Destruction in the Name of Progress

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The city I live in is preparing for the construction of a new interstate. After many years of debates, discussions, votes, and protests our residents can finally see the evidence of the final decision. Right now, along the sides of the current highway, the scenery currently looks like this:

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Honestly, it looks like some kind of catastrophic event has occurred. Now I understand why the environmentalists were so upset. After years of seeing the same landscape, major changes are evolving, and many trees indeed are being harmed in the process.

Somehow the whole situation makes me feel a little unsettled. I don’t like change. For those who know me well, that information isn’t any big secret. I’ve lived in the same town nearly my entire life with just a few semesters away at college. I’ve lived in a total of four different homes my entire life. My cars are my friends for years at a time.

I do know there are advantages to these changes. We’ll be able to get to nearby towns faster. Being directly off of the interstate may likely help our economy.

But this post isn’t about the reasons an interstate is advantageous. The thought that occurred to me as I reflected on all of the destruction happening involves our own lives. All of us. You see, often progress cannot be made unless an overhaul happens within us. 

Consider the extreme situation of a drug abuser or alcoholic. They must temporarily overcome great agony in order to break the addiction. I’ve never seen anyone do this firsthand, but from what I’ve seen on movies, this is an excruciating process, and one that is ongoing for the rest of their lives.

I find the same thing to be true, though, in even more basic situations. In order to change for the better, we have to experience some pain.

As I’ve worked the last few months on risk taking, I’ve found the initial steps are not always comfortable. In fact, trying new things often makes my stomach churn and sometimes I even experience feelings of true dread.

But afterwards…afterwards I enjoy such a feeling of accomplishment. The thought of doing the same thing again doesn’t seem nearly so frightening. Great satisfaction comes with attaining something otherwise deemed impossible. 

Too often we are afraid of positive change because of what we might have to endure in the process. Fixing your marriage may take time and money. Changing jobs when you know it’s time may seem like an impossible task. Taking on the extra job to pay down the debt may feel more exhausting than it’s worth. Disappointing your child in order to do what is best for him/her feels so undesirable.

Endure the pain in order to achieve the reward. Be brave. Take a risk. Make beauty from the mess.

Our suffering is light and temporary and is producing for us an eternal glory that is greater than anything we can imagine.” 2 Corinthians 4:17 (God’s Word Translation)

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Photo with quote from Stock Exchange.

When the Novel Becomes Mundane

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I’d like for you to meet steak and potato, our trustworthy and hospitable neighborhood rocks.

Once upon a time, these rocks held great fascination for my two lively boys. We would go on a walk and kill a good 15 minutes stopping to visit steak and potato. On our street you can head in two different directions. The boys always chose the way that would get them to steak and potato the fastest.

These large rocks reside in the neighbor’s yard at the end of our street. Located right next to the road, we brazenly trespassed on their property I suppose. When you are the mom of littles, you’ll take risks to get a  few extra moments of time your children are well occupied.

The boys would climb up and down, and then jump from one rock to the other as they got a little older. We found out from another neighbor that she and her children, now grown, had given the rocks these nicknames years ago. Apparently I’m not the only mom willing to take a risk for a little extra sanity in her day.

Now, steak and potato have sort of been forgotten. Given the choice of left or right when we leave our driveway, they will more often choose right so they can walk by their friends’ house around the corner in the opposite direction. We can pass steak and potato without even stopping most times, although Austin will still take a few moments now and then to get in a few jumps. The whole scenario kind of reminds me of The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. I wonder what those rocks would say if they could talk? And although the boy forgot the tree at times, I bet his mother never did.

What do we do when the novel becomes mundane? I’m particularly thinking of this as Easter approaches on Sunday. As a child, Easter held so much wonder for me. And not just because of Easter eggs and baskets. I loved getting up at the crack of dawn to attend the early service at church and have breakfast. We usually had some kind of special music and it just felt like there was an electrical energy in the atmosphere. The fact that Jesus had risen from the dead left me awestruck.

Unfortunately, the holiday lost some luster when my husband was in ministry. This holiday in particular meant 70-90 hours weeks leading up to the big event. I wouldn’t see him at all on Easter until the morning was said and done. Somehow, I just haven’t quite been able to recapture all of the glory, even now that he’s been out of ministry for 6 years.

I have a greater understanding of why Jesus instituted communion. “This do in remembrance of me.” He knew we would need a constant reminder. Because somehow even one of the greatest events in history loses power over us as it becomes more familiar.

I’ve found that serving others helps me regain some of my enthusiasm. The last couple of years my family has helped prepare an Easter dinner for Backstreet Mission, a home for homeless men in our town. I look forward to the time that I can focus on what Jesus did for me by sharing it with others in a tangible way.

Whether it’s Easter, or your marriage, your job, or maybe your home, there are a lot of things in our lives that we can begin to take for granted. Try looking at it through new eyes. What can you do that might renew some of your energy? Plan a special evening for your spouse, reach out to a fellow coworker, repaint a room…you get the picture.

Some things, like steak and potato, we naturally outgrow. Don’t let the important things in life slip through your fingers. Be intentional. Sometimes we have to change things up in order to truly appreciate their value.

Wishing you a blessed Easter season for those of my readers who celebrate. Take some time to look at the day with a renewed outlook. Recapture the wonder in a special way.

“Behold, I make all things new!” Revelation 21:5

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Say Goodbye to Survival Mode ~ Book Review

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So, I signed up for for BookLook Bloggers sponsored by HarperCollins. I can choose complimentary books that are interesting to me in exchange for an honest review. The librarian in me just had to give it a try.

I chose Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine as my first book. I guess you could say I was simply curious. I’ve heard of her site moneysavingmom.com, and thought I might learn a few things from her. I don’t feel like I’m currently in survival mode, so I think I may have felt more favorably about the book if I was in the midst of crisis.

The book explores practical ideas to help you be intentional. Crystal is a wife, mom, and runs a very successful blog about saving money and living frugally. She speaks from her own experienced of taking on more than she could handle and strategies she used to make her life more manageable. Crystal talks about how to say no, how to set goals, how to discover your passions, and how to make better use of your resources. She also addresses the comparison trap and feelings of inadequacy. Helpful tips are given for managing your home in a more effective way.

Sadly, I was disappointed. Granted, there are some very practical suggestions. However, reading this book actually gave me anxiety. There is no wonder why she felt the need to write this book. Her schedule is crazy busy. I have no idea how she manages to accomplish all she does in a day. Even her life tamed would be beyond my capabilities of managing.

If you are an extremely Type A personality with tons of energy, then this book is definitely for you. If you love making lists and creating spreadsheets, then Crystal is your lady. I love her suggestions for having a plan through setting goals. She specifically outlines how to do this. I appreciate the fact that she shares her failures and how she worked to overcome them. She is a great example of how success doesn’t usually come overnight. Additionally, she clearly knows what she is talking about since she has lived it. Nothing can beat firsthand experience.

Read this book if your commitments exceed your ability to keep up and you tend to be an organized person anyway. It would also be good for someone who is normally a driven person, but feels a bit stuck. If you are someone already overwhelmed with the thought of too much on your plate, don’t read this. You’ll only question your abilities. I think it is important to remember we’re all created to handle different levels of chaos. My tolerance is low, therefore I didn’t find this book helpful for me.