Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Serving

I haven't written in so long that when I come to this page (as I have several times) I freeze up and decide I have nothing to say that is worth reading. And that is still true, but I need to write. It is imperative. Well maybe not imperative, but it would feel good to be putting something up here regularly again.

Part of my problem is that so much of what I ponder involves other people and I'm not really willing to put their lives into my blogs.

Church Dinners.
Our church has a lot of potluck dinners. The cooks bring out their best in large quantities and there are overwhelming varieties of desserts. But church dinners are different now than they used to be.

If my memory is correct, people used to be more thoughtful at church dinners. There were always some dishes that looked especially good, desserts that were extra gooey, pies that had the 'made from scratch' look. As people went through the line they were careful to take small portions of those dishes so that as many people as possible could taste them. The dessert pans would empty in an orderly fashion. The first piece taken would be a corner piece and then pieces would be taken so that each row cut would be emptied before the next row was begun.

I think we must have assumed our children would just pick up this etiquette and forgot to tell them the unwritten rules. The best casseroles get emptied very early in the line, and the desserts are even more blatantly abused. People take all the middle pieces first leaving the slightly drier edge pieces for those who come later.

Our church is pretty good at being servant minded. This potluck behavior is the exception rather than the rule. It seems kind of weird, though, to bring home a pan of brownies with the middle gone and the edges remaining. Our servanthood doesn't seem to extend to our table.

Speaking of servanthood, we are entering a new phase of life. Our busyness has gone out of control and things are changing around here. Because I do not have gainful employment (and Chuck puts in pretty long hours on the farm) I have always been the designated driver/cook/errand runner/laundress/cleaner, etc. But now the schedule has made it impossible to be all those things at once. The transition has been amazingly smooth so far. Chuck has been offering to drive sometimes and cook other times. He starts the dishes and picks up more, sees me grab a laundry basket and jumps up to bring in the wash from the line with me, checks to see if I need anything, tells me to take a break and lie down for a while. I feel appreciated.

*******

James moved home today. It has been about six years since we have lived in the same house and I am hopeful and excited and a little scared. Right now he and Chuck just finished carrying wood for the stove and are installing mini blinds in James' bedroom windows. We bought clothes and got a driving learner's permit, and did a lot of other errands today. We will be very busy and we will be careful around each other and we will take things one day at a time.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Time for everything?

One of the things I've been thinking about these days is time use and productivity. In a culture where we are not required to spend all our waking time on survival, how do we decide what to do and what to not do?

We are told that exercise is important, that 30 minutes a day is recommended but 60 minutes would really be better.

It is good to spend time in contemplation/devotion/prayer, but how much?

Work traditionally is expected to take about 8 hours without a commute. Beyond that is still laundry, cleaning, and cooking. If there are children then there are children's activities to attend, drive to, or orchestrate.

Hobbies, friendships, church, classes....

I enjoy the privilege of not earning a monetary salary. Because I don't have to go to a job every day I am free to schedule my own time.

When I had a job as a para in the school district, there were times nearly every day when my help was not required. I had time every day when all I could do was sit and wait for the next assignment. Because I could do nothing to change that, I could have those 'nothing' moments and never feel guilty. Of course, as much as possible I tried to find ways to be helpful that were beyond my job description, but even so, I still had times when all I could do was sit.

Scheduling my own time does not leave me guilt free time. No matter what I am doing there is something else I could be doing that may or may not be more important. I find myself obsessing about it.

I garden, bake bread, preserve fruits and vegetables, visit my grandma, make phone calls, hang all our laundry out to dry, cook most of our meals from scratch, wash the dishes, file reports, do whatever cleaning gets done here, run errands, chauffeur kids, keep track of our farm and home finances, work at the church...

I also read the newspaper and a couple of magazines, do yoga (at home), watch movies and ER, occasionally take my dog for a walk, have devotions, write emails, keep up with some blogs, check out the NPR website, and otherwise waste time.

What I have trouble with is knowing if the balance is good. The temptation is to measure based on what other people do, but comparison isn't appropriate. You choose who you compare to based on whether you want to feel better or worse about your own choices.

I guess I'll have to figure this out more some other time, because right now my own choice involves a bed.