Learning to Love

Recently my church has started a new series in the book of Jonah titled Called To Love. The timing of the start of this series could not be more apropos in my view. As a Christian I have been taught by Jesus and others in my walk that we are called to love. It is after all it is the commandment that Jesus says we must follow.

Matthew 22: 37-40

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and the first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.

What I see is  discomfort at being called to love, to love God and to love others. Because it is easier to not love everyone and choose to love a few. But we aren’t called to love just the few but all we encounter.

It’s easier than saying that at the end of the day all of us struggle. [Tweet “All of  us have a need to be loved and to love. To feel like we all matter, to be heard and cared for. “] All of have a need to be loved and to love. One life is not less valued because of differing views or circumstances. It saddens me when I read comment sections and people demand  deaths or bodily harm of others because of what exactly? A shared post on social media?

We must choose to love others because God loves us. God loves me through the darkness and my straying heart. We must love the person who chooses to sit out or kneel during the anthem, not call for harm for them. Love the person who protests police abuse, Love the police officer on the job. By loving them I mean to see beyond the surface, to see their soul that God too loves. To sit down and have a conversation, to listen to them. Listening to someone can at times be the single biggest act of love.

Love others by listening. The art of listening has fallen to the wayside. Too quickly we are simply waiting to say what we have been waiting to say instead of hearing the other person ( often, this has been myself). By listening to others, learning their story and what they have endured and why they are where they are in life. Before anything can change, we must first love without placing requirements upon it.

It takes work.  It is hard to love another who perhaps has far different views that we can hold so dear. In loving others is not about making people believe as you do. Or that only those who wholly agree with everything you believe are worthy of your love. I am learning how to love people who can be frustrating or not easy to get along with in the first place. I have had to admit my failings here and seek Jesus’ strength to love as I have been commanded.

Love is not easy, can often seem a far out concept and hurts. In the end, love is worth the effort.

Making Do, Making It Through

A few months back our dryer broke. For the time it was broken we made do. Washing at home and drying either at a nearby laundromat or hanging things up in the house. Both ways got the job done, clothes were clean and dry. However it just was not the same.

There was a subtle difference between using the dryer and not using it. In making do, we can get used to anything. We learn to do without because there is no other choice.

In life there are times where making do means getting through the day. It’s not that we don’t what it is to not have it. But it means we know how to get along without it.

After a few months the dryer was fixed. Being able to use the machine again felt great. I had forgotten how nice it was to use it. The convience of using it, I had missed the warmth from a just finished load. I had even missed cleaning out the lint trap.

Why is cleaning out the lint trap so satisfying?

In making it, getting through the day we can forget so much. Putting one foot in front of the other can take so much out of us. Just thinking about how awesome what we once had is painful. Hoping to have it again can physically hurt.

Instead we focus on what is before us. It is what allows us to even make it through the day. Until the money comes through to repair the dryer. Then its safe to hope, to believe, to remember once again.

Missing Hershey, Loving Nala

A year ago, I said goodbye to my Hershey boy. It was a strange moment for me, losing him. Part of me had expected that the be the end result of our visit to the pet emergency room ( which I chose only because my friend worked there at the time) which was comforting for me. Part of me was also hopeful that day, that all he would need was some medicine and he would be just fine.

But the poor little guy was not fine. He was old, losing weight due to not being able to eat or keep much food down. He was in much pain and discomfort and so I had to make the hard choice. I asked the vet if doing further blood tests would do him any good. In her gentle way she told myself and my sister no, no it wouldn’t. I didn’t want Hershey to spent a few days scared and alone in the hospital, though well cared for by the compassionate vets and vet techs. Especially since in the end the result would have been the same. I had to say goodbye.

That night when I got home, I threw out his food, litter box and favorite toy. I was dealing with the loss by being practical. I didn’t need these things anymore after all. Might as well get rid of it all. I have kept his bed though. That I washed and placed inside my closet. It is still sitting in there as I write this post.

