Tuesday, December 31, 2013

When in Philly, Order Crabfries...5 Things I Learned in December

I'm back from my 11 day escapade which included flying to Ohio and Wisconsin. Some people go to sunny Florida or on cruises for the holidays. I go to two of the coldest places, one of which had a wind chill of negative 20 when we left. It was "too cold to snow." But there was snow on the ground in both places so we had a white Christmas.



It started with a flying adventure that took me from a cancelled flight in North Carolina to Philly to eating my first ever cheese steak (minus the cheese...maybe that's why I didn't find it to be so good) and ended with a super fun wedding. I'm now exhausted but it was worth it to get to dance for hours on end with family and watch the brother and new sister-in-law get married!

In December I learned:

1. You can take too much video content on your phone. Which I did. 79 videos later. 79 videos?!?


2. I apparently never delete anything off my phone. This has to be done if you like to take videos as much as me.

3. People generally like to be your friend in airports. The world seems to stop (at least for me) in airports. Be careful, this can be good or bad, both the friend thing and the time thing. Out of all my plane adventures, including walking a mile for the cheesesteak, I never missed a flight! Met some new friends in line for crab fries, didn't miss a flight.

4. I learned Wisconsin is magical. It felt like Narnia to me. Everywhere was snow and lots of it. It was Christmas time still and beautiful lights and amazing views from the sky (I took pictures, of course). Except for the negative 20 temps, I didn't want to leave.



5. Rest is good. Time away is good. Coming back is good. Celebrating is good. See below.

It's New Year's time. Womp womp.

For your information, I don't like New Year's much. I never have. It's always a let down after Christmas, my most favorite time of the year. And I am not much for coming up with resolutions or a 'word' for the next year. But the past couple years, God's been showing up, as He often does when my rebellious self comes along, and He as given me something to grab ahold of for the new year. Last year it was brave. Of course, like most things I like to oppose, I struggled a bit along the way. Being brave is not my favorite thing, unless it looks how I'd like it to (smell the teansy bit of internal defiance?). Brave this year meant showing up when I didn't want to, sitting it out and resting when I needed to, letting go when it was time.

This year I think God might be calling me toward the word celebrate. Sounds nice, right? I'll let you know.

Celebrating when all is right in the world, easy enough. Everyone loves the days and years and holidays that are merry and full and bright. But what about when you're living on little and it's too hard to feast?

God shows up in our lack. He is always making life from death and giving us reason to celebrate, but it looks different than what we imagine.

Most days, celebration-living is the just barely normal and get through the day kind. I'll hang out with you on those days, too.

But, remember, I'll throw paper with you when it's the celebrate with confetti kind. And then I'll take videos to record it.






Happy (hear the enthusiasm?!) New Year, however it may look.

Linking up here.

Question: What did you learn in December?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

What I see in the faces

It was an exceptionally cold December from what I remember. I would meet with the family outside at a park, by their choice, week after week.

I was cold. But it didn't matter. They were the ones who would be cold if they didn't find somewhere to go soon. All the homeless shelters for families were full this time of year. They had to leave where they were staying. They had exhausted all their options.

I had many families like this, but this one stood out to me. A mother. A father. And a baby. All together, one unit. Trying to make it work. Didn't want to be separated.
I can't even remember the names of the parents. I'm usually so good at names. I remember their faces, all three. And, of course, I remember their baby's name like it was yesterday. I never forget a baby.

All I had was a listening ear. Some words to share, resources mainly, from the little I could pull together with places who might take them at this time of year. I had to do something.  Words of encouragement here or there seemed far too trite up against what they were facing.

I'm not a social worker, but sometimes my job becomes one, especially during this stint of time when the people who wanted a counselor were homeless. Everything else was trumped by the fact that they had no where to go.

I prayed for them that the little time I spent with them was somewhat meaningful...

Because one day, I never heard back.

Which is what happens sometimes.

You send letters.

But what do you do when there's no permanent address and the phone is shut off and you can't even locate the people you are trying to serve?

All that was left at the end of it all was the fact that I could pray.

That they got out of cold.
That they stayed resistant.

That they held onto hope.

You know how I knew they had hope? Other than the fact that they never let discouragement and disappointment after disappointment get the best of them?

Three things.

They showed up, whenever they could. As a family.

Every single time their baby smiled and laughed. I know it might not mean much to you or me, but that baby was fed, loved, cared for and knew it. They would go hungry before their baby did.

The parents told me 'thank you' every time. Even when inside they were fighting misery.

