Friday, June 15, 2018

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on Recycling

Since we arrived here in Platte, I had been dutifully stacking my plastic bottles, tin cans, cardboard, and paper in our laundry room, hoping to figure out sometime where I could go to recycle all of it.

Back in Allison, we could weigh our cardboard and paper and then our church youth group would get a check at the end of the year. (Yes, it took lots of paper and cardboard to amount to anything, but it felt good to be contributing in that simple way)

Yesterday I finally asked someone if they have recycling in Platte and they regretfully told me that they didn't. "We really should!" she said, but she told me that all of their trash goes down to a landfill in Lake Andes.

We were going to Mitchell for something later that day, so I loaded my four or five small bags of recycling and wrote down the address of their recycling center, figuring we could drop it off while we were there.

It was late in the afternoon when we finally got done with visiting people in Corsica and Parkston, getting drivers licenses in Armour, and running a couple of errands in Mitchell. The GPS took us to the address I had, but we saw no sign of a place to recycle. We drove around a little bit, but finally gave up and we went home with my pitiful little collection of milk jugs, drink bottles, and junk mail.

I didn't cry, but I was seriously distressed. 

How could I go from faithfully recycling everything I possibly could for more than eight years to tossing everything in the church dumpster?

I joked around with Gary and said we could save up our paper, load it in our small trailer, and turn it in back in Allison sometime when we're going that way. He understood my pain, but pointed out that the gas we would burn to haul it that far would cost more and be worse for the environment than the benefits of turning it in.

I know, I know, and I don't want to put down my new state. I'm sure they have thought about the pros and cons of widespread recycling and they've made the decision that's best for their residents.

I'm just going to have to get used to doing things in a new way here.

As much as it will pain me at first to throw away paper, cardboard, plastics, and other things, I'm sure it will also free up some of my time. I won't experience the avalanche of trash that happened sometimes when I let my recyclables fill up our small closet by the back door. I won't have to take time to load up the vehicle and stop to unload stuff like we used to.

There might be a new freedom in all of this.

Do we sometimes do things like that with the way we think or the things we do?

We store up negative thoughts, planning to sit down and examine them one day and turn them into better ideas, but we store them too long and they avalanche out and lead to depression.

We keep doing the same mindless things over and over, hoping to have fun and relieve our stress, but those activities just keep us from accomplishing our real goals and get in the way because we won't get rid of them.

We keep eating the same junk foods because we're bored or anxious. Those empty calories get "recycled" into excess pounds of fat on our figures. It would be better to just throw away those junk foods (or at least eat them much less often) and try some new ways of eating that will lead to healthier bodies.

The Bible says there's nothing new:

"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 1:9 NIV)

Sounds like recycling, doesn't it?

The book of Ecclesiastes goes on and on about how meaningless life is. However, the author comes to an important conclusion:

"Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind." (Ecclesiastes 12:13 NIV) 

Maybe recycling isn't best for us in the long run.

Repeating the same patterns over and over probably won't get us where God wants us to go. Instead, we need to fear God (be in awe of Him) and keep his commandments (obey Him).

Those actions will create new ways of thinking and acting that will lead to exciting, fulfilling results. Results we may not even be able to imagine right now. 

I may cringe every time I throw away a plastic bottle for a while, but I pray that it reminds me to fear God and obey Him, expecting Him to accomplish great new things in my life.

Do you recycle? That's great if you can! How can focusing on God help you to get out of old destructive patterns and expect amazing new things instead? 

Friday, June 8, 2018

Focus Friday:Let's Focus on Greetings and Farewells

Transitions are hard.

I have to keep reminding myself of that.

It can be easy to get frustrated with all sorts of little things there are to get used to when you move to a new place.

Like reaching for the umpteenth time for a light switch that isn't's on the other side of the door instead.

Like opening five cupboard doors to find the item you're looking for...finally locating it at last.

Like sitting down on the couch for a few minutes...and nodding off into a half hour nap when there's so much work to be done.

Like opening box after box after box...and still not finding the Sunday shoes your husband carefully packed somewhere safe. (We know they'll show up right after he buys another pair.)

Things like that can be frustrating, but they are all part of the moving process.

Our hands and brains will get used to where all of the light switches are.

Soon we'll open the right cupboard doors the first time.

Someday we'll get caught up on sleep and have more energy.

The shoes will turn up (well, I have my doubts about that one).
Our new house in's already starting to feel like home.
In the midst of all of the moving chaos, we have greetings and farewells to experience.

Farewells to our church and community friends back in Allison. Wondering if we said goodbye well. Being grateful for cards and gifts and expressions of love and kindness from so many people.

Greetings to our new church and community friends here in Platte. So many names to remember. It was Vacation Bible School this week, so we got to know many of the kids. We're starting to meet people at businesses in the community. 

It seems a bit overwhelming right now, but I have to keep reminding myself that it felt that way in Chandler, and then it felt that way in Allison, but eventually we got to know people. 

