Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Change of Seasons

For about the past week I’ve read several blog posts and Facebook statuses referring to the seasonal changes being experienced all around.

Most of us love the cooler weather…

…the changing leaves…

…the shorter daylight hours that are more golden now as opposed to the brightness of summer days…

…and the anticipation of all the festive holidays up-and-coming!

I enjoy all of those things and more: baking goodies in the kitchen; hot chocolate;
making lots of hearty soups and stews; decorating my house for the holidays; fireplaces; many good times with family and friends.

But for many years, the transition into autumn has also meant something else for me.

It’s a gradual and beautiful passing away of the old; a preparation for renewal and re-growth; a time to slow down and take in all that has happened over the past few months; and an opportunity to think about what I will take with me into the next year.

It’s as if the crisp coolness of the air clears my head and causes me to see more clearly.

There’s a strong yearning to improve elements of my life.

The autumn winds stir up my imagination and spur my creativity.

As the cool days and nights ever so slowly slide into those that bite with iciness, I am ever reminded that this is all a necessary part of what must happen in order for the re-growth to appear.

And so it is…not only in nature, but also in my life.

A continual cycle of birth…


…fading away…

…falling withered to the ground…

…a period of quiet solitude, cocooning myself against the cold…

…and then glorious re-birth!

As I grow older, I have come to eagerly anticipate the “autumn times” of my life, because I know that right around the corner there is something new and exciting waiting for me. I have learned to accept each season and not rush through it – because unless the cycle is allowed to come full circle in its perfect time, the fruit will not be full and sweet and ripe.

“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.”
--Ecclesiastes 3:1

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Uh-oh…scary word, huh? The very utterance of it can cause people to get nervous. For some it brings visions of being trapped. It may mean they will have to follow through with what they say they will do, or pay the not-so-pleasant consequences.

The dictionary defines commitment as a pledge or an agreement, particularly in regard to something in the future. In addition, the word pledge is defined as a binding promise. Well, no wonder some people turn and run! But I have found that “commitment” doesn’t have to be seen in a negative light. Commitment is actually a very beautiful concept when it is present in the midst of love.

Commitment is a promise to someone that you are there for them through thick and thin.

Commitment is accountability.

Commitment is devotion.

Commitment ensures that those you love know and understand that even when it’s uncomfortable, you will hold their hand and walk with them through the fire.

Commitment is unconditional love.

Commitment says “you are worth it”.

Commitment is making a stand for what you believe in.

Commitment is giving your best.

To whom or what are you committed? Why? Now stop…think about this…really think about it.

Why are you committed? Out of obligation? Out of fear of negative consequences? Out of love? If you are not committed out of pure love, what is the purpose of it other than selfish gain?

Phillippians 2:3-4 says, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”

Such good words and perfect truth!

So, yes…commitment IS scary. Commitment means that we have to think and act beyond ourselves. It means we have to step outside our comfort zones and into the world of other people. It means getting in the trenches and the mud and the muck and wading through it TOGETHER.

For the long haul.

     Because we love them.

          Because the Father loves them.

               Because they are worth it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Life Clutter

Recently I’ve begun to have my eyes opened to the extreme poverty that exists in our world. I’ve been seeing images of entire families who live in a “house” smaller than my living room. They have no television, no phones, and their beds are often mats on the floor or hammocks only hung at night. It made me think about the luxuries in my life and what it is (or might be) like to live without them.

A few months ago, I discontinued my cable service. Now we get about 2 channels, and we really only watch one of those occasionally. Do we miss having cable and paying for over 200 channels that we rarely watched? Nope. That’s $65 going toward paying off my credit card debt!

I had a mowing service do my lawn for a while. And yeah…it was really NICE to come home and have the yard freshly mowed and trimmed. And it’s a huge pain in the butt to do it ourselves, but I’m saving nearly $70 a month. Half of that is going to my new Compassion child; the other half…to that awful old credit card debt.

