Sharp Paynes

Never a dull moment…

Archive for the tag “friends”

Five Minute Friday: Connect

Every Friday we spend five minutes spilling words and we forego editing  and fretting, and just write.  It’s fun, it’s free, and you should click the link above and try it!  Or at least, read what some others write for fun on Fridays.

CONNECT

People are so varied.

All made in One image yet all of us so very, very different.  Even in one family, there are no two personalities alike.  Yes, one has mom’s eyes and one talks spasticly  with their hands like…someone else in the family.  We have similarities, for sure, but all of us process the world differently.

An older saint with years of discipling others once said:

If I’m working with someone and they start to act just like me, I’ve failed.  

Failed because we aren’t out to create “little-me’s”.  Failed, because we are each uniquely made in His image and when Christ is truly formed in us, He is the similarity, the connection, between us all.

I like to think that I have an eclectic set of friends and family, all of us hodge-podged together and working out this sanctification, becoming more like Christ.

It’s ok if we’re different.

What matters is Christ.

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
 {Eph 3:20-21 NKJV}
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Five Minute Friday: Here

Every Friday we spend five minutes spilling words and we forego editing  and fretting, and just write.  It’s fun, it’s free, and you should click the link above and try it!  Or at least, read what some others write for fun on Fridays.

Now, set your timer, clear your head, for five minutes of free writing without worrying about getting it right.

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.

2. Link back to Lisa-Jo’s and invite others to join in.

3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

HERE

This tiny spot that you will only see on certain maps, the place with 3 churches and 2 markets, one restaurant and less than 1000 people, it’s our Mayberry.

We tried to leave here.  We looked over the mountain for a place closer to town, somewhere that didn’t require you to pack a lunch and have dinner planned before you went grocery shopping.  We were newlyweds and thought we’d start fresh somewhere else.  Somewhere better.

Turns out there’s no better place to be than right where God has you.

Three churches in this tiny town and in one we were married, in another we dedicated three of our children, and in the third we stretched for more grace, and we do leave here.  From this place here in smalltown, so many of us leave every year to go into so many nations.

And the nations have come here, too.  To our little country church along a windy stretch of highway, they come and share His works at Friday potlucks and Sunday service.  Brothers and sisters from countries who would never let them leave, with gospel good news they could never help but share, they stand in an old general store and worship with us.  All us country folk and this predominantly Caucasian community with a sprinkling of color and culture.

Right.  Here.

From here we launch missionaries.  And here, this weekend, we are missionaries in smalltown who make 150 peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches and biscuits to feed an army,  who camp in tents and stay up late to explain gospel truths to the children of this community.

This weekend the mission field is here in a cow-pasture cleaned up for water games and Living Water.  Won’t you pray, pray, pray that these kids will drink deep and never thirst again?

Five Minute Friday: Enough

 It’s Friday and Lisa-Jo has given this writing prompt:

ENOUGH

Every Friday we spend five minutes spilling words and we forego editing  and fretting, and just write.  It’s fun, it’s free, and you should click the link above and try it!  Or at least, read what some others write for fun on Fridays.

GO

It’s crowded and that makes me a little uncomfortable.

People and words and lack of air all combine to choke me a little, but it’s Sunday and I love these people.

She stands to update us all on her life, because she’s a part of us and it’s been so long since she’s been ‘in the valley’.  Her voice is so clear and the words hit me between the eyes.

“When I was a teenager I didn’t want to go with my family to Mexico.  My heart wasn’t in being a missionary.  But I finally submitted to God and decided to be satisfied with wherever He had me.”

Because He is enough.

I worry about doing enough and being enough and did I teach them enough.  Did we pray together enough and do they know Him well enough and will they ‘turn-out’?

We all have to turn out  to find our enough.

Worry turns me in but her words remind me.  He is enough for wherever and whatever and nothing shakes a heart submitted to being satisfied.

STOP

The Staged Life

I don’t always give my best.

Sometimes ‘my best’ is too much work and I settle for doing ‘just enough’ or even ‘maybe later’.  I’ll go to bed with that sink-full of dishes and toppling pile of laundry, with no idea what’s for breakfast and with a lovely, crumb-crusted floor.

Once or twice, I’ve even fallen into bed fully clothed and with un-brushed teeth.  Sorry, honey.

I just thought a little confession would be good.

