Not Just One Day

Just this today:img_1413-1

A quote shared on Crumbs from His Table a couple years ago that meant so much to me I copied and printed it out as a little tri-fold sign, to stand on whatever table, shelf, or dresser would most likely meet my view each day, to keep re-imparting its beautiful wisdom:

My soul! Seek from God the spirit of thankfulness, and cultivate habitually the grace of praise. It is a soul-purifying and a God-glorifying grace. It keeps the heart in perpetual bloom, and converts the life into a daily psalm!”

~Octavius Winslow, Consider Jesus

It’s true. It does that.

A blessed and thank-filled Thanksgiving to all who read!

What To Do—When You’re Downhearted, Overloaded, Unfocused, Interrupted, or…

It’s one of the best pieces of practical advice I ever got.

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To be honest, I heard it first when in a pit of depression, and it was council intended for that situation. But since then I’ve found it amazingly helpful for many other purposes than crawling out of emotional pits.

It was this:

“Do. One. Thing.”

In the case of the depression that had brought me to a standstill the appropriate example was “Wash. A. Dish.” or “Fold. A. Towel.” or “Hang up. A. Shirt.” or…

Just One thing. Just one. Do that.

It didn’t mean necessarily to stop at one dish, or towel, or whatever. It just meant focus completely on doing that one small thing. Choose something very small, very achievable. Then push yourself to do it even if your legs feel too weighted down with despair, worry, or confusion to shuffle across the floor, your arms too limp and lifeless to function normally. You. can. Do. one. thing. So do it.

What happens is… You wash that one dish. And even that miniscule achievement makes you realize you are not so helpless, you can achieve something, even if it’s very small. So you wash another dish. And another. And that glass. And that little saucepan. And…

Before you know it, you’ve cleaned up the whole kaboodle. Not only that, you feel better. Your arms aren’t limp, your legs feel normal; the invisible weights are gone! At least that’s how it worked for me.

The lesson: Don’t wait till you feel like it, or till you feel capable. Don’t wait to do the thing that will most likely enable you to feel capable. Keep it small and doable, and before long you may even feel like doing the larger task it’s part of that stands waiting and nagging. Just one little part at a time.

It’s good for more than the blue funk. It’s good for the overload. It’s good for the busy. It’s good for the list so long and complicated it seems downright overwhelming.

Remember Martha in the Bible (Lk 10:41), and what Jesus told her problem was?

We American women are inordinately fond of multi-tasking. Somehow someone convinced us that worthy achievement means accomplished juggling of at least three or four tasks at a time. Theoretically, it’s supposed to save minutes. But the advice I got for Thanksgiving prep one year invited me to toss that idea right in the trash can with the rest of the useless clutter—even before the scientific studies that showed multi-tasking both wastes time and lowers one’s IQ!

It came from “Flylady,” queen of de-clutter and good-order, and here the emphasis was on the “Do.” As in complete the one task before tackling something else. Do it, complete it, even clean up after it, putting everything back in its place before moving on to the next task. 

This didn’t sound like a good idea to me. Surely putting everything away just to get right back out again had to be a time and energy waster. But I gave it a fair try.

On the first endeavor, I followed this instruction to the letter. But on the next, (assembling the apple crumb pie, let’s say), it seemed downright silly to put everything away before I moved on to the pumpkin pie, which would go into the oven when apple came out (baking at different temperatures). However, what I discovered was that though my first two tasks had run smoothly and efficiently, on the third, I found myself repeating, “Now where did I put that?” or having to stop and wash and dry a measuring utensil, then reread the recipe for how much to measure. Before long I realized these little interruptions were adding ticks (many ticks) to the clock… and quite frankly, I felt my IQ falling!

“Do (as in complete) one thing,” before starting another definitely ended up more efficient, less stressful, and even enjoyable.

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Do you try to multitask? Which multitasking could you break apart into “one thing”s to do with better concentration, and maybe therefore speed and satisfaction? In the “Martha, Martha” passage referenced above (Lk 10:38-42), what was the one important thing that needed Martha’s attention more than all the “many things” that were fretting her?

“Enjoy!”

I cut the butter through the salted flour with my fingers.img_1395

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I wash them off, then take a fork and, holding bowl beneath icy spring water trickling from the faucet, I mix the pastry till just moist enough.

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I shape the rounds of dough and flour the mat, then carefully roll with that well-beloved French rolling pin Husband fashioned in his winter woodshop, using lovely cherry wood from right here on the property. I push just enough here, a little more gently there, to master the challenging circle.

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Almost, but not quite. I trim all ’round the sort-of circle till it really is one, and think of my mother rolling dough on her generous, smooth wooden board, perfect circle every time.

IMG_1322.JPGI assemble the pies: the pumpkin whirred in the blender, the apples with the crumb top, or sometimes with the dough “lid” (as husband calls the top crust. (He once made a pumpkin pie himself–mistakenly “with a lid”!)

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One by one they enter the oven, to fill the whole house with delightful aroma. I will set these before the gathered loved ones for one purpose.

