Saturday, October 31, 2009

But I might NEED it someday!!!!!!

Yup, I'm officially a pack rat.

Or a "keeper."

Or whatever you call them in your family. You know the type; the ones who can't bear to throw anything away because they "might need it someday!" The ones who have kept every gift they were ever given - AND all the wrapping paper it came in. They have a decently clean bedroom, but woe to the person who should open their top dresser drawer, or get a peak at the mountain of boxes in the basement!

What is worse is a secret pack rat. It's really hard to be, let me tell you. Of course, everyone knows your secret, but you pretend they don't. You even develop a sort of warped pride about how neatly all your stuff is stored or stacked. And when you go through your closet and get rid of 2 skirts and 5 shirts....whew! You are really on a roll! Aren't you the perfect picture of a minimalist? ...Of course, you try to forget the fact that you stored those same 2 skirts and 5 shirts downstairs in a box. You need that comfort - it's nice to know they're down there in case you regret your sudden weeding of your wardrobe.

You also try to forget that you have clothes down there from the weeding of your closet that took place when you were fourteen.

My mental picture of a pack rat is someone who is messy. They have all that "junk" pouring out of their garage doors...their attic is packed to the bursting point...they can't shut their closet doors. Never do I picture a pack rat who has a neat bedroom or nearly-empty garage.

But I've come to the conclusion that it's all in the attitude. It's that worrisome nagging in the back of your mind - that urge to hold tight to what you have. And you can hold as tightly to 2 skirts and 5 shirts as you can to 200 skirts and 500 shirts.

I like the minimalist idea. I really do. Pictures of Victorian living rooms, with all that clutter, annoys me. They honestly thought that was pretty? You'd have to walk sideways to get out of the room without knocking over a lamp, falling into a chair, or bumping a picture off the wall. I much prefer the country look, where only what is used and loved is in a room. I like that saying "have nothing in your home which you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."

I used to like having a lot of knick-knacks and wall hangings, and all that sort of thing, but in the past several years my tastes have changed. Now, if I am not using it, or it doesn't absolutely make me smile and laugh for joy when I see it (like pictures of loved ones), I don't want it in my room.

So of course I'm not a pack I?

Well, the truth is....I still have all those knick-knacks and wall hangings and clothes and photos and calendars and lamps and whatever else I had when I loved packing my room with "stuff"! Even though I don't really need or care for those things any more, I keep them. ...Because I might need them someday.

So I might as well face the truth; I'm a pack rat. And I'm gonna do more than just publicly admit that; I'm gonna tell you my worse faults in my pack-ratting!

#1 - I'm pretty bad about keeping clothes, as I've already hinted. It's sad...but I've gotten a bit better in this area in the past year or so. I think I've gotten rid of 2 boxes so far. ...Don't ask about what's left.

#2 - And I'm pretty terrible at throwing fabric scraps away. I have a two scrap boxes, and they have scraps in them the size of threads. ...In fact, I occasionally keep scrap thread, too. Honest.

#3 - I'm even worse about keeping papers. I have a box in the basement that has school notebooks from when I was learning long division. ...No, not the textbooks. The papers I wrote my answers on. (You must understand I have a love affair with writing....and I guess I can't stand to see paper or books in the trash...even junk mail.)

#4 - But what I'm absolutely, positively terrible at getting rid of is files. My conscience has lots to soothe it on this point. They're computer files, right? That means they don't take up visible space, they don't clutter my room, and they are certainly something that I'd miss if my computer crashed.

...Well, maybe. I don't know. It could just be me. ...But I really think something is wrong with my computer. A little while ago I tried to play a song I had downloaded from the web, and windows media player wouldn't play it. The pop-up said "Your computer is too low on memory to play this song. Please try closing some programs and try again." I only had 5 programs up!

