Friday, May 31, 2013

38 Words

What if your vocabulary was only a few words? What would you say?

I hang with little ones and the world opens up again. I see the world according to a toddler as oh-so- big, not limited by what they can say. Maybe only a few words spill out, but it is made up of imagine.

So what would you say? What would your nonsensical, maybe mismatched words consist of? What are some of the choice words that would make up your vocabulary?

Here's what comes to mind, right now in the midst of the chaos, as I literally have only five minutes on a lunch break of pounding down words quick on my phone.

word splurge:


Linking up with Five Minute Friday for the very fun prompt : imagine

Monday, May 27, 2013


How easy it is to focus on what's challenging or what's wrong. Not what's also good. Both make up a life, yes. But what awakens the soul?

I don't believe this counting gifts is playing Pollyanna.

I believe it speaks and gives breath to the places, the holes, that might otherwise too easily dry up. That all these things are gifts, that they come from a God who knows at times it is easy to rejoice and at times it is hard to rejoice but through it all, there can become this pattern for seeing beauty in the world.

And sometimes it's bright and fluffy and smiles, and then it's also not. Thank you, God for the times that it is. Thank you, for the times the counting chisels away at any ungratude in my heart.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)

Thank you, God, that we get to rejoice. With an exclamation mark.

I met a neighbor this week and in our ten minute conversation, she told me so many times just how grateful to God she was for His faithfulness, for all He had done for her, for His grace. Thank you thank you thank you.

And it was in the midst of pain I can't fathom. As in, one of the hardest things I would not like to imagine.

1000 Gifts?

Spoken or unspoken, written down or shared, this idea of rejoicing keeps coming up.

I don't know what yours are. I don't know where you have been. But this is what keeps awakening my soul.

chisel, chisel, chisel.

188. my friend and her sweet family

189. sun - sun - sun

190. cold. pool. water. and taking pictures with outstretched arm, holding the camera.

191. neighbors, new and old. community in its own form. the realization that i've lived here a very long time.

192. the 'tree' painting. homey-ness. enjoying time spent inside the four walls

193. a clean storage unit. finding some old writing in some dusty boxes.

194. hummus pitza from Aladdins

195. a 'holiday.'

196. Those who serve our country and who find their home with them - encouragement and a *free* ebook for Military wives.
197. new ideas and dreams
198. sunset

199. rest

200. a reminder.

you and i are so loved.

linking up for multitudes on mondays

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Favorites From the Week

I think I'm slowly becoming more visual. And as I've shared on here before, I now like art.

I secretely hope that my kids will be little artists someday, or little musicians, not because I wasn't, but because I don't think everyone has to be the same. {doing} Art - and {playing} music stretch me. It's been in my adult life that I've come to find these things fun and not anxiety-provoking, especially art. Music was always fun for me, but I could not play it to save my life.

I think little easels are amazing, and I'd love for every kid to own a smock. Remember, this was the once little girl who hated art class and thought paint shirts were silly.

Now art is story to me, in all forms.

When we sit down to be present with people and with art, especially when the two combine, wonderful things can happen. Hypothetically speaking, you can attempt to relearn the most basic piano duet ever with kids who know how to play the piano better than you and you see them exercise patience as you mess up the keys and then you decide you are going to rock it out with them because you finally learn the tune.

You can participate in painting with your friend's son and do art and play play-dough and perhaps things go a little overboard sometimes. Then there is paint in the hair.

I love a good story, but I continue learning stories show up in many different venues and platforms and art forms. Here are a few of my favorite stories from around the world and the media that I found this week:

1. Christian Music Zine : Shane & Shane - Bring Your Nothing (Review): I love it when we hear the gospel story told in music. Says the author of the review,  Joshua Andre, this "Bring Your Nothing" is that "We don’t have to fix ourselves up or make ourselves ‘right’ with God first, and that’s the beauty of grace."

