Thursday, April 30, 2009

On Mothering


You’ve heard of Stephen King’s, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft? Today I’m going to give you a glimpse of On Mothering: A Memoir of the (it took everything inside me not to write the rhyming word with one less letter).


Really though, my pastor’s wife always says, “the proof will be in the pudding” when I commend how she’s raising her children. I’m newer on this road of parenting. My children are young. I cannot claim to spout off untold wisdom about life as mother. I can only tell you where I’ve been and what I’ve learned so far.


Before I do that I want to put something out there in cyberspace. I sometimes avoid detailing things on my blog that are closest to my heart. I’m careful when I write about my children and will continue to be. Also, I don’t see parenting as a job. Is it work? YES. Is it harder then I ever dreamed it would be? YES. Yesterday I wrote a blog about most engaging and most repulsive jobs and you’ll notice I neglected to mention my role as a mom in both (though at times I question if it could fall into both) categories. Why did I omit this role, this job that I hold so close to my heart? I did so because parenting feels more like a mission or a great assignment (as does writing, actually) than a job. But mothering is a mission I will always give the higher value to.

It’s sort of like what Paul wrote in Philippians. Without revealing details, I can tell you that in regards to motherhood, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.” Knowing this makes me appreciate my great assignment as mother all the more.


Now, onto the advice part…


Allow yourself to fail (Did I just write that? Yep, I did. Stop having an internal dialogue on the page).


I mean, you can allow yourself to fail while not allowing yourself to be a failure as a parent. There’s a difference and it’s a big one.


We’ll make mistakes as parents. It’s inevitable. Did you know that a child can learn so many things from how we handle our own mistakes? If we yell too loudly, act crabby to a stranger, unfairly accuse our child of something, we can accept the fact we made a mistake…AND THEN…we can: Say Sorry. Apologizing can be such a teaching lesson for our children to witness. I’m convinced children need a human authority more than they need a robot one. When we do this, we still maintain our authoritative role; accepting responsibility, showing humility and modeling being forgiven all in one lesson.


Besides, being able to say sorry shows your child that you’re willing to grow too, that you care about impressions they’re receiving and finally, that you follow God’s lead first in your life.


Good Parenting to You!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Working Wednesday


I'm concentrating a lot of my time and energy on this new project (I mentioned it the other day and was extremely grateful for the abundance of advice I received about its conception).


I wanted to write up something fun and simple, so what came to mind? A List!


Here are my top 10's (in random order):


Most Engaging Jobs:


  1. Hot Air Balloon Operator

  2. Hospital Chaplain (with a focus in crisis management)

  3. Novelist (Freelance Writer, Journalist, Musical Lyricist, Blogger, Essayist...anything to do with putting words on a page)

  4. Interviewer

  5. Food Critic

  6. Mail Carrier

  7. Firefighter

  8. Youth Pastor

  9. English Professor

  10. Boat Person (is there a job where you can just ride around on a boat all day...a sailor perhaps? That's what I want to do and get paid for it of course).

Most Repulsive Jobs:



  1. Anything to do with Money & Numbers (Accountant, Banker...you get the drift)

  2. Plumber

  3. Administrative Assistant

  4. Assembly Line Worker

  5. Kindergarten Teacher (hey, at least I know my weaknesses)

  6. Model

  7. Flight Attendant

  8. Road Worker/Cementer

  9. Dental Hygienist

  10. Gastric Endocrinologist

For anyone who does the latter 10...I respect you and I feel for you. For anyone who does the first 10...are you hiring (especially for the boat person job)?


What makes your list of engaging & repulsive jobs?


Happy Working!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dust or Design?


I've already let you know I'm not a science chick. Well, I'm not a numbers girl either. Nothing terrified me more in 5th grade than my own personal nemesis -- long division board races. But these numbers, these numbers I'm about to write down...they grabbed my attention.


Francis Chan was alluding to the brevity of our lives in his book, Crazy Love when he mentions, "Throughout time, somewhere between forty-five billion and one hundred twenty-five billion people have lived on this earth." And then, just for fun he wrote the number out, "That's 125,000,000,000."


So what do you make of that? Are we merely dust in the wind? People to be forgotten? Or are we unique and intentionally crafted vessels for God to use?


I'm sure you have an opinion. I do and if you've been reading my blog at all, you've learned I'm not too bashful to share it.


I think we are both. I think we are dust, living for only a speck on the timeline of all life and living beings. But I also think we have purpose and we have influence and we are a design like no other.


