Start Where I Am. Use What I Have.

When my thrifty mother-in-law made mincemeat, she would start with the venison roast from a deer who may have had the audacity to nibble on her tulip leaves.  From there, she would improvise, adding whatever needed using up on that particular day:  a batch of jam that didn’t “set up” just right or an over-abundance of applesauce.  Somehow, the mincemeat always simmered fragrant and delicious.

When I make mincemeat, I follow a recipe – to the letter. But it is likely that if any of my daughters-in-law find a need for that particular pie filling, they will just buy a jar off the shelf.
(Or I will give them one of mine!)

I’m well aware that generational change is a given, but having BOTH a graduation AND a wedding on my spring calendar this year brings it to center stage.  Good and exciting things happen quickly once our kids hit the double digits, so I’m braced and on board.  Change is on the menu whether I like it or not.

I’m choosing to like it.

However, here just below the 45th parallel, where the sun rises in its own good time, spring is still weeks away.

The majestic evergreens and the kindness of low  bushes that turn a deep red after they drop their leaves are all that rescue my mid-winter landscape from a panorama of sepia and gray.  Last night, Venus and the waxing crescent moon were veiled in mist, and the damp cold that is seeping into my bones today tells me that change is on the way.  And I welcome it.

If it’s got to be winter anyway, then let it be cold.  Let the ground stay hard, and let the sky send a fresh, clean blanket of white every few days to relieve the monotony of all that has expired.  Better to walk on frozen ground or across the crunch of snow than to sink into the mud of mid-winter acedia.  Better to bring my mittens, my shovel, and my small resiliency to a beautiful world than to mourn the slow and uncertain advent of spring.

In this season of slow sunrise and early dark when the daffodils snooze and the robins make angry phone calls to their travel agents, I will make fish chowder and fill up the empty spaces around my table with people who need the full feeling that comes from a hearty welcome.  After all, no matter how earnest my intentions, I cannot make less than six quarts of anything.  (And I can’t shake the idea that if Jesus had walked the frozen fields of New England instead of the dusty roads of Galilee, He would have worked His way with a metaphor around an abundant kettle of steaming chowder.)

With sons coming and going, who knows how many bowls I will need to put on the table?  This ever-changing count provides a concrete measure, a confirmation of the vague sensation I carry that someone, somewhere has thrown a lever, releasing a huge gush of life from this busy and crowded home.

This season of change includes Driver’s Ed — Round 4. This time, I’m certain that the boy behind the wheel was napping in his crib just yesterday, while I weeded green beans and scribbled in a journal.  Today, I handed him my cell phone (which he immediately silenced) and told him to call me when he needed to be picked up.

My first cellphone had a tiny antenna on it.  It rang infrequently, but when it did, I usually missed the call anyway, because, buried in my purse, it sounded like a distant chainsaw in the woods.

I still keep my phone in my purse, despite the “fervent counsel” (i.e. nagging) of my children.
Them:  “Where were you?”
Me:  “In the garden.”
Them:  “Why didn’t you take your phone with you?”
Me:  (momentary silence while I try to adjust my wording and tone to be kinder than I am feeling)  “Because I carried a baby monitor around in the garden for ten years.”

Is it a sign of progress that, now, when I hear a distant chain saw in the woods, I run for my cell phone?

A more urgent question:  Am I willing to “outgrow” my crankiness and claustrophobia about technology in order to connect with the important people in my life?

Facebook updates me on the steady advance of the cancer that is tunneling its way through one more friend.  Closer to home, dementia is stealing the self-hood and the memories of yet another precious personality whose creativity and warm laughter are forever lost to this world – while she wanders a locked-down ward and curls up on the wrong bed for her afternoon nap.

Thanks be to God that the offset of all this lament comes in celebration of the full-body smile of my adorable grandson who has absolutely no idea how much joy he adds to the world just by inhabiting his own tiny skin,.  And while it is true that it is the voice of the Lord that “strips the forest bare,” it is also true that when “winter is past [and] the rain over and gone, the flowers appear on the earth . . . and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.  The fig tree ripens is figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance,” (Song of Solomon 2:11-13).  I will bring what I am learning about patience from this cycling of the seasons to my navigation of a life of perpetual change.

