Category Archives: Reflections

I Don’t Want To Brag, But Procrastination Is My Forte’

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 The sweet stress of procrastination. Mmm. Does it make you feel warm and peaceful inside?

No?

Okay, I admit that might be a stretch. But is it all bad? Putting off until tomorrow what can be done today?

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This is my first adult memory of biting off more than I could chew creatively. With zero cross stitch experience, I confidently purchased this counted kit to make for my husband. Oh, not just zero experience in that, but mostly zero in all handiwork arts.

I made it through all of one row or so. Then, like any self-respecting quitter would do, I called Grandma. And passed it on. Then, she passed it on, until eventually my aunt saved Christ-a-mas.

The years have passed and I have become proficient at taking on countless more projects that I have zero experience in. Only now, I don’t quit. I may never finish, but I am okay with that. Process is a pleasing, albiet sometimes frustrating, place to sit.

Why you ask? (I asked myself the same question)

I love to learn, to experience, to create. I am not afraid, generally, of trying new things. I also am not afraid of dumping what doesn’t fulfill me. I used to wonder if that made me quitter supreme. In some instances, yes.

Mostly? No. It makes me creative, delightfully so.

That procrastination often drives me nuts, but only me. I don’t leave others hanging. I don’t promise things and not deliver to commitments.  For my eyes only though, procrastination abounds. And I am learning to look at the positives.

My kind of delay involves careful thought, consideration of many angles, all potential possibilities. I am a deep thinker and that can take a while. Putting off until tomorrow… if the creativity isn’t ready to display itself, then tomorrow it is.

I’ll be frank, sometimes this can be frustrating, the inability to focus and produce. I seldom have one thing going, in any area. 7 books reading at the same time. 4 projects all clamoring for space and attention. You get the picture. But…

When it comes? It will be worth the wait. I know this now, and I appreciate the surprise my own deferment can bring.

 How does your brain flow?

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Zoom Out, Then Zoom In To See Life’s Details

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Not all of the details of life are pretty.

Certainly we know people whose lives fray with messy edges. Sometimes, we are those people. (Tweet that)

With time and perspective we notice things that we were unaware of at the time. Details are impossible to see all at once.

I know that sometimes I want to cut out the stuff that isn’t pretty, flattering, or seemingly useful. But I risk cutting out things that make up a vivid life upon closer inspection.

I’ll share an example: I came across this photo from a long ago family Christmas. Just an average snapshot of life for a regular family.

Certainly life was not all rosy for them.

And yet…yet, there is so much beauty that was certainly missed the first time this picture was viewed.

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This picture hides many layers that seem to make an average shot, but there is more…

-I notice my grandma’s beauty. Shes about my current age here, all festive in red

-I see my aunt Kathy, only 11 years older than me. Just my daughter’s current age and I wonder how that could be! I remember how much care she gave to me as a child. Responsibility for me

-My grandparent’s three-legged Siamese cat Sammy lounges under the table, and I recall how I would rub that silky fur

-The tree in the corner, placed on a tiered stand my carpenter grandpa built

-Shiny little girl hair, once mine crowns a happy child’s head

-A high chair in the back would have held my younger cousins. I smile as I remember our antics and adventures

-Grandpa leans back in his chair, always the same chair…head of the table. In his everyday white t-shirt. He loved to watch the festivities on holidays

Unseen? I know the layout of this house, though I haven’t seen it in a few decades. I see the black doorknobs and remember how the paint gathered near the old locks. The craftsman style built-in behind Grandpa. There was a pantry behind that wall. I remember the feel of the huge vent on the floor just to the left out of sight. How I would stand over it and watch it blow my clothing with delight. Behind us there would be a coffee table with delights only out at Christmas. A bowl of nuts, walnuts were my favorite. Ribbon candy.

There is so much unseen. An average home, a regular family. All playing parts in the fabric of my family tapestry.

There were frayed threads. Ugly spills.

Oh, but the final product. What beauty, what texture!

Don’t crop out the small things. They are building upon each other to capture something that isn’t finished yet.

Share this article with a friend. Let’s look closer, together.

Shiny Brite

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I am sucker for old things, retro items that made it through decades in one piece despite their fragility.

I love to wonder who used them. What the story is behind them. Of course, the story.

