to anyone I encounter or even think about. Because grace was today's topic, I have no doubt God has lined up some special opportunities for me to show grace today. It's like praying for patience. Wish me luck!