2. A book review by Belly Acres, Alabama : Trusting God When Bad Things Happen, a book by my friend Shelley Hitz.

3. Cut the But :  An encouraging message by Lysa Terkeurst. When insecurities don't get the final say so.

4. Change the Story, by one of my favorite favorites, Shauna Niequist. How I can relate.

5. "The Odd Life of Timothy Green".  The movie was sweet. I watched it this weekend.
This scene made me laugh. My friend turns to me as we're watching and says, I can see you doing that (a.k.a. dancing/busting out loud noises like the mom?) Gotta love it.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The View From Good-bye

GO: I officially hate good-byes.

The view from midnight when your best friend is moving away the next day is you being happy that it's been a good, long day and you still get a few more hours the next day before she runs (or drives) off to live on the islands. Your writing flows together and makes sense and has a purpose.

Because at midnight, when I'm still wired from staring at boxes all day and now I'm staring up at the new, crazy fun tree painting in my living room that we carted around for hours, somehow, you can see how the distance between here and there isn't that far away.

But then, today, when I say good-bye, I remember that I hate good-byes, and yes an island really is far away, and I don't think my writing is going to make as much sense right now.

Right now all I can think about is that my eyes hurt a little bit and I'm going to the store because I don't have any dessert-type food here and that is very wrong. And I think about how I came home and cleaned and threw out some of my own stuff because downsizing is a good thing, and no I don't need plastic Easter eggs and 13 old phone books and how is it that I still cannot find a hammer in this place?

So I read a post by Amy recently about good-byes and immediately felt that ping of sad.

There are many ways to say good-bye. Sometimes there are many words. I thought I was a loud good-bye kind of person like her daughter's best friend.

Nope. Nope. Nope. 

Sometimes there really isn't anything that needs to be said that hasn't already been said, that won't be said later that day - when you talk again - even if not in plain sight. That is my favorite kind of good-bye, and also the worst kind all together. 
It implies a real friendship, one that won't be replaced and one that makes sense, even when lots of other things don't.

I'm thankful for that.


linking up for five minute friday: view

Monday, May 20, 2013

for a monday

I'd like to talk about everyday life for a little bit.

Here's what's going on in my everyday right now: I get a little crazy when I play games. Last night, I laughed more than I had in about a month (it was good). I eat about 3 bananas every day. Work and life have been hectic and hard, but I'm seeing more and more that God is always good and with every season that looks like drought, there is newness around the corner, even in the smallest ways. I'm starting to cook more again. I'm trying out dishes on some guinea pigs.

I'm open to possibilities. 

Sometimes in the midst of my excitement about dishing out little snipits of thoughts or inspiration


and what is going on in my head after reading things in blogworld, I forget that everyday life can be surprising. 

Everyday life doesn't seem that interesting to me. I've been working on that awhile, because most of the time, when I look around and let myself, I find out that's what makes a life.

I joke with my friends that I am not one of those people who likes to update others on the minor goings-on in my life, whether it through facebook, etc., not because I am afraid of getting personal, but because it doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. I guess I haven't been used to it before. Who wants to hear about my breakfast, lunch, or dinner? Exactly.

Still, I've been learning something lately. While I still don't really want to hear (on facebook mainly) about how you are eating broccoli or just finished a load of wash - and I doubt you want to hear that I just ate my third banana of the day - I believe it's in the small moments of life where we get to make choices, where we begin to celebrate what God is doing in the ordinary, where tiny seeds start to grow.

Counting gifts helps me appreciate the everyday. I didn't realize until I kept this process up how hard this could be for me at times. But as I've really stopped to acknowledge that even the smallest things were gifts, and yes, the big things too, it's been reshaping this big picture girl's mentality.

