Saturday, April 30, 2011

Garage Sales

Our association has an annual garage sale. We have participated on and off in years past, but this year, my husband has been very excited about the idea of a garage sale and has been tucking stuff away in the garage and attic since we participated in the last sale (which may have been two years ago). Unfortunately, even with the few reminders that came via the newsletter and such, we didn't exactly know the date of the sale until...Monday. Our schedule the past few weeks has been crazy with eye doctors, and dentists, and soccer games, and getting ready for junior-senior banquet, and small groups and Bible studies, so we started pricing on...Thursday. Sale started Friday morning.

It's always hard for me to price for garage sales. I try to price items based on what I would pay for them, but then again, I struggle; because if I wanted them to start with, I wouldn't be selling them in the garage sale. :)

And then there are the "bargain hunters." No matter what the price is, they have to haggle. We are doing Financial Peace University with Dave Ramsey, and he is a big proponent of not paying full price for anything, but seriously. I just sold 3 metal baseball bats for $3.00. Two of them were pretty well used, but the third was used for less than a season. The paint wasn't even marred. We had priced it at $5.00 the other two for $1.00 each. I am not exactly sure what the going rate for a metal baseball bat is at Target, but I would bet that $7.00 for three is a pretty good bargain. The good news is that the three metal baseball bats are out of our garage. I guess that is a win for both of us.

Our goal in having this sale was to work on the debt-reduction snowball plan that we set up with our FPU materials. My "nerd" husband was very excited about that. His "free-spirit" wife found a futon at a neighbor's garage sale that she wanted for the basement. So our snowball may or may not have melted just a bit. And, no. We did not haggle on her price. We paid what she asked, because we thought it was already a bargain - and we paid in cash. :) Hopefully with the addition of a couple of bigger ticket items today we will be able to recoup our "loss" even though I am really, pretty sure the futon was a gain. :)

I think this sale will be the catalyst that will help me get through the rest of the stuff that is overtaking our house. Although we will be finished by 4:00 this afternoon, Pathway has an annual garage sale that benefits the True Vine adoption ministry of our church. I wish I had a few days to devote to touching everything in my house and garage and make a decision as to whether to keep it or donate it, but unfortunately, that isn't going to happen. Where is that Clean Sweep team when you need them?!

There is just something about getting rid of "stuff" that is freeing. It creates margin, and margin is something that I just don't have enough of. Granted, some of it is self imposed. In an effort to add some margin to my personal life with things like Bible study and small group, I have over-committed my schedule. I love the fellowship these things provide, but when added to sports schedules and homework schedules, I wouldn't be honest if I didn't say that there are times when I am thankful for cancellations.

I think some of it is emotional though, and that kind of margin is a lot harder to create - and a lot easier to lose. It's called the weight of the world. In my case, it starts with a desire to please others that I care about - wanting them to be proud of me. Then comes the pressure of having a child that struggles with visual processing issues (which unless someone has dealt with this kind of issue, most people just cannot understand.) Then there are the normal concerns (because it sounds much less Christian to call them worries). Am I being a good parent? Am I making the right choices for my family? Am I really doing what God is calling me to do?

I sometimes wish that getting rid of the calendar and the emotional clutter was as easy as having a garage sale. But, I think that it is in the purging of those things that I really grow - looking at each decision, circumstance, crossroad and option and making a choice. Although it may not always turn out to be the best choice, it is always a step of faith. No "haggling" or "bargains," but the results are priceless.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Simplicity of the Gospel

Living He loved me.
Dying He saved me.
Buried He carried my sins far away.
Rising He justified, freely, forever
Someday He's coming.
What a glorious day!
Glorious Day
Casting Crowns

I love the simplicity of the gospel. God could have made it complicated. He could have made it "old testament" for all of eternity with rules and regulations and offerings, but He didn't. He chose to make it simple so that everyone could understand. So that I could understand.

