September 30, 2010

Counter Culture

Looked at some pictures of this summer when we took a few days to get away as a family and visit California.  We had a few hours one day and decided to head to the beach – choosing Venice Beach.  T and I had gone to Venice about 20 years ago.  I remembered an off beat place that offered more than just a spot on the beach – street performers, market stalls and especially the artists that you could watch as they used their talents and created original crafted works.  Well…Yeah.  Not sure if it was one of those cases of selective enhanced memories but..uh..20 years allows for a lot of change.  Off beat went to counterculture; street performers went to hawkers and hustlers, market stalls went to tourist traps and although there may have been a handful of artists there were mostly knick-knack novelty “what in the world” not quite crafted … “items”.  I’m not even going to mention the ‘ads’ for medical marijuana and incense sales.  Maybe we’ll just consider this a familial lesson in counterculture.
Pondered that term for awhile and stood still with it. Counterculture – values and norms of a group that run counter to those of the mainstream of the day; rejecting or opposing the dominant values and behavior of society.
My realization – I am counterculture.
The social mainstream of our society today encompasses relativism (all things are gray there’s not right or wrong; we each have our own truth), promoting secularism, places value on aesthetics, strives for status, emphasizes monetary gain, encourages living beyond means, rewards non-productiveness, promotes “tolerance” and… you get the picture.
Me – I believe there is such a thing as right and wrong, absolute truth, intrinsic value and reward, productiveness, work ethic, living within one’s means, and tolerance in the true sense of the word (to be fair, to be objective, to endure NOT to accept, to condone or embrace – to say it’s all equally good).
Standing Still with things, I think about how Christ was actually counterculture and that the world honestly hasn’t changed when you look at the larger picture. 

Yep, I’m counterculture and I have and will continue to teach my kids to be as well! 

1 John 2:15-17: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”

September 29, 2010

Screened Calls

I was spending time with a friend the other day.  During the course of conversation she voiced her feelings about people screening their phone calls.  From her point of view it simply is rude and frustrating.  I bit my lip, took a breath and - with what I’m sure was somewhat sheepish look - I stated, “I’m one of those people sometimes.”
Some calls are just plain irritating – sales calls, political calls, survey calls.
Sometimes it’s a bad time to talk.
Sometimes I might be in the middle of something and I just can’t get to the phone in time.
Sometimes it’s a matter of priorities (mealtime, helping with homework, etc.)
Sometimes it helps to know who’s calling so you can be in the right frame of mind to deal with an issue or a certain person.
Unless the call falls into that “irritating category”, I do get back to the caller – hopefully no one is ignored.

I know that I’ve been screened.  I’m okay with it.  My worth lies not in being deemed important enough to merit time and attention.  My worth lies in who I am.

I will say if one of my kids calls I drop everything to answer that call.

I too have a ‘parent’ that will drop everything to answer my call. My Heavenly Father doesn’t screen any of my calls. There’s no voice mail that I’m sent to.  I’m not on some B-List for priority in being heard or answered.  I am His kid- loved and redeemed.  He actually waits for me to call to pour out His love and He answers giving measure according to the fullness of His grace; blessings beyond expectations and belief.

John 1:16   From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.

September 27, 2010

Finding Blessings in Conflict

What comes to mind in that single word?
 Battle, clash, collision, contention, fray, strife, disagreement, discord, opposition, animosity, dissension, antagonism.
I’ve stood still with this word over the last couple of days. 
It’s inevitable – we all come face to face with it in our lives.  Most people will tell you outright that they don’t like conflict.  Many avoid it as much as possible with fear, anxiety and avoidance. Some seem to seek it – almost thrive on it.
It seems obvious that conflict can be damaging. 
After standing still with this word – I’ve learned that it’s not always a bad thing.  Like so much of this life – what determines if conflict is negative or positive is not the conflict itself.  The ultimate determination here lies in our response to the conflict.

Can those caught in the conflict view or consider the opposition or is there dislike, recrimination and selfish exploitation? Does the response bring withdrawl of love, rejection, isolation, shaming, effort to control, abandonment, anger, or resentment?  These responses will undoubtedly end negatively.  They are unhealthy for all those caught in the grasp of conflict.

