Sunday, February 18, 2018

A Tine for Every Purpose...

It seems like it has been raining for a month.

The mud is thick in my yard and my feet feel stuck as I step out of my car...

kind of like my life, sometimes.

The winter months are always hard for me. I love the beauty of the snow and the romantic notions of curling up under a blanket with a good book...
but the days are short and the nights are long and the coldness creeps into my soul.

If I was a practicing doctor, and not just one in name only, I'd diagnose myself as having seasonal affective disorder... but that's outside of my scope of practice ;-)

Still, the month of February is hard. The holidays are over, and the newness of the possibility of a brand new year is over, and it is cold and nasty and dark.

Some have expressed fear that I'm depressed, but I don't think that is true. I just think that I relate to the seasons...

and winter time is a harsh time, no matter how you look at it.

It's a season of death... of darkness...

but there is a time for everything, a season for every activity under the heavens...

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.
What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.
- Ecclesiastes 3:1-12
Life comes out of darkness. The seed has to have time to germinate, and those seeds carried on the winds of late fall as the leaves fall have found their place and are buried by the wind in the dark soil.

There's life even when we can't see it.

I've been reminded of the fragility of life this past week... of the darkness and heaviness.

And of the beauty.

On Wednesday, Valentine's Day, a day when our hearts are filled with love, we were reminded that love often means we are vulnerable.

That morning, my Mama's heart broke as I sat in my baby's lap and let him cry on my shoulder, his heart breaking for the loss of his little buddy, Colton, who fought a valiant fight against DIPG for over a year and a half. Even in the darkness of his diagnosis, Colton's smile lit up a room, and lit up the hearts of all those impacted by him.

Later that day, my Mama's heart was shattered again as news from Parkland, Florida was filtered through the news. Senseless death. Hurting hearts. Questions and anger about why and how this could have happened...

and I felt the cold rain beat against my skin as I walked out of my Mom's house, and felt the coldness of that winter day all the way to my bones.

The next two days passed in a blur of work and ballgames and late nights...

because life has to be lived, no matter how bad we hurt. No matter how heavy the days are, we must keep putting one foot in front of the other.

And it's crazy how that life is lived... because even in the darkness there is small glimmers of light... small glimmers of life.

Saturday I stood in the cafeteria at Menifee County High School and thought again how fleeting life is.

There's something about a high school dance that always makes me wax poetic.

The girls in their dresses, hair curled and makeup just right, wobbling around on heels (ok, most of them walk better than I do...)

The guys in their ties and suspenders and sneakers...

And they hesitantly enter the dance floor. Self-consciously for most of them, they sway to the beat of the slow songs and somehow lose their timidity by the end of the night.

The whole lot of them, guys included, they are beautiful...

because this small frame of time will be over before they know it, and those days will just be a memory.

For some of them, it won't be the most pleasant, but for others, that night will be a highlight of their night.

They laugh to music I don't understand and join in on line dances, and as I stood there and watched them transform in front of my eyes, I got weepy...

because I'm an old sap but I also see the potential in each one of them.

This time... in their lives... it's a time for growth.

My boy was out there with them, moving to every song. He had hesitated on going to the dance, because it's been a difficult week and Colton's visitation was Saturday night, but I assured him that nobody would fault him for having a good time, because that's what we do in the face of death...

that (and Jesus), is how we overcome... by continuing to put a foot in front of the other and choosing to live in every minute.

So his time to dance was Saturday night... and dance he did. And I stood on the side and soaked it all in, not missing out on the gift that was in front of me.

Today I woke to glorious sunshine, and I don't think it was a coincidence. I thought of how Colton's smile was like that huge sunball outside my window... lighting up a room.

And I relished the idea that spring is on it's way.

Darkness will be over and the sun will warm our skin.

The life buried in the dark, cold ground will spring forth... and I'll have sunshine in my soul.

We have to appreciate every season... because we learn in the darkness and the cold. And He makes everything beautiful in it's own time... and He has placed eternity in our heart. Eternity, where there will be no time and maybe no winter...