Those first few nights of falling asleep were hard without him. Hershey had been such a cuddle bug, I held my pillow tight to my body that night and for a few nights afterwards. Coming home with his mewing chastising me for being away was a tough adjustment. I had friends ask me about adopting another pet and I was not sure about doing so just yet.

Until

Until one day while scrolling through Instagram I came across a post asking for someone to take in their cat. At first I scrolled past it, then back again, then past it again. I exited the app and then went back in. Looking at the photo of the cat, I knew she was mine. I messaged her mommy, a mutual acquaintance about taking in the cat. By the end of the week I was meeting Nala and taking her home after an hour or so.

Poor cat had no idea what was happening, meowing the entire drive home, finding various hiding places at the house. I knew to be patient as she adjusted to the change, there were a few hissing incidents during the times I overstepped her boundaries. But, as time went on she became comfortable, allowing me to pet her and even sleeping on the bed with me.

I put out Hershey’s bed for her but she never used it. Perhaps she could smell Hershey’s scent despite all the times it had been washed. She preferred instead the couch in the living room or my bed to sleep. Still I kept the bed, even though it is not being used.

Nala is different from Hershey, more independent at times. She likes her alone time wheras Hershey could not be alone for too long. I wonder though how the two of them would of gotten along, how long it would of taken for them to learn to live with each other companionably. I still miss my Hershey boy but I also love my Nalalulu too.

That is what grieving does. I have lost family members and I remember when our beagle Pumpkin was gone. But she really was not my dog. Pets are an important part of our lives, we care for them and love them and they care for us too. Not only because we feed them either, though that is a big part of it.

It is learning that it is alright to miss the ones we have lost while having new joy and love in our lives. Learning to care through pain. That has been the biggest lesson in this year for me.

 

Hi Miss Linda!

Shenanigans!

Dear Miss Linda —  I miss one of my favorite babysitters, you know. The one who was never too much of a grown up to act crazy with me. The one who made silly faces. The one who smuggled me coffee at church (Don’t worry, it’s still our secret.) I hope you’re having a good day even though it’s not your day. I heard it’s a fool’s day and you’re one of the only people I don’t hear Mommy call a “blasted fool” but I didn’t want you to feel left out so I thought I’d write you a note. Happy April Fools Day!!

Love, #mctoddler

Mid Week Motivator : Post January Slump

It is March, those goals, hopes and plans we declared at the start of this year may be waning. Perhaps they petered out by the end of January. Or slowed down during the month of February.

Here we are at the start of March. I admit it has been hit or miss for my goals thus far. Some I have concentrated on more as others fell to the wayside. But it’s not too late.

January first is not the only day for.a fresh start. Make today your day to go after your goals, dreams and hopes.

Honor Your Writing Process

The writing process is a complicated, highly individualized concept. It is something that takes time to discover for oneself. Discovering what this looks for you looks different for everyone.

It takes time for me. This writing thing. It is so hard and draining. I often end up putting aside what I’m working for periods of time. I don’t understand why my characters are why the way they are. At least not until it’s been revealed to me.

What I’ve learned is that it takes time for the  story to reveal itself.[Tweet “What I’ve learned is that it takes time for the  story to reveal itself.”]

Once you understand what works best for you, honor it. Take away those distractions that hinder you. Let the work speak to your heart. 

It takes work.  In my process, I have to work at it. The breakthroughs only come after pushing through the hard parts. The dead ends and circles eventually lead to the solutions. Setting aside the time and sticking to a schedule is also key.

Honoring your process means being consistent with writing. It means working through crap drafts and setting aside projects when it is needed. It means protecting your time, saying no to invitations and obligations.

Another thing, what works for one writer may not work for yourself. This is  part of the process, figuring out if the early morning works for you or not. For myself, I find I work best late afternoon to evenings. Some prefer a tight outline while mine are more loose. I also don’t write everyday. It’s just not possible with my schedule. Instead I schedule a few days a week where I can write, when I know I won’t be hurried or too distracted by the rest of my life.

It will take trial and error. But you’ll discover what works best. Once you do, honor it.