The Caller You Have Reached Is Unavailable

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Recently, I tried to reschedule a dentist appointment. Every time I attempted to call, I got voicemail. I had to leave my name and number for them to call me back. Two days later they called back, but of course I wasn’t home. I returned the call…again…and got voicemail…again. It took nearly a week to reschedule the appointment. That seems ridiculously difficult to me.

I’ve also just taken on the role of coordinating volunteers one week a month for the children’s ministry at my church. Part of my communication with them must be email out of necessity, because the lessons get emailed as attachments. But, I know not everyone is great at checking their email, so I followed up with texts, too.

I never thought there would be too many ways to communicate, but it feels like that may have happened. I feel like I need an extra category in my contacts list that distinguishes the best method of getting in touch with that particular person. I’m woeful with texting, decent with email, and great with Facebook since there isn’t as much clutter to wade through. There are a few people who seem to despise all methods, and they are nearly impossible to make contact with. These days it feels like a monumental effort to figure out how people are best available.

I wonder how available I appear to people who need me. Am I hard to track down? Do I make my friends feel like I have time for them? Am I accessible, particularly to those who matter most? I cringe writing the questions, thinking about times I’ve dropped the ball, or simply found life too busy and overwhelming to give due attention to someone who could have used my help.

As an introvert, I hate the phone. In fact, I’ve had a smart phone for the last year and a half and I’ve absolutely hated it. In my opinion, there is nothing smart about it. Not because I don’t know who to use it, but it doesn’t work right and the extra features are just distracting. In fact, I went to the AT&T store to get a new phone yesterday and asked to be shown one for dumb people. My phone now makes and receives calls, and I have an actual keyboard for text messages. That’s pretty much it. So far, I love it.

There is another side to this, though. Lately, I’ve been reading in Luke, just a chapter a day. One of the nuggets that stood out to me was in regard to Jesus and his methods. He often intentionally made himself unavailable. He sometimes spent the whole night out somewhere praying. He withdrew from large crowds of needy people in order to rest and seek wisdom. I’m wondering if more of us should follow his example.

The “proper” amount of availability is a difficult line to walk. We can’t say yes to so much in our lives that we end up missing out on what is truly important. Yet, we also can’t withdraw so much that others see us as inaccessible and uncaring. I admire people who strike this balance well.

I’m going to ask myself some of these questions, and I would encourage you to do the same.

1) Do my friends feel like they can reach out to me if they need help?
2) Does my spouse feel like he/she is my priority?
3) Do my children feel like I truly hear them and that time with them matters? Do I give them my full attention when I’m with them?
4) How does my soul feel? Energized? Depleted? Stagnant?
5) Am I overly concerned with the needs of others to the detriment of those closest to me?

Along with so many other things, communication seems to get messier all of the time. Best wishes to you, myself included, on navigating through the maze of using your time wisely.

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Photo from freeimages.com

Redeemed by a Swimming Pool

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Redeem: to compensate for the bad aspects of something

Situations exist in life that cannot be changed, but they can be redeemed.Sometimes redemption comes in the most unlikely of ways.

Back in the spring, my sweet friend, Sadee, found out the lease on her house could not be renewed and she and her husband would have to find new housing in approximately one month’s time.That’s a lot of stress all at once, especially when you love where you live.

Much to their joy and surprise, Sadee and Aaron were able to find a home in their same neighborhood that they could actually afford to buy, not simply rent. The anticipation of being first time homeowners was tremendous. The house seemed to have everything they could dream of, including a pool.

Now, there are a few details you need to know. First of all,  they are abundantly blessed with the gift of hospitality. They love little more than to open their home to people of all faiths, nationalities, and backgrounds. Although Sadee is only in her 30’s, my sons say she is just like a grandma because she will give you anything at all from her cupboards or fridge! I love the analogies kids come up with.

Secondly, there is great significance to a house with a pool. At the tender age of eight, Sadee lost her mama to cancer. Sadee’s mom had always wanted to buy the lot next to their house and put in a pool. After her mom passed, her dad reassured her that at least some things would be easier, including the fact their finances wouldn’t be so tight anymore since there wouldn’t be any further medical bills. Sadee immediately asked if they could put in the pool her mama had dreamed of. Of course, finances might be better, but not that good, so her dad responded to her request with a definitive no. Although, I’m sure it had to break her daddy’s heart to not be able to comply. What a sweet example of the innocence of children and how their young minds work.