How do you respond to the enormity of those numbers (and what about the gap in between)?


Are we dust or design? Or are we both?

Calling All Writers

I plan to write a regular blog later today, but I'm anxious to get some advice from my writer friends I've been connecting with lately.

Here's my dilemma:

  • I have one novel completed (being looked at).
  • I have two other novels at least 50 pages in, but life took over and I stopped writing them (I plan to complete both in the future).
  • I am well into a non-fiction work (with a goal of completing the first draft in Oct.)

All of a sudden a new character keeps banging on the door of my brain and this morning I began to write her story. It fires me up. I know it's original & intriguing and I'm being infiltrated with character details about her...(the idea surfaced months ago...but now the details are surfacing).

Here's where I need the help of my writer friends--Advice:

Do I stick to completing the non-fiction work? Do I "go with this new character"...b/c I'm not sure she'll allow me to stop anyway and continue to write this new work? I know most publishers/agents encourage writing in one genre anyway...so my mind's a flood and I'm asking for your input. Has this ever happened to you? If so, how have you brought it in and focused? Should I just work on what excites me at the time?

Thoughts???

Monday, April 27, 2009

Pandora's Box -- Writing What You Know All Too Well


Write what you know. If you've done a fair share of writing, you've heard this expression. Heck, even if you're entirely new to writing you've probably learned this. It's an innate gut thing anyway...to write what's familiar, what we've studied and what we're confident writing about.


Here's where the predicament comes in. Family secrets. What do we do about sharing family secrets? I have some guidelines that I go by. I'll reveal those later, but for now let's open up this box and see what we come up with.


We all have skeletons in our closets. Any one person could readily gather some pretty fierce material by studying and being around certain family members. We all have it within our potential to rip the masks off our family secrets every time we sit down to type at the keyboard. It is within our power. It can even be seen as a gift, something of our own Pandora's box.


Pandora, a Greek mythological female figure decided, whether out of malicious intent or sheer curiosity, to open the box that released and unveiled all of the evils of mankind. Ouch. Not good. Not good at all Pandora.


But are we much different if we intentionally choose to write about those in our lives and describe them in exact detail, shredding their character, tossing their weaknesses on the page as easily as rolling dice?


Here are my thoughts. Families are messy. We all know this. If you really feel you must divulge deep dark family secrets (that are more incriminating to others than they'd be to yourself) I suggest two things:


  1. Ask for the blessing. Go to whomever you plan to write about and ask about their comfort level. If they are adamant about your not writing about them, don't--at least not for publication. It's not worth it. It's not worth damaging relationships in order to have a supremely published piece of gritty non-fiction. There are millions of journals out there where you can let the gunk out.

  2. You've heard the saying, "Turn that frown upside down." Well do that but instead, turn non-fiction into fiction. Change details, add subtle stand-outs that don't resemble loved ones. Be creative...it's what writers do! Write what you know, but know it differently. (*Disclaimer -- The books I'm working on don't represent anyone from my family. The characters aren't you...if anyone from my family is reading this. :D )

Finally, an important point about Pandora. Hope is still in the box. She left it in there. That's the good stuff. We can open up our own boxes when we write, letting Hope fly out onto the page and turn our history, our past filled with pain, tragedy and skeletal bones into something beautiful, original and free from condemnation or guilt.


This brings me to Ezekiel 37. If you've never read through the Bible...I'm telling you it's filled with highly creative stuff --stuff beyond the imagination. Anyway, check out Ezekiel. The bones, you know the ones I was talking about...those skeletons...God makes them walk! Here's a teaser before I go:


"This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life..." Ezekiel 37:5


Write Freely and Often!


Also, I stopped by here today to write a little something. Feel free to check it out.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

You Look Just Like...



I'm not sure anyone has caught me in a dead stare and said, "You know, you look just like..." I'm just not convinced my "twin" is out there anywhere.

Recently I came across this website, My Heritage. And well, you know me. I jumped right in trying all kinds of face recognition experiments. Really, why can't I just do something casually? Why do I have to throw myself into things so?

Anyway, if you feel like having a little fun, navigate over to their site, upload some photos and have good laugh. I realize I don't look all that much like Meg Ryan. But I'm not sure I look like the other results either, Sara Evans, Kim Cattrall, Kate Winslet or Helen Hunt. I will admit I do think I look a bit like Robin Wright Penn (I think she's still married to Sean). Maybe a little like Amanda Peet too, if I had to choose.

