Fred Kennedy

Building a Home

It’s been almost 20 years since we moved from Massachusetts to Virginia and into the place we now call home. This was the first time our family ever lived in a brand new house. We watched it being built, from a hole in the ground to move-in day when we were handed the keys.

It was a far cry from the 110-year-old Victorian we left behind with all its character and charm. Also left behind were the memories of the blood, sweat and tears it took to rehab almost every room. We were weekend warriors back then, investing every moment and every dime in our home.

As we begin looking toward retirement, we are now planning our next home . . . where it might be, and what it might look like. For once we can dare to dream about life outside the boundaries of work, and living each day according to our own plans. What an amazing concept!

Memories of past, present and future homes have occupied my thoughts recently. But this past week I had to add a new item to my growing requirements for our next destination: close proximity to a quality medical center. My mom fell and broke her hip on Friday and I was so grateful that she is living nearby, and no longer in a remote town in southwestern Maine. She was able to reach the hospital quickly and had hip replacement surgery on the same day. Two days and many prayers later, she is back home and will be receiving home health care during her recovery.

Amidst the chaos of the past two days, I was captivated by another home being built, this time in our own back yard. A tiny pair of White-breasted Nuthatches began building a nest in an abandoned birdhouse. I stood at the kitchen window, binoculars in hand, and watched one of the birds trying to fit a long piece of bark through the hole. It turned the bark one way and then the other. It hung upside down on the perch and tried again. It was almost painful to watch and I was literally cheering the little bird on. “You can do it! Don’t give up!” This went on for several minutes before it flew to the ground, dropped the bark and went searching for another piece.

These little birds are on a strict timeline to get their nest ready for their young. There are no blueprints to follow, contractors to call or building inspectors to wait on — only God’s plan which was designed specifically for them. And they will toil without complaint until it is done, one piece of bark at a time.

As for me, I am grateful for each house I have lived in, and the memories I will carry with me from one to the next. But I know in my heart that nothing can possibly compare to the majestic and magnificent place that will be my forever home.

Fred Kennedy

A Fresh Start

It seems most everyone I know is doing some sort of cleansing these days. A few years back I would have thought that meant scrubbing the kitchen sink or bathroom floors, but in today’s culture it usually means “detoxing” or ridding the body of harmful chemicals or other unhealthy substances that may build up over time. This cleansing is typically done with special diets of juices or fasting, or maybe a combination of both. After doing a bit more research on the subject though, I decided it was not for me.

The thought of a lifestyle cleanse though . . . that was another matter.

I’ve never given up anything for Lent in the past, but this year it seemed important to me — almost urgent. There was a growing hunger for peace and rest and also a deep yearning for spiritual renewal. I had to do something. As Ash Wednesday approached, I began analyzing many of my daily habits and considered what I might give up sacrificially. I needed to find something that when removed, would have a significant impact on my life. There was only one “toxin” that immediately sprang to mind, but I quickly made excuses and pushed it aside. I could always find reasons to stay connected to Facebook.

In the end, my resistance to unplugging proved to me why it was so necessary. It was time. I thoughtfully planned my exit and even wrote a post explaining why I would be absent for six weeks. Thinking back, that in itself is kind of scary. Certainly there would be ways for my friends and family to reach me if they didn’t see me online! I posted my exit strategy a week ahead of my departure, and in doing so I discovered others who had been secretly longing to do the same thing. (Hopefully they are not reading this, because if they are, then I guess they changed their minds or were unable to make the break.) Note: This blog auto-posts to my Facebook page via WordPress, so no, I am not cheating. 🙂

Have I missed it so far? I can honestly say, not very much. I’ve caught myself several times right before habitually tapping on the familiar blue app on my iPad for a morning update. And right about now I am wondering about the chatter I am missing about the upcoming March snowstorm threatening our region. But here I am, blogging again. My husband and I have been spending more time together. I am reading a Lenten devotion and learning to be still again. I sip coffee while watching birds at our feeder. I am rediscovering things I had overlooked or neglected while scrolling through my news feed.

I’m also realizing that six weeks is really not enough time for a complete detox, but it is definitely a step in the right direction. I’ll let you know what I discover along the way.