Sunday, October 31, 2010

Things November

In reading poetry about November, one would think that the world is in an apocalyptic state during this time of year! All the talk about it being somber and dreary – how depressing! I don’t believe that November is either of those things.

"Even if something is left undone,
everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn."
- Elizabeth Lawrence

Early November is often beautiful and golden, and then the days slowly give way to the crisp coolness that ushers in winter.

There is excitement in the air at the thought of gathering with friends and family. There is food – oh, MY…there is definitely food!

November is a month in which many of us turn our focus onto thankfulness. We become more aware of our blessings, and very often feel led to reach out and bless others. In this spirit, I am going to embark on my first “series” of sorts. Throughout the month, I will post about “Things November”. You may find a variety of things including interesting tidbits of history and trivia, thoughts on thankfulness and blessings, and maybe even a recipe or two.

I hope you will join me on this journey and share with me your own thoughts. So, until we meet here again tomorrow, dear friends, I wish you love and happiness.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

2-4-6-8, What Do You Appreciate?

My friend Leslie over at {Words of Me Project} has a cool thing going on at her blog. It’s called “52 Words Challenge” – 52 words, 52 weeks. Each week she provides a word for participants/readers to ponder and write about, and each word is a POSITIVE word.

That’s cool. There’s so much negativity swirling around us, it’s really soul-filling and refreshing to find people out there who are making an effort to fight off the negative and replace it with the positive.

This week’s word is APPRECIATIVE.

I think we all have a vague knowing of the meaning of the word. Dictionary definitions (see below) are relatively straight-forward (and boring, I might add)…

To appreciate is to grasp the worth or significance of something;
          to value or admire highly;
                    to recognize the value of something;
                              to increase the value of something;
                                        to express admiration, approval, or gratitude.

… but these definitions lack the emotion that is present when we are truly appreciative.

Appreciation is similar to gratitude, but I believe that to appreciate something is one step above simply being thankful. Don’t get me wrong…I’m not saying gratitude isn’t a good thing. Rather, I believe that appreciation is gratitude magnified.

For example:

I am grateful for food on the table –
and I appreciate that it is fresh, tasty, and makes me healthy.

I am grateful for family and friends –
and I appreciate that they love me for who I am not what I do.

I am grateful for a job –
and I appreciate that I am paid well and treated fairly.

See how it goes?

Give it a try, and share it with me. It’s actually kind of fun to see how you can “magnify” your gratitude into appreciation. I find that it makes me more keenly aware of the blessings in my life.

"Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things."
Author Unknown

Friday, October 22, 2010

As My World Turns

It’s been a rough, rocky week.

Especially after coming home from a weekend that didn’t end quite as I had expected. I thought I would be refreshed and renewed, but instead I am emotionally drained and have more uncertainties than when I left.
It feels a little like this...

As difficult as it has been, though, this week has brought me a few of those little life lessons. Here is my list of things I’ve learned this week:

Sometimes no matter how hard you try,
you will never get it right with some people.
You have to remember that even if THEY don’t know it or act like it,
they aren’t any better than you.


Even though I’ve come a long way over the past year,
I still have miles to go in the self-improvement department.
It’s ok to have a step or two backwards,
just don’t stay there like a deer in headlights or you’re likely to get run over.


After walking through the quiet dimness of an art exhibit,
I remembered how much I like art even though I’m not knowledgeable about it. My current favorite is Pissarro.
This one was my favorite on display.


If you’re praying
and it seems like your prayers aren’t being answered,
remember that Garth Brooks song:
“Sometimes God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”
Country boy knows a little truth.


Most of the time,
when someone has ticked you off,
they either don’t know it or don’t care.
So all that energy you’re wasting being ticked off?
Don’t bother.


Holding a newborn baby
can cause even the most guarded of hearts to become softer around the edges.
Maybe even in the very middle, too.

 Those are my tidbits for the week.  I am off to Bloggy Boot Camp Saturday! I’m really quite nervous about being in a room full of fabulous, experienced bloggers. But I am hoping to come away from it with tons of new information and maybe even a bloggy friend or two.

Wish me luck!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mountain Climbing

Generally when we learn, there is a somewhat typical pattern (called a Learning Curve) that measures the mastery of particular skills over time. For the average person, the curve grows in an upward direction and at some point will level off.

I have discovered that my own learning curve is FAR from typical. Just when I think I’ve learned and mastered that skill or concept that took so very long…something comes along and causes my curve to run steeply and quickly downward.  As a matter of fact, my learning curve looks a lot like the Rocky Mountains…up, up, up I go…lots of stumbling and slipping along the way and then something or someone comes along and there I go tumbling back down to the very bottom.