I can count on one hand the number of people who have told me thank you over the years.

The one thing I am most thankful for in my recent work-life has been learning that God lives and puts Himself amongst humanity. I used to think humanity was humanity.

Broken and hungry and fighting through are we, yes, but also significant and with faces and with laughter and hope. 

*sharing 31 days of spreading joy and reminded that joy often comes in unexpected ways. check out what amy and other inspiring bloggers are up to this month!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Letters To {and what I want for Christmas}

And it's Chinese again after days of chicken noodle soup and coughing and reverse temperatures (is that possible) and someone told me today the color is back in my face and I want to know "when was it gone?" because most of us never know until later that we were that bad off.

The wonder of Christmas reminds me we were all that bad off but a child was born so things could be made right again.

And we claim it's not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick, but we won't admit that's us.

we use meds to cover it up
we run ragged when we must lie down
we keep talking when we need to be stilled.

He has come to give us rest, to find our true rest.

Everything in this Christmas season tells me I should keep burning the candle. But I refuse. This year, I won't do it.

It might mean Chinese again instead of cooking something spectacular and the only gift I'm imagining is one I'm already getting this month: time with people I love {and new carpet}!

I'm not being funny. I'm not being selfless, but there's nothing on my dear-Santa list this year except time. That's all, just time.

Except for maybe the magic and wonder of Christmas to last all year round.

Time and wonder, can you wrap up those for me? If you can, you'll be my new favorite person.

linking up with ruth and others for letters to (santa). do with this what you'd like and join in!

Oh, and I'd love to know, what's your non-traditional (or traditional) Christmas wish?

I'll be taking some bloggy breaks over the next few weeks for various reasons, not to mention dancing to holiday music (this jolly song is a good choice but you might embarrass your friends).

JOY and PEACE to you as you prepare Him room.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

I will lift my eyes

from this fragile life
you will rescue me
you are my prince of peace

and i lift up my soul
to you who makes things whole
o mercy love of old
in you i place my hope

i place my HOPE....

so guide me in your truth
be my strong refuge
o forgive my doubting heart
lead me back to you

help me to believe
your love is all i need
even when the storm is strong
you will provide for me...



I keep seeing hope everywhere these days.
God always knows. Here are some stumble upon finds:

for your weekend: emily freeman
 
when you're this close to giving up: ann voskamp

it aint over: Ed's story (via storyline blog)

and of course, if you're going to own a world record, by all means make it in the form of Christmas lights.


 
 
linking with the sunday community

Friday, December 6, 2013

Reflect

GO: Reflect. That's the prompt for Five Minute Friday.

Possibly this blog consists of me reflecting 90 % of the time. So if you know me, introspectiveness, reflection, and all those things that help you do mental gymnastics (it's fun -- you don't have to get off your couch!) is something that actually recharges me, oddly enough. Writing helps me collect my ideas and perhaps synthesize them, at least that is my attempt. Thank you faithful reader friends for pausing with me to think through life a little bit.

But, it's a little ridiculous for me to reflect about reflecting the whole time, so I'm going to stop now.

I thought about making this post long, and wordy, and more than five minutes, which is so characteristically ME, but instead I will let my timer go off and stop cold turkey wherever I am. Mid-sentence.

Girl who likes to finish thoughts.
Writer who likes to tie things together, likes resolution in the story.

Stopping in the middle is so hard. Especially for 'reflectors.'

What if I'm not done?
I am done.

Because

:STOP

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Just a day in the clouds...




 
Yes. That right there would be (four) different angles of the clouds from outside the plane window.

I love! (with an exclamation point in the middle of a sentence) clouds.

If I am on a plane and there is a beautiful view like the one above, I can do nothing more than get out my phone and hope the flight attendant does not walk by as I snap away. I think that's allowed, right? It was in airplane mode.

Today, although it's a day late, I'm unwrapping the lovely here with emily and others at chattingatthesky for Tuesdays Unwrapped. What better way than with the clouds?

I want to live in the clouds. Is that bad? I feel like all the concerns of the world just fade away when I stare out at their beauty.

When I was little I dreamt of walking on clouds made of cotton candy. I can live my life in daydreams at times so sometimes reality bites. You can't walk on the clouds, Julie, I discovered. It would be quite silly to try.

Wanna know a secret? Sometimes, when I'm flying and I see them right beside me..I feel for a second it's true. For a moment in time, the clouds really are made of cotton candy and I can walk on them without falling.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

November Learnings

1. I don't need anymore stuff. There's a squish ball here. A set of finger paints over there (I work with kids). Perhaps I need a real office...

