Thursday, September 30, 2010


   From all over the world, from all over the state, and the community we arrived at a high school. Pulled there by Navy families, businesses, and those who had lived there for their entire lives, we seemed the odd mix. In fact, I think in eighth grade we were called an odd mix. Four years later, amidst caps and gowns and square topped hats, we left our daily community of each other.
   Thirteen years later, I am seeing new connections, friendships that are even stronger than before, and some of the reason why we were put together. Our experiences have pulled us together in ways that I never would have expected. The people who were close then may still be close now, but the friend base has expanded, and the resulting connections are amazing!
   I have witnessed encouragement, idea sharing, excitement, picture sharing, and waiting with great anticipation over a new baby or a new milestone. It’s amazing how the connections have grown, changed, and matured.
   We were an odd mix, and still are; still something I claim as a great way to be recognized. But, we could never have chosen each other. And yet, the combination of that school community exists in such a way as that even today I have seen one friend reach out to another. It’s moved beyond the cliques, the less than graceful teenage moments, to something new and yet familiar. What God knew then, when we were in the halls of the school, I’m getting to see play out now. It’s a wonderful plan!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dishes and Abigail

   When I was a little girl, I liked doing the dishes just so I could play in the bubbles. Tonight after dinner, I spent a few minutes doing the dishes and was musing about what fun that was. Even now, I love the feel of the water and the bubbles on my hands, the smell of the clean kitchen. Then, my thoughts wandered to Abigail Adams, one of the main characters in a biography I’m reading. She is someone I think I would enjoy sitting down to a meal with and then the kitchen cleaning afterwards.

   Is there someone out of history that you would bring into your life for just a few hours if you could? So you could see them and hear them? Mrs. Adams is one I would love to spend some time with. She was a capable woman, capable of great strength, loyalty, courage, and endeavor. While her husband was away leading the nation during a war, she was back much closer to the front lines of battle. Troops walked past her front door on a daily basis. And yet, she carried on at the farm, writing her husband letters of what they were doing, how the crops were doing, how much he was missed, and her love for him. She had pluck, braving smallpox inoculations to help her children survive that dreadful disease. It must have been something to sit next to her and just listen to the stories.
   Yes, if I could play in the bubbles, wash the dishes and talk, I would love to talk with Abigail.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Unrecognized Heroes

   It’s not glamorous, not a matter of news reports, but I would like to take a moment to recognize some normally unrecognized heroes.

   To the trash collectors, thank you! Thank you for gathering the stuff that we are getting ready of. Without you, we would be back in the middle ages with trash being thrown in the middle of the road. Truly, society hinges around hygiene in some ways, and you are a big part of that infrastructure!
   To the waiters and waitresses, thank you! Thank you for working hard even when you’re feet are screaming and your back hurts, even when you are tired of complaining customers. Thank you for your work and service. When you serve, it lets us take a break and it is appreciated. I hope you can be served soon.
   To the teachers, the nurses, the janitors, the secretaries, the bus drivers, the volunteers, the sales clerks, the pastors, and the lab techs – thank you! Thank you for your work, your contributions, your part.
   And I promise I don’t mean to sound overly emotional, but I wanted to say thank you to my parents. I am so proud to be your daughter.

Monday, September 27, 2010


   I am a sucker for front porches, especially when they have swings on them. There is just nothing quite like curling up on a front porch swing on a cool autumn day with a soft sweater, good book, and steaming hot chocolate. But, I will admit that right now I am terribly spoiled by my view out of the front of the house. There are pine trees as well as other types of trees, bright yellow and orange marigolds, and sprawling mint and yarrow.

   But, there are two front porches that really stand out to me. One is in a different state. A bluebird house sits off to the side and has a steady flow of feathered visitors winging their way to and from the perch. Rose buses lined the roadway, showing off their colors to the bees. A swing sits to one side, and from there it I have watched the deer come down the hill and graze in the pasture. Frogs in the dusk start their songs and lightning bugs start their light dance flickering through the plants. Slowly, the sky loses the colors of sunset and black of night seeps in deeper. The stars become visible. The breeze is sweet, the sounds are quiet and full of beauty.
   Another is in the town I live in now. It is on a main road, but is completely framed by flowers. Geraniums, peonies, pansies, and morning glories carpet the street view of the porch. Sitting on this porch, you would hear all of the street sounds muffled through the blooms. I can only imagine the perfume of the flowers on the porch, the colors as the sun plays its way through the stems. I would imagine that it would be a beautiful place to read a book.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

New Day

   It’s all in the perspective, it’s a new day or it’s another day. The words are different, and the meanings are different as well. So, which is it? Technically, they are both correct. However, I like to think that a new day is really the more correct of the two. Why?

