Packing up to move

Whenever I have dreams with a common theme, I ponder the meaning. I used to have recurring dreams about climbing. Whether it was a staircase or a steep hill, the higher I climbed, the narrower or more insecure the foothold. I eventually concluded that my dreams reflected anxiety about pursuing my goals.

Recently, I’ve been dreaming a lot about moving. The dreams seem strange to me because my husband and I moved about 20 months ago. I didn’t have these dreams when we first moved. Why am I dreaming about moving now? Moving to another state was definitely unsettling, but we’re now comfortably settled into our home. The newness has worn off. Life doesn’t feel weird anymore. We don’t plan to move again. We were in our last home for 27 years. So why do I keep dreaming about moving?

When I searched for information on dreams about moving, I didn’t find an explanation that fit my situation. Dreams about moving can be a sign of instability. They may reveal a desire for freedom or independence. They may represent the end of something or the beginning of something.

  • dreams about moving may signify a desire to change our circumstances
  • dreams about moving may signify an ending or a beginning
  • dreams about moving may show you are overwhelmed and want to get away from the pressures of life
  • dreams about moving could indicate you are going through an inner transformation

My dreams have been about packing for a move and not about the move itself. I am always organizing stuff. The dreams are never about me and my husband moving. My siblings and my dad are in my dreams. In one of my dreams, I went into a room where a lot of mom’s things were stored. I searched the room for some specific thing I wanted to remember her by and I couldn’t find it. I found a pretty vase that I liked but my nephew wanted it.

Missing my family. Feeling unsettled. Wanting to get everything organized and ready for a move.

When I was a kid, we moved 13 times by my count. I believe there were financial reasons for some of our moves – cheaper rent? Closer to dad’s job? Mom moved us several times after the divorce. I have often thought that she wanted to move to change her circumstances. A new environment would make everything better. Every time we moved, mom quickly turned our house into a home. But frequent moving definitely made my childhood feel unstable, like I had no control.

We moved 20 months ago because I was tired of living in a suburb of a big city with too much traffic. I wanted to live closer to nature. The desire to move was a persistent longing that I couldn’t ignore, even though I crave stability. We moved the day after we buried my father. That was traumatic. I’m a planner but you can’t plan these things.

I am comfortably settled in my new home but I feel unsettled at the same time. It’s no wonder that I feel unsettled. I left friends behind when we moved. I miss them. I transitioned to part-time work this summer but it hasn’t been a smooth transition. My replacement can’t fill my shoes.

Perhaps my dreams are about transition and my desire to get some control over the changes.

Getting old is a huge transition. We lose the ones we love. My mom and dad are both gone. My husband’s parents are both gone. My oldest sibling is 62; the youngest 45. I worry about losing my husband someday. I don’t want to lose any more loved ones but unless I die first, more loss is inevitable.

So I remind myself that God is in control. He is with me wherever I go. He comforts me.

*******

Photo by Michal Balog on Unsplash

The Garden

I imagine her at the flowerbed planting her perennial garden – peonies of white, pink and burgundy along the back. Next to these beauties, bearded iris, and in front, a vibrant orange poppy, a Shasta daisy and hot pink beebalm. And in the corner, several lily plants. Now what to fill in the empty space between? She chose a lovely spreading plant with leaves of white and green with lacy, delicate blooms. On both sides of the perennial garden, she – the lady who lived here before me – planted wildflowers – delphiniums, prairie coneflowers, catnip, and Chinese forget-me-nots.

Now the garden is mine to tend. The first spring came. I was delighted when the peonies, poppies, and irises bloomed! Oh, if these spring beauties would only last longer! The green and white plant filled in all the spaces and made the little flower garden complete. It soon crept under the border into the adjacent wildflower bed. I had to know its name: Goutweed! What a nasty name for a lovely plant! A deer munched on its leaves and made a bed in them.

The daisies and bee balm bloomed in July. The lilies never bloomed. I blamed the deer.

