Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The Rain Gauge

In an effort to help me stay positive, I finished an unposted blog post I wrote a long time ago. It feels like this is a good time to share it since it's cloudy and raining a lot these days here in Pennsylvania where I live. Plus, we're under orders from the Governor to "stay home" due to COVID-19. It's been a good time for me to do more writing.

I went to Lowe's one day to buy bird seed but the next thing I knew I was looking at rain gauges. I'm SO easily distracted. Overtaken by a sudden wave of nostalgia, I just stood there and studied the numerous selections I could choose from. My mind wandered back to the farm where I grew up. I reminisced the pleasure I'd experience just from checking the rain gauge.  Looking back, it almost feels like it was a special farm ritual. Check the rain gauge.

Without any hesitation, I chose the gauge that looked like a test tube from back in high school chemistry days. I always loved the feel of those thin glass tubes in my hand, though I didn't really care for the class itself. Chemical formulas just weren't my thing. Donald Miller says "formulas are simply the summation of best practices". I've since learned that I DO love formulas...but only the kind that relate to helping me succeed in life.

With my new rain gauge in my cart, I went back to shopping for the sunflower seeds. As soon as I got home, I put the glass tube in the ground and magically, rain fell from the sky. Well, not exactly, but it almost felt like having a rain gauge would bring rain.

In my mind, as a child, a rain gauge not only measured rain, but it seemed like it was a way to measure answered prayer since we'd often pray for rain as a regular part of our family prayer time. In fact, prayer was a normal part of life on the farm.  We'd pray for the cows to come back home when they got out. We prayed for rain for our garden and crops. When the dreadful hot days of August came, we were usually starting to see the ground crack and the flowers wilt for lack of rain. Gardening became even more of a chore!

The first two weeks of August was also camp meeting time. Our local church camp had the reputation for bringing on the rain, if you know what I mean. I was never sure if it rained at camp because of all the prayer warriors (and farmers) gathered in one place for ten days or if it was the fact that for years everyone walked around saying, "It always rains during Roxbury Camp". Either way, the rain gauge was a way for us to specifically measure how our prayers were being heard.

I think as I grow older I've realized that I thrive best on having ways to "measure" things. That's probably part of why I like lists, goals and organizational containers. And rain gauges. They help me "gauge" how I'm doing when it comes to life.

There are certainly more than three things I use to measure how I'm doing, but these are at the top of my list:

1) Journaling

For some reason, journaling makes it easier to navigate daily life. It enables me to express my emotions, thoughts and prayers. It provides a way for me to gauge how I'm doing in all areas of my life and organize my inner world—on paper.

2) Budget

A budget is a practical way to measure how my dreams are doing in reality.

3) The "Big Three" List

Keep a weekly "big three" to-do list.

There are always lots of things to be done, but I can easily get wrapped up in the urgent and lose sight of what's important. So when I create my "to-do" list, I put the three most important items at the top for the week and it helps me stay on track.

What are some gauges you use to help you live a healthy and fulfilling life? Maybe this season of quarantine is a good time to examine your gauges. Like I recently heard Donald Miller say, "Don't waste your quarantine".

A few resources that might help you:

Dave Ramsey has great resources for budgeting.

Michael Hyatt helped me learn the "big three" formula for getting things done.