In the age of cell phones, for the longest time I fought myself back and forth about having a land line in addition to the cell phone service. The biggest thing I was always told is that in an emergency, EMS can’t track cell phones. But at a minimum of $40 a month (almost ½ of the bill was “fees”), I decided it’s a risk I’m willing to take. I bet you can’t guess where that $40 is going. (haha)

There are other things I could (and will) “do without” as well. My gym membership will expire next March, and I’m not renewing. There’s a whole big, natural world out there to exercise in for free!

What about eating out/ordering take-out? More than once a week is too much!

Lattes? Sodas? Candy and snacks? Health-wise I should cut them anyway!

Now I’m not saying that life should be completely devoid of fun or treats. I believe that I’ve been blessed and that I am supposed to enjoy those blessings. But I also believe that a part of enjoying the blessings is sharing with others who are less fortunate.

"We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean.
But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop."
--Mother Teresa

Have you ever seen a child’s eyes light up at Christmas when they receive gifts they didn’t dare to dream about getting?

Have you experienced the beautiful smile of a homeless person to whom you’ve given money, shaken their hand, spoken to or simply acknowledged that they are a human being worthy of being noticed and loved?

What “life clutter” could you consider ridding yourself of, or at least cutting back on, in order to share your blessings with someone else?  You never know what will happen when you plant that little seed.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fool Me Once, Shame On You...

Fool Me Twice, Shame On Me

I sit here wondering why, for all of my life,
I have allowed one person after another to make a fool of me.

Why can I not see myself
Through the eyes of God...who loves me beyond measure?

And why can't they?
What is it that makes some people feel so easy about using others?

What is it going to take
To finally say that it has to stop?

Because really, it's just a form of abuse...

Whether it is abuse from them
or if it's

I haven't quite determined that yet.

There was a time not so long ago
that I would have been in a heap on my bed

Crying my eyes out


There's a certain numbness about it all
And I haven't yet determined what that means either.

This I do know...
I am slowly but surely
Being nudged to look beyond myself

To get out of my little pity puddle
And take a good, long, hard look at the tragedies
that are happening in the world around me

To move, to take action, to leave behind those things in my life
That really have no eternal bearing

And to finally fulfill my purpose in life...

To be the hands and feet of Jesus

I pray that you will join me

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Desperately Seeking...

There’s a blog I follow regularly called A Holy Experience by Ann Vosskamp. Everytime I read it, I come away from it enriched; blessed; humbled; thirsting for more.

Reading about Ann’s recent trip to Guatemala has left my soul haunted. (Click here to read it yourself.)

I look at my children and my heart aches with thanksgiving that they do not suffer in poverty as so many in the world do. My heart yearns for them to understand just how truly blessed they are – oh my goodness, BEYOND blessed!

And my heart is torn apart for those that do suffer. For those that do not know the feel of a warm shower every day; the comfort of air conditioning; the feeling of a full stomach with no worry of when the next meal will come. Their own room, a tv, a computer, a cell phone…school, friends, laughter, learning.

I feel inadequate to deal with all the suffering I see, hear about, and read about on a daily basis.

The homeless.

  The modern-day slave.

The battered women and children. 

The utterly poverty stricken. 

My head spins in so many directions, wanting to help each and every one in some tangible way. And yet I know I can’t.

And I know I’m not meant to. My Father knows my heart; He has placed in me a gift and much to my frustration sometimes, it is not the gift I *wish* to have. I know that sounds ungrateful, but it’s not meant that way…I just wish sometimes that my gift was to be able to do the bigger things…but no…He has placed others in those roles. My role is more behind-the-scenes, here-at-home. And it’s no smaller than any other role, but sometimes it feels that way.

So for all those I can’t seem to reach, I offer prayer.

I do what I can to remain aware and to make others aware; to remain compassionate; to show God’s love in little ways.

I still wonder if it’s enough.

I desperately seek the answers.

holy experience

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

You've Got Mail!

