Saturday, April 16, 2016

A Debt of Love

I've finally finished 'When People are Big and God is Small', by Edward T Welch.  Since my last blog post about this book I've come across another concept that really stood out to me:

In regard to loving others, Welch writes: 'we are in debt to our enemies, neighbours, and friends. No matter what they have done, and no matter how lopsided our giving to them is in contrast with theirs to us, we are in their debt.

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law. The commandments... are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” (Rom. 13:8-9)'

I certainly don't normally think in terms of having a Debt of Love to those around me.  My normal thinking goes like this: If someone has done something kind for me, I feel that I owe them a favour in return.  And if I've helped someone else with something, I feel better about asking them for help. 

I think some of our expectations in these areas are cultural.  In Papua New Guinea, reciprocity (a word I can neither spell nor pronounce!) is a vital part of relationships.  Gifts go back and forth, with each gift affecting the balance of the relationship.

Although I know really that God calls me to love everyone, I find myself taking on a new perspective when I consider the idea of a Debt of Love.

It's vital to remember that love does not mean saying "yes" to everyone.  As Welch puts it, 'People-pleasers can mistake “niceness” for love. When they do, they will be prone to being manipulated by others, and burn-out is sure to follow.'

It didn't take long before the opportunity came along to put the above into practice.  I was recently asked to do a small task that I'm not enthusiastic about.  It's not that I don't have the time, or that the request is unreasonable.  It's not something that someone else could do instead either.  I know that instead of carrying out the job resentfully, I need to see this as an opportunity to love people who haven't done anything for me, but who I have an opportunity to bless.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Stationery Stress

Believe it or not (and this will be especially hard to believe if you've been inside my house) but I actually enjoy sorting out cupboards. 

I don't get around to doing this sorting as often as I need to.  By the time I've done the more urgent tasks of picking things up off the floor and tidying up surfaces (if these jobs get completed at all), I've usually run out of time for the deeper organising.  I have started to schedule 'organising things' into my weekly schedule; it's one of many activities that I rarely get around to if I don't schedule it in advance.

I recognise that if I had better systems in place for storing items, I'd have to spend a lot less time picking things up from the floor and horizontal surfaces.  Now that the children are at an age where they can be helpful, this is particularly true.  They are getting good at 'pick up 15 items from the floor', but the activity would be even more successful if they knew where to store these items once they'd picked them up.

I don't seem to be a natural at figuring out good storage solutions.  Until yesterday most of my stationery items were stored in zip-up plastic bags in this box:

If a system is to work for me, then I need to be able to find and put away anything in a couple of seconds.  Obviously that wasn't working with the 'pile everything into one big box' method.  In fact, I discovered no fewer than eight rolls of tape hidden between bags in that box as well as numerous pens and pencils of all descriptions, and lids that don't match any of them.

Another difficulty is that there's no Office World around here.  I have been looking out for storage solutions though, and was happy to find a three-drawer storage box for sale second hand this week.

This is what the cupboard looks like now.  It's not beautiful, but I'm very excited that every member of the family should now be able to find and put away stationery items.  Note the 'spare lids' box; I've recently discovered how essential this is to keeping our felt/marker pen collection going!

Of course I won't really know how well this system is working until I take another picture in a month and see what it looks like then.  It surely has to be an improvement on the big-box-pile in any case!

A Success!

We have an Easter tradition of eating lunch with a family who are good friends of ours.  With last month's disaster fresh in my mind, I was keen to plan our part of the meal very carefully.
My plan wasn't written neatly, and by the end it had got too wet to read...but it worked!  We even ended up arriving for lunch 15 minutes early.  What a difference from previous years, when we arrived stressed, grumpy and late.