Plane Coffee Mom

Chatting about Mission Aviation over coffee

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving is not only a holiday we celebrate but also way of life to be chosen. A decision every day to see the fullness of our lives instead of the emptiness. A path of joy as we choose gratefulness for family, friends, opportunities, experiences, and stuff. A constant giving thanks for a God who blesses us not only with Himself but with all we need.

I thought maybe I should start the day cooking. I didn’t. I started the day sitting on the couch chatting with my husband, the same way we start  most days. Now I’m enjoying a gourmet coffee with people I care about. A moment to reflect instead of rushing into the day and the busyness that will come. I am so thankful for this time.

People top my “thankful” list. My husband who is a steady rock and strong support. My sons who are amazing people. Parents who loved me well and invested much in who I am today. Extended family who remains close despite geographical distance and time between visits. Friends who stand with me and allow me to join them in their lives. Co-workers who help me learn, grow, and become a better person. And the crazy number of people who have impacted me through music, writing, and art. People make life meaningful.

Opportunities are the second thing I often ponder with thankfulness. As I think back on life thus far, the number of opportunities I’ve had are amazing. Opportunities to meet people and do things, opportunities to invest in people and communities. Opportunities to learn and grow. Opportunities are often doors that are slightly ajar, things that open only when you push on them. The awesome thing about opportunity is that you really don’t know what’s there til you push on it a bit. Opportunities keep life interesting.

Experiences are also in my top three– things I’ve been privileged to do, usually with people I care about. Living in different cultures and experiencing different ways of celebrating holidays, doing life, and prioritizing things. Swimming in the Orinoco River, navigating waterfalls, visiting beaches on two oceans, tasting interesting food in many countries, and working with a myriad of people. Experiences have kept my life rich.

While there are many more things I’m thankful for, I’ll leave it with the top three and head to the kitchen!

The Choice

Big choices like where we will go to college, who we will marry, and how we will respond to a crisis come up at various times throughout our lives. Small choices like our response to our friends, what we will cook for dinner, or when we will wake up in the morning are things that happen almost daily. We often agonize and pray over the “big choices” and choose the easy path on the “small choices”. Yet in the long-term, maybe it’s the “small choices” that make the bigger difference. Maybe at some level it isn’t where we go to college but how we steward that choice. Maybe it isn’t so much who we marry as how we relate to our spouse over the following years. Maybe how we initially respond to what we view as a crisis is not as defining as the character we grow or refuse to grow in the process of walking through that crisis.

Several months ago I heard a quote by Tim Herson, “We tend to overestimate what we can do in the short-term and underestimate what we can do in the long-term.” It echoed the one percent change idea I kept hearing about in terms of elite athlete development.  At first glance neither seemed very applicable to my life as a wife, mom, friend, administrator, or writer. But the more I thought about it, the more the implications multiplied.

What if? I began to ask myself. What if I spent 1% of my day differently– if I spent that 14.4 minutes a day in prayer instead of worry. What if I devoted 10 minutes a day to exercise or reflection or something else that I “really should do”. What are the long-term implications of a few days of procrastination on every project or putting off healthy habits until I can better afford them? What if?

I began to consider how to make 1% improvements in my life. I took a look at my daily schedule and thought about the long-term implications instead of the daily tasks.  I began to think about investing most deeply in the things that have the best chance of long-term returns. The thought began to color my choices and creep into my conversations.

In the last couple of months I’ve made some of those changes. Instead of putting off various household chores, I just do them because the long-term effect of procrastinating is semi-constant chaos. Instead of viewing interactions with people as an interruption to the tasks I had on my list, I try to think of them as ripples in the long-term pond of life. There are a lot of changes I still need to make, things I’d like to be different. But as I make small changes and see the difference they can make over time, I am encouraged. And each small change for the better makes the next one easier.

As I ponder long-term effects of choices, I realize that the best view is the longest. Eternity is a long time, and it matters more how my choices affect eternity than how they affect this hour, day, or week.

One-Third of Simple Extravagance

This year that began with a focus on Simple Extravagance is one-third gone and continues to tempt me toward complex frugality in more ways than I can mention. Yet my commitment to Simple Extravagance remains and I am thankful for the choices I’ve made in that direction. I am thankful for Simple days and Extravagant pleasures. I’m grateful for Simple schedules and Extravagant interactions. I’m blessed by Simple Extravagance.

In April my husband Garry and I enjoyed more than a few extravagances at a cabin on the lake. This gift was made by generous strangers, a testimony to unexpected blessings and our ability to impact even those we do not personally know by our choices. This was a beautiful cabin with an amazing view. It is a cabin done well– quality construction and quality furnishing. It’s also simple and allows for simple focus– no TV to distract, no schedule to keep, and fewer temptations toward complexity. Yet it is surrounded by extravagant beauty and reminders of God’s extravagant love for us.

My choices toward extravagance have often related to the people in my life. The choice to spend time in relationship instead of production. The decision to be present in a conversation instead of rushing off to the next thing. The choice to share instead of hiding, to care instead of judging, and to love instead of ignoring. I haven’t seen this particular extravagance wasted when done in love.

Simplicity of schedule has been an upward climb for me thus far, but I think I’m seeing it level out a bit. I tend toward too many things in too little time with too little preparation. That makes for complexity. Simplicity requires the hard work of deciding what is important and staying focused on the things that are ours to do. One of the things I’ve learned (again) on this journey toward a simpler schedule is that not having boundaries is not freeing, it is crazy-making. This is true for ourselves and for our children and with our work. You see, where there is no “outside the lines” we have no idea what we are responsible for or what is outside of our responsibility.

The other place that I’ve found Simple Extravagance to be helpful has been in the things I think about. There are many things in the past and the future that I can ponder, and some of them need attention. Often, however, it is better use of my mental capacities to engage in simple worship, to focus on God and ask Him what He is doing. It seems extravagant to let Him take care of me and mine, but I believe it’s called faith. Obviously, this faith must lead to obedience and we are created with purpose and good works to do: however, for me the mental trails I take are often trails of worry and fear, trails that neither produce good fruit nor help resolve the questions in any way. In those case, extravagant worship is a simply freeing choice.

 

Faith Stories

“I wish I had faith stories like you!” my friend commented the other day. So this is for you, friend. YOU DO. No doubt your faith stories are unique. And it could be true that time has not allowed some of them to be completed yet, but I’ve been thinking about your faith story, your stories. And I see so many of them.

I see the way you choose to study the Word of God and obey it. That’s faith. Something pushed you deep into God sooner than many people in my life. It is beautiful. Your focus on truth, the way you quote scripture, the way you compare what I say to what you’ve learned in the Word of God, that’s faith.

Your prayers challenge me. Often. You pray with truth and passion, and I love to hear how you address your Father. When you pray the promises of God with faith, I am blessed. It’s a great faith story.

I have watched you walk through some difficult things with your family, and I’ve seen change and growth. Obedience and faith. Following up your beliefs with actions. And God has worked on your behalf. It’s a faith story only you can really share.

You invest beautifully in people of all kinds and from various places. It is inspiring. I can’t believe you haven’t seen change in the process. That change is the fruit of faith.

But maybe the completion of some of these stories is in seeing them, in recounting them, in seeing their value. It’s a journey, a process, to see the ways that faith impacts us and changes our world.

I challenge YOU to tell a faith story today. If you aren’t sure you have one, ask God to show you one. If you’ve been living by sight, not faith, start allowing God to write faith stories now. And soon you can begin to recount what He has done!

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