Happy New Year!! Good or bad, I am a classic people pleaser. I want everything to run smoothly and happily. I want everyone to love Jesus, each other, and be sweet.
I was the first one to marry into the Langley family. I fell in love, not only with Bill but also with his family. I wanted everything to be perfect the first time Bill’s mother, whom everyone referred to as Mama Lou, came to stay with us in our little seminary apartment in Fort Worth, Texas. I had cleaned the apartment and prepared a nice dinner for the occasion.
Our little triplex was at the very edge of where seminary property ended. Across the street from us was a house that was always a little worrisome. We have no idea who actually lived there, but the thing I do know is they never used the front door to come and go. There was an unusually large window on the same side of the street that faced our front. There were countless guys coming and going out of that window day and night for all the years we lived there. They didn’t speak English but always seemed nice and respectful enough, well, as respectful as one can be going in and out of windows all hours of the day and night while also occasionally using the window as a urinal.
We had never mentioned this problem to Mama Lou, we thought she might worry. She lived in a place where people just didn’t come in and out of windows. I knew this was one thing I had no control over when she came to visit. I just hoped they wouldn’t be using the window as a urinal during her stay at 2608 West Bolt Street! If she did notice this and felt worried, she never told us. I can remember being grateful for that.
It’s funny to look back and think how tiny our place was. I can remember when we ate at the four top drop-leaf table that belonged to Bill’s grandparents; I could refill everyone’s glasses during dinner without even getting up. “You forgot the butter, no worries, let me just lean over this way and get it from the fridge.” … I fixed a top-notch dinner on our brand new wedding china.
The three of us moved to our living room after dinner to catch up and visit. My Dad always said as we sat together before the conversation began, “Well, tell off something.” So, in step with my dad, we were each ‘telling off something.’ At one point, I interjected how tired I was after a busy week in school and work. After mentioning that, Mama Lou said to me, “You better get your iron up.” I looked at her hoping for more information… but that was it. So when my new southern mother-in-law told me to “get your iron up”, brother, I got my iron up! I obediently, without question, smiled and nodded my head. I jumped up and went back into our room where I proceeded to drag the ironing board and iron into the living room and set it up.
While noticing my sudden activity, but not diverting from their conversation, Bill and Mama Lou never asked me what in the world I was doing. After I got everything set up I said; “Ok Mama Lou, here’s your iron all heated up and ready to go.” She and Bill both looked at me in silence until Mama Lou laughingly said, “Oh, honey, I was talking about the iron in your blood since you are so tired!” It never even entered my mind that I wasn’t doing the exact right thing for the moment. Total confidence in my actions … until I was told otherwise. That’s pretty much how I have always rolled in my life.
Have you ever read the children’s book series called, Amelia Bedelia? Let me summarize for you. It’s the story of a girl who took everything said as literal (I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this). If I know you and trust you, It’s pretty easy to pull the wool over my eyes, as they say. Through the years I try to stay ahead of this but in spite of my best efforts, I am pretty gullible. My children regularly and creatively find great pleasure in this.
As I face the front end of a new year I really do need to get my iron up. Our family was sick with Covid the day after Christmas. We bought a fixer-upper and have been renovating our house for what seems like, at this point, my entire life. We barely had our kitchen built before it was time to get decorated for Christmas. It looked good enough for the holidays but behind the tinsel and lights, tucked here and there was an enormous mess! After giving in to the virus for a few days I started to feel a bit better and began to face the dreaded deconstruction of Christmas past. This year was so complex due to our unfinished home renovation and our lingering illness that it was more difficult to face than in previous years.
Bill and I together managed to work up the strength and got it done after a week-long effort. We really had no choice as phase 3 of our renovation was to begin on January 10th. It is daunting and overwhelming, to say the least knowing we are not finished with this project. I need all the strength, courage, and energy I can muster as I face the new year. My vitamins are front and center in our new kitchen and I am determined to slowly but surely get that iron up.
Maybe you are also feeling weak or overwhelmed as you face the new year…How about we do this together, let’s get our iron up in every possible way — understood or misunderstood, literally or figuratively, whatever it looks like for your life. Set some goals and work hard to achieve them. If it helps, laugh at yourself and your situation as laughter is the best medicine. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Go in and out of a window occasionally just to see if you still can. Your life doesn’t have to be perfect, you just need to trust in the One who is!
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have perfect peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer (take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted)! For I have overcome the world…I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.”- John 16:33
Psalm 105:4 “Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.”