Regrets

They say hindsight is always 20/20 and I can testify that from my own experience, this is true!

Unfortunately, my 20/20 left when I hit somewhere around 40 and everything else has followed suit as well!

Maybe like me, you have a “wish list” or maybe a “woulda, coulda, shoulda” one. Sometimes I pull it out and remind myself of what I might have done differently, if I knew then what I know now.

I wish I would have listened to my very light skinned friend who used to warn me about laying out to get a suntan as soon as warm weather hit. “You’ll get cancer!” she would chide as I happily slathered myself with another layer of “Coppertone”.

Her words come back to haunt me now, when I put on my morning makeup and see how hard it is to conceal the sun damage of my youth and the spots I need to keep an eye on.

I wish I would have taken my studies much more serious than I did. I wasn’t the worst student in the school but I do think a bit less ‘socializing’ with my friends and more application to the books could have served me much better in the long run.

What scholarships could I have gotten and what degree might have helped us out when finances were especially tight?

I wish I would have taken voice lessons. I love to sing but never learned correctly, so I don’t have the vocal control now that I had when I was younger.

How much I would enjoy having the depth and richness that my husband’s full voice still has due to the excellent instruction he received at Friends University as a Singing Quaker!

Yes, those regrets tend to sneak up on me at times until I remind myself of the flip side of that coin.

There are many decisions in my life however, that I don’t regret.

I came to trust in Jesus as my Savior in my early teens right as I was at a crossroad with what choices of friends and influences I was going to listen to. My love for Him and desire to know him more, set me on a trajectory that totally transformed my life with purpose and a love for others that I hadn’t experienced before.

Beauty, talent and intellect could not have filled the empty places that I felt deep inside of me that only Jesus could fill. The freedom, peace and wisdom for life He gives are all a product of His immeasurable love that can’t compare with anything this world has to offer.

I have never once, regretted that I am a Christ follower. The abundant riches of His love and faithfulness are a wellspring of living water that never runs dry. It is not always easy and I am far from perfect, but He always makes a way. He is my purpose in life.

I don’t regret marrying my husband and serving in ministry with him. He is a good man and I know God brought me exactly who I needed to balance me out.

I don’t regret having made the decision to be a stay at home mom. Every sacrifice involved economically, emotionally and physically to invest in our five children has been worth it in immeasurable ways. Each one of them is a gift and the opportunity to pour into their lives and watch them grow into the wonderful individuals they are has been a joy and I am grateful to be called their “mom”.

I have no regrets about the hard times and trials that I have faced in life. They have shaped and strengthened me into the person I am today, which would not have been the case had my life been cushioned from sorrow and struggles. Romans 8:28 has played out in my life in amazing ways.

The regrets in life keep me humble. They remind me that I am human and I don’t know everything nor will I, this side of eternity. Nonetheless, they have purpose and meaning if for no other reason than to give me a retrospect of wisdom for future decisions, or to pass on to someone else.

At the end of the day, whether I have regrets or not, really doesn’t matter when I consider that all of these things have served a purpose, not just in shaping me into the person I am today but also in the one I will be tomorrow.

“For we know that all things work together for the good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

The Before’s and Hopeful Afters of a Pandemic

Before the pandemic hit us, life was different.

We kept our hair colored, our nails done and our daily track to the gym right on schedule.

Before the pandemic hit, we busied ourselves with packed calendars and deadlines that left little time to slow down and smell the roses.

We grabbed fast food on the run, raced off to airports for business meetings, promising our kids that we would do something fun on the weekend.

Before the pandemic hit, we turned our attention to entertainment, sports and which politician would save our world.

We focused on meetings, events, and expectations that tomorrow would look the same and repeat.

Before the pandemic hit, churches were a place where people met when they felt the mood move them to show up.

They shopped here and there for which pastor was the most popular and which church had the newest building or the best worship team.

Before the pandemic hit, we trusted medicine and basic necessities would always be there for us whenever we needed them.

And then it hit and things have changed.

After the pandemic, we realized there were more important priorities.

Maybe having our hair, nails and bodies looking just right didn’t matter when there were masks that needed sewn, meals delivered, groceries that needed bought and people to help.

After the pandemic hit, we had time to fix good food and home-cooked meals that we discovered tasted better than fast food take out.

We observed that maybe the business meetings we “zoomed” off to as we ran from one airport to the next, could actually be handled just as well on the “Zoom” app itself.

After the pandemic, we found ourselves letting go of things we have no control over.

We realized that life takes uncertain turns and our plans for today can be undone in a heartbeat, with very little warning.

After the pandemic, we acknowledged how much we had missed just hearing our pastor preach from the Bible, even if his sermon went a bit overtime and the joy of worshiping together meant much more to us than being at the lake or sleeping in at home.