Now in my second year up north, I know to expect the peonies and irises to bloom in June, just before Father’s Day. This year, the poppy plant didn’t bloom and there were only a few iris blooms. I noticed a plant growing in the middle of the wildflower garden and looked it up with a plant app. Goutweed, it said, though the leaves were solid green, not the green and white I’ve come to know.

The lilies didn’t bloom so I moved them.. The bee balm plant also didn’t bloom. I couldn’t even find it in the mess of goutweed leaves.

The nice garden space filler had become an out of control weed. I told my husband how it was spreading and he said, “I’m going to spray weed killer on it.” “What about the deer,” I asked. “And the ground squirrel that’s been hiding under the peonies?” I knew that killing the leaves wouldn’t do anything to the roots. I had to dig them up. This is my garden to tend.

I hand-pulled the leaves from the goutweed, then dug up the rhizomes. The goutweed was growing between the irises so I dug the irises up too and saw that the rhizomes were intertwined.

To rid the garden of goutweed for good, I will have to be persistent about pulling up new growth and may have to cover up the flowerbed with plastic next spring to keep the plants from photosynthesizing.

While I was digging up the roots last week, a hot and sweaty task, I thought about how invasive they were. It only takes a small amount to take over a flowerbed. It only takes a small amount to crowd out the good plants.

I thought about my Father, the Gardener. This world is his garden to tend. He cuts off every branch that does not bear fruit and prunes those that do so they will be even more fruitful. I thought about how I must keep a sharp eye out for weeds in my own heart so that no one misses out on the grace of God because of me.

Work at getting along with each other and with God. Otherwise you’ll never get so much as a glimpse of God. Make sure no one gets left out of God’s generosity. Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time. Watch out for the Esau syndrome: trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite. You well know how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God’s blessing—but by then it was too late, tears or no tears.

Hebrews 12:14-17 (The Message)

The Bee’s Knees

I’ve been getting a daily email from Word Genius. Although I didn’t ask to be put on their email list, the emails remind me how much I like to learn new words. Recently, Word Genius introduced me to the word sockdolager, which means 1) a decisive blow or answer; or 2) an outstanding person or thing. Merriam Webster says the word sockdolager (or sockdologer) may be a combination of the verb sock and the noun doxology, a hymn of praise to God. The word originated in the early 19th century with words like hornswoggle and skedaddle, two words that are fun to say. Sockdolager isn’t fun to say but its second meaning has fun synonyms – bee’s knees, crackerjack, and cat’s meow.

While pondering the second meaning, an exceptional person, I thought about Heather Cox Richardson, a history professor at Boston College who writes Letters from an American. I read her letter first thing in the morning. I think she’s exceptional because she puts current political events in the context of American history for those of us who aren’t history buffs. I admire her dedication to her audience and her ability to write so much nearly every day. I wish I was like that. As another reader wrote, “there’s lots of stuff in that brilliant noggin of yours.”

Books are written about exceptional people and I love learning about them. Because my husband is a history buff, we have books about George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., and many others.

I am grateful for the exceptional people in my life. My sister Cindy is an exceptional caregiver. She was a nurturer from birth and was like a second mom in our large family. She works long hours as an RN at a nursing home. Mom spent the last few years of her life in that nursing home under my sister’s exceptional care. Cindy also frequently checked in on Dad in his final years, even going to a doctor’s appointment with him so she could find out about his medical issues. She was an exceptional daughter and is an exceptional sister and mother. She’s the bee’s knees!

Exceptional people are outstanding in their field. Exceptional people go above and beyond what is expected. Exceptional people aren’t perfect but they stand out from the crowd for their talent or their dedication to a cause. Exceptional people motivate and inspire others. Exceptional people are praiseworthy.

In my own job as an accountant, I have always tried to go above and beyond what is expected. I know that I am a valuable member of the team because my teammates frequently call on me for my expertise. There’s a lot of knowledge to share in this noggin of mine!