Yeah…how many of you remember the excitement of hearing that announcement when you received an e-mail waaaaaaaay back in the day! I thought it was the coolest thing and I usually only had ONE item waiting for me (unlike today where my inbox is filled with more things than what I really want)!

OK, so let’s go a little further back…

Do you remember when you first started getting your own mail? Maybe it was a party invitation from a classmate, or you might have received a letter from one of your cousins with pictures enclosed. Best of all, maybe a birthday card from your favorite Aunt (with money to boot – woo hoo!).

And in most cases, you would respond back with a return letter or a proper thank you note.

Now, stop a second and think….

When was the last time you received something personal via the good old US Postal Service? No, I’m not talking about your very own electric bill. I’m not even talking about your very own, personal “To Our Neighbor” ads.

Or when did YOU last send something to someone by mail?  You remember those blue mailboxes, right?

I’m talking about a REAL hand-written letter.
An invitation.
A postcard even?

Did you know that in the Victorian Era, part of good upbringing and education included learning how to write a proper letter? Good penmanship was a sign in society of “fine breeding”. Even the choice of paper and pen used was of utmost importance in making a good impression. Letters were written very carefully, they were very detailed, and were never sent out without re-reading the letter before sealing the envelope. In this time in history, even though typewriters were available, it was considered “vulgar” to send a type-written personal letter.

I wonder what they would think of our modern methods.

And how many times have you pushed “send” without taking even a second glance? Ooops….

Don’t get me wrong. I totally love technology, and even though I’m not very tech-savvy, it still excites and entertains me with thoughts of what things will be like when my kids get my age.

But along with the all our new-found knowledge, I think we’ve lost something.

The smooth feel of parchment paper…

The sound of a pen scratching as we write our thoughts…

The excitement of folding the letter, sealing the envelope, stamping it, placing it in the mail slot...

(The aggravation of realizing that we left something out of the envelope… just kidding!)

Then there is the anticipation of our letter being received, read, cherished, and tucked away to be read over and over again…and of waiting for something in return.

How would it make you feel to receive something by mail, personally hand-written just for you? How would it feel to open the mailbox once in a while and find among the bills a beautiful envelope with careful, elegant hand-writing – maybe it would even have been spritzed with a lovely perfume to remind you of the person who wrote it?

I think it would be grand…I think it would make me feel special…I think it would make me feel like someone took real time out of their day just for me.

I think I’ll go write some letters…

Monday, September 6, 2010

Living an "Un" Life

I am having a serious case of the “uns” these days.




You name it and I feel “un” it.

I’ve never had particularly high self-esteem, so when I start feeling even one of these things coming on, it seems like a whole slew of them rush right in and link themselves to one another, forming a mighty chain that holds me prisoner.

A speaker at my church recently said,
“Your perspective is your reality.”

I had to think about that for more than a minute.

She didn’t say your perspective IS reality…thank goodness for that.

She didn’t say that someone else’s perspective is reality (yours or otherwise)…thank goodness for that, too. I’ve had enough people in my life try to push their “reality” onto me of what I should/shouldn’t be or should/shouldn’t do.

She said YOUR perspective is YOUR reality…I’m not particularly thankful for that, but it helps explain a few things. Back to the “uns”.

I began to think about my perspective of life. What am I seeing in the mirror? And why is it nearly all negative? I couldn't really come up with anything earth-shattering, so I decided to take a look at the definitions some of my “uns” from their root word:

Satisfy – to please, to gratify, to be adequate.
I feel unsatisfied – I do not feel adequate.

Fulfill – to meet the requirements of; to measure up; to develop the full potentialities of.
I feel unfilled – I do not feel like I measure up or meet my full potential.

Desirable – having pleasing qualities; attractive; worth seeking.
I feel undesirable – I do not feel pleasing, attractive, worthy.

As I re-read those things, it makes me a little sad – but mostly it makes me really mad. It makes me mad at the people in my past (particularly when I was a child) who fed me those lies as if they were truth on a daily basis. And it makes me even madder at myself as an adult for continuing to buy into those lies, allowing myself to take to heart things that, according to my belief in and relationship with God, are simply not true.

