Monday, May 14, 2012

Things that actually matter

(This post from Brian...)

There's nothing like a weekend back home (plus a wedding and a funeral) to remind me how bad I suck at just about everything that matters in life, and how the rest of the things that consume my time and attention just seem insignificant when I take a few steps back from the day-to-day grind.

My grandpa died this week at 82 years old. What a legacy he has left to me and my family. Reflecting on him, I came up with the following 2 lists.

List #1. Things that actually matter at the end of life (i.e. "things that I suck at"):
  1. Time spent getting to know God and His Word, and trusting Him instead of myself
  2. How well I loved Mary, served her, nourished & cherished her, built her up, spent time with her, enjoyed her
  3. How well I loved my kids, provided for them -- not just things, but also time together, people, experiences, education, stories, music, etc.
  4. If I prayed for my wife and kids, and led them toward Jesus
  5. Whether I honored my parents & grandparents, spent time with them, and took care of them when needed
  6. How well I loved and served: Mary's parents, family, and friends .. my siblings and their families .. and extended family and friends
  7. How I enjoyed God and His creation, worshipped Him, encouraged others toward Him, engaged in His community, and served my community/world
  8. In my vocation, whether I did it with passion, integrity, excellence, and whether I used my vocation to serve others

List #2. Things that don't matter, never will, and never have (i.e. "things that I spend all my time caring about"):
  1. How good I was at making or managing money ... except in pursuit of the things listed above
  2. How well-liked I was by those who didn't know me very well or deeply
  3. How cool or witty I was (or, more likely, wasn't)
  4. How perfect and organized my house/car/life is ... and how good I was at "keeping it all together"
  5. How well my kids performed at school or activities ... or how many veggies they ate
  6. How much hair I have (left)
  7. Whether my resume or list of accomplishments was impressive
  8. Whether I had a position of status or was a nobody, whether I got credit for accomplishments or not, or how high I climbed the success ladder

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Taylor family update

For the three people who told me that they read my blog:), I decided to add a post.  This past month has been quite eventful!  And the past six months have been a reminder to me that we are ultimately not in control of everything in our lives.  I hesitantly confess that I occasionally listen to K-Love on the radio which either makes me shed a tear or want to wretch it is so cheesy.  But they do play a beautiful song by Laura Story called "Blessings".  Here are the lyrics:

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
As long that we have faith to believe

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

I have shed a few tears listening to this song:)

This song reminds me of the C.S. Lewis quote: God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world. 

I have to believe that God redeems suffering in some way or I just can't make sense of some things.  In December, I unfortunately had an unexpected miscarriage.  It was the worst thing that has ever happened to me though I know it is not rare occurrence.  It happened right on Christmas which made it even worse.  Quite honestly it was terrible.  When you have a baby you are surrounded by lots of supportive people.  When you have a miscarriage you are physically in the dark and on your own.  I did have my wonderful family for support, but it is just different.  Thankfully over the past year, I have been memorizing different Bible verses.  During that dark time, those verses were to me a great comfort for my soul.  The words that I had memorized became more than words, but promises and words directly from God to me.  I felt God speaking to me and loving me during that time.  Now I don't think I'll actively be praying for hard times, but God's comfort was certainly a merciful gift.

Okay so back to this month.  Rumors have been circulated for a while at IBM about them selling Brian's division.  Finally, an article was published on the internet and the next day it was announced that Brian's division at IBM, Retail Store Solutions, is being sold to Toshiba.  Another thing we have absolutely no control over.  When IBM bought PSI we never thought that nine years later he would still be working at IBM.  But with no plans to leave and a family to support, an uncertain change can rock your world a little.  Thankfully, everything is pretty much staying exactly the same.  Same bosses, same job, same location, etc.  The change should take place sometime this summer.

And... we found out last month that we are expecting a baby.  I was cautiously excited, but since I had a miscarriage, they did an ultrasound and saw the baby and heartbeat.  Praise God!