I borrowed a Christmas tree this year. And ornaments. From two different people. Please don't hate.

Christmas is my favorite. Not stuff.

Allison Vesterfelt, can we be friends?

I will pay someone (or even better, barter) to help me get rid of more stuff.

maybe not the dancing pumpkin...
 
2. Or my plants. I'm sad to say my aloe plant didn't make it for the winter. The transition indoors did not come soon enough. Oh, visit from Jack Frost. Oh, poor aloe plant. I cannot show you the after picture. I have learned my lesson about timing for plants in the cold.
 
 
3. Ellie Holcomb songs on repeat cure a headache. Okay, they don't cure a headache but this and her other songs sincerely ministered to me this month when I was a pitiful speciman who lost chunks of days. Those songs were life-giving. Thank you, God.
 
4. Along the lines of music, Sara Bareilles cracks me up. She may be one reason Twitter isn't completely overrated (yet). And she's a great musician, too. I have watched this one about 500 times.
 
5. Pain teaches me things, and better yet, brings me closer to my need and my savior. Even when it's beyond ridiculous.
 
6. It's a good idea to put your list of what you learned for the month in a special spot especially if you're traveling or organizing. Hence the shorter list.
 
linking up with emily and sabrina to fill you in on what I've been learning lately. let's hear it for online community! 
 
What have you been learning? And for the love, has anyone else experienced the death of {the closest thing to} a cactus? They are supposed to be the hardest plants to kill, ever...
 
...I think it's all over, but I just want to be sure.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Way Waay Back

Finally. I watched The Way, Way Back. Not to be confused with The Way Back. It's a lovely, funny movie. I recommended it before I watched it. Which makes sense. I know what I like. I don't watch a lot of movies. But I like the complicated-real, the coming-of-age, the twists and turns and the 'I-am-not-sure-how-this-is-going-to-end-up,' said my dad, who liked it, too. Turns out, Jerry Seinfeld, who says there is no such thing as fun for the whole family, is wrong. Apparently, it's fun for the whole family to watch people go through intensity (there are splashes of laughter along the way, don't worry).

The movie is a tough one. I still recommend it. It's real.


Real like I just spilled hot water all over me at Whole Foods as I type this because my hands turned to icicles and I was using the cup to keep warm because it appears the store turned on their air conditioning (hello, winter!).

Real like I have no idea how to move many of the items in my apartment as tomorrow they are going to tear up and replace the carpet, and they typically do this when you are moving out but since I have been there since the beginning of time, I'm just going to pray that the movers are very, very nice and know how to play the game Tetris. I tried, I did.

Real like I need a full time job. Yesterday. You know the drill if you've ever been through the mill with jobs in a field that essentially cannot stay stable for more than a year, once, twice, maybe three times. Okay, I'm done. I'm enjoying the rest, while being a good little job searching person. But, it's mental health. There are times I want to run away from it and/or get off the grid for awhile, but I need to work. And then I'm reminded that people matter. Drat!

I'm blessed for in-between times. For little gaps that give me sanity. And for the opportunity to refresh at a time of year I love so much.


I sort of skipped thanksgiving on here.  

It was half-intentional. Not because it had anything to do with thanksgiving. Just timing. Wanting to get off the grid. Rest awhile. Perhaps go someplace different since half the time lately I'm in an airport. This time I secretly hoped I had gotten on the wrong plane not because I didn't want to come back home but because I was finally excited for a new adventure. Finally ready.
I wrote about adventures in October and I'm really glad I did. I need to do things even when I don't feel like doing them, necessarily. Like thanks and giving.

It helps prepare me for when I'm ready for it on a soul level, not just mechanically or because adventure tends to be my nature. But true to the core, ready for change, ready for the tides to turn, and ready to embrace joy. Not just choose joy, embrace joy (I think there's a difference, even though choosing joy can be good, too).

Does that ever happen to you? Taking some time away is renewing. Refreshing. Helps you sort through yourself and all the barriers you create for yourself. I like time away every so often. I'm still living out this time away. Writing this blog post has been a challenge.

But...I'm constantly on the prowl for joy. Real joy. Embracing joy. It's always the way, way back.