Just having a little fun with you today.

Hope your weekend is blessed.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Here's My Brother



Brian Welch, formally of Korn, offers a succinct answer for the hope he now has. I know this hope. This is what happened to me. Different scenario…same spiritual path.

I’ll juxtapose this video (please watch it, it had me in tears yesterday) with the song my daughter sings at preschool:

My God is so great, so strong and so mighty.
There’s nothing my God cannot do.
The mountains are his. The rivers are his.
The stars are his handiwork too.
My God is so great, so strong and so mighty.
There’s nothing my God cannot do…for you!

Writing Update:
I recently got word my work will be in several forthcoming publications.
(Praise God!)

Good Friday to You!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wanted: A New Catch Phrase


Several years ago I kept ending every sentence with, “You know what I’m sayin’?” My husband would laugh at me, questioning if I intended to start a new career in rapping. I don’t know why I said it. It just lodged into my vocabulary. It became my verbal Bob from What About Bob.


I think it would be thrilling to be the inventor of a highly popular catch phrase. As the phrase creator, I could remain entirely anonymous, but walking around hearing people utter the catch phrase I invented would secretly make my insides jump. Why? It must be my love affair with words. They really are more powerful than we think.


Here are some catch phrases you might recognize:
1. “Suit up.”
2. “Bam.”
3. “How YOU doin’?”
4. “Whassup.”
5. “Good night, John Boy.”
6. “Schwing.”
7. “Well, isn’t that special.”
8. “No soup for you!”
9. “De plane! De plane!”
10.“Where’s the beef?”


Other favorites:
“Holy Cow!” – I like this one b/c cows really are considered holy in places like India.
“Jumping the Shark…” – I just like the way this sounds and what it represents…something being past its time…getting old.
“Land sakes!” or for “Pete’s sake!” – Again these just seem friendly to me and I’m intrigued by people who actually say them.

What are some of your favorite catch phrases?

Extra credit: Can you identify where the above catch phrases originated?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Static or Kinetic?

I'm not a science girl. It's just not my thing. However, I keep finding examples of things I remember from science class that somehow make points I'm hoping to make.

Take static or kinetic for example. Normally when you refer to these two words, you're talking about friction. I keep thinking about static and kinetic people, as in their personality types.

There are those who "go with the flow" and then there are those who create the flow. I've been doing a little self introspection to figure out which of these I'd be considered and it didn't take much thought to realize I'm kinetic all the way. I think I was born with ants in my diaper. People often ask how I was able to write a novel with a one-year-old and the best way I know how to answer them is that I think I would have gone crazy had I not been writing it.

If I'm not participating in some outlet of creativity, I'm willing to wager I'd combust (or I'd just be really crabby all the time...which might be worse than combusting). Somewhere in the Bible it describes how the rocks and trees would cry out if the people remained silent. I know if I've been quiet for too long, speechless and void of conversation, then I have sort of a mind dump that pours into my writing. Can you relate (if not with writing, with some other creative outlet)?

All this said, I'd like to state that I think there is wisdom that comes from being static at times and for me it's almost a learned art form. I'm learning to be quiet and to enjoy stillness with my creator. I'm learning to watch the ants parade on the ground and to ignore them as they aggravate my pants to move. I'm learning to slow down and I won't lie, this is difficult.

I like to move it, move it (sorry, we've watched Madagascar 2 too many times this week). Really though, being still takes effort. I know this is hard for some people because it forces them to stop and evaluate themselves, to reflect and face some things about themselves. That's not it for me. I think I know myself too well sometimes. I think I like movement because it's often meant growth and change and excitement in my life and I'm attracted to those things.

So, while I appreciate all the energy God has wired me with, I sure hope he educates me on how and when to be more of a static person.

What about you, are you static or kinetic?

By the way, Happy Earth Day! Be kind to it. It's our home for now.

Quick Update: The Chicken Soup for the Soul: Power Moms Expo went really well. It was an honor to sign books, speak and most of all to meet other moms out there just doing the best they can.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Soup Expo


Tonight I attend the Chicken Soup for the Soul: Power Moms Expo. I'm looking forward to meeting the other moms featured in the book, as well as any attendees hoping to learn more about what makes a "power mom".


So what makes me a power mom? I don't define myself by my mistakes. My featured story details my initial months as a mother, when I wasn't sure I was cut out for the job. So much of who we are and how we live is defined by what we think of ourselves. I've accepted the reality I will make mistakes as a mother, but I also know that I'm not defined by my mistakes.


