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.

Grandpa’s Shoes

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shoesMy mom took this picture in a photography class 17 years ago. Shoes of my dad’s, my daughter’s.

She has spent her life following in Grandpa’s footsteps. From her first steps, where he went, she went. As she grew, he kept special hats and shirts for her, just like his. In fact, they were his… so she could be his buddy. Doing projects. Doing stuff.

And how he loved those footsteps following him. She is bigger now, obviously. Her steps are slowed with teenage pacing when she visits. No longer running after him with every step he makes.

Physically that is… Her heart still follows Grandpa. Every move, thought, joke. She takes it in, loving him.

Adoring everything about her Grandpa. And when her footsteps take her into adulthood, even if they are miles from him, the influence will carry her. She’ll remember the ways of Grandpa.

The way they built together, one step of love after another.

Fantastic, Easy Cranberry Bread

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My friend Sandy gave me some of this bread as a gift last night, I had to share the recipe with you. It is delish! Made into small loaves, it wraps up into perfect gifts. My loaf didn’t have raisin, but instead extra cranberries. Just like I LOVE it…
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Grandmother’s Famous Cranberry Bread

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp. grated orange peel
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 1/2 cups light raisins
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped

(can substitute more cranberries for raisins to have an all-berry bread)

Sift dry ingredients in large bowl.  Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly.  Add egg, orange peel, and orange juice all at once; stir just until mixture is evenly moist.  Fold in cranberries and raisins.

Spoon into greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 for 1 hour, 10 minutes for 9x5x3 pan; 35 minutes or so for mini loaf pans.  Cool on rack.  Enjoy!

“When Light Was Born” by Stacey Covell

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A special thanks to my third guest Advent writer. Please enjoy the inspiring writing of Stacey Covell…

When Light Was Born
By Stacey Covell

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It was nothing.
A non-event.
Except it wasn’t.

She was a pregnant, unmarried teenager.
He was trusting in faith and love.
They were both scared.
Still, in the dark of night they had faith.
They were following the words of their Lord.

A journey.
Days and nights.
Travelling slowly, uncomfortably.
She was nearly full term.

Pain. Labor.
No hospitals. No room.
Babies don’t wait.
A barn. Animals. Stink.
That star lit Bethlehem night.

A baby was born.
Naked, helpless, dependent.
The most humble start.
A new family.
Sitting in a barn.

The baby. A King.
In a moment, the world was changed.
Light was born.

Stacey is a fiction writer and poet.

She lives in Dublin, Ireland. She loves the green, but misses the snow in her native MN. 

She loves to see beautiful things come from the unexpected.

She blogs at One Beautiful Thing , please check her out!

And The Mailbox Sang, “Don’t Stop, Receiving…”

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I like Christmas cards. Yeah, I said it.

May I make the case for continuing this tradition of sending and receiving real, paper cards?

We are busy. I get that. I am taking a stand today, in rebellion against the countless articles and statements that say we are too busy for this old-fashioned practice. Ba-humbug to that! Will you consider three reasons why these cards matter?

1. People, relationships matter. We move across countries, continents. We change jobs, marry, suffer loss and celebrate great joy. Sometimes all we have is this simple card all year to catch up. It matters to people. It  matters to me. I want to know how you are, to see your hand written name, to know you are ok. I want you to know that you matter to me when you receive mine.

2. We are not designed to be Scrooge. Just because a national glossy tells you to cross people off your list if you don’t hear back in a few years, well, I contend that we send not to receive, but to give. This gesture of goodwill is not designed to be a game where we count. A scoreboard of how many people like us as much as we like them. Let’s send them because we can. Because we have hearts of love and generosity…

3. Which brings me to my final point. Generosity. Have we considered that those cards might be all the Christmas cheer someone receives? Someone might be housebound, unable to be out in the hustle and bustle. That piece of paper becomes a ministry. There is someone who might feel no one remembers her this year, a man who is burdened with responsibilities. That simple card might, just might, remind someone of why we celebrate. Love.

Are we too busy for cards? Are they a hassle? Sometimes I am. And they are. Then I pause, and reconsider, and decide to pull out my pens and stamps. It doesn’t matter if you send me a card back (though I hope you will), you’ll receive one.

Because I love you.