I've wanted to write about my joy story for a long, long time. There's not enough time for all that now (I'm still so cold...). But I know what it feels like for joy to leave you. Something happens on a deep, deep level when you lose joy, when you let something steal your joy, when you forget who you are, for a time, and for some people, for a lifetime. It's one of the saddest things. If that's where you are, my heart breaks for you. You're not alone and joy can once again return.  People write a lot about the difference between happiness and joy, and I think that's good. Good to remember you can have this sorrow in a joy-filled life, or experience sadness, or grief. I've stepped into that many a time. And joy still covers it. But joy still hopes. Joy can laugh. Joy knows that this is temporary.

Joy is so complicated. That's why Jeremiah 31:3-5 is my hope verse for joy. I literally saw God transform my sorrow turned to hopelessness, my belief that pain could win into joy that began by believing this as I read it.

that he has LOVED me with an EVERLASTING love

he DRAWS me with his unfailing kindness

he will build me up...he will rebuild me.

again I will dance with the joyful.

Pick up your timbrels. Dance with the joyful. Choose joy, yes. But remember joy has chosen you and embrace it.


linking with shelovesmagazine for their joy link up!
see what others are up to there.
I'd love to hear your own joy story.

SheLoves Magazine: a global community of women who love

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Rebellious Act of Loving the Everyday

I'm a dreamer who sometimes feels like she's lost her wings. I live more grounded than is probably good for me sometimes. But I love the dreamer days. I love when life is full of excitement. I know how to get a little out of hand if I need to (emphasis on need, sometimes this is just necessary in life).

But more often than not, life is 'average.' I would rarely call life that though, but that's what people say. I typically look for adventure in anything, including seeing a tree lighting ceremony (technically we missed it) and fake snow. Fake snow in North Carolina is completely normal. Average even. Real snow would be extreme.

It is true that if I was making a graph of the extreme high days to very low days, life would include more average days. SOMETIMES and some seasons this is not the case and the theory goes right out the window. I think the fake snow has ushered in something new, at least for me anyway. Try it. Fake snow and Christmas scenes in November and old, ridiculous Christmas songs can be redemptive.

Recently my pastor talked about how our faith often consists of the average days and we need to look toward staying the course through it all, not just the flights or falls (to paraphrase). 

Even if the extreme outliers on the graph are the ones to put us in a tizzy or get us all excited.

We -- I -- must learn dependency when life is average -- or something like average -- not just when life is extreme.



I love this song. It's a tough one though.
Its lyrics and the truth behind it remind me of my need for God always.
as I walk through the valley of death and dying.
as I rest in fields of green.
as I live in your house forever.

"It's rebellious, in a way, to choose joy, to choose to dance, to choose to love your life. It's much easier and much more common to be miserable. But I choose to do what I can today to create hope, to celebrate life...I think just plain today is worth it." -Shauna Niequist

(found this quote that I love tucked into my journal, in yellow notepad fashion)

May we embrace everyday-ness. And remember that that is worth it, too.

linking up for five minute friday: fly
 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Rolling Ink on It

No one can say 'he jests at scars' who never felt a wound.' -c.s. lewis

I found this video this week and I had to share. Because the past few weeks, I've been over headaches and the pain (in my neck, literally). I've been over them, I've been over lying in the dark for too many days at once.

And yet, I decided to feature pain and scars and all things I mostly hate talking about because I love you, and I think God is doing something in all this. 

I'm getting better at talking about things I don't like. I'm getting better at being honest and true when I say there's definite good that comes from things that in and of themselves are horrible like migraines. And the kinds of things people experience that leave them with scars that are actually more visible. 

What is helping me? I think it's this concept of rolling on the ink. Listen to the video to find out what I mean (especially minute 5.27 talks about this).



"Everybody has their challenge and the scar represents what could be the biggest challenge of their life."

I've hit near-bottom a couple of times. This looks different for everyone. For me, this usually looks like trying to find a solution/a cure for the pain on my own. Sometimes it's feeling 'stuck in this body that doesn't work,' to quote the artist. Sometimes it's just pain overwhelming my body.

"Usually people have gone through the process of healing and they're ready to let someone see it or touch it...but it usually doesn't happen early on."

'I've had a number of people who no one has even touched their scar...until I roll ink on it."

There's something beautiful in allowing people to get near enough to your pain to touch your scar. Because that's what Jesus does. Time and time again, he gets close and he touches people. He shows his love by touching what is painful and complex.

I don't like most people getting that near to my pain.

But I'm learning another leg in the journey is recognizing how little freedom there is there.

I must roll ink on it. I must let the scars become visible.