Is it possible for the response to involve understanding, compassion, respect, and empathy?  Can those caught up in conflict take that step back, refocus and gain perspective.  Perhaps it is important to consider that each conflict brings with it opportunity.  There are possibilities for personal growth (socially, emotionally and spiritually), increased understanding, and strengthening of relationship.

Perhaps, even in the midst of conflict – be it within ourselves or with others - we need to focus on a different word.

Out come, settlement, sorting out, courage, decision, dedication, purposefulness, sincerity, steadfastness, peace.

John 14:27   Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.


The start of the school year as brought with it a flurry of activity – the neighborhood gang meeting up as they go to and come from school, friends coming and going to study or just ‘hang’ and ‘chill’, teams practicing for and playing game, going to other friend and community sport events, school sponsored events, youth group times, etc. 
As a mom, one of my favorite things to do during these times is to watch how my kids interact with those around them.  I love being the ‘fly on the wall’.  I just sit and listen.  As I’ve sat back and listened, I have found moments that are humorous, moments that touch the heart and moments of insight. 
I’ve heard:
Small talk
A Powwow
As I stand still, I think about all the different ways we communicate – exchange thoughts, information, and feelings by the spoken word.  Each of these words describes a particular form of communication that has its own intent, interaction, meaning and indication of level of relation, engagement and comfort between participants.   The more people communicate – regardless of form – deeper bonds form; deeper understanding occurs.
Conversations accomplish more than just verbal exchange.

This leads me to thoughts about my prayer life.  Prayer is more than rote memory or requests happening at meals, before bed or in a church.  I like and need to think about prayer as a conversation throughout my day with God - having a chat with Him, expressing my thoughts and feelings, venting my fears, having a powwow about life plans, or debating a life issue.  In this conversation I need to realize there are two participants – I have a time to speak and a time to listen as He speaks (through His Word, through others, through His creation and directly to my heart).  I must admit, I could always be a better listener in this conversation. Through prayer as conversation – deeper bonds form; understanding occurs.

1 Thessalonians 5:17  Pray continually.

September 24, 2010

Questions. ... Answers?

Today while I was doing some errands, I overheard a mother and her preschooler having a conversation.  The young child’s side of the conversation consisted of one word over and over… “WHY?”  Flashing back to my days as a young mother, I couldn’t help but smile.  Ah… parenting.  Some will exhibit patience and answer each why.  Some will exhibit wisdom, careful to give simple answers that the child can understand at that point in development.  Some simply say ‘I don’t know’.  Some respond with ‘you’ll understand when you’re older’.  Others may try to change the subject or distract the child.  Some answer – “Because I said so”.  And a few my even look the child in the eye and say ‘you are driving me crazy…STOP’. 
Quite honestly – I’ve been each of these parents at some point or another.
Quite honestly – I’ve been and continue to be the Child in this scenario.
As I stand still for a moment, I think about the fact that as we age the questioning doesn’t end.  Our questions just become more complex:  Why am I here?  Why should I bother to try if I’m just going to fail?  Why do I have to go through this?   Why am I putting up with this?  Why do I do so many things I don’t like and like so many things I don’t do – life is too short?  Why do bad things happen to good people? Why is this so hard? Why do I feel this way?  Why doesn’t this make sense?  Why doesn’t this person get it?  Why doesn’t this end? 
Questioning can be one of the most powerful methods for gaining insight and understanding.  There is more that a question being expressed – you are stating where you are at (in your understanding, feelings, beliefs), you are communicating, exploring options, evaluating, clarifying, and anticipating.
Standing still, I’ve drawn several conclusions:
-          Some questions need to be lived to find the answers.
-          Some questions may never be answered on this earth.
-          Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.(Dr. Seuss)
-          Sometimes the questions are simple but the answers are complicated.
-          There is One always ready to listen to my questions.
-          With God, no question is un-askable.
-          With God, no question is un-answerable – I will have an answer; sometimes immediate, sometimes through process, sometimes not the answer I wanted – and there are some answers I need to wait to hear until I am with Him in heaven.