But I don’t want to be known as an exceptional accountant. I want to be known as exceptionally helpful. I want to be known as exceptionally kind and gentle. I want to be like Jesus. I want to be the bee’s knees.

Father, thank you for the exceptional people in my life. Thank you for the exceptional example of my Lord and savior, Jesus Christ.

****

Photo by Kunal Kalra on Unsplash

Time flies when you’re old

Last week, I went to Walgreens to pick up a prescription and to get my shingles vaccination. While I waited for my shot, an older woman went up to the counter to get her prescription filled. When she was asked for her date of birth, I heard the year 1948 and immediately did the math – she is fifteen years older than me. That prompted a lot of thoughts about how time speeds up when you’re old.

I turned fifty-seven last month. My brother posted a picture on Facebook of me with our mother on my 50th birthday. It doesn’t feel like it has been seven years even though a lot happened in that time. I quit a job I hated and started a new one, I lost several family members including both parents, and I moved to another state.

The process of aging reminds me of a ball that accelerates as it rolls down hill, though the reason is math and not physics, so the analogy quickly falls apart. When an object moves down hill, its potential energy is converted into kinetic energy – the energy of motion. When we get old, our physical energy decreases and we don’t move our bodies as easily. But we have the potential to convert that lost kinetic energy into spiritual energy. Our bodies may be going downhill but our souls can look upward.

Our perception of age is relative. Children have no concept of how old adults are and when they try to guess, their responses are funny. I will never forget the time a kid in middle school, standing outside the door of the school library where I tutored a student, looked in at me and said, “hey, old lady.” I laugh about being called an old lady back then because I was only about 40 years old.

When I was a child, a year seemed like forever. At ten, a year is 10% of your life. Now, one year is only 1.75% of my life; when I was forty a year was 2.5% of my life. Now a year, even seven years, flies by. This quickening of time reminds me of the importance of the lesser known lines of the Serenity Prayer. Live one day at a time. Enjoy one moment at a time.

Living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardship as a pathway to peace

Today I think of myself as an old lady, albeit a “young” old lady. I take good care of myself with diet and exercise but even the best health habits can’t prevent the effects of aging. As I age, I find myself comparing myself to women who are older than me, like the woman at Walgreens. I guess it’s because I’m preparing myself for what’s ahead and what could be ahead for me physically if I don’t continue to take good care of myself.

In fifteen years, in two blinks of an eye, I hope to be like the older lady I see on my morning runs. She is slender and walks at a good pace, moving her arms as if she were running. Until then, I will be…

Living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting aging as a pathway to peace

I resolve to react respectfully

I read several political news stories on Facebook everyday. The comments to an article are often just as or even more interesting than the story itself. The articles expose the ugliness of American politics and the comments reveal the ugliness of our hearts – the selfishness, anger, and self-righteousness.

My mother used to tell us kids, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Facebook has made it easy to say something that isn’t nice without saying a word. You can express anger and contempt with a click of a button. It’s especially easy to react uncivilly to strangers.

When Facebook added the laughing reaction icon, I am ashamed to say that I started using it in the same way that I see other people use it – not to express amusement at something that is actually funny, but to let the person commenting know that I think their logic is laughable. Laughing at someone you think is foolish or ill-informed is bad enough; there are people who use the laughing face reaction to ridicule victims of sexual assault.

When used to show disdain, disrespect, and insensitivity to other people, the laughing face on Facebook makes an ass out of me. 

My New Year’s resolution is to control my reactions on social media. I resolve to not laugh at strangers. I resolve to not get angry at strangers. I resolve to respect other people, even when I disagree with them. I resolve to not be an ass.

May the words of my mouth, the meditations of my heart, and the emoticons I choose be pleasing to you, O Lord.

May the words of my mouth
    and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer

Psalm 19: 14 (NIV)

Photo by Dan Cook on Unsplash

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