   Another day is just one more, an addition to a string of previous days. It is an attitude that assumes that each day will continue on pretty much as the previous one. There is a hint that there isn’t change coming and that instead it is a string of monotony. How boring! A new day on the other hand implies that there is something different, a gift. It is not an assumed thing that will be received, but a gift.
   I like to think that this day is a new day. It is different than the day before. Yes, some things will probably be similar. My schedule may be fairly set. However, there is something new about each day. A sunrise is unique, watching the water make waves on the Mississippi River, seeing the kids make their way to school. Trees grow, green up, turn beautiful colors for fall, and then shed their leaves for the winter. Flowers come to life, bloom, and then turn to seed. I just saw my first wooly worm of the fall, a new thing on a new day. It’s the small things that often set these days apart. But, each day is a gift. It is something unique, something precious.
   Our decisions need to reflect this mentality and abandon the another day thought. What would our world look like if we did so? Too big of a question? Okay, how about our homes. What would our homes look like if we reflected this mentality? Would we be quicker to pull out the camera and capture the memories, quicker to laugh over the spilled milk and juice rather than fuss? Would we plan days with great expectation and excitement, knowing that it would be different than the day before? Would we treat each other as if our new day with them was a gift?
   Have a great new day!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Practicing Gratitude

   I’ve been working on not grumbling with some limited success. I may not be as quick to grumble out loud, but it is often still in my mind. So, with that literally in mind, I’ve started a different tactic. While I will continue to work on not grumbling, I am working on having a grateful heart.

   Why not grumble? Why not moan and complain? Why not mumble at the computer and at the phone and at the pile of things I need to get done? Why not be a grouch when people don’t read the directions or are grumpy first? Well, probably because I need to have a heart that is grateful and to be aware that the direction not-readers or the grumpy people might have their own difficulties going on. The computer is just a piece of technology and my grumbling at it probably won’t help. I may wish to unplug the phone, but I’m grateful for the technology.
   I don’t want to grumble because I want my attitude be such that others can see something positive in me. Attitudes are contagious, I want to share a positive attitude.

Friday, September 24, 2010


   Her hands were dirty, her clothes mussed, her countenance plain and without any adornment. Her home was full of broken things, mismatched furniture, chipped and peeling paint. Her life was much the same. The people who saw her judged her and excluded her. The people she saw she judged and she excluded them. It left her without much hope for change and very alone. In pots, flaking and damaged, there were red geraniums, carefully tended to. Amidst the squalor and terribly sad conditions, there was some part of this young woman crying out for beauty.

   She had a beautiful home. Every spot perfectly designed, every item in place. Her clothes were at the peak of fashion, moving with the seasons. Her life appeared much the same. The people who saw her judged her and included her to maintain their political status. The people she saw she judged for their lack of decorum and her rampant paranoia that they do not really care about her. She was surrounded by beauty and crying out for true friendship.
   She was the ungraceful misfit. She was always seemed to trip over her own feet, said the wrong things, and never knew which fork she was supposed to use. She wanted to please so badly that people took advantage. Then in a fit of anger and the abuse, others would shun her. The people who saw her judged her for her awkwardness and discomfort. The people she saw she judged for how she thought they perceived and used her. She was surrounded with discomfort and crying out for an elegant dignity.
   She was the graceful one, the one full of talent. She could seem to do anything with ease and confidence. Inside, she felt completely unsure and checked and rechecked her stage presence of life to make sure that the character she was playing was maintained. The people who saw her judged her for her seeming stress-fee and laissez faire life. The people she saw she judged for how she perceived herself, not for how they saw her. She was capable and polished and crying out for reality.
   She was a young woman in a book, a story character, or is she?