Psalm 3:4
To the LORD I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill.
Psalm 120:1
I call on the LORD in my distress, and he answers me.

September 23, 2010

Sticky note campaign

Watching the news the other morning, I was introduced to  This campaign has the goal to end negative self-talk that hurts you emotionally, spiritually and physically.  Founder Caitlin Boyle began this campaign by leaving positive messages on the mirrors of public restrooms – at work, at the gym, at the grocery store.  The messages are such:
“Don’t change how you look, change how you see… you are beautiful.”
“This scale does not measure your worth….you are beautiful.”
“There can never be a more beautiful you.”
 Many people have picked up the campaign after being the beneficiary of a note themselves.  One woman responded “Things like ‘you are beautiful inside and out’….remind me that even though I am struggling so much on the inside, I am still a remarkably beautiful person.”
Affirmations are powerful.  They can uplift, renew, encourage, strengthen.  Affirmations come from many places – ourselves, those we love, friends, people we work with…even a sticky note left by a stranger on a mirror.
I wondered for a bit about my own self-talk, my self-worth and where my affirmations come from.  I also wondered about the same in respect to my children. 
Two immediate thoughts happened:
First, my greatest affirmation (and so I hope I’ve instilled in my children) comes from the fact that I am a beloved child of God (John 1:12 ‘Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God’). I am “fearfully and wonderfully made”.  I am loved beyond human comprehension (John 3:16). 
Secondly, do I verbalize positive affirmations often enough to those I love?
I decide that maybe it’s time for a little sticky note campaigning of my own in this house.
Time to find a pen and some notes.  Let’s see how this unfolds.

September 22, 2010

One Thing

It seems as though as of late I’ve been a part of quite a few “in depth” conversations -   the type where someone just drops their walls and barriers as they talk from the heart.  My prayer list is a little longer these days.  It’s given me plenty to think about as I stand still.  I’ve realized that quite a few of these conversations really boil down to each individual’s inner most yearning.  On the grander scale of things, I think that every person – if honest with themselves – finds that there is a need, an emptiness… a yearning that needs to be met in order to find fulfillment and feel whole – complete – at peace.  Call it ‘purpose’, ‘the secret to life’, ‘happiness’ – it’s that One Thing.  It reminds me of a pivotal scene in the movie City Slickers between the characters played by Jack Palance and Billy Crystal:
Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is?
[holds up one finger]
Curly: This.
Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don't mean @#*!.
Mitch: But, what is the "one thing?"
Curly: [smiles] That's what *you* have to find out.
Going back to those conversations as of late… I can identify the One Thing each person seems to be longing for:  letting go, simplicity, balance, self-discipline, boundaries, security, relationship (friendship or romance – basically acceptance and unconditional love), peace, truth, control, comfort, and assurance. 
As I think the concept of One Thing through I realize several truths.
1.  Relying on others to provide that One Thing will lead to continual disappointment and emptiness – people are imperfectly human.  Relying on possessions, wealth or status will lead to continual disappointment and emptiness – they are all fleeting.  Relying on self will lead to emptiness and frustration – you too are imperfectly human – your point of view is limited and perceptions are skewed.
2.  A person’s One Thing may seem conditional or relative – changing with situations, time, and life. 
But it actually isn’t…
3.  Each of these One Thing needs; each of these One Thing secrets or purposes can be met and fulfilled completely with THE ONE who is was and always will be. 
There is a firm foundation on which we can stand anchored against come what may  - One who provides purpose, meaning, balance, boundaries, self-discipline, security, peace, truth, comfort and assurance.

Having that One Thing simply comes from THE ONE.

