malcolm marler

on a mission to embody grace and compassion in all relationships

Month: August 2010

Shifting Gears

We gently shift into a new gear.

We leave the hospital tomorrow with hospice care at home.

Tonight, we live into the questions.  And there are many.

One of her nurses from last week stops by to check on her even though she isn’t her nurse tonight.

It is time to love in new ways.

As I sit by her bed, she takes a sip of water between naps.  I am the one blessed to offer a cup of cold water.

I stroke her head, tell her how much I love her, and what a great Mom she is and has been to me.

I play old hymns at her bedside on my computer that she has sung in church all of her life. Songs like Amazing Grace, How Great Thou Art, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, Peace Like a River, and dozens more.

My dad married Jimmie Ruth Hudson on August 1, 1968.  I was thirteen at the time.

And now forty-two years later, I remember how she taught me to be a loving stepparent by being one herself.

I pray I have learned the lessons well.

Amen.

Steps on the Simplicity Journey

I was a little hard on myself in my last post, Why Do I Want to Simplify? Do you ever do that?

I am usually hardest on myself when I want to be at a certain goal but I’m not willing to do what is necessary to get there.  I just want to be there now.   Which of course is the quickest path to discouragement.

I have appreciated hearing from several of you through comments and email that I am not alone in this struggle to simplify, to be free of the stuff that takes personal time, energy, and resource to sustain.  This “stuff” may get in the way of living our lives more meaningfully.

One of the blogs I read is by Everett Bogue called Far Beyond the Stars who wrote an interesting blog recently on The True Purpose of Simplicity.  He said that the reason he is a “minimalist” (one who lives with as few possessions as possible) is freedom.  Simplicity or minimalism gives him the freedom to choose more intentionally.

For me, there is another reason I want to live more simply.

I believe my spiritual connection to God, our Creator, beckons me, calls me, invites me to do so.

The ultimate goal is to use the freedom from stuff to be free to serve others.

I want my time, my resources, and my skills to be used to make the people’s lives better.

So as I wait for our house to sell, I realize that there is much I can do now.  I can make choices now.

I can start by my cleaning out my closet again and giving those extra clothes away.  I can tackle that section of the garage that just accumulates stuff and give or throw it away.  I can sell our ping pong table on Craigslist and go through the stuff that has grown in the basement of our house.

I won’t arrive at my goal this year, but like many things, it will get me moving in the direction I want to go.  Steps along the journey are better than being hard on myself for not arriving already.

My prayer in the meantime is I will see the people and opportunities I encounter every day as steps on that journey to live more simply and to live more freely.

How are you living more simply? Will you share your steps in the comments below?

Peace to you on the journey.

(If you don’t see the comments box below, click on the Comments link.)

Why do I want to simplify?

This is a hard blog to write.  I am embarrassed.

I’ve been exploring how to simplify my life more lately and I read several blogs (see bottom of left column) daily about how to do so.  If I read enough about simplification, write enough about it, then my life will be simpler.  Right?

Wrong.  As a person of faith, it’s kind of like reading the sacred scripture of your faith and agreeing with the concepts in your head, and saying “I believe that,” whatever “that” is, but ultimately it changes nothing.  My behavior is the true evidence.

So, the real question is why do I want to simplify my life?

My faith invites and requires me to do so.  That matters to me.

And this is where I am uncomfortable, and for good reason.  I work hard at two jobs so that I can provide for myself and family to have enough food, water, shelter, and clothing.  And so much more.

My faith is important to me.  But unless I can see it in the way I live, I am a fool and liar.

To put it more simply, my faith says I am supposed to care for the “least of these.” As a start, the least of these include the thirsty and hungry, and those who do not have enough clothes.  I am supposed to visit persons who are sick and care for them, and I am supposed to visit those in prison.

As a chaplain in a hospital, I’m working on visiting and caring for the sick.  But on the rest, I flunk the test on a daily basis.  Except sometimes at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I have fooled myself into thinking that by tipping God at my church (10%), the rest of my resources can be used any way I want.  Not true.  And my behavior right now really does reflect what I believe.  I don’t like what I am seeing one bit.  I am not satisfied with it.

I know I’m being hard on myself, but I have to be in order to get my attention!

How can I live in a radically, clear way that validates my faith.  One step at a time.

Does anyone else struggle with this issue?

I’d love to hear how we can work on this together.

I would appreciate some company.

Dreaming Anew

Friends have asked about the process of us putting our home on the market and moving into Birmingham.

So why are we open to selling our home on the lake that we love so much?

Not long after I built my house in 2002, I was at peace with the idea that I would be single for the rest of my life.  Seriously.  With no children from my sixteen year marriage, I dreamed of living on a lake and inviting friends to visit on the weekends.  I would create my own extended family and go from there.  I went from sleeping on the floor in a one bedroom apartment with no furniture to building this house six years later.

After moving into my new home, Mary and I met a few months later and all my priorities shifted.  All I knew was I wanted to be wherever she was.  I was ready to move to NC where Mary lived and let the lake house go.  We married eighteen months later and surprisingly Brendan and Kiki wanted to move to the lake.  Six years later our two children are beginning their sophomore years in college, and Mary and I are looking to downsize, own less, and simplify our lives.

A new dream helps me to be open to moving into the city of Birmingham.

I wrote about my simplicity journey this Spring.  But what exactly do I mean now?

I dream of the day when I can:

  1. Live close enough to walk or ride a bike to work after commuting one hour each way for eight years.
  2. Own one car.
  3. Downsize from a 4BR/3BA home to 2BR/2BA condo and own less.
  4. Cut our mortgage in half and eliminate all of our debt in the next ten years or less.
  5. Invest more time in family, friendships, and hobbies outside of work.
  6. Be more extravagant in giving away my resources to be more congruent with my faith values.

I could go on. But that is enough for now.

And speaking of now, what do we do in the meantime?  After all, we do have to wait for someone to buy our house in a tough market.

We all live in the “meantime,” the now.  I’ll write about that in my next post.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear you have downsized your life, or how you are living more simply.  What does that mean to you? How have or how are you doing it?

Peace.

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