A few other notes, Hannah is finishing up her Kindergarten year at Forest View Elementary School.  She has an amazing teacher and I am so happy the year has been such a success.  She is number 7 on the waiting list for a charter school here in town that actually goes through high school.  We are waiting to see if she gets in, and if she does we may switch her.  But, we are so happy at Forest View that if she doesn't get in, it is no big deal.  She has taken ballet this year as well and will have a final performance sometime in June.  I have renewed my commitment to read her chapter books and we are just finishing up Dr. Dolittle.  It is a great book for her age with a few pictures so things stay interesting.  We looked up all the different kind of monkeys that were mentioned in the book.  She is growing up so fast!!!

Charis is finishing up her first year of pre-school.  She has had a great year as well.  Charis really needs physical activity so I am kind of dreading her being out of school full-time.  She is so full of life.  We'll have to spend lots of time at the pool.  She has a will of her own and basically wants to wear the same things over and over again even though she has a closet full of some super cute clothes.  She is going to look back at pictures one day and say, "why did you always dress me in the that ugly shirt!"  Ummmm because you had a complete melt down every single morning and I didn't want to put up a fight.  She basically wants to do the opposite of anything you want her to do.  This morning she asked me to get her a blanket.  I brought her one and she immediately said, "I wanted the pink one".  It is exhausting.  But she is absolutely adorable, curious and loves people.  Apparently, Brian had the same will of his own growing up... according to his mom.

Well, if you are still reading I am very impressed!  Maybe I'll write another post in a few months:)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Another Favorite Thing.....

To continue with my favorite things.... immediately after I posted my last post on favorite things, I couldn't believe I left my kindle off the list.  I absolutely love my kindle.  I can get hundreds of classics for free at my fingertips at any given moment in a tiny device smaller than a regular book.  I don't have to hold a huge bulky book to read Les Miserables.  I can underline and un-underline, write notes and then get all of my underlines and notes online and put them in a word document.  I can send documents to my kindle and read them.  I can even see popular highlights from others which is sometimes interesting.  It is the best $100 I have spent this past year.  Brian borrowed mine for a trip and then bought his own.  I can even get the greek bible on the kindle.  As part of this post, I am including a few quotes from the book I am currently reading (only 20% done according to the kindle).  Can you guess what it is??

"But as soon as one is at rest, in this world, off he goes on something else to worry about."

"The mere knowledge of a fact is pale; but when you come to realize your fact, it takes on color. It is all the difference between hearing of a man being stabbed to the heart, and seeing it done."

" It seems to show that there isn't anything you can't stand, if you are only born and bred to it."

You can stop reading here or suffer through this last quote.  It might identify the book, if you read it in 10th grade English.

"Now it is curious how progressively little frets grow and multiply after they once get a start.  Things which I didn't mind at all, at first, I began to mind now—and more and more, too, all the time.  The first ten or fifteen times I wanted my handkerchief I didn't seem to care; I got along, and said never mind, it isn't any matter, and dropped it out of my mind.  But now it was different; I wanted it all the time; it was nag, nag, nag, right along, and no rest; I couldn't get it out of my mind; and so at last I lost my temper and said hang a man that would make a suit of armor without any pockets in it.  You see I had my handkerchief in my helmet; and some other things; but it was that kind of a helmet that you can't take off by yourself.  That hadn't occurred to me when I put it there; and in fact I didn't know it.  I supposed it would be particularly convenient there.  And so now, the thought of its being there, so handy and close by, and yet not get-at-able, made it all the worse and the harder to bear.  Yes, the thing that you can't get is the thing that you want, mainly; every one has noticed that. Well, it took my mind off from everything else; took it clear off, and centered it in my helmet; and mile after mile, there it stayed, imagining the handkerchief, picturing the handkerchief; and it was bitter and aggravating to have the salt sweat keep trickling down into my eyes, and I couldn't get at it.  It seems like a little thing, on paper, but it was not a little thing at all; it was the most real kind of misery.  I would not say it if it was not so. I made up my mind that I would carry along a reticule next time, let it look how it might, and people say what they would.  Of course these iron dudes of the Round Table would think it was scandalous, and maybe raise Sheol about it, but as for me, give me comfort first, and style afterwards."