Thursday, September 23, 2010


   There is a question that has probably been asked in every language, every day of every year. Why do bad things happen? I could give you the simplistic answer – sin. Okay, so that’s correct, but why? An age old question, and I can’t answer it. Sorry, that’s right, but the why will have to remain unresolved for now.

   But, I came across Psalm 169 and it hit me that though some of these why’s will be wait till heaven to answer questions, it does speak to an answer. Let me first say that the psalmist was someone who loved God’s law and understood how it was not a punishment but a protection. So, with that in mind...
   “Do good to your servant according to your word, O Lord. Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I believe in your commands. Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word. You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees. Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies, I keep your precepts with all my heart. Their hearts are callous and unfeeling, but I delight in your law. It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees. The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.”
   These are verses 65-72 in Psalm 119. It struck me that the author was thanking God for affliction. “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.” “It is good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.” Maybe this is part of the not so simple answer. When things are good and uncomplicated, it is easy to simply forget to put the effort into learning about and paying attention to our relationship with Him.
   I’ll be honest, I don’t often think of affliction in the form of any type of suffering, burdens, hardships, pains, troubles, misery, or misfortunes as a good thing. I may even be the person in the minute who is asking why. Except normally it’s a capital Why because it’s a loud conversation between God and I. But, what a perception shift from the norm! Affliction is not meant to hurt me but to train, teach, and help. Like a sheepdog guiding the wayward sheep back, the sheep doesn’t appreciate the steering, but how happy it is to see the fellow herd members and be home. So, maybe that’s a partial and short answer to the why.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


   Who gets to define what success is? I was in a conversation not too long ago and the topic turned to what is success. If I Google successful people, I come up with a wide variety of Thomas Edison bios, instructional material on How to Be a Success, and promos of How to be Successful Without a College Degree. Looking through the list, it is easy to see that the main qualification for success here is financial success or media success. But, is that really the end of the definition? Is that even a good definition?
   Is the mom who bakes 200 cupcakes for PTO a success as she puts every effort possible forth into raising her child? Is the entrepreneur who follows a dream and does not ever meet wealth a success? Is the artist a success for creating the art or for finding a buyer? Do you have to move to a foreign land to be a success? Do you have to make a certain amount of money; is there a minimum and cap to that? I was reading a biography about John Adams and I think that he phrased it quite well “The laws of man may bind him in chains or may put him to death, but they can never make him wise, virtuous or happy.” The laws of man, though he was referring to actual legal systems, are also composed of the unwritten rules. The rules of what society deems what is to be “normal”, “acceptable”, and “successful”. Those laws, they are often separating, divisive, and confusingly defined. If someone fails, how much success does it take to make up for that, to balance it back out? Why does that change for some and the scale seem weighted?
   So, I guess when it boils it down, what is distilled is I question what do I consider to be a success, for me to be a success. I think one reason why it is so hard for me to answer that is that there are multiple points trying to impress upon me their definition. Plus, my finish line seems to keep moving. I no more accomplish one thing and then feel like I need to jump to the next challenge. So with all of that rolling around in my head, it was a struggle to sleep, until I came upon a very short phrase that led me to turn off the light, snuggle into my blanket, and head to sleep. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28. My drive to achieve is part of me, it’s a persistence that has proved to be a boon when I have spent ten hours on an econ exam, when I didn’t want to take the next step, when I wasn’t sure what I was going to do next. But, how sweet those words were, when after the trying and seeking and working and wearing out, “come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Now that’s a definition I can live with.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Let Go & Let God

   Have you ever heard the saying, “Let Go and Let God”? I must say right idea but perhaps not always the end of the thought. Instead, it often goes something like let go, let God, and then go do. What does that mean? Well the let go part is good. I mean, God is quite capable of handling every question, thought, attitude filled moment. Let God is also good, let God work and answer and meet needs, work out the problems. But many times, we are then put back into the mix to go do. Go and give forgiveness, go and fix your part of the problem, go and make disciples, go and be a disciple, go.

