Don’t Wait Till The Last Minute

IMG_1459The admonition, Don’t Wait Till The Last Minute, is one we all hear and have heard many times. Those words have come from teachers, parents, friends, spouses, ministry leaders, and so many others along the way including us. It is always sound advice and certainly intended to encourage us to accomplish a task, do well on an assignment, meet a project deadline, think through what we need to pack, and if we heed it, to avoid stress and disappointment in our performance.

Somehow those words often can result in feelings of frustration as well. We may not admit that, but it shows up in the tone of our voice when we respond to it. We do not like to be reminded of things we need to do much of the time. Perhaps it is our pride that anyone would suggest we didn’t have an awareness of the deadline we are facing. Perhaps it is our reluctance to dig into it and set aside the excuses and procrastination that triggers the feelings. Perhaps it is our regret at our commitment to complete it from the beginning. It is a reminder that our time is not our own.

Nevertheless, duties, assignments, projects, and the like are a part of our daily lives and something we cannot avoid. Time. We complain when we are older that we do not have enough of it. We grumble when we are younger that we have too much time on our hands and are bored.

Time is a gift. We spend some of it every day while never knowing what our allotment of time is. We can feel we have no choice in how we spend it, but that is an illusion. There are duties for each of us, but the things we have committed to whether it is a job, a class, our family, a ministry, or anything else are choices we have made.

Perhaps the greater challenges, however, are the truly important things for which we never receive such an admonition and yet we should remember daily.

What kinds of things should we not wait to do lest we miss an opportunity? Here might be a short list that you can add to:

  • Tell those we love that we love them and why (Don’t wait until they are dying.)
  • Kiss our children and tell them something positive we noticed about them (Don’t wait! They are growing up so fast and they will hear so many negative things from others in their lives.)
  • Notice the world around you and become a good observer so you experience the wonder of creation and places where you may be needed. (Don’t wait to look up at the star-studded sky, smell the flowers you planted weeks ago, notice the neighbor whose steps are slowing.)
  • Take time to read and reflect on God’s Word (Don’t wait to discover the words the Lord wants you to hear from Him for that very day.)

Don’t simply add these to your “to do” list, but ask the Lord to help you keep the important ahead of the urgent in each day. It is usually the small things that are remembered by those around us long after we have been with them.

In God’s Word there are many reminders about time and our responsibility to be good stewards of that time. I was reminded of that again as I was reading in Mt. 25:1-13 about the wise and foolish virgins and the return of the Bridegroom. When we see the reminders we can be tempted to chafe again and add to our “to do” list, but I don’t think the Lord is as interested in our “doing” as in our relating to Him, loving Him, and loving one another.

Perhaps the truly important admonition is this: “Don’t wait till the last minute to receive Him, love Him, to love those He has brought into your life.”

Weariness Versus Wonder

PPP 020The frenetic pace of most of our lives leaves us exhausted many days and when that pace continues routinely, a relentless weariness creeps in as an unwelcomed guest. The results can vary, but for me it usually means that I cease to have enthusiasm or interest in many of the things I normally love to do. I see everything in my day as another “to do” when my energy and interest level say, “do not”.

None of us plan on living at a harried pace. We tend to accept it as temporary initially, “some days are like that”, “some weeks are like that”, and soon it can become “some months are like that” or even “some years are like that”. The demands of this life keep nudging us to do more and if we can, we call it success. It is a subtle temptation, which gains credence by our culture’s narrow view of success. If we yield to the temptation, we can get caught in a cycle that is hard to stop.

We look forward to the weekend, summer, vacation, or the spring break to restore us and lift the weariness. Sometimes we gain relief only to resume the pace we were determined not to restart. Sometimes the pace of our time away from routine is no less busy. We are even more surprised if we are in the group who makes exercise, healthy eating, and good sleep habits a priority. How can we still be weary?

Perhaps we have forgotten that we are human beings versus human doings and have become so driven to “do” that we no longer know how to “be”. We have also lost sight of the wonder all around us that serves to remind us of our Creator. We get so caught up in mowing the grass, we fail to notice how it feels beneath our feet, the shade of green, the fragrance it emits when freshly cut, or the genius of photosynthesis. We see the spider and its web and fail to note the delicate lace design of the web shining with drops of dew in the morning.