To be able to see the big picture is a gift, but not if we don't see even those little, little spots and markings that make up the page, too.
Big picture gifts I've been counting:

164. sunshine
165. my mom
166. a working body
167. a job
168. somewhere to live
169. freedom in Christ
170. salvation
171. sleep
172. church
173. sweet friends
174. going to the beach
175. smart doctors
176. people to love and people who love
177. the kiddos I work with

Little picture gifts that make my page full:
178. friends who open their homes
179. pandora radio tunes
180. small group, laughter, and games. enough said.
181. fun/possibility inappropriate t-shirts that make me laugh
182. art with kids!
183. Truth and what we know for sure
186. new furniture
187. having a party for great friends - happy moments despite the sad of a leaving

What is God doing in your everyday? Who is in your everday, who are you letting be part?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Song

I am a music-lover. I'll bebop with the best of them, within reason, including oldies and yes, even country! What would we do without music? Truly, it is a gift from God. And for those of you who have witnessed my dance moves, I'm sure you'll agree to that as well...:)

Sometimes All the time, I need to be reminded of the crazy, wild, amazing things God is doing in the world - in this now and not yet kingdom. Of our amazing God and the bigness of Him, and the smallness of me.

Songs that draw me into the story of God do this for me. Songs that remind me of what the FATHER does, not what I do.

"I look out the window
the birds are composing
not a note is out of tune
or out of place

I walk to the meadow
and stare at the flowers
better dressed than any girl
on her wedding day

so why do I worry?
why do I freak out?
God knows what I need
You know what I need

Your love is

Your love is

Your love is strong...

Your love is

Your love is

Your love is..


(repeat..and repeat)

-Jon Foreman, "Your Love Is Strong"

Friends, my prayer for this weekend is that you will know, know-know that His love is strong. To hear it in the words and the in the song and in the song in your heart that He loves and He is strong. 'Cause you don't have to be. 'Cause I don't have to be.

Hear the song getting louder? Yep. When we are weak. He is strong.

"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." - Mathew 6:33

Linking up with Five Minute Friday: Song!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Clowns and Line Dancers

Calling all clowns and line dancers!

I saw an ad on Craigs List that was interesting to me. {No judging} It said:

"We are looking for a clown to come to our facility once monthly to do some tricks or just to tell some jokes..."

The ad also asked for line dancers. I'm not sure how they go together, but sure.

Is this for real? Yes, I think so. Craigs List has everything. Even clowns and dancers, apparently.

So I have a teeny tiny dream of being a Patch Adams wannabe.

For the record, I have no real 'clown' abilities, apart from juggling. I love to juggle though.

I asked my friend about this whole thing today. She asked me if I knew any tricks? Um, no. Last time I checked, my magic trick set was plastic and hadn't been used since I was 8.

But, it seems like recently I keep gabbing about some of my medical dreams to just be there with kids and families as they have to deal with difficult realities in the hospital, etc., and I've been thinking, what would make it even more wonderful is getting to do creative things with them, give them moments apart from what may be a constant struggle - moments to dream, time to laugh and play.

If I end up doing this in some of these new settings in life, it may or may not involve dressing up and making a fool of myself, but it's not out of the question.

Question: Are you afraid of clowns? Would you ever dress up as one if it was for a cause you cared about?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Of a 'Rebelution'


I work with them most of my days. But sometimes, as much as I love teens, I have to fight disallusionment, wondering how things are going to change on the whole. I am a big picture person and when you see problems all over, it can be so challenging sometimes not to get wrecked by the bigness of it. You have to stop yourself sometimes, as to not get swallowed up in it.

Family conflicts. Kids in gangs. Dropouts. Fighting.

Despite the challenges, some bigger than others, that come with this unique time of life, it's rare that you come in contact with a young person who has something so important to talk about that even after he has died, his life mission is still being spread.
I was a bit wrecked by listening to this teen who lived life with a love for life, knowing all the while that this life was not the end. Clayton McDonald empowered others to do the same – to think about how incredibly short life was and that the thing to be frightened about was if you knew where you were going when you died. And he knew he was going to die. But yet, he lived missionally.
You know how you used to need reminders way back when to wear your seatbelt but somehow it eventually becomes more automatic? It's that thing you do because it makes sense and of course you wear your seatbelt; why wouldn't you?!
Isn't it amazing to see someone who didn't have to be reminded all the time to wear his seatbelt? He just seemed to put it on. Knowing life was good, he could take nothing for granted. There is so. so. much to be grateful for. He was someone who could say with enthusiasm, being in God's will "is the best!"
There is a sincerity about both his enjoyment of the gift and the raw, true pointing back to the Giver.
It’s always the Giver.  Because even this life, this gift, wonderful as it is, isn’t the point. Even the people and stories and scrapes we acquire along the way aren’t the point. God is the point and He keeps calling us back to Him.
If you listened to any of the short videos on the rebelution site about the life of Clayton McDonald, you’ve been blessed by this guy for sure. It is worth watching. That's why I wanted to write a whole post about it.