I'm a stay-at-home mom, entrenched in my writing career. I love my children and work hard to raise them to learn to love and impact the world positively. These things, though potentially garnering some respect, don't make me a power mom. It is my belief, I am a power mom because of who I am in my relationship with God. My confidence comes from him and because it does, I really am not afraid to take on anything.


I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, April 20, 2009

What Do These Words Mean?

Just wanted to let you know, on Mondays you can also find me here. Today, I wrote about a little beauty experiment I want people to think about, especially women. Go check it out and let me know what you discover.

Why is it that our culture has such a confused definition of beauty? It led me to think of all the other things that don't hold to a noble or consistent meaning anymore, such as success, stillness, quality, rich, awesome or amazing, invest, comfort, integrity or even respect.

What are some words that you think have changed in definition so much so that you aren't even sure what they mean anymore in our culture?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Just How Fearless Are You?

I was watching the Today Show this morning and was caught off guard by this guy. Eskil Ronningsbakken (what a name, huh?) claimed part of the reason he performs his outrageous stunts is to prove to people they can conquer their fears.


He had my attention. Go check him out and the next time you read an honest and vulnerable post on self-doubt or fear, guide the writer to these pictures. I know I'll be looking at these photos again.

Happy Balancing Acts to You!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Put Your Dream To The Test by John C. Maxwell


Are moms allowed to dream? Absolutely! John C. Maxwell makes that abundantly clear in his latest book, Put Your Dream To The Test: 10 Questions to Help You See It and Seize It. It doesn’t matter who you are or what stage of life you are in, Maxwell encourages and inspires with ten practical and necessary steps to guide you in your dream. It’s one thing to fantasize about being someone and accomplishing something; it’s another to live it out. Through well-chosen stories of triumph, powerful quotes and probing questions, Maxwell advises you to “put your dream to the test.”
~~Seldom have I written down answers to questions I’ve read in books. However, I did just that while reading the ten key questions in Put Your Dream To The Test. I gained focus and a heightened passion for my dream of encouraging women to be empowered and connected through my writing and speaking. How can we grow unless we are willing to ask the hard questions, the ones that get to the root of our dreams? Some of these questions are whether it is in fact our dream, whether we have a strategy in place to achieve the dream, or will our dream benefit others, as well as multiple other significant questions that will lead us towards potential success.
~~After all, if you are a mother you know that your children don’t rob you of your dreams; they just help you to be more intentional as you identify and live out your dream. Being a better mom to your children may even be your dream. And what a noble dream that would be!
~~I was honored to review this book for Thomas Nelson Publishers (http://www.brb.thomasnelson.com/).
~~It’s an essential read for anyone who wants to do more than chase a dream. This book is for those who want to catch their dream and then pass it on to impact others.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Jasper and Carnelian




How phantasmagorical his visions were! John saw something indescribable and yet he tried with all his might to depict what Jesus looked like on the throne in the book of Revelation. In his book, Crazy Love, Francis Chan reminded me of two words John used to describe Jesus on the throne. Jasper and carnelian.


“At once I was in the Spirit and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian.” Revelation 4:3


According to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, “Jasper is an opaque, impure variety of silica, usually red, yellow or brown in color,” while carnelian “is a reddish-brown mineral which is commonly used as a semi-precious gemstone”.


Gems. Jesus was being described as gems, precious jewels!


I think it’s natural for us to try to put words to who Jesus is and what our faith is like. There’s something in us that struggles to define and describe our God. We are not amiss when we do this. We just need to realize that our descriptions won’t ever come close to who God really is. He really is indescribable. But I credit John’s description. He saw a vision worth revealing and it made it into the Bible, so we need to pay attention.


I don’t know what to make of it really. It causes me to wonder what our heavenly bodies will look like. It stirs exciting guesses of what Jesus may look like in heaven (and gives me hints of what he may have looked like on earth). It also does one more thing. I think any time I’m quick to call one of my three sweet girls precious gems, I’ll think about who was called that first. I’ll recognize that in all their preciousness, my girls will never radiate like the one on the throne.

Thankful his word is living and active!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Six Questions


Do you wait to be inspired?










Or do you inspire?






Do you push and propel life away?











Or do you ingest it?












Do you sink?











Or once reaching the depths do you find a way to float again?









Do you wait for the truth to be told?

Or are you a truth-teller?









Do you think big?