Learning to trust is one of those really big mountain ranges for me. I slowly and carefully begin the climb, making sure that all of my gear is properly in place. I look up, and there’s my person – the one I’m trusting – up at the top holding out their hand ready to help pull me up as I get ever closer to the peak.

But then a funny thing happens – except that it’s really not so funny. That person that I am trusting to be there for me at the top with a helping hand and maybe a “job well done” disappears. Or worse yet, they cut my rope and watch me tumble back down the mountain.

At that point my “curve” stays more like the flatline on a heart monitor when death calls. I’ve become weary of the climb, so I move more slowly, more cautious, like a scared wild cat. Sometimes it stays that way for a while. A really, really long while.

Eventually I begin to climb again. I try again…and again…and again…using my own power, not relying on anyone to help, not trusting that anyone will be waiting for me at the top – climbing up and over people. My focus is singular. I don’t stop or slow down for anything…or anyone. It’s just easier that way. Or is it?

With self-trust and self-reliance, it gets lonely at the top of that mountain, where the air is thin and it’s hard to breathe. Where there’s no one to help you know where to go. Where all you hear is the echo of your own voice….

I find myself in this place often, and it’s in this time that I have learned I have to come back down the mountain some…come to a place where I am not looking down upon things past, nor toward things to come. I must put one foot in front of the other and dig my feet in one slow, precise step at a time, until I reach that place where breath flows freely.

Then I look up…

"I lift up my eyes to the hills-- where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip-- he who watches over you will not slumber"
Psalm 121:1-3

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Lightening the Load

I have recently experienced some life changes that have left me feeling a little wobbly, hurt and broken. When a friend of mine suggested that I check out the 100 Hearts Challenge (, I jumped at the chance to try something a little different to work toward healing. Each day a new challenge is presented, the ultimate goal being to help women to:

Regain control
Rebuild confidence
Create new visions for being healthy, happy and whole

Today’s challenge was to take our purses, dump them out on the bed, examine the contents and then…


Choose only 3 things to carry in your purse that, for the next 2 days, will be the only things you carry.


That’s it. No mas.

You would think that the dilemma of choosing precisely what three items to carry would be difficult enough in itself, but immediately my mind went to this…

{{Wait….which purse should I carry? Should I carry the pretty purple one with lots of bling on it that I got for my birthday?}}

{{Or should I carry my practical, go-with-everything black purse?}}

And if I carry the purple one, which outfits and shoes should I choose? I mean, if I have to sacrifice the majority of the items in my purse (which represent a great deal of my life), I should be able to make up for it with other stuff, right?

I’m pretty sure I just missed the whole point of the exercise. The counselor leading this challenge is known for saying “stay out of your own way.” Uh – can you say FAIL?!

So, as I softly giggle at myself for being such a dork…I start over and try again.

Dump purse.  Examine contents.

Lots of quarters
     Makeup bag
       2 flash drives (why?)
                Small Journal
                     Empty iPod case (again…why?)

Choose three.  Ok, I can do this.

THREE…really??? Is this even possible?

Ok, so I’m having a hard time…I begin to take things away one by one…process of elimination. The first thing to go is the empty iPod case. Next the quarters, then flash drives. Agenda, journal, pen and gum. Ugh…makeup bag!

That’s it…my 3 things to carry for the next 2 days in my purse are my phone, my sunglasses and my wallet.

I lift my purse, throwing it over my shoulder, nearly slinging it across the room because it’s so light. I feel like half of my life is missing!!

I’m not exactly sure what the point of the exercise is except maybe to make us more aware that we carry around a lot of unnecessary stuff – both literally and figuratively!

Now if I could just get rid of the "unnecessary stuff" that seems to have accumulated in my mid-section...

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Black Sheep of Blogland

I've been watching my stats.

Watching my comments.


Or very little anyway.

Suddenly I am the black sheep.  Ouch.

And for some reason this morning it made me particularly sad. 

Did I say something terribly offensive?  Am I boring?  What could have happened?  Where are all the people that used to stop by and comment?  Or even those who, when I would visit their blogs, would comment back?  Where is the dialogue?  The comraderie?  Maybe I should just give up.

And then I decided to heck with it.  I blog because I like to write, I like to put together words and pictures to convey a message, I write as a creative outlet. I like my work.  My words are therapy.

Yeah, sure...I'd like to have 100 or more dedicated followers.  I'd love to have blogland friends like all the other girls do.  But the fact is, I don't.  Probably never will.  And after really thinking long and hard about it, that's ok.

