Saturday, August 24, 2013

Last

Tis' the season for people to start talking about pumpkin lattes and school shopping and leggings and boots. People are fascinated by boots. Tis' the season for families to put away their rafts and beach towels, and my neighbors to soon stop congregating all the time outside, where we live life with each other by the pool and every year form our own kind of odd, but welcoming community there.

Almost all my favorite things: cool desserts and grilling out and fresh fruit, sitting by the pool and still warm nights you can be outside til' dark and neighbors and swimming and sun on dried up bones, this happens in summer.
 
 

I like to hold onto these favorites, because it feels like they are only there for a few short months and then, poof, gone until next year. Time to grab my warm sweaters and can someone please explain to me why we love skinny jeans so much? I honestly can do without all the winter garb.

I know I'll welcome the colder seasons with (nearly) as much ease as I did summer, but from where I sit now, I'm lost in my summer heart. I'm starting to recognize that seasons are not just about length of time but immersing myself in how there's something to appreciate in each one. And as much as I hate to admit it, this year I've come to see that the fact that any one season doesn't last forever can be a beautiful thing.

Guess what? In the end I'm not tying summer down anymore, hoping it will stand still, wishing if only we could get a few more weeks, a little more time together, all would be well.

All is well now, and I'm ready to receive what will come next, to let myself breath in cold again or let myself be surprised by an unnatural warmth I find as this season starts to pass and I open hands wider to what is to come.
 

 
Joining a community of word lovers at Lisa-Jo's place where we write for five minutes (sometimes more!) every Friday. Join in! The prompt this week is: Last.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

How I'm Like the Boy at the Allergy Doctor

Waiting his turn, screaming and moaning, the boy one room over did not want to get his allergy test.

"But," the nurse said, "it's just a scratch, not a shot."

Yeah, right.

If I'm that boy and I'm three years old, I'm not getting tricked by that one.

More crying.

"That's it. That's all, buddy," I could hear the nurse say over his yells.

"Get him a Kleenex." Now another nurse.

How many were there trying to console him?

Poor mother. Poor boy. I could imagine the flailing arms, the face lined with tears, the misunderstanding. The thinking-it-was-going-to-hurt moment because they are sticking me with something and this can't be good even though they keep calling it a scratch.

"We're done!" The nurse cried.  "It's over. You get a lollypop."

Silence. Oh, the power of candy.

I heard the nurse tell his mom the real deal now that they were done (they really need to close the doors in this place). Most children are a little fearful of allergy tests. They think it's going to hurt more than it is; they try to be honest with them from the get-go, but it's still hard. They have no clue what's coming.

Ah, that makes sense.

I can totally relate to him. Sometimes life feels like it's coming at me like a shot, and I can't tell if what is right in front of me - the allergy test of the moment - is truly just a scratch.

Maybe it is a scratch. But it sure looks and feels like a shot, and you know this thing aint right, because people all around you are offering you lollypops of a sort, and even though you want them, wouldn't it be better to not get pricked?

Wouldn't it be better to not get pricked all over and be red and blotchy and seriously itchy? I got me some new allergy tests, like the little boy. It's a long-winded experience but I highly recommend it if you want to find out if you are perhaps allergic to some really great things, like chocolate. Let's just say, I may not stop eating chocolate all together, because I have not died yet and I really like chocolate. I'll have to see. I'm only mildly allergic, and by the way, who is allergic to chocolate?  But, then, there's the fact that I'm allergic to lots of things in the environment and I don't think you can stay away from "the environment," so I give up. Not really, but you get the idea.

I decided that the whole idea of this fear-of-the-shot business was calling me to something deeper. Ann says we are all living mini traumas all the time - but those who dare to trust call them gifts.

These gifts I find everywhere, they are small steps, but each retraces the movements of my heart.

225. an extended meet for coffee on 'the porch,' overlooking the beautiful, busy roadway
226. friends and their babies! constant laughter and sweetness.
227. the most gorgeous sunsets, while driving. pink, orange, blue. the sky is a canvas.
228. joy of sleep!
229. no water leaks for a few days! always progress.
230. thai food
231. the idea that summer lasts forever. doesn't it? one can dream.
232. the Word
233. nice dr.'s who understand time
234. getting to see my mom

Can I deep trust? That God is good no matter what? That He is always the one to be counted on, the One gift, when nothing else is found, that is enough every time?