Or small?











Do you espouse hate?








Or love?














Tuesday, April 14, 2009

You Hoo Mr. Sandman


I think Mr. Sandman got laid off.

Just after I gave birth to my first child, my mother-in-law told me I will never get a peaceful night of sleep again. While that’s not been entirely the truth, she was on to something. Midnight and early morning feedings turned into aiding sicknesses, turned into easing nightmarish fears, turned into a little one needing just one more cuddle, turned into two more children to follow the aforementioned pattern. It seems as though we will eternally be hearing the little patter of footsteps padding into our room during the sleepy hours.

Sleep. Ahhhh. Sleep. Motherhood has turned me into a light sleeper. I awake if a down feather wrestles loose from a pillow. I awake if I hear a cough. I awake if one of my little ones falls out of bed. Well, sure that one is a given, but still. You just can’t keep a good woman down I guess.

How then would I describe the nights when I do sleep well? I can’t describe them. I can only say it’s obvious the next day. I’m restored and my mind is crisp, everything seems more doable and less an obstacle.

So, I’m hoping that Mr. Sandman gets reinstated. He had such purpose. I know it’s not his fault my sleep is as jilted as shifting tectonic plates. I’ll just blame this whacked out economy, but I miss him. I wonder what it’ll take to get him back. I wonder if he’ll ever come back. I imagine I’ll have to get through the teenage years first.

Sleep Much?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Play-Doh Writing

Ah, what you can do with Play-Doh. I used to eat it when I was a kid. What kid hasn’t tried it? I’m convinced all kids want to take a bite.

Anyway, I think writing is like Play-Doh. You have the freedom to make anything you want of words. You can twist them, break them up and mold them until they suit your fancy.

Sometimes writing comes out like worm pies and snakes. And then, then there are times when you flatten a bright violet piece of Play-Doh on the table, flatten it thinner than a pizzelle and you place your thumb down making a soft indent, but a noticeable one nonetheless. And there it is. You’ve done something original. No one can duplicate your thumb print.

And so it goes with writing something truly innovative and fresh. If you write it well enough and with enough conviction and craft, perhaps you’ll leave such an impression that the reader will want to take a bite.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Jesus At The Starting Gate


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I’ve noticed it, have you? My writing lately has taken on spiritual undertones. I have no apologies for it, instead I delight in it. Why? Because it means that is what I’m thinking about. I’ve vowed to write this blog based on what I’m thinking and lately my writing has been laced with ideas of faith. Whoopee!

I don’t know if this trend will continue. I won’t lie, I hope in some form and fashion it does, again because it’s an indicator of my thoughts.

So, you know The Apostles’ Creed? I’ve been thinking of three lines over the last few days.

“He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.”

I imagine because we are approaching Easter these thoughts have surfaced. I can’t seem to shake the image of Jesus as a horse. Stay with me here. It would be the mere (mare, ha) opposite of anthropomorphism (attributing human characteristics to nonhuman things, animals, etc.). Or at least it would be a mixed up version of it, really I just love the word and wanted to use it so badly. But it kind of fits in flipped form. Keep with me. Jesus, fully God and fully man--as a horse. Why a horse? Read the second line of the Apostles’ Creed above. He descended into hell. I don’t think any of us spend a lot of time thinking too deeply on that one.

I think of Jesus as a horse at the starting gate there in hell, ready for the call, “and they’re off” to race back up to heaven to sit at the right hand of his Father where he belonged. I think of him posed to get back home. Mentally I see the horse, the nostrils blowing out air, the hoof stamping, all the typical expressions of a horse eager and anxious to run and it makes me think of Jesus on this “in between” day so many years ago, the day he hadn’t yet risen.

I’m not a Bible scholar, so I’m not claiming any perfect truth about what I’ve just written, but a thought was planted, that image of the horse at the starting gate and I couldn’t shut it out of my mind. Jesus, who once said he was the gate, stood still waiting for his Father to open up the gate so he could return, so he could run and do what he was made to do…deliver himself home.

And that’s not the end. Because he endured what he did, made the sacrifice he did, Jesus becomes the gate once again, “I am the gate, whoever enters through me will be saved.” ~ John 10:9. I can just see both Jesus and God seated together, giving high fives, cheering, preparing to call out and celebrate as we contemplate and receive Jesus as our Savior. I hear the trumpets heralding, the race ready to begin. I can just see them cupping their hands to their mouths ready to holler out, “Any they’re off.”