   Let go, let God and then, when the time is right, go do.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Posture of Prayer

   Kneel, prostrated, standing, sitting, and the list of postures goes on. Prayer, the act of talking to and listening to God, can be seen to require a formal posture. As if I am some sort of radio antenna that must achieve the perfect stance before the God signal can go to him and back to me. Well, though I am the first to admit that there are times that I have been on my face before God and examining the carpet threads quite closely, and other times when my knees have had the imprint of the floor boards on them, more often it is during the normal postures of the day. It is a pause as I turn on my computer at work, that God will bless my efforts that day. Walking in the store, sitting on the couch, lying in the bed, during a meeting, during a walk, or mid-conversation.
   How grateful I am that I am not required to have a specific posture for God to hear me or for me to hear God! I mean, it’s not that I couldn’t stop and kneel in the aisle at my local grocery store, but it could certainly slow down the process. Instead, it’s the posture of my heart, mind, and spirit that is important. My heart must be open, seeking the answerer of questions and needs. It is important that my mind be something which is both utilizing the gifts that God has given me and also relies on Him to fill in the blanks (of which there are many). It is the posture of my spirit, that it be prone and vulnerable even when in the middle of a meeting or driving in the car. The posture of prayer is important, but it’s perhaps not the initial thought of physical posture that is important.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Celebrating 365 posts

Today is the day - 365 posts today.  A year ago at this time, I never would have thought I could possibly have come up with 365 posts.  But, here we are a year later.  Each day in a year is unique.  Each day is a gift and can bring a myriad of things with it.  I don’t know where I will be a year from now, but seek to grow in the next year and create memories for years to come.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Celebrating with Flags

   He stood in the midst of a crowd, fellow concert goers who were all piling into the baseball diamond. Armed with lawn chairs, snacks, picnics, blankets, and eagerly talking to those around them, many did not notice him. His purple t-shirt really didn’t make too much of a color splash in such a crowd. He didn’t have many surrounding him and talking to him. He didn’t even have a lawn chair to lean back in and enjoy the splash of the late summer sun. He stood in the field with a long thin box.

   The music started and from the box, he drew out a white flag. With such earnestness and seriousness on his face, he waved the flag in time to the music. Other clapped, some swayed from side to side, and he waved the flag. The music changed, a different song, a new mood and a new flag. This one was purple.
   He didn’t look around to see the reactions of others. He didn’t ask if others thought it odd that he was waving a flag of white or a flag of purple. He didn’t seem to care what they thought. He kept it up all evening. He celebrated the joy in the songs, beauty of the lyrics and instruments, the worship of God with flags. He was worshipping and it was beautiful.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Cowboy

   He is a man with a dream and a love of the wild mustangs. Having seen these horses living in stock yards, milling about without room to run, he made the decision to chase his desire. Acres and acres of land were purchased for a home for these wild mustangs. He brought them to their new home and set about creating a sanctuary for them.

   I just saw a photo of this man, who will soon be turning 85, in a photo with a horse. He is leaned onto the fence post. His white hat sitting so naturally on his head, strong hands who know a horse and how to work a ranch for a horse rest so naturally on the fence. A large black horse with a thin white stripe down its nose has nestled in to the navy blue sleeve of his windbreaker. They look as if they are the best of friends and are sharing a comfortable and long standing conversation.
   A cowboy with a dream decided to take the chance and pursue it. As a result, scores of beautiful horses have found a home. Now, the descendants of those first horses roam the land. They run, play in the fields, nurture their babies amongst the pines, and splash in the streams. What a beautiful dream of the cowboy. I’m so glad he pursued it. What dream should we pursue?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hello My Name Is

   At a recent concert, I heard one of the speakers sharing how a boy had told her in high school that she should never be as pretty as her sisters. She shared with great conviction, though she appeared to shrug off the words they stayed with her and became part of her identify. She said it was as if someone had handed her a Hello My Name Is label and written Ugly on it. And that she had taken that label and used it to identify herself.

   I think is something that most of us can identify with. We are handed labels that others fill in for us, and we cover ourselves with those labels. For this young woman ugly led to worthless. But, she wasn’t ugly and certainly wasn’t worthless. Take a look at your labels, Hello My Name Is. What is written there? What should be written there?
   Hello, My Name is daughter, friend, worker, creator, thinker, writer, sister, planner, dreamer, seeker. I can’t say that I have never had these labels attached to me. I have! I have had them handed to me by both those who are being malicious and those who are meaning to be kind. And I have accepted them, only to find them stuck to me. I felt like a walking sticky label. Not capable, weak, afraid, timid, intimidating, intimidated. The labels clung to me. But, slowly, they have been removed through the realization that they are wrong, Wrong with a capital W! I urge you to examine your labels. What is your name?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Great Painter

   As a little girl, I remember driving in the car, looking out the window at the scenes going by. As the leaves would change color, she would tell me about the Great Painter. In my mind, I imagined someone cradling each leaf in their hand and applying paint ever so gently. Each leaf a unique creation of art. The leaves are starting to turn again, and with that my thoughts turn to the Great Painter. I am looking forward to seeing the creation of color again, the blending of reds, yellows, oranges, and browns with smatterings of late greens.