That every single time there is suffering, His comfort overflows, God of all comfort. Yes.

There will be suffering. There will be allergy test days, and moments you feel like the boy in that room next door. I get it. I keep praying to remember that the re-joy-cing comes in Christ, at work in us and working all things together for good.

Lollypops or not.

Question: If you are in pain, hurting, or just had 30 scratch tests performed on your body, and I brought you some candy, what would you pick?
(This just in: I pick jellybeans. As far as I know, I'm not allergic to jellybeans.)

    

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Wish List and Ashton Kutcher

Dear Ashton Kutcher,

First of all, kudos to you. I've jumped on the Hollywood bandwagon for a moment, and that's rare, but I have to say I learned two things about you: a) I enjoyed listening to your recent speech to teen audiences and b) all of a sudden your name is Chris?

That's pretty interesting, the whole name change thing. I'd like to try it, see if it grabs the attention of my teens at all.

You see, my kids look at me like I have three heads or pretend to fall asleep on me when I, their super cool counselor, talk to them about working hard and ask them about their dreams. All in a day's work.

Problem is, I don't go by any other names.

In all seriousness, I want to know if anyone is listening. To me, to you. No one screams and yells (enthusiastically, that is) at my job, so I can't be sure.

For the nature of a training at work today, we completed some case studies of particular situations we might run across with kids. Because it seemed like they pulled the most troubling situations they could find and put them together to create a nice little grab bag of problems, the second part of the activity was extremely useful.

We came up with a wish list for what we would like to see for these kids. A wish list? Thank you, and how much time do you have?

I could name you all the clinical things we wrote, but how about:


.graduating high school

.being independent

.anger problems resolved

.getting all their basic needs met

.understanding that they have a hope and a future

.KNOWING they are loved

.having dreams

.seeing that they matter.

I wish that kids would not be made fun of for being smart, for staying in school, for doing their work.

I wish that they would have their own wish lists, and they would stop being wishes.

It goes on and on... 

Ashton, or Chris, or whatever your name is, it can't be a bad thing to talk some encouragement to teens. Thanks.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Birthday + Couch Rebels Release Party

Hi, friends, Happy August to you! It's like clockwork; people seem to get way busy again this time of year, gearing up for fall, more events, people having weddings and showers, school starting. Oh, and there's getting the last bit of pool time in wherever they can. Or is that just me?

I was on a short bloggy hiatus to REST a bit because I needed it and then to birthday-it-up last week, which was so much fun. I have been 'practicing being 29,' which is going well. I decided I'm all about being good with your age, although at times I still run around and play in the pool and do swim races like that child at heart. My neighbor offered to time me last night as I swam across the pool, and so really, I think the term "age is just a number" will work for me for a long time. I'm not worried.

Birthdays are a chance to celebrate LIFE and God's goodness, I believe, to shout to the world that horray, we're still around and available to others to work and play and love and yes, made it to another year! Thank you, God.

And, of course, my favorite thing about birthdays is to see and talk to the people I love, and maybe even get to pull a bunch of people from all walks of life together which is a Birthday Dream Come True. I'm not kidding, and I think I'm going to do it more often.

I wanted to use my birthday for something good, to tell you about all the places where they need your time and talents and where can you go if you are on the look-out for great places helping people and on mission for Christ, because other than the drip, drip, drip of the leak in my apartment last night (post to come), this is what keeps me up at night. But, I didn't get it out to you in time, and I thought that meant I couldn't.

That's not true. There is always next time, next week even. I don't need a birthday to celebrate where God is moving around me. I'm often catching myself thinking that it's only on the big days or a-ha moments, or on put together blog posts that I can share my voice or the things that keep me up at night.

I'm seeing more and more that at the heart of us all is community, if we will allow it. God is a relational God and He gives us each other in so many different forms. Community is my neighbor, who I called when once again, the apartment started leaking, beyond late last night. Community are the life-long friends I've made, knowing that they know everything about my story and love me because of that. Community is this community, these words, and you. It's reading your words. It's knowing, even if two people read what I write, that somehow, we are connected and it matters.

Real life community is a place where I get to have birthday parties. But, who said I can't do it online, too?

So, my online birthday party is taking place now, a week late, and the point of the party is to celebrate a release of a book project that I've been talking about for awhile now. Happy Birthday to Couch Rebels tomorrow!

