Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A series of letting go

The other week, I had the privilege of spending the morning with my 88-year-old grandmother, and I was reminded once again of her wisdom and grace in living and in growing older. Because she no longer drives, we had a delightful outing to Walmart and then to lunch at one of my favorite little restaurants in Chattanooga, the Purple Daisy Picnic Cafe. Throughout the morning, she was so good about knowing her physical limitations and asking for help when needed. She'd say, "I need to hold your hand for a bit," or "I usually get a motorized wheelchair when I'm here." (And might I add that she was a pro at the electric wheelchair!) I hope that I can not only recognize my physical limitations when I'm older, but also be humble enough to take steps to preserve my safety and energy.

My grandmother is also slowly losing her memory, and whenever she can't remember a detail, she has the wisdom and light-heartedness to laugh at herself and admit, "Oh, I just can't remember that anymore!" I'm afraid my response might be frustration or anger at my memory leaving me, but she has a habit of accepting what God gives her with peace and immediacy.

Lately, I have been most impressed and humbled by the grace with which she is aging, and I have told her so on many occasions. Her latest response was powerful: "You know, it (aging) hasn't happened all at once. I've had to let go a little bit at a time, so it's not so bad. It's just a series of letting go, and I think God has done that to remind me that I will need Him all my life." I love (and hate) that idea of "a series of letting go" because the truth is that all of life should be lived that way. God often calls us to let go of expectations, dreams, material possessions, and self, and I pray that more and more I will, like my grandmother, accept such calls with grace, faithfulness, and a good sense of humor.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Context Clues

Every family seems to develop their own "isms," and our family is no exception. Anyone who has spent significant time around us knows that our trademark Johnsonism is what I like to call "Context Clues." I must both acknowledge and possibly rebuke Phil's college roommate, Jordan, for helping to instigate this family idiosyncrasy. "Context Clues" works like this: in any given two words, the last word is limited to simply a letter. For example, "It's a beautiful d." Using a little common sense and, as the title suggests, context clues, this sentence simply states, "It's a beautiful day." See if you can figure these out (answers at bottom):

1) a babbling b
2) electric b
3) hot c
4) frozen d
5) granola b
6) to g

It would be un-American to have rules without exceptions so the exceptions are as follows:

1) If the abbreviation takes longer to say that the original word, you should not use the abbreviation. For example, "wake b" (board) works, but "boiling w" (water) doesn't. Typically, the abbreviation is a "c," "d," "e," "g," "v" or "b."
2) You almost never use an abbreviation for more than one word at a time
3) The word abbreviated must be the second word, not the first

Feel free to incorporate this Johnsonism into your own family if it helps you communicate more humorously and/or efficiently; we have found it to accomplish both those goals. Also, please add any suggestions that might improve on our context c's.

1) babbling brook, 2) electric blanket, 3) hot chocolate, 4) frozen dinner, 5) granola bar, 6) to go

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Primrose Inn

In our recent visit to Acadia (see photo album on my facebook page), we stayed at a quaint, homey bed and breakfast called the Primrose Inn. We chose it because of its outstanding website, but now love it for far more respectable reasons. Beyond the delicious gourmet breakfasts, daily afternoon tea & cookies, private porches, comfortable room, free water & cokes, free Internet, a fantastic DVD selection, hiking and biking trail books to borrow, free lip balm (yes, these things are important), and pretty much any other amenity that you could possibly want or need, the innkeepers, Katherine and Jeff Shaw, are believers. We had an opportunity to talk with Katherine for a while one afternoon and to hear their story of how God moved them from California to Bar Harbor, ME three years ago, taking them away from a life of excess and materialism and into an unfamiliar and fairly godless area of the east coast. I was most impressed by their heart for service, particularly to pastors. They allow pastors and their wives to stay at the inn for FREE! This is such a blessing to so many burned out pastors who go there for respite or for pastors who couldn't otherwise stay in a place like that. Other innkeepers in the area don't know what to make of it, which is such a ministry in itself.

If you ever plan to go to Bar Harbor, you would be foolish to stay anywhere but the Primrose Inn. Even if you're not the bed and breakfast type, I would highly recommend it. In fact, we met so many interesting people from all over the country who were staying there and many of them said it was the nicest bed and breakfast they had ever been in. It's five star treatment for a very reasonable price.

And ever since our return, I'm not satisfied with cereal for breakfast anymore. I've been making french toast, blueberry pancakes, etc. We'll see how long it lasts, but I was spoiled by the breakfasts up there! I'm already craving some sausage and mushroom strata for tomorrow morning...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Blitz

After our packing and moving blitz, I'm tempted to document my aching muscles and nostalgic thoughts, but instead, I want to focus on the positive side of moving. Three "lessons" in particular emerged from our relocation experience:

1) I was able to see my closest friends and family in the last three weeks. There's nothing better than spending quality time with people who know you and still love you, and moving compels people to see you "one last time." Even though we'll be back in a year (and will be visiting sooner), it was a nice excuse to connect with friends.

2) I learned to receive help. As one who tends to see herself as strong, independent, and, yes, prideful at times, it was difficult for me to accept help from others. Many thanks to three guys from med school who gave up six hours of their lives to sweat and lift boxes. No amount of Sonic slushies could come close to compensation. Thanks to my brother and his muscles for the unpacking help and my sister for her organizational touch. And thanks to the rest of you who helped clean, organize, pray, and encourage us. And before this starts sounding too much like the "acknowledgments" section of a book, on to #3:

3) I realized how much stuff we had/have, which made me want to simplify our lives even more. My thoughts are churning over how to reduce the amount of stuff in our lives, reassessing how we spend money, how we waste, and how we hoard. I'm even one of those people who purges their house once or twice a year and I still felt like we had a lot of possessions. Moving has been a great reminder of how little we really need and how what we own is really just stuff--unimportant in the scope of things.