   Times whiz by, seasons slip past just like the scenery out that car window. It can go so quickly. It is important to pause and consider the art around us.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I Remember

   I remember that day. I remember watching two planes crash into buildings. It seemed like some terribly Orson Welles joke that had gone catastrophically wrong. I remember thanking God the towers had not fallen immediately, as it gave the chance for many to escape. I remember the feeling in the pit of my stomach when they did fall. The skies that I so love had suddenly become a holder of enemies. The dust, dirt, blood, tears, sweat, earth, plaster, debris, and fear that flooded the country flooded my home too. I sat on the couch in shock. I sat on the bed in shock. I wanted a hug from my mother; I wanted to hear my father’s voice. I remember the feeling of horror in knowing there were other flights, and we were waiting. Waiting for an attack, waiting for something. I remember the fear that spread of further attacks, military weapons, and biological weapons.

   I remember the determination of everyday, ordinary people, making a stand where they were. I remember watching people run toward the sites where there were horrors to terrible to describe. I remember civilian hands becoming field medics for the minor needs. I remember seeing those who have walked in different office floors, ridden in elevators without talking; now holding each other up. I remember the compassion, the surge of pride in our fire fighters, paramedics, and police officers. I remember the vigils held, the candles lit, and the prayers prayed. I remember the silence of the sky as flights were grounded. Songs were sung, neighbors gathered, monuments were planned.
   It has been nine years. It has been nine years and a few days since that day, that terrible infamous, tragic, and horrid day. It has been nine years and a few days since that inspiring, determined, angry day. Now, the discussion is more about this political venture, that conflict. I don’t want to get into politics on here, so I will skip that issue and say instead. I remember our unity in our hurt. Now, we must find our humanity in our healing.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Those Handy Southern Aphorisms

   There are some very handy sayings that I learned when living in the sunshine state of Florida. Though you may not hear ya’ll from me very often, I can lapse back into that at any moment. There were other things thought that are quite useful…

   There are differences in each region of the country. From the ma’am and sir of the south to the eh of the middle north, we speak the same English with our variances. We call the same things by different titles, coke and pop and soda; or lunch and dinner and supper.
   Subtle differences and yet, these words speak of our colorful distinctions amidst the larger picture of the country. In the same way, within a community or school or workplace, we have diversity. Instead of trying to alter each other to make us each the same, let’s revel in the variety and learn from each other.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dropping the Cart and Walking Away

   Ever wonder why habits are hard to break or new ones are hard to get in place? I don’t know about you, but I think about and plan on making changes and then… well, I’ll be trying again tomorrow. These habits and choices, they can become things we pull along behind us and yoked to us. Ever seen a yoke or the cart that it can pull? It sits on the pulling animal, and they use their muscle power to pull the weight behind them.

   As you might imagine, the heavier the cart, the more it slows me down. Freedom is sought, bought, wanted, looked for, and many times given up. What kind of freedom? Freedom from our sins. The yuck we put in the cart. What is sin? Sin is something that goes against the law, a commitment of something against moral or ethical codes. So, that could be something relatively simple, like speeding, or more systemic, like lying. Imagine sin as being the dung, you know the animal droppings that fall and smell and are yucky. I don’t want to step in this stuff, let alone pull it!
   “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5) Standing firm, we make choices to break the tie to the dung cart. Stand firm! Don’t pull the yuck, and then don’t pick it back up again.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

She Could See

    When I was working on my bachelor’s degree, I had private voice lessons with an older woman who had gone blind. She had a beautiful large boned yellow lab that was her seeing eye dog. She was amazing. This woman played golf, traveled, went to plays and performances, and participated in the community. There was more than one time that she would state so calmly, open your mouth and smile. I would always wonder, how does she know if I am smiling or not she can’t see me!

