My Last Words

There is just so much to DO!

Once upon a time when I was just a wee, nerdy little girl, I had a vivid awareness. My body had too many parts to keep clean. Apparently, my tiny bit of OCD-ness had already kicked in at probably about six years old, because I remember someone reminding me of a place to wash at bath time — probably my belly button or behind my ears — and I remember thinking, *That, too?!?! How am I ever gonna keep all this clean??*

Every day, or bath such as it were, starts with so much opportunity, and then we begin the forward motion that is our lives, and by the time our heads collapse against a soft spot, we’ve inevitably tossed a good portion of that day’s task list onto some future place of hopefulness.

Ladies, I speak to you first because, well, I am one, and I know the list well. Picking one thing from our lists, let’s just talk hair. Seriously, from waxing, to shaving, to plucking, to cutting, to coloring, to styling, to remembering and scheduling and finding the time to shave, pluck, wax, cut, color, style — it’s practically a full-time job! Now add in the rest that is our life. I just don’t know how we do it. We keep track of everyone around us but only to the point that they don’t feel kept track of. We keep the machines that are our world running underneath everyone we love. And we will continue to do so even as the numbers multiply and our families grow and reproduce more people for us to feel responsibility for love.

Men, hats off. I can only speak from experience, and my experience is that my sweet man has far too much on his plate. Just keeping up with me and my demands amazingness would be enough, but from the way-too-many-hours it takes to own a business and all that entails to actually DOING all the work involved in said business, to maintaining everything around here that falls outside my realm of capability, to looking and smelling so dang good, to leading a family with integrity and character and strength — it’s a lot.

Day-to-day, we just all have a lot. Looking at things big-picture, we could just call it overwhelming and quit sometimes, right?

Nope. We can’t. We just keep trying. You can do like I did and stick your head in the sand and hope it goes away. I’m a pro at that technique. For awhile there (like the first half of our marriage), I was in charge of bills at our house. When we couldn’t afford the life we’d made anymore, I got scared of the envelopes that appeared in ugly piles every day and quit opening them. Not my finest choice. It wasn’t long until my sweet man took that job over.

At some point (probably in some hotel room when I caught a glimpse of the reality of the size of my behind), I realized that I didn’t have a full-length mirror in my life. Not looking didn’t change a darn thing.

Whether I look or not; whether I carve out a moment from this crazy-full life I’ve created to actually SEE what it may look like from the outside, I am leaving a mark. I have affected people with my choices and words. Some people have unfriended me. ouch. There are folks who don’t want to bump into me at the grocery store as much as I turn tail and run like a madwoman may avoid them. I have failed at a lot of things.

When I look at the things I want to be, sometimes it feels likes belly buttons and the behinds-of-ears. But, as much as I know that I’ve failed, there are also a few nuggets about which I feel really stinking proud.

This morning, I got to thinking about what folks would say about me if I were no longer around. Do it. It’ll sober you up in a hurry. The more I thought, the more I realized that whatever words those might be have not yet been etched in stone. I still have a chance to *write* them — or *right* them, as it were. Since I can’t say anything in 10 words or less –heck, who am I kidding, I need several hundred — my self-written epitaph may look more like a blog post than it should, but I feel inspired to write what I would like it to say. Not what I think I deserve because, well, ain’t nobody got time for that. I mean, what would I like to become in the meantime that would inspire such words. More than any resolution for a year that would most likely last a matter of weeks, I want to resolve to begin to become my last words. These last words:

Who was Alison?

She loved. Yes, she loved food and to eat, but somehow, even more than a well-thought out dish, she loved all those she had been given with everything she had — and they knew it without a doubt. She found beauty in everything, and knew from Whose hand those things came. She was a good friend — yes, she forgot to send birthday cards and mostly forgot her friends’ kids birthdays — but she cared deeply about the hearts of those she had the privilege to get to know. She loved her God. She knew He had rescued her from much, and her life was an offering of love in return. She was a wife that loved the other half of her heart with all she had to offer and made her man feel like a king. She was kind with her words. At some point, she let go of her past and made peace with it all, but even before that she used the pain as a catalyst for changing the face of love in her life.  She laughed big and often, and inspired such in others. She was a momma — through and through and to the core; she imagined what a momma should look like and became it. Her children and grandchildren know this well. love

This. This is where my future lies. Anything that doesn’t look like those words, is empty and a waste of my time. If I manage those things, even with a uni-brow, so be it. If I fail every third time, but manage twice, I should be proud. If I did all this and there was laundry yet to be folded in the basket, it just won’t matter a bit.

So, would you join me? Would you consider what you’d like your last words to be? Would you write them down and aim toward them? Skip the gym, and invest that time into something that will last beyond January.

If you’re in this with me, say so. I’d love to hear from you.  Let’s start a thing.  Let’s do this together and write our last words! And share this post so others will do the same.

Impact

We bought a boat!!  The cutest little orange vintage boat you’ve ever seen.  Well, that I’ve ever seen, anyway.  Of course, since it is my favorite color, I took note of it and its for sale sign the first time I drove past it so I could tell my boys.  Surprisingly, the boys thought it was adorable, too!  Well, maybe the cuteness factor wasn’t the determiner.  Perhaps it was their newfound desire to fish and the need that accompanies that desire to actually stay afloat.  The little duck boat they had been using at the time wasn’t quite cutting it for two grown men.  Maybe it was the water collecting slowly in the bottom.  Or perhaps the fact that if one of them moved staying afloat was in question.  You know.  The little things.

