Friday, October 7, 2011

Appreciate the rain

As I was driving home in the rain yesterday afternoon, I found myself eager to sit down and begin writing. There was a certain inspiration I felt as I considered the scene of sitting down at the computer, facing the window and watching the rain fall.

When we think of rain, we think of a variety of things. For some, it's the clean air. The smell of the outdoors after a rainfall is refreshing. In California, it means the hillsides which turn brown in the summer will soon be returning to a lush green. For others, the rain means inconvenience. The roads can be hazardous.

All these things are true.

In our language, we attribute positive and negative qualities to people using weather terms. We say positive people are a "ray of sunshine", while negative people "have a cloud over their head". When we try to find something positive in a negative situation, we say "every cloud has a silver lining".

As I felt inspired to come home and begin to write as the rain fell, it dawned on me that we need the rain of life in so many ways. I remember as a child, rainy days kept us indoors. No playing outside. A day or problem. A week or more, and you felt like a prisoner. But when we were confined to staying in, we had some special times. Sitting by the fireplace, playing board games. Watching old movies. Eating some great hot meals. Listening to music. Talking. It brought togetherness, rather than the typical routine of everyone off in different directions.

Life hands us a lot of rainy days. And no, I'm not talking about the weather anymore. Things happen which alter our routines. It can be the loss of a job or business. A broken relationship. Health problems. Emergency repairs on your car or home. Nobody enjoys these things. But it is in times like these that our lives must slow down. It's in times like these when we must find togetherness with our families and true friends. It's in times like these that we must spend time talking to, and more importantly, listening to God.

The rain brings balance to the earth, and our lives. While the sunshine is wonderful, too much of it can lead to a drought. If everything went smoothly and easily in life, it would be easy for us to not appreciate our blessings. We would end up in a spiritual drought. Don't you appreciate good health right after you've been sick? Isn't it nice to be able to eat solid foods after you've had the flu? To be able to swallow pain-free after suffering through a sore throat? Do you even think about these things when everything is "normal"?

The "rain" in life brings an opportunity to appreciate. The relationships we've built in life were made for times like these. Remember, it wasn't raining when Noah built the ark. But when the rain came, what he built protected him and carried him through the storm. So right now, if the rain in life isn't coming down on you, it will. So build that "ark". Maintain it. Fill it with the things you'll need to endure the storm.

When the sun comes out again, appreciate it. And appreciate the rain that made the sun a welcome sight.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Recently, I found myself in the home of a hoarder. You've heard of hoarders. It's easy to watch the TV shows or hear of hoarders and think, "how could somebody let their lives go like that?"

I would dare to say that we are all hoarders in one way or another. It's just likely that ours isn't as visible and tangible as these extreme cases you see on TV.

It is so easy for us to allow stuff to overwhelm our lives. It is so easy to let our schedules get so filled with activities, with work, with empty relationships, with recreation, that the truly important things in life have no room in our lives anymore.

The home I was in at the time was so bad, a specialist had to come in to help turn the place from a literal dump back into a suitable living place. It was a dangerous place. The woman who lived there was elderly. It got so bad, she had one of those emergency call buttons on a necklace in case she fell and got trapped. The organizer came in and had to convince the occupant to make some very tough decisions. What I found both amusing and profound was a small plaque the organizer hung on a wall. It wasn't very large, but the message was bigger than life.


How many of us have filled our lives with so much clutter that we are exhausted? How many of us have jammed so much stuff in there that our relationships suffer? Have we become slaves to the clutter to the point that we aren't satisfied with the quantity we have, but we need more and more?

There comes a time when we all must face some pretty tough decisions. When the important things in life are being neglected, or simply require more of our attention than we have budgeted to give, we have to cut back on other things which distract us from those priorities.

The current economy should be teaching us by now that it's imperative that we learn to cut out the things in life that are not essential. If not cut out completely, at least cut back. We have learned to rely on so many luxuries, that they have become needs. I admit it. I'm very much like that. But when my transmission went out, my budget got turned upside down and inside out. The time has come when some of the things I could afford to spend my time and money on before are now expendable if I'm going to take care of my bigger obligations. (Oh sure, NOW you announce the newest iPhone!)

Take some time and inventory your life. If you find yourself with little to no margin in life, it's time to make some decisions. If you're living on the edge where if something significant and unforeseen happened, you wouldn't be able to take care of it...make some changes.