I will start where I am with my full days and my inconsistencies and my pitiful mixed motives.

I will use what I have, putting it all in the pot to simmer, and somehow, by the grace of God, I believe that it will be enough.

//

If you enjoy reading Living Our Days, subscribe to get regular Bible studies and book reviews delivered to your inbox.  Just enter your e-mail address in the field at the top of this page.

I link-up with a number of blogging  communities on a regular basis.  They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week.  I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading the work of some of these fine writers and thinkers.

 

 

101 thoughts on “Start Where I Am. Use What I Have.”

  1. I am thinking the same if winter. Bring a bit of snow so the world is not all dull gray. And those words on family make me want to cozy down with some tea. Comfort! Thank you friend!

    Like

  2. Such a lovely post, Michele. I have always said I do not like change or do it well. Given my own way, I would want that life not change at all. And yet, I know it must. It is only as I embrace that our God is the author of all that will change in the coming seasons, that I am enabled to trust that every change will be for my good as all He does is good. You have encouraged my heart and soul today and for that I am most grateful! Blessings friend!

    Like

    1. Yes, Joanne, I don’t even move furniture. (My husband rearranges the living room every so often, but me? Never!) Thanks for emphasizing the goodness of God in the midst of change. Our hearts need that reminder, and in this respect, change is truly our friend.

      Like

  3. Michele, I enjoy how you express yourself and your observation of life. Love the cell phone baby monitor part! Choosing to embrace life and its stages may be a little like choosing joy when we face trials—we can! And by God’s grace when we do, joy is there.

    Like

  4. I knew I would love this as soon as I started reading, Michele, and now I’m writing this comment through the blur of tears. We are in different seasons, figuratively and literally, and my only experience with mincemeat is “Little House in the Big Woods” (or was it “Farmer Boy”?) Still, there is so much here that resonates and warms my heart. Thank you, my friend. 🙂

    Like

    1. Probably Farmer Boy — my boys loved that book because of all the food mentions! You and I are both up to our fetlocks in family, and that ‘s such a good place to be! Blessings, Lois, and thanks for sharing your heart.

      Like

  5. I can so relate to your post, Michele. I can’t cook less than 6 qts. of anything either. I totally love making soups, stews and chili to feed my crew. The thought of summer coming terrifies me because I don’t know what to cook! Well, I can still rely on pasta …

    Love the way you worded your thoughts: “In this season of slow sunrise and early dark when the daffodils snooze and the robins make angry phone calls to their travel agents, I will make fish chowder and fill up the empty spaces around my table with people who need the full feeling that comes from a hearty welcome.” You are a wordsmith, Michele!

    I used to have the same conflict with my girls over not answering my phone. Evidently, I’m to have the phone glued to my body so that it will be with me wherever I go. Also, I should really take it off vibrate so that I can actually hear the text messages that come from them in the grocery store wanting me to tell them what ingredients to buy to make whatever has struck their fancy! Seriously, I have to be just as “on call” as I had to be when they were toddlers!

    And yet … isn’t it great they still need us?

    Lastly, I can totally relate to this statement of yours: “Thanks be to God that the offset of all this lament comes in celebration of the full-body smile of my adorable grandson who has absolutely no idea how much joy he adds to the world just by inhabiting his own tiny skin.” Yassss! Times two, for me!

    Like

    1. You and I are living the same path, Jerralea! Except, you are ahead of me on the grandbaby count, and I’ll try not to be jealous. I’m always so happy to see your name here in the land of comments. Thanks for your friendship in this blogging life.

      Like

    1. Change will come — and I’m learning that it may not be what I was expecting. We’re blessed to go forward into whatever comes with the presence of God and the knowledge that HE does not change! Thanks, Kelly, for your eyes here today.

      Like

  6. Oh, thank you so much for this beautiful bright spot in my day, Michele! Your words resonate so much in this “Mama, but not Mama, stage” where my own heart dwells too. I think that we will never stop considering our children in the decisions we make, whether it’s how much food to cook, where to keep the cellphone, or how to schedule our weekends. But isn’t that good of our Lord, to let us stay connected still? I am so grateful for your encouragement to keep walking through these changing seasons with Jesus as our guide. Blessings to you!