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Keeping the Air In



You’ve probably seen one of those lotto machines with balls bumping and popping around inside the plastic dome. Sometimes my life is in that dome. You’ve probably heard someone describe their life as though they are juggling balls or plates, but in those examples the juggler is in control. I’m not saying I’m out of control (though at times it feels like it) but what I’m saying is with a house full of three little girls, my attention continually drifting to how I can help my aging parents, while I’m trying my best to maintain a healthy marriage, it can feel like it’s all balls bouncing to and fro at whim.

I haven’t even mentioned my writing. Oh, my writing, my passion. Currently, I have one completed manuscript and two other fiction manuscripts over 50 pages in. I love the characters. I think of them often. Not a day goes by without my thinking of characters I’ve already written or of new story ideas. I’m working on a non-fiction book now (I know I need to stick to a specific genre…but I’ll just tuck this one away until the time is right). I often feel like “Verbal” Kint from The Usual Suspects when I’m getting my material. It comes from everywhere, all around me. As a result, I have pieces of paper in all shapes and sizes, Hello Kitty pads, notebook paper, sticky notes, etc. that have scrawled story ideas and strong lines all over my house (and car).

So what of it? I guess it all comes down to keeping the air flow in my machine. If I do that then one of those balls pops down for a reading and gets the focus for a moment. If I do that things work as they should. Can you imagine if all the air got sucked out of one of those machines, if it just stopped? I can. I’ve seen it. All the balls drop. To me that represents when I’m worn out…when the “life” has been sucked out of me because I didn’t keep the air in.

If you’ve read any of my other posts you can guess, my “air” is my faith. If my focus is on God then the balls (the things in my life) do what they are supposed to do, bounce all around and eventually the ones I’m to focus on land in the ceremonial spot. They become the winner for the moment.

What are you doing to keep the air in?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

You Are What You Wear?



Whether it’s Michelle Obama’s fashion sense or the flood of commentary following a red carpet event, we are bombarded with what people wear.

I see how other moms dress their children, like something straight out of Cookie Magazine or a Gap Kids catalog. While I make efforts, some days I’m lucky if I’ve helped remind my girls to put on underwear. It’s a good day if I’ve remembered to wash their face before they’ve walked out the door. And I’m okay with that. Why? Because think of how many people stare over pictures of themselves in brown and orange mismatched 70’s getups and laugh at the clothes while reminiscing over the good times. Do they really care how they were dressed? No, the clothes actually become more of a conversation boost and something to bond about.

Do clothes matter? Are we what we wear? There’s no denying that I feel more accomplished and “with it” on the days I actually change out of my PJ’s. But don’t you think our country goes a little too far with defining people by their apparel choices?

Take Michelle Obama for example. Why on earth is what she wears even a hot topic? I think I’ve heard more about what she wears than what she’s accomplished as First Lady. That’s just not right. And why are there hundreds of pictures in magazines each week depicting ladies in Hollywood in their dress down, sloppy-wear. Why are we surprised to see them that way, or rather why does it send a reassuring chill down our spine to celebrate that we aren’t the only ones who can look sloppy? I won’t even mention Jessica Simpson’s choice of the 80’s style mom-jean. Ohps, just did.

I’m not saying that a sharp outfit from J. Crew or a beautiful ensemble from Ann Taylor doesn’t do it for me. I’m all for class (and comfort too by the way) but I don’t think it should be what defines us. I know, I know, appearances count, make a good impression, put your best foot forward…blah, blah, blah. I agree, it’s just something laughs inside me whenever I see someone like Bjork in her swan dress at the Oscars or when I think of John the Baptist gnawing on a locust in his sandals and perhaps a loin cloth. I’m secretly thrilled by it. Why, you ask as you begin to worry about me again. I like it because it shows they didn’t care.

Now, maybe I’m going too far to the other extreme…but that’s what you have to do with the pendulum sometimes…you need to swing it so everyone can rest easy in the middle somewhere. That middle for me would be the desire to present yourself well, spirit and mind first, appearances following, with the wherewithal to know when you’ve placed too much emphasis and importance on how you look.

Are you what you wear?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Halo & Prom



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I’m thinking of prom. Not my prom, though I must say whatever memories I have are sweet and special. The guy I went with became a pastor and is doing wonderful things at his church. This doesn’t surprise me. He always had a kind heart; he was prepared and eager to follow God’s lead.

