(A post from May I just finished editing.)
I used to keep this yellow Post-It note in my pocket calendar that had "Never be too busy for
what is eternal" scrawled across it, a by-product of a moment of inspiration that must have been captured on whatever paper was handy and with whatever pen was close by. Stuck under a picture of the boyfriend I had through most of 2008, and with tattered edges curled, I was happy that I was able to close those days with the elastic and crack open the creamy, clean pages of 2009.
And even though that pocket calendar has long been shelved (I keep all my calendars because they are more "diary-ish" than my journals) along with the others, I have been continually reminded of this phrase. How in the 24 short hours we have in the day can be choking eternity's story, depriving her of the subtle moments that could make all the difference. But I digress.
Recently, people in my office shared in the grief of a dear woman who recently lost her husband.
Imagine this brave lady coming to work day after day, up until the day he died, knowing how precious each hour was.
And in our worry over missed lunches and late evening traffic, early morning spilled coffee and reports that were due yesterday, our worry seems kind of small... doesn't it? And I think we all thought through the past several weeks, wondering if perhaps we had let stress give our words a sharper edge than intended and perhaps we had been a bit short with each other.
I chided myself for not "doing something." I'm a kind person by nature, but day to day familiarity and workday stress creates a sense of easiness that I hope I never experience again. I hope that I never try to assume that all is well in another person's world, and that I may be careless in thought, word or deed because they are, well, they seem okay.
I am ashamed that I have let a thousand moments pass, with friends, acquaintances, shopkeepers and barristas and classmates and street-sweepers, where I was "too busy for the eternal." And if I reflect on them too long I could begin to weep for those times that I was too busy to stop and truly listen. To truly pause everything long enough to see the pain in someone's eyes, to hear the same aching statement over and over, an obvious weight upon their heart that perhaps ceases only when someone comes along side them and says "I know" or "I care."
So I've endeavored on an unusual change that is one of the hardest disciplines I've ever attempted. I'm learning to listen, not just with my ears, but with my everything. With my time, actions, words, and moments that seem so important to the here and now. I'm seeing time in a different way, realizing just how short our stay is here on earth, and endeavoring to be the tender heart that makes the difference between pointing someone to Him and the calloused one that does not feel and therefore cannot love. I will no longer assume that all is well in another person's world. We know not what private battles each one of us faces and what misplaced word might be the dagger in the wound.
It's funny what you learn when you truly listen. Thursday I felt the heartbreak in the voice telling me about a love story that ended in a way no one wanted. Friday I heard a possibly tortured man tell me what he did for a living, and I saw the desperation in his eyes though he smiled at me. Saturday I saw the joy at sharing and giving, watching fellow ladies and their varied talents and gifts flower over laughter and stories and kitchen cleaning. And today I made it my mission to not be too busy for anyone, but instead seek to understand and have compassion and kind words ready.
And I pray and hope with everything in me that Christ will give me a heart soft enough to feel the hurt for others, strong enough to hear the details and not become weak, joyful enough to give a ray of hope, and discerning enough to make the right decisions. And I pray that I'll never, ever, ever be too busy for what is eternal.
(If there are typos here it's because it's almost 2 AM and I'll fix them some other time... for tonight, I just have to get this off my chest. :)
(A post from May I just finished editing.)
Posted by Chelsea at 9:54 PM
LifeLessons is a series I write once a year and sometimes more. I realized that I am late this year; I've provided last year's link in case you'd like to get caught up.
(I still consider the 2008 edition my best yet, but shoot I had to learn a lot to write it!)
1. Names are very important to most people. Learn someone's name, correct spelling and all, and you are a step closer to having a friend.
2. Don't take out your cell phone to text, check email, or make a call if you are on a date or out with a friend who is important to you. It can wait. Trust me. However,
3. If said person takes out his/her phone and texts/checks email/makes a call, then it is perfectly appropriate for me to do the same until said person puts the device away.
