Life Lessons from the Barnwood Builders

Recently I suggested that members of one of my writing groups choose a piece of writing from the past and try their hands at revising it. The idea was to make the writing sharper, more precise, more readable, and more memorable. The group had mixed reactions: “Once I finish a piece, I’m done with it”; “It’s more fun to write a new piece”;  and variations of “It’s too hard.” We discussed this project for several minutes, and then I encouraged each person to try the re-writing assignment.

The next morning I woke up thinking about the process of rewriting and why it is so hated but at the same time is so important. As I mused, one of of my favorite TV shows, Barnwood Builders, came to mind, and provided a perfect metaphor for rewriting stories – and for life.

Mark Howe and his team of weathered and bearded “hillbillies” travel the country to rescue and reclaim decades-old decaying log cabins and barns. It is a sacred task for all of them. They carefully deconstruct the building on site and choose what to do with the timber.  If they are planning to reconstruct the building on another site, they count and label all the logs so that they can perfectly re-create the structure. Sometimes they can’t save the whole structure, but they can save logs for new builds. These they move to their “bone yard” which may be hundreds of miles away. Timber and barn wood that cannot be used to build or restore a cabin are saved for building furniture. Tin roofs and sturdy windows are salvaged and recycled. Nothing is wasted; even farm tools and equipment found in the barns are saved and donated to museums. 

The Barnwood builders teach that 100+ year-old log cabins have value, though they may have to “edited.” Sometimes a log may have been invaded by termites or bees and those damaged parts have to be cut out. Sometimes the notches on a log may have have been damaged by rain and other weather events and have to be re-cut. Sometimes boards are worn and gray and need sanding and re-staining to bring out their former glory. Despite the work that needs to be done on them, these logs and beams can be made beautiful again.

This example from the real world can be encouraging to writers: re-writing or re-imagining can make a piece of writing even more enjoyable or valuable. When we revise, salvage sentences and paragraphs that are well-written and rewrite or re-imagine weaker sentences. To the Barnwood team, the structure of a barn or cabin can be elegant, but it may also be enhanced by the finish work they can do. To a writer, strengthening the structure of a piece of writing and enhancing it with more precise or elegant language can make our goal of memorable writing possible.

The Barnwood team gives us a life lesson as well. We should never give up on the work of art our lives can become. Old mistakes can be studied and learned from. Tired excuses can be sawed out of our thinking. Lack of confidence can be sanded over and bright new ventures constructed. And just as Mark Rowe and his crew can cherish a barn that has lost its former glory and imagine its reinvention, we can see a vision for other people who may have lost their way. Most importantly, we can remember that God sees the image of himself in each of us. He also sees the damage that time and life have done and understands that nothing goes to waste. And he yearns for the transformation that can blossom when we work with the Carpenter to become what He envisions.

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A Smaller Life

“Today, at age 76 — as I weather the autumn of my own life — I find nature a trustworthy guide. It’s easy to fixate on everything that goes to ground as time goes by: the disintegration of a relationship, the disappearance of good work well-done, the diminishment of a sense of purpose and meaning. But, as I’ve come to understand that life “composts” and “seeds” us as autumn does the earth, I’ve seen how possibility gets planted in us even in the most difficult of times. (Parker Palmer, Autumn: The Season of Paradox, published in On Being, November 9, 2019)

I‘ve been sitting in “my chair” quite often lately musing on how to describe how my world is changing. I’ve decided that it is getting smaller. (Parker Palmer might call it “diminished.”) Smaller means less involvement, less travel, less excitement, less input, connection.  Like Palmer, I’ve also decided that a smaller and diminished life is okay.

For a while I worried about becoming smaller.  Many of my friends and family members who are my age are still taking on new, sometimes complicated responsibilities, travel even more widely, are heavily involved in church or social justice activities while I slowly but surely have let much of that go. I suspect my strongly introverted nature is encouraging me down this road, but I am sure that my friends would urge me to “stay active.” I would tell them that I am  very active – in my  mind and soul. 

During my entire professional life (which lasted until I was 74), I was a planner, an organizer, an entrepreneurial dreamer of possibilities. (In fact, many of my dreams during sleep are still are about organizing, teaching, creating new things.) But now I have accepted ceding the planning and creating and building to others.

