Thursday, December 10, 2009

God's voice in the wind

I have a confession to make. I am a terrible packrat and don't like to throw ANYTHING away. Maybe I don't have dozens of butter-tubs in my cupboards, decades of magazines on the shelves or a mountain of holey socks in the rag-bin for washing windows with, but the ladies at my church can tell stories about how long it took me to unwrap the gifts at my wedding shower because I carefully saved EVERY SINGLE PIECE of paper - and rewrapped gifts with it for the next five years! Coffee tins, glass jars & those heavy cardboard pieces that come in men's dress shirts are a few other goodies I just can't let go because "I can USE that!"

After years of hoarding these and dozens of other "useful" things until my house was literally overflowing, I was convicted by an article in a magazine three years ago. In the Summer 2006 edition of "Simply Perfect Storage" magazine, Peter Walsh said: "People hold on to things because they think they may need them one day or they are afraid if they let go of something, they will lose the memory. Clutter holds you in the past. It robs you of space to live." Now I had read things like this before and understood the principle, but had never really taken it to heart. That day I truly "got it" and decided to start placing my family's happiness & room to live, above my desire to hold onto things that MIGHT become useful. I still hang onto things, but now I must KNOW what I'll do with an item AND be able to do it within 3 months, or it goes away. Occasionally I'll come across something that I "know" will be useful, and I give it a 2-week probationary period where it sits somewhere I'll see it regularly. If I can think of that "useful purpose" it stays for the full 3 months, but if not it's into the recycling bin or off to charity before it becomes clutter.

Last week we replaced the pillows on our beds. My husband asked what I wanted done with the old pillows, and I just KNEW there was a use for all that flattened-out stuffing, so I had him place them on the kitchen counter. Days became a week, and then ten days & I still hadn't thought of how to use them. In the meantime, the weather has taken a turn for the worse and we're now dealing with subzero temperatures... and I have been sitting at the dining room table with chilly draft-eddies freezing my feet.

Yesterday as I sat in front of the window warming my hands on a cup of tea, I looked over at the pillows - knowing their window of usefulness had nearly come. I sat there contemplating the pillows, until my feet were cold enough that I went off to find my slippers, thinking that I should really pick up some fiberfill to make a draft-dodger to keep the drafts at bay... but that it would have to wait until after Christmas because of finances. I returned to my tea, feet snuggled into my slippers, and said a quick prayer that we might be able to find it within our budget to pick up some fiberfill BEFORE Christmas to save on our heating bill... and as an afterthought added "and could you PLEASE show me what to do with these pillows before I need to toss them out?"

This morning was "use-it-or-toss-it" day for the pillows, and as I was about to drop the pillows into the trash can, a huge gust of wind blew right across my ankles... cold enough to chill me THROUGH my boots! I stopped, hand hovered over the can and realized my answers to BOTH prayers were here in my hand. Those pillows were PERFECT for stuffing draft-dodgers!

I ran inside again, pulled out two pieces of fabric I'd saved "because they're too big to toss" but didn't know what I would do with them, and created a pair of lovely dodgers... one for the dining room door, and one for the front door. Problems solved, prayers answered, and one rather sheepishly penitent mama hoping God doesn't have to freeze her ankles the next time he tries to gently answer her prayers.

Monday, December 7, 2009

has it REALLY been 18 years?

As I make plans for our 15th wedding anniversary later this winter, another "milestone" has snuck right by me. Yesterday marked eighteen years since the day I met my husband. It's tough to believe that we've officially known each other for half of his lifetime... and MORE than half of my own! Where has the time gone? Wasn't it just last year that I called him up in tears, because I'd changed my mind and DID want to go to my junior prom after all... causing him to scramble to find a (literally) last-minute tuxedo, and someone to cover his shift at work? Wasn't it just a month or so ago that we drove 100 teens all over the 5-state area, sleeping on church floors & eating sloppy joes twice a day? And I'm SURE it was only a week or so that we celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary, and here we are making plans for our 15th!

Today, while moving the snowman along on our advent calendar to count down the days to Christmas, and checking all of my hiding-places to be sure I haven't missed any stashed gifts, I am surrounded by numbers. So in honor of 18 years of togetherness with my very best friend, here are a few of OUR numbers.

18 years of togetherness
17 states that we've driven through (and Canada too!)
16 years of volunteering with youth
15 drive-through movies (some DEFINITELY better than others!)
14 years of marriage
13 "snowed in" blizzards
12 family vacations
11 total lunar eclipses
10 cars (including the one I got "stuck" in while pregnant, and the one without a hood!)
9 voting years
8 hospital visits (and I only account for HALF of those, thank you very much!)
7 family pets
6 goofy nicknames
5 black-tie events
4 years without gluten
3 high-school proms
2 beautiful children
all with the same 1 man – the only one for me! Happy 18th “Met Ya” Anniversary Meep!