4. Find out what someone is good at, and compliment them on it.
5. When you wake up in the middle of the night, appreciate the quiet and pray for anyone who comes to mind.
6. Lay out everything for the morning: Shoes+nylons+underthings+d
7. Keep makeup in the car and THE lipstick within reach at all times.
8. Be gracious.
9. Be grateful. And make time to be grateful. It's not something you can rush.
10. Notice when someone does something for you, thank them for it. In a tangible way, if possible (ie. note, email, text)
11. After a date, I really like a follow up text message or phone call.
12. It takes one person to have a crush, but two to have a true relationship.
13. Shoes make quite a statement. Be careful what you do with them.
14. Curly hair makes a statement, too. I'm just not sure what that is yet.
15. A simple "thank you" is sufficient acknowledgement to a sincere compliment.
16. Yes, a second application of sunscreen is probably advisable.
17. Never be too busy for what is eternal. Remember that some people are alive today because they missed death due to an "inconvenience."
18. Spend some time reflecting on people you spend time with. Then increase time with those who make you want to be your best, and decrease time with people who don't have this effect.
19. On that note, that doesn't mean you stop loving them. It means that sometimes we're just a seed in someone's life and not the gardener. Spread the responsibility.
20. Thinking about someone? Call them. Minutes on cell phones are cheap these days.
21. A paper card will never, ever be replaced by email.
22. Be your family's cheerleader and your friends' biggest fan.
23. It doesn't matter that the rest of the world has gone digital and I still use film. Maybe I like it better. :)
24. Listen first, ask questions next, then speak your part.
25. If it's raining and I must choose between an umbrella and my coffee, I'm going to get wet. Just saying.
26. Your true friends are the ones who love you for who you are but who make you think of how you can be better.
27. Tip well if your server really really tried.
28. Emailing myself when I think of things to do has been a pretty effective way to stay on top of it all, and thank GOODNESS I have a Gmail account to keep it all together!
29. Stop stuffing down suspicions so deeply that you no longer feel them.
30. Smiles are contagious... spread them :)
Posted by Chelsea at 9:39 PM
I heard such an amazing speaker at church this morning. I would not venture to try to capture the words here without giving him the proper space and credit, but in short, the speaker was emphasizing how the Bible calls us to not "crawl under a rock" when it seems like the world is spinning out of control. Rather, we are called to be the strong ones, the ones who have a Higher purpose and a deep and unmoving settling of the heart that is impervious to the world's whims. Further, he emphasized the Scripture's passages about the wise servants and how they were given additional responsibilities and earned the trust of the business owner. (If you are curious, the passage is Matthew 24). But anyways...
After the service, I stopped by the health food store for something I needed. I then stopped by Starbucks for my caramel macchiatto. Naturally, I have come to know the baristas and I try to keep up with their families, second jobs, college classes, and lives in general. One particular lady, a new mother, was working today and we chatted for a couple of minutes; She commented on my dress and said I looked nice. I said "thank you, I've just come from church," and she smiled and tilted her shoulders in that way people smile and tilt at people who say they "take tea" in the afternoons and watch "Wheel of Fortune" and listen to NPR. She even went so far to say "Awww, church." (Side note- Thanks, Bekah, for teaching me to just say 'thank you' to a compliment. I'm getting better, really, I am!)
I'd invited a young couple from Friday's dinner to visit my church, and to my surprise and delight they came this morning. So I was feeling compelled to invite someone else, so I smiled at this lady at Starbucks and asked her if she goes to church, and if not, would she like to visit sometime? She looked somewhat sad and said softly, no, no, we don't go to church.
She started to talk to me, but we were interrupted by the (apparently uncaffeinated) woman behind me, anxious to pipe up with "Yes, Church!"
We both turned to her and she gave her order for her vanilla-frappuccino-thingy
I don't fault her for feeling the need to jump in on a somewhat quiet conversation, but she was, as I said, pre-caffeine and I do some pretty strange things without my coffee, too.
So I thanked the barista and told her I'd see her soon, thanks for the caramel machiatto, have a wonderful day, etc., etc., but I was troubled when I left. How is it ok, I asked myself, that Church has become a quaint Sunday morning ideal. And when did Church become somewhere we go, to satisfy our own desires or longings or ideals or our family's nagging or our own guilty consciences.