“And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus”.  Philippians 4:19

September 21, 2010

One of those days

Just one of “those” days.  Everything seems harder than it should be.  I hate it when you go to do something and it all goes awry leaving you a bigger mess than what you started with.  Here’s one of those days I had recently. 
One of the kids’ favorite shorts had a stain.  I pre-treated and worked on it for awhile and “supermom” eliminated the offending mark quite successfully.  Threw a dark load in along with the pair of shorts, started the machine and went to tackle the kitchen clean up.  Upon opening the refrigerator door to put things away, a can of freshly ground coffee grounds leaps out at me – lid exploding off the can as it hits the floor.  One more time consuming clean up to add to the list.  Get the mail and find a medical bill waiting that I know should have been covered.  Called the insurance company talked to three people and spent how many minutes on hold before finding the right answer then had to call the doctor’s office going through the answering menu, two people and more time on hold- then made one more call to the insurance company (two more people and multiple hold minutes).  Okay – that was straightened out but the morning was gone.  Still had to run errands but get to COSTCO –get there and realize I don’t have  my card – I turned it in to a short run to the grocery but will still need to go back to COSTCO.  Needed to get home to be taxi mom for kid 3 and kid 2 calls with a change in plans that sends me in yet a different direction.  Keep in mind that along the way on a day like this it is inevitable that I run into a few people with slightly less than friendly attitudes and my own… was waning.  Finally get home and am ready to get that dark load in the dryer – at least one success for the day.
Uh….no.  Let me pause here and tell you that my laundry room is also used as storage on the top of the laundry shelf for things like paper towel rolls, seasonal tablecloths, tissue boxes…
Apparently, at some point before I threw my laundry into the washer, a new box of tissues had fallen into the washer.  Sending a box of kleenx through the wash cycle leaves something similar to paper mache plastered to every item of clothing that it swishes through, past, in, out, around….  NOT GOOD – took all the clothes out, cleaned out the washer, shook every item inside out and right side out, threw them in the dryer, cleaned a very full lint screen, pulled the clothes out, shook them out all again, cleaned out the inside of the dryer then put them back in the dryer and hoped the lint screen would catch what was left.
Then the family starts walking in the door one by one asking that infamous question “what’s for dinner?”. 
“Call you dad and have him pick up pizza…I’m DONE for the day.”
On one of “those” days where I feel like one more unplanned mess would send me over the edge it is kinder and more loving to give myself a “mommy time out”, declare my day is “DONE”, get into my pjs and hit my bed with a book - just end the day before it ends me and ruins the day for those around me.
I finally take that cleansing breath – wondering if it was a full moon (my mother’s theory) – and say a prayer.  A prayer for forgiveness – a blessing for some of those I dealt with today and especially a blessing and praise for my understanding and loving family- thanksgiving for the end of the day and praise and thanksgiving that the Father’s mercies are new each day(Lamentations 3:22-23).  After a day like this I need that!

September 20, 2010

moments of discovery

I love moments of discovery.  Finding something that gives you a sense of awe or wonder.  Those moments that make you step back and think “wow”.  A few of those discovery moments from the last couple of months are as follows:
-Seeing a small rainbow in a side fall during a hike as sunlight danced through the droplets of water.
-Coming around a turn during a hike and getting your first glimpse of a breath taking view.
-Looking out over the ocean and seeing three dolphins playing in the waves.
-walking through a break in the tree line and discovering a field of all different kinds of wild flowers.
-happening upon a doe and her fawn in a clearing.
-seeing a hummingbird feed and being so close you can hear the beat of its wings.
-mounting a coastal hill and finding a colorful sea cave below.

Some of my favorite moments of discovery involve friendship – the birth of friendships, connecting in a different way, the deepening, insights learned.  I think the more cherished moments among these are summed very well by C.S. Lewis when he stated, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You too? I thought I was the only one."  
As I stand still with the thought of discovery moments, it occurs to me that perhaps the key to having all moments of discovery is to be open.  Your mind and heart need to be accessible, unobstructed or unguarded – willing – to receive and to share. Open to see hidden views and open to share and participate in a new friend’s conversation. Open to receive God’s Love unconditionally.

I wish and pray for you moments of discovery.

The greatest and most cherished of which…
“I pray that you … may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge…” Ephesians 3:17-19

September 17, 2010

Have a Nice Day!?