    Like

    1. Faithfulness through the changing seasons is a big assignment. Thanks be to God that He is unchanging and He walks with us into every season! Blessings to you, Bettie! Thanks for your encouragement!

      Like

  7. How true your words, my friend! When we are young we have little awareness of how quickly the time and seasons will change and move on. We don’t understand or appreciate that persons will move on who are precious as well, whether they are our babies, our parents, or peers taken too early by one malady or another. I think it continually reminds me that the Word tells us to “number our days”….days, not weeks, months, or years.

    This spring season for me will see my first and oldest grandchild graduate from college and another graduate from high school. None of our grandchildren are babies or even toddlers now. Instead of reading Dr. Seuss, I just texted one grandson a piece about a collapsing workbench and another about a new development in neuroscience. AND I am never far from my cell phone because none of my dearest ones, grandchildren and their parents, aren’t either. From their texts I get little tidbits of their lives lived 350 and 520 miles away. I get prayer requests for exams, career decisions, and more. It’s easier for them that way and I smile as I recall how often our daughter called my mother when she was in college and I was teaching full-time to let her know she was stressed and needed prayer.

    I feel much the same about winter versus spring. It is gray and rainy here in NE Ohio. Even though the temperature is mild in the mid-50’s, the wind is damp and chilly and the lawn is soggy. I much prefer the crisp cold of winter when the shimmering white snow covers the grayness of winter.

    Have a blessed day as your post simmers!

    Like

    1. Thanks for this perspective on texting and on life. Wow. I know in my mind that the tiny grandboy will be taller than I am and driving a car before I know it, but it’s good to hear these things from a soul who is living them. And I always like hearing from you, anyway!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This touched me on so many levels, Michele. The Lord has been impressing Psalm 90:12 on me all year and so much of what you say here relates to that verse. “Where I am” is, of course, different from where you are (different geography, different stage of life, etc.). However, what you share here challenges me to enjoy today and use what I have (however meager it is), trusting that God’s grace will make it enough.

    Like

    1. So teach us to number our days,
      That we may gain a heart of wisdom.
      I had to look up the verse, and then recognized it as my blog’s tag line! No matter what stage we’re in, we surely need wisdom for it, and I think that shows itself in our humble acceptance of God’s placement and gifting. And recognition that He makes us enough.
      Thanks, Shannon, for reading.

      Like

  9. Such a lovely post, Michele. I’m watching change within our own household as our oldest finally (FINALLY) is beginning to hit his growth spurt. The maturing is beginning to poke through the ground of childishness, as crocuses peek up at the right time. Our youngest is growing into puberty and yet not wanting that change, preferring the care-free-ness of not having to do things like put on deodorant. Change is coming into our home as our boys grow older. Part of me wants to keep everything the same. It feels safer. Yet, it’s when things change that we have opportunities to trust God more. That’s where I find myself right now.

    And I’m kind of with you. Bring on the snow and its stark beauty, chilled air, and blowing winds. I want more winter before spring takes hold (Yes, I know. Some will call me crazy for saying that!).

    Like

    1. Sometimes it seems as if change sneaks up on us (like those beautiful crocuses you mentioned) and other times it feels like a snow plow coming through! I’m braced and ready for this round, but every once in a while I look at my grandson with wistful eyes and think, “Oh, your daddy was just your size a few days ago — wasn’t he?”
      We had snow today, and I rejoiced! We need that clean renewal while everything is gray. We are definitely kindred spirits in weather.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. You taught me a new word today! Acedia–boredom, apathy. My students suffer from acedia in February. Now that March has arrived, the travel agents have given the go-ahead to all the robins (they’re headed your way in huge flocks) and I don’t have to walk to work in the dark. Spring break starts on Friday (we are all SO ready for it). As for technology–embrace it ;). I hate skype and Facetime, but I’ve gladly gotten over my dislike when it’s my grandson ‘calling’ to ‘chat’ with his granny!

    Like

    1. Yes . . . I’m getting there with technology, and the grumpiness is less, and I think you’re right — grandchildren do loosen us up. I picked up the word “acedia” from a book I read by Kathleen Norris (Acedia and Me), and apparently “acedia” was applied to a spiritual lethargy in times past, and that usage is coming back into vogue again. I just know that mud season brings it out in me!