So, they split the cost and went to put that baby in the water –on my birthday.  Yup, the best day of the year was to be spent sunbathing and picnicking in the sunshine on a gorgeous, nearby inland lake.

Until the new boat trailer’s wheel broke off and left us stranded alongside a dirt road.

These are the moments in which you realize how alone you are in the world when you have moved five hundred miles from everything you knew.  No friend with a trailer can come help you.  Even if he could, how would you then move an ancient, ridiculously heavy boat to a  working trailer?

My guys worked in 85 degree heat on a dusty road in a gazillion biting flies to try to salvage the situation, to no avail.  Left alongside a road for the night, our new little boat had no way to begin a journey.

The next day, my clever boys rigged a fix to limp the boat to a nearby lake, found a boat trailer for sale in our little village (that is some kind of miracle right there when you consider the next-to-nothing population), and got our new orange vehicle back home.

It would be several days until we had time to launch the Merriweather into the water, but when we did — what a moment!  We went huge when we chose our location to launch.  We chose a huge bay on one of the most intimidating bodies of water.  Why?  Because we could!  And off we went!  Perma-grin set in with wind-whipped hair and we sped off into clear blue water under a clear blue sky virtually alone.  And, for once, the Kirkseys had an adventure without drama!

As I reveled in the moment, I couldn’t help but stare behind us at the impact we had on this massive body of water.  Our little cutest orange boat was making its mark, blazing a trail.  Without even meaning to, we had impact.

impact

impact: strong effect;  the powerful or dramatic effect that something or somebody has

Recently, we have watched some folks we love be hurt beyond description by the actions of another.  One path, one course of actions has left folks in its wake tossed around like so many golf balls in a dryer.  This person is completely refusing to look behind at the damage their direction has and will continue to cause.

Other folks we talk to are crazy-concerned about their impact.  Running around trying to do all and be all and make others change.  These folks splash and flip and do somersaults determined to make a wake behind them that will last.

Whether we like it or not, we make some sort of wake.  Someone, somewhere can see where we’ve been and where we are headed.  There are folks behind getting smacked by our impact or maybe bobbing along in our ripples.  But, we cannot travel forward without some sort of effect.

Unless we sit completely still.   And, really.  What fun is that?

Our family comes from a background of faith.  Some folks would call it religion.  This religion has a tendency, in my little opinion, to focus on our impact in a way that sets folks up to fail.  There’s a checklist of sorts that is laid out and often determined by man.  It started as what God asked of us and morphed into a list determined by whom you ask.  These do’s and don’ts, front flips and cannonballs of action that qualify as impact are what seem to make a Good Christian in the eyes of some.  Sadly, it also leaves others who feel like they never will or never want to qualify, squarely on the outside.

There’s also a spin on being a Christian that is equally concerning — the Pick-and-Choose variety.  The one where certain parts of the Bible are worth applying and believing and then other parts are able to be tossed out as irrelevant and regarded as some sort of nice story similar to perhaps, Aesop and his fables.

I understand it  takes a certain amount of crazy faith to believe what’s in that book.  I admit, from the outside, some of the stories recorded in there sound beyond far-fetched.  But to understand them, you need to dig in a bit.  Some parts are historical.  Some parts of poetry.  Some are, believe it or not, scientific answers to our questions.  As a family, we discussed this the other night and we summed it up with two points.  The first being, if we believe any, we believe all.  We don’t get to pick and choose.  With the grace part comes the love part (the favorites, right?) and with both of those there is the truth part — the part that we’d rather not face.  Like it or not, if we want any, we get all.  My kids didn’t just get the fun side of their Momma —  though I am an awful lot of fun.  They also got Chore Momma, and Exhausted Momma, and Crabby Momma.  If they want any, they get all.

And secondly, let’s be honest.  It would take a certain amount of crazy faith to choose to disbelieve that book!  To believe that this life is really significant enough to be all there is.  To believe that we, this unbelievably complex system of life, came from a bunch of random accidents in the universe.  Frankly, I’d rather not believe that my great-great-great-great (and so on) grandaddy was a dolphin who thought legs would be nice and became a cow!  I much prefer Psalm 139 as my story!

But, I don’t believe I necessarily need to go out and force my belief on anyone to either make myself more right or to have an impact.

What I’m about to say is one crazy concept.  Are you ready?

What if, I do me and you do you.  What if I listen to my God and trust that He will tell me, Alison, each day, how to have impact in my world — this area of the world he has placed me in…

And as I’m faithful with what I’ve been given, He will make it effective.

If you aren’t quite sure what I mean, read Hebrews 11.  By faith, by faith, by faith, folks obeyed what God told just them to do, each story unique, and He turned it into something noteworthy.  They didn’t all do the same thing, yet they all did something by faith.

Isn’t that interesting?  We all just listen and follow the path set before us in obedience as a response to the mighty love of our Creator and He allows us to have impact.  So beautiful.  So simple.  So very good.

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