Sit, Talk, Laugh

Every afternoon, I got to Lindsey’s house to wrangle youngsters, sweep the floor and play Words With Friends on my iPod.

I find Lindsey’s house to be a peaceful, welcoming environment. For one thing, it’s blessedly uncluttered. (My own home is more like Mrs. Weasley’s house, The Burrow, minus the self washing dishes and really cool clock.) But I got thinking about it the other day and I realized that it’s more than that. All around me are reminders- reminders about how to be my best, reminders to laugh, love, believe. Positive words all around that are a symphony of encouragement and positive thinking.

Dream.

Believe the impossible, hope for what is unseen. Imagine the possibilities.

Reminders to laugh.
Because if you can’t laugh…you’re in trouble. I have to laugh when Claire pulls out all of the Tupperware. I have to laugh when James tells me he was in school for SEVEN HOURS. I have to laugh when David asks me how many days in a row can be AWESOME? I have to laugh when Lila tries desperately to get these boys to play babies with her. I have to laugh when they laugh. A merry heart does good like a medicine, after all.



Truths about family and God and how He loves.
Love is patient, love is kind. We are blessed. We are beloved. We are formed with care and we are precious. We are His possessions, carefully crafted and deeply cherished.  This is Love.  That He laid down His life for us.




Here is how we must live.
To be content, to be joyful, we must live not for ourselves but for Him and for His people. We have to do our best to be loving.

Live.
It is for freedom He set us free. Let us live as free.

Here are the words from this exhortation on the hallway wall.


Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Lately I’m learning the importance of Good Words.  I’m not suggesting we lose all sense of realism and become annoying about it.  I can’t stand it when people are all:  “God is good, all the time!  All things work together for our good!  He won’t give you more than you can handle!”  All of that is certainly true but listen…Truth is still truth.  Some things really just suck.  Like the fact that the brand new chocolate milk bottle exploded all over the fridge last night.  (But there is milk in the fridge.)  Or the fact that the car is still making That Noise.  (But I have a car that has never left me stranded.)  Or the fact that I’m on my third poopy diaper of the morning.  (My baby is alive and well and here to poop.)

What about the heavier things?

My grandmother has Parkinson’s and here are two truths about her:

She is getting much, much sicker and we’re going to have to say good bye soon.  (She has lived a life worth celebrating.  In sickness and in health, in good times and bad, she has loved and lived Jesus.  She has passed down a heritage of faith, a legacy of love.)

I am divorced and here are two truths about that:

I was divorced after sixteen years of marriage and four children.  (God has shown me how He stands with me in trial and He has restored those things I’ve losted- He’s given me good gifts in my marriage to John and with my children.)

It makes a difference.  If I say just, well, the chocolate milk is everywhere and the car is clunking and the baby has pooped through her diaper AGAIN…well, that’s a drag.  If I say, Paw has had Parkinson’s for twenty years and she’s at the end of her life.  If I say, I was divorced after sixteen years and four kids and it was awful.  What if I say, we’ve got plenty of groceries, that old car is hanging in there and as reliable as ever and my baby is healthy and strong and such a good eater.  What if I say, My Paw has blessed our lives with her faith and her love and affection.  She has been a warrior for the Lord.  My marriage to John and the way my family serves the Lord today are such miracles.  Which one brings more life?  Obviously the second set of statements.  More cheer, more good, more positive.

The actual truth is this:

Both sets of statements are true at the same time.  Two halves of the same story.  Sometimes things are had.  Sometimes things are awesome, but most of the time its a 2 for 1.  It’s almost never all or nothing.  I can be real.  I can be authentic and honest and I can speak life at the same time.  I can tell both halves of the story.  I just must remember to testify to both halves.

Today, my back is killing me.  Today, I am grateful for my health.

Today, I am learning to live a whole life after some Big Life Things kicked the snot out of me.  Today, I am grateful for the journey for how He stands with me in the storm.

Today, I am a complainer, a realist pessimist.  Today, I will practice speaking Good Words.  I will tell both halves of every story.

And, to Lindsey and her house, I say thank you for the lesson.  I say thank you for making a space where Good Words are all around, where they sing to me from walls and windows.  I say thank you to God for singing those Good Words over me.  I’m just sorry that it takes several tries sometimes for me to listen.

 

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4 thoughts on “Sit, Talk, Laugh

  1. Lena aka Mom says:

    Chris,

    I am so thankful that Lindsey is my daughter, the mother of my grandchildren and that we and you are children of God. What a gift each is but especially how awesome is it that we learn from each other. That is God’s way when we are open to it…and obviously you are.

    Choosing to be aware of the meaning and power of words is an option for each of us. For those of us who not only read the words but meditate on them, much can be learned. Life can be different, as you’ve so beautifully stated. And we have the power to influence the lives of others…for the glory of God…in a quiet, beautiful , real way without harming or haranguing others.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Thank you for caring for LIndsey and her little ones. Thank you for being honest and open. May He continue to shower you with blessings and grace even as poopy diapers and a million questions and weird car noises surround you. In His Love, Lena Epps Brooker

    • joel2twentyfive says:

      Yes, I am blessed with the privilege of loving on James and David every day. As you know, they are extra special people. He is good and what He is teaching me more and more is that there is so much goodness in the land of the living…all of His blessings are not just contained in the hereafter.
      I like what you said here, “that we have the power to influence the lives of others…for the glory of God…in a quiet, beautiful, real way without harming or haranguing others”. Let this be a mission statement in my speech every day!

  2. Lena aka Mom says:

    That you are learning and seeing and receiving His blessings NOW is a sure sign of spiritual growth. There are too few of us who remember that He came that we “might have an abundant life.” NOW! Far too many of us complain and miss the NOW and focus on the hereafter. Now don’t get me wrong: I want to have an abundant and beautiful life after the one here on earth. But I believe that there is much for us to embrace NOW as we live a human life with all it’s ups, downs, messes and misses. As we intentionally look for joy and wonder, I suspect we will find it much more often and closer than we expected. Peace and joy….LEB

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