Just glorious Sonshine.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

In Bloom: A Review

For an introvert, I have so many best friends.


I have ladies who totally get me, and who make me feel appreciate and inspired. Their words make me laugh, cry, and feel as though I'm not alone.

The only problem? They don't know they are my best friend...

because we have a one-sided relationship through their written word.

This past month, I discovered a new friend. I had the privilege of serving on the launch team for Kayla Aimee's new book, In Bloom, and to be honest I was a little creeped out...

because how on earth does this perfect stranger know so much about me?

Her tales of middle-school angst, her description of church, her battles with her precocious daughter...

this. could. be. me.

Except Caleb is a boy and I'm slightly older than Aimee by my calculations.

This memoir is spot on, though, in running the emotional gamut. I found myself wanting to read on because it made me feel so much better. It made me think about areas where I could improve, and truly inspired me to love harder... including loving myself.

A good book is one that feels like an easy conversation, one where you're leaning in across the coffee table while sipping your drink of choice, and you look up and hours have passed by... and that's this book.

If you're a woman who struggles with insecurity and self-doubt, you need to read this book. It released today.

Kayla, I'm hugging your neck from across the internet and slapping you a high five because this one's a winner...

and I'm opening up Anchor next =)

Monday, February 5, 2018

On My Writing

So at the beginning of 2018 I signed up for this writing challenge, to write 500 words a day every day. Every day there'd be a new writing prompt in my inbox to inspire me.

Even though this is day 36 of the new year, I'm not even halfway finished with the challenge because I've used other prompts from link-ups and I've not written every day. Today's prompt is to evaluate my writing.

For as long as I can remember, I have loved to write. I express myself better with the written word because I can hide and not feel awkward... unless someone is reading what I've written in front of me. I finally accepted that imperfect or not, I am a writer, and it needs to be something on which I continue to focus in the coming year. I have lofty goals, and I don't know that I'll ever accomplish these, but I also know that I'll never get anywhere without trying.

Am I a great writer? I definitely don't think I'm there yet. I do know that often people relate to the words I spill out... my brain dumps and my venting sessions and my preaching to myself sermons.

This challenge has made me more aware of my words and how they present themselves. It's made me appreciate the difficulty it sometimes takes to string 500 words together, and appreciate brevity. It has also made me think of where I want to go from here...

do I have what it takes to write a book? It's one of my greatest dreams.

I just don't know what it would be about.

We're often told to write what we know and so often I feel like I know so little. I'm learning to be comfortable in my own skin, though, and admit that I don't have all the answers.

That might be my theme book... the title would be something like "Me and My Big Fat Mess of a Life" or "Trying to Hold it all Together with Duct Tape".

I have thought about writing a devotional book...

Or a book with funny stories, but many of those would revolve around Caleb and I'm not sure he'd give me permission to share.

I'd like to do a travel book... something with each county in Ky, except it might take me a while to visit all of them (I'm saving my current map because who knows what it'll be like when they all consolidate...)

And I've always been a lover of fiction, so there's that.

I just know that one book I will never write will be a recipe book =)

In this season of my life, I'll admit that sometimes the best I can do is hammer out 500 words in this space here. A book seems near impossible when I think of all I have to do...

but in the meantime, I'll just keep showing up. I'll learn everything I can about my craft by reading memoirs and self-help books, and when the time is right, my fingers will do the talking.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Agree to Disagree

So the timer is ticking down on my 5 minutes to write and I still feel at loss for where to start.

The prompt for this week's Five Minute Friday post (written late Saturday evening, because that's how I roll), wasn't something that automatically jumped out at me.

I'm not one to like conflict, but I am passive aggressive about it. I'm not really vocal unless it's to people for whom I really care (like my family... and that can get me in trouble. Just tonight I blurted something out and put Wallace on the defensive when I really didn't mean to...)

So, sometimes it'd be easy to take my silence during conflict as a sign that I relate to what you're saying...

That I agree with you.

When so often I don't.

