Saturday, November 29, 2014

Retire and Be Still

This man retired from his job with the City of Winston Salem after working there 30 years. I can't even begin to tell you how weird this sounds to me.  We are not old enough for this. How can either one of us be old enough to have worked at one job for 30 years?  

Working at one job for 30 years, by today's standards, is rare but is to be admired. Shucks, staying at anything for 30 years is amazing in itself. Hardly anyone stays with the stuff these days.

I don't think that it has sunk in yet for either one of us. No one really knows how many phone calls, emails and text messages he would get in a day. I think I know, but he would say to me, "you just don't understand." Maybe he is right. I do know this. He has been interrupted at every known family event.  He has been interrupted at almost every meal. On one vacation it took him three days to clear out all emails and answer all voice mails so he could turn off his phone, relax and rest the remaining days. There have been trips to Chattanooga to watch our son play basketball, where I would drive so he could make calls, answer emails and voice mails. There have been church services when he would have to leave to go check on broken water mains or to answer the phone.  There have been nights when he has been out all night long looking for a turn off valve that no one can find. Thanksgivings, Christmas Eves, Christmas Days, that he has spent at work, working with others to repair broken water mains.  He isn't any different than any other hard working man except for one thing.  He's mine and he retired last week and I'm so stinking proud of him.  

I think the most rewarding thing that came out of the past 30 years is watching our children have the same work ethic as their dad.  They work hard. They love their dad and have such a great respect for him. Kristen and I  were there  on his last day at the office.  As her dad was standing there in front of those men and women that he has worked alongside for so many years, encouraging them to "Grow, Glow, or Go" she had such pride in her eyes for her dad.  Brad sent him a text last week that said this, "I appreciate the sacrifices you made all these years, sticking with it to support us all. I couldn't be more proud of you." 

I couldn't help but notice the deafening silence as he deleted his email account last Friday night.  It was good silence though. It kind of all fits in with my theme for this year, "Be Still and Know."  No pings, no massive emails alerts from City-Link, no calls during dinner or in the middle of the night. I have to be honest with you. When I claimed this verse in January, I had no idea that James' retirement and the silence of  his phone would be part of me being "still." There is a calmness in our home now. That non-stop connection now belongs to someone else. That storm has moved on and the peace that comes after it is here. 

We will see where the next years take us.  I'm not retiring. I'm not old enough. Haha! I'm looking forward to see what God has in store for us as we head into uncharted waters.  What will my theme be for next year? So many questions, so little time.

Until we meet again, Fifi

Proverbs 22:12 says:  A good name is more desirable than great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold.  I'm so thankful that our  children have a father that they are proud of and a name they are honored to carry.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

"Specializing" at a Special Time of Year

I can't believe that Thanksgiving is just a week away and I'm sitting here working on our December calendar and oh my goodness it is filling up quickly. Your calendar is probably just like mine. Not many free evenings.  Parties, family gatherings, office socials, church Christmas programs, shopping, baking, making crafts, etc.  How much can you cram into one month?

A precious family in our church always provides lunch for our church staff during the Christmas season and the lady of the house called today to schedule the day and time. I couldn't believe it had been a year since we were last there. Time is flying by.   

Lois is a wonderful cook and makes us feel so special and appreciated.  She and her husband Ben open their home to us, feed us a wonderful home cooked meal but they give us so much more than that.  When you walk into their home you don't feel like a guest. You feel like family. That is a gift. Some people work a lifetime to make that happen and never accomplish it. To some it comes natural. Lois is one of those. You know that she has prepared the meal with love and it comes from her heart. There is no doubt that she is giving of herself.

I have found that when I do something for someone, from my heart, without stressing about whether everything is just perfect, that somehow it all just turns out better. It took me years to figure this out. I used to stress for days about having people over. Was the house good enough? Did we measure up to the way other people hosted gatherings?  Did my table look as good as the next persons? Then the light came on.  I might not host the fanciest party in town. I might not have the biggest, brightest Christmas tree on the street.  I might not have the best dishes on my table, but I can make someone feel at home. I can make a simple home cooked meal and invite someone over. In the words of Barney Fife, I can "specialize" on someone. That's what Lois has done. She has perfected the art of "specializing."  

I would rather perfect the art of specializing than perfect the art of setting a table. I would rather perfect the art of making someone feel loved than perfect the art of folding a napkin. I would rather perfect the art of spending time with someone than perfect the art of spending time making sure my house is spotless. All of these things are great but people are more important. A blog that I love to visit Living Well Spending Less  (Click on the link) has great tips for being hospitable without breaking the budget or  stressing  yourself out  in the process. She has party planning ideas, recipes, budgeting ideas, decorating ideas, etc.  You can pick up great ideas from Ruth.  

The Bible says in I Peter 4:9:  Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.  As we prepare for family and guests during the holidays lets do so with a different  mindset. Let's "specialize" on people as opposed to perfection. 

Until we meet again, Fifi

Monday, November 3, 2014

Feed Them and They Will Come

We set up a tent and grilled hot dogs with all the fixins'.  Hot coffee, sweet tea, Hawaiian Punch and bottled water, hung a sign that we had free hot dogs and waited.

Last year we talked about doing this but didn't. I don't know why. Time and other "things" got in the way I guess. This year we were more determined. We decided this was the year. Halloween was on Friday. No better day to "test the waters." It was more than just trick or treat for us though. We are through with hiding behind our doors waiting for someone to knock, give them candy and close the door. Let's go to the them. Let's set up at the road. Give them more than candy. Give them real food with a little candy on the side too. Let's give them more than food and candy. Let's give them some neighbor love and share God's love with them.

And they came. More than 100 of them. Furniture delivery men, children, teenagers, families.76 of those who liked hot dogs and others who stopped because they were curious and wanted to ask questions or just to get candy or coffee. We met neighbors that we've never seen before. Darkness fell and the rain came and I found myself with eight teenagers under our tent. God had given me an audience and then said to me "you asked me for them, I delivered them to you. Now what will you do with them?" So, I told them about Him. I shared Roman's 8:28 All things work together for good to those who are called according to His purpose, and Romans 5:8 But God commendeth His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. And they listened. Really listened and smiled and we ate a hot dog together. I gave them candy and wordless bracelets.  Precious teenagers who found themselves in our yard, huddled under our tent during a shower of rain, on Halloween night, eating a hot dog and "accidentally" hearing about God's love. They could have gone anywhere, but they came here!  People who now know the folks that live at 265. People who are more than just a face.

Until we meet again, Fifi