making choices

house search
I am a house hunter.
Hopefully just for a little while longer. My husband and I are settling in a new city and looking for a place to live. We have rented internationally for a long time. Now we are going to buy a home.

It has been quite the process.

I have been receiving emails for months that tempt me with the new offerings in my supposed price range. We have picked a realtor to help us search. Friends have made suggestions. We have scanned the internet realty webpages. We have looked at many maps and driven many miles through many neighborhoods and walked through many future home possibilities. Price per square foot, HOA fees, room layouts and sizes, finishings and amenities overwhelm our conversations.

Which style is me?

What do I like? What do I want? Big or small? Modern or cozy? Privacy or community? Move-in-ready or fixer-upper? Yard or carefree? Close to school district or mall? Stretch the budget or live simply?

Comparing with others only makes it worse. We know many people in the area. Some live in gorgeous, spacious homes; others in small efficient condos. Some have a pool; others a lake view. Some are amazingly decorated and organized; others are cluttered and in need of a few up-grades.

I have reflected on everything about me.

There was a day when my choice had more to do with my children and my job. What they needed was priority and simplified the options. Today I have very few real needs in a house, so it is just my chosen lifestyle that makes the determination. How do I like to spend my time? What is most important to me?

I want to be ok with who I am and my choices and not feel pressure to be like someone else.

I think the pressure and the comparison will always be there. Even at my age, I still struggle with wanting to be liked, wanting to fit it, and wanting to be someone I am not. Sometimes other people make it harder… questioning my desires and my decisions. Are you sure you want that? Wouldn’t you rather have this?

Over the years it has gotten easier. I am getting more comfortable in my own skin, but I don’t know if I will ever get over it completely.

So the search continues… for my house… and for my own identity.

How do you deal with choices and comparison? What helps you feel content with your uniquely created identity?

learning from losing

braceletCancer is a nasty enemy.

It does not discriminate and will attack all types of people.

Too many times the disease wins the battle.

My mom has terminal cancer. I wear this bracelet each day to remind me to pray for her.

I accompanied my mom to her chemo appointment the other day. Since I live in a different state, this is the first time I had the opportunity to meet her doctor and keep her company during her treatment. My sisters have been with my mom many times for these infusions; I am very grateful to them. I counted it a privilege to help this time.

The process went like this…

  • Arrive early to modern, sterile building. Check in at desk #1. Sit and wait.
  • Pay at desk #2. Sit and wait. Make small talk.
  • Chat a bit with kind, gentle, careful technicians and aides. Answer questions. Fill out paperwork. Check wristband.
  • Take elevator upstairs. Check in at desk #3. Answer questions. Fill out paperwork. Check wristband. it’s busy. Many bald, turbaned, walker-or-cane-assisted people come and go. Sit and wait. Mom called in to prepare lab work.
  • Take elevator down one floor. Sit and wait. Get mom water and coffee.
  • Move to examination room. Sit and wait.
  • Short check up with doctor. He speaks fast with a difficult-to-understand accent and medical vocabulary, but also communicates warmth and care. He has no easy answers for leg pain and weakness but he encourages goals, bucket-list dreams, and light exercise.
  • Visit desk #4 to schedule next chemo appointment and full-torso scan to check chemo effectiveness.
  • Take elevator back up. Sit and wait, as lab results are checked and drugs mixed.
  • Move to infusion chair. Answer questions for young nurse. Check wristband with drug bags. Connect port to tubing.
  • Anti-nausea med – 10 minutes. Rinse. First drug – 15 minutes. Rinse. Second drug – 1 1/2 hours.
  • Share pictures on my iPad. Visit with nearby fellow patient(s). Chat about life, grandkids, weather, wigs, cancer support group. Talk about life and death. Eat lunch. Share about feelings, fears, lifestyle changes.
  • Nurse disconnects tubes and connects pump for next two days.
  • Take elevator down. Exit hospital, grateful for another day and time together.

A seven hour process all in all, repeated every two weeks, until the drugs are no longer effective against the cancer or the side effects are too difficult for my mom. This treatment will not cure the cancer. It is terminal. I am losing my mom.

As I sort through the emotions, I learn to look for each small gift… Mom has faith and peace. She still has her hair and walks on her own, albeit slowly. She has good days when she can go out with friends. Mom receives great care from her family and the medical staff. She is loved.

