A Second Chance

Every moment allows space with endless possibilities. I think my goal is to not add so much to it that I mess it up.

Our cat has this new thing he’s been doing this week. I make my bed every morning, usually within 30 minutes of leaving it, but Friday I left it a mess. He casually strolls into my bedroom, hops up on the corner of the bed and curls up for a quick nap. He normally does this after I make it up, but today it’s unmade, so that doesn’t seem to matter to him. Maybe it’s the moment he’s after.

He looks guilty to me.

Now it’s 2:30 PM and the bed is still unmade.

I walked in to see what remnants were left behind from a Zoom earlier in the day, and spotted my favorite notebook, classic Kate Spade laying on the bed. I love this notebook, but earlier this week, I noticed it was almost out of pages. It was originally purchased to be used as a journal, but somehow transitioned over to notes from work. It has a hardcover, so it also doubles as a sturdy mouse pad.

They don’t make it anymore, but I asked my daughter to search and see if she can find it. She found one that is brand new, still in the package and for sale. She emailed me the link and it was purchased without hesitation.

I’m excited about getting the new one and it feels like having a second chance to use it more intentionally. Notes from work can be placed in any type notebook, as this notebook proves, not everything we love is easily replaced. Here I sit on a Friday, in a messy bed with the cat nearby, simply thrilled to have a second chance.

In Responsive Mode

I may be a perfectionist. Yes, I’ll admit to it, but I’ve tried watering that down with, ‘I’m picky, or particular’. None of those words sound very complementary, but they are a part of who I am.

I’ve stopped drinking coffee first thing in the morning. Make sure you read that entire sentence, because Barb has no plans of dismantling the coffee bar and giving away her gadgets. It’s taken years to acquire each and every one of them, and to learn how to not only use, but appreciate their performance.

This morning I chose the French press.

But let’s back up a little bit to the comment of not drinking coffee first thing anymore. I drink water instead. This morning I woke up very early and walked through the house drinking my water. I noticed the birdfeeder hanging outside the window, and how it still bothers me it doesn’t hang in the center of the window. (Yes, I bought another one, but that’s another story all on it’s own.)

When I brought the feeder home from the store, I just hung it on an existing hook. The hook was off center and it held the feeder, but it’s bothered me ever since. This morning, I stepped outside to retrieve the feeder, but couldn’t reach it from the front porch. I remembered using a small ladder to hang it there, so I haven’t had any coffee, but I’m going to climb a ladder before dawn. That’s when I heard myself grumble ‘perfectionist.’

The lengths I go to, to line everything up in my life.

Yesterday, I noticed the kitchen island off center of the lines in the tile floor. That was an easy fix because the wheels weren’t locked in place tightly enough, but that’s what I do, I notice when things are off center and then figure out how to fix it. The birdfeeder was an easy fix too. The scariest part was climbing a 3 foot ladder that early in the morning, but I got the feeder down, moved the hook to the center of the window, and now it’s centered.

Two hours later, I sat down at the kitchen table with a fresh cup of coffee and began to type. It’s nice to know I don’t have to drink coffee to start my day, or to successfully climb a ladder and move a feeder. I can look at coffee more like a treat to be savored after drinking my water. My morning devotional reminded me of what each day should look like. It’s okay to have perfectionist tendencies, but I’ll never be perfect and that’s okay too.

“I have prepared this day for you with the most tender concern and attention to detail. Instead of approaching the day as a blank page you need to fill up, try living in responsive mode; being on the lookout for all that I’m doing. This sounds easy, but it requires a deep level of trust, based on the knowledge that My way is perfect.”-Jesus Calling by Sarah Young-March 10th.

Instead of using the word ‘perfectionist’, I’ll just tell myself, “I’m in responsive mode.” That sounds better! Have a beautiful day lovelies. This is Barb, signing off for today, in responsive mode.

Firewood

During the Texas snow/ice storm, I saw a post on Facebook that made me smile. It was a photo of a front yard covered in tree branches, and said, “It’s raining firewood.”

I needed to see that because the most unnerving part of that week for me was the location of our home. The house is surrounded by ginormous oak trees and rests beneath their canopy. We’d hear the crack of a branch, then boom onto the roof, and the branch would slide and fall to the ground. I did a lot of meditating that week, and thanked God for metal roofs.

Once the snow had melted away, I stepped outside to look at the front yard, and was in agreement that it had rained firewood. The yard was covered with sticks, twigs and a few branches, but I looked at the sticks as, ‘kindling’, and the branches were easily broken into firewood. No healthy branch breaks. It was a good day for a fire, as I removed the cover from the firepit.

God knows my heart and knows I love to sit near a fire. I gathered up all the sticks and laid some in the pit. There were so many I had to start a pile of them nearby, along with the smaller broken branches. The larger branches were laid aside for future use. I sat by the fire for hours that day, and just pondered God’s goodness and grace. If it’s gonna rain, let it rain firewood.

