Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My Best Intentions

I have this strange sort of hobby of collecting quotes.  Pinterest has become a place to go when I want to be fed with quotes.  Most people I know, know what Pinterest is at this point.  If you don't, then find out.  However, I suggest setting a timer before you do or else an hour will go by and you will look much like a child who just wasted time playing video games...sort of glazed over and overwhelmed.  After too much Pinterest time you could probably drive yourself to Ikea with your eyes closed, ready to purchase bookcases and pillows, and any other organizational items that have poured into your brain.  Many people go to Pinterest to find decorating ideas or recipes, which it's amazing for, but I find that my most-filled "pinboard" is all the quotes I collect.  

I was reading my collection of quotes today.  I signed off Pinterest feeling inspired and also trying to figure out how I could turn my collection into wallpaper so that I could wake up to see all those amazing words around me at any given moment. If I figure that out, or get the green light from John, I will post it here.

There seems to be a buzz word making its way into my thought process as of late--and I find it in my quote collection.  It's intention.  I'm hearing it in sermons, songs, and on other blogs too.  I keep underlining it when I see it.  This word is floating around my world.  If I were to do a dot-to-dot each time it appears, what picture would emerge?  It's an interesting thought, but like the quotable wallpaper, I don't have an answer.  

This is making me think more about this word though.  I thought a lot today about what it means to live with intention.  Some people probably think intention means to create your own fate.  Others will ask a question like "do you have good intentions?"  Intention is actually defined as "a purpose or goal."  Medically, intention is defined as "an aim that guides action."  As I am relating to this word, for this season of my life, I like the medical definition.  I want to live my life with intention...meaning purpose behind my actions.

If you could make a difference in your life would you?  Yes, you read that right.  I heard someone say today that sometimes we are the someone we have been waiting for.  We spend all this time waiting for someone else to come along to inspire us or challenge us.  But, perhaps we are what we've been waiting for.  As I rethink that idea of intention I realize that if I live in an intentional way I can make a big difference in my own life.  

Intention is what makes me succeed in so much of what I accomplish in a day.  I intentionally finish the laundry and put it away.  When I don't intentionally do that, small mountains form on our living room chair and then John makes it his intention to clear it. Intention is what helped me change my diet and lose 50 pounds.  Intention is what has kept that weight off.  I intentionally seek new information; and I intentionally challenge myself to learn. 

Currently I am placing a LARGE amount of intention on taming my tongue.  We had an amazing message at church in this area.  I felt like I was smacked across the face with this information.  Not to mention that when I opened up my study for my Ladies Group and it was the SAME message using the SAME scripture verse.  No pain, no gain right?  

I could make this post about speaking kind words (which I will do at a later post), but this post is more about intention.  I have to intentionally learn to control my tongue, to not gossip, to use my words to speak life into those around me, to not criticize, etc.  

This is not going to be easy.  I am intentionally posting this on the blog for my own accountability.  I want to make a difference in my own life.  I'm not going to wait for someone else to inspire me to use my words in a better way. I need to live with intention in this area.  

My mom and my grandma both always repeated that old adage, "if you can't say anything nice than don't say anything at all."  That doesn't mean it's a pass to become fake, it's just means intentionally choosing words that offer truth, help, inspiration, necessary information, and kindness.  In other words, to THINK before speaking.  I don't expect to become an overnight success at this.  I just expect to wake up each day better than the day before.  

This was a quote I read last week:  

                     "Wisdom is having a lot to say, but choosing not to say it."  

Guess, what?  It's unknown who said that.  Doesn't it just figure?  Here's the verse I mentioned too (and I posted a bit more than what I initially studied).

James 3:8-16 (The Message)
 7-10This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can't tame a tongue—it's never been done. The tongue runs wild, a killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!
 10-12My friends, this can't go on. A spring doesn't gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it? Apple trees don't bear strawberries, do they? Raspberry bushes don't bear apples, do they? You're not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you? 
13-16Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here's what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It's the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. 