It didn’t matter so much if the vocalist was a bit off key, the carpet was wearing out or we sang from a hymnal and not from a screen. We were satisfied and thankful if we could finally give each other a hug.

After the pandemic, we realized that politicians can’t save us and didn’t always have the answers themselves.

We faced the reality that medicine could not cure everything and often might not be available in the quantities needed.

After the pandemic, we were aware that our basic needs or desires for flour, toilet paper and something as simple as a face mask, would not always be right at our fingertips.

We became wiser, more mature, more caring and more purposeful.

After the pandemic we knew that the sun does not rise and set upon us and our plans but a God who had gotten our attention and taught us a better way.

We learned, we grew and hopefully, we have changed.

 

 

DON’T LET JOY EVAPORATE

When I was graduating from high school, my parents gave me a very special gift.

It was an expensive perfume called, “Joy” that was made with real roses.

It smelled absolutely divine and I wanted to savor the fragrance for as long as I could.

I would only use it very sparingly for special occasions, as I hoarded it in my bedroom, not noticing that little by little, it was evaporating.

I still have the bottle and there is still a scent in it but since it has been around since 1978, you can imagine, sadly, there isn’t much left.

Bummer that I didn’t wear it more often, enjoying that beautiful aroma and sharing a whiff with others as we enjoyed a conversation or took in a special event.

What a metaphor for life.

Joy, kept to oneself is such a terrible waste, isn’t it?

I have learned from that incident and many others that joy is a gift from God and it should never be conserved nor saved for a special occasion.

When joy is present, it should be immediately put to use since it will benefit everyone it touches and if ignored, will evaporate.

It should be shared extravagantly and shamelessly, in the same way the woman in the gospels poured an expensive oil on Jesus with total abandon, despite the disciples admonition that she was being wasteful.

Scripture tells us that a joyful heart is good medicine, that in God’s presence there is fullness of joy, that it is one of the fruits of the spirit.

It should never be squandered because there is always a fresh supply if we know where to get it from or rather ‘who’ to get it from.

So, I strive to put down the camera and enjoy the moment.

Dance when the music plays even if I have two left feet.

Walk home in the rain without the umbrella.

Laugh at my mistakes and make every person feel that just seeing them has brightened my day.

And most of all to sit at the feet of the one of whom it is said:

“You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;
    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” Psalm 16:11

 

 

 

MY OWN HAPPY, MEDIOCRE LIFE

My life now, in some ways, does not look like I thought it would when I was young.

After reading this great blog that a friend posted titled, “What if All I Want Is a Mediocre Life?”, I stopped to ponder that this is pretty much the life that I live but not the life that I thought I wanted, but have found now that it is exactly where I want to be!

There was a time when I thought I would do something more with my singing, my speaking, my writing, my impacting the lives of others. After all, we are always told to dream big, right?

Somewhere along the line, life got full of little people, household responsibilities, being a pastors wife and trying to keep daily life moving forward as sanely as possible.

I thought to myself, “this is just a season, someday, it will look different and then I can return to focusing more intently on living a life of impact.”

I decided to let those thoughts simmer on my minds back burner as I strolled little ones through the park or pulled a wagon down a country lane to throw pebbles into the creek.

I can remember enjoying the company of the women who would ride with me to a ladies weekend to hear the speakers that were doing great things with their lives. “Someday”, I would think, “maybe I too, can touch lives like these speakers do.”

My husband and I would go on vacation and visit a big church where the pastor was preaching to the masses and there were vibrant ministries and programs reaching every kind of need.

“Someday, maybe God will call us to a church like this, where we can do so much more than what we are doing.”

I can’t tell you when my view began to change, but it did.

Maybe it was the day that I realized that God had already given me some people to impact.  While I was praying for the people I should reach, I was forgetting about the ones right in my own home, five children to invest in and teach about life.

When did I begin to realize that I love just singing in the shower or in the car with the radio, or with my fellow congregants at church and that this may delight God more than any performance I could give?

When did it begin to no longer matter that we were typically pastoring small churches in small towns? Was it the day I talked to a friend whose husband is so swamped pastoring in his big church that almost every night of the week is filled with meetings leaving him little time to spend with the people?

At what point did I come to realize that I much more prefer the rides to the women’s retreats and getting to know the ones I am with than the idea of speaking to masses of women whom I would never get to personally know?

When did I decide that I love writing whether anyone reads it or not?

Could it be that as life has moved on, the things that I once thought were important in the eyes of my youth, hold a dimmer view.

Maybe I am just mediocre or maybe I have discovered that I am satisfied.

Whichever it is, for now I am content and that is the best place of all for me to be.