I think in our world we have become so polarizing that it's hard to see past the arguments we hold close to our heart. There are dividing lines drawn in the sand, and we each have our place and our podium...

Our soapboxes.

Unlike the great debates of the past, though, our respect and common decency tends to hinge on the opinions of others.

We don't know how to agree to disagree.

Instead, we keep spewing hateful words until everyone listening has a headache, and are physically sick on the bitterness of those words.

I may seem like I'm exaggerating, but I'm not. Scroll through your facebook or twitter feed and you'll see it, too...

When we agree, it means we see things in a similar manner. We often have common experiences that guide our perception. We have a positive reaction to the other person.

It's easy to respect someone who's like you... whose mindframe is like yours... who won't argue with you.

But as a Christian, I'm called to walk a fine line... judge but not judge. Live in peace but live as a light. Call sin a sin, but make sure I'm not looking at sin through the plank in my eye and missing the big picture.

Accepting isn't the same as agreeing.

Loving isn't the same as agreeing.

We are, however, called to live in agreement with each other in the church... to support one another. To edify each other, and build each other.

As I think about this prompt (and my five minutes are up, but my 500 words are not, so I'm cheating...) I can't help but think of how when we aren't in agreement, we can try everything to change the other person's mind... but if they aren't willing to accept it, nothing will change.

To agree to disagree is to stop the discourse, to accept the other person and offer respect.

It's not easy, because our first instinct is to want to be right... but there are two sides of every story, and even if the other side isn't necessarily "right" (even Biblically), there is still a rationale behind it. Pointing fingers will never open someone's eyes... respectfully demonstrating love in action just might.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Making Excuses

I'm the world's worst at making excuses.

I make excuses for why I do certain things. I make excuses for why I don't do certain things. I make excuses for why I can't do certain things.

Sometimes, my excuses make perfect sense... but too often they are pure cop-outs, because I struggle with motivation and self-discipline and confidence and have too much self-doubt.

Tonight, I was reading in Exodus for my Chronological reading plan. The story of Moses is probably one of the first stories I can remember hearing about in Sunday School, complete with flannel board figures of a baby in the bulrushes. The timelessness of God, the "I AM" that never changes, reminds me that He is still the Great I AM. He is enough. He is all-sufficient. He is everything that we can imagine and need.

I can picture Moses minding his business in the desert, tending his father-in-law's sheep.

(What is it about shepherds? He is our good shepherd... but there were a lot of shepherds who learned some valuable lessons while out tending the sheep. Maybe it has to do with caring for something other than themselves... and I'm pretty sure being a shepherd involved humility).

Can you imagine how Moses must have felt when the bush actually started talking? And the fire just kept going?

Holy ground, yes...

(Can you imagine him shaking in his sandals? How do you even approach holiness? Too often we get so legalistic... but I can't help but wonder why he didn't fall flat on his face right before that talking bush in awe... and then I realize that often I'm staring right in the face at holy and I don't get it, either. I treat it as mundane and am not awestruck. Lord, help me. Help us.)

I found myself (again) wishing that at times God would use a burning bush to get my attention. Too often I struggle with wondering what in the world I'm really supposed to be doing...

but Moses had that burning bush there, with God speaking out of it, and he still struggled.

He started making excuses.

He wasn't good enough. Couldn't speak plainly...

A man of slow speech... that could actually be a good thing, because too often I am not of slow speech and blurt out what I'm thinking, sticking my foot in my mouth!!!

But anyway... here's what spoke to me.
Moses is sitting there making excuses about why he can't approach Pharaoh and about how the Israelites won't listen to him when God is telling him that he can. And as I read that, I thought to myself.

Ok... even though Moses didn't think he was enough, he was because God said that he was. Start believing what God says about you and not what you tell yourself.

He says I'm loved. I'm redeemed. I'm His child. I'm fearfully and wonderfully made for a purpose selected just for me before the foundations of the world. I'm a work in progress but I'm a masterpiece.

It's time to stop making excuses and instead trust that God will do what He says...

Because He Is I AM, I am what He says I am.

And so are you.