In many ways, we cease to experience wonder about anything and yet it is wonder that really helps ease the weariness when we are on vacation or a true break from the daily grind. We sense it on the beach as the waves come crashing onto the sand. We feel it when the breeze tosses our hair as we stand at a newly discovered trailhead. We taste it when we bite into the first watermelon of summer or the first fresh tree-ripened peach of the season. We see it when we stand at the edge of a canyon watching the beauty and power of a cascading waterfall. We experience it when we cradle a baby in our arms. We delight in it when we take time to look up into the star-studded night sky.


It always points us to the wondrous Creator and realigns our perspective, refreshes our soul, quiets our spirit, and causes us to pause and take in the moment.

That’s the true cure for weariness, pausing to take in the moment, to discover the wonder all around us even when we are not on vacation. If we will only open our eyes to see it!

This Doesn’t Fit


IMG_0042I am sure I am not the only one who goes into my closet and pulls out a favorite skirt that I haven’t worn for awhile only to discover that it doesn’t fit. Yikes! The crunchy, clunky feeling that comes with trying to make the skirt work by pulling it one way or another, adding a decorative scarf at the waist, or wearing a longer tunic might work on some days, but the problem remains that I know it doesn’t fit and I don’t feel good in it. As a result, I am not my best self when I have tried to engineer it to work somehow. I am also so focused on what is wrong with me that I sometimes cannot see others accurately.

Trying on things that do not fit brings our minds back to Cinderella and the glass slipper and the horrid, jealous stepsisters who insist that their over-sized feet can fit into Cinderella’s glass slipper.

When we are dealing with clothing, we end up with some basic choices. We can get back to the diet and exercise we promised ourselves we would do or we can buy new clothes. In either case, when something doesn’t fit it requires us to look at ourselves more honestly and make a choice.

It would be fairly straightforward if clothing were the only thing that might not fit.

There are habits, lifestyles, hobbies, relationships, and even ministries that might not fit for us or at least might not fit for us for the season we are in. Too often, we handle these much like the clothes solutions. We try to make them work while at the same time knowing that we are spinning our wheels and putting energy where our hearts do not connect. If we cannot look at the truth and make a healthy choice, we might decide to simply drop out, drift away, or give up. Sometimes we feel frozen in fear or caged and are unable to make a choice or refuse to do so.

The truth is that much as we would like things to be predictable and not change in many areas, that is not reality. Change is a constant in this life. It happens with our bodies, our jobs, our families, our friends, our lifestyles, our hobbies, our ministries, and our churches. Some of those changes we welcome and some we cringe about or even hate. It would help if we could remember the truth that change is continuous in this life. That doesn’t make us bad or good. It means we are alive and human. It also means that Christ within us has provision for us in the midst of change whether it is good or not so good.

In each case, change gives us an opportunity. It gives us the opportunity to try something new, reinvent ourselves, grow, develop, and trust at deeper levels. Whether we see it as an opportunity or get stuck depends on what lens we use to look at it and whether we are relying on ourselves or relying on the One who knows and loves us most.

One excellent example comes to mind. When I was serving on a church staff, a woman came into my office that was new to our church. She had looked over the list of ministries operating at the time and shared with me that none of them fit, none of them connected with her heart or passion. My response to her was to bring me a vision of what might fit for her. When she came back to my office sometime later, she was bubbling with excitement as she told me about a new ministry she sensed the Lord was showing her. There was no question this DID fit for her. The Lord used it to grow her in incredible ways and also used it for His Kingdom to create something that had not existed previously.

This example points to how incredibly awesome our opportunities can be when change comes or something doesn’t fit, if we look to the One who knows us best and loves us most and risk following Him.

What Should I Read?

IMG_0509Since I have always enjoyed reading, I don’t get hung up on the question of whether I SHOULD read or not because I love to read. The problem is to determine what to read because I like a lot of different kinds of books. I have three large sets of bookshelves in my house and currently there is no room to add another new book. Since I am out of bookshelf space, that means I will need to part with a few since I continue to discover new books I want to read and keep on my shelf for at least awhile.

I am not sure when I really began to love to read, but I do know it is love that has grown throughout my lifetime. When I was in school whether elementary, high school, college, or graduate school, there were many books that I HAD to read that I did NOT love. They were necessary to teach or inform me of things I needed to learn or know. I still own and have on my shelves a few of those, but I am not sure why since I don’t choose them when I am trying to decide what to read.