Friday, October 21, 2011

Waynesville, NC

In 1998 my parents bought a cabin in Waynesville, NC.   A real cozy cabin on a mountain in Waynesville.  Over the years we have enjoyed so many great times at the cabin.  Since Brian has been working a lot, I decided to drive the girls over to Waynesville to give him some time to work without worrying about us.  Hannah is also taking a few days off of school.  It wasn't the ideal drive because it was raining the whole time and I am a tense driver, but it wasn't too bad.  The girls slept the majority of the trip while I listened to Tim Keller sermons and my brother's new CD.  I honestly think Tim Keller has been the most influential speaker in my life over the past 5 years.  There are so many spiritual truths and passages of scripture that I understand more because of his sermons.  We have also gotten to hear him speak 3 or 4 times at his church in New York.  Every time I hear him, I feel enriched.  I am grateful for his ministry and boldness in teaching the Word of God.  I also listened to Franklin's new CD a few times.  It is really good (I may be a little biased) and brought back lots of great memories of growing up and listening to his music.  Here is a link to the album:

It is so easy to enjoy the simple things in life while you are at the cabin.  Beautiful fall leaves, driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway, shopping at the general store, hot beverages, little girls in matching pajamas, buying mountain apples and apple cider, reading a book.  Life justs slows down here and it is fun to do pretty much nothing.  The leaves are absolutely beautiful and I feel so lucky to be here at this time.  Today we drove a little of the parkway.  At one point we made it to snow.  It was just amazing... pure white with some orange sprinkled in.  I can't believe we live so close to such breath-taking natural views.  What fun memories I have of this place and I hope our girls will too!

Friday, September 30, 2011

These are a few of my favorite things

So Oprah has her favorite things and today I was thinking of a list of mine.  Here are a few...
  • Lenovo Ideapad- Another thing that I traded some gold jewelry in for.  Brian picked out this great laptop for me.  I was debating getting a Ipad, but decided it was just a big toy and we already have an I touch.  I love, love, love my Ideapad.  It is brand new so I get to organize everything really well.  I have been setting up all sorts of cleaning schedules, calendars, and weekly meal plans.   This is the perfect small laptop and great for all my needs.
Okay that is all for now, but I know I have more so I will add those later.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

A blog revival

We haven't blogged in a really long time. Life has taken over and I rarely have time to actually reflect while sitting at a computer. But, things are changing.

After a year of agonizing over where Hannah will go to kindergarten (actually probably more like 5 years), she has started at Forest View Elementary School. I didn't cry at all though I do feel her absence during the day. She has a great teacher and I am grateful that she is in such a diverse environment. There is really no majority or minority of race/culture in her class. There are kids from Asia, India, Denmark, France, Vietnam (I think) and some Hispanic and African American, and Caucasian children as well. She truly is color blind. What a blessing.

Charis will also start pre-school this week which will lead to even more time. She is so excited and full of life. She will have no problem adjusting and I know she will love her class. I am trying to sign her up for a gymnastics class. She loves hanging and has the biggest quad muscles of any 2 year old I have seen. We go next Thursday for her to try it out. Hannah will continue taking ballet and adjusting to her big time school schedule.

Another reason I am optimistic about our blog is that I traded in my gold jewelry and used some of the profit to buy a new laptop. I now have more flexibility in writing. A big thank you to Brian who picked out the perfect computer for my needs. I love it!

I also have more time to reflect because I will be in the car a lot more doing carpool. I spent an evening downloading listening materials and also picked some stuff up at the library.

Providentially, I found a neat CD at the library compiled by Julie Andrews of lots of different songs and poems. It was great listening to it these past few days. Here is a great poem that is on it by Charles Dickens. I love Dickens and I totally agree with him about Autumn!

‘Tis pleasant on a fine spring morn
To see the buds expand,.
‘Tis pleasant in the summer time
To see the fruitful land;
‘Tis pleasant on a winter’s night
To sit around the blaze,
But what are joys like these, my boys,
To merry autumn days!

We hail the merry Autumn days,
When leaves are turning red;
Because they’re far more beautiful
Than anyone has said,
We hail the merry harvest time,
The gayest of the year;
The time of rich and bounteous crops,
Rejoicing and good cheer.

Be on the look out for more posts!