      Like

  11. I like that you arechoosing to like the change! A very constant word in our world but not in His.
    Ever-Green God is available in our changing seasons, friend.

    Thanks for sharing your heart and encouraging us to draw change in rather than build a wall against it 😉
    God Bless

    Like

  12. Our babies grow up so fast! Your beautiful words hit home with me this morning, Michele. My daughter, who is going to college as far from me as she possibly can, is home this week. She surprised me and I can’t even believe the joy in my heart having her home. Thank you for your encouragement on embracing change and using what I have :).

    Liked by 1 person

  13. By the grace of God, what we have is always enough Michele. And that’s the best ever. Thanks for your beautiful description of the reality of change in our lives and how God can bring us through even this.

    Like

  14. What an important post for all of us, Michele. “Change is on the menu whether I like it or not.
    I’m choosing to like it.”

    I want to borrow that attitude for myself. 🙂

    As I attempt practicing abundance, this is critical for me to believe:

    “I will use what I have, putting it all in the pot to simmer, and somehow, by the grace of God, I believe that it will be enough.”
    Thanks for sharing!

    Like

  15. we have a wedding coming up at our house too. The plans are just getting started but already dizzy from the complexity of it all. But I like what you said… start where you are. use what you have. words to live by. Writing them on a sticky note right now. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I can identify w/ several things you said… so many things changing… technology (I have a love-hate relationship w/ it)… takes over, yet what would we do without it…. the kids are changing so fast. What a blessing to serve the Lord… the One who never changes.. and who takes us through fun… and difficult times. 🙂 Thank you for your post.

    Like

  17. Michele,
    Beautiful images in your writing mixed in with solid wisdom…This made me chuckle: “In this season of slow sunrise and early dark when the daffodils snooze and the robins make angry phone calls to their travel agents”….Thanks and blessings! Like you, I do not carry my cell phone when I go out to the yard 🙂

    Like

  18. Ah, choosing to like change. I’ve been there. It’s not always an easy choice, but God goes with us and offers us new mercies & fresh perspective every day (every moment, even!). I’m encouraged by your words here today, Michele! Thanks for linking up at #ThreeWordWednesday.

    Like

  19. Beautifully crafted words. I love how you just pull me right in to your story! But even more than that, this message to start where I am and use what I have no matter what comes my way is perfect for me! Many blessings to you!

    Like

    1. I think we’re all in a space of wondering if what we have to offer is enough — if it will sustain us in the wilderness. And, of course, we have the written Record of God saying, “Yes” to that question.
      Thanks, Liz, for this visit and for your words of encouragement.

      Like

  20. I haven’t gotten to the driving, grandbabies, and weddings yet, but I relate to resisting technology. I often leave my phone at home if I’m not traveling far. I love the simplicity and peace that comes from the quiet. I suppose change is inevitable, isn’t it? My oldest turns 12 in a few weeks and I realize that mothering has all gone so quickly and that these next years will fly by quickly. I’m not sure I’m ready, but I’ll do my best to embrace the change with joy in my heart.

    Like

    1. I love hearing your heart, Rosanna! And it has really seemed to me that those first twelve years or so were rhythmic and predictable (trips to the emergency room notwithstanding), but once the kids hit the double digits, the changes come so fast it’s hard to catch your breath in the calm spaces. That’s when I’ve been really glad that I know Who holds my next breath.

      Like

  21. Such a gentle, relaxing post, Michele. 🙂 Thank you for the reminder that it’s all a part of life — just to mix it up in a pot, everything we’ve got, and know that it’ll be enough for the God who called us. — Thank you for sharing yourself with #ChasingCommunity, friend. ((xoxo))

    Like

  22. Michele, I’m joining you in believing it will be enough in this changing season. Enough grace to get us through.
    Congratulations on the upcoming graduation and wedding, sweet friend! ((Hugs))

    Like

  23. These are great reflections. Change is not always easy, but it can be positive in many ways. Your comments about the mincemeat made me smile. When I’m making anything I like to follow a recipe but my dad will always make it up as he goes along. Particularly making soup he will just use whatever is leftover and throw it all in together, but it usually turns out pretty well. It is definitely a good skill to make the best of what we have- in cooking and in life!