Disease changes life and sometimes ends it, but disease doesn’t define life. There is more.

Have you or someone you loved fought a life-threatening disease? What have you learned from the experience?

am I lying to myself?

Have you ever read a book that shakes your world? Causes you to re-consider your values, priorities and way of life? Convicts, encourages and motivates you to change?

I just read “7“, and the book did just that in my life.

Jen Hatmaker wrote the honest, funny, thought-provoking book “7” as a diary of her seven months of considering and changing her normal life style. She temporarily exchanged her routine comfort and excess for seven months of reduction, sacrifice and the constant tension that awareness of reality brings. Each of her monthly challenges caused me to question my life and reflect on the “lies” I tell myself:

1. I’m hungry.

Jen chose to eat just seven foods for a whole month… no condiments, no chips and salsa, no desserts… no coffee!!

Although I have implemented a “life-style change” of healthier eating, I still rarely eat because I am actually hungry. Instead I eat for all the wrong reasons – I eat when I am bored, when I’m stressed, and because others are eating. I eat too much, and I eat foods that are not good for me. “7” encouraged me to make better dietary choices. Many people do not even have food to eat each day. I have so many options; I don’t want to abuse that blessing.

2. I have nothing to wear.

Jen wore the same seven items of clothing for a month. She also gave away unnecessary clothes. Jen writes, “These pretty clothes gave me confidence when I was terrified and uncertain.” Also, “Clothes used to define me when my genuine identity was fuzzy.”¹

When I say I have nothing to wear, the problem is usually not too-tight jeans, out-of-style shirts or other-season jackets. The struggle is often internal rather than external. I have way too many choices… I just haven’t found that something to make me feel secure, capable, and attractive. This book has challenged me to focus more on strengthening my character and less on filling my closet.

3. I need that.

Jen gave away seven items every day. (Clothing counted as only one item, since children’s outgrown and adults’ never-worn added up too quickly and easily.)

When we did our own moving purge, I realized that I am a “just in case” consumer. I buy for every possible scenario, every future guest, every potential project. Piles, storage boxes, and collections prove my obsession. “7” has reminded me that “Maturity deciphers need from want, wisdom from foolishness. Growing up means curbing appetites…”² I need to grow up.

4. Gotta check Facebook.

Month four was a seven media fast (except for a few necessary uses). No Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Pinterest, TV, video games, or YouTube. The Hatmakers found time for books, walks, cooking together, crafts and projects.

Life will go on… even if I don’t check Facebook each day. When I say I don’t have time for important, good-for-me activities, the truth is that I have the time… I just spend it elsewhere. I am convicted to control my media time and not allow it to control me.

5. Recycling is too much work.

Jen and her family implemented seven habits for a greener life during week five: gardening, composting, conserving, recycling, driving one car, shopping thrift, and buying local.

Jen wrote, “If we acknowledged the sacredness of creation, I suspect it would alter the way we treated it.”4 Irregardless of ecological arguments, I know there are many ways that I can better care for the earth. It will take more discipline than sacrifice, more attitude than effort. I want to be a good steward.

  6. I can’t afford to save.

Choosing to shop at only seven places was the 6th month challenge.

Moderating spending and re-directing savings to others is very counter-cultural. Personally I make few large purchases, but I can nickle and dime a budget to death. Many times my spending is linked to socializing, but consumerism does not equal community or connection. With a little adjustment, I can be more creative with my hospitality and more generous with my giving.

7. I don’t have time to rest.

Jen claims this was her most difficult month, combating stress with seven pauses each day and a Sabbath day each week.

Busyness is powerful. There are distractions, temptations and needs everywhere. On the other hand, rest is essential for continued focus, energy and health. I wrote a prior post about some of the ways I try to rest.

Jen asks very good questions in the book, and I am now asking… What gives me my value and identity? Where do I struggle with approval, appearance, recognition, control? Am I aware of my abundance and concerned about other’s needs?

I will make changes in my life because of this book, and I will live with greater tension, constantly evaluating my beliefs and choices.

Do you tell yourself lies? How do you search for truth? 


¹ Hatmaker, Jen (2011-12-19). 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess (p. 72). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

² ibid (p. 94)

³ ibid (p. 136)