Footprints

We didn’t allow the snow and ice to hinder us from taking a walk. After the first fallen snow, it was light powder and easy to walk through, but then a fine layer of ice fell on top. That made it a little more challenging, but where there’s a will, there’s also a way.

Photography by Simply Semloh

You have to stomp your foot through the icy layer, to get down to the powdery snow. There your footing will hold, and not slip. Here we were, stomping our way through the neighborhood, and it was invigorating to say the least, at an outdoor temp of 18 degrees.

We made a trail of footprints. Some were on the road, but most were through the edge of the neighbors yards. The road had turned into a solid sheet of ice, so we had to make our own path off the road. The next day, I went for a walk alone, but found myself following the path we had taken the day before. Even though the snow was melting away, I could still see some of our footprints and it made me think.

What kind of footprint do I really want to leave for these neighbors? Not just a snowy one alongside their yard, but a footprint in their life. My thoughts expanded to what kind of footprint do I want to leave on this world? Thanks to the snow/ice storm that shut down Texas, I’m pondering footprints.

Crossing the Line

I’ve been using the pour over coffee dripper for my coffee each morning for a while now. It offers flexibility in cup size, and on Monday we go big.

It will fill any size cup you choose to sit under it. You just have to measure the right amount of water for the size of the cup. This morning, I measured 16 ounces of water for the gooseneck kettle, knowing this cup could hold it, but I’ve miscalculated before and that was messy.

My favorite cup and Blue Bottle coffee dripper.

One morning I grabbed a large mug thinking it was just as big as this one and treated it the same way, with 16 ounces of water. I allow time for the dripper to drain in between pours, so after the third and final pour, I walked into the next room. A few minutes later I went back into the kitchen for my coffee, only to find it pouring over the rim of the mug onto the chopping block.

It had poured over alright!

Thank God the spill had stayed on the chopping block, but I must have crossed the 16 ounce line. It’s times like these you go with what you know and make sure your Monday cup is cleaned on Sunday night.

The coffee dripper adds mystery to my morning. I’m never quite sure what I’m going to get. It calls for the water measurement to be precise, but I’m doing good just to get the water into the measuring cup much less read the lines. It’s when I cross the line that life gets messy.

I have an email to send this morning, and it feels like I may be crossing the line. That’s not going to stop me from sending it because I don’t live my life in the safe zone. When God opens the door of opportunity, communication can be awkward at first, but we don’t really know where the lines are, if any, until we cross them.

This is me, on a Monday, crossing the line.

That’s My God

It’s the little things in life that never cease to amuse me. Standing at my kitchen window after an hour’s worth of steady rain, looking at the plants I just watered yesterday. A smile came to my lips as I chuckled at the conversation I was having with God in my heart.

The weather forecast wasn’t calling for rain, but I can’t rely on weather predictions. The best way to know the weather around here is by noticing what it’s doing. God wants to be noticed and it was like He was saying, “If you’d waited Barb, you would have seen my plan for those plants.” We have conversations like that more than we should.

I depend on God in every situation, but sometimes I run ahead. One of my most spoken prayers is, “Here’s my life. I lay it at your feet. Your will be done, not mine.” Then I go on about my day with my plans and actions, so I’m grateful when God shows up with a similar plan, only better.

Life is amusing when it comes down to my plan versus God’s plan, and it’s instances like these that continue to amuse me. That’s my God.

Take Some Time

The watch went back into it’s original box. The ginormous clock was removed from the bedroom wall and moved to the breezeway. I can still see it from the bedroom, so it will continue to be enjoyed, but it’s out of my room, and there’s no more ticking sound. I want to stop watching time.

This post was in my draft folder, and I realized that folder wasn’t emptied last year like I wrote about here. It went down to two drafts, but I felt a pause in publishing them. They are still in drafts and I’ve been adding to the folder this year, so we are back up to seven drafts!


The first week of January I shared with friends, “I’m taking the month off from life itself.” That’s when I removed the clock from my bedroom, and stopped wearing a wristwatch, but it didn’t last. A week later, the clock returned to my room, just like this draft wound up in the folder. There’s some comfort in seeing time, and knowing there’s a draft, or six, suspended in time.

That’s what January has felt like for me, just suspended it in time. Taking time to organize my life by putting things in their rightful place. Everything should have a place, or it needs to be passed along for someone else to enjoy. Sometimes we acquire items not meant for us, but we can keep them until that person shows up to give it to. That has happened quite a bit in my life. The keeper of goodness to be handed off to someone else along life’s path. That’s a good description of how we should live our lives.

Don’t sweat the draft folder. When the time is right, it will become a published post just like this one did.

Put everything in it’s rightful place, and if it doesn’t have a space, pass it on to who you believe will enjoy it.

Take notice of what comes into our lives. It may not be meant for us, but God will reveal the rightful owner.

