January 25, 2014

Happy 2014! Happy January! Happy Snowiness! Not So Happy Snow Days! Not that I don’t like snow days, but here in Corbin the schools have been open for the educational development of young minds for only eight days since Christmas break began on December 21, because of piddly slipperyish snows, Polar Vortexed frozen pipes and MLK day. Such sporadic learning tends to turn the aforementioned minds as slushy as the roads, while prolonging the pain of establishing the school routine for everyone involved–children, parents, teachers, nannies, school staffers, bus drivers–basically the entire town. Really, I love snow, but if it’s going to shut us all down, it might as well be one grand blizzard of a good time, instead of the annoying spits we seem to get so much of here.

Other than all that, January has been a splendid month so far in the desperately doodling realm. First of all, on one of the snow days when I was on nanny duty, my nine year old girl asked once again for me to teach her to knit. We have been working on this off and on for at least three years with haphazard results. I always ended up doing most of the knitting while she danced around between the few stitches she managed to keep on the needles. Well, this time, Grace stayed focused and created a simple short scarf! She still needed me to fix mistakes every other row or so, but we both enjoyed the experience much more. Now she wants to make socks, or a hat. I’m not ready for that and neither is she, so we really need to get into a good groove with school immediately!

Here’s the best part of the new year for me. I have a brand new wondrous word for 2014! As in the past two years of One Wording my way through the year, I struggled and wrangled my way through a long list before settling on one. During the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day I kept getting little signals about the word PRESENT. I saw “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” on Christmas day, which is all about living in the present, not in some fantasy world. Then we attended church in Arkansas when we were there visiting family. The sermon was based on Philippians 3: 13-14, in which Paul talks about forgetting the past and pressing on to the goal Christ has for him. On New Year’s Day I saw “Saving Mr. Banks” and again, the prevailing theme was living in the present. So I was pretty sure that was the word God had for me for 2014.

In Sunday School we take the first Sunday of every month to talk about what God has been teaching us through our words, so on January 5th I spent several hours studying scriptures that spoke about living in the present in preparation for the next morning when I would reveal my word for the year to the other ladies. But when the time came in class I could not commit to PRESENT. It felt like what I needed to be working on, since most of the time my mind is way out in the future planning, instead of in the moment where I’m actually living. I’ve missed a lot of the right here and now moments because of my penchant for planning ahead and I don’t want to do that anymore! Even so, PRESENT just wasn’t resonating with me. I had been hoping for a word that would have a writing connection as the other two had, and present tense wasn’t doing it for me. I decided to wait another week before committing to a word that wasn’t as yet causing trumpets to blare, lights to flash over my head, or my feet to do a little jig at the thought of it.

That Monday was the first day back to work after two weeks, but it turned out to be a snow day and my employer stayed home, so Bonus Day for me! Generally days like that are joyful for the very fact that I have nothing planned since I should have been at work. But for some obsessive Debbie reason I got to thinking about projects coming up in the spring and problems from the past and. . . let’s just say my annual holiday hissy fit came a bit late this year. My grumpy, mopey attitude ruined the whole day for me and my poor husband who still had a whole week left on his break from school. The next day was a snow day that I worked. That afternoon my oldest daughter texted me to ask if Bret and I could come up on Saturday to take care of Charlie all day while she and her hubby attended a conference at church. Of course that would be hilariously great, but that meant I would stay home the next day instead of making my regular Wednesday trip up. So another Bonus Day coming my way!

This time I was prepared. I sent my husband out early to run errands which gave me the first couple of hours alone in the house since early December. The dog and I were preparing to have a little breakfast together as we like to do on weekday mornings. She sits beside me and listens as I spill out my latest concerns and praises to the Lord, while waiting patiently for me to throw her some toast crust or banana bites. So I said, “Eujane, this is another bonus day for me, but I am not going to ruin it with thinking about things that haven’t happened yet, or chores or I should be doing. This is a free day and I am going to be FREE!”

Tumtataratatatah!! Neon lights flashed over my head and my feet began to dance like I’d turned into a Pentecostal overcome with a holy joy. Eujane’s eyebrows wiggled as her eyes bugged out at the sight. “What’s wrong with Mommy, now?” I’m sure she was thinking. Everything fell into place as FREE pushed PRESENT out of the way. If I forget the past and don’t let thoughts of the future make me crazy, I will be FREE to live in the present. And FREE to do those good works God has for me to do each day. And FREE to enjoy whatever God brings my way! Who knows what else I will be learning this year as I keep FREE in the forefront of my mind? And guess what? Once I stopped dancing I had to start in again because I thought, “Hey, I could dedicate this year’s poetry writing to all FREE VERSE, since I could use some focused practice on that.” Free verse makes me nervous. I like boundaries and rules and plans and lists and tight spaces in my head. I’m not comfortable with a lot of freedom. The thought makes me happy, but the reality scares me a bit. Should be an interesting year.

Here’s the scripture God planted in my heart for 2014: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). The word “burdened” comes from the Greek verb meaning “to be caught or entangled in.” That’s what sold me on this verse. I have a knack for entangling myself in all kinds of rules and restrictions and chores of my own making that makes it a tad difficult to enjoy the present moment freely.

I hope some of you will choose your own words for the year and join me in this journey. Come back next month and I will try to talk about something else. Go and be FREE!