Our culture, as well as the enemy, want us to believe that we can have low expectations of the youth of this day. And, also, low expectations on living a life of purpose and what God made us for.
It's so, so easy to be distracted.
And, as Clayton said, that is what is scary.
It's simply not true that teens can't take a stance on things that matter. It's simply not true that they can't grow up learning truth. Culture may try to deafen Truth, but nothing can.
Teens can have a message.  Teens can be part of a rebelution. Teens can share about dark places. Teens can be light in dark places.
Have you read the book Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations? It's by (teen) authors Alex Harris and Brett Harris, co-founders of It's a pretty extraordinary book which describes how teens can use those years for how God is calling them at that time in their lives. Sign me up for this rebellion.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother's Day, A Story, And Around the Web

One of the highlights of my week has been talking with my mom, even though I didn't get to see her for Mother's Day. I talk with her often, but something about days like today remind me (Thank you, Hallmark) that I need to book a trip to Ohio-home soon!

I love my mom, who has loved in such a way that I never had to doubt whether or not she loved me, in that always kind of way.

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there, people who mother, and to my wonderful mom, from whom I believe I inherited my love for kids, telling jokes (although mom is better at it), my no-need mentality for wearing sunglasses, and yes, near-complete direction dyslexia, among other things.

Here are a few people and places I've enjoyed recently in the blogsphere:

The LivesayHaitiweblog: The whole blog is pretty great. Brought to you via may = month of missions 
I especially like their conversation on Sajoy. I was just talking about this very concept the other day. Do you know what Sajoy is? You really should.

The Ancient Cry of Mothers: Emily T. Wierenga

Also, Emily's new book Mom in the Mirror is out now. Check it out.

Landfill Harmonic. This is the sound of how God works in the world. A reminder that something - even beautiful things - can be made by what seems like nothing.

And my random story for the week: Do you know there is such a thing as a dog/wolf?
I think there is. But I only caught a glimpse of him. My co-worker and I saw him at a local graduation the other day, in the parking lot. We had a witness to this creature. She was trying to find her car, and frightened, she jumped into our car. She then proceeded to drop her camera. We found her camera but she was gone, in a flash, as quickly as the dog/wolf came and left the scene.

We are still trying to hunt down the camera owner. We had little success with the quote-unquote "lost and found" there.

I'm not making any of this up.

Do you find regular life interesting? Does it seem moreso when you come across interesting people in the midst of the 'grind?'

I'm learning we must keep paying attention.

You never know when you're going to have to ward off strange animals.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Comfort

The word comfort keeps showing up everywhere this week.

When I'm in pain, I have usually wanted to take one of a couple of stances. I want it to be over and/ or I want comfort. Or I ponder it and ponder it and I try to figure it out.

The latter often demands attention to the matter at hand, ie: that headache, that hurt. Which is hard at the time. We want answers when what we really need is healing.

Healing used to be a bad word in my vocabulary. Why? God heals after all. He has paid the ultimate price and truth tells me by HIS wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).

I must look at truth again.

Because of Him, I am healed from who I used to be. Free. Alive in Christ. 

I have journals upon journals with what could be like letters to God from the times (some years) I was in constant pain all the time. Many of these were just simple prayers. 'Help me, God.' Most of them asked for relief from the enormoty of the chronic-ness of it. 'Lord, please help these headaches to go down...bring an end to this. Let it be over.'

I hated how pain was such a focus of my life. It begs to keep you living in urgent; I understand this now even more fully when I work with people who are dealing with the urgent.