One reason my world is smaller is that I am my husband’s caregiver; this drains my energy and emotional strength.  Another reason is that my own health now limits my activity.  But health issues are not, I’ve discovered, the major reason that my world is shrinking.  I have always been more of an observer than a participant; now I can accept that part of myself and even relish it. Parker Palmer has helped me understand that even in “diminishment,” possibility is planted. I don’t mourn the losses. I focus, instead, on the calling: to read more,  muse more, sit quietly more, listen and observe more, write more, appreciate more – and  let go more.  

Henri Nouwen writes extensively about loss and how we choose to deal with it. He says,

[E]very time there are losses there are choices to be made. You choose to live your losses as passages to anger, blame, hatred, depression, and resentment, or you choose to let these losses be passages to something new, something wider, and deeper. The question is not how to avoid loss and make it not happen, but how to choose it as a passage, as an exodus to greater life and freedom” (Henri Nouwen, You are the Beloved.)

My smaller life, I am finding, is a passage, “an exodus to greater life and freedom.”

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Going Deeper with God – Living through Good and Bad (Ecclesiastes 7:13-14)

In Eat this Book, Eugene Peterson teaches us to chew on a passage of scripture, digest it and then put it to use in practical ways. Our early Christian fathers and mothers called this process Lectio Divina. Ecclesiastes 7:13-14 re- minds us that the life God breathed into us is replete with good and bad times and how to live through it all.

Ecclesiastes 7: 13-14 (NIV)

13 Consider what God has done: 

Who can straighten what he has made crooked?
14 When times are good, be happy;
    but when times are bad, consider this:
God has made the one  as well as the other.
Therefore, no one can discover
    anything about their future.

CHEWING

When I ran across Ecclesiastes 7:13-14 recently, I was struck by the concept of straightening what God has made “crooked.”  First of all, what does it mean to say that God chose to make anything crooked rather than straight?  In my reading about this concept I found a variety of possibilities:

  • God makes our lives “crooked” at some point to prepare and train us for the role he has planned for us.  Think of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David – the list goes on. (Rodelio Mallari, Sermon Central)
  • Crooked things are the events of life that thwart our inclinations, the difficulties which meet us in life that we cannot alter (Pulpit Commentary).
  • Crooked things are things that are uncomfortable or  painful or do not work out the way we want (Lonnie Atwood, Cazenovia Park Baptist Church, Buffalo, NY).
  • Our lives are made up of events which are “straight” – those that meet our expectations-and events which are “crooked” – which by their seeming inequality baffle our comprehension (Barnes Notes on the Bible).

And then there is the phrasing of Eugene Peterson in The Message:

 Take good look at God’s work. Who could simplify and reduce Creation’s curves and angles to a plain straight line?

On a good day, enjoy yourself;
On a bad day, examine your conscience.
God arranges for both kinds of days
So that we won’t take anything for granted.

Peterson tells us that not only can we not understand God’s geometry, we can do nothing to change it. We can only take the good days and the bad days as they come. Perhaps God for some reason wants this crooked thing in my life to be crooked; who am I to bitterly complain about it? Trying to argue about how and when and why the good and bad days are apportioned in our lives (or in someone else’s) is not only foolhardy but also not our role. We are not privy to how God works; we can only accept what comes and believe that it will all work out for our good.  

DIGESTING

Try this experiment in soul training for at least two weeks – or a month if you can summon up the discipline:

  1.  Put your favorite translation of  Ecclesiastes 7: 13 – 14 on a card or in your phone.   Read it every morning.
  2. At the end of each day, use any of the definitions of “crooked” in the “Chewing” section  above to help you find and list the crooked things that have surfaced in your life that day. Also include memories of crooked things that surfaced today unbidden.
  3. Note how you handled the crooked things. Did you complain? (I do – endlessly.) Did you get depressed? Did you doubt your ability or wisdom to handle them? Did you get mad at someone – yourself, someone in your life, a person whom you contacted to fix the crookedness? Did you pray about them? Compare those responses with those recommended in Ecclesiastes 13 -14.
  4. At the end of each week, journal about your experience with  these verses.  Or talk to a friend or family member. At the end of the month intentionally choose better ways to respond to your crooked things and begin implementing them.
  5. Once you have practiced this soul training and are comfortable with it, introduce it to your family or small group. Share with each other your responses and attitudes  to crooked things in your life.

MORE FOOD FOR THOUGHT

“When we are crushed like grapes, we cannot think of the wine we will become. The sorrow overwhelms us, makes us throw ourselves on the ground, faced down, and sweat drops of blood. Then we need to be reminded that our cup of sorrow is also our cup of joy and that one day we will be able to taste the joy as fully as we now taste the sorrow” (Henri Nouwen, You are the Beloved).