And why, I ask, do we feel like we have to water down the Gospel, the message, the heart-wrenching grace of Jesus' life and death, to get people to want to go to church? Why do we have to become like the world to bring the world inside? Why can't we bring the church, or rather, Jesus, to the world? Some say that YOU and I are perhaps the only Bible someone will ever read. I'm sad that we, the people with the Message, have felt the need to be like everyone else in order to be heard. (I want to note here that I'm sad because I am guilty of all of the things I'm about to say below.)
I'm sad that we've felt the need to bring entertainment to the Altar in order for people to come. My question is, if WE, those who claim to follow HIM, were truly different, would we be better messengers? If we were true and transparent, humble yet respectable, steady but not haughty, lovely but not vain, happy but not delirious, trustworthy but not secretive, giving and loving out of sheer abandonment, content but not mediocre, careful but not cheap, funny without the hurtful exploitation of others, passionate without building walls... Would they come? What if WE, His people, were better listeners and wiser counsel, better friends, better wives/husbands/brothers/si
Where would you fall? I know I'd fall short of what He has set as an example. Wait-there's more for me. I'd fall short of what He has COMMANDED. The Bible is not a book of suggestions; The Bible is a book of commandments. Do we fail? Yes. But the shortest way to someone's forgiving heart is to admit you were wrong, or that you failed.
I don't plan to be the ostrich sticking my head under the sand while I watch the world trip and fall into her moral potholes, built on roads that seemed strong but are really crumbling under the surface. Am I going to fail? Yes. But I'm forgiven, and I've never been one to settle for mediocre.
Thanks for letting me share. What do you think?
Posted by Chelsea at 9:37 PM
(Just because I feel like it)
This rain is making me feel like finding a cool corner at the Starbucks and spending the evenings writing, reading, and meeting up with friends.
I wanted very badly to allude to something today but bit my tongue.
I love how my daddy always locks the door when it is storming.
Tonight was a good evening because I made an english muffin with springtime honey and some butter and talked to my mom about the day and boys and the weather and church and Jesus and other things.
I'm thankful for very good brakes in the car and especially safe drivers.
I'm excited about some plans here soon to move in with some of my favorite people.
I'm really glad my little brother got to go along today.
I'm so very thankful that there are brave men and women who choose to serve our country and who keep us free.
The end. :)
Posted by Chelsea at 9:43 PM
You all have probably seen these at your doctor's office. They are helpful to the staff and other doctors because they signal what is going on in that room and how long they can expect to be waiting, or what is needed to assist with the procedure. Essentially, they are status flags that communicate something important.
So lately I've been thinking about getting a couple of roommates and getting a house over here in South Tampa instead of a 1 bedroom apartment. I've never had roommates before, mostly because I like my own space. So I've invented something to help ease everyone into this living arrangement. Enter my brainchild, the RuMMate (R).
The RuMMate (R) helps solve your housemate problems by clearly indicating your status at any given time. It will be easy to install outside of each bedroom door. Your housemates may not have checked your Facebook status recently and may erroneously guess your mood or status, causing awkward moments and uninvited intrusions. It would be available in the following editions:
RuMMate(R) SiMPLE (for Men):
Red (busy/not alone)
Green (come on in)
Yellow (You can come in, but make it quick)
RuMMate(R) DeLUX (for Women):
Green: Come in/ let's chat/ I'm available/ I'm dressed
Orange: I'm craving some peace and quiet/I'm hungry and/or uncaffeinated/tread lightly and please don't ask me to do anything that requires leaving my room/chocolate might be a good idea
Black: Bad mood/stay away/come back later
White: Naked/not presentable
Red: Slightly emotional/crying/suffering
Lt. Blue: Resting/Happily napping or in bed for the night. (Quiet, please)
Yellow: I'm here and available if you need me/I've got time to chat and laugh/ I've got time to listen
Dk. Blue: Not here/making a Starbucks run
So what do you think? If you had one of these, would you use it? What would your flags say or indicate?
Posted by Chelsea at 10:44 PM
I am convinced that if I do not write tonight I will burst. More later.
Posted by Chelsea at 4:24 PM
Dear, dear Starbucks. You're like a sad lover, coming back again and again. Convinced that next time will be better, next time you'll "change," next time you do whatever it is you think we want from you.
Posted by Chelsea at 10:29 PM