Paul asked for God to remove a thorn in his flesh and he pleaded with God to remove it, but instead He reminded him of grace: "my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12: 9)

Healing does not always come by way we think it will.

Jesus speaks to suffering and pain and is not unfamiliar with it nor does he dismiss it.

I believe in asking for healing. I believe Jesus meets us there. But, eventually, my prayers started to change after pages and pages of asking for healing, it was then Christ Himself, just the comfort of Jesus, just grace for today and tomorrow and the next day and the next and the next that I needed. Christ was the healing, the comfort.

I'm not going to wrap it up in a neat little bow, for all of you who are hurting and in pain or who have to go to the doctor twice a week or who fear for the life of someone you love. Pain is real and you can't manufacture those prayers that plead with God when you are in that place.

The good news is we have a God who loves us beyond belief!

I don't think it's bad that my heart naturally learned to cry out "Help me Jesus!" for of course He is there, He is our refuge and shield, but I believe that everywhere, in everything can be found, "thank you, Jesus.."

6/11/09 journal: beside my thoughts, ramblings, prayers for what I thought was healing.
"Lord, you continue to do a good work in me! It's good to look back and see how you have provided. You have answered many prayers."
May this be the truth I live inside of. May this be where you live. I pray for awake-ness. To see everywhere how God has answered, how He is still working, in unexpected ways, in bringing healing and comfort out of pain, or loss, or mess, LIFE out of death. And, if that's hard, I get it. I pray you will know you are seen right where you are.  We don't walk alone. 
Linking up with Lisa-Jo and others to share our love of words with Five Minute Friday.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

When You Want to Literally Work on the Beach and Getting the Travel Bug

Soak it up.

So my friend tells me as we’re about to leave the beach.
You might have to be your very own first client here, she says, seeing my face as we walk away.
She knows the beach does something to me. And about my dream of setting up shop (counseling, that is) right there on the beach, close to the steps, for people when they are leaving. Cause you know, most people get pretty sad when they leave something like that.
Why not make the best of both worlds? Beach life and counseling?

How about triple it -  I'll write while I’m waiting for people to come by.
I think it could work.

So there are also a lot of kids in need here, say the locals, when they hear we are there for a social work conference, and I'm pretty sure it’s a plug to come live in Wilmington. I wonder if that will only further feed this dream of mine to live by the water. 
Either way, all I can say is that a work-get-away on the beach is a wonderful idea. A conference on the beach, even though it is distracting, was created by smart people.



I found out some things on my mini-trip, and rediscovered a few more. Here is my condensed blog version:
1. Despite my love of travel, right now, I consider going two hours a trip. I recognize that I have a lot of luggage and for some reason (thank you, storage closet I can finally see the bottom of), I don't use half of it. These things alert me that I need to travel more. 

No time but now. Is that a bumper sticker? Probably, or else it should be. 
2. Beach locals are friendly. They stop and talk with you. Which I love. We walked into a jewelry shop and a half hour later after talking to the owner, my friend and had I learned more than we knew before about Wilmington, that the name Marlo (store owner's name) is the coolest name ever, and I bought a watch. Maybe I should have bought the watch first..oh, the beauty of not being in a rush.
3. Off season at the beach is very calm. We do not see tourists, which is great. Except, I am a tourist. Which way to the surf shop?
4. Surfers are a dime a dozen. Surfing lessons are promoted and encouraged. The chances of me staying up on a surfboard are slim to none, but it still sounds fun. Updates to come if we take them up on it.
5. It doesn’t matter where you stay when you go to the beach as long as you have an opportunity to come up with a rap song about the motel/hotel.