During those earlier days when I could steal a few minutes away from required reading, I loved diving into a good fiction book that would take me from my routine and stir my imagination about places I had never been, people I had never met, foods I had never tasted, jobs I had never explored, and so much more. I also loved historical fiction and still do since it made the history I loved seem more real and personal somehow.

When I was a young wife and mom, I still loved those great escape novels to add adventure to my days, but I also started reading books about how to be a better wife, a better mom, a better cook, a better house cleaner. The latter selections were helpful, but focused more on what I was doing than on helping me see who I was more clearly.

When I became a Christian, there was a wide array of choices from devotionals to books on doctrine and theology or how to gain healing from our wounds or how to face various trials. There were inspirational books and books meant to teach me something. There were also more translations of the Bible than I had known existed as well as debates about which were the most accurate according to the Greek or Hebrew. Along the way, I likely acquired a good many books and tried out most of the translations in different seasons of my life.

My choice of books to read is primarily guided now by one question. Does it nourish me in some way, in some aspect of my life? If the book nourishes me, it becomes a cherished friend that I never loan or give away.

What books nourish me? I still have a varied appetite. I LOVE great recipe books with photos that go with the recipes to show me the final goal and I enjoy books on healthy eating and exercise, aging well, current politics, biographies, classical novels from Jane Austin and others, as well as a good romance.

The books that nourish me most are those that impact my heart and spirit. I am always on the hunt for those and there are authors I especially love, but truthfully it is when I sit with God’s Word in my lap or on my iPad with a good cup of coffee or tea that I most want to linger in my red chair in the morning. No matter how often I read it, I find something new or different that I had not seen before. I know IT hasn’t changed, but perhaps I have. Perhaps it has changed ME. Actually, I am quite certain it has!

Feasting with the Threshers

IMG_0265The fragrance of my father’s smoked ham and baking pies permeated every room in the house. As I walked into the kitchen, it was evident all my mother’s preparations had started early that morning. Potatoes were simmering on the stove, tomatoes were waiting to be sliced, and fresh green beans needed to be snapped. I knew that was my first job of the day before setting the table that was already extended as far as possible to accommodate the threshers that already were working in my father’s fields to reap the wheat he had sown last fall.

This was my favorite time of the year and one of my favorite meals. My mother, Delight, was every bit of her name in the kitchen. She had carefully planned for a bountiful table for when the men came in at lunch to eat. She had learned to do it when she was a girl in her own home and now it seemed not to be a chore at all for her.

I never tired of the delicious taste of my father’s smoked ham and a favorite pastime of mine was to slip through the English roses that lined the path to the smokehouse and peek inside at the sides of ham and bacon hanging from the ceiling.

As I finished snapping the beans, my mother was busy mashing the potatoes, and collecting the ham drippings for the gravy. Rolls were waiting to go into the oven where the pies had been a short time ago. Ears of corn were waiting to be dropped into a boiling pot. I peeked around the corner of the kitchen to the sideboard where the pies were cooling. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. The men would not be disappointed today. No one made better pies than my mother and certainly no one had mastered the crust she created. There would be apple, peach, raisin cream, and two cherry pies. We had finished picking the cherries only a few weeks ago and finished canning nearly 40 quarts of them one day.

I hurried to set the table as the sound of the combine stopped and the men started to make their way to the house. It was a festive time for everyone and the conversation around the table would be filled with stories of other years where harvests were not as good, other farms that might be failing, and the satisfying enjoyment of my mother’s feast laid before them.

It was such a celebration at this time every summer as we gathered the harvest, the fruit of my father’s labor, and blessed those who were hired to help bring in the harvest and enjoy the best lunch anywhere in the township where we lived.

This time of year always brings back these memories and the legacy I learned in childhood of sowing and reaping, harvesting and celebrating the evidence of the planting and tending. I loved benefitting from all of it, but the clear evidence of the spiritual principles that were being demonstrated during this annual tradition did not begin to soak in until I was older and my father had stopped the bulk of his farming.

As I stopped at the orchard this week to buy rather than pick cherries, my thoughts returned to the precious legacy I had been given. I also reflected on what the bounty of the Lord’s table will be like when He harvests all He has planted in our lives, in His body, the church, and on the earth. What a great celebration that will be! How much He must anticipate inviting us to His table. I cannot imagine the fragrance of that banquet, but I am sure I will be amazed at His bounty and so grateful for the invitation to be there.