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.