Sunday, October 8, 2017

Looking for the Good - A Week-long Recap

There was a lot of good for me this past week.  
So much so, that my inauspicious start to this month's challenge...
well, became even more inauspicious.
And though there's a part of me that feels guilt over focusing on what around me is blessed while the world reels in sadness over tragic events, there's a critical part that remembers...

The point of focusing on the blessings is to spread that purpose within my reach, throwing a stone and hopefully making a ripple of good.

So will you indulge me as I give a recap?
There is no deep philosophical discovery here....
Simply an intentional concentration on the ways our great and gracious God daily blesses me...

It wasn't only was GREAT riding my bike to the beach with my husband, grabbing a bowl of Nekter on the way and making camp in the sand as we watched the Huntington Beach airshow.  (And thank goodness for ear plugs.)

The very first meet and greet with my amazing partner teaching artist, Megan, and our brand new school couldn't have gone better.  We have been so blessed with a team of teachers who are excited to be chosen as one of four schools in the OC to onboard Disney Musicals in Schools and are preciously nervous about learning and leading.  Yes to sustainable musical theater programs in schools!

Teaching two workshops at Disneyland for a GREAT group of all girls was hilarious, chatty and pure joy.  I loved watching the faces of these young women as they were challenged to sing better; tell stories through music; and see and hear firsthand their musical and performance gifts.  Thanking Jesus for the opportunity to change young lives through music has become a mainstay focus for me.

Interviewing for and booking a new gig on the spot was a highlight.  Best comment from my interviewers, "After looking at your resume, we asked ourselves, 'Why are we even interviewing her?  We should just hire her.' "  As a woman approaching midlife whose nest is almost empty and who often struggles with her worth and future, this much-appreciated and humbling comment was exactly what I needed to hear that day.  

God knew.  
And I am so grateful.

Shopping for my daughter's wedding reception (yes, it's still almost two years away, but we cannot be stopped!) was such a gift.  I love watching her vision and intent becoming clear and helping her follow through with it.  It's a sweet reminder of her womanhood and future.

So many moments to relish.
So much good to share.
I pray each of you finds some beautiful moments in your weeks to cherish and share with those around you.
Praying we all continue seeing the good.

{Have a great Sunday.
And thanks for reading.}

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Looking for the Good - Reminders

God is a every man and woman's refuge. Thank you Father for being my protector and ensuring my well being. ~Me #God #IAM #scripture

Sometimes the good in my day is found reading scripture or devotionals...
Other days I simply see a lovely quote with a lovely picture.
Then I inhale the good...
and exhale the stress...
Just going to leave this here for all of you to breathe in.

{Pray you're looking around you for the good today.
Thanks for stopping by.} 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Looking for the Good - The Water, Part 1

There are days that I quite literally go out "looking for the good."
For me, that's the ocean...
Or bay...
Or river...
Really any body of water will do.
I'll sigh in contentment over a puddle if that's all there is around.

Being in Huntington Beach for at least a little bit least until next Spring when my 
son. graduates. high. school.
the ocean is what is nearby.
And, my goodness gracious, does it beckon me home.

I bought these notecards at a street fair here in our city last year.
Truth be told, I haven't used even one of them for their intended purpose.
I can't seem to let them go, I am so inspired every time I look at the picture.

Produced by The House of Wickersham, the cards were made from an original acrylic painting by Cathy Wickersham entitled, "His Love."
And oh, how I feel that love when I see the painting.
Oh, how I feel that love when I'm down by the water.

"When it was time to leave, we left and continued on our way. All of them, including wives and children, accompanied us out of the city, and there on the beach we knelt to pray." - Acts 21:5

It seems so many miraculous things which happen in the Bible involve water.  
Moses leading his people through the parted water of the Red Sea;
John the Baptist baptizing Jesus in the River Jordan;
Jesus walking on the water of the lake toward His disciples;
later Jesus appearing to His disciples after death when they went to fish in 
the Sea of Galilee.

Water heals.
It is a life force.
Mysterious and moving.
Energetic and alive.

