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Gracious Living Takes Time

There is plenty to ponder and pray about these days. Last week I was thinking about how quiet and peaceful things have been. I finished up that thought with a silent prayer to Jesus to keep us for whatever is next. There always is another curve or hill or valley in the road ahead.

Of course, you can’t grab grace ahead from the reserves before you need it. But I see no reason to hesitate pulling on that Holy Spirit breathe this week now that we do need it.  Yesterday after the third phone call to listen and care with someone while at work (Imagine me, my phone tucked between my ear and shoulder working with boxes and gifts. Until customers came in. Being on the phone is not an option for sales persons.) I declared I would leave the phone in the office the rest of the day. Which of course, doesn’t work … the office girls bring it to me, “You’re missing calls.

Even though I do want to listen and care I sometimes lapse into carnal words and thoughts. Sigh. But, I know better. I know that sometimes words aren’t the thing. I also know that opinions felt so strongly need to be slept over. Sleep and prayer clarify and mellow great stomping would-be rantings. God have mercy on my poor people until I get this.

Yet, the conflicts I heard about on the phone were terribly familiar. I just want to know why we take exception for our own sin? Why is it so difficult to admit that we are broken and to see our own need to say “I’m sorry!” and “Will you forgive me?”

In the meantime, there are the happy problems like hurrying to clean up fall lawns before the first serious rains and snows of winter. We hurried twice last week. Clark let me operate the tractor leaf catcher while the others raked more of the leaves and needles into great heaps on tarps to be dragged away, over and over. Darkness falls early now so I throttled up the engine to that perfect place where the bagger fills well yet  the hose doesn’t plug up. It plugged up anyway sometimes. The darkness won out and we had to quit, not complete. We hurried to accomplish tasks at Lisl’s old homestead where the trash heaps in the woods have been waiting to be picked up.

It’s fun to pick up eighty-year-old trash if you decide to anticipate treasure. We found an old glass ink bottle still with ink in it. The bottle itself is beautiful: clear, thick, rounded, glass that fitted in my cupped palm. It is interesting to see what materials are breaking down and which are not.  Metal returns to soil in tiny rusty shards, thin and fragile, eventually harmless, I suppose. Glass shatters and continues wickedly sharp and dangerous hidden under the leaves and moss. Those woods will never be safe for bear feet. Plastic keeps, too. I said it was fun. We worked together, which I love, so that was fun. But as the hours slipped by and the deeper we dug the more we found, while the dumpster filled higher and higher. Questions and frustrations started to surface in our minds. Why? Why dump trash in the woods? My respect for those who endeavor to clean up the old trash heaps and dirty rivers and lake shores has risen remarkably. But now Lisl can stand at her windows looking into the woods, no old TV’s, AC’s and rotting, stuffed living room furniture randomly littering the scene.

Today, I found a gem in one of Elizabeth Elliot’s essays. “Gracious living does take time.”  said by her sister-in-law. Yes! I want to live graciously: to have time for prayer and His Word, to have a clean bathroom, a fixed bed, pretty tables, and simple meals of ordinary, but tastefully prepared food. I want to keep clean floors, a gathering place by the stove, a welcoming entry, and the kitchen consistently tidied.  But none of these are as important as living in forgiveness and peace inside my heart, to know when to sleep over something before I speak and when to to speak up graciously.

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