Chatting with my daughter today, I remarked it was odd a radio announcer was listing off things about the early 1970’s as if that was “that” old.

She looked at me, in the way that only a 17 year can muster, “Mom, that was like FORTY years ago.”

And….?

These ornaments remind me of a parallel. To my daughter I am becoming somewhat of a faded cardboard box. Sure, there are beautiful shiny things inside. But, they are still housed in something somewhat old.

The irony is that like these bulbs the memories become brighter, the story more interesting as the box ages. I am becoming retro. Imagine when I become vintage! Thankfully retro is the new hip. I wonder if my teens know that?

Mom, the cutting edge of modern

Don’t Tell Me I’m Not Good Enough, I Already Know

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James Prescott got me thinking about encouragement today.

This summer I participated in a life changing class by Brave Girls.  It was about restoration to the deepest parts of ourselves through art mediums. Something became starkly apparent to me whilst dirtying my hands with paints and adhesives.

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To realize that you believe this about yourself is quite a shock. I was sure I thought I was indeed good enough, well, almost. Certainly working on it.

And why? I had to ask myself that. You don’t discover something this profound and just shove it away. Unless, you want to stay with this rotting sentiment. It is an ugly place to be. A difficult place to hide. Are you familiar with it?

Sometimes as adults, we have to come to terms with the fact that encouragement doesn’t always come from the places we hope for. People let us down, or worse, tear us down.  (You can tweet that here) Not an easy place to climb up from. And the ironic thing is that we don’t even know that we are mired down with this weight.

I worked and painfully dug my way out. The first step starts with understanding what you believe. It wasn’t that my life lacked fulfillment or joy. Far from it. There was one space however, that mucky recess where I kept my secret shames. The cavern of self-hatred.

Sounds harsh. I almost didn’t write it. Maybe then it wouldn’t be true.

Part of me, and I am guessing part of you, knows this place. The part of us that didn’t receive the encouragement we needed, longed for. I have been climbing out into the light of Christ for years. He tenderly wipes off the ooze of self contempt. I wanted to be perfect and fell painfully short. My eyes have become clear.

Encouragement comes from unforseen places. Here is mine for you… don’t hold out for the words you desire from one particular source.

We are worth so much more than the value the world assigns to us. So much more.

I am surrounded by people who love me, who root for me, who believe in me powerfully. And that love has taken me so far, soothed me in my hurt. Sheltered me from life’s storms.

You can’t fix people, but keep giving the words anyway.  Don’t give up because YOUR words, MY words have power. They might be just the impetus for someone almost there to keep on. The tongue of the wise brings healing (Prov. 12:18)

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Today I know who I am, and if I am not good enough? That is okay by me. In fact, I’ll just set this out for the world now. I am not good enough, but I am loved by the only one who is.

I don’t need to be perfect. I won’t meet everyone’s needs. People will hurt me, and unintentionally I might hurt others. Life will be full of joy and disappointment. It is all part of the journey. Without encouragement of others, I might not be sharing this with you. It is a risky thing to put things like this out in public. Risky.

But I ask you, what is the point of learning on the journey if not to reach out and encourage someone else? I have no shame in my learning process, neither should you.

I am here to share my words with you. I pray they will encourage you today.

You are enough. Not good enough, but just enough. (Tweet that)

Why do you think people are resistant to sharing the less than pretty parts of life?

Please share this, join in the movement to encourage.

Stopping For Directions

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Alice in Wonderland:

“Read the directions and directly you will be directed in the right direction.”

Do you, like me, spend time rushing in the direction of the urgent only to find yourself misguided?  I feel my stress levels rising on days when I don’t understand where I am going.

Logically, it is all there. The calendar squares bulge with reminders of appointments, practices, meetings. Fun stuff is written in the teensiest font, desperate to find its space around the bold headlines.

Lately I feel like I am missing the point. Again. I’ve been here before, likely you’ve joined me. We glance this way and that as we grab our keys and head out. Little forethought is allowed, except for strategic planning. How to make it work… 

For me, faith is the grounding of life. When I don’t make time to stop and read the directions, my days end up overcommitted and unfullfilling. I can’t afford to waste time (=life) not knowing my plan. My purpose.  When I start my day committed instead of reactive, days are fruitful. I am directed in the right direction.

What is the point? We can all “make it work” to achieve check marks, a day finished, so to speak. That is not enough for me, I hope it isn’t enough for you.

