Halfway Through

March is half gone.  How did the first half pass so quickly?

Here we are, halfway through March, and I find myself wanting to call a screeching halt to the progression of time and the advance of the month.

With the arrival of Spring comes an increase in responsibilities as life around me awakens after Winter’s slumber.

After the first burst of activity, the yards (ours and Mom’s) will be ready to greet the coming warm days and the rapid growth of all things green.  The gardens will be prepared to receive the appointed seeds, limbs will be cropped, flowerbeds cleaned, mower serviced, dead and dying wood cut away….

Nothing I’ve cut, cleaned out, cropped, pulled up or cut away has complained.  And, not one thing has told me “no” or prevented me from performing the task at hand.  Nothing said to me, “No, that’s not the way I want to be.”  I did as I willed…as I saw best…as I knew things needed to be.

I worked with an eye to the future and a plan that extended beyond the immediate.

My will – revealed through each clump of grass dug out, each limb cut away, every fallen limb picked up….

Ah…my will is flawed.  My knowledge and wisdom are finite.  I act as I see and know and understand.  The results are not perfect – after all, I’m only human.

Only human…why do I defy God’s attempt to dig out clumps of weeds, clear rubbish, remove dead wood, pluck out unsightly brambles…in my life?

Surely God, in His infinite wisdom and perfect knowledge, understands best what needs to be done in my life and how best to go about accomplishing His will for me.

Why do I struggle so hard against and complain so much about the tools He uses to shape me onto who and what I need to be?

I’m not yet halfway through Lent – thank God for that.  This is only day 12 of a 40+ day journey.

Now, if I can just take a lesson from nature around me and be at peace and patient as God has His way with and in my life…taking each thing that comes as from His hand, knowing that His eye is on my future and His desire is for my best.

And, I’ll be honest – after this past week, that’s a hard thing to do.  I want to control…be in control…be at the ready…be prepared for anything that may happen…have everything done, up to date, ready to go should I need to….

That’s an exhausting way to live…and it’s not God honoring.

Relax. Rest. Be at peace and free from care…stress-free. Realize God is in control and I can let down my guard and trust Him with my life and that of those in my care.

Whew….

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Knowing My Limit

After an extremely long and hard day of yard work at Mom’s house, I sat my dirty, sweaty self on the swing on her patio.  Mom had overseen the last hour of my work and was ready for a little chat time before I heading up the hill toward home and Hubby.

She said several things.

  • The yard looks nice.
  • You are just like your daddy.
  • Now all we need is a little rain.
  • Did you put away the hoe?
  • I believe you got more work done today that your dad ever did in one day.
  • Your dad had more sense and knew when to quit!

I should have seen it coming.

But, I didn’t.

My body was exhausted and my mind was tired – and in some ways my day was just beginning. When I left her house and arrived at mine, Hubby and I would walk for an hour, then I would cook a late dinner and work on whatever had come into my work email since I’d last checked it that morning before heading to her house.

I had no control over what was said to me, but I did have control over my reaction.

Mom had worried all day that I would over do out in the bright sunshine, 90+ degree weather and extremely high humidity.  It was hot.  Sweat literally ran from me, dripping off my eyebrows and chin, running down my legs and leaving trails in the dust that covered me.  Dehydration was a concern and so was heat exhaustion.

She had lost my dad a year ago…and here I was out working in the sun like a crazy woman. She worried that she would find me passed out in the yard.

I understood her concern.

  • She cared for me.
  • She was concerned for me and my health – and for herself as well.
  • She was frightened by what could happen to me.
  • She was not experienced in working in that type heat.
  • She was not physically capable of doing the work.
  • She was relieved I was finished and okay.
  • She wanted to warn me to take care of myself.

I assured her that I had remained hydrated and had rested in the shade.  I also told her that I knew my limits and though I had pushed them, I’d not overstepped them.

Her response?

“Yeah, your limit is when you drop.”

She had a point.

When I arrived at Mom’s house, I had a to-do list of all that I intended to accomplish before leaving.  And, I worked single-mindedly, with that goal in mind.

I do tend to go at things “like a house a’ fire” and work until I’m about to drop. Then, I rest for 5 minutes and go again.

That’s the only way I know to get it all done.  It’s what Dad taught – by example.

I reminded Mom that she had spoken those same words to Dad in summers past.

Her reply?

“Yeah, and you see where he is now!”

Okay, point taken.

Spring Cleaning

I despise cleaning house.  I’d rather work all day in the yard – cutting grass, digging, clipping…anything – than be holed up in the house cleaning.

Why? Because out side work is so much easier and much more satisfying – at least to me.  The yard stays cleaned up and looking nice far longer than inside the house does.

There’s so much “stuff” in the house – giving it a good, thorough cleaning requires moving stuff around, picking things up…and by the time I’ve done that my cleaning time is gone and I’m exhausted and frustrated.