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“It Wasn’t So Bad!”

Did you ever wish you could recognize holy moments in time to live fully in them?  I had an opportunity to do just that this week in the most unlikely place – the flu clinic at the doctor’s office. As usual, I was rushing and flustered after pushing my husband to get ready so we could get there at the appointed time. I was even quizzing him on his behavior:  “Who taught you that it was appropriate to leave for an appointment at the time you are supposed to be there.”  Thankfully he did not respond. This was not the holy moment – although it could have been, as can any moment.

The holy moment began when we pulled into the crammed parking lot. I was turning carefully into a spot next to a big van when I saw the van door slide open. I stopped immediately, half way into my spot. A little girl, maybe four years old, grinned at me through the open door. “Mom, there’s a car coming,” she reported. Mom peeped through the door on the other side of the van, while trying to corral a small flock of children. Thanks for being careful,” she said calmly.  “Come out this door.”

The girl scampered across the seat and got out while I finished parking. I was getting out of  the car  when I noticed a small boy hurrying around the back of the van and past me.  Mom gathered up this child with three more little ducklings, and they walked into the doctor’s office.

By the time we got in, mom was filling out five forms for flu shots for four kids under 8 and herself, when one of the older girls came out of the playroom and said something to her.  Mom responded, “Well the first thing you need to know is that we don’t use that word about people.” 

We waited behind the family, while the nurse checked their forms.  One of the kids grabbed some suckers and passed them out; even mom got one. I thought, “She should take those away and use them for a reward after they get the shot.” (Bad idea from parenting two boys who hated shots!) But Mom knew better. One of the children couldn’t get her sucker out of the cellophane.  Mom leaned down with her sucker in hand and said “If you start at the bottom, you can pull it off more easily.” The girl followed her example and was rewarded with a lick on a purple sucker.

Just then the nurse called to the family, “You can all go into room 1.” We finished our forms and sat outside room 1, waiting for our turn. Then I realized that all five of them were in there together lining up for shots and said to my husband, “We’re about to hear some screaming.” But it stayed eerily quiet. Finally, we heard some whimpering. Then three girls and a boy trooped out of the shot room, followed by mom.

Mom corralled the kids outside the door. Then she looked at us as we sat awaiting our shots. She said to the kids, “Tell them it wasn’t so bad.”  Instantly four little faces turned to us and a choir of little voices, including one that belonged to a tear-stained face, chorused, “It wasn’t so bad!” in perfect tune and in perfect unison. Then they all grinned, three blonde little girls and a curly-headed young  black boy – a family full of love. We all smiled back as the family marched out the door – and we went in for our shots.

My husband and I talked about being serenaded by these children at least three times in the next half hour.  I really wish I had been able to capture on video the second those children turned to us as one and offered us comfort. As I reflected on the whole scenario, I was impressed by this young mother’s calm behavior with these four little ones in her care. I realized that she had turned every moment into a teachable (and holy) moment.

She impressed the need for safety on one child by thanking her for being careful. She taught another child about social values without even lifting her head from the form and carefully explaining that we don’t use mean words about people. She taught the whole crew to be responsible for themselves by teaching them to unwrap a sucker.  She helped them face a possible fearful moment by matter-of-factly leading the kids in for their  shots. Finally she helped them replace any fear they may have about a doctor’s visit by encouraging them to offer us (and themselves) reassurance .

Later I remembered watching a TV show in which a 20-something young woman was waiting for her first experience of helping birth a foal. Mom did most of the work herself, but as the girl came in the stall, she raised the foal to its feet and began  putting her hands on its face and neck and rubbing them on his back.  Then she placed him so he could begin nursing. She explained that she was “imprinting” this newborn. By helping him feel comfortable with her touch and her good intentions, she was teaching him that humans (at least this human) could be trusted.

I decided that my holy moment was all about a young mother imprinting her children with love, respect, independence, and a positive attitude. I wish I could live next door to this young family so I could watch her work her magic and observe the kids grow into loving, respectful, independent, and positive young people. 

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From My Reading – November

All the great saints in history about whom I have read have been people who were so passionately in love with God that they were completely free to love other people in a deep, affective way, without any strings attached. True charity is gratuitous love, a love that gives gratuitously and receives gratuitously. It is following the first commandment that asks us to give everything we have to God and that makes the second commandment truly possible. . . .