In 1963 a freelance artist by the name of Harvey R. Ball created an icon for an insurance company morale campaign.  His failure to trademark the icon left it to public domain.  The icon became universal and there isn’t a soul that wouldn’t recognize it or know its implied meaning.  That yellow sphere with two black dots and a black half circle emoting happiness, warmth and friendliness.  Yep… it’s a smiley.

I’m of a generation that has always had the smiley.  I grew up with smiley on t-shirts, shoes, lunchboxes, hair bands, earrings and necklaces, and stickers.  Without speaking a word smiley proclaimed encouragement, don’t worry – be happy, have a happy day. 
I do have a soft spot for the sunny fellow.  But I must confess. I react to life with a wider range of emotion than he. And…I may not always be quite as friendly as he. In the face of idiocy, impertinence, or the like, a positive reaction from me may be somewhat tempered.  Human I guess.  Though I should strive to be a little more like smiley, I admit honestly that I grit my teeth and feel more like the red square cynic smiley from the ‘Have a Nice Day’ graphic on the Bon Jovi album.

1 Peter 4:8 reminds us “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”  This is an admonishment for me, particularly when I’m feeling less than loving. I am very thankful for the last part of that verse, “love covers over a multitude of sins” especially because I know I need the covering of love – a multitude of sin right here.  I need to look at others through the eyes of Our loving Father.  I am able to love because He first loved (1 John 4:19).  Instead of raising my eyebrows and calling someone an idiot (usually silently in my head ... most of the time), I should and will (hopefully) react with a quick prayer and a more sincere “Have a Nice Day.”

Thank you for loving me even when I'm unlovable.  Forgive me and enable me to show Your love to others when they are not so lovable.

September 16, 2010

absolutely, sincerely, wrong

Stuart: Oooh! Sheldon, I'm afraid you couldn't be more wrong!
Sheldon: "More" wrong? Wrong is an absolute state and is not subject to gradation.
Stuart: Of course it is. It's a little wrong to say a tomato is a vegetable. It's very wrong to say it's a suspension bridge!
I heard this dialogue on a sitcom rerun.  When it was delivered it tickled my funny bone a bit.  It came back to me later and I used a standing still moment to give it further thought.  Is there such a thing as being ‘a little wrong’ as compared to ‘very wrong’?  Either way it’s still wrong ... right?  When it comes down to final definitions, the correct statement is that “wrong is an absolute state and is not subject to gradation”.

I do believe though, that it is possible to be ‘sincerely wrong’.  If a child was raised all his life being taught the sky was orange, he’d grow up thinking that anything the same hue as the sky is the color orange.  He’d genuinely, honestly, earnestly believe and communicate to others that the sky is orange.  But he’d be wrong.  This happens more and more in society with false belief systems, poor health practices, shaky morals ,..

I’ve been sincerely wrong.  It can and does happen.  Even though I was ‘sincerely wrong’ I was still absolutely wrong while sincerely believing something true (by the way, the phrase “in front” is actually two words – not one… “infront” – lost a bet on that one).  At this point then, it becomes important for me to discover why I was wrong and to learn what the truth is. 
When confronted with another who is sincerely wrong, it is time for ‘speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 1:3). As I’ve aged, I would like to hope I have somewhat overcome (or make an effort to overcome) things like being judgmental, pride, or negativity as I deal with wrongfulness.  I try to apply concern, care, patience, understanding, forgiveness and gentleness in declaring the truth and stating right.
I also hope that as I’ve aged, I am more willing to accept the truth spoken in love when someone points out ‘wrongness’ that I need to own – be it sincerely wrong or otherwise.
Wrong is an absolute state.  
I take joy in knowing a different absolute – God’s love and grace - “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God”(Ephesians 2:8).  Salvation and heaven don’t come through being a good person or doing good things – there is no way to work my way to it or earn a degree of either because – “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  I am human, broken and have a inherit sinful nature.  Praise God, Christ is an absolute in my life that will never falter or be taken.

John10:28  “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.”

September 15, 2010

Where am I?

