more than pocket change


When I am asked about my weekend, I always pause.

It’s not because I am concerned about my response but rather it takes a moment
to recall the details.
Monday mornings mean the comforter must be peeled away
and even though there seems no evidence, the sun has risen on the week.

Frequently I feel the same when considering the past year.
It’s like traveling the depth of the pocket of a comfortably broken-in coat.
You expect your fingers to land only on air and fuzz and linty bits.
But once your hand is airborne again, a stray $5 bill, a ticket stub or
receipt is discovered, you feel akin to a magician bearing a hat marked by remembrance.
There are times it pays to dig through the darkness to find the light.

Here is a bit of my dirt, unearthed in 2015:

  • I am smarter than a 5th grader.
    I began a new job the polar opposite of physical therapy last year.
    No longer am I concerned with a patient’s strength or walking abilities,
    but crunching numbers and working in an office setting.
    The first 3 months, my brain threatened to shut down from overuse,
    but so far, I have come out of the tunnel of learning unscathed.
    I can do hard things.
    At least hard things to me.
    I learned to rest in my words for 2015, “be faithful”.
    I would  return each day ready to learn and exhale when inevitable mistakes happened or I didn’t comprehend the new language.
    Week by week, faithfulness compounded like interest
    and strengthened my confidence.
  • Put down the mop and NO ONE gets hurt.
    This year, I had to lower the bar.
    Actually who is this mythical person who set the bar?
    I have pursued a bar I either constantly ran into or missed.
    This year, I took a breath and realized my vertical leap didn’t match my real life.
    My house wasn’t as clean last year. Nor will it be this year.
    Here’s the deal, our lives have ebbs and flow.
    When I visit my parents’ home, I love how clean it feels,
    but I am quick to  remind myself, they don’t own a forever shedding dog
    and a 12 year-old boy and his trail of cast off items.
    Yet a mom with toddlers might wander through my front door and declare the current state of our home as pristine, without Cheerios and blocks in every corner.
    Truly if we keep our eyes and ears open, we see a circle of outstretched arms beckoning the pilgrims behind them to breathe easy and enjoy the view without judgment.
    I learned  am learning to love our home in all its B+ cleanliness.
    See the Christmas tree at the top of the page?
    This was the year, we reaffirmed our ceilings to be 8 feet tall and to have the angel most likely to slam dunk when we left the house.
    One night we wound the lights, the next night we scattered multi-colored globes and never brought out the box of ornaments.
    I believe this was one of our favorite trees ever. It was a huge tree for our
    space but I sidled up to the twinkling wonder for countless nights.
    We lowered the bar and no one got hurt.
    I am writing less on this blog and more people are reading.
    Perhaps there were too many words 😉
  • Being intentional shouldn’t be relegated to a nice thought.
    One of Carl’s sisters died unexpectedly last year. The Saturday after her surgery, we made our way from Portland to Vancouver and encountered terrible
    gridlock. We considered taking the nearest exit and changing our visit to the
    next day. By the grace of God, we continued on our route. We had the most
    enjoyable time visiting with Vickie and other family members. We laughed
    and Vickie told several stories, she showed off her new knee and took her
    walker for a stroll. We invited those present to share Easter brunch with us
    the following week.
    On Sunday, Vickie’s walker was cast aside for a new body in heaven.
    I will never forget those brief hours of laughter at the hospital or the arduous ones
    the following day. We miss her deeply but those final memories, we hoard them.
    Be intention.
    Yet I still have to remind myself about the brevity of life.
    I aspire to move beyond the slogan to a guiding call.
  • Make friends with being misunderstood.
    I will probably have to break-up and make-up with this lesson for the rest of my days.
    We made a decision this past year. As with most major decisions, it required a lot
    of discussion and prayer.
    It was a tough one, with pros and cons in each direction.
    Decisions are made by experts.
    Our family are the experts when it comes to our family.
    I could tell you owning a dog is the only way to co-exist in a house
    and you might frown because dogs frighten you.
    Perhaps we continue to discuss this difference in viewpoint over nachos
    and I even take to Facebook to encourage dog lovers to unite and
    rally behind my decision. This is my right.
    It is also another person’s right to never wander into a pet store.
    This may sound like an absurd scenario but fill in the blank with any
    opinion which differs from your own.
    I started following threads and reading comments on Facebook
    which although clearly NOT directed at me, hit me personally.
    My heart would race and like any worthy introvert, I started composing
    my comments in my head and while I slept.
    I wanted desperately to share my viewpoint and not be characterized
    as someone I am not.
    But I was afraid because I had seen others attempt to share an opposing
    view and seen as defensive.
    One day, with one little click of a mouse, I stopped the madness and
    un-followed a couple of groups.
    My blood pressure slowed and I began standing in
    the decision and in the face of being misunderstood.
    I would rather have conversations about differences across a table and
    face-to face and most definitely with a plate of nachos.
  • I’m not stronger than I think, God is even stronger than I knew.
    Eleven years ago, I stood before an audience to give a word of encouragement.
    Part way through the talk, I shared how it had been the worst
    year of our lives. Can you tell, I never had taken a speech class? I promise,
    there was encouragement mingled with the unbearable.
    I shared about God and me. I talked about His love and devotion, which continues
    to stagger me. I spoke about the 18th Psalm which talks about God,
    His character, power and how He teaches His children to fight when the
    storms of life threaten drowning.
    My advice to you is never stand up before anyone and say it is your worse day, week, month or year ever.
    Although I believed it when I stood on the stage, life became several
    shades deeper than the hardest we had known.
    A few years later, I listed the events of that crushing season and it filled a page.
    Those were the “I don’t wanna answer the next phone call” hard years.
    Guess what?
    Life continues to be difficult and challenging.
    But you are smarter than a 5th grader, so you know this, right?
    I still feel fragile at times yet God remains incomparably strong.
    He is stronger than I ever gave Him credit and I am glad to be wrong about
    the scope of His strength and faithfulness.

It is God who arms me with strength
and keeps my way secure.

Psalm 18:32

What lessons have you  found buried in the pockets of this past year?

I would love to know.
Leave a comment here or even on Facebook.

3 thoughts on “more than pocket change

  1. jodyo70 says:

    Helen, I do not do well at reflective kinds of list-making because I am TERRIBLE with details and remembering…but I do love your list, especially the ‘blogging less and having more readers’ line.
    I am doing the same thing…..and ya know why that is? ‘Cause we miss you–people miss our voices when there is less of us. Overfilling email boxes or blogfeeds just makes me tired of hearing other folks–surely they feel the same way?
    I also un-followed some groups and some folks….I just don’t need the distraction.
    And good job on the B+ house and the too-tall Christmas tree with the sideways angel!
    Your words always make me smile….


  2. Mor, I am so glad you are listing to the best voice and letting others take their place to help you. It really is a way to let others be a part of blessing sometimes to step aside. Peace to you!


  3. Felicia Gaskins says:

    Sometimes God gives you no choice but to stop and let others take over. This happens because I am too busy to listen for His voice. I am learning that it is a gift that goes both ways when you step aside and let others. Thank you Helen for sharing the dirt; it is pure gold. Bless you Sweetie.

    Liked by 1 person

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