My House Smells

Beautiful Young Woman Outdoors. Enjoy Nature. Meadow

I want my house to smell as welcoming as warm cookies, as sedated as clean linens, as invigorating as lemonade from the stand. Natural. Gathering my lighter to fire-up the candles, but I don’t have enough in the same scent. I reach for a cranberry/orange, and a fresh balsam, a cookie crumbs, a vanilla holiday, a pine needles, and a frosted mulberry candle. With each simultaneously glowing and scattered through the rooms—this house will smell better soon or I’ll ignite from an allergic reaction.

Yea, I know your house never suffers from this malady. Yours is more like freshly laundered sheets and orchids.

It’s not just my house. My life could use a fresh scent, only, I can’t settle on the right mix. Some days I’m as tart as apple peels, others like a zebra let loose from her stripes. An occasional moment has me reclining with a stretch a bit too reaching. I don’t know how I should smell. These emotions run together like streams converging into a river. I don’t even know what I want for dinner. You pick. But no rabbit. Or squirrel. Or chicken liver.

Have you ever wondered if God always eats oatmeal for breakfast or if He is satisfied with a bit of nuts in His pancakes? Does His world twirl as precisely as sunset and sunrise? Would He pout if I missed out on the lecture in return for a quiet conversation? Does His kitchen smell like mine in the morning?

God, my world is zips and zaps in competing twists. Today looks like rest when I need it to be a tree laden with oranges. Productive and focused. Oftentimes, I feel challenged because my world isn’t tidy, wrapped, and displayed with a pretty ribbon. And I want it to be.

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said he had a dream. I have a dream, too, a dream that I will finish all the tasks I’ve started, that I will finish well. I shudder at the mention of a wasted life, but would rather become a beacon of God’s goodness. My list doesn’t include fame, not anymore, and it doesn’t choose perfection, although I’m obligated to perform well. I want to live as if God matters, life matters, and the people He’s placed in my care matters.

How can I live without passion, but just to coast along in some mediocre posture? It’s this passion that places me in the fast lane. Always running—eager to accomplish the desires of my God-saturated heart. Ten is never enough. It must be eleven. And then twelve. I cannot stop. Or I will die a miserable old soul.

This isn’t about armpits and dirty feet or yesterday’s pot of turnips greens floating odors around the room. It’s more like cleanness in my soul, clarity of mind, and freedom to soar. I want to live unencumbered with secondaries, to live solely for the essentials, to have a house that smells good. Everyday.

Aging Isn’t for Sissies

old flower pot at a window

Aging isn’t what ads on television portray—retiring in this luxurious community filled with smiling folk who enjoy golf, tennis, fine dining, pleasant relationships, and lots of laughter. Those people must not have hip replacements, aching feet, chronic joint pain, failing eyesight, and thinning hair. In those commercials, they behave as if aging is the first dance in next year’s prom. I’m convinced they dropped their teeth down the laundry chute.

For that matter, who gets to retire when she still remembers how to drive to the local pharmacy, or while she still hears the moderator announce her winning card at Bingo? Before one retires she’s so exhausted she can’t get up for breakfast and merely wants to spend her life in pajamas.

Aging is a terrible blow to pride.

Who would have thought my contemporary rose countertops would one day resemble a salvaged relic from primitive settlers? How sad is that? I think my yellow drapes are lovely only to realize they are depressingly old-fashioned. This is what aging does for us, it labels us and all our treasures as signs of the past.

Our scarves become too short and skirts too long. The favorite sweater is the wrong color, shape and size. Our pumps are now pointed rather than rounded, the dress design ornate as opposed to simple, and the jewelry ALL wrong, just wrong. When we thought we had plenty to wear we don’t have a thing in our closet.

Looking in the mirror, my body isn’t proportioned as it once was. When I was a preferred size I never had money to buy Barbie clothes and now that I have the money I’ve lost the size. I told the clerk in the swimsuit section that I wanted a bathing suit for people like me. And she looked down at herself and said, “and me.” We both agreed that there wasn’t a swimsuit either one of us was fond of wearing. Aging.

Grand parenting is another stretch. We raise our children to the age where they have their own only to learn the doctors think we didn’t know what we were doing. We don’t know how to hold babies, burp babies, feed babies, or put them down to sleep. We might suffocate, choke, or kill them. We tremble whenever we’re near the little darlings for fear we might touch one and send it into a coma—too many germs floating around these days.

I think we’re eating a healthy meal only to discover it’s not organic. I jump on the organic track only to meet gluten-free. Forget it! Give me a desert loaded with everything rich and delicious.

