Our yard has two enormous trees that drop these enormous nuts (I think Lee said they're hickory?). It sounds like someone was just shot every 30 seconds. And the leaves shed from August to November. So, I decided last night that I was going to use Lee's leaf blower to blow some leaves and nuts off of our deck. Funny thing though: I am terrible at pulling that little cord thingy that starts manly things like lawnmowers or weedeaters or blowers...
(Who am I kidding? I've never started a lawn mower in my life. I did try to weed eat a few times and one time chopped off half of my grandpa's magnolia bush and that one on the far right of his yard was significantly smaller due to this mishap. And he gave me a hard time about it all of the time until he died. Just providing entertainment.)
ANYWAY, I decided that I was going to blow off the deck. Y'all. I literally almost broke my leg/hip trying to start the dang thing. (And of course, one of my daughters from another mother was here to witness all of this grace.) My leg was still sore and tweaked this morning. It takes serious talent to be this special.
Fast forward to this evening. We were at Lowe's (because, Hi, my name is Carmen and I married a Boso man) and while Lee was returning some enormous screw/bolt thingumabob, I went and looked at blowers. I decided that I was going to spend some of my birthday money and buy a corded blower/vac. When we came home and I ripped into that sucker, (Pun absolutely intended) I tried both the blower and the vacuum function.
As I walked around sucking up leaves (And those awful nuts), I was transported by nearly all of my senses to my childhood. You see, my OCD side is something I come by honestly. Several nights a week in the Fall for all of my life, my dad has been outside with his leaf vac cleaning up the yard. I remember vividly after my grandaddy's death when I was 8. I didn't understand it all, seeing that I was so young. But, I remember a week or so after he died, it was Halloween. I remember trick-or-treating and coming back to our yard that dad had been working hard to clean and I felt a peace that everything was returning to normal and it was going to be okay. The smell of the leaves mulching as they are extracted from the grass, the sound of the vacuum crunching the dead leaves, the feeling of the air as Fall enters, the sounds of the kids playing in the yard while it was all going on and the look of an abnormally clean yard that had recently been covered in dead fall foliage.
You know, for me, the biggest memories I have of my childhood are the little sounds and smells. The feeling of the finality of a day when I heard mom turn on the dishwasher and flip off the kitchen light. The smell of relaxation of the bacon being cooked for a Saturday morning breakfast. The sound of festivity with the Oak Ridge Boys Christmas tape playing in the car that brought all four of us to singing in the car ride home from church. The smell of the cinnamon lamp ring that mom would put on the lamp on Fridays while we were at school that made the whole house smell like a cinnamon broom while she baked 4 cookies from refrigerated dough (2 for me and 2 for my brother) as she awaited our return from school. Once we came in from school, we would sit down in the living room and this was the birth place of the random question game, "What was the best part of your day?" "What was the worst part of your day?" Every Friday.
As a mother raising children in the social media age where Pinterest dictates the constant feeling of inferiority and likes and comments determine our worthiness to throw a party or craft. (I need no help to feel inferior in both categories), it's easy to feel inadequate. But tonight, as the simple act of removing leaves from my yard transported me back to a brick house 2 hours away that isn't even owned by my family anymore, I began to reflect on something my mom told me a few years back. She said that, "It's not the big things that they [the kids] remember. I would spend tons of time and effort to try to create a big memory. But now that you all are adults, it isn't the big things you remember, it's the little things that stick around." I found so much comfort in this.
As this year has been a year of me implementing daily disciplines, I have found so much of my business life, spiritual life, relationships, and physical health have all woven together. I listened to a training that one time stated that "Goals are met when we do daily disciplines". It's not met when you cram. It isn't the crash diet and a few weeks of a hardcore exercise program. It isn't spending hours 1x a month working. It's by DAILY doing the little things. Those are the things that stick around. Those are the things that translate to big changes. Those are the ways that goals are met in any area.
Sure, the big things can bring SOME fruit. But, how many people do we know that go to a church camp or a retreat and have a big coming to Jesus moment and then come home and have returned to feeling no change in 2 weeks. Or someone who does a crash diet where they consume 1,000 calories a day and workout for two hours a day and when life happens and they can't sustain it (Or they get too dang hungry), they're back where they were. What causes this? The lack of daily discipline. Daily disciplines, doing the little things every day, are the things that add up.
Don't pull the Valentine's approach to relationships. You can't act like a romantic person 1 day a year and not be able to determine why your relationshps are shot. IT ISN'T THE BIG THINGS. Do the little things. Send the text when you think of it. Sit down and have a conversation. Open your Bible every day. Clean a little bit of your house every day. Find an exercise program that is life-giving for you (therefore is sustainable) and embrace that time. Invest in your business every day. Don't just show up; put your heart into it.
Proverbs 5:23 says, "He dies for lack of self-discipline and because of his great folly, he is led astray." If you're not growing, you're dying.
The extraordinary is built while being ordinary. Stop putting the pressure on yourself that you have to do the big things. Do the little things first. Give those your attention. And those little things are the ones that are going to get you where you need to be. It's okay to stop and take a breath.
And for the love, someone make that pull cord thing easier to pull.