Someone called and told how guilty she felt for going back to bed that morning.  She thought about all the things  I had probably already accomplished that day, and what a loser she was for snuggling back in.
Funny thing is, I often have the same thoughts about her.
So many times in my day I think she could have done this faster or better.  She probably always knows where things are, and how embarrassed I ‘d be if she opened this cupboard or looked in this shower.
And it’s not just one person, it’s every other woman out there.
I am forever comparing myself.  But I always seem to compare my worst  with their best.  
If only I could take the best of everyone and combine them into one, like some Suzy Homemaker on steroids.

As though someone really does have it all  together, all the time.

You know that those pictures are staged, right?
We take pictures because we want to remember that one time, we did make a beautiful meal for our family and everyone liked it.  Or we want to remember that we do sometimes have fun together and everyone laughs.
Someone said jokingly, “It’s not about having fun.  It’s about the pictures!”.

But having it all together in real life is more illusive, more of a special occasion.

There are those days where everything clicks along, every meal is planned, the house is clean and I even see the bottom of the laundry baskets.  School happens peacefully and the kids play a game together.  My husband walks in to the smell of his favorite dinner, sits down to eat it with his favorite people, and we all have a lovely discussion that is relevant and fruitful.

The trouble is that I expect  the days to always be that way.  And what do expectations get me?

More often, those events don’t all line up on the same day.  Monday I might have all our meals planned.  Tuesday school might go peacefully and the kids might play a game.  Wednesday may be a marathon laundry day, and Thursday we might have a really good discussion at dinner with no bathroom noises, no 5th grade humor, and no fighting over who-sits-where.

But rarely does it all happen in one day.  That would either be exhausting, or a waste of time, or The Cleavers.  Surely there are better things to do than live in a photo shoot.  Is a picture really worth a thousand words?
We live in the real world with real mess-ups and do-overs every morning, and I’m so thankful for that.
My heart’s desire is to honor God and my husband, and that needs to be the driving force behind all I do or don’t do in a day.  They both know my weaknesses and love me anyway.
… walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; – {Col 1:10 NKJV}

Are you stuck comparing yourself with others?  How do you guage your accomplishments – what makes you feel like you’ve done enough for the day?
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Counting all the gifts this week, some of them numbered here:
298. The full moon
299. The fog clearing away in the morning
300. Motivation!
301.  Bailey, thanking me for making her do hard things
302. Bible discussions
303. good friends at the river
304. 3 things that were broken or lost, that are now found or fixed

Five Minute Friday: Risk

I’ve set my watch for 5 minutes.  I’m supposed to be leaving right now, on my way to Portland with my beautiful daughter for a couple days of book choosing and lattes.  But it’s Friday and Lisa-Jo has given this writing prompt:

RISK.

GO

It’s much easier just to stay home, and when I’m out it’s easier to tuck inside the shell.

There is so much risk associated with being in public.  What if I say something stupid?  What if I say something irrelevant?  What if I don’t know what to say at all and I pull a Peter-on-the-mount?

I still remember the first time my dad made me order for myself at a restaurant.  I was Piglet-p-p-p-petrified, certain that the waitress would…I don’t know, laugh at me?  Give me the wrong food?  Not understand me?  I remember that I was scared, just not what I was scared of.

Something irrational, I’m sure.

And I remember many many foot-in-mouth times.

But risk is what I need.

My husband actually tells me to talk more.   Crazy.  He thinks I have something profound to say.

I’ve stood in front of large groups and sat with small ones, said lots of dumb, silly, laughable and forgettable things, and I’m always scared of the risk.

But a few weeks ago this came to mind (I hesitate to say the Lord told me…so take it for what it’s worth to you):  I, you, we all who follow Christ, need to meet lots and lots of people.

Scary.  That means lots and lots of risk.

But I, you, we all, have something worth risking ourselves for, and something worth saying.

STOP

Not Today

I was going to write something funny today.

It’s been almost two weeks, and I worried that maybe when the time came back around, the time to write, that I wouldn’t have anything to say.

As if life just stops being a story?

What I wanted to write was something to humor you, make you laugh and think and put the smile on.

Image

But yesterday there was this awful twist in the story and there just aren’t funny words worth writing, while a sister grieves and questions loom and why, why, why do loved ones die young?  Yesterday the world stopped spinning, and I so wish I could say something to put the smile on you, to change the story.