I’m thinking of prom because I’ve been talking to the group of teenage girls I lead who are getting ready to go. Flashes from Pretty in Pink come to mind. The dress hunting, the high school DRAMA…so much of it, especially on the night of, and most of it fabricated and drawn out to make the night more “interesting” I suppose.

I’ve heard Beyonce’s song, Halo on the radio and have wondered how many proms will have that as the theme song. It’s a pretty song really, the melody, the pounding beat…but the lyrics…oh those lyrics. They make me nervous.

“Standing in the light of your
Halo

I've got my angel now…

Baby I can see your halo

You know you're my saving grace

You're everything I need and more

It's written all over your face

Baby I can feel your halo

Pray it won't fade away…”

(It will fade away by the way…).

I had all kinds of relationships before I met my husband. I was primed to pour my heart into any guy that made me feel special and that’s why these lyrics make me nervous. A boy, a guy, a man or any qualifier of the opposite sex cannot save us (nor can we save them).

In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that guy you’re dancing with, he’s just as screwed up as you are. He can’t get you out of your feelings, can’t make your life less complicated for you, or can’t carry you away on a white stallion (he can barely afford the car payments to his folks). Men weren’t made to save women. Women weren’t made to save men. We have but one Savior.

I’m a sucker for romance and I’m inclined to tell myself to chill out. The lyrics, the song – it’s pretty…it’s no big deal. Yet, anyone who has placed someone else (or has been placed) on that pedestal, as that filler, as that person to take them away from it all, the one to heal or to save, well, they know. They may not know now, but someday they will. It’s a dangerous and unfair place to put someone. They’ll fail. They weren’t made for it and worse, you’ll feel you’ve been deceived in your romantic fantasy, from your dream and your hope of relationship when really it was never supposed to be like that.

You can’t put a halo on the head of someone it doesn’t fit.

Ask my husband, I crave intimacy, physical closeness and deep connection and I can be just as sappy as the rest of them in my cravings. I know though, only God is able to meet certain needs. My husband can be a glimpse and a reflection of relationship with God, but even in all the ways he loves me, sacrificially and intimately…it will never come close to the way God loves me, to what he sacrificed for me.

I have two visions of God’s halo.

His halo was the crown of thorns pressed into his skull as a mockery.

His halo lights up the world.

And that…that makes me dance.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Hannibal Time

It's Hannibal time. I'm not referring to the treacherous Hannibal Lecter from The Silence of the Lambs...I would not do that to you. I would not do that to myself. That character freaks me out to no end. I am referring to Hannibal and his infamous elephants - The Conqueror of the Alps.

Part of the reason I liked Western Civilization is because of stories like Hannibal's. I still wish we learned more about what was going on with the women at that time...but I'll get back to Hannibal's conquests. My husband and I watched a fascinating documentary on Hannibal the other night. I'll make no excuses...I like a good documentary every so often. And this one was good, more because of all it reminded me of than because of its intrigue.

Hannibal, the Carthaginian military commander of 200something BC headed for Rome defeating his rivals in battle after battle. I love how he garnered credit and praise for bringing the elephants. The idea of him and his thousands of troops marching over the snowy Alps with their line of elephants does wonders for the imagination.

Towards the end of the documentary, history experts shot off their opinions to why they believed Hannibal was as successful as he was. Strategy, surprise attacks, the elephants...all kinds of reasons were provided for his success. However, when one expert said the following words I was at full attention. He said, "Hannibal knew how his enemy would fight."

Bang. There you have it. I realized that statement about Hannibal is a foundational spiritual truth for anyone of faith. While you are at your weakest, do you know how your enemy fights? Do you know what makes you most vulnerable and what strategies might be used against you?

I couldn't shake the thought really. It's crucial for us to realize what we're up against. When we do realize and choose to tap into God's power and strength we are invincible, not in a reckless teenage, "I'm immortal" way, but instead in a "I have the same power in me that raised Jesus from the dead" way. That is living in victory.

Do you know how your enemy fights?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Friday, April 3, 2009

Litmus for Perspective

Remember conducting litmus tests in chemistry class, testing the acidity of an agent by dipping that little strip into a glass filled with a mystery liquid? I do. I hated chemistry.

But I did appreciate how, based on those experiments, I've learned to conduct litmus tests in my life. It's my way to keep myself in check.