Step one becomes a gentle reminder that I do not always have to be so strong.

This is a lesson I learn again and again.

I hate the pain for lasting so long and making me so needy and keeping me in the dark. And making me reach a point where it can no longer just be a minor irritation that I hoped it was but if it really lasts that long then I must let people into the dark I experience (literally) and explain to them in a way they will or won't (probably won't, I assume) understand.

There's no light there.

I realize I need hope again.

Hope, not only when there's a neat, tidy way to look back and explain all God is done. Not when things clear up quickly, thank you very much. Hoping and praising then is easy..ei: thank you God all of this mess didn't interfere too much with my daily life.

The truest kind is when I have to remember the old familiar melody singing hope back into my darkest days, however soft.

My hope song always returns. It's always there.

...again I roll the ink.

And let his healing balm be the one to treat the worn out places deep inside.

Lord, you are good. You are light. You redeem my soul from going down to the pit, and I will live to enjoy the light. The Light shines in the darkness. Thank you that you shine into the places inside of me in dire need of you. 

Help me to remember that no scars define who I am and that everything I am depends on you alone. Help me be good to myself and to others and roll ink on scarred and broken places. That still you see, God, that you touch.

Give us courage to believe again today that you are a God who heals and restores, but more than anything, you see everything and love us...thank you that you call us yours.

linking with michelle for hear it sunday, use it monday and emily for imperfect prose

Friday, November 15, 2013

Once Upon a Giving Tree

Once upon a time, there was a great poet named Shel Silverstein. He taught me I could love poetry.

And with that came my own poems, circa 1992. Some of my very first writing.  Always included a rhyme. I found these poems years later, laminated. I didn't put my writing on computers as a child. They were laminated. Laminating was big back then. This is a dying art.

I bought his books of poetry; they were a prized possession. I would act them out sometimes. I had his book The Giving Tree. It was one of my favorites. I loved the drawings. And that tree! That tree was pretty amazing. How could it be so giving, so gracious, even when the boy seemed to mistreat it?

~~~

Once upon a time there was a writer named Brennan Manning. He taught about grace and forgiveness and made trust sound so simple. He told stories of God's love in his books.

I read this article. I love it because I love Brennan Manning and The Giving Tree.

I essentially ask the same question: how can He be so giving, so gracious, even when we mistreat Him? Even when trust doesn't come simply, when we fail to deep trust? 

I like learning that Brennan asked questions, too. That there were times of wrestling as he walked through life with God. I like that Shel gave Brennan a copy of The Giving Tree to help illustrate this seemingly unnatural kind of love.

I admit this begs me to be honest about the places I ask is your grace really true and to remember that I know it is true, to see Love for what -- and who -- it truly is.

"One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!" John 9:25

linking with five minute friday and imperfect prose

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

When Everyone No Shows a Block Party

Today’s a good day. My friend Amy Sullivan is here to talk about what it means to show up. So first of all, I want to thank you for showing up. You'll be glad you did. It's hard not to like Amy.


If you've never stopped by her space (go, go, go!), Amy writes honest and true words about living others-focused, words that need to be written. Her writing constantly encourages and reminds me how to love well. Amy is a mom, teacher, fellow Northerner-turned-Southerner (we have to stick together), but I know her as friend. Someone who engages people and welcomes community in many forms.
Spend a few minutes with her today as she talks community, neighborhood block party style.
Here’s Amy:


 
:::
I started noticing the handmade signs around our neighborhood two weeks before the big block party.

Expect the street to be blocked off!
Expect an enormous amount of food!
Expect to get to know your neighbors!
Expect fun from 1:00-5:00!

I’ve wanted to host a block party since we moved in, but with the size of our neighborhood, the planning seemed daunting. However, attend a block party? Now, that I could do.

The party day arrived, and it was a perfect mix of fall sunshine and a gentle breeze. My girls and I pulled up to the orange cones blocking off the street. Where were the people? Did I have the right day?

The rocket pops I brought started to drip, and my kids wiggled out of their seatbelts. Slowly, we made our way out of the car. Maybe if we took our time, a slew of people would show up in the next three minutes.

No luck.

Under a large maroon tent, I saw eleven people seated in camping chairs. I know there were eleven people because I counted them as we walked up. Ten adults, one teenager, and zero kids.

Bubbling crockpots lined long tables and full coolers sat untouched in the shade. Party-goers jumped to give us seats, and we joined the small circle.

My four-year-old repeatedly asked where all the games were, and my ten-year-old fielded nonstop questions from strangers like a pro.

But where were the rest of our neighbors?
 
Two yards over, I saw a woman sitting on her front porch, and in the house beyond hers, a man pushed a sputtering lawnmower around a tiny patch of grass. Neighbors. Neighbors who were home, but neighbors who chose not to attend.

The block party hosts were outstanding, and at the party, I met people who recently moved to town from Germany. I snagged a teenage babysitter, and I ate too many pumpkin muffins with homemade icing drizzled on the top. Strangers doted on my kids, and hundreds of dollars of food sat untouched.

As my girls and I drove home, I passed at least a dozen people outside enjoying the fall day, and I decided rule number one in creating community was easy: show up.

Go to the event, even when you don’t feel like it. Meet someone who is reaching out. Community forms when you leave your yard.

Too often, the world complains about how disconnected society has become, but if you ask me, it’s not because of social media, multiple jobs, or overscheduled kids. It’s because we forget to show up.

Today I pray you see an opportunity, and you decide to show up.

What about you? Do you tend to avoid or embrace community gatherings?

:::

Bio: Amy L. Sullivan writes and writes. In August of 2014, her first book will be released. She is pretty darn excited.

image credit

Friday, November 8, 2013

Grand Finale, Post 31 Days

Alright friends, I've been taking a little bloggy break. But after 31 days of talking about adventures, I had to report about the grand finale of adventures, inspired by Liz, who thinks all of my stories are possibly way funnier than they are and gives me encouragement to write them down.

I must remind you of a photo posted on here during my month long series where I was  excited to have crazy adventures happen all the time (what was I thinking?).

This week the quote didn't apply to children.

I got bit, not by a kid, but by a dog. Watch out kids, you're getting one-upped by the canine community.
 