...Of course, I do have a lot of pictures stored on here. And I do have over a dozen books I'm "thinking about writing," and each book requires an average of 3 to 7 files....I don't know. Maybe I do have stuff I'm not using on here. I could probably do without the receipts for everything I've ever bought online. And maybe I wouldn't miss the internet program I switched off of. ...But what if I want to switch back?

Yes, I'm afraid I'm a pack rat. I hang on to stuff. It's really tempting to treat this as a kind of joke - lots of people laugh about their pack rat tendencies, and I could easily be one of them.

But is it right or wrong to hang on to stuff so tightly?

I guess it depends on where those feelings come from. I know that part of my pack-rattedness (what a word!) comes from my hatred of waste.


I hate waste with a passion. I can't stand to see perfectly good items being thrown that piece of junk mail. Think of the cost of the ink and paper!!! And fabric - whew - that stuff isn't cheap. And you'd better prepare yourself for a lecture if I see you throwing a can away. Rinse it out and put it down in the bin in the basement, with all the rest of my collected tin cans. Some day we'll recycle them. I even reuse paper towels if they aren't too dirty.

But there's also a part of me that wants to keep stuff that I could give away to a good home. After all, giving away clothes to someone who could use them isn't a waste at all. ...So I can't blame my stash of clothes on a hatred of waste. That stash is being wasted right now - I can't possibly wear it all.

So it's a mix. Some of the causes of my P.R. tendencies are good, and some aren't.

So I can't tell you about the pack-ratted-ness of everyone else, but I know that my conscience squirms every time I read these words:

Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

I could have copied out most of this chapter (Matthew 6), but I thought it might be a little long. This whole chapter focuses on Christ telling His disciples not to hold so tightly to the world.

It's easy to say, "Oh, I'm not attached to the world. Christ means more to me than anything." But there's also a certain way of living that just seems so....loose. So free. So unattached. So unhindered.

I'm thinking of a certain family I know. They are so generous - not just with money, but with items and time and everything they have. I have never seen anyone treat possessions so flippantly - unless I count another couple who once let us have their home for several days (that's another story of God's provision!).

But this family constantly amazes and rebukes me with the way they live. Things flow through them, not to them. It's as if they own nothing. ...And you know what? I think that's what they think.

At first it seemed very scary to watch. ...But I kinda envy that freedom. They don't have to worry about what isn't theirs.

It makes ya think.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sights you see when you're driving

I saw a bumper sticker when I was out driving this morning. It said "attitude is everything."

Isn't that the truth, though?

It's not really the circumstances that count. I've seen myself go through almost identical circumstances with different attitudes each time, and the results are totally different in each case. If I lose my temper, the results are always guilt, emotional stress, the difficult task of asking forgiveness, and an all-around mess. If I show the fruit of self-control, the result is so much more pleasant! I have victory in my heart, and that can make me happy for the rest of the afternoon.

Strange - if I hadn't had that victory, I wouldn't have the joy. So, in a way, the circumstance was beneficial. Of course that's why God sent it.

But the circumstance can also produce opposite feelings...if I let anger or impatience or grudges take root in my heart.

Same circumstance.

Different attitudes.

So I agree with the bumper sticker.

It's kinda funny that Harley Davidson should have so much wisdom. :)

Edited to add:
Boy, I sure didn't know how much I would need to remember the words of this post a few minutes after I wrote it! I lost a very valuable item that didn't belong to me, and I was looking high and low for it. Few things make me angry and panicked the way losing something does. I was SO ready to blow! But I didn't dare - not after writing this post! (Well, okay; maybe I was a
little panicked.)

I was writing this note at the bottom of this post, to ask y'all to pray that I'd find the item I was looking for - and lo and behold! As I sat down to type, my brother Justin (who has wonderful determination) found the item in the very top of my bedroom closet! Praise the Lord!!! (And thank you, Justin!)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Behold, the kindness, and power, and wisdom, and foresight of God, that He should put into deciduous trees this ability to become brilliant beauties of red, orange, and yellow.