   This woman so impressed me because she didn’t let a “handicap” stop her from living her life. I can see, but there are things I can’t do. I must choose whether or not I let my own “handicaps” stop me from living a full life.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Grabbing the Hem

   I damaged my knee and ankle about a year ago. At the time, there was a lot of wait and see to know if surgery would be needed or if physical therapy would work to restore the joints. Doctors looked at x-rays and put me through a range of tests. Does this hurt? Does that hurt? Can you do this? How about that? About a year later I was taking a walk and had a twinge, just a twinge, in my knee.

   I had a moment of discouragement. How long is this going to last? Really, it’s still hurting? But, then I remembered the woman who was tenacious and persistent in seeking healing. There was a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years. She went to doctors and spent all of her resources in getting different treatments. Nothing worked, nothing helped. Twelve years? She must have been getting desperate by now. But, she didn’t give up. Instead, she heard about Jesus. She came up behind him and touched his cloak thinking, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” The woman touched the garment and was freed from her illness.
   I love the tenacity of that woman! I love how she was seeking healing, had not given up – even after twelve years. Can’t you just imagine her face as the crowd was pressing around Jesus? The determination and hope in her eyes? How easy it is to give up, to say that something just won’t change or heal. But, we have an example of something different here. No matter what is your hurt or twinge or pain, physical or mental or emotional – grab onto the hem of the garment.
   "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering." Mark 5:34

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I Want to Do It All – Just Not All At Once

   Terri Clark came out with a song several years ago, “I Want to do it All”. I can completely relate! While I think that a lot of the things are on her list sound like fun, my own list takes form. However, I cannot just take a few days off, get it all in and be done. I do want to do it all, just not all at once!

   I had to turn down something a week or so ago, which sounded fun. But, I knew that my calendar was full and it just wouldn’t fit. So, I decided that it would have to go on the not all at once part of the list. That makes me feel better, knowing I don’t have to do it all at once.
   But, what to put on my list? Well, Paris in the fall does sound like fun. I’m not so much into the Mardi Gras scene at Mardi Gras – way too many people smushed into those streets for me. But, I wouldn’t mind going back to New Orleans. Let’s see what else…. I want to go to Marrakesh and shop in the bazaar, I want to make something beautiful, I want to take photos and have a display, I want to write a book, I want to plant a herb garden, I want to watch a space shuttle launch, I want to go back to IRAM and watch the horses, I want to serve and to help, I want to be a friendly face for someone who needs it, I want to be a success in my career, I want girls trips with my dear friends, I want to go to Wales and Scotland… My list could go on, that is only the beginning.
   Is there anything I should avoid because it sounds too difficult? No! Because through all of this is a desire to go where God wants me to go, to do what God wants me to do. I am the only me and want to be the best me I can. You are the only you, and I hope you have the same aspiration. So, my list changes over time with guidance from a Heavenly Father. Dream big!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Stay Out of My Purse

   Have you ever wondered why women don’t want you poking around in their purse? I mean, even the best of friends will hand each other their purse to find something – and these are the same women who will go through all of the drawers and cabinets in the house to find something. We blanche when someone even looks at our purse in the I need something in there, I know it’s in there, and I’m going to go get it face.

   Why? Well…..
   As for my purse, it’s a mess most of the time. They hand me a receipt at the store, it goes in my purse. Wrappers when there is no trash can handy, ticket stubs, shopping lists, and to-do lists – they all take up their own place and position in amongst the actual purse type things. So, I don’t really care to have you rifle through my mess. It’s my mess, I’ll do it.
   It’s also my pocket of information. We all need a place that is ours, and this is mine. Normal purse documents are there, but also things like a little book and a card I carry. When I see those special things, even when rummaging for the two pounds of spare change in the bottom, they trigger my memory and I remember exceptional friends and unique happenings.
   I’ll share a lot with you, perhaps – if I know you really really really really well, even my straw. But, stay out of my purse.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Joy of Solitude

    I used to not enjoy being alone. I would leave lights on and every television turned on for some extra noise. It wasn’t so much not feeling safe as simply not liking the solitude of just me, myself, and I. It can get rather crowded in my brain and without the noise it can seem deafening. It took time to have an uneasy comfort with the quiet, like a new acquaintance that you aren’t quite at ease with. But gradually, we became familiar with each other. My mind would stop it’s whirring and settle into the quiet.