We are touching here on the source of much of the suffering in our contemporary society. We have such a need for love that we often expect from our fellow human beings something that only God can give, and then we quickly end up being angry, resentful, lustful, and sometimes even violent. As soon as the first commandment is no longer truly the first, our society moves to the edge of self-destruction”  (Henry Nouwen, You are the Beloved).

♦   ♦    ♦    ♦    ♦

“Contemplation is a kind of seeing that is much more than mere looking because it also includes recognizing and thus appreciating. The contemplative mind does not tell us what to see but teaches us how to see what we behold.

Contemplation allows us to see the truth of things in their wholeness. It is a mental discipline and gift that detaches us, even neurologically, from our addiction to our habitual ways of thinking and from our left brain, which likes to think it is in control. We stop believing our little binary mind—which strips things down to two choices and then usually identifies with one of them—and begin to recognize the inadequacy of that limited way of knowing reality. Relying solely on the binary mind is a recipe for superficiality. Only the contemplative, or the deeply intuitive, can start venturing out into much broader and more open-ended horizons” (Richard Rohr in Daily Meditation,  October 20, 2029). 

♦   ♦    ♦    ♦    ♦

“You cannot believe in or practice unitive consciousness as long as you exclude and marginalize others—whether it is women or people of different sexual orientations or people of religious or ethnic minorities or, in my experience, people with intellectual disabilities. My work is largely with and in support of people who have significant vulnerabilities because of intellectual disability. In many cultures these people are excluded and oppressed, though often unconsciously, even more so than other marginalized groups. . . . They are thought to be hopeless. Mostly they are ignored and forgotten.

For twenty years I have been mentored by these same people. Some might not be the best-spoken, the most articulate writers, the most celebrated thinkers, the fastest runners. And yet, despite all of that, I have met person after person who emanates a kind of radiant light. After a while, even the densest of us may have our eyes opened to that something which transcends all superficial distractions of disability: the unimaginable beauty of every person. That beauty is ours for the seeing if only we have the eyes to see, if only we pay attention” (Tim Shriver in “Ripples in the World: CAC Multipliers,” the Mendicant, vol. 4,no. 4, Center for Action and Contemplation: 2014), 3-4.)

♦   ♦    ♦    ♦    ♦

We need ways of navigating our differences that deepen our curiosity, deepen our friendship, deepen our capacity to disagree, deepen the argument of being alive. This is what we need. This is what will save us. This is the work of peace. This is the work of imagination” (by Irish poet Pádraig Ó Tuama, quoted in the OnBeing newsletter,Oct. 18=9, 2019).

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The Battle of the Newspaper

It’s only a thin daily paper, maybe 12-15 pages many of which are filled with ads. But for years, I have faithfully read the Holland Sentinel – when it was not so good journalism and now that it is pretty good journalism. Sometime during the last year, I started scheduling appointments with the paper. I get my “work” and errands done, eat lunch, and then in mid-afternoon sit down with 8 Hersey Hugs and devour the paper.  

I read every section: the front page local news describing fireworks in a local mayoral election; the local news section full of local business achievements, non-profit collaborations and celebrations, and crime stories; the obituaries, making me aware of the personal pastimes and achievements and families of people I know and strangers I don’t; the letters to the editors and editorial columns both local and those reprinted from bigger papers; the feature stories about sports heroes from our town and surrounding areas, very personal and fascinating. I even read the legal news and announcements.  

Before we moved to a new apartment (down the block about two hundred feet), I called the circulation office for the Sentinel to give them our new address and to ask them to have the carrier put a new bright blue Sentinel box near our door because the apartment complex won’t allow the paper to be just thrown in the driveway or on the grass.  They said it would get done! For sure! !  The day after we moved!!!

Promises, promises.  In the ensuing days, I made 11 calls to the circulation desk:  my paper was not at my new address, the paper was being delivered to the box at the old address; there was no paper at any address, the new box was never put up, the paper was being thrown in the parking lot (which our apartment doesn’t face). The paper was not delivered. The paper was on the grass again.  The only time the paper was delivered properly was the time a sub delivered a Sunday paper because we never got one – surprise!

Soon, I noticed myself getting more irritated and more upset as the Battle of the Newspaper continued. I complained several times to my husband about how unfair! this all was.  Trying to be solicitous, he said, “Well, at least you don’t have to go down 14 steps (as in the old apartment) to look for it.”  He never said that again!

