Periphery

This past weekend I had the opportunity to spend two days celebrating the Wedding Take 3 (more to come on this in a future post) of one of my cousins.  As celebrations go, it was top notch – great food, fun and games, time spent with a group of people I love. 

There was one thing that I noticed about myself this weekend.  Though I chatted with people, played some euchre, got to know some people better – I realized that I also enjoyed making sure that the food table stayed well stocked, doing dishes, and occasionally cleaning up after the group. 

Being the center of attention is not something I crave, though I have no qualms about getting up in front of people and speaking or giving a presentation.  What I prefer is to be on the periphery, however, being more of an observer than a participant when I’m with larger groups of people. 

Observing people as they converse and interact is fascinating, mingled voices and laughter, what’s said with body language and not with words, flitting from one group or table of people to another. 

It’s not just about watching, though, it’s also about seeing what people need, like giving someone a napkin or filling a bowl when they’re scooping out all that remains, showing them where the bathroom is located or even sitting for a while with someone who seems lonely. 

What all this says about me I’m not really sure.  It’s possible, likely even, that I’m just a bit odd, but that’s okay.  At this point in my life I try to spend a lot more time doing what I enjoy and less time doing stuff I think I should do, or what other people think I should do. 

Do you enjoy being the life of the party, or like me to you prefer being on the periphery?  Let me know by leaving a comment at the top of the post.

Merry Christmas!

For a few more minutes it’s Christmas Eve and soon it will be Christmas Day.  It’s been a crazy few weeks with travel and new babies and moving to a new place and investing in my retirement home.  There hasn’t been five minutes to think about it all let alone write about it, but I promise I will when life reaches some semblance of normalcy again.

Tonight I’m thinking about my youngest son and his wife spending their first Christmas in the house they bought this year, still celebrating the sweetness of being newlyweds.  I’m also thinking about my oldest son and his wife and their four darling children.  I can’t imagine getting ready for Christmas with a newborn baby and hardly any sleep and always, always so much to do every day. 

Because there wasn’t quite enough madness and things for me to do the past couple of weeks, I decided I would make a couple of Christmas gifts this year.  What was I thinking?  First, it involved sewing and aside from a aline skirt I made in 4-H when I was in 8th grade and mending various things when needed, I really have very little experience when it comes to that type of thing.  To make things even more complicated, my daughter-in-law is incredibly gifted and talented in all things related to sewing and crocheting and really, all things creative.  Thankfully she’s way too busy right now to take a very close look at my work. 

Somehow I managed to finish everything and get it under the tree.  There were a few panic moments last night when I was ripping out seams and kicking myself for going this route, but I fell back and regrouped and it all turned out okay.

Construction Worker

Construction Worker

Mad Scientist

Mad Scientist

As I sit here in my jammies, tucked in a warm bed, I can’t help but feel so incredibly blessed and at peace.  A huge part of that is my family and friends, but also because a little baby born in a little town long ago changed everything. 

Wishing all of you a safe and happy Christmas celebration!

Kindness and Goodness

“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”  Even if someone had taken the time to teach me this mantra when I was a small child like Aibileen Clark, the maid and nanny did for her charge in Kathryn Stockett’s The Help, and I repeated it over and over, I’m not sure that would be enough to transform me into a kind and good person.

What does it even mean to be kind and good?  Is it being friendly and considerate? Being generous and giving things to people?  Is it as simple as being nice?  And is goodness just following rules and obeying the law?  If someone asked me today if I were kind and good, I would say yes!  Indeed, there have been many times in my life when people have called me kind and good. 

What would my answer be, however, if the question were, “Are you kind and good in order to avoid negative consequences?” or “Are you kind and good because you expect some kind of reward, reciprocation, or recognition?” or “Are you kind and good even though you would really rather not be?” or “Are you kind and good so other people will think well of you?”  If I answer yes to any of those questions, then I am really kind and good?

What motivates me to be kind and good matters. The acts themselves are simply going through the motions unless my heart is right.  The acts need to be selfless, with no hidden agenda or expectations.  It’s a tall order, something I’m not capable of achieving on my own.

Kindness and Goodness

In Galatians 5, Paul talks about our human nature – our natural tendency is “sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.”

While I haven’t practiced any witchcraft or participated in any orgies, all the rest are sins with which I have at least some degree of familiarity. There is neither pride nor shame in this admission, it’s simply a statement of fact.  A deliberate choice has to be made to overcome my human nature and live differently so that I can experience the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. 

Here’s the truth – sometimes I don’t feel like being kind and good.  There are times when I’m sad or tired or cranky or let’s be real – sometimes I feel like certain people don’t deserve my kindness.  It’s not easy to rise above my own feelings and selfishness and do the right thing for the right reason.  When I do, there is joy – for those around me and for me  It’s what we all want and need, isn’t it?  What about you?  Do you consider yourself kind and good?  Let me know by leaving a comment on the blog or on Facebook.