This is for me.  This is my happiness, my experience, my world.  Obviously I want to share it with others or I wouldn't be here.  For those who want to join me in my "chaos", I say "Welcome!"  I truly hope you enjoy what you read and perhaps will be touched and moved in some way.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


I’m going on a retreat soon.
It’s a women’s retreat.
It’s an “Encounter”.
An Encounter with God.

I’m eager to learn,
to listen,
to really hear.

I’m excited
to spend quality time with my girlfriends,
who are so much more than friends –
they are sisters
in every sense of the word.

{I’m scared, too.}

There are big, powerful giants living in this place I’ll be going.

I know I’m not strong enough to slay them. Not alone anyway. Not on my own power.

I wonder if I’ll be strong enough…brave enough…to allow God to lead me to this place. I wonder if I will be able, like David, to use the weapons that God gives me to slay the many giants charging toward me.

Taunting me.

Telling me I’m too small. Telling me I’m not good enough. Telling me to turn around and run back home with my tail between my legs.

Because I AM a runner.

When things get too hard and I have to stretch myself…I run.

When things hurt too much…I run.

When the fears loom heavily over me…I tuck my head way, way down…and I run.

I run with all my might to a place that feels safe. Where I am alone. Where I am in control.

But it’s cold there. I don’t like it and I don’t want to go there anymore. Ever again.

I want to be a conqueror. I want to stand tall, head up, shoulders back, weapons of God at the ready.

As I prepare for this battle, I fortify myself with God’s word. Reading Romans 8 helps me feel stronger.

In particular, Romans 8:37-39 speaks to my heart…soothes me:

“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. “

I am a conqueror. No, God says I am MORE than a conqueror.
Through Him.

Who loved us (me).

This is my time. My time to stand tall in the shadow of my Great God who will “have my back”. To carefully and precisely take aim, and bring every giant to their knees.

One by one.
          Crashing to the earth.
                    Dead and gone, never to return.

I will be able to remove the well-worn patch over my broken heart that says “runner” (coward) and underneath will be a whole, healed heart consumed with love for God.

A heart that, with every beat, softly chants “con-quer-or, con-quer-or, con-quer-or”… watch out world…here I come.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

It's A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

You remember that old Mr. Rogers song, don’t you? (Well, just in case you don’t the lyrics are below.) As a young person, I always thought the song was a little hokey, but now I see a different side to it.

Won't You Be My Neighbor
By Fred M. Rogers © 1967

It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor,
Would you be mine? Could you be mine?

It's a neighborly day in this beautywood,
A neighborly day for a beauty,
Would you be mine? Could you be mine?

I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you,
I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.

So let's make the most of this beautiful day,
Since we're together, we might as well say,
Would you be mine? Could you be mine?
Won't you be my neighbor?

Won't you please, Won't you please,
Please won't you be my neighbor?

Simple, sweet words. So inviting…literally! It reaches beyond *my* neighborhood or *your* neighborhood. It reaches out to the ends of the earth. It represents not just the immediate areas in which we live. It represents the whole of creation. It’s inclusive, it’s warm, it’s friendly, it’s welcoming.

It seems in today’s world of privacy fences and automatic garage doors, we don’t even know who our neighbors are. And once we get into our houses and turn on our televisions, we watch from afar all our other “neighbors” in our cities and in our world. We watch their lives unfold on a big screen, and we shake our heads at their tragedies. Our mouths say we feel sorry. But our hearts remain distant as we sit comfortably in our air-conditioned houses.

Do you know who your neighbors are? Let me give you a little hint: they aren’t just the people you wave at as you pass their houses each day, or borrow a cup of sugar from.

But they could be:

**The single parent struggling to feed and clothe their children, or pay the electric bill**

**The child who has been trafficked and sold into slavery for sex, labor, or war**

**The pregnant teen mom who has nowhere to turn because her family has abandoned her**

**The orphan in Africa whose parents have died from AIDS, digging through the trash pile for tonight’s dinner**

**The dad down the street who just lost his job – for the second time in a year**

**The woman you see every week at church - on the outside she looks composed and polished, but at home she lives a daily hell of physical, mental and/or emotional abuse.**

Don’t you think that when any of these people get a glimpse into your life, they would like to be your neighbor? To be included in a warm, friendly, safe place?

And “since we’re together” in this world, shouldn’t we try to “make the most” of each beautiful day WITH them?

Isn’t there always something we can each do – even ONE small thing – to extend love to our neighbors?

How about starting here:

“The love of our neighbor in all its fullness simply means being able to say to him, ‘What are you going through?’”
--Simone Weil

                    walk in their shoes.

Then…take action.
Help them.
Love them.
Lift them up.

Then, instead of just a neighborhood, we have a “beautywood”. Please, won’t you be my neighbor?
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