   Then, I had an opportunity of structured silence. There was no talking in this group for a period of approximately twelve hours. For some, this was a very uncomfortable time and darned near impossible. I can sympathize, I’ve been there. But, I found that the silence was very comfortable. I had found joy in solitude. It took several hours for my mind to slow down, to not be searching for many external sounds. When it finally did, I could hear the still small voice speaking to me. Oh, not an audible voice, but speaking nonetheless. “You are my child and you are loved more than you can know.” The voice brought comfort, and hot tears, as I found it growing quiet enough to really think though things, pray over things, and not feel torn in media directions.
   When I left this time of quiet, I found that the longing for that type of solitude continued. Sitting out at the bonfire a few nights ago, it was back to that type of joy. Shhhh! Let me just sit and stare at the flames, sit and stare at the stars. Let me grow quiet and my mind to become unhurried. It is a companion now, a laid-back friend. There is joy in the quiet of the solitude, joy in the quiet that comes with the still small voice. “You are not alone, even in the midst of the solitude.”

Monday, September 6, 2010

Deadheading Marigolds

    Of all the summer flowers, I think marigolds rank right up there in the top five. They have a fragrance that is both sweet and earthy, and rows and rows of petals making vibrant blooms. When the flower fades, it doesn’t scatter and fall apart like some flowers do. Those blooms, though now dry, remain tightly stuck together. So, we go along and deadhead them.  By deadhead, I mean that we pluck off the dry bloom and store them for next year. The seeds are all contained in that cluster and will come back up the next year.    I can’t say that the deadheading doesn’t hurt, because as I am not a marigold, I don’t know. But, I do know that there are things in my life that have dried up and once removed I felt refreshed. The actual deadheading may have been a decision that needed making or a habit that needed building. But, there are a tight little cluster of seeds that are removed. Then, safely tucked away, they will be ready to start a new season of growth.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sunflower Lessons

   Driving to a nearby town a few weeks ago, I saw large wild sunflowers blooming along side of the road. There was paved road, gravel, and then sunflowers. They weren’t part of a formal garden, where someone had carefully selected the spot for them to grow. They weren’t being cultivated and tended carefully. These were where some sunflower seeds had been taken by the wind and were now growing.

   Driving along, I was thinking that we have some lessons presented to us in the most obvious fashions that we find, at times, to be unbearably subtle. There were lessons that were coming from that sunflower patch that day.a
   Standing in the sun, they were blooming where they were planted. They were not looking disheveled and at a pouted wilt because they didn’t like their location. It didn’t matter that mulch wasn’t placed around or that the border flowers are really just a collection of weeds. So, the lesson is to bloom were you are at. Don’t wait for the perfect garden landscape to be created around you. Create beauty where you are.
   Do I always succeed at this? I roll my eyes even thinking about it, No! No, I don’t. Sometimes I look around, and certainly have looked around, and wondered – why here, why now, what in the world is around me? Conversations would occur in my car, prayers that generally consisted of, “Lord, can you tell me why I am here? And I know you have a purpose, so can we just get it over with so I can get out of here? These people don’t even have a ....!” Thankfully, patience is a virtue because I haven’t found my car hurtling toward some life lesson just to smash in nose first because I wanted the time-table changed. I generally find out that my blooming where I was planted wasn’t just for the benefit of someone else, but for mine as well. And as for the time in-between, it was needed, chafed against – but needed..
   The other lesson was to bloom. Period. Those seeds, perhaps dropped by birds or winter stockpiling squirrels, met the ground, buried in, and grew. There was no checklist of further supplies which had to be delivered first, no waiting list of to-dos which were to be done before further growing would commence. They were planted, so they attempted to grow. That was their focus, grow because I can and should. We often have opportunities to grow and don’t. Why? We’re waiting for all of the to-do’s to be all-done’s and the circumstances to be just so. Don’t wait. Get started – go grow!
   Again, not always my strongest point. I love to have all of the parts in place, all of the information, all of the facts, detailed and highlighted maps with exit numbers marked in color-coded highlighter. I use pro/con lists and want plans of what something will look like long before I ever step foot into even deciding whether or not to step foot into it. Thus, growth can certainly go on the back burner. But, God has a way of pushing me forward, albeit reluctantly at times, and reminding me – go grow! “But, I don’t know everything yet, what if I fail?” Yeah, that is generally what it boils down to. The answer that comes back is one that humbles me and encourages me all at the same time, “Then pick yourself up and keep growing.”
   So go, grow, and bloom.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Sum of Parts

