What I Learned from SpaghettiO's
by Donna Morton
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I read that a certain author spends eight hours a day writing. No doubt, that contributes to her turning out best sellers, year after year. I'd love to be a best selling author. I have a manuscript waiting to be sold, become an overnight sensation and get made into a movie starring Ben Affleck as the leading man. (When you dream, dream big, huh?)
An agent's help would be great, but I'm not sure one would want me as a client. Why? It took me forever to write that book because here's what happened the last time I set sail for an eight-hour writing day.
Alone in the house, I sat before the computer, retrieved my manuscript, read a sentence and moved a comma. Leaning back in my chair, I scanned the ceiling as though it held inspiration. That's when I saw them, languishing in the corner, glistening silver in the morning sun...
That's it. She's off, broom in hand, storming through the house like Sherman on his March to the Sea. Conquer and destroy. Done, I returned the broom to the pantry and noticed that the StarKist tuna was sharing shelf space with the Nine Lives version. Time to organize.
The pantry purged, I carried out the trash and saw antennas sprouting from the holly bushes. Snatching the electric trimmer, I buzzed away until I sliced through the extension cord. Next stop, Home Depot...
Before I knew it, eight hours had passed-and I'd moved one comma. At that rate, the New York Times Best Seller's list was looking pretty unattainable.
I know what got in the way of my fame and fortune. Distractions, those impish sprites that taunt from the laundry room and dishwasher, their sole purpose to make mischief with my time.
"Don't say you don't have enough time," remarks H. Jackson Brown (Life's Little Instruction Book.) "You have exactly the number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstien."
So true, but let me say-with total respect-that da Vinci didn't have to wade through six mounds of laundry, check homework and master the mechanics of football shoulder pads while stuffing a five-year-old into padded pants for practice three nights a week.
I'm sure he had distractions, though. Our generation certainly doesn't corner the market on such things.
"Martha, Martha," Jesus said to his friend as she rushed about her house, making sure things were in order for his visit. "You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed."
The needed thing was time spent with Him, not running around him like a crazed centipede. Now, I'm not judging Martha. If the King of Kings was sitting in my living room, anticipating a meal I was in charge of, I'm sure there'd be enough fuel in my stress tank to launch a shuttle to Neptune...but I get His point.
A bad thing about distractions is that they get in the way of relationships, including the one we have with God. Not that we don't love or think about Him. It's just that He sometimes gets put on hold while other things are tended to.
I've put God on hold before, and how glad I am that He doesn't do unto me as I've done unto Him. I'm glad He's not freaking over cobwebs while I'm putting in prayer requests, glad He isn't up there organizing the Heavenly pantry while I'm down here having an earthly crisis.
It humbles me that the Bible is full of invitations to spend time with Him. Him-He who hung the stars and did it perfectly. It embarrasses me that He's actually heard "maybe later"from me. Me-she who has hung nothing but Winnie-the-Pooh wallpaper and couldn't even get the edges straight.
Seriously, just who do I think I am?!
Distractions aren't always household chores. A friend and I were discussing our lives as busy moms. "I try to be a good mom," she said, "but I'm so busy making sure everyone has what they need, so busy chauffeuring, herding and organizing, and so busy minding the details of motherhood that I'm afraid I'm not enjoying my children, or even getting to know them."
Recalling that conversation reminds me of a former co-worker having martial problems. For 20 years, he and his wife were ruled by soccer and ballet, perfecting the house and saving money. One day, their youngest child had left for college, the house was a dream and the bank account healthy. That's when this man looked at his wife and asked, "Who are you?" To which she responded, "Who are you?"
For sure, life itself can distract us from our relationships, as we get so trapped in the doing of being good Christians, partners and parents that we have little time to just be with the ones we so lovingly do for.
What do we do about distractions? The daily garden varieties aren't going away, sometimes life is really busy and there are times when certain people or things require more attention. We can't just ignore the house-it will implode, and dust bunnies, like real rabbits, multiply quickly. As for church, school and work activities, sure we want to be involved. We should be, we need to be.
Ice water hit me the day someone said they needed to make an appointment with me just to say hi. I knew I had to give priority to my priorities, get in the center of life's see-saw and aim for balance, even if it meant clearing my plate some. Distractions, no matter their packaging, were robbing me of quality time with people I cared about. Distractions hindered my spiritual growth. They took center stage as the stars in my comedy-drama of a life.
Christian writer Kathryn Hiller reflects on these wise words of her mother: "Don't ever become so busy that you fail to realize how very happy you are!"
I think she's saying that we need to count our blessings-and take the time to enjoy them.
Our earthly existence is short. James, a brother of Jesus, gave us a big dose of that reality when he wrote, "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." (James 4:14, NIV)
With that wake up call ringing loud and clear, let's keep our priorities straight-and make the most of our precious time.
One of the best life lessons God ever taught me was from Campbell's Soup and Spaghetti-O's, and that is-nothing simmers forever. People, health, talent, dreams...shove them on the back burner long enough and they will dry up. Or boil over. Either way, we're left with a mess.
And who needs the distraction of cleaning up a mess?!
(c) Donna G. Morton 2004
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"A bad thing about distractions is that they get in the way of relationships, including the one we have with God. Not that we don't love or think about Him. It's just that He sometimes gets put on hold while other things are tended to." How true! But let's face it. We have to make a living, attend to our family and church responsibilities, our activities seem endless. But whatever we do, if we are doing them for the glory of God, then even a simple task as cleaning cobwebs can be an act of worship. (Hmm..so easy to say, but let me try my own advice..:)Blessings and thanks for sharing this delightful and insightful article.
LOL... love it. I enjoyed reading this again and am so glad it's available here to inspire others, too! You're so creative, Donna! You have a unique way of drawing the reader in ... help them see perspective ... parallel every-day situations and unique experiences alike with our walk with the Lord. Your writing always opens my eyes. I appreciate you and your talent more than ever. THANK YOU for taking the time to write, to inspire, to challenge me and others. BLESS YOU.
Donna, well done. This was such a great mix of humor, honesty and down to earth good sense. I'm so glad you shared it with us. I noticed that you've been a member for quite a long time, but think this may be the first thing you've submitted (too busy knocking down cobwebs and trimming holly bushes I guess). If it is, then I hope it's the first of many. When the Writing Challenge kicks back into gear on the 10th January, I hope you'll start entering. You have a delightful style. If you ever join the FW 500, please let me know. With love, Deb
This is excellent and I hope you will post more of your writing. May God Bless you. Kathy