Monday, August 28, 2017

Lean in, listen closely, and linger longer

"Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time."  
                  John Lubbock,  The Use of Life

While summertime has a rhythm and flow all of its own which tends towards a lot of "doing"---going on vacations, celebrating friendships over backyard  picnics, entertaining the kids out of school, and maybe attending local baseball games, it is still important to make space for some rest.   Holy Rest.  Slowing down and fully embracing the quieter moments that summertime has to offer can be full of soul refreshment.  It is like sipping a cool, tall glass of fresh iced tea or lemonade while siting on a neighbor's porch and being fully present without an agenda or expectation.   No rushing allowed.  Practicing leaning in and listening closely as if time stands still for a brief, few moments are  cherished.  A spiritual thirst is quenched.  

It always seem like I can hardly wait for the arrival of summer especially after a long, cold and dreary spring up here in New England.  I have my ideas and agendas which are only loosely set in soft sand.  I absolutely love the break in routine and just go with the flow.  That's how we fly at our home currently.  Lots of comings and goings and activity balanced with the need for rest and quiet.  But then before I know it, August is upon us!  Where did the time go?!!  

I still wish for daylight to last past 8:00pm!  Now after we eat dinner, we hurry to clean up the dishes to get to our boardwalk before dark.  That little bit of rushing can sometimes make me feel anxious.  However, I guess that is preparing me for the fall routine.  Wow.  The sunsets this summer have been magnificent.  I want to see every one of them so as not to ever take for granted God's grandeur of His glorious gifts.  His beauty shines forth upon this dark and messy world.  God is in control.  

Looking over the past seven years of living with chronic M, I must say that this summer has brought me the greatest joy of participating in my life once again.  I still journey through the ups and downs wth this disease and the unpredictability of what the next hour will bring, but I am learning better how to manage and cope.  I care for my body differently now and realize the importance of balancing the doing with the being. 

I would love to hear of some of your highlights and adventures you experienced this summer.  I also am happy to listen to your struggles as well.  This is life no matter what season we are in at the moment.  

Maybe in the next few weeks we have left of summer, we could slow down from the frantic pace of preparing for fall and lean into the wonders of nature.  Let's stop and listen more closely to someone in need and offer some encouragement.   How about we linger longer in the unhurried moments that are left of this bright and sunny season.  Meet me on my deck, and we can sip some fresh iced tea and smile.  

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

A revolving door, a basket of big shoes, and a house full of happy

My blog title pretty much sums of the theme of my summer. It is one of much coming and going of friends and family.  No, we haven't offered our home as a summer air B&B, officially yet!  Lol!  But I must say, it kind of feels like it.  Believe me, this is a good thing.   Truly, this is the first summer in six years since not being well that I am able to experience the pure joy of the crazy chaos of my surroundings.  Sometimes I am an active participant of the silliness, and sometimes I am a passive one.  No matter the case, I am savoring each moment of living, not just surviving. 

Mike and I tease about our B&B because we up front tell people that it really is a "make your own bed and cook your own breakfast" for the most part. It takes me hours before I really function well in the mornings while so many "normal" folks have already been up and at it for the day. However, there is always food in the fridge and a grocery store around the corner.  Most importantly, hot coffee can be offered at all times of the day. Win win!!  Our guest bedroom and our man cave in the basement are frequently occupied.  Between my own guys as well as their many friends, I actually can't keep up with who is where most of the time! Crazy!  Sounds of laughter and joy fill our home which certainly lift our spirits.  

The silly shenanigans of board and video games being played, movies runnng as if the basement were a theater, cooking and baking at all hours of the day and night, and basketball bouncing in the driveway---make our home a place where all are welcome for sure.  I truly treasure every moment as I know the young men and women are growing up, moving away, and settling into their new lives.  This is bittersweet. 

Watching our own sons and their beautiful friends interact and share life together makes my heart very happy.  Over the years our house has always been a full one, and I wouldn't trade that for the world.  Parenting young adults and journeying with them as they step into this uncertain world full of daunting challenges is not an easy thing.  Who knew?  We try our best to guide with lots of love and understanding and then step aside and allow God to fully watch over and care for them.   

This summer our family bid farewell to some dear friends of many years.  Obviously this was not easy to do, but saying goodbye was a necessary part of the process for them to move on to new midlife adventures.  For that, we are happy for them.  We celebrated with small parties and picnics to help give them send offs they will hopefully remember for years to come.  I know we will.  

I am not saying that the Aleo summer has been devoid of conflict and sick days and suffering. This is certainly not the case.  As a family we are always working on relationship issues which entail much prayer and sacrifice and sometimes keeping our "big mouths shut"!!  However, it is in the deep mystery of receiving God's mercy and grace that we gather the strength to press onward together.  

So, amidst the work and play schedules, the sick and painful days, the sitting with others who are hurting and suffering, the celebrations of important life events, and gathering around the big kitchen table for many meals of the loaves and fishes, our house is full of happy.  Praise God.