Thursday, September 24, 2015

Just Me and the Critters

I have two neurotic cats, Buck, fifteen, and Livvy, five years old. They are opposite in personality, but both love me. Since Buck was a kitten he's been afraid of going outside in daylight hours and for some crazy reason Livvy is the same. If Buck goes out at night and I don't let him in before the sun peeks over the horizon, I don't see him until darkness comes. Neurotic with a capital N.

Livvy and Buck

He was also afraid of people. Everyone knew I had a cat named Buck, but only through pictures. He was the elusive Bucky Boy...until recently. He has become the poster cat for The Extroverted Cat. Of course I'm teasing. I asked my veterinarian, Dr. Walker, if cats can develop dementia and he said, "Oh yes." There you have it.

So this summer we've been spending time on the porch. Both cats have ventured outdoors with me in the early morning hours. They seem to feel safest if I leave the door cracked a tiny bit even though I'm right there.

One morning I'd slipped back into the house to refill my teacup and when I came back to the door and opened it, Livvy shot in with a chipmunk in her mouth. She dropped the critter at my feet as if I'd won a prize.

It hobbled around my kitchen, then straightened its back and took off running.

The crazy woman (me) ran with a broom trying to trap the critter.

I had a problem on my hands. This was not on my "to do" list today.

1. Laundry
2. Work in yard
3. Run errands

The critter got away.

One month later the crazy woman (me) was out of town and got a call from her son. Andy says, "Mom, I think there's a bird in the house."

I told him I'd take care of it as soon as I got home.

A few hours later I found out where the "bird" had been eating on a dog bone in my pantry. I saw his little brown tail curled in the back of the pantry.

The critter cage was set in the pantry with fresh seeds and about 3:00 the next day the cage began to rattle. The critter is now in the woods, back with his own kind.

I'm telling you this story because now I shut the door when we venture outside in the morning, and Livvy and Buck are not happy with me.

They are safe. Nothing can harm them. I am there to protect them. They can enjoy the beauty of the outdoors. They can scare the birds(not hurt them) and roll around on the concrete. They can breathe in fresh air BUT they choose fear over freedom.

Livvy goes back inside and paws at the window. She will not trust the closed door behind her.

How many times have I not trusted God with a closed door? How many times has He been there to protect me with a closed door and I wanted a fully open door before I would move out and call it "faith?"

He's there through everything, but sometimes He asks us to simply follow Him in faith. Shut the door Cindy, and trust Me. I will protect you and keep you. I know what is out on the porch and beyond. Come out and sit awhile with Me.

Maybe He's asking you to trust Him with something, to close the door and trust Him in faith. Join Him on the porch. There's room in the swing for two.


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Learning to Keep it Simple

I'm having one of those "remember when" moments.

I was washing dishes recently and thought how simple a process it is. Fill the sink with hot, soapy water, slide silverware in first to soak, then wash glassware. My Ma Bailey warned me never wash sharp knives in water that is too hot. She said it dulls the blade. Because of this I never put my cutting/chopping knives in the dishwasher.

It occurred to me how fulfilling and cleansing it is for my soul to stand over the sink at this labor of love that precedes the cave woman.

I use the time to myself to think on important things like what I'm doing the rest of the day or the next day or week. I think of what my children might be doing. I pray for them and my friends and family. Sometimes I simply watch the birds and squirrels romp about in my backyard.

Washing dishes allows time for me to live small.

I've been thinking a lot about how cluttered life can be, too much of everything. I'm weary of managing all my stuff.

We laugh and remember when we had one television in the house and it was black and white...yes, it didn't even have a color picture. Now, we have four televisions and I don't even watch one of them, unless Downton Abby is on ETV.

Do you remember when there was one phone in the house, usually in the kitchen, on the wall? I can still remember my number when I was a little girl, and my best friend's number. I couldn't tell you the numbers of my friends now, with the exception of one. Their numbers are stored in my iPhone and I scroll down to their name and tap. That may seem simple, but if I were stuck without a phone, I'd be in serious trouble. That is not simple living.

We are a society dependent on technology and I don't like it.

I want simple again.

I grew up in an era I didn't fully appreciate. Life was hard but I'd like to remember the good values of growing up without so many distractions. We knew our neighbors well. Cookouts were a regular thing in the summer months. The age difference didn't matter either. Eventually, that grandmother would take me into her home and let me finish my senior year in high school. I left her home in August of 1977 bound for college, ten pounds heavier.

I ask myself the question, "have our advances in technology taken us in a direction closer to or further away from community?" Have we lost that sense of smallness with our mega churches, mega malls, super box stores, rather than mom and pop stores?

Life is not simple anymore. We have too many gadgets and apps to get anything we want and yet all I see are people walking around like robots attached to their gadgets.

I don't know what the answer is and I know you wouldn't be reading my words without technology, but these are my thoughts. Am I alone in my thinking?

As I type this, I'm sitting in a Barnes and Noble Bookstore surrounded by people. Not a single person has spoken to me, nor I to them. We are consumed by our thoughts, laptops, books, writing, work, toys and activities.

I know we can't go back to the day where the gas station provided someone to fill up your tank and wash your windshield. Can we? No seriously...The guy in my hometown who worked at our local gas station went to church with me. I have sweet memories of pulling into the station and it was an Andy Griffith/Barney Fife moment. "Want a bottle of pop?"

We all have memories of nostalgia of a simpler time.  I want that back while using some of the good of technology.

I want to be the kind of neighbor who loves and knows the needs of those around me. Relationships need time to root and they need regular care and maintenance. Would I take someone into my home because I'd already spent time with them?

Living simply doesn't mean we have to give everything up and live in a tent, but it does mean we have to look up. We need to open our eyes to those in front of us and around us, get back in touch with the simple things of life. We need to stop looking for the next high, the next adventure, the latest technology. Make do with what you have, pare down, give away and spend time with those you love.

There is a world that needs our attention but it begins with the simple things at our finger tips...a real conversation with a friend, a home cooked meal, a hand written note, or movie night at home with popcorn.

So how do we do this? How do we keep it simple? How do we keep first things first?

It begins with our spiritual lives. I was sitting in Bible study yesterday and Beth Moore shared this verse via a video series on the book of Daniel. It popped out at me because I'd written this post and hadn't been able to finish it. The simple life became clear.

One thing I ask of the Lord,
this is what I seek;
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord 
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to seek Him in His temple.
Psalm 27:4 NIV

Jesus...even His name was simple. Five little letters in our English language. He is my example for living, for breathing, for dying. He connected with people. He listened, he cared deeply, he made time for them. He saw to the very heart of them because He was God. It didn't matter what they had done or who their people were, He loved. He had no cliques, although He did have best friends. His life had purpose and when it was time to complete His mission He did it with humility and courage and most of all, love. 

And so my friends, stop and smell the roses, but do it with a heart of love for the Creator who made that rose. Then share from a heart of gratitude. 

Have a lovely Saturday,