Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The beauty of an ordinary life

Winter has a way of slowing me down. I'm not into winter sports...or any sports for that matter! Well, except hiking and walking if those are sports, but probably not as usually a sport involves competition...with someone else. It's just me and my camera and my binoculars competing with myself to see how far I can venture on my rambles and explorations. And that's the way I like it.

This slowing down during Winter is something I have learned to embrace. Our winters are milder in North Carolina than the ones of my childhood in the Northeast.  I have learned to bear with our four short months of gray and clouds and cold. As they say, "If you can't beat it, join it."  My gardens and all around me are at rest...any outside work has to wait until Spring whispers her invitation for the world to awaken.

Being forced to be inside has its being more time to read my stash of books and work on photography and blogging and other interests that bring me joy.  And I love sitting in the warmth of my home watching the variety of birds that flock in to our feeders for the daily smorgasbord I offer them. They are so much easier to spot without those pesky leaves on the trees!

Right now I'm working through the book, Magical Journey...An Apprenticeship in Contentment by Katrina Kenison. Most of the book has been underlined, which means it will take its place on a specific area of my bookshelf reserved for books that speak to me. Or, as I like to think, I could have written!

They are the handful of books that come to mind when someone I know is going through something I've already walked through...the books I want to buy them so they too can be blessed and encouraged by the truth within. True book lovers will understand this compulsion!

Today Katrina talked about the beauty of an ordinary life. Doesn't that sound lovely? After all, that's what most of us have...ordinary lives. And the idea that they can be beautiful...well, it just sounds so hopeful!

I don't know about you, but I have never desired to be famous. Well, maybe in my teens for some reason but I was delusional then. The idea of people watching me and following me and being in my face sounds nightmarish to me. I am an introvert who can be an extrovert for short sprints of time, but in the end am happiest when I can return, with a deep sigh of relief, to a hidden life. Please know that I'm not against people being long as it's them and not me!

So, the beauty of an ordinary life...what does it look like?

In her book she talks about a friend, Marie, who died a year earlier from cancer. As is true of most people who are forced to face the brevity of their life, Marie asked, "What will people remember me for? I've never done anything important." Bingo! A very good question! I think it's one we all ask ourselves, sooner or later. Impending death forces it to be asked sooner.

Now Marie could have drawn her answer from the value of her three extraordinary children...surely they were her legacy. Or the fact that she dedicated years of her life to community work and her church...or that she had a strong marriage and a gracious home and a circle of devoted friends. All of those she embraced wholeheartedly!

But of all the gifts she left behind...and that she ultimately passed on to others...this is the greatest...

She found the joy and beauty of an ordinary life.

I don't know about you, but this sounds attainable to me! At least I think so...the idea that I don't have to be famous or well known...or do something amazing or profound...or even finally fulfill the dreams that I hold dear.

I can just take one day at a time and be faithful in it...faithful to live in the light of God's love and then pass that love on to whatever form that looks like.

There's a truth that says we can't take anything with us when we leave this world. No matter how much time and energy and money we invest in our much care we give to things that we the end it's only what we have done for Christ, in others, that will pass into eternity...

Gifts of love like speaking words of encouragement...taking time to listen...noticing those around us and offering a smile or an embrace...faithfully living out the demands of an ordinary day with gratefulness and contentment...seeing others and the world through God's eyes.

It's so easy to find ourselves in the "human doing" role rather than the "human being" mode which calls us, more times than not, into monotonous work and ongoing, never-ending labors...needing to be faithful in little, everyday, unglamourous activities such as mopping up dog pee from an aged dog...changing a messy up after a sick child...preparing a meal and all that involves, day after day after day.

It's easy to long for something we hope for, something in the future that will be bigger than our day-to-day existence of mundane activities.

But you know, our future is made up of all the mundane activities of our present, for they are the tools that shape us...making us sweeter and richer and deeper...or causing us to chafe and fight against the circumstances God has placed us in. One thing I say over and over again is,  Please Lord, I don't want to end my life as a bitter old woman. In Your Mercy...

Every day holds hope and promise....because God is in the midst of our days.  He's Got This.  We just have to recognize it.

And ultimately  recognizing this allows us to offer the greatest gift we can give another person...that with Christ, they too can persevere and find beauty and joy in their ordinary lives.

So today as I set out on my do some things that will bring me joy, and others that are plain ol' wearying...l want this to be my prayer...

Lord, help me to see the beauty in this ordinary my ordinary life. 
I want to see with Your eyes, hear with Your heart, and speak Your words
 Let my life shine You. 
Lord, you are the most beautiful part of my life. 
And if I see You all that I do and in all that You bring my will be a gift. 
A gift of beauty in an ordinary day. In an ordinary life.
A gift I can share with others.
Thank you for this gift.

I pray that these thoughts have blessed you, dear one. I'm a better and richer person because you are in my life!

Shine on!

photo credit: yourbestdigs <a href="">person with ripped jeans holding steam mop w white wall</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">(license)</a>

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