6. I have never seen anyone literally work on the beach
People might say it wouldn't be fun
But I think, more time for the sun
The beach is for play
They say
Still it is worth a shot
Why not?
*this was not intended to be a Dr. Seuss-esk poem. it just ended up that way.
Where have you been lately and what has surprised you about that place?
Linking up with

Saturday, May 4, 2013

"Like a dog jumping into a pool"


brave can be even just a few words. it can be choosing to write when otherwise you'd keep quiet. it is a your-story-can-be-told-a-thousand-different-ways but choosing to find the good. which doesn't mean seeing everything with glittering eyes but choosing to run with the gift that is this life.

because life is going to keep being a celebration whether we take part or not.

a school cancelling classes because it's just too nice? :

yes, please!

reminders of how to write a book. or how to write anything you really want to say..."like a dog jumping into a pool." :

thank you!

a can't-get-enough of video reminding me that bravery = freedom and these girls in the video know what's up, and thank you sarah bareilles and lisa-jo for sharing. :

to be real matters.


five minute friday: BRAVE

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Because It's Nice To Remember Your Favorites

Here's a secret about me: I love reading and rereading and possibly rereading favorite books.

Maybe not all that unusual. But, I think our reading style often translates to blog-land. That's just my theory {I happen to like coming up with theories}. 
I like to save favorite posts. But, I don't go back to them all that much. They are up there though, on my favorites toolbar, a post saved here, and a post saved there. It's like that book on my shelf that I pull out at random times, a.k.a. once a year, because it's nice to revisit with an old friend.
So, here are just a few oldies but goodies and a few new ones from across blog land, too:
The Best Thing You Can Do Today : Kristen at chasing blue skies

Understanding Your Teen: Marianne at Abundant Life
When You Forget Who You Are: Shelly at Redemption's Beauty
A Severe Mercy: Lisa Spence
I enjoyed them all, but "A Severe Mercy" wrecked me. I go back to the story of Lazarus. One of my favorite Bible stories. God's mercy is wild and He loves. And loves and loves. We, too, are the ones He loves. Jesus is there in our suffering. Life can be hard, but He keeps being good. Can we believe it?
And by the way, did you read Justin Zoradi's post Stop Waiting For God To Tell You What To Do With Your Life. It makes me want to stick a pin in it. You know. Writing. 
He asks what might happen when you stick in a pin in the place where your true passion lies.
Maybe you have many passions. Maybe I do, too. All I know is I stay up way too late writing. Trying to fit this love into my life. 
So for the month of May I'm going to start, and stick a pin in it. I haven't flushed out exactly how this will look or what that will mean yet. But, I say, I'll try.
Do you want to stick a pin in anything? What has been encouraging to you lately?

Welcome May

There once was a catchy quote that I liked a lot. It went something like this:

Accept what people offer. Drink their milkshakes. Take their love.

Except when you think you're allergic to milk. Or your body rebels against it.

Note to self: Enough with the milkshakes already, no matter how much you love them.

I was really hoping to go to IRL this past weekend. Which stands for In Real Life not I Really Learned {my lesson}.

At first I was bummed because of some circumstances which led me not to go to this gathering of women bloggers in real life, not just in bloggy land, especially since some of them were ones I've enjoyed connecting with over the years. I know it's a great way to interact and share common passions, learn about others...and well, that's always a good time.

What did I do this weekend instead?

Oh yeah, I didn't do work. I talked with friends. I came home after church. I took a real nap. I enjoyed the rain, and took my time. I recovered and was able to start the week off rested, the week where the buzzword has been crisis and the urgent has returned for the moment again. While emergencies occur on the 'job,' living that way isn't sustainable.

Life, I love you. But, sometimes you push me. This month was one of those months.

I'm actually grateful tomorrow (okay, today by now) is May. May, who for all intents and purposes, I didn't want to see come. But, God keeps allowing me to see that HIS ways are higher than my ways.

God makes everything new.

With the turning of the calendar or the turning of a new chapter in your life, know that He does not leave you and His plans for your life are not going unfinished.

Do they seem unfinished? Hold on.

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." -Jeremiah 29:11

"You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way."
-E.L. Doctorow  <---I love this idea. Not necessarily the idea of not being able to see well.

But it's true. You CAN make the whole trip that way. God lights our way. We can trust Him. Our lives are secure in Him.
We can make the trip when we know who we're following.

How do you feel when you think about the future? What do you believe about your future?