~~~


I'm thinking of writing a short story about this one. I'll call it Dog Bite (original, I know).

I'll be sure to include my conversation at the doctor, which was so funny it should have been recorded, except for the fact I almost spent the entire day in the ER.

Doctor: "you have dogs, right?"
Me: "no..I just get bitten by them."

Doctor: Shakes head. Laughs.
Tells me sorry for the bad news.
Gives me tetanus shot.
Talks to me about going to emergency room for more shots.
Reminds me to bring a book because we both agree dog bite measures lowest on the priority list.
Tells me 'thank you for the laughter' perhaps because I decide to tell the story in all its ridiculousness.

I can't make this stuff up.

Thankfully, I have only had to get one shot. Turned out better than expected so far.

Your turn. What is something unusual, perhaps a little unbelievable but true that has happened to you lately?

Linking with Lisa-Jo for (a little more than) five minute friday on truth.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Speaking of Leaves

I might be slightly obsessed with leaves at the moment.

It all started with me seeing this awesomeness in a cup.

 
Then I went on a nature walk.
 
 
 
Here is a view of some Halloweenish things I found along the way. 
 

 
 
The best find on my walk? This little tree. Symbolizes hope and new life.


Leaves, leaves, leaves!


 


My favorite leaf, I kept it as a momento.
 
 
Happy 31 days! To celebrate leaving the series of adventures (this time around), I thought that everything in my life would just have to include leaves of some sort. Leaves on the ground. Leaves in real life --  which would happen on October 31, like so many other significant things. I don't understand this phenomenon, but true story. These creative adventures have taught me there are times you have to let the free fall happen.
 
Last adventure (for now)...

Can you find the one falling leaf?
 
Sometimes I feel like this. Do you?
 
The wind pulled the leaf from its once comfortable home, 
BUT it'll find a new place to land.
AND for this moment in time,

I t  w i l l  f r e e  f a l l.

. . . .

adventure?

Where you see crisis, He may bring creativity.


Art -- and the Artist -- are in our dreams. In what we love. In our disappointments. In the moments of catastrophe. In our leaves.

He is in all.
 *thank you to my neighbor as she encouraged all my leaves-talk and her daughter, who gave me her Halloween candy.

Linking with Emily Freeman
click here to track back with the rest of the series on creative adventures.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Like it or Love It? October Version

I'm sitting in Italy, it's 2005. I keep thinking it's 2006 but it's not. It's probably October (if it is, I'll laugh, because everything crazy/interesting/weird happens in October). I never thought I'd be in Italy. Eating pizza, real pizza, that would forever wreck me from eating fake pizza, which is what I call pizza in America. It's kind of like going to see a tribute band, which is something I've done. I went to see fake Dave Mathews Band, which closely resembles real Dave Mathews, but if you look hard, no, they are not the same people.