Outside, I can set to work and see immediate results – huge results.

It’s time to Spring Clean inside.  All this “stuff” has to go…somewhere. And, that “all” includes the “stuff” filling the garage.  It’s time to set things in order here, inside where we live.

We have too much stuff and too little room for it.  Hard decisions need to be made.  I need to prune inside, like I prune outside.  I need to mow inside with the grass catcher on and dump everything collected out by the road.  I need to take the pressure washer and wash everything loose and out of place out the door and down the driveway.  I need to take the leaf blower and send it all out into the yard where I can rake through it and discard most of it.

I remember Spring Cleaning time as a child.  Mom would clean from ceiling to floor, from wall to window to doorway.  Nothing escaped her touch or her cloth.  Nothing.

I hated Spring House Cleaning.  Still do.

The thought of doing so overwhelms me as I look around.  But, as I’ve learned with yard work, you step up and step in and start clipping.  Standing around with hands on hips wondering where to start doesn’t get it done.

And, neither does sitting here writing about it. 😉

How Did He Do It?

My admiration for Dad has grown since his death.

To help Mom, I took over the yard work.

Oh my…he was more man in his later years than I can ever hope to be.

How did he do all he did?

I remember, as a child, he would go into work early in the morning and return home about 3 in the afternoon.  Then he would begin yard work – cutting grass, clipping hedges, raking leaves, repairing, painting, working the garden, working on the car, helping a neighbor….

Mom would call him to supper and he would wash off enough to be presentable at the table and, after he ate, if there was enough daylight, he would return to work more outside.

When darkness halted his outside activities, he would head inside, shower and help Mom with any housework she had not yet completed – or help us with homework – before settling down, relaxing, and watching a little TV before bedtime.

He was like the Eveready Energizer Bunny, going long after the others had worn out. (Years ago he helped us move. After working hours loading the U-Haul truck, Hubby asked, “Dad, do you need to rest?” “No, I’m fine,” was his reply.  Hubby said, “Well, I need to.”)

It was only a few years ago that he slowed down and allowed someone to help him with yard work.  His health further declined after a heart attack last year and he was no longer able to do the work he once did.

But, he continued to do what he could to keep his yard looking nice, neat and cared for – even if that was nothing more than picking up sticks.

So far this Spring I’ve cut the grass three times. My current project is the hedges that encircle the yard and the preparation of the garden.

I’m not sure what energized Dad and enabled him to do all he did.  At the end of a day of physical labor, I shake my head and think, “How did he do it?!?

I think I need new batteries.

Innocent Beginning

It began innocently enough.

  • the need for a quick, early lunch before heading out for more yard work
  • a last minute idea to add an orange to my meal of egg and salad
  • the choice of one knife over another
  • and, the decision to cut the orange up in my hand instead of on a plate

My, “Ouch” put Hubby on alert and my dash past him and my next words words, “I may need your help!”, moved him to action. We arrived at the bathroom sink at about the same time.

Bright red blood was steaming from a cut on my left middle finger as I held it under a steam of cold water.

“What did you do?” Hubby asked.

“Um…I cut myself.”

“With what?” Hubby inquired.

“Um…a knife….”

“How did you cut yourself with a knife?” Hubby ventured again.

“How do you think??”

With the bleeding in check, I moved into the hallway where I grabbed a clean washcloth and the bottle of alcohol.  The washcloth was wrapped around my oozing finger and I foraged through my (always handy) First Aid Kit and selected waterproof bandages, tape and Neosporine.

Hubby went into action as I gave orders – douse finger with alcohol, open the Neosporine, help me with this bandage….

He’s had a lot of experience, bless him.  He knows when I utter that quiet “Ouch” to listen for footsteps.

Knives and I have a history and it’s not a pretty one.  We have a rule in our house – I am not allowed to TOUCH sharp knives.

I know my knives and I know which are sharp and which aren’t so sharp. And, I know how much damage each can inflict – the scars on my hands/fingers are proof positive.  This knife slipped in under the radar.  I thought it was one I was familiar with.

I was wrong.

This knife will receive a mark because it marked me.  A spot of blue nail polish will warn me that this knife is not one I can use.

As I type this, my left middle finger clicks and thumps against the keys, striking amiss and wreaking havoc with my spelling.  And, as it works, it throbs in time with my heart.

Poor finger.  Two waterproof bandages wrap it tightly and over them a huge bandage covers the tip of my finger and extends to my second joint.  And, around that I have adhesive tape wrapped to keep the huge bandage in place.

Why? Because as soon as I finish typing this I’m heading back outside for more yard work.  Belly is satisfied.  Before me stretches a long afternoon and the promise of success.

My finger may complain while I dig in the dirt, or cut the grass, or trim bushes – and that’s okay.  I’m glad it’s still capable of complaining. And I encourage it to complain loudly and often as a reminder to me to take care of even those things that look or begin innocently enough.