When the apartment maintenance guy came to ask if the toilet was working properly now, I said yes and immediately launched into my experience with the newspaper delivery guy.  He told me that he routinely has arguments with the guy because he routinely throws the paper any old place in the parking lots. He admitted that last winter he just plowed the papers into the piles of snow rather than stopping to pick them up – and the oblivious tenants had to call to complain that they didn’t get a paper that day.

I shared all these stories with the circulation desk. On my 11th call I stated that the delivery person evidently had a grudge against this complex or or the maintenance guy, or he just didn’t like being told what to do.  The person at the desk was horrified that I would vilify their employee like that. On another call, I had said that if I didn’t do something a boss had asked me to do 8 or 9 times, I would have been fired. That person agreed with me.

As I talked this over with my husband and friends, I was told that the only way to fix this was to cancel and then subscribe again a month later. None of them seemed to understand that this would do no good: I would still have the same person delivering the new subscription! A few told me to subscribe digitally and read on line. Only one person sympathized and agreed with the fun of just sitting in the recliner with my Hugs lined up on the end table while holding an actual paper.

And then, finally, (and this is the point of this silly blog), I realized that I had not been acting much like Jesus the last three weeks. The “it’s not fair” moments took over my days and my conversations. If I could’t act civilly, let alone lovingly, I’d had to just give up the paper. If a newspaper was so important to me that I daily lost my cool, I would have to let it go. One more lesson in detachment was obviously needed.

And so my 12th call to the Circulation Desk was to cancel the Sentinel.  I could almost hear the collective sighs of relief that went around that office. And, as is my experience with most detachment soul-training exercises, I really don’t miss the paper. I keep my rendezvous with Hugs while reading a library book.  I buy the paper once or twice a week at the gas station down the road, but I no longer have withdrawal pains. Once in a while, a friend will send me the digital version of an article she thinks I would enjoy, and I am grateful.

Now I just need to be reimbursed for most of October because the cost of the paper was withdrawn on Oct. 15.  The person on the phone promised me that would it be done in a few weeks.

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Sit and Enjoy the Stillness

When productivity is our main way of overcoming self-doubt, we are extremely vulnerable to rejection and criticism and prone to inner anxiety and depression. Productivity can never give the deep sense of belonging we crave. The more we produce, the more we realize that successes and results cannot give us the experience of “at homeness.” In fact, our productivity reveals to us that we are driven by fear” (Henri Nouwen, You are the Beloved).

This quote by Henri Nouwen will probably hit home for most readers of this blog. Being productive, staying busy, making the most of our time, contributing, giving back, obeying our calling – all these concepts can motivate us, drive us, and make us feel good about ourselves until we stagger in exhaustion. And, even then, as we struggle to fall sleep or we oversleep, we feel that the more productive we have been, the more we have given the world our best.

Somehow we feel that the lifestyle of  “work ’til you can’t”  is what God wants from us, too.  We identify with the disciples who wondered why Jesus took so much time off – from the work and from them – to sit in a boat or on a hillside.

Henri Nouwen was one of us – until he learned that all the time he had spent pushing himself and then patting himself on the back was not what God had in mind for his “beloveds.” Nouwen learned what God really wants from us during the last ten years of his life while he lived in the community of L’Arch Daybreak in Canada. He was the community’s pastor, but he learned about the mistaken value of productivity from caring for Adam Arnett, a profoundly disabled young man from the core community. For years, Nouwen was paired with Adam: feeding him, washing him, sitting with him, caring for his every need. He learned that even though Adam could do nothing for himself, let alone for anyone else, he could love, which was all that God required of him. In keeping with his words about productivity above, Nouwen said, “It is I, not Adam, who gets the main benefit from our friendship.” (Read this beautiful story of friendship and love in Adam: God’s Beloved.)

Nouwen posits that the reason we are productive is that we crave approval and belonging. But these blessings are gifts of God. We can’t earn them; the harder we try the more anxious we get and the less at home we feel.

Learning to just sit and be still has been my biggest challenge as I age.  I was raised to be always working and productive. That lifestyle was how I earned my own approval – and that of others. But then I learned that the only approval I need is God’s and that God doesn’t demand constant activity, let along approve of it. So now I do a reasonable amount of work in a day . . . and then just sit and enjoy the stillness. I am thankful that learned to find joy in being still before pain made it necessary to just sit. It’s a blessing to learn to feel comfortable just “being” before our physical condition forces us to live in a world of quiet and inactivity.   