Please tell me I’m not the only one.  I’ll be honest.  I’ve found myself in this position before – more than a couple of times.  This morning I came out of the grocery store only to stop dead in my tracks with the realization that I had NO idea where I was parked.  Not wanting to call any further attention to my situation I opted out of hitting the horn button on my keychain and instead began the “purposeful looking wander’ to my vehicle.  I (eventually) got to my vehicle and was able to continue homeward.
As I am taking my still moment, I giggle at what the aerial view of my path looked like.  A few thoughts come to mind.
I think there is a larger life lesson to learn here (other than I should be more attentive in my driving).  I think that every once and a while you need to consider where you are truly parked in life in order to continue on your journey ‘homeward’.  It’s an important question to ask yourself at various times – life’s “parking lot” is not a constant; there is continuous change and shifting in surroundings that influences our perspective on direction, purpose and values.  Do those changes have me disoriented like I was when I came out of the grocery store?  Does all the shifting of circumstance have me distracted from where my head and heart should be?  Where are my priorities “parked”? Clarifying where I am in the moment will allow me to consciously continue the path I need to follow to successfully reach my destination.
Going back to that aerial view – I smile as I envision God looking down at me as I go through life at times with that “purposeful looking wander”.  I’m picturing the little dashes marking crazy zig-zagging back and forth as I follow the distractions that come up in life.  Oh, and the wild looping dashed path as I chase my tail and spiral when I succumb to anxiety and uncertainty.  How much more ease, more fulfillment, and more peace would I know if instead I would follow the path in a more continuous way that God has plotted for me?  How much straighter would my path be if I could just focus on His purpose, His goal – THE destination that lies ahead? 

So I ask myself now. “Where am I ‘parked’?”  and “Am I willing to really let God lead so I can continue on my journey with a better path?”

How about you?  Do you know where you are ‘parked’?  Stand still for a moment.

Proverbs 4:11   I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths.
Psalm 23:2b   He leads me beside quiet waters…

September 14, 2010


I had to shake my head the other day as I listened to my sons going back and forth in a conversation.  They were sitting next to each other comparing scars.  Along with each scar came a story (a few of which may have been slightly enhanced or exaggerated) – battles fought and won, tales of survival, ultimate games, pain endured, bravery and yes, some stupidity.
We all accumulate scars as we go through life.  I’ve got a few scars myself – mine come from a few surgeries, an accident or two, and my general lack of coordination.  A scar is a natural result of the biologic process of wound repair.  Scars gradually fade but never are completely gone.  Even with the treatments of our time – dermabrasion, laser resurfacing, chemical peels, pressure bandages – no scar can ever be completely erased or ever return to its normal uninjured appearance.  Some people bear their scars with pride.  Some try to hide or cover them up.  Emotional scars are very similar to physical scars.  They are a result of emotional wounds.  They fade with time but are never completely gone.  There are those that are seen but quite a few that are unseen.

Physical or emotional – it seems that when people consider their scars the focus is often on the wound…the pain…the suffering.  I wonder if we wouldn’t be better off focusing on the fact that scarring is a natural part of the healing process. 
Scars equal Healing – not wounding. 
Without the scar the wound would always be there – open – a constant feeling of pain – allowing for infection.  What would our physical bodies be without healing and scars?  How would we be emotionally without our scars? 
Scars equal Healing.
Healing – to make healthy, whole, sound; to restore.
When you focus on the healing perhaps scars can be appreciated in a certain way. “Yes, I was wounded; I suffered.  But I healed.  I was restored.”  That’s what the scar can mean and represent….

Jeremiah 17:14
Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed.

1 Peter 2:24
Christ himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed.

September 13, 2010

hitchin' up

I just heard an old Irish proverb that seemed to grab my attention to the point of slapping me upside the head. “You'll never plow a field by turning it over in your mind.”

I’m one who thinks things through. When considering a decision, direction or situation, I tend to sit with it – think about pros and cons or options until it sits right. I’m not impulsive by nature but I’m not indecisive either. I mull. For the most part this is a good thing. Mull by definition means “to think about carefully; ponder; consider; contemplate; examine and review.” Oddly enough though, mull also means “to make a mess or failure of; procrastinate; and delay.”