When a day is offered to God, I achieve the same amount of work perhaps, but I am satisfied. Even in tiredness. A fullness of being rules. Not a frazzled, verge of tears mess. I have a choice each day, every moment of stopping for directions.

Do We Truly “See” The Homeless?

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It is my honor and priveledtge to guest post today for Alene Snodgrass over at Graffitithebook.com

I hope you’ll check out my view of poverty and homelessness http://www.graffitithebook.com/his-knees-caught-my-attention/ . Check out her whole story while you are there, she inspires me. She did a wonderful job editing my photo of a local man to give it a powerful impact.

it was his knees caught my attention.

It was his knees that caught my attention. His pants had ripped dramatically since I last saw him. This cold night in the library, while I picked up a book to read before bed, he sat staring vacantly. No movement. No home. Certainly no bed.

I struggle with poverty, with homelessness. There has always been shame, a wondering why I should be comfortable when so many have nothing. We don’t take vacations or buy fancy clothes, but our needs have always been met.  We have never known a roofless night or a belly distended with malnutrition.

Yet even with that internal struggle, my efforts are scattered. Too far between.

A friend’s brother was homeless, and first brought focus to them as individuals. People with stories. They are siblings, fathers, aunts, and even grandmothers. Sometimes making inconceivable choices to survive another day.

The daunting lack of societal compassion is searing.

Cynicism blinds us to true humanity.

I want to shake my fists with grief with the echoed sentiment of society, “How do know they aren’t pulling scams?” “Why don’t they just do something about it instead of sitting around begging?”

Do we mistakenly think it is that easy?   Where is our compassion, our ability to give the benefit of the doubt to the least of these?

I have served homeless under a bridge, breakfasted with a man who gave me no words, been rejected as I offered lunch. Some people surely do work the system. Most, I believe, do not.  I have experienced the joy of men and women seeing my children serve under that bridge. Speaking softly to them and happy to be able to interact, even briefly, with children.

They had a code of decency; the disrespectful ones were quickly reprimanded by the general population. The man I shared a meal with was roaming the glitzy downtown Vegas strip, unseen by the crowd, while even in their midst. He chose the most centrally located table and we ate in silence. I accepted what he had to offer, and he did the same for me.  I have also been embarrassingly rejected in public as my offers of lunch were scorned by the hungry.  I do not pretend to understand all situations, but I went out of my comfort zone, and will again. I went with hands outstretched to give, and came away with something greater than I offered. Blessings.

Me, blessed and humbled.

What I have done is not enough.

My compassion stops short of action frequently. I will continue my quest to see the suffering more deeply. To reach out and stop judging. I don’t know what someone will do with my meager cash offering. It is not my business. I will reach out ; gaining a thousand fold back as my actions grow to match my heart. To see humanity and let the scales of indifference fly into the wind behind me.

Commercialized Jesus?

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The yards are starting to be full again of light displays. Santas, reindeer, snowmen, and sometimes the Nativity scene. People like to discuss the merits and/ or shame of displaying Jesus in plastic.

Do we need an ad campaign proclaiming deity of Christ? Hark The Plastic Angels Sing?

I wonder if plastic lights and baubles, cartoonish caricatures help us remember Jesus and his entrance to His own humanity?  Is it possible these things point us the truth of what Jesus actually DID for us?

The short answer, I believe, is yes.

Here is what we are faced with driving along, shopping along, listening along: SPEND, PROJECTED CONSUMER SPENDING, $$$, SANTA, CONSUMERISM, jesus, SANTA, PARTIES, jesus, BUY GIFTS, PLAN THE BEST PARTIES, jesus, MY WISH LIST.

The gift is so huge, so outlandish, that we almost miss it. We are so used to hearing the story of Jesus’ birth, that we can lose out on the ridiculously grandiose gift ever given.

Those little plastic beacons of remembrance, however tacky and commercialized, still remind us and the homeowners what the holiday is about. Jesus.  I would offer than anything that gives us pause to remember this, is good.

If you don’t know the story, Matthew 1:18-25; Matthew 2:1-12; Luke 1:26-38; Luke 2:1-20. Please note the additional details offered, and try reading different versions to understand the context of what was truly at stake.  I pray that you, in fact I am praying for you as I write this, will join me in remembering the gift.