I am thankful that I am an active participant in the Easter story. Yes, I am saddened by the part where my sins put stripes on His back and nails in His hands and feet, but I am ever so thankful for each of those stripes and nails because without them I would have an eternity without Him.

Yes...simple is good.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


More is one of those words that can have many different connotations. I would certainly want more chocolate on most occasions, but if I see more rain in the next few days, I think I will scream. I would love to have more time to spend with my friends, but adding one more thing to my schedule could seriously send me off the deep end. I have more stuff in my house than I know what to do with, and yet it seems more sneaks in every day in the form of paperwork and mail and various little plastic toys from who knows where. As you can see, I have kind of an extreme love/hate relationship with "more".

The last few weeks, though, "more" has taken on a spiritual direction. I have said before that often God speaks to me through music. Back in October, I shared the words of a Sanctus Real song that had rocked my world. I had never heard anyone put into words the struggles that I had faced every day. Although it was disconcerting, it opened the door for me to share with some people that I trusted, cry a few tears - maybe more than a few - and begin to work through some of my insecurity. It was definitely a turning point.

Recently, God has rocked my world once again through a song. This time by Tenth Avenue North.

There's a girl in the corner
With tear stains on her eyes
From the places she's wandered
And the shame she can't hide

She says, "How did I get here?
I'm not who I once was.
And I'm crippled by the fear
That I've fallen too far to love"

But don't you know who you are,
What's been done for you?
Yeah don't you know who you are?

You are more than the choices that you've made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You've been remade.

Well she tries to believe it
That she's been given new life
But she can't shake the feeling
That it's not true tonight

She knows all the answers
And she's rehearsed all the lines
And so she'll try to do better
But then she's too weak to try

But don't you know who you are?

(chorus x2)

'Cause this is not about what you've done,
But what's been done for you.
This is not about where you've been,
But where your brokenness brings you to

This is not about what you feel,
But what He felt to forgive you,
And what He felt to make you loved.

(chorus x2)

You've been remade
You've been remade.
You've been remade.
You've been remade.

You are More
Tenth Avenue North

Once again, a song opened a place in my heart that I had never shared with anyone. A place I thought no one would understand. How often have I hidden in the corner for fear of being noticed? How often have I known deep in my heart that any mistake I made would be one too many mistakes for those I cared the most about and they wouldn't want to be my friend any more?

This morning, God and I were having a little...discussion. Well, it was a bit on-sided for awhile. It started out with my frustration over something stupid, but quickly turned to some deeper struggles that I have been facing. My immediate reaction was to take full responsibility and shut down - even with God. And just as my eyes filled with tears, this song came on the radio.

"There's a girl in the corner
with tear stains on her eyes..."

Do you think God knew where I was at that moment?

"...You are more than the sum of your past mistakes.
You are more than the problems you create..."

I really want that to be true. I realize that it isn't scripture, but I also know without a shadow of a doubt that God was speaking to me in that moment. No doubt.

I would love to say that all my insecurity is gone, but it's not. I can say, though, that I have grown. I have come to realize that maybe I am not as alone as I once thought.

I am also reading a book called The Me I Want to Be by John Ortberg. The premise of the book is that we need to be the best version of ourselves. What works for one person may not work for another. It has been good for me. I am only a few chapters in, but it has helped me to let go of a lot of "shoulds." I am still learning what that version of me looks like, but I am pretty sure that it doesn't look like the image that I have created in my mind. And, for the most part I am really okay with that, because that image was more than a little daunting from where I am now. I am sure that there will be some sense of loss over a few things that I really, really want to be the real me, but probably never will be, but it is all part of the process.

I definitely have more to learn...but in this instance...I think "more" is a very good thing.