When I am surrounded by questions and chaos, uncertainty and confusion,
I need to remember to look for the good down by the water.
It's so close by.
And maybe, just maybe, I'll have the courage, there on the beach, to cast self-consciousness aside and kneel and pray, thanking God for His goodness in so many parts of this life.

{Thanks for reading.}

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Looking for the Good

Y'all, it's been a year.
Well almost a year.
I got a second wind in April that lasted a day. (It didn't take apparently.)
For those of you who have been following (who used to follow?) this blog since it's inception back in September of 2011, you may have wondered if you would ever see a post pop up again in your inbox.
You're not alone.
I wondered as well.

Six years...
(Wait, can I count the last year with almost no entries?  I think I'm gonna just give myself a break.  One month of writing plus one post is better than none I guess.)
Six years since hammering out that very first sentence.
"Do you ever need a good, swift kick in the pants to hear God's message to you?"
So much has happened in the world and in all of our lives since then.

But lately it feels as though God's message to me has been getting lost in the noise.
Truthfully, the onus is on me.
I have been more worried about the state of the world and the state of my life and future than the state of my heart, soul and mind.
Without the state of my soul as the main focus, the darkness set in.
It happens without fail.
I don't know why I continually have to relearn the lesson.
And over.
And over again.
I'm really kinda tired of being this dense.

So when the annual Write 31 Days post popped up in my news feed, I wondered.
Will I write?
And what will I even write about?
(I'm not kidding...the darkness has been circling, y'all.)

I was recently reminded by a dear, dear friend that unless I fix my eyes on those things which are good...and lovely...and pure...and noble...I cannot be part of a solution. 
I cannot lend my voice and my focus, my "likes" and my "comments" to the vitriol and expect things to change.
(I'm interpreting...she didn't say those actual words. 😊  
But it's what my heart heard and needed to hear.)
It was the good, swift kick in the pants that I needed.
I have been adrift and focusing my heart and mind on the wrong things.
And I need to seek the Light.
I am so grateful.

So in the spirit of walking in the Light, I have set aside my reservations that anyone cares or is judging that I blog when I feel like it, and I am joining the #Write31days challenge.
And I've chosen a theme that will redirect my focus in the hopes that it will help your hearts as well.

Looking for the Good

I'm actually getting excited as I peck out these words on the keys.
I'm excited to look around me for all that He has blessed me (us) with and share it with you all.
I'm relieved to start to emerge from the darkness into His light.

"8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

- Philippians 4:8-9  (emphasis mine)

Will you join me in looking for the good?
And even better, will you share with me your good?
I need all the help I can get.

{Thanks for reading.
So relieved to be back.}

Friday, April 14, 2017

A Final Act

I hate feet. 
Have I ever mentioned that here?
I have a number of idiosyncrasies but feet may top the list. 
I've never liked them. 
I had a real aversion in high school. 
Couldn't even look at them. 
I had a friend, Kerri, who had the only feet I actually thought were kinda pretty. I didn't mind when she wore sandals. Everyone else though...cover up those dogs please!

Yesterday was Holy Thursday.  I went to church last evening where we heard the Word and mourned the start of Jesus' walk to the cross. 
His betrayal.
His denial. 
His death. 

The pain of that night is unimaginable to me. 
The wait until the bells ring on Holy Saturday night, even to this day, feels interminable. 
To think that Jesus knew - the entire time He walked among us - that He would suffer this horrible fate without relief breaks my heart.  

I was considering the reality of the scenario this morning as I prepared to live my day today. And I started thinking about death as one sometimes does when considering the death of another. What would I do if I knew my death was eminent? What would I choose if I was told this was my last day on Earth?

There are a number of scenarios that I can imagine. 
Visiting a place I always wanted to see. 
Walking alongside the Pacific Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico for the final time, toes relishing the sand and the surf. 
Eating my favorite meal. 
Spending time with cherished family and friends. 
Yet it seems the meal and the friends are where my similarity to Jesus end. 
And let's face it, even though bread and wine may have slaked Jesus' hunger and thirst, it's really not the same as choosing your own delicious final meal. In my case, a big bowl of pasta, garlic bread, and endless Chianti.  (Okay, maybe vodka cranberry with a twist of lime instead.) 