His wisdom, and kindness, and foresight, and power are made evident in two ways through these leaves:

1) These colors come only where cold weather follows them. The farther north you go, the more brilliant the display each fall. Now, just imagine if the leaves did not turn colors. Can you imagine the foliage simply turning brown and dropping to the ground? Leaves curling up and dying in drab agony? Signs of death all around. What more depressing way to usher in winter can you think of?

How good God is, to give us this last bright joy of nature before He puts the plants to sleep for the winter!

In this we see His kindness.

2) I've been thanking God for His kindness all week long, but only today (while driving on the highway and having my breath snatched from my lungs by the beauty that unfolded in the mountain ranges as I went around a curve and came upon a clear view) did this second thought hit me:

God planned this kindness before fall existed.

This ability for leaves to change colors; it is built into them. It only shows up when the chlorophyll of summer dies down, but it is there all along - like the stars that only show themselves when the sun goes to bed.

Before sin, cold weather was unknown. The first mention of cold weather in the Bible comes after the flood. The harsh winds and snows of winter did not come upon the earth - most likely never until after the flood, but certainly not in the garden of Eden. Life there was a perpetual spring.

What need did the leaves have of their hidden colors? Who would ever see those reds and oranges and yellows? Why did God make them like that?

Because He knew the future.

He knew mankind would fall into sin. He knew many autumns and winters would wash over the face of this earth before He returned. And even before the first man walked the earth, God planned beauty for his offspring's eyes during the lingering days of autumn.

Behold, the wisdom, and the power, and the foreknowledge of GOD!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Before I tumble into bed....

I had an absolutely indescribable day. Loved every minute of it! From 8:30am to 5:30pm I was at the Celebrate the Glory conference. I spoke of this conference before here at The Fruit of Her Hands. It is designed to encourage families to study God's Word together every day, and is held in a beautiful outdoor community center. This was the third year for the annual conference.

Wonderful speakers and music! Very encouraging. Dad and I even had the pleasure and honor of speaking at a session, as I mentioned we would on this blog several days ago. Between sessions I sold books and CDs at our family's table, and got to talk with folks. I saw so many friends and met so many wonderful new people!

Some dear friends of ours, whom we've not seen in over a year, came to the conference and then came home with us for supper afterward. Their family is very musical, and we not only had splendid fellowship in talking and laughing and praying and singing together, but got to have a "jam session" too, with two guitars, a banjo, a dobro, a mandolin, and five fiddles/violins!!!!

I have been running on adrenalin for just about the last 48 hours... I have tasted only one of my meals today, and can remember only about 1/3 of what I heard and said this morning. My toes are still warming up from the freezing weather during the outdoor conference, while my cheeks and ears are still hot and bright red from excitement and laughter. I slept very little last night, and know intellectually that I'm tired, but I have no consciousnesses of fatigue....only a faint fuzzy feeling in my brain that is steadily growing. My heart is still racing and my mind is still spinning.

What makes it strange is I don't know what emotion I am feeling. Am I feeling the remains of frayed nerves? Was I nervous about speaking at the conference? (Was I? I still don't know.) Am I shaking because I haven't warmed up yet? Then why am I so hot, and my palms a little sweaty? Am I just feeling excitement that hasn't worn off yet? Why can I feel my brain spinning when I don't even know what I'm thinking....or if I'm thinking?

Did I enjoy today? Totally. What did I like best? I really don't know. It was a beautiful, splendid, exhilarating blur. I would gladly repeat it. I already miss our dear friends who have left us after only a short visit. I ache to see them more often, and it was only maturity and the dignity of almost-adulthood that kept me from chasing after their van as they left, yelling, "Come back! Don't go! Staaaaay!"

I also loved speaking at the conference. I know I am a rarity - enjoying public speaking - but I enjoy it for a different reason than others might think. I enjoy it because it is a strange time of uncommon closeness with my Heavenly Father. How can I explain this...? I don't know how to describe what it's like.