Folk the world over fight aging. They take every known remedy from Vitamin B, C, D, and E or probably F, G, and H if they were available. Stretching, sucking, and botoxing become the norm where people who didn’t know where to start also don’t know where to stop. Before long one looks like a bee stung lipped, slanted-eyed clown wearing red boots and a mini skirt. Wow! I don’t know what to say.

Does it come to this with those who age? As fun as I’ve had with this blog, I don’t think aging in Christ is quite the same as aging in the world.

Christianity teaches us to revere our elders, respecting their wisdom. The world tells us older folk are outdated. The Bible instructs us to be modest in our apparel. The world instills sensual garments to promote sexuality. Christianity produces goodness, grace, purity, and knowledge while the world sells pride, sex, and materialism.

With aging comes wisdom. We have a choice. Our conclusion tells us to let the countertops remain because we like the color rose more than we embrace an unknown designer dictating society’s preferences. We adore our yellow drapes because we would rather have a happy home than a model house. We return to our closets and cast an indifferent glance to the current generation’s spend-a-holics for we’ve long since learned to use our resources for eternal purposes.

Whether big haired, little haired, tanned, or glowing white we don’t have to know all the rules, terms, twists, or lingo. Even though we walk with a limp, listen with a little less volume, and see only the large print, we bring a usefulness to the table far superior to the upstarts—a heart full of love, and an understanding as deep and wide as God allows.

Strut out of Stuck

English front cottage with bicycle

“Stuck” is a fictional name for small town America.

I’m a southern conservative Christian from a small town. People from other places call our town Stuck. Some say we’re narrow-minded because this is what people do when others reject their ideas—they name call to advance their position, to belittle others. I’m okay with this. They can call us Stuck because I know we’re anything but stuck. We know exactly what we believe and we don’t mind talking about it to anyone willing to sit for strawberry pie.

Our town might not agree on the best recipe for chicken and dumplings, but we hold tight to our convictions about general living. We take offense to high-minded folk who walk in with fancy degrees pushing divisive ideas into our lunch box. Some people haven’t understood why they don’t fit here. Well this is it. I can run my car through a window, but stomping on the heart of our roots is a misdemeanor not easily overlooked.

Chivalry is still an important characteristic of our culture. Through the decades the meaning of the word has been lost. It refers to a feminine appreciation of gentlemanly conduct such as opening the door, carrying heavy items, and a polite rising to stand when greeting a woman. In Stuck we appreciate gentlemen. Yet, we realize some women like to blast men, therefore, we leave it to them to install their own washing machines.

We value men who repair toilets, install curtain rods, and walk up ladders so we can move onto the more important issues such as deciding which restaurant to eat at tonight. Yes, things have changed, even in Stuck. We don’t always use our kitchens, but rather depend on Aunt Bessie for the fried chicken dinners—although ultimately we cleave to the notion home-cooked is better.

I found my roots in Stuck. It was here I became comfortable in my own skin—accepted as if I’d always lived here. Their big hearts embraced me as if I were their own child from the cradle—so different from other towns where I felt like a deer in a forest full of hunters.

Big cities have big ideas. I’m for progress if it’s truly advancement and not regression dressed up like a large load of manure. Being Southern doesn’t mean stupid and simply being non-southern doesn’t indicate brilliant. Leave us to pick in our strawberry fields and we’ll let them find their produce at Wal-Mart.

Stuck’s temperament is like an extended hug. This gift requires a little unwrapping to survive in a small town. We like to pack our suitcases for brief trips outside the community, but our souls are fed in our own backyard. It’s not necessary to dream of fame beyond here because we’ve already achieved what’s truly important. God. Family. Friends. Purpose.

People from Stuck don’t complicate things that are simple.

We believe Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sin. It saddens me that this offends some folk because I can’t make this pretty. No one can. In fact it was brutal. His crucifixion represented the huge divide between the wicked and the righteous, a symbol as plain as daylight to us in Stuck.

In cities people tend to cover up their sin with arguments. It’s much harder to do in a small town.

Sin isn’t simple. It’s irrational, mean, and ambitious. It complicates lives and sends people down twisted paths piled high with dirty underwear. Nobody wants to dig in the laundry to sort it out for washing. At the bottom of the basket a woman may discover a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey, read it in the bathtub and wonder why she still feels dirty. After all, it was a secret.

We suggest a dive in the river of forgiveness staying down under until Jesus cleanses our innards.

Some of us folk in Stuck are a holy people and we’re madder than a bantam rooster at politicians, Hollywood, and the teachers’ union for corrupting our children. We care too much to just accept it. In our fight we’ll use weapons the big city doesn’t know about. We’ll fight on our knees, in our sleep, and without relenting until we defeat corruption. And it will die one day—banished from the face of the earth and we will live in peace with our Lord. Read the Bible. In the end, we win. Jesus reigns.