   I have heard writers refer to being more than the “sum of the parts” for years. But, I haven’t really given much thought as to what that meant. Then, flipping through the Guidepost, I saw an article by Glenn Close. She wrote about mental illness in her family, and how her sister said that she was “not her disease, but was being treated for her disease.” I love that! That to me made the sum of parts all fall into place.

   I am more than the sum of my parts. I am more than my hopes and fears, my insecurities and confidences, my successes and failures. I am more than what could be and what is. What a relief! I can find myself riding the tidal wave of current events and being pushed right up onto the beach so quickly that my head is in a tail spin. Everything is going along fine and then, woosh, the speed picks up and I can feel the wave to start wanting to pull me into a tumble again. When the parts get to be overwhelming, I want to stand up and yell, I am not a disease, a failure, a perception, a success! I am me and I am more than the sum of my parts!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Why do we say Amen

   The people half whisper, half say amen at the close of a prayer. The southern gospel joy finds the hand raised and an amen shouted out clearly. Kneeling before a bank of candles, the prayer ends with an amen that is whispered into the flames. It is a word that you may be familiar with, hearing quite a bit through a child’s prayers, church services, and music. But, it can be easy to just know the word and not know what it means.

   The word, amen, is used to end prayers and express our joy. But, why do we say it? It is a word with a long history, from Hebrew to Greek and out to other languages. It is used to express hearty approval and solemn agreement. The Hebrew word is about nourishment and strength. It is about being firm in truth and faith. It’s the absolute, bedrock firm, truth which you just simply must declare with a verbal declaration and in agreement with the truth of God.
   Verily, truly, God is good. Amen.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Through the Looking Glass

   Have you ever wondered if the dream is real and real is the dream? I did when I was a child, waking up and in the blurred edges between the tatters of a vivid dream and being fully awake. I would wonder which were real. I sometimes still have vivid dreams, but rarely get lost between the two worlds in my mind. However, there is another perception that I would think is still some value to examine, and determine if it is the waking or dreaming world. Are we who we are or who we are perceived to be? Or more confusing yet, some combination of both?

   If we could look through the looking glass and see how people perceive us, would that change how we perceive ourselves? It might be an ego boost or bust, it might make us realize our own perceptions and encourage us to seek out the reality.
   What kind of perceptions am I talking about? Well, I’ll give my own example… I made a new friend last year. This woman looked confident, poised, each hair in place, smile perfectly happy, and at ease in her own skin. I thought, oh I hope she isn’t my group because she just looks so put together! That was my perception. The reality was that behind the beautiful smile and adorable hair-do was a woman who was just as cluttered and complicated as I was. She had struggles, disappointments, failures, hopes, dreams, and plans. She had to-do lists that were too long and hurts that were stinging her heart. She had beautiful peals of laughter and a tender heart and wasn’t what I thought she was at all.
   If you could poke your face and heart through the looking glass and get a good look around, perhaps the perceived person would take on different shades of personality.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Just Think of All of Those Stories

   The car parks and I reluctantly leave the song on the radio. I walk up one block and down the hill on the other. An apartment complex, with ground mustard brownish yellow colored bricks, takes up about a quarter of the block. Inside are rooms and rooms filled with seniors who have come here to live as a place where they can get some basic assistance and no yard work. I see them on the patio, gathered in little conversational groups, and in more solitary fashion on the benches.

   With these people all gathered in one place, there are some days it is all I can do to resist heading in there with notepad and pen rather than continuing on past the library and then into work. These people have seen major world events and have walked through their own major life events. Surely they have something to share with us, a drop of wisdom, a guffaw or two, a need for a Kleenex type story, and then back to the guffaws.
   I don’t know that I will ever actually charge into that complex; notebook, pen, Kleenex, and listening ear all at the ready. But, I hope that someone does, that someone stops to gather the stories.