I don’t know how much you are supposed to carry, dear sister.  I don’t understand all the waves and relentless rain and how when one saga seems over, another rushes in to take its place.  I only know that you are loved.

You are lavished with His grace, grown in deep soil, and never-ever-ever left alone.  Beautiful and precious in His sight.

That has to be enough.  You know me and my feeble words.  But my heart prays for you and the clock stares midnight with you on my mind.  You and your precious family

I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps.  He has put a new song in my mouth–Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, And will trust in the LORD. – {Psa 40:3 NKJV}

Making Time

She sacrificed time yesterday.

Her house was in piles, the leftovers of a busy and fruitful weekend spilling over into midweek.  She had intended to tackle those mountains and get a fresh start on the remainder of the week, but I interrupted her.

I had questions and thoughts to sort out, and you know how sometimes you just need someone to hear?  Not to come up with answers or methodically cheer you on, but just listen.

And she would tell me if I was crazy.

She said the house would wait and that I was more important.

She bought me coffee and she listened.

I stammered and spoke in broken sentences and grasped to get thoughts out into coherent phrases.  Why is it that thoughts perfectly formed get all disfigured when they are spoken?

I twiddled fingers and I think I managed to get everything out, managed to convince at least myself that what I was thinking was right.

When I asked what she thought, she replied with her own question.  What does your husband think?

She sacrificed her opinion, really.

She gave wise counsel and different perspective, as always, but she was careful not to overstep the bounds of friendship and sisterhood.  Because so what if she thinks I should or shouldn’t do x, y or z?  I value her opinion but what if it’s the opposite of my husband’s? What does he think?  She knew how to be a sounding board for my anxious thoughts and how to allow room for God to shape things.

And she did encourage me, said we serve a big God and she called me by name.  Why does it mean so much when someone calls me by name?  Catches me and lifts me and she could have just spoken generic words, but she chose words for me, for Tresta.

I came away more confident, certain that she was praying and if I was crazy and she was too nice to tell me, she would pray that I’d hear it from Him.  Or my husband.

What a dear friend.

Today I took her example, left grammar and math and laundry behind for something more important. For someone who needed the sacrifice of my time.  I rush by my own children on the way to the next task, day in and day out, and though I hear it a thousand times, I stopped short and remembered again today.

The laundry will always be there, the house will always need cleaning, the phone will ring and emails will pile up.  “The tyranny of the urgent” my friend had called it yesterday, and I throw off the tyrant again and again.

I throw it off and call someone precious by name, try to listen well, pray hard, correct gently.

The Dirt

People are like dirt. They can either nourish you and help you grow as a person or they can stunt your growth and make you wilt and die. ~ Plato

Some of the best dirt takes years to develop.  Yards of compost, manure, lawn clippings.  All the yuck combined and rolled and seasoned into fertile ground.  Adam had this humus available right away in the garden.  The Landscaper left him in charge of something already living and thriving.  Like a heavenly roll-a-lawn.

But for us, after the fall, after the yuck has come in…we sometimes wait years for produce.  Sometimes all we can see is the leftovers thrown at us and the rotting, stinking mess of it all.  Sometimes we look for nourishment in others and find only disappointment.  Others might look for it in us, too.  The food they need, are we filled so we can be empty?

The pastor reminds us on Sunday that we can give words that have power.

And they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority. – Luke 4:32 NKJV

The living, active, powerful, piercing Word is ours for the wielding.  Do we leave others with the dust-and-vapor words?  Do we comfort with scraps of our compost pile?  We have Words of life at our fingertips – words that can astonish.  What people need is not our wisdom or stunted-view, but nourishment.  Daily bread, living water.

We are also reminded that the most powerful time is time spent in prayer.  Jesus rose early to get connected.  Do we need anything less?  Do those in our lives need anything less (or more) than our prayers?

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.  If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death.  – 1Jo 5:14-16 NKJV

So I commit to spend more time praying and listening.  And as I pray for my friends and family, I also ask that my words would be nourishing.  That time spent with me would feed them and not stunt their growth.  I repent of my idle words, the ones that don’t break down in the soil of good fellowship to feed souls.  Plastic words, they’re no good.

I have good-dirt people in my life.  I’m so thankful for them, for God’s mercy to me through them, and for the common compost of all our combined years, feeding us all.