If you are one of those who feels driven by the false good feeling we get by being constantly productive, try this soul-training exercies:

Partner with God for a week of self-observation:

  • Ask God to help you see yourself constantly doing and running faster and faster.  Make notes of what you feel while you are busy. Approval? Belonging?  Are you working and doing mostly to avoid the unworthy feelings you have when you are not busy?
  • Then stop the frantic going and doing for a day. How do you feel? Anxious, bored, lonely, useless?  Are you doubting your worth? If you have any of these feelings when you let go of productivity, what is God trying to teach you?
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Moving Days

So . . . once again we have moved.  It wasn’t far – about a tenth of a mile from one building to another, from an upper level apartment to a ground floor apartment,  but it took all the energy and patience that we had and then some. For two months we have been reeling from problems – and opportunities. Joy at the thought of being liberated from 14 straight-up steps was tempered by sorrow at losing the view from our balcony. We were re-introduced to our physical limitations and our emotional anxieties. We vacillated between “We can handle this!” and “We are so grateful for your help!” Changing addresses, changing paper delivery, changing leases, transferring electric and gas services and insurance coverage tested my courtesy and my memory. I was again grateful for my organizational skills while bemoaning my decreasing physical stamina and painful and unbalanced locomotion. 

Now that  the roller-coaster ride over and we are settled and happy in our new apartment, I can tally up all the help we received from our community of friends and family:

♥   The apartment manager who pointed out that, if our doctor would write a letter of med- ical necessity for a lower level apartment, we could go to the top of the waiting list – and our very busy doctor who did just that. We ended up in a new apartment with our preferred floor plan with new carpet and, unexpectedly, handicapped showers and bathtubs!

♥  Friends who offered packing boxes.  It seemed as if we had a 100 boxes in the garage ready to use and a dozen more to be taped. In the end, we used every one of them – and needed no more. This remarkable story reminds me of II Kings 4 when Elisha asked the friends of a poor widow to each bring all the empty jars they could spare to her house. He then took the woman’s only treasure, a bottle of oil, and used that one bottle to fill all the empty bottles. The widow had a treasure of oil to sell. She paid her debts and saved her family.)

♥   My sister who came over twice, once to help dismantle the potted garden on my balcony and once to help me tape up boxes and pack up kitchen stuff.

♥ My son Ryan who brought his 13-year-old daughter and carried the first of dozens of boxes down the stairs to the garage, and who later brought his wife and 16-year-old son to move a bookcase I was giving to their college sophomore daughter – and, yes, carry more boxes. They also brought a huge pizza which I froze and ate for four nights before and during the move. On our moving day Ryan was busy with a tennis tournament, but still picked up our U-Haul at 7:30 A.M and brought it back at 4:00 PM.  My other son Kelly came from Wichita to Grand Rapids to present a college-level academic game on the genocide in Rwanda he has written and published to interested professionals.  In his free time, he came twice to the apartment to carry down boxes and even re-organized the garage so more would fit – and spent hours in great conversation, as well.

♥  The Care and Repair team from the church I served for several years as director of spiritual formation which contacted us and said they wanted to help us move. About a month later, four men in their sixties and seventies, one hobbled by a hip problem, went up and down our steps and in less than three hours had all our boxes and furniture in place in the new apartment. 

♥   Doug, one of those movers, stayed behind and told me he was going to go back to the old apartment and get the food we left from the refrigerator and freezer.  I protested – twice. Finally, he looked at me kindly and said, “I am offering to help you, why would you turn that help down?”  I had no answer.  He gave me a lesson that will last a life time – in addition to putting everything in the new refrigerator in the same place as he found it in the old one!

♥ Two women, one from one of my writing groups and one from my small spiritual formation group who offered very specific help. One borrowed her husband’s truck the day before our move and helped me lug box after box after box, all my plants, and all the garage stuff to the new garage. The other e-mailed me that she would arrive at my new apartment at 1:30 and make the beds and help get the kitchen in order.  She did all that and much more, including putting up two shower curtains, my most hated task in the world of housekeeping. These two energetic and “bossy” women motivated me to get almost everything in its place by Monday noon.

Through all of these people we learned the consistent theme of life in the Kingdom of God. Life will test and life will bless, sometimes at the same time, but God is always present.

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