I often say that I can't imagine my life without the people we've gotten to know in each place we've lived. 

I thank God for all of the people I've said "farewell" to over the years, and I thank God for all of the people I'm "greeting" right now. I know God has great things in store for all of us.

"I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus." (1 Corinthians 1:4 NIV)

Do you enjoy greetings and farewells? How can focusing on God help you to experience both with gratitude and joy?

Friday, May 25, 2018

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on Stars and Snowflakes

I've reached the point in our packing where I'm wandering from room to room with glazed eyes.

I start packing a few boxes in the basement, then I go upstairs for something and notice that the hall closet has stuff that definitely has to be sorted and combined into a smaller space. Then I go in our bedroom and put a few items of clothing into a plastic tote.

I decided it's time for a break. A little time to focus. It's time for (miracle of miracles!) Focus Friday.

We load the moving van on Tuesday.

Sometimes I feel like we're ahead of schedule and we'll be completely ready.

Other times I look around and wonder if we'll ever be ready. 

I guess we'll keep plugging away and be as ready as we can be on Tuesday. One way or another, we will move to South Dakota. 

I took a little time today to go out for coffee with a friend.

To some, that might seem crazy when we have so much to do, but it was important to me, so I made time for it.

When I got back to Allison, I did a couple of errands and then I worked on packing again. As I worked, I thought about how nice it would be to go out for coffee with more friends before we leave this area. 

Time is ticking away, so that just won't work, but it got me thinking about how important it is to do things when we're thinking of them so we don't have regrets later. 

I shared this quote by Marie Beynon Ray a little over a year ago, but it bears repeating tonight (coincidentally given to me by Joan, the friend I went out for coffee with today).

Begin doing what you want to do now.
We are not living in eternity.
We have only this moment,
sparkling like a star in our hand--
and melting like a snowflake.

There are things I wanted to do while we lived in this part of Iowa, but I never made time for them, and now those opportunities are gone (I know they're still possible, but it gets more difficult when we'll be living six hours from here).

There are people I wish I'd gotten to know better, but I didn't make the effort to call or get together with them, and now distance will make those relationships harder.

There are books I wanted to write while we lived here.
There are songs I wanted to sing while we lived here.
There are letters I wanted to write while we lived here.
There are gifts I wanted to deliver while we lived here.
There are hugs I wanted to give while we lived here.

I've pretty much run out of time.

Those "sparkling star" moments in my hand have melted like snowflakes, and I'm left with little puddles of regret.

I'm left with two choices: Sit and stare dismally at the melted moments I missed, or dry my hands and prepare for the new "sparkling stars" that arrive daily.

I can write the books I want to write.
I can sing the songs I want to sing.
I can write the letters I want to write.
I can deliver the gifts I want to deliver.
I can hug the people I want to hug.

But first, I must finish packing and enjoy our final few days with our church and community here in Allison. There are lots of sparkling star moments ahead...for all of us!

"He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit." (Psalm 147:4-5 NIV)

Have you ever thought about how we aren't living in eternity? How can focusing on God help you to do the things you want to do and not have as many regrets?

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Super Saturday: Let's Focus on NOT Going Crazy

I don't have time to write this.

Dylan graduates tomorrow and we move a week from Tuesday.

I was feeling pretty good most of the day...

Cook a little.
Pack a little.
Go to an open house (we had three today).
Repeat all day long.

Later this afternoon, I started to hit a wall. More than a wall even. It was that slippery slope that could send me over the edge if I'm not careful.

I started to entertain thoughts like these:

I'm a terrible mother. If I were a good mother, I would have ____________. (bought more party decorations, found more cute pictures of Dylan, made Erin's and Blake's favorite meals since they're home for the weekend, etc., etc., etc.)

We've lived here almost nine years. Why haven't I ___________ before now? (gotten rid of our old homeschooling supplies, finished my craft projects, made that jean quilt, shredded our old financial records, etc., etc., etc.)

On the good side, I recognized these negative thoughts right away and chose not to dwell on them.

I've been teetering on the edge a bit, but I don't have to go over if I remind myself of some positive truths from the Bible:

"Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you." (Psalm 116:7 NIV)

"Cast all your anxiety on him, for he cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7 NIV)

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV)

I had to write tonight because I need those reminders. Maybe you do, too.

Let's keep our sanity by turning quickly to God when life gets stressful and super busy. He can keep our minds in the right place as we do the best we can with whatever event we're getting ready for. 

I know Dylan's party will go fine, especially if I stay relaxed and enjoy visiting with the family and friends that come to wish him well.

I know our move will happen next week, and it will go better if I can work hard but not get upset if things don't go exactly the way I'd like. 

Getting enough sleep helps us keep our sanity, too, so I'll say good night for now and write again next Friday.

"In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat - for he grants sleep to those he loves." (Psalm 127:2 NIV)

Do you have any big events coming up that threaten to drive you crazy? How can focusing on God help you to do your best and not get upset if everything isn't perfect?