That’s not to say that I can just turn off my feelings and turn off all those messages in my head that play over and over. I’m the first one to tell you that it’s just not that easy. And anyone who tells you it is…they are in a great deal of denial themselves. There are things that you don’t just “get over” with the snap of your fingers.

My personal source of truth is, of course, my Bible.

In order for me to successfully ward off all those lies, I have to dig in and seek the truth of who I am – of who God made me to be. I have to tell myself the truth every day…maybe even every hour. I have to counter the lies and make a new perspective for myself – a new reality.


To the lie that I am unsatisfied…I will seek satisfaction in the things pleasing to God, not the things pleasing to man.

For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. - 1 Sam 16:7

To the lie that I am unfulfilled…I will stop comparing myself to other people and I will stop “settling for” when things get too hard. I have been created by God to be ME and to do MY own part in His plan.

But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? - 1 Cor 12:18-19

To the lie that I am undesirable…I will remember that God chose me; God made me in His image; and God sent His only Son to die for me – because He finds me worthy; because He loves me.

He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world - Eph 1:4

So God created man in His own image - Gen 1:27

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. - John 3:16

I recognize that we all have our own beliefs and our own methods of seeking truth. I also realize that it is all too easy to just give up and give in to the lies. Seeking truth and applying it is hard work. It’s often painful work. But in the end, we become better people for it…not just for ourselves, but for the hurting and broken world around us.

In the end, there IS one “un” that I am going to work diligently to attain and keep, and that is UNCHAINED.

What lies are you believing? Will you continue to let them keep you chained? If not, what are you willing to do to be free of them?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Book Love

I went to the library today, which I don’t do nearly often enough, and I am absolutely giddy. There’s something about going in and browsing the catalog (on the computer now – not in a card file like back in the day!). Then you go in search of the books you’ve decided on, and walk out with a pile of pure delight!

Going to the library for me is a connection to my childhood and to my sweet Daddy. When I was in about 8th grade, my Dad was attending the local community college and often on weekends he would have to go to the library to study and do research. I lived in a big city and the main library downtown is where we always went. It was huge, and I was allowed to go to the floor where the kid’s books were while he was studying. All by myself!

I remember first walking in to the lobby of the library – the soft sounds all around.

People whispering; someone would occasionally laugh and it would echo.

The soft swish of the books as the librarian checked people out and slid their books across the counter to them.

The distinct smell of volumes of paper on the shelves, and of lemon oil that was used to polish the tables.

To this day I can’t pass up the opportunity to open a book and take in a deep breath, lingering in the memory of those days at the library with my Dad.

And, of course, being the princess that I was – oh heck, who am I kidding? The princess that I still AM in his eyes – ha! But I digress a bit…being the princess that I was, I was rarely told no and when he came to get me so we could go home, invariably I asked to check out a stack of books – the maximum I could check out, which I think was 8. He knew I would never read them all. And of course he was right. There were times when I wouldn’t even get one completely read before it was time to take them all back. But to have them, to hold them, to look and touch, feel and smell them…it was all part of the entire experience of “reading” to me.

I think back on those days and I wonder if that had anything to do with the fact that I LOVE to read now. Is it possible that just the smell - just the feel - of the pages of a book can make someone an avid reader?

I wonder how kids today feel about going to the library and being allowed to choose books and take them home to read? Do parents even still take their kids to the library? From the looks of my local small town library, the answer isn’t very positive, and that makes me sad.

I wonder if the age of technology is gradually destroying any kind of love or respect or even desire for real paper-and-ink, bound books? I mean, even the Pastors at my church are using their iPad or their iPhone to read the Word from!

Will my grandchildren know what a “book” is? Will they know what a "library" is? 

Or will books be considered antiquated, like that old dewey decimal system card file (please tell me I'm not the only one who remembers these)? 

Will the library shelves be empty?

I pray not, because God willing, this is what I want to look like with my grandchildren...

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