I forgot to lock up the chickens last night. I’ve only done that a handful of times, but it’s always a shock when I realize it because a predator could easily saunter into the coop and turn my ladies into a late night snack. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.

I noticed they were out as I made my coffee. There they were, pecking around outside the coop behind the back fence. I took a drink and put on my Sloggers to chase them back in to the coop where they belong. My daughter called so we chatted while I walked through the gate, and suddenly they were gone. Where did they go?

With a gasp I realized they had wandered around to the front of the house and were eating my wildflower seeds that I had JUST put in the ground yesterday! How they realized they were there is a mystery to me, but needless to say, the girls are going to have to stay in the coop until my flower gardens are safe from their pecking and scratching!

I laughed as I locked the coop, telling my daughter how dumb chickens are. They have tiny little brains, y’all. After over a year in their beautiful home, they still have a hard time finding the door to get back in. It’s big enough for me to walk through, but they will walk past it five or six times, totally lost, while I stand there and hold it open for them. It’s comical.

Now, eating seed is completely normal for chickens. It’s a staple of their diet. So why was I freaking out? Because they were doing what they were created to do, but NOT where they were supposed to do it.

“There is a time and a place.”

I’m sure you’ve heard that before. I’ve told that to my kids in moments of frustration many times. Yes, it’s ok to enjoy wrestling with your brother, but not in the middle of the grocery store. Wearing a bathing suit is completely acceptable at the beach, but not at church. Walking my dog is a normal activity, but don’t let it poop in the neighbor’s yard.

There is a time and a place.

Our grandmothers knew this. Many hours of their day were simply quiet, even with children in the house. TV’s weren’t always on. Cell phones, which didn’t exist, weren’t constantly in their hands or pockets. Conversations using their actual voices happened over the phone at worst, in person at best. There was no “call waiting” so a busy signal was your signal to wait your turn.

There is a time and a place.

Many adults didn’t see their children as friends or peers, so they didn’t expose them to or disclose everything that was going on on their grownup world. My parents grew up with plenty of challenges, but they were largely oblivious to many of them until much later because adult conversations took place away from little ears.

Politics were dirty then just as they are now, but for the most part they weren’t the forefront of our grandmother’s minds. Sure, there were an abundance of great and passionate activists. Many great strides for equality and justice were made during their lifetimes, but the toxicity of a constant barrage of too much information just wasn’t there yet. Controversial discussions and debates had their place, but certainly not at the dinner table. It was customary for men to remove their hats out of respect before sitting down to eat, and I’d venture to guess there was an important, symbolic nature to that which went beyond a simple show of respect. Maybe it was also a signal to the children that the tone of the day was now changing as dinner was enjoyed together. The family was gathering as one, even if only for this single hour.

Does this sound very “Leave it to Beaver” to you? I admit it does, but I remember my grandmother’s table. Our family was far from perfect. My grandfather had serious vices and character flaws that I didn’t recognize as a child, but at the table he was our Pepa and the tone of conversation was just…quieter.

Mema’s kitchen was tiny, so the heavy dinner table was pushed against the far wall except for meal times. We would all grab a corner and pull it out just far enough for one of us kids to squeeze into one of the seats. My brother and I were very young, but we were expected to pitch in, if only in small ways.

As I look back on those days, I’m afraid I wouldn’t remember much of my grandparents if I’d had my face buried in a phone. Gosh, I’m so grateful I didn’t grow up with those things. I can still see her silver hair, cut short and tucked behind her ears, and hear her cackle as she laughed at something my father said. I can smell Pepa’s aftershave and the sweet tobacco as he rolled his cigarettes in the living room. What would I have missed if I have what we have today? I would have missed a lot. Too much.

We were created for relationship. We were given the gift of communication with God’s every intention of us using it and doing it well. It is vital to our mental and spiritual health to surround ourselves with community as we live our one short life for Jesus. Technology has, in some ways, made that much easier. We can now reach out any time, day or night, and connect via voice or text. It’s more convenient than ever to stay in touch.

But there is a time and a place.

The physical presence of another human being is a gift that the present age has caused us to take for granted. We have lost sight of what is lost through a video call or Zoom meeting. We were meant to create together, to appreciate beauty together, to laugh and hug and high-five.

Similar to the chickens who did what they naturally do and heaped destruction on my poor wildflower bed, when we place no boundaries around our lives and allow those 6 inch screens to constantly interrupt our days, our meals, and our relationships we heap destruction in the quiet places where flowers want to bloom.

There is a time and a place.

As I near my fiftieth birthday, I regret the hours I have spent scrolling. For every important thing I may have learned, I passed a thousand mundane, time-sucking posts that were not a good return on my investment of time.

So I’m here. Writing. Leaving what I hope is a good and valuable legacy of truth and beauty that is not a waste of your time. And I hope this inspires you to consider the same.

Don’t waste your one, precious life on things that distract from what is sitting right next to you on the sofa. Put the screen away and look at that person with attentive eyes. Invest.

There is a time and a place.

3 thoughts on “There is a Time and a Place

  1. Good morning, Jeanine… This is the day the Lord has made and we will rejoice and be glad in it.
    You wrote my heart! I laughed at the chicken story and I had tears as you spoke of family dinners in the past and of your grandparents…I have some of very similar memories. Even then, I loved the family dinners and the table talk. When Todd and Kyle were growing up, I guarded our family dinner time together like that Canadian goose in your last post guarded his family…

    I’m the only one awake right now, so I have been scrolling, but I am very “picky” about what I read…I have actually learned (mostly) to ignore the negative posts… not all, but most and the ones I see that cause my heart to ache or my righteous??? (Well, sometimes, it’s “righteous) indignation to rise up, I can pray about. Jeanine, you were a better… or, at least a less NOSY child than I was, because I heard a few… well, many, actually “adult” conversations by being a very sneaky eavesdropper. Occasionally, I would hear something that was really exciting or intriguing, but occasionally I would hear something that caused me to worry and fret. Then, at some point, I would have to “confess”, because I would end up asking either Mama or Granny about what I had overheard and misunderstood. Then, I would endure a short lecture before I got an explanation.

    Okaaaay, Jeanine, all of the above is why I do not often write my thoughts! I love to read your written words, but I get pedantic and bogged down. I will call you later and we can visit on the telephone…. I love you, DILOVE

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You made me smile!
      I definitely did my share of eavesdropping on my parents, but not so much with my grandparents! They were so good at using low voices and knowing when little ears were present! Haha!
      I love you my dear MIL!


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