But, I digress.

Pizza. Italy. 2005. October?

My friend and Europe adventurer Mandy loved to gauge how we were doing when it came to trying new food in new countries.

So she'd ask us if we liked the food or loved it.


Swiss rosti, like it or love it?

Swiss chocolate, like it or love it (answer is always love it)?

Spaghetti (real spaghetti, similar to real pizza), like it or love it?

French crepes, like it or love it?

Maybe this experience overseas spoiled me forever on eating good food and the way I shop for groceries the European way, but other than my palate improving, something else that stuck out was the way my friend questioned us.

I don't ever remember her asking, "so, do you dislike it or like it?" But it was something like this: "Oh, you don't like it? You must LOVE it." That's Mandy for you.

It was Europe, what's not to like?! But really, I think there were a few times we didn't know what we were ordering and of course, could not read the menu (silly Americans!). These were few and far between because we lived adventure so...we reoriented our minds that we might never be back here again, so it was a like/love experience, not a love/hate experience.

I don't remember everything about that October. It was probably filled with challenges as much as it was with Swiss chocolate happiness and mountains to overlook. Actually, I know it was.

Every year when I do a series in October, I bring this up. Any stay overseas, even in the most beautiful country in the world, changes you.

This was one of my most favorite adventures. It taught me how to adventure.

I know I missed home. I know our neighbors got mad at us because we didn't do things the Swiss way. I know I about broke my feet from so much walking and got lost and missed trains and got locked in a school (yes, it happened).

yet.

We chose to like it.  We knew when to love it.

Sure, the beautiful mountains helped.

Every day wasn't easy, beautiful mountains aside. There were moments when I thought, what am I doing? I can't communicate with anyone from home unless we stand a mile from our flat at a pay phone and pay a billion Swiss francs, and I don't speak their language (s). Do you know Switzerland has four languages? A gold star to anyone who can name all of them.

 

Here is some food for thought from Shauna Niequist. If you don't know already, she's one of my most faves and I had to get her in the series somewhere.

"We all know people who are miserable on mountaintops, and we all know people who are brimming with contentedness even when bills are going unpaid or health problems loom. It’s about the insides..."

It is about the insides. Drat!

The whole article is good. She talks about finding lightness and soul again.

She talks about what happens when you don't let yourself say that you want to live differently, when you don't say that you are tired or forgetting how it feels to experience life. What if you say those things but you fail to do anything about them?

October always seems to include change and lots of effort. I can't believe I'm saying this, but this here marks 7 years I've lived in North Carolina. Right now -- 7 years! My Halloween anniversary. Scary stuff! Just kidding.

This year, I'm going to try the like it or love it scale with all the uncertainty I'm facing (umm...I like it?), and the once again changes October brings (I love it...?).
I'm still not sure about it. I think I need to go back to Switzerland to test the theory. My hypothesis is that it's a good idea to use the like it or love it scale but I think I'd know better with some Italian pizza in my hand.

Adventure time.

So, I wonder, what kind of adventure has October been for you?

What's the most surprising thing you've found this month that you like, that you love?


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Eat the Mystery?

Here are some basic truths about me: I like to record funny things that happen (a running record of sorts: humor is good). I like creative things.

I've enjoyed talking about some of my favorite things this month. And talking about funnies that have come up in life. This is medicine for my soul.

But I read an article by Jon Bloom that was convicting this weekend and it helped reinforce that the point of all this gabbing about creativity and paint isn't to make you fall more in love with art. It's to help you and me see that it all this good stuff like music, writing, painting, our adventure-full lives, they point back to God. The point is to see the Artist behind it all.

It sounds simple but translation from head to heart is hard for me at times.

In the end, all my activities, my time reading blogs (and writing them!) cannot replace truth and the life giving word that needs to penetrate my heart every day. How it is so easy for me to live my life thinking I can make it on my own sustenance. I know it's not possible, yet I try.

I can either choose to live in the grace he supplies for today -- to eat the manna he gives -- or I can search out my own way.

The gifts I pour out, what I can do, my life, is nothing apart from him.

Everything about this series still hinges on remaining connected to the one who gives life.

Jesus plus nothing still equals everything. Do I believe this? Is he all I need for today, and the next day and every day I breathe life?

If not, there is nothing left to pour out. I need to eat the manna, the mystery -- even when I don't understand, even when I'm curious about grace for tomorrow. His grace for today is sufficient. I need to trust the Giver who gives me all of life and from whom all good gifts come.