    Like

  24. Michele – I love this… In this season of slow sunrise and early dark when the daffodils snooze and the robins make angry phone calls to their travel agents, … Such great imagery ! Wow and the conversation about taking your phone into the garden .. your response – priceless! I carried a baby monitor for years. LOVE it. thanks for linking up to #TuneInThursday today

    Like

  25. Sounds like you’ve never a dull moment!
    Change can be so hard. Praise God for going through all the changes with us and for being our one steady Rock Who never changes!
    I’ve done that little bit of this and little bit of that type of cooking, especially with leftovers. It gives a new definition to “leftover stew”. lol 🙂

    Like

  26. With boys roaming around you need lots and lots of chowder! Love you beginning about your grandma making mincemeat out of the deer in her flowerbeds and using left over jam and such. Pulled me right in. Glad you are choosing to enjoy life and use what you have, Blessings.

    Like

  27. What a gorgeously written post. Here in the UK, we are just leaving the winter behind us and the daffodils are starting to bloom! I’ll make sure I enjoy it while I have it here! Thanks for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

    Like

  28. I’m not good with change, but it comes whether I’m ready or not. Embrace it you say 🙂
    The chowder sounds amazing and your home sounds very inviting.
    I always enjoy coming to your blog- it feels like a comfortable space to just relax and soak up the goodness!
    Have a good weekend Michele!

    Like

  29. Michele I giggled through this ahhh!!! I needed a laugh, I hope it’s okay to say this in response to your post. Your humor in your writing is fabulous. I pictured you in that garden with your hands on your hips but trying to regain composure. I tend to get cranky about social media too so ouch on that one. I am with you though, my heart is softening, I am just not good at balancing my time well on there so that is why I limit myself so much. I am so blessed by you, have a great week!!

    Like

  30. Michele, this is my favorite article of yours so far! I can relate in many ways. If it has to be winter, let it be frozen…here in Missouri, that’s hard to come by. On Thursday it reached 70 degrees, and on Saturday we had snow and a freeze warning in our early spring. “Only in Missouri,” we say here. I can also relate to keeping my phone in my purse, especially when I’m outside, to the consternation of loved ones. Resisting change seems part of my German Lutheran heritage, and yet, since God chose me to live in this century (not 1850 where I would feel more comfortable), I’m trying to see it as a friend rather than an enemy.

    Like

  31. I.Love.This.
    This morning my prayer was… Lord, build up the walls of my soul today. I needed this, Michele. I have been holding this to read for a while, your words because I didn’t have time to rest in them . But God loves to keep reminding me to settle close to His heart with friends, like you, and I am so grateful I had the time to settle close and wait with you awhile today.

    Bless you,
    Dawn

    Like

    1. What a gift your words have been, Dawn, in this hurry-up world. And I’ll echo that prayer, “Lord, build up soul walls where they’ve been broken down.” Blessings to you!

      Like

  32. “A life of perpetual change.” Yes, indeed. I’m one of those young adults celebrating lots of graduations and weddings, and I often struggle to stay calm amidst all the celebratory choas. Thank you for advising patience and gardening and cooking for my overwhelmed soul 🙂 #freshmarketfriday

    Like

    1. Melissa, thank you for reminding me that it’s not only the middle aged with the emptying nests who experience change like a never-ending waterfall. You are on the other end of the BIG occasions, and my prayer for you is that you find plenty of space in the midst of it all for homely duties and delights that keep your soul close to its Anchor. Blessings to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  33. Ah Michele, as usual you made me smile. Actually, you made me want to come visit you! Your painted a wonderful picture of warmth on a cold day and comraderie when we want to whine about change and responsibilities! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  34. This was truly beautiful. I love this: “If it’s got to be winter anyway, then let it be cold. Let the ground stay hard, and let the sky send a fresh, clean blanket of white every few days to relieve the monotony of all that has expired.” This is so true. If we embrace our circumstances, they become immeasurably better, immeasurably richer. Thank you for sharing on the Sunday Thoughts Link up…this was perfect and I’m so glad others will get to read your words. Bless you. #sundaythoughts

    Like

  35. I love the reminder that each stage of our life is precious and that we need to remember the important relationships in our lives and work hard to keep them in tact. Thanks for being a great supporter of the #LMMLinkup.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.