Thank you, thank you for reading.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Remembering Mary

My mother-in-law passed away very unexpectedly on Saturday morning.  She was 76 years old.  Our family is deeply saddened by this loss.  We returned last night from being in Ohio to be with family, friends and to honor her life in a memorial service.  Seeing old friends was comforting; and being with extended family always leaves me feeling very loved. 

My in-laws were so very special to me.  I loved them as much as my own parents.  I'm finding some comfort now in knowing that they are together.  They will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary on June 2nd among the stars in the sky.

I spoke at the memorial service Saturday.  I am posting what I wrote and read at the service here on the blog. 

Thank you to each of you who has prayed for our family.

Think for a minute of your mother-in-law.  What thoughts or feelings come to mind?  Unfortunately, for many of us it might not be pleasant.  Society even stereotypes mother-in-laws in a negative light.  I even remember a movie that was released a few years ago called Monster-in-Law.  Lucky for me, I never had to relate to such characteristics.  My mother-in-law, Mary, was very kind.  Mary was so supportive to me and was someone I could really lean on. 
As I have reflected on my feelings the past few days I have come to the conclusion that there are two parts of Mary’s character that really stand out to me.  Mary was very sentimental and very consistent.  When I think of what I want Elliot and Sydney to remember about Mary, it’s these two characteristics.  That may sound like a dry way to describe someone but I have reasons for both and I promise there is nothing dry about it. 
Our memories of Mary will include things like:
  • She and Gary’s trips to visit us in Virginia
  • The kids’ excitement to get their Target gift cards in the mail for Christmas
  • Homemade meals including the best pot roast and noodles you could ever eat
  • Berk’s County Filling at Thanksgiving
  • Fancy bakery cakes for the kids’ birthdays
  • Bacon sandwiches on cinnamon bread for breakfast
  • Chinese takeout lunches
  •  Rotolo’s pizza dinners (I think we have a record set for the number of pizza's ordered from their phone number)
  • Watching Dancing with the Stars together with an occasional glass of wine; Mary's with an ice cube
  •  Reading cooking magazines and collecting recipes
Mary absolutely loved to cook.  She would plan out the meals for our visits and have all the grocery shopping done a week before we arrived.  Every time we talked on the phone she was excited to share each meal she had and what she planned to cook next. 
One verse keeps making its way into my head and my heart.  It’s Luke 12:34 and it says “for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  Mary loved cooking for sure, but what she really treasured was her family.  This was so evident as we went through some things in her room this past week.  She saved everything with family significance.  She even treasured things that may not have been deserving of being treasured.  Mary’s heart was her family, her treasure.
That’s why on our birthdays we received the most beautiful cards, and she sent them a week early—she treasured us.  That’s why she stayed with me for a week after Sydney and Elliot were born; cooking potato rivil soup, doing laundry, and cleaning my house—she treasured being a grandma.  That’s why on the day John left Ohio to move to Virginia she was so open with her emotions (which was not something she often did)—she treasured being a mom to her son.  That’s why she checked Laura’s Facebook almost hourly and loved having her all to herself on Laura’s days off—she treasured being connected to her daughter.  That’s why she anticipated Sue’s early morning phone calls—she treasured that time visiting on the phone; chatting about cooking and hearing Sue tell her about the animals at the shelter.  Sue, she treasured having you in her life.
This treasuring was a consistent nature that Mary had.  Her consistency comforts me.  I always knew that when I walked into the house I would find Mary sitting in her chair in the dining room, watching one of her favorite shows, ready to cook the next meal.  She had such a routine about her days and her life.  But it wasn’t routine out of habit—it was part of her consistent nature.  I think it was because she knew where her treasure was…it wasn’t on outside things or things that would fade away like fads or material things.  She treasured us, we had her heart and in that she was able to live life so consistently. 
Mary loved the blog I write.  I found a folder in the house of the blog posts that she had printed out.  I reread an entry that I wrote about Gary’s passing.  In that entry I quoted something from Anne Lamott, one of my favorite authors.  I will close with that quote because it is so fitting for today.
"You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp."