Plane Coffee Mom

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Category: Ponderings (Page 1 of 10)

Day One and Simplicity

It’s already the second week of January, and I’m still thinking it’s “Day One.” Well, I realize it is not technically Day One, but the concept keeps catching me. Matthew West’s song runs through my head, particularly the lines, “It’s Day One of the rest of my life, I’m marching on to the beat of a brand new drum”.

Day One, it’s reflective of the simplicity I am focusing on this year. To me it’s a mentality that leaves the past behind while moving on. It’s realizing that I don’t have to replay yesterday’s conversations AGAIN, that I don’t need to reevaluate my productivity AGAIN, and that I don’t need to live in regret. The past is done. If something that happened demands I offer an apology or suggests I make a change, I do that now. Then I leave the past behind and take the lessons I learned to move forward in this moment.

Day One. A brand new start, a chance to move forward in what God is calling me to right now. A chance to make new friends or connect with old friends. An opportunity to start a project or finish one. A clean slate that doesn’t demand I work around what I’ve started but allows me to write what’s on my mind. It’s freeing, living in this moment, starting from now, focusing on the one thing that’s in front of me. Day One is simple.

Day One. It’s extravagant to begin again. Frugality demands I hang on to what I have and make the most of what was instead of investing in something new. Extravagance erases the old and comes up with a brand new plan. Extravagance enjoys this moment without worrying about the one that preceded it or the one that will follow. Extravagance means I am free to be the person I have become through the lessons I’ve learned without doing penance for the past or worrying about the future.

Day One. An extravagant view of grace and mercy, freely accepting and offering forgiveness without trying to extract payment. Hope that what I’ve been promised will come to pass. Faith that investing in this moment does not demand that I keep replaying my efforts or worrying about the outcome.

Today I choose to live “Day One”, the Simple Extravagance of a new beginning that will bear good fruit.

Simple Extravagance

I had plans to choose a word for the year. Much like my plans to have just one pot for cooking and one notebook at a time, it didn’t work. Life is too exciting and too complex. One idea is in conflict with another, and different parts of life call for unique strategies. That’s why my “word for the year” turned into two words. Simple Extravagance.

Simple extravagance. Living simply, but not sparingly. Being extravagant, but never complicated. Loving people and using things. Those are the things that I want to focus on this year.

Simple. Creating goals and plans that are not complex. Cooking simple, healthy meals. Doing exercise that works in a predictable routine. Keeping my schedule uncomplicated so I can be spontaneous without guilt. Finding a way to better manage some of my housekeeping chores. Trimming down my filing system so it is more helpful. Reducing the number of ways I communicate with people.

Simple. Just the word makes me take a deep breath and relax. It’s far too easy to make things complex, to spend energy chasing things instead of enjoying them. Complicated is a trap that lurks nearly everywhere: programs you can join, learning you can do, communities where you can engage, and a whole world of people you can track on social media. Then there are other countries, governments, conflicts, and economics that can make everyday decisions complex. “Keep it simple” is simply good advice and this year I hope to take it.

Extravagant. Extravagance makes me think of gourmet coffee, sunsets, and fancy hotels. It’s how I feel about a beautiful table set for dinner or a free afternoon. It speaks of spending resources on non-essentials because they bring joy. Sunsets always seem extravagant to me– we don’t need them, yet God paints them across the sky. Extravagance, done properly, is art and beauty. It is creating spaces that are healing and being people who are deeply rooted in God’s abundance.

Extravagance brings to mind the woman in the Bible with the alabaster box, pouring expensive oil on Jesus’s feet. It calls me to do things that are beyond my utilitarian tendencies, pouring life out on those around me. I am reminded to be present with the person in front of me instead of trying to multi-task. I am challenged to share love as though it is endless and spread joy as though it is unlimited. And I am humbled to think that I can also receive God’s extravagant grace and mercy in an endless stream.

These are my thoughts as 2018 begins. To live in simple extravagance this year. I’d love to hear what you are thinking as the year begins.

The Ladies

Today I remember how coffee and tea sat in front of us while conversation swirled between our lives and our thoughts. We fired questions and shared events and stories.  Conversation slowed as it moved toward the changes God was making in our hearts and asking us to make in our lives. Both the volume and the speed of the conversation fell as it got more personal. The book study had grown out of a desire for mentorship, and times together had grown a trust and openness between us that was simply good.

These are amazing young women, the kind of people every one of us wants to have as friends. I can’t believe that I’ve been privileged to walk life with them to the degree that I have. I can hardly believe that God has allowed me these times of fellowship and this insight into growth. I am humbled by the fact that they trust me with parts of their hearts and space in their journeys. I’ve enjoyed the fervor of youth. I’ve been reminded of the joys and challenges of the first year of married life as we’ve met. I’ve gained insights into life and faith. I’ve heard God stories and shared some. God has rebuked my lack of faith through them and reminded me who He is through our times together. These times are a good gift, given by the Father of Light.

It all began with a tentative, “Maybe just you and I could do coffee one day?” from Madison. We’d met her husband and his friend when he did some work in a house we were renting. We were new to town, missing our oldest son we’d left behind, and determined to step into life and relationships.  He and Madison were dating, and after a few conversations he asked if he could bring her with him so we could meet her. One introduction led to another, and we found ourselves with a few college-age friends that were willing to join us for an occasional supper. Over the next couple of years the guys married their girlfriends, some of the girls moved away, and we gained two young couple friends whose visits brightened our days.

We met for coffee soon after Madison’s question, and she asked if we could invite Jess and maybe do a study or something. Jess was barely back from her honeymoon the first time she joined us, and the group was three. Madison chose a book which we all enjoyed, then we chose another. I watched newly weds complete a year of marriage, then another. I grew and saw them grow. Life happened, and we met to discuss it. I knew they’d eventually move on to the next place, but it took me by surprise when I realized the date of their departure was within a few months.

As these ladies prepared to move on to the next place God called them to, I was reminded of my own journey and the many hard goodbyes I’ve said. I was excited for the next step in each of their journeys, but I knew I’d miss them. We said our goodbyes one sunny day, and still I miss them.

I’m thankful that God orchestrated our paths crossing, and that each of us chose to engage with one another. I’m reminded that opportunities don’t last forever, and God gives each of us specific opportunities for specific seasons. I know there will be other ladies in my life, but there won’t be another group like this one… I’m so thankful I enjoyed this season!

Happy Thanksgiving 2017

Thanksgiving. One of the most American holidays ever, complete with underlying values and heavy with tradition. A day to celebrate all we have and to share a meal with family and friends. A day that nearly everyone cooks, apparently. A day that is synonymous with family and food and relaxation.

 

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope your day is full of the best parts of each of those things: that the traditions you follow bring joy, that the thankfulness you express today is a gratitude that is lived most days, and that the food you prepare is truly enjoyed.

I realized yesterday that we have no traditions for this holiday as it isn’t one we have often celebrated. Most Thanksgiving days in our lives have been spent as regular work days, with maybe a few moments set aside to read about the celebrations going on in the USA or Canada, as the case may be.

Still, as long as I can remember I’ve seen beautiful photos of a loaded Thanksgiving table with a large family gathered. I have a mental picture of what Thanksgiving could or should be, and I’ve tried hard to recreate it sometimes. The perfect turkey with delicious stuffing, cranberry sauce, sweet potato something, and pumpkin pie with coffee to finish it off. This amazing meal followed by a time of sharing gratitude for the people around the table and the things we enjoy.

No matter how hard I try, the experience simply doesn’t meet my expectations. Usually by the time the food is on the table there have been frustrations that make me harried. We cut into a turkey that isn’t perfect, nobody really enjoys cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie isn’t a family favorite. Thanksgiving feels forced and my sons mumbled thanks feel like a reflection on my poor parenting. So, for all my effort, it’s empty. Disappointing. Discouraging.

I still hold to the thought that for many people, the pictures in their mind of a Thanksgiving celebration are based on a reality that has grown over their years of childhood and into the present. What they expect is maybe much closer to what they get. And for them, the effort they spend on Thanksgiving creates a reality that connects them to one another and to the past and their heritage. For the rest of us, it’s a different story.

This year as we celebrate Thanksgiving in the USA, I am trying to carve a new path based on reality and our history. As I ponder the things that I am truly thankful for, they are people and experiences. The people who have helped us grow and the ones we’ve been privileged to help. Our family who lives scattered by calls that are unique  but hearts that are similar. The people we have served and the ones who have served us.  The people who have prayed with us and cried with us. The places we’ve lived and the ones we’ve visited. The cultures we’ve experienced that have changed our biases and taught us new things. The places that felt like home when we arrived and the ones that became home only by a force of will. The teams that welcomed us and the ones we tried so hard to join. These are the things that make our history and define us as a family, and today I am celebrating each one of them.

In fact, in the process of blogging I’ve come up with next year’s menu: Rice, carne mechada, black beans, chipa, and a side of pancit. Leche flan with a cup of cafe con leche for dessert while we remember and give thanks.

May your Thanksgiving be filled with thanksgiving.

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