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Hi Church Family,

Our devotional from Jo Ray:

A neurotic need for order is part of my DNA. I am compulsive beyond reason about my immediate surroundings and I get angry and depressed if any room in our house is turned upside down or is cluttered with junk. Every time I have moved from one house to another, I have felt as if I were being choked by a thick layer of anxiety when I see all my rooms turned into a warehouse full of boxes , bubble wrap, and string -- with furniture pushed out of its usual setting. While intellectually I realize that this disorder is only temporary, emotionally I feel like yelling into the void, "Get me out of this infernal mess!" Needless to mention that last week was not sweet paradise at our cozy Lake Tahoe cabin because the time had come to unload it. My husband and I had come to the realization that driving up the forest roads to the Sierra Mountains can be treacherous for youthful drivers, but it is life-threatening for anyone whose eyesight is dimming , reflexes slowing down, and hearing becoming impaired. Our children had suggested for some time that we should sell the cabin and take cruises for relaxed vacations.

So the work began when our best friends, the Wallaces, drove up from Southern California to help us pack up any personal items we wanted to keep before we turned over the cabin to our razor- sharp, hammer-heavy real estate agent who would then try to sell it turn-key ready to the next occupant. For three days we pulled art work off walls, wrapped two sets of dishes, and placed bubble sheets around vases, bowls, and statues we planned to distribute to our children because we could not stand the idea of strangers inheriting our precious memorabilia. We also filled two huge bags of winter clothing , which we lugged to Goodwill in Truckee. Throughout the three work bee days, I slunk about with a pouty look on my face and a sense of despair. Even my attempt at humor turned into sarcasm. My husband finally looked at me and reminded me that I was being not only short-sighted, but also a poor sport. I have no idea what our friends thought of me because they continued to act as if they were having fun and as if I were the personification of good humor. But, believe me, my sullen attitude bordered on classic Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

The torture has subsided now that I am back home in Chico, and our cabin is being shown to looky-loos as well as serious buyers, who seem pleased with its charming, cozy appearance. Why was I such a sourpuss spoiler? Why couldn't I see from the start that this turmoil would be temporary and that it would lead to a sense of relief when I realized that our cabin would be sold for a decent price , and we would no longer have the burden of keeping it landscaped and in good repair.

True, we would no longer be able to invite friends to enjoy this magical Shangri-La -tucked away in a forest at the edge of Lake Tahoe-- but we would have peace of mind during the snowy winters, free from worry about snow removal, pipes breaking,, the driveway cracking, or the roof caving in. While a younger couple could now have the thrill of skiing the black diamonds of Squaw Valley , or of hiking up Mt. Tallac with its unparalleled vistas, we could be cruising the Caribbean and sipping iced tea with pastries in exotic ports like Saint Barth and St. Kitts. Voila! A perfect exchange for our time of life.

Here is my point: Life is not always a bowl of cherries; however, many infuriating moments are only temporary, and we need to take a look past them and to the silver lining they may be hiding. Turmoil, mess, and disorder can usually be straightened out with the help of good friends or loved ones. We just need to tweak our self-centered attitude and turn it into an understanding of the messy process that eventually leads to a pleasant result. No need to be cranky or obstructive. When you find yourself fidgety or angry at the thought of temporary disorder, whisper a prayer asking God to help you build up your stoicism. Herein too lies the patience of the saints.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. (Hebrews 11:1, NKJV)

Our life is frittered away by detail....Simplify, simplify. (Henry David Thoreau)

Jo Ray Metherell