I love stories. And community. And crowd-written books. So, as a birthday present to me, since most of you didn't know it was my birthday and didn't have to get me any presents, check out more of the skinny on the book release here and the cause that we're all really psyched about, blood water mission. It's the reason we wrote for the book, anyway.

Birthday pop quiz:

Question: When is Couch Rebels being released?

Answer: TOMORROW! That's right. Tomorrow, August 14.




Oh, yes, you can buy the book then and tell all your friends, thanks for asking!!!

Story tellers and story lovers unite. Come potatoes and non potatoes, everyone's welcome at the party!

Real question for y'all: what is one thing that you've learned since sharing YOUR story with people?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Wanted: Me, Wanted: You

For weeks, months, and years, really, You have been drawing me, ever closer to this grace:

I am wanted

        loved
        known by You, God.

I have some bookmarks on my table; they preach this wonderfully made truth.

Speaks like a love letter,
Shouts of a love I can't even comprehend most of the time,
Looks like light in the dark places,
Shows me that I am
knitted together
intricately made
and formed by You,
unique.

You take me in, fully.
You are with me always!
This becomes my story. This great Love.


Taking some time to link with Lisa-Jo and others on this Friday.

This new song by Dara Maclean makes me do the crazy head shake dance. I don't have a video for that yet, but just check out Dara's. I love her stuff --  she talks about what it is to be wanted by the One who shows us how to live free. Are you dancing yet?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The UnRandoms From July

I use the word random a lot. I'm such a random person who has random encounters all the time with all these random people. My supervisor for work, the one I get to meet with outside of work and who I get to have conversations with in that perhaps are a bit off-center at times, says that we should stop calling these conversations "random" because, let's be honest, they are no longer "random," they are just conversations. As if, random has lost all meaning. Oh, goodness. So, with that said, in no particular order, here's a few unrandom things that have gone on for the month of July.

1. I keep spending inordinate amounts of time talking to people who I meet everyplace, and it happens all the time. I have really long conversations with strangers and somehow, it's perfectly fine. Not random at all. I wouldn't recommend this for your four-year-old child, but it works for me and it's fascinating and somehow tons of stories come out and I wish I could spend more time just meeting people.
 
Here's the short list of lately: cooking coach at my favorite grocery store (I think he just might make my dreams of cooking boot camp come true), lady working at the community center, 90-year-old woman at bagel shop, leasing consultant, any assortment of neighbors. Sigh. I think I just want to be a professional friend.
 
2. I can have a love/hate relationship with music. This sounds very similar to Emily's post when she said that songs she hates "are redeemable."
 
On a related note, I love it when my co-workers think the tunes playing (Mumford and Sons) are Peter, Paul, and Mary.

3. I like my neighbors.

4. One of Maggie Smith's first notable films was The Prime if Miss Jean Brodie. I had never heard of it, until I saw it on TV, and the resemblance was uncanny from her days of youth. Seriously, her voice sounds exactly the same then and now.

5. goodsearch.com :

Ok, I'm so excited about this, people. I just started 'searching' the internet and raising money for the cause Forgotten Voices. I love FV. Please check it out when you can. It takes two minutes to sign up for goodsearch.com. How often do we search the net?

One penny is raised for every search you do! Simple and effective way to help orphans.

6. Improv. Will. Be Happening. Stay Tuned. I'm also so excited about this. But, for selfish reasons. I think it will be fun. Yet, I'm also hoping to spread good and work with the kiddos somehow with this and maybe even raise money for kids or something that matters through making a fool of myself = always a win.

7.  I don't really watch TV.

I'm not someone who thinks it's impressive when people don't watch TV. I can't explain this one, except I just don't think of it. Sometimes I watch shows on DVD. I like movies. But, that's about it. I guess that explains why I stay a bit out of touch sometimes.

8. Yellow is everywhere. Did I know this before July? I don't know. But now I do. I think my love affair with yellow might be calming down, but no worries, it's still there.


image credit


8. When I don't write things down during the month, if I don't take time to celebrate, to find the joy, the good things pass me by.

Thus, the small list this month. No small amount of learning, but small amounts of remembering.

One thing I did remember though is how to laugh harder and longer and easier again.


I was reminded again this month how to brush off the weight those shoulders like to hold. And yet how to hold on when I need to step into the next moment, and the next moment, and the next, and the next...God is there.

Linking up with Emily and others because I like to practice remembering what I learn. Ohh, please share yours.

What's something not so random you learned this month?