Monthly Archives: July 2014

Nutty Generosity

I enjoyed my quiet time on the front porch this morning.  It was “peacefully noisy”.  The melodious chatter of the birds filled the air.  A cool breeze rustled through the leaves.  The goats next door loudly conversed with each other and a rooster somewhere in the distance crowed his good morning to the world.

While I sat in my rocking chair contemplating life, a squirrel crept through the yard and stopped to partake of birdseed and nuts that had spilled from my feeders above.  He watched me as intently as I watched him.  Believe it or not, squirrel watching brought back sudden memories from my childhood.  Funny, how memories are.  They can come on at anytime, out of the blue, and they bring with them intense feelings.  This particular memory is of my childhood neighbor, Dale.  He always carried peanuts in his pockets to feed the squirrels while he worked in his yard.  “His squirrels” became so accustomed to this that they actually would climb up on Dale as he slept on a lounge chair in his backyard and take the peanuts out of his pockets themselves.

Dale’s generosity didn’t just extend to squirrels.  From the moment my mom, sisters and I moved in next door, he did whatever he could to make us feel welcomed!  This is where the intense feelings come in….We moved in 1971 after my dad left our family.  We were all grieving and brokenhearted.  As I look back now, I realize it didn’t take Dale long to know that we were in desperate need of someone to care for and look out for us.  He took it upon himself to do just that.  We never knew what to expect….big signs on our doors, poems and stories adorned with pictures cut out of magazines, or a snowman holding a welcome home sign built out of the first snow on our back steps.  He was quick with a smile and a joke.  He and his wife, Lois quickly became more than our neighbors, they became family.

Generosity……something that is harder and harder to find in the world today and yet needed more than ever.  I regret now that I never expressed to Dale what his kindness meant to me.   I don’t think he ever knew how important he was to us and how much his freely given love did to begin to mend our hearts.  It is 42 years later and his actions are still an inspiration.  I would like to believe that my attempts at putting others first and looking for little ways to reach out are a direct result of having been so generously treated.

Dale’s actions were unselfish, creative, and yes, sometimes a little nutty, but just like the squirrels that grew to trust him enough to feed them, three young girls and their mom grew to trust him too.  You see it wasn’t just Dale’s pockets that were filled to overflowing it was also his heart.  Today’s rush of memories are an important reminder and a challenge to me to more freely give of myself and my time.  What about you?  Is there someone in your life you need to thank for being generous or is there someone who needs to be touched by the power of YOUR generosity?  Don’t wait until it’s too late, because speaking as one who knows,  there’s no doubt that we would all be much better off if we were  just a little nuttier like Dale.

 

"Do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." Hebrews 13:16

“Do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Hebrews 13:16

Dive On In

Diving Pelican

Diving Pelican

One of my favorite things at the beach are the pelicans. There’s just something about them.  They are large, majestic birds that fly with such a grace and beauty. The expressions they wear, so wise.   I simply can’t keep from looking up at them whenever they fly overhead. (yes, I know the dangers all too well, but I still can’t take my eyes off of them).  It is amazing to watch as they seemingly skim the tops of the ocean waves barely moving their wings as they sail down the coast.  I am enthralled most though, with a pelican’s precision, determination, and courage as they dive for food!  First, it scans the sea from high above somehow sensing where fish swim below.  Then, stopping mid-air, the pelican turns it’s body into a perfect dive position, freezing in the exact spot for a split second, and then at high speed, plunges head first into the foamy waters below.  Amidst the splash and waves, up comes the pelican with a gulp and he is off again to continue on to the next course of his meal.  The rise and ebb of the waves don’t deter them.  The loud cries of nearby seagulls don’t distract them from their goal.  They simply do what they set out to do, without hesitation,  as many times as it takes to fulfill their need.

You would think after all the years I’ve watched pelicans I might have learned a thing or two from them, but it wasn’t until this past respite on the shore that I began to see the lessons they have to share.  Being at any new place in the journey of life, retirement for me, is exciting but it’s also scary.  People keep asking me how I’m going to fill my time.  I smile, and tell them something will come along.  Oh sure, I have dreams, plans, and schemes,  but the question is, am I brave enough, determined enough to go “head first” after them? You see that’s the thing about me and maybe with you too, I don’t like the unknown and I don’t like to fail.  These traits don’t often lead to our goals and dreams being realized.   I think my pelican friends have been showing me that it’s time to set my sights on something and plunge right in!  Sure, the waters may get rough and I might not always find what I set out to find but with faith, I can rise up and dive again.  It’s an important lesson I need to put into action!  I’ve spent most of my life afraid to try new things: foods, roads, relationships, activites….the list goes on and on.  I have allowed my dreams to be drowned out by my own cries of insecurity which has left a sinking feeling in my heart.   No more!   I’m sensing God leading me to new hopes and dreams and a braver, maybe little wiser me rising up.  I no longer want anything to hold me back, mid-air if you will. So, armed with my new “pelican lessons” I think I’m finally ready to get into position and without hesitation DIVE ON IN!

 

Beautifully Imperfect

I have just returned from my annual pilgrimage to the beach.  I call it a pilgrimage because for me, being at the beach is spiritual.  It is the place I feel most like myself…..whole somehow.  We have been going to the same beach for many years now, and each year it is the same.  I walk on the shore looking for that perfect, desirable shell.  Somehow, I always convince myself that no matter how many others have searched before me, if I look intently enough, God will place that enviable shell at my feet.

This summer was no differenct.  I found myself scouring the sand for my perfect shell.  Excitedly, I would spot one, pick it up, and find upon inspection that it was pretty but not perfect.  Throwing it back to sea, I moved on to continue my search.  After a few days of picking up and throwing down, one of those “ah-ha” moments happened.  I realized that often our lives are just like my shell search.  We are so intent on finding that perfect life that we often miss the beautiful imperfect moments of the real life God has designed for us.  I am learning that being cracked, broken, tossed about, and worn are what makes me who I am.  It is through these imperfect moments that I grow and learn to appreciate the journey of my life.  Just as the shell’s journey from sea to shore scars it’s surface, so our journey marks our lives with trials and challenges.  It is what we take from these imperfections that determines who we become.

Yes, it is true, I am far from perfect.  Thank goodness, God, the Perfect One, isn’t going to throw me back!

Beautifully Imperfect

Beautifully Imperfect