the value of the top lock

When I started my new job last year, I was given a key to the ladies room down the hall. Since only employees who had a key could access the facilities, it was obvious that my possession of such granted me access to the in-crowd, the ones in the know, the ones who could go.

I felt pretty darned special.

Until one day when someone else with a key showed up and attempted to open the door while I was actually in there, sending me scrambling to keep the door closed.  It quickly became clear that anyone with a second floor ladies room key could get in at any time regardless of who was occupying the premises.  All they had to do was put their key in the lock and swing the door wide open......

and let the irreparable damage begin.

Hold on a minute.  Surely this couldn't be the way it worked.  Was there no etiquette of the keys?  No protection from being walked in on any time of the day or night? Didn't anyone make a fist and knock anymore?

It was in my wild lunging towards a closed door about to open that I saw it.  Right there in front of me. Another piece of the locking mechanism I had missed, visible only from the inside. Usable only from the inside. Meant only for the person on the inside.

Behold the beauty of The Top Lock.

This is the latch you swing to the left after you are in the bathroom.  The one that has no key access from the other side. The one that keeps the door shut securely so there can't be any surprises.  The one that guarantees that no one, no how is getting in to see the wizard until the wizard is ready to be seen.

I exhaled. It was true. As I had hoped, the ladies room was Fort Knox after all. My faith in our property management group returned that day.

Oddly enough, maneuvering that lever made me think of my life. Where did I need to throw a top latch?  Were there areas in my heart and mind that needed protection from unwanted intruders?  Might there be parts of myself that were only loosely guarded, leaving room for temptation with an all-access key to surprise me with bad choices, influences, and juicy offers while swinging the door wide open and walking right in?

Unpleasant visitors enter my life so easily. Their names are familiar -  Judgment, Jealousy, Fear, Enviousness, Comparison, Self-defeat, Criticism...the list can get long in a heartbeat.  There's a latch I need to engage when they visit, a latch which looks like taking every thought captive to Christ and holding every errant emotion I am feeling up to God and His word. God's truth is the barricade that keeps the unwanted guest out, but just like in the second floor ladies room, it's up to me to put it into place.  God's given me all I need in His word to send those intruders packing, but I must have spent time getting ready in order to be prepared with His truth when they arrive.

I need to remember, it's not enough to just go in and shut the door.

Protection comes when I bolt it from the inside out.

balancing act

Today I was reading an excellent post by Emily Freeman on (in)courage.  She speaks about undoing - unwinding, unplugging, unscheduling, to let her spirit rest and breathe. Taking the time to actually have free time, and not let it get eaten up with an agenda. Imagine that.
She also lets the reader in on her newest method of relaxing during that free time - the art of crocheting. 
Well now, isn't that a small world.  It just so happens I have a foot in both the balancing-my-free-time and crocheting camps even as we speak. I'm not kidding.
I, too, have recently re-learned how to crochet and yes, if you're my family member and reading this, you now know we are having a yarn-based Christmas this year.
I come by it somewhat naturally.  My mother was a knitter and she made beautiful things- like an afghan that I still have today because her hands wove those stitches together.  Or a too-small-for-me red cable knit sweater that apparently I unraveled off her needles when I was 2 and she was 41 and on the phone.  A mounted wall phone....leaving me on my own with her creation and my curious toddler fingers. After the sweater was finally finished and worn by her for many years, she passed it on to me and even though it never did fit, I can't throw it out or give it away.  She and I made that one together.
But to me, two knitting needles and yarn resemble eating spaghetti with chopsticks, so I went the one-hook route and decided to crochet when I have a moment.
Which brings me to my current concern - what is the best use of my time when I actually do have a moment? or 5? or 3 hours? How much downtime is good and healthy without crossing the line to lazy? I'm at a point where I feel like I must be productive all evening at home after being productive all day at work and am having trouble finding when to stop. Or I go to the other extreme; when I get home, I don't "start" anything at all and head right to my pj's, comfort food and a favorite episode of some brainless show On Demand. And that sets the course for the whole evening...
I would like to figure out where to land in the "what do I do with my free time" game.  I definitely need to cut myself a break from churning out results 24/7, but also have to be intentional if I ever want to get a blog post written, a book drafted, the bills paid or dinner on the table for my husband and I once in a while.
What's your go-to plan when you find yourself with hours to spare?  How do you shift gears after a full work day, transitioning into evenings at home with demands or perhaps the lack of them?  Do you keep on producing, or are you able to balance productivity with relaxation? Do you crochet?  :)  
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