Still counting to 1000…

155.  My brother and how he blessed us

156.  Sisters who pray for me

157. Pictures of Ethan on his first solo bike ride

158. $25 gift

159. Mommy making cheesy noodles, finally

160. a little sister who thinks big sister doing her hair is cool

161. Brookie’s bday!

162. Bravo’s for lunch

163. cinnamon rolls

164. four-wheeler rides

165. siblings playing board games together

166. Jacob, creating his own board game

167. sleeping til 7:30

168. sunny day with possibility of photography

169. getting my Nascar game

170. a house protected from the storm

171. little girls on four-wheeler

172. homemade playdough in bright colors

173. chocolate mousse cheesecake (finally)

174. sheetrock, after almost 6 years of bare framing

175. early morning Bible discussions

176. easy Mondays

177. impromptu visits

Elbow Room

I did it.  I found the perfect schedule, and it’s blank.

No half-hour time slots to cram ourselves into.  Nothing written in blood that we are forced to follow.

Just blanks.  And a few check boxes.  A place for the memory verse, some doodles on the bottom, and maybe you can write your recitation on the back.  If it works for you.

This is our 12th year of homeschooling and I’ve tried everything.  I used to have a box of  index cards on the counter with daily, weekly, monthly and bi-annual tasks to rotate through.  Then I found a book that helped me schedule every waking moment for every member of the family, breaking 24 hours up into half hour slots of slavery…it was great for awhile.

I’ve used paper planners, online planners, homeschool-specific planners, smart phone planners.  I thrive on having a plan.  I wilt at interruptions.  You are welcome to come knock on my door unannounced – really, I want you to.  But, just please excuse the bewildered look on my face because, well…you weren’t on the schedule.

Someone should have told me (and they surely did but I had a schedule to keep) that life is full of surprises that can’t be scheduled.   Nursing babies will blow out of their outfit as you head out the door for church.  Children will get the flu on the day that you planned months ago to visit friends.  Your husband will have random days off when work is slow.  Math will take 2 hours on some days. Two.  Hours.  And it will rain in Oregon whenever you plan anything to happen outdoors.

So we have a new page for each day.  Blank and beautiful.  The kids fill theirs in at breakfast time as we talk about the day and it’s plans.  There are the basics that will happen everyday, like wake times and meal times and drag-yourself-to-bed times.  The checklist has non-negotiables like chores and brushing your teeth, reading your Bible and making your bed.  But the actual daily schedule has room to flex.  We put in the essentials first.  Some slots we leave blank.  Some days we don’t even use the paper…we just do life.

Like today.  Bed time didn’t happen til 11 last night.  We turn into pumpkins after 9 PM, but there was an important conversion to have and children of a friend to entertain, so the whole family was up way past the usual time.  Which was worth it, because some things just need to happen regardless of bedtimes.

When I woke the oldest this morning at 8:45, she asked what time it was.

“It’s almost 9,” I said.

Horrified look on her conditioned-to-keep-a-schedule face.  Wide eyed and very much awake now, she reminded me of all the times the alarm has failed to go off in my life.  We don’t like to start out already late.

“It’s fine – we’ll pretend it’s almost 7.”  Did I actually say that?  She smiled, so it was worth it.

It’s been a breath of fresh air, and the most rewarding part is not how much we are getting done and checking off our list.  The best part of this current schedule is that my kids like it.  They like the responsibility, and it’s so good for them to feel some ownership of their day.  They have each (the older 3) said out loud, “I like this, mom.”  Those rare words are usually reserved for sugar-related items and brain-disengaging entertainment, so this schedule thing is right up there.

They like it that someone can stop by in the middle of our morning, unexpected, and even though it’s not in the schedule we can stop what we’re doing and have an early lunch with our visitor.  When our visit is over we revise our schedule a bit and move on.  Nothing missed.

They like that mom isn’t pushing them through their day and tapping her stop-watch and reminding them of The Schedule.

I like it, too.  My favorite by-product of the current schedule, aside from the fact that the kids actually like it and are taking initiative,  is that it helps me make decisions.  I am overwhelmed with the questions and pleas of four Sharp Paynes, day in and day out.  The checklist of non-negotiables on their schedule has become a filter for me to answer the requests for computer time, movies, friends, etc…If the most important things haven’t been done, then there is no need to ask for extras.

“When God brings the blank space, see that you do not fill it in, but wait.” ~ Oswald Chambers

We all need some blank space in our lives, some place for God to pour into.  How do you make elbow room for God?

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