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Though there’s nourishment and sustenance in the portions slid onto dressy plates, my aim is their enjoyment. I might even say, “Enjoy!” And whether the pie assembly has been easy or fraught with “little kitchen difficulties,” when I see them digging in with gusto and smiles, I relish their pleasure. I so enjoy their enjoyment!

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And now I reflect not only on my mother with her big mother-heart set on our enjoyment when she did these same acts of love, but of God and all that He takes thought to orchestrate and assemble, not just to keep us breathing, but with the same intention: for us to take pleasure in it, and for Him to enjoy our enjoyment.

Listen through the coming week. Can your spirit hear His Spirit’s invitation, saying, “Enjoy. Enjoy!” and be grateful?

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This post was inspired by a the word prompt “enjoy,” on this week’s Five Minute Friday. Visit there to enoy more bloggers’ responses to the prompt.

My Journey, My Own (An Acrostic)

To do today: Write an Acrostic, according to this prompting and instruction in TweetSpeak Poetry.

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An acrostic is a poem or other piece of writing whose lines’ first letters, taken in succession, form a word, or alphabet. The Tweetspeak infographic referenced above explains how ancient this poem form is, tracing it back to classical Greece. Something it doesn’t mention, however, is how often the acrostic form also appears in very old writings of the Bible.

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I did some research, which turned up these examples::

  • In Psalm 119, all the verses of each stanza (in Hebrew) begin with the same letter, and the stanzas, one by one, take the reader through the (Hebrew) alphabet. (Those little subtitles placed before each group of eight verses are names of aphabet letters.)
  • Proverbs 31:10-31 (the “Virtuous Woman” passage) is another example.
  • Likewise the first four of the five songs comprising Lamentations.
  • And there are more, in all these Psalms: 9, 10, 25, 34, 37, 111, 112, and 145.
 

All this instruction and information inspired me to do my bit, too, and make my attempt at an acrostic.

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World-class poetry it isn’t, but it does help me process this whole concept of my life as a journey:

 

MY JOURNEY, MY OWN

Just as I am, with all my quirks,

Out of the who of my being

Unfolds the what of my life:

Reality formed from mentality, vitality, inner fires, and gifts.

Never wise is it to follow a path not mapped for me.

Ever upward and onward, let it be toward

You–the always-true and never-altering Thee.

Try your own acrostic-making with a topic on your mind! See what happens! 

Climb Through Time (Collage)

I make a collage and set it up on the bookstand in my “serenity room,” (named for my aim within it). The collage waits there for me to see and ponder every time I glance up.

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“Climb,” it has come to say to me. “Upward.” “Movement.” “Rise.” And soon, “Journey.”

All those meanings emerged in its making…

So I ponder its creation:

I started with the stairway, cut from a magazine for the beauty of its lines, and for the “painted” quality the stairwell’s wall gives the photo (something like poetry within prose)—but maybe for more reasons besides.

I used torn strips from pictures of shirts in a Duluth Trading catalog—because lights and darks undulate in the folds of cloth. (Sorry I didn’t take photos of this step.) I overlaid these strips with tissue paper shreds to subdue them, placing all in vertical to contrast with the repeated horizontal of all those lovely red-carpeted steps.

Now I had a background. But what to put on it?

Time to sort through papers on my scrapbooking shelves…

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I found a book of old old-fashioned portraits, with lots of roses sprinkling pages. I love red roses, and these seemed to capture my heart, so I cut some out. The ones inside the book’s covers loomed too large for scale; so I hacked up the front!

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Here and there, while leafing through the book, I passed a few watch faces, which I mostly ignored at first. Timepieces seemed redundant because I’d pictured clock faces before on my blog. 

But I kept thinking about them. So I searched through again, found three, cut them out, and placed them “at random.”

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I needed one more, I decided, but did the illustration book have another? Searching, I found just one, hiding under double-folded pages—and heart shaped!

“Perfect!” said my intuition, and I extracted it, too. It would be the focal point watch.

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After all that went into place, a blank space remained in the curve made by the stair. Robbing roses from other places didn’t work, left areas too blank elsewhere. What to use?

I’d brought to the work table a couple snips of deep red wired ribbon. I started playing with them. Eventually one of them became a sort-of rose shape, opening out toward the watches and roses. The other snips made wind-blown banners.

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Done. But what did it “mean”?

Husband entered at one point and surveyed it.

“Why all the clocks?” he asked, “And all different times?”

How could I answer when I didn’t know? I only knew I’d chosen them and that it was somehow important that they all showed different times.

Did the idea of journey come from Friday’s five-minute prompt? Probably. But it caused me to think more about life truly as a journey, from here to there, and hopefully upward, even though that involves a long-term climb.

Did the watch faces “call out” because the “time to turn the clocks back” loomed just ahead? Probably, at least partly, but they also caused me to think about life within the constraints of swiftly passing time as the journey moves forward.

Why the roses, and why red, when my book source contained many other hues? Just because I like them best, I supposed! But beyond that, I know that red roses symbolize love, and I think in the depth of my mind or heart was the concept of True Love, which would be Christ’s, showered over our hours and travels.

Beyond all that, it’s your guess as much as mine.

What does this collage seem to signify to you?

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