When I know I am going to speak somewhere, I spend time praying and wrestling with ideas, begging God to give me something worth saying - something that is honoring to Him. Then I write down what comes to my mind - every word and phrase. Then I run those words over in my mind many times, for several days. Usually God brings someone into my life who says something to me that makes me start thinking differently all over again....and I re-write what I had written down. That may happen several times.

I write in a different way when I'm preparing something to say rather than something to be read. I take note of how I feel when I'm saying the words in my mind, and write that into it.

When I feel at peace what I have written, I memorize it - every emotion, every pathos of voice, everything God has laid on my heart. I know that if I don't internalize it during this preparation time, I will never get a blessing out of it myself. ...Because I never hear myself on the actual day I speak.

No, on the day I speak, when I get up there, after time spent alone in prayer, I - though this sounds funny - just let my mouth run. I know my tongue knows what I believe God wants me to say, so I let it work itself. My mind is usually not involved. Instead, my mind is earnestly asking God to work. And my eyes are looking at the faces I see before me. And I begin to see God answering my prayers.

It is this time of communication with God that so draws me to speaking. It is the strangest feeling, to know that my body and voice are in front of many people, but at the same time my soul and heart are far away, before ONE. I love the closeness I feel to Him, and the sense of urgency that is always in my prayers at a time like that.

What did Dad and I talk about today? Family Devotions. Dad shared about what first convicted him to study God's Word together in our family, and I talked about what it's like to receive the blessing that God pours on the children of those who follow Him. Though there were many other young people there who also know what it's like to be blessed that way, all the other speakers were fathers who were looking at things from the other side of the coin; they were encouraging parents to teach their children the Word because they will be blessed.

I had the immense privilege of describing that blessing that has already fallen on me.

It was a wonderful honor. I got to look those parents in the face and tell them "It's not in vain! Be encouraged! God really does fulfill His promise to bless the children who are taught His Word." Of course I explained that it's also a personal thing - I talked about how I myself fell in love with God - but I couldn't help loving to be able to stand up there as an older child and say how thankful I am for how my parents obeyed God's instructions to teach their children the Word.

Whew - now I'm excited all over again! It's 12:24 in the morning, and I know I'll be tired tomorrow, but I couldn't go to sleep without getting some of this out of my system. I had such a wonderful day. Talking with people after the conference sessions finished was wonderful, too. Encouraging younger families - and being blessed myself by talking to older families - is something I could easily do all day long and not tire of it. I was blessed SO much today in different conversations I had with folks. It's refreshing to be with folks who earnestly care about making Christ the center of their home, and who want to talk about that subject!

Well, I'm afraid I've been much too long-winded. I shall make an effort to get some sleep. If this post has been rather tumble-style and rambling, or too full of "me" and "I," just ignore it and know that I at least was able to tumble out the story of my day so my mind could relax a little. Thanks for listening. :) :) :)

P.S. Neely Family; I MISS YOU!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Random things about me

~ My favorite colors are the ones most found in nature; blue, green, brown, etc. But I've never seen a color I didn't like...only color combinations I didn't like.

~ I love my books. In a rainstorm, I automatically pull my coat over any books I am holding. If there isn't room for both the books and me, off comes the coat!

~ Lately I've been very bad at keeping up with this blog.

~ I talk more in public than I do at home. (Is that good or bad?)

~ I love, love, LOVE to fold bath towels. Give me a pile to do and I'm happy!

~ I truly haven't forgotten to finish the story I started telling on here. I'll get to it eventually. :)

~ If I'm going to get together with a friend, I'd rather work side by side on a project and talk, than go do something like shopping or eating out.

~ I am a terrible whistler.

~ Contrary to popular opinion, being a seamstress does not mean I am a very patient girl by nature.

~ I used to not mind being stereotyped - didn't bother me a bit. Now I can't stand it.

~ One of my not-so-secret dreams is to someday ride an ostrich.