Thinking things through is a positive attribute. But at some point one must step forward and ‘plow the field’. Whatever is deterring you from action – be it insecurity or fear, maybe even procrastination – needs to be set aside. Just begin.
While doing so, I remind myself – I don’t have to plow alone. It’s okay to ask for or accept help that is offered. And it’s okay if I’m not the speediest or most skilled when it comes to handling the plow. Progress doesn’t just happen on its own. It takes action.

Time to hitch up the plow!

September 10, 2010


Working on the laundry today (that one chore that is never finished). Just took a load of towels and sheets out of the dryer. They were still warm as I got them folded. I flashed back to a moment of insight I once experienced – and still like to remind myself of every now and then.

During one of those dark valley walks of life – a dear friend had been sending me cards. In one of the cards she had written that she had asked others to pray also….”My sweet friend, rest assured and know that you are being wrapped in prayer”. It was comforting to know that I had such prayerful support – but I was about to be given a tangible demonstration.
I ended up being hospitalized and went through surgery. Back in my room afterwards, I was going through a period of nausea and was really cold – wondering if I was ever going to get better. My nurse checked on me and left the room saying she’d be right back. She came back to the room bringing me another blanket that had been heated. I can’t describe how wonderful that blanket felt. The sense of warmth surrounding me…. enwrapping me. That physical sensation was followed immediately with the words of my friend coming back to me “…rest assured and know you are being wrapped in prayer.” A sense of comfort, warmth, and peace wrapped my soul.
We experience it physically – the warmth of the sunshine on your face as you close your eyes and turn sunward allowing yourself to really feel the warmth; the warmth of your mug as you sip on a some tea or hot chocolate; the warmth of being snuggled up in your favorite comforter – cozy; the warmth of a fire on a cooler night watching embers glow.
We experience it emotionally – the warmth of spending time with a good friend experiencing laughter and comfort; the warmth of a hug or a ‘love you’ from a loved one; the warmth of knowing people care, will support you, will pray for you.
We experience it spiritually….
This is perhaps the greatest warmth you can experience – to your core – in your soul – your very being. True warmth that comes only by knowing you are loved completely by the Father – no matter where you are, no matter who you are, in your strengths and your weaknesses, regardless of your successes or your failures. You are loved!

We each are wrapped in God’s love. I remind myself every now and then tangibly – wrapping a warm sheet around myself or pulling on the warm sweatshirt as they come out of the dryer – did that this morning. And despite this rainy cool Oregon day I am warm to the core.
Know you are Wrapped – in prayer by me and more importantly in love by the Father.

Psalm 33:22 May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you.

September 9, 2010


I watched a morning show live to see an interview of someone we personally know. Usually most of the television we watch these days is through the DVR allowing us to skip commercials. But for this there was no fast forward. The commercials really made me think how companies push tag lines or phrases with which we as consumers connect to the product. Here are just a few from this morning:

I’m lovin’ it – McDonald’s
Zoom, zoom – Mazda
Life’s Good – LG
Imagination at Work – GE
Ingredients for life – Safeway
Save Money. Love better – Walmart
These phrases are often more than just an ad slogan – they are a motto. Mottos are expressions of the guiding principle of an organization, expressions of the spirit or purpose.
More recognizable mottos:
Always be prepared! – scouts
Semper Fidelis (Always Faithful) – Marines
In God We Trust – USA

Standing still and pondering some of these, thoughts come to mind. People should have recognizable mottos. People should consciously and purposefully adopt a personal word or phrase that would be the guiding principal of life, an expression of their spirit or their purpose.

Some people I know have done so. There’s K who is a friend and mentor – hers is “Grace”. B who is a friend and teacher, took 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing”) as a life verse.

There are some people for whom you could identify a motto simply by the way they live. My daughter’s would be “Sunshine” – she possesses a brightness of spirit, has a natural sunny disposition and doesn’t hesitate to spread the warmth of God’s love.

