What Do I Really Want? #2

A year has passed since I decided that what I really wanted for my 65th birthday was to work a Christmas puzzle. (See here.)

My finished puzzle July 2022

Sometimes, it’s easy to know what I really want—the ray rather than the shirt. I had been eyeing the plush souvenir for days and made the switch as my husband walked to the cash register. The previous plan was matching Emerald Isle tech shirts.

The ray joins a plush crab, otter, and alligator.

Other times, it’s not so easy.

My husband and I are searching for our retirement home. We recently toured a one-level brick with spacious bedrooms, a remodeled kitchen, and more importantly, in an excellent location—close to events, lots of woods and an easily maintained large lot. Except, I discovered after the tour that what I thought might be my “dream house” in a “dream location” wasn’t what I really wanted.

What do I really want?

Unlike working a puzzle or buying a souvenir plush ray, this decision has rest-of-my-life consequences.

How do you decide what you really want?


The Word “No” (A Reader’s Response)

My faithful friend Barb gave me permission to share her experience saying “No.”

“One time I listened to a CD on how to order your home. I listened to it with two friends. At one point they told us to stop the CD and practice saying No and we did. They suggested saying, ‘No, my plate is full.’

“Now I ask my husband to tell me ‘No’ so I can say ‘My husband said no.’ That has helped. But in 2021, I drove my dad and his wife up north from Florida. That caused me to be a horrible driver. I told my husband to remind me the following spring to say No and not offer to drive my dad back up north. My husband replied, ‘I told you not to do it this year.’  I just need to listen to my husband and do what he says.”


The Word “No”

Multiple times, I have been told, “The word ‘No’ is a complete sentence.”

If so, why can’t I stop after I say “No?” Why do I talk myself into a “Yes” or follow my “No” with enough loopholes to allow others to turn my “No” into a “Yes?”

A walking buddy once said, “It’s in the 20s.” I offered to walk when the temperature rose. Another time Mary said, “I can’t walk the two-mile loop today.” I suggested our one-mile route. Weeks later, she said, “You never let me be lazy and accept my ‘No’ to walking.” As a literalist, I didn’t realize she was saying “No” to walking.

What am I learning? If I can’t stop at “No,” I should add, “No, that time is scheduled.” Or “No, I am not available.” That is true even if I plan to read or take a nap. A relative said his go-to is “That doesn’t work for me.”

Why is such a little word so hard to say? Guilt? “No” is not a bad word. Our “No” may give another person the opportunity to say “Yes.”

Are you able to say “No” by just using a “N” and an “O?”

Decisions, Homeschooling, Parenting

Choosing A Pace

Snow is lingering—if not on the ground, then in my mind. I dread its loss. My husband sees its exit as the start of the race season.

Training matters, but winning races involves strategy as much as physical fitness. My husband was not yet a runner when he learned this truth from a collegiate, cross-country roommate.

2014 Kent Island Start Line

Runners have pulled ahead too soon and been unable to maintain their speed. Or withdrawn. Runners have not followed the leaders’ surges and later been unable to close the gap. Runners have won by staying behind before their own late surge.

Pull ahead? Stay with the group? Hang back and wait?

Successful runners know when to leave the pack and when to let the pack leave them.

Along the way, I learned that the same strategies applied to parenting and homeschooling decisions.

Should I stick with standard curricula and goals? Was I falling behind and dragging my children with me if I resisted the latest parenting or homeschooling trends—especially when acquaintances were on an accelerated track? Would matching their pace lead to victory? Or defeat? Our optimal strategy was occasionally unclear.

How do you choose your pace?

Decisions, Family, Friendship

Repaying Evil with Blessing

Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called that you may obtain a blessing.

1 Peter 3:9 (ESV)

My husband and I memorized 1 Peter 3:9-12 with our Sunday School students in 1988. Later, we taught our own children those verses. I knew they were true because they are God’s Word. However, one afternoon, I especially felt their power.

As I stood on a balcony and gazed at a beautiful view during a vacation opportunity, I Peter 3:9 came to mind.

A favorite spot

When I do as I ought—not repaying evil for evil but rather blessing—God does not owe me anything, but in his mercy, he gives me blessings. That afternoon, I remembered God’s blessings for pursuing peace.

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.

I Peter 3:12

Remembering lately?