~ I have a very keen sense of smell and love it.

~ I love, love, LOVE sweet potatoes

~ If I could visit any place in the world, I'd pick a missions orphanage in India.

~ I'm scared of heights....but climb trees anyway. (Well, when I was younger. Now I just climb other tall things, like buildings and mountains and stairs.)

~ I can wiggle my ears.

~ I'm wondering if you were interested enough to read this far, and what you are thinking by now.

~ I love to write, but find it very hard to make myself sit down and start. Writing is my stress-relief. If I'm flustered and worried I don't want to sit down and do it, but if I do...ahhhhh! Relief! (Psst!....This means that if I haven't posted in awhile you can make a pretty good guess that I'm stressed or else really busy. Drop me a note and tell me to write. :) :) :)

~ One of my hobbies is reading biographies about old actors. My favorite actor of all times is Roy Rogers, both because I like his movies and he's the only actor where I did not find "dirt" in his private life when I researched it. A Christian in Hollywood - amazing!

~ The apostle John is my favorite disciple.

~ I am awful at picking names for things that belong to me. I've had several pets in my life time, and I do believe my siblings have named all but one of them. If it belongs to someone else, I can think of lots of names, but if it's mine I draw a blank on a good name. (My poor children someday!....)

~ When I was in school, I LOVED every subject but grammar, which I hated with passion. Exactly one year before I graduated, I fell in love with it, and have liked it ever since.

~ I have the best family in the world.

~ I adore being outdoors on a beautiful day.

~ I've made over 600 pizzas in my lifetime.

~ I've only seen the ocean twice.

~ I like interior decorating.

~ I don't say "how are you?" unless I mean it. If someone else says it and I don't think they mean it, I won't answer them. They've never noticed. (...I hope.)

~ I have the amazing gift of being saved from sin and knowing Jesus Christ personally.

~ God answers my prayers.

~ I think it's really cool that my circle of blog readers is small enough that I can recognize almost everyone who comments, and know a little bit about each of you....though there's always room for one more. :) :)

~ I am easily startled. My siblings know this. I jump or scream when I am startled. My siblings know this also. (Ahem.)

~ I like public speaking.

~ I LOVE meeting new people.

~ I love good fellowship.

~ I can't wait for Saturday.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I just got it.

How many times have I sung "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee"?

Dozens and dozens of times.

Yet it was only just now that I got it.

I was sweeping the kitchen floor, and my sister Heather was giving a resounding edition of the song Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee on the piano in the next room. I - loving songs the way I do - couldn't help singing along.

I got to the phrase "hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun of above," and as the words left my lips my voice trailed away and I was lost in dumbfounded thought.

Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee.

It's fall time here - Heather and I had just returned from a walk before this scene took place. We strolled down our quiet road and remarked on the maple trees in our neighbor's yard that are just starting to turn a brilliant red. The sky above us was so blue and so glass. No cloud in sight, to pin that wide expanse back up where it belongs. We could almost reach up and run our fingers down the cold solid wall of blue. ...But at the same was so far away. So distant and mysterious. A brisk wind played with our hair and made leaves jitter across our path. The smell of fall is all around us - even blowing through the open window beside me now.

But I haven't forgotten spring. I haven't forgotten the thrill of new baby plants, or buds on tender branches, or slivers of red between the green folds of tightly shut tulips. And I haven't forgotten what it's like to walk down the sidewalk one morning and see the colors that have finally burst open. The fragrance in the air is like being able to smell joy.

And every flower - every bud - strains with all its might to reach the sun. They grow toward it with every fiber of their being. Our front yard is shady; the sun only touches our flowers beds for a few hours each day. To see those blossoms bathing in the sunlight, basking in the warmth, is to see pure pleasure.

Why did it take so long for me to grasp what I have sung so many times?

Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above.

It is beautiful to picture. Can you see it?

P.S. You must go see this clip of flowers opening in time-lapse photography!