Although there are those whose actions and lives would beg a motto with a less positive connotation.

What do others think my motto is? This past year I have consciously identified a single life word that holds much personal meaning – “Hope”. This word represents so much to me emotionally and spiritually: longing, anticipation, confidence, expectation, endurance, security…faith.

How can I live my motto in an identifiable manner?
I may be standing still for awhile.

What about you – could you identify your motto? Can others see it? Do you live it?
Need to stand still a bit?

Romans 5:3b-5   "because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."

September 8, 2010

Another kind of eviction...

After the post on Serving the Eviction Notice, someone had said “okay forgiveness can be used to evict ‘when someone is living in you head rent free’ but what if the ‘renter’ isn’t a someone inhabiting your mind, but an event – something that’s there preoccupying darker corners of you mind'. More people than you or I realize, have those ‘event renters’. An occurrence in the past that lives in your head rent free – stirring up pain: confusion, anger, and resentment (all used to deflect the pain of what occurred)  anxiety and OH, let us not forget that terror of randomness – why me; it’s so crazy and arbitrary – it’s not fair. It didn’t let us have control over the what, when and how. The present and future will always include the pain of the past event. That pain or loss shouldn’t isolate us but it can…and does.

The inquirer had just hit a minefield that caused an explosion of feelings for me. I drew a deep breath and told him I knew exactly what he meant. I knew exactly what this person was saying – I had had a ‘renter’ named Despair for quite awhile. He’s been evicted. But sill occasionally I hear his ghost whispering words of anxiety, sadness, fear, and resentment and sadness over what could have been each time Despair is triggered by a certain day, memory of the small and fragile, a smell, a picture, a mention of what would’ve been.
Despair entered my life in 1994 when our daughter Christine Hope was born with a mitochondrial disorder. Eight weeks later we were told her condition was fatal. 2 ½ weeks later at dawn on a day with the bluest sky and the brightest sun – I held Christy in my arms as she drew her last breath here on this earth.
Saying I was sad and mourned is simply too trite. There was bitterness, anger, resentment, and even confusion – what do I say when people ask how many kids do you have 3 or 4? Would saying 4 lead to an uncomfortable out of the blue discussion for some? Would saying four seem like I’m harping on my loss and almost advertizing it - looking for reaction? Would saying 3 be lying or appear as a denial of the beautiful curly brown headed girl with the softest and warmest brown eyes?
In my loss – I didn’t want to maintain focus on what happened to me – I needed to focus on what was happening in me. I had resentment toward a doctor who was on call and refused to talk to us (incidentally she was in the midst of congestive heart failure and was taken to a specialty children’s hospital). I had resentment toward some who never gave a word of sympathy or support. I had anger toward myself – had I done something during the pregnancy to cause this? did I do all I really could? Could I have shown my love for her more? I wallowed with Despair and qualified our pain as the worst anyone ever could suffer.
It was about then a good friend gave me a bible verse, Phillippians 4:4-7: Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
This verse struck me in an upsetting way. Was I supposed to rejoice now? I can’t have anxiety over this or because of this - I have to unresentfully come before the Lord and say thanks when I pray… I CAN”T!... I … (can’t breath or think) .. I would try…i would kneel my teeth gritted empty hearted and follow the verse.
Hmm… “but in everything, all things, by prayer and petition WITH THANKGIVING make your request to God.” I took out my case notebook – basically a log for treatments administered, procedures, meds and the times they needed to be administered and what each was for, it had the feeding times - Notes on chats with docs and nurses – notes on how we were to do care procedures (administering feeding tube, monitor monitors for heart rate, O2 sats, blood pressure). And then I started to look at the notes I had written in the margins about the staff, and positive comments made or happenings I noticed (three separate doctors told us she should have been still born) (a nurse said she’d never seen such parents providing so much of the main care in the NICU) (a friend brought an angel figurine) (a music box unexplainably played its tune at a time we were both in tears - the tune was simply Jesus Loves Me) (I found a cross lapel pin on the floor by Christy’s crib) (The nurses got together