Friday, September 28, 2012

What Would Mom Do?

                      Sisters Ruth, Marie, Shirley and our mother, Grace Smeltz


Lying under a quilted throw made by my mother, I pondered how she always kept busy. A farmer’s wife, she had plenty of work to do—gardening, canning, tending chickens. Yet even when snow covered the garden and outdoor work ground to a halt, she kept busy. She baked, she decorated, she quilted, she made clothes. Mom never sat still.

This year my life has slowed down--and I don’t like it one bit. Writing assignments are few; I feel useless, unproductive. Maybe that’s how life is at my age, but I prefer to have deadlines to meet and projects on the back burner. I wonder if Mom ever felt this way. I’ve learned a few things from her that I’m hoping can help me enjoy these senior years. Perhaps they’ll help you too, since we all hope to get to and through this stage of life:

1. Mom took stock of what she could do. For her it was homemaking. When she could no longer raise poultry or harvest gardens, she sewed—for herself and others. Lap robes for nursing homes, doll clothes for grandchildren and potholders for gifts. What might I do? I would rather write than anything else. What might you do? What do you like to do?

2. Mom would settle on a project. She might make a baby quilt, just in case someone in the family had a baby. That’s what I need to do: settle on a project. Right now I’m feeling like writing another through-the-year devotional book centered around reading through the Bible. What appeals to you? Are you a crafter? Do you have a talent to use and share?

3. Mom would dig in. Whenever you stopped by, Mom was working on her project and delighted in showing you how it was coming along. That’s what I must do—dig in. Maybe I could blog about my book idea and see how others respond. How might you dig in?

Getting older means reduced strength and energy, everything seems to take longer to get done so far less gets done in any one day. But the mind wants things to be as they were. One thing Mom would not do is hold a pity party for herself. I doubt that Mom ever thought for a moment about how things might be. She faced how things were and chose a pathway to navigate. I could ask for no better role model.

Here’s my plan: I’m going to write a devotional reading each weekday during October to see if I have book-worthy material. What’s your plan? Post a comment and share it. Let’s hold each other accountable. And pass on this blog to someone who needs an encouraging word.

Check out www.friendsoftheheart.us to see our fall schedule and join us for an event if you’re in the area. Don’t forget to consider Turning Guilt Trips Into Joy Rides as you plan your Christmas gifts. Call 717-692-2721 to order, and I’ll cover the postage.



Tuesday, September 4, 2012

What I've Learned by Living--A Long Time!


As I walked for exercise on a beautiful morning, I pondered what I’ve learned by living well over half a century. Just in case you’re interested:

1. Look for opportunities, rather than perfection. I am a perfectionist. I like to plan my work and work my plan. I want my flowers to bloom and my books to sell. I want people to say and do what I think they should. Now really! Is that realistic? Where is the challenge in all of that? Where is the fun? However, I’ve learned that life does not have to be perfect to be good.

“Perfect” means “lacking nothing essential to the whole; complete of its nature or kind”.* The speed bumps in life develop my patience and my character. So, really, perfection in life comes through the very challenges I so try to avoid. They draw me closer to God as we face them together. "Jesus promises the power and presence to enable you to live the good life, a life in harmony with God."** To me, that’s the key to perfection—abiding in Christ regardless of less than perfect circumstances.

2. Look for small (and large) blessings. As I walked, dewdrops sparkled like diamonds. The call of a cardinal and the caw of a crow caught my ear. I watched four deer nibbling corn on the cob, fresh from the field. I am so grateful for senses that allow me to experience nature in all its glory. Then there’s my home, my church, my children and grandchildren, my husband. I am grateful for each one and try not to take them for granted. And, oh yes, the technology that allows us to communicate and connect with ease. What blessings we enjoy.

3. Look for significance, rather than “success.” Author and agent Chip MacGregor wrote about this in a column.*** The world defines success in numbers and material things. So our lives may not appear “successful.” But we should, instead, look for the significance of our lives. How are we making a difference? In our family? In our church? In our community? We will feel far more “successful” if we measure ourselves by the yardstick of significance rather than dollar signs.

Lately, I’ve been in the doldrums. Marketing a book can be challenging, to say the least. Experts tell us to use social media, but I’ve not found much success in that. However, in the last few days I’ve heard how my book has blessed hearts. I am grateful to see sparks of significance, and it encourages me to face the work of marketing with renewed energy.

So there you have it. Years of wisdom rolled into a couple hundred words. Hope my thoughts encourage you to look to upward instead of outward.

What have you learned during your time on this earth? Please post a comment and let us know.

And don’t forget to visit Friends of the Heart.us to see our fall schedule and where we might connect.

*The American Heritage Dictionary
**Reuben Job quoted in A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God.
***Visit www.chipmacgregor.com and under "Archives" click on August 12, 2012.