Search my heart, Lord. This is my adventure for today. 

Psalm 139:23-24

I pray you find your own unique adventure for where you are today....

Monday, October 28, 2013

On Adventures

Sometimes this feels like my life, at least my work life:
 


Current life status -- I'm all adventured out.

Correction -- I'm all complicated adventured out.

Problem is, adventure is complicated.

Wikipedia (reputable source that it is) characterizes adventure as "an exciting OR unusual experience, a bold USUALLY risky undertaking, with an UNCERTAIN outcome."


I still want to choose...
exciting
bold
certain

When it seems unusual, risky, uncertain is who I meet. A lot.

Tis' life though. We choose whether to make all an adventure, even the messy, complicated parts.

Essentially I am forever writing about these topics in one way or another, about what happens when life interrupts and you get to choose what to do with it.  Last year I wrote about inviting the uninvited, this year creative adventures. You say tomato...

I've gotten better with the chaos in my work life and know it comes with the nature of the job, but finding balance is KEY. It's hard but it's needed. I am starting to say no more.

No No No No No.

It's a work in progress. I'm thankful for the journey.

These days, I'm making peace when the answer to some things has to be no.

No often makes space for what's needed, for where God has placed or is calling you and me.


Need an adventure? I'd like one of yours, please! Send me one that doesn't involve hitting, biting or anything else. Happy Monday!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

"Good paintbrushes open all doors."

There is a quote by Thomas Fuller:

"Good clothes open all doors."

Don't ask me why I remember this, but my sweet friend (who I got to see recently in Ohio -- horray!) used this quote in college. I have a funky memory sometimes. My friend Melinda says maybe I could write a memoir. Partly, I just like writing down interesting/funny things people say. As in, quote unquote "you could write a memoir." -Melinda. See?

The point of this story is that if good clothes can open doors, good paintbrushes can open even more. Try it.

I bought an assortment of what I consider good paintbrushes to use with my kiddos. I'd never had 'good' paintbrushes before, so I've been having fun with them myself. I'm sure the kids don't mind...

I'm not a visual artist, not a design person. I paint because its freeing and I like experimenting with color. It's a way to recharge. To respond to God as I put down my own agenda and pick up the paintbrush, as I follow alongside the beat of music. Painting is another freeing way to let go of the chaos and make space for God in a world and in a soul that is too noisy.

attempts at capturing life around the 'art table'

I've always known some of the best ways God gets through to me is with art, I just didn't know that He was inviting me to be part of that process. It's not just me hearing music, not just me writing because it's something I do. God shows me through art, through music, through His creation, through His Word, His love never fails.  Feet may fail, Christ's love never fails.

Let us praise Him! We're in a good adventure.

How is Christ working in you? = Adventure.

Want to be part of my memoir? = Adventure (ha ha!)

Like messy painting sessions? = Adventure.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Paint Your Pet

I am sorry, I find this funny.
 
 
Painting your pet, is that a thing? I did not know.
 
I learn something new every day.
 
Art astounds me.
 
Art is great, even when it includes pet painting, whether I think it makes a whole of sense or not.
 
I used to think abstract art was the kind of art that didn't make sense, but that is not true.
 
Your art is not going to make sense to people, necessarily.
 
I am sure my art will not make total sense to you all the time. I don't have to wonder, I am sure. It still works out.

I don't know how many times I've said it on here, but I disliked art with passion growing up.
 
The kind of passion that draws people to draw or paint or sculpt, yeah, I had that kind of passion to avoid art and the art room.
 
Art phobia?
 
If there is such a thing, it's gone. I think 99 percent.
 
I like art....

Okay, there's still a tiny part of me who wonders even after 31 days of talking about creativity and adventures and throwing some art talk in there, if I've done any 'art.'
 
But I believe people who talk about the act of making art with life and I see it showing up everywhere and I start to believe God when there is a unique way He made me with interests and ways that art can spill out.
 
AND I look at the paint-a-pet and how it was someone's unique idea and their interests and definite love of pets is getting to spill out in a way I am sure people love, too.
 
So there.

Need an adventure?*
(Taken from Room to Write): What do you fear (with art)? Write about it.

"...describe it in concrete and specific detail."

For all you non-writing folk or those attempting to play with other art forms (like me!), remember you can be creative with almost any prompt.
 
 
* I had other ideas but then I started talking about art phobia...