When you find yourself anointed the keeper of goodness, that is something that surely must be given away daily.

Whatever it is you wish to pour into this world to make it a prettier place, this is your permission slip to figure out your start. The world is waiting for what you have to offer, so don’t be afraid to take some time.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

PS. Just not too much time.

The First Step

I woke up at 4am, and couldn’t decide whether or not to go back to sleep. It’s amazing how many tiny choices we make in a day, with each one altering the next.

I began thinking of my French Press and how I haven’t used it very much. It was one of those things Barb ‘had to have’, but I couldn’t get satisfied with the taste of the coffee. I have read articles from coffee experts, and the instructions that came with the press, but this early in the morning, I wanted some simple steps. Google led me to an article by the easy to follow woman behind Gimme Some Oven.

Her way of making it just made sense to me, so I hopped outta bed at 5:00 am, and strolled quietly into the kitchen with instructions in hand, ready to try again. There are several steps involved in making a French Press, but anything that’s worthwhile has steps.

First I had to see how much water the press would hold. It held 4 cups, so I poured the water into the gooseneck kettle and sat it on the stove to bring it to a boil. Then waited. After it begins to boil, the water needs to rest for a minute, so I took it off the burner to rest.

I opened the timer on my phone and set it for 4 minutes, and poured the freshly ground beans into the French Press, just going through the steps. The hot water was poured just over the bed of grinds, about 2 inches, and stirred with a wooden chopstick to wet every grind, and the timer began.

My favorite part is watching it bloom. Putting my face over the press, I inhaled the magical aroma. If it’s really good coffee it should bloom, or foam up. The more it foams, the better quality. After one minute had passed, the rest of the water was poured in and the lid was put into place. The screen rested on top of the water with the plunger standing up.

I watched the countdown of time ticking by with the numbers illuminated blue in color. It was interesting when the timer got down to the last 30 seconds, the numbers turned red.

The one thing that bothered me about using the French press in the past was the feel of the pressing. I know how it’s supposed to feel when you press the plunger down with the palm of your hand. It should have some resistance, and not be effortless. This time it had plenty of resistance, so in the past I hadn’t poured enough in.

Le Creuset Café Stoneware French Press

Lessons learned:

  1. Don’t go back to sleep. The day is waiting for us to step into it.
  2. Keep using what we have and get it right.
  3. Follow some instruction. If the first ones aren’t to our liking, find better instructions.
  4. There’s a waiting period after every step.
  5. Let the water get boiling hot, but don’t let it spew. Anything that gets that hot needs a minute to rest.
  6. Watch the time, and be attentive to the red zone.
  7. Pause and enjoy the bloom. Breathe it in.
  8. When we begin to press through and there’s resistance, it’s normal. Nothing worthwhile should feel like an easy plunge, just continue to gently press.

Was getting up early, and trying once again to make a French Press worth it? You better believe it! That was excellent coffee. Keep trying and be willing to go through some steps to get to where you really want to be.

It all begins with the first step.

Dusting My Soul

I noticed the piano sitting away from the wall more than it used to. It’s out on the floor. It used to be pressed up against the wall out of the way, with the music stand folded down. It was a piece of furniture dusted off every week.

I took piano lessons as a child, but didn’t like being made to do something. I’m still that way, but a couple of weekends ago, as my daughter was leaving the house, she looked at me and said, “Do something special for yourself.” The Rolodex in my mind started flipping through images, but came up empty on something specific.

I’ve created the kind of life where I enjoy everything I do, but what about something for my soul besides writing. Playing piano was a part of my childhood that feels incomplete. My neighbor offered piano lessons a while ago, so I walked inside and sent her a message.

I asked if the offer still stands, and if she’d be willing to give me lessons. She said yes, and we chose a day and time to begin. When I asked whose house she wanted you use, she chose mine and referred to it as a calm getaway.

The piano doesn’t need dusting as often, now that it’s being used. Everyday I sit down to practice, and run my hand across the keys I feel the progress dusting my soul.

When Grey Turns to Blue

Refining what we have. Paying attention to what’s in front of us and making small adjustments toward better.

I painted a wall, and it wasn’t even a large wall, but it is the first wall you see when you walk in the front door. The paint job has always bothered me. Before we moved in, someone touched up the walls, and used a shiny finish paint, instead of flat. It’s the same color as the wall, just a different finish, so the touch up was noticeable.

Before

Walking by the wall this morning, I’m really glad I only painted the one wall and not half the house. The early morning light made the grey look blue.

The framed note you see hanging on the wall is my newest addition of reminders. I walk by it 100 times a day, and each time I glance at it to remind myself of what’s here.

There’s a lot of grey in the world today, but we hold the paintbrush and can paint our little corner of the world any color we choose. If your world is looking grey, my hope for you today is just like this wall, your grey turns to blue.

After