My litmus test for whether I'm keeping things in perspective is as follows:

  • Have I been turning matters of relationship and reaching out into items on my "to do" list? It's all well and good to make a note to remember a friend's birthday, but it hit me today when I came across a note that's been on my counter for the last three days to write a note to my daughter's preschool teacher to comfort her after the death of her father. I don't want that kind of thing on my "to do" list. I want to do it without needing a reminder.
  • Have I allowed any one thing to be the sand upon which I stand? Sinking, sinking, sinking. A rejection letter, a sharp word spoken, even "a look" from someone I care about. When I've placed any one of these things or a list of other countless things higher than where I'm at with God and what he's trying to teach me...sinking, sinking, sinking.
  • How crabby I am. This one needs no further explanation.
  • How quick I am to swear when something angers me.
  • How oblivious I am or I become to judging others.

That's my litmus list for perspective. Those are some of the key indicators to me when I'm off kilter. Fortunately, I know the way to get back "on kilter." I get back up on the rock when I remember who I'm here for and why I'm here.

Do you have a litmus test for perspective?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Rest of the Family

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I won't claim to know what most mothers of preschoolers think about during the day, but I do doubt they spend as much time pondering over the kinds of things I do. Doctors are still trying to figure out what's wrong with me. That being said, I really wish I could sit down with all of you so you could see my expressions and be able to tell when I'm just joking.

Okay, onto my latest thought--Adam and Eve. I've been thinking of them, but not gallivanting about the garden or gnawing on the apple type of way they are usually discussed. I've been thinking instead of them as parents. I've been imagining their response, their shock, and their sadness when they learned one of the their sons killed their other son. What did it do to them to know Cain killed Abel?

See, we do that don't we? Often when we hear of a tragedy or a violent act we think of the victim and the perpetrator. Hardly ever do we think of the rest of the family. Growing up, I had one older sister highlighted in the local newspaper for glamorous reasons, while another older sister made the paper for not so glamorous reasons. Townspeople probably thought about my sisters when they read news of them...but I wonder, did they wonder about my folks at all? Did they think what it might be like to be the parent or sibling in such circumstances?

Why is it that I've never heard any commentary on Adam and Eve as parents? I've been trying to picture their moment of discovery...the reaction to the loss of their son by the hand of their other son. Did they look at each other in that certain way, that knowing way, without words because the pink elephant was quite obviously the apple? Did they immediately blame themselves as so many parents do for the failings and stumbles of their children? What did dinner the next night look like? Did Cain go right to Nod, east of Eden immediately after his "talk" with God. My mind is flooded with questions about this story. I think the heart of it for me is thinking about the rest of the family in the aftermath of a tragic event.

Jodi Picoult explores this in her books, Nineteen Minutes and My Sister's Keeper. I'm also reading as Swede and the rest of her family struggle through this after the shaken event they endured in Peace Like a River. And I have to be honest...it strikes a cord. Has anyone in my family murdered anyone? No. Have there been tragic events? Yes. Being a witness to tragedy changes you...it changed me. And it gives me empathy for the families of both victims and offenders.

Sifting through questions about the story of Cain and Abel also makes me thankful for the messed up people in the Bible. I'm tempted to tidy up what I just wrote, to make it sound less needy for the Bible to be filled with people I can relate to. However, I'm thankful for just that. Because if God loved the messed up people in the Bible, he also loves those in my family and he also loves me.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Under the Sun

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"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." ~ Ecclesiastes 1:9

I've been thinking on this one today. Actually, I was thinking on it last night when I got up, unable to sleep and went to the kitchen for a chocolate chip cookie. I haven't really stopped thinking of it. Do I believe it...well, sure. But do I sense that God is introducing a spin on it in my life...well, sure.

Uh oh, you may be thinking...she's going to mess with the Bible. No fear. The Word is the Word and there's nothing I can do to change that (nor would I want to). What I am getting at, is that I wonder once we've received the Holy Spirit and are in relationship with God...is there then something new under the SON? Under his direction, can we create and inspire something new?

God's given us spiritual gifts and has wired us with a thirst for creativity. We crave the creative in our home lives, in our marriages and in our parenting. We crave the creative to show up by a work of our hands, our writing, our art and our various ways of expression.

Maybe, just maybe, with God's Spirit, the Counselor his son left with us...we are able to create something fresh, something original--something new. Just chewing on it.

And as I keep chewing, U2's quote, "Every poet is a thief" rings in my ear reminding me what may seem "new" is most often just a form of the old, a borrowed expression, a reinvented something...and I take the circle of of this thought right back to the Bible...is there nothing new under the sun?

What do you think?

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