I don’t believe God cares if we have swimming pools, but I do believe He seeks to redeem broken hearts. Sadee’s mom died on May 4th, 1985. Guess when Sadee moved into her new home with a pool? Over the weekend of May 4th, 2014. Some things come full circle in the most miraculous of ways that we could never anticipate. Not in her wildest dreams did she ever think she would own a home with a pool.

But the story doesn’t end there. There is one more nugget I have to add to this story that makes it personal for me. After Sadee and Aaron moved in, they found out that the pool was in need of some repairs. All of the hype took a sudden downward turn. The homeowner’s insurance policy did not cover all of the repairs. There were some expenses they didn’t anticipate. On top of it, they couldn’t get the chemicals adjusted correctly after the parts and pieces were repaired. Weeks went by before it was usable.

Finally, all was set. On the first day she could have friends over from our church to swim, I was ready to go! That same morning I got a call from my Aunt Helen with a special request.You see, my cousin Natalie’s husband had just passed away from cancer. Their youngest child, Bo, didn’t have as much of a support network as his two older teenage brothers. Aunt Helen asked if I would arrange to have him do something with my boys one day. Since we just so happened to be going to Sadee’s pool, I called and invited him along.

All that to say, that on one of the first days Sadee could open her pool to a lot of people, she was able to entertain a young nine-year-old boy who had just lost his daddy to cancer. I just don’t think that is a coincidence. Bo spent his summer with a sick dad, but was able to find some joy, at least for a couple of hours…in Sadee’s pool…that her mama dreamed of. Yes, we see pain in their stories, but we also see glimpses of God’s faithfulness.

Don’t ever think your dreams are silly. God is redeeming your story. It might cost a little extra time, effort, money, or heartache, but even the darkest situations can be brought full circle to joy. Our stories are written to intersect and to bring healing!

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Just Wait a Minute (a chance for something free!)

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How many times in your life have you said, “Just wait a minute?” If you have children, then the number of times you’ve used it increases dramatically. I cannot begin to count the number of times I’ve been on the phone or talking to a friend when I’ve had to pull out that phrase.

I hate being interrupted. Anything from an unwelcome phone call, or knock on the door, to a traffic jam can be annoying.

Yet sometimes there are welcome interruptions. Like today for example. When I got home from work my husband was here and we got to have lunch together. I had other plans in mind when I pulled in the driveway, but I was thankful for the interruption.

Recently, I’ve been reading Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker. I frequently read her blog and love her sense of humor. She’s made me laugh harder than about any other blogger I know.

Jen and her husband are church planters in Texas. This was not the original plan. Her husband had been a pastor at a large, wealthy suburban church, and after a series of convicting moments for both of them, he turned in his resignation without a plan. Did you read that? He gave up his job without another job lined up. Yikes!

There have been times in my life that I have seen a theme of some sort develop. Recently, that theme has involved simplicity, minimalism, and contentment. Something is prodding me towards these ideals. Interrupted provides a worldview that resonates with my heart.

My recent post of not wanting to be called a Christian any more got a lot of hits, and was shared several times. Good for me, not so good for the reputation Christians are obviously getting. Those of us in the church are somehow missing the mark. Jen states, “In a nationwide survey, 94 percent of churches either were not growing or were losing ground in the communities they serve.” Some of us don’t even seem to know there is a target. She also says, “Stick your head in the ground like an ostrich if you wish, but perhaps it would be more helpful and courageous to admit we have a problem and begin dreaming up solutions.” I’m hoping Interrupted will help me figure out a better trajectory.

If you are interested in reading Interrupted, I have a copy to share with one of you. Simply enter a comment below with how your life is being interrupted right now or why you would like to read this book, and I’ll randomly select a winner this Monday, August 18th.
The winner is Jenny Schmitt who commented on my Facebook page.

You can purchase the book here, if you just can’t wait!

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