Monday, April 4, 2011

In a Moment

I lost a friend today. Actually, I apparently lost a friend a few months ago, but I didn't find out about it until today. Maybe that is a sign that I wasn't the friend I should have been. You see, this friend didn't live all that far away from me. There were no angry words or difficult circumstances that kept us apart. We just didn't really keep in touch after Jay and I left our previous church. I saw her a couple of times, but it just wasn't a priority. We both had busy lives and families, and I guess I just always thought that I would stop by and see her at work, but rarely did I.

The loss was all the more sudden for me in the way I found out. Michael happened to mention my friend's daughter, and I asked how she was doing. He said "better than she was." When I asked what he meant, he said, "Well, her mom died." It was kind of a well-don't-be-stupid kind of tone. He thought I knew.

I know Kelly wouldn't want me to beat myself up. That was Kelly. But it scares me a little bit to think that one of my friends could go to be with the Lord and I wouldn't even know it. Kelly is actually the second close friend that I had lost contact with in Fort Wayne that died of cancer. My heart still hurts when I pass the church where my friend Anita's funeral was held. At least I was there for her funeral. Anita's family knew how much I cared. Kelly's family will never know that.

According to Facebook I have 320 friends. I won't even go there. While I really do know and like everyone on my friends list, to call them friends is a bit of a stretch. Some of them barely know me, and I have only scratched the surface of knowing them. Kelly wasn't one of my Facebook friends. I don't even know if she had a Facebook.

My true friends are the ones who know the real me. The one I typically hide from everyone. They are the ones I consider family, and it is really a pretty small list. Even then, I don't get to talk with some of them very often. What if they don't know, as Kelly didn't, that they have made a difference in my life? What if they don't know that I think of them often? What if they don't know that I wish I could see each of them more than I do? What if they think I have forgotten them, as Kelly probably did?

Today, in the midst of a world where dreams come true, reality struck in a very real way and yanked the chains of my priorities. Although I had not seen Kelly in a very long time, I will miss her dearly. She (and Anita) were two of the sweetest people I have ever known. I only wish I had been the friend to them that they were to me.

I know that I will see Kelly and Anita again. That is one bit of joy among the sadness. They were both women who held very tightly to their faith. Until then, I hope not to make the same mistake that I made with them with anyone else. It's time to revisit my resolutions for the new year. If spending more time with those I care about wasn't on the list, it will be now. Because we never know what will happen in a moment.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Southern Girl at Heart

I am currently sitting at one of my favorite places on earth. The kids have already trashed our room, but I am surrounded by two young palm trees with the wind gently blowing through their leaves. The patio is currently shaded, but I can see the sun reflecting on the little, tiny bit of the lake I can see on the golf course behind the tree row that borders the property. That is the only thing that isn’t quite perfect. I would love to have just a bit better view of the lake, but I think this is good. I want this week to be a time of reflection, and the tree line is still beautiful and adds a sense of intimacy to my little journaling spot.

As we travelled down here, I was reminded of something I already knew. I am a southern girl at heart. I don’t really know how that happened. I was born and raised in central Indiana. I did travel to Florida a lot with my grandparents when I was little. Maybe that is it, but I don’t really think that being a southern girl is something that is learned. I think it is just something that…is. I love Florida. I love the oceans and palm trees and beautiful weather, but I also love Tennessee with the mountains and beautiful vistas. I love southern hospitality. I love southern accents. I love being able to get outside - and that is saying something because in Indiana, I am not known as an outside kind of girl.

I am sure that I have romanticized some of it. I mean even the people who work at Disney World have real lives outside of the park. They are busy with kids’ schedules, and grocery shopping and laundry. They get sick, and they have relationship and security issues. But, for me, all that is better in the south. In fact, I had a great time shopping at Publix a few minutes ago. :) (Maybe it was coming out into the sunshine and palm tree dotted parking lot that made it better.)

I am looking forward to this week. For me, it’s not just about the fun things that we will do as a family, it is more about me taking some time away to and sort through some things that I have been struggling with. I hear home is the best place to rest, rejuvenate and grow; and if home is where the heart is, I am definitely home.