My point is that the single unifying detail to each of my "last wishes" is my comfort. 
My joy. 
Living those final hours in such a way that I am at the center. 

Not so for Jesus. 

I'm embarrassed to say this is the first time in my 48 years of Holy Thursdays that His actions on that monumental night have struck me in quite this way.
That His final meal was not His favorite but was the gift of his body and his blood given to His friends and family...for they may have eternal life. 
That He did not run to the corners of the earth to see sites which He would not see again until He sat at the throne at His father's right hand.
That He did not put Himself at the center except for the center of a table where they ate what would be His last supper. 

No, instead His final act was one of service.
He knelt beside each friend, posturing beneath them and bathed them.

He washed. their. feet.

And let's be real here.
Those feet were not the perfectly pedicured ones of today.
Those feet traveled miles and miles on themselves.
Those feet had to have been calloused, dirty, filthy, tough and worn.
There was no clear polish or scraped heel.
These feet were utilitarian only, not a glamorous accessory set in a peep-toe platform pump.

Yet still...

"When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them." (John 13:12-17 NIV)

He washed their feet.
An act of service on His final night.
An act of love and grace so great that they wrote about it.
They passed it along to us.
So we might remember that - always - no matter the circumstance...
Even that of our final breath...
That we are to emulate His example and live a life in service of one another.
And we will be blessed if we do them.

{Praying for you all as we live this Holy Week, 
reminded of the greatest sacrifice 
ever made on our behalf. 
 I pray you have a sacred one.  
A blessed one.
Thanks for reading.}


Monday, November 7, 2016

30 Days of Loving Well - Your House

I love our house.  And I loved the one before that.  And the one before that.  And the apartment before that.  And the condo shared with roommates before that.  (Actually, I didn't really love that one...too many "guy" things surrounding me from a formerly three man bachelor pad.)  But I loved the townhouse before that too.

I've moved ALOT!!

If you're reading this, it doesn't matter if you live in a one bedroom apartment...
Or a three bedroom 1950's ranch...
Or a shared townhouse with roommates...
Or a 3,000 sq ft house near the ocean...
Or your parents home in a small bedroom...

I don't care if you rent or own or lease or squat (well, I guess I should care if you squat)...

I've lived in every single one of the above, in each and every scenario (again, minus the squatting), and what I've found to be true remains the same:

Different homes in different seasons with different loves...
You can love any place you live as long as you open your heart to what you have.

Here are a few guidelines I've tried to follow to make the most of where I am.

  • Surround yourself with things you love - colors that inspire or comfort you, candles if you feel lifted by your olfactory senses, books, music....the sky's the limit!  Really there are no rules for this one because each of us feels emotionally embraced by different worldly things.  For me, it's the colors grey, aqua/turquoise, and orange; vanilla or autumn candles; and birds upon birds upon birds.  (My kids call me a "weird bird lady."  I'm cool with that.  I just love them so much.) The most important canon here, though, is it doesn't have to be fancy or expensive...just surround yourself with the things that make your heart happy.
  • Start small -   If you want to love your house more but only have a small budget, make small changes that go a long way.  Start with new pillows, for example, in a fabric and color that makes you feel good.  Paint a room (provided you have the landlord's permission!) It's the biggest bang for your buck action; throw up a peel-n-stick wall paper in a fun pattern; change the knobs on your kitchen cabinets.  You don't have to go all glass tile back splash and travertine floor tile to make a big change in the way you feel.
  • Keep things clean - I am the. worst. at this.  However, when I take the time and follow a regime (rarely), I feel soooooo much better about my home.  I'm just starting to take this more seriously, mainly because we all have such bad allergies at this time of year.  I found a helpful chart on Pinterest from "A Cultivated Nest" that I'm printing, posting and attempting to follow in the days to come (though cleaning vents monthly is a hilarious goal I will never achieve!).  If this kind of organization makes your head spin, I've discovered and followed one rule that always makes me feel better: Start each day by cleaning your kitchen sink.  Boom. You're welcome.
  • It's the people, not the stuff, that makes a house a home - Accept where things are in your life right now.  If you kinda hate where you live (truly, I've been here too), unless you have the budget and are planning for a whole home reno, in the words of my kid's 1st grade teacher, Mrs. Koerner:  "You get what you get and you don't throw a fit!"  I've had little in a rundown apartment in a rundown neighborhood and I've had "stuff" in a beautiful home in a beautiful neighborhood.  And the same remains true no matter the scenario...if I seek joy in the company I keep; in the graces of each day; in the gratitude of my heart, everything around me just looks more beautiful.
Hope you look around you today, wherever you are, with great joy and reverence for the blessings He has showered upon you and yours.  Now, light a candle and go clean your sink.  

{Loving this #30daysoflovingwell series.  
It's really working to focus 
my heart on grace.  
Whew...needed it.
Thanks for reading.}

Sunday, November 6, 2016

30 Days of Loving Well - Each Other

I got distracted this morning while preparing to write.  I started looking down my right column of stats about my posts...when they were published, how many people read them...that type of thing.  I NEVER do this anymore; not since my first five months with a blog when I would spend weekends agonizing over growing my audience, missing out on the very blessings I should have been living to later write about.  But this morning, looking in a somewhat detached way at it, it was interesting to see what was interesting to others.  And to look back at words, if I'm honest, I don't remember writing.  While I was browsing, I came upon a blog post I wrote over two years ago...and one I thought perfectly summed up today's post on loving each other well.  So, please forgive my indulgence, but I don't know if I could better say today what I meant - and still feel to be true - two years ago.  

Authentic and honest communication is THE KEY to loving each other well, I truly believe.
Loving, honest words with warm and open hearts...

As I was contemplating this morning when I would send out some texts to folks I've been holding close in prayer, it struck me.
I've been checking in and hearing back for a bit now.
My heart has been easier when receiving responses.
I've thought, "Oh, she seems better than I thought she'd be."
Or "Maybe this situation isn't as bad as I got from her on the phone."
Because each text response ends with an exclamation mark.

In her blog post yesterday, "You Are Not a Brand. You Are Beloved," Bonnie Gray cited an article published in The Atlantic about online communications, social media and actual social interaction.  It stated: 
“…within this world of instant and absolute communication, 
unbounded by limits of time or space, 
we suffer from unprecedented alienation. 
We have never been more detached from one another, or lonelier."

This spoke to me deeply.  
Though I have a really beautiful and supportive network of online friends, and I truly feel I've gotten closer and more connected to several people because of their encouragement, there is sometimes that still, small voice in me whispering, 
"It will never be the same as real. live. human. contact." 
A touch. A smile. A sympathetic "mmm-hmmm."  The hushed sing-song of a voice comforting another. 
That thought further begs the question, "Is any of this real?"
Real pictures.
Real words.
Real sentiments.
Real life.

Some of it maybe.  But I truly believe that much of what we see in the virtual is an edited, cleaned up version of our regular ol' messy, broken lives.  After all, who wants to post a picture of a sobbing kid splayed out in front of mountains of unfolded (or worse, unwashed!) laundry who's just thrown up all over your clothes?  
No, we wait until the virus is over, scrub everyone and everything up spanking new and smile wide and "true" for that selfie.  
Add a filter.
Crop above the waist.

Our replacement face-to-face conversations can feel the same way.  
You know those conversations?
The ones that take place with a quick type on the screen followed by a "send."
Of course, it's not possible to fly across the country and give a hug whenever we want.
But corresponding back and forth via text, email, FB message, tweet, woof, bling, buzz, whatever (those aren't really things) can leave us feeling like we have the whole picture when instead, we might simply be getting exclamations punctuating a hidden hurt.  
A hidden heart.

I need to remember to delve deeper than mere typographical symbols will allow.
To see and hear the person and not just their words.
To see and hear their heart.
The loneliness.
To connect deeply with words and nuance and empathy and emotion.
To connect heart-to-heart.
I need to see beyond the exclamation point to the true friend inside.

{Standing in belief of these words on 
communication today and every day.  
And endeavoring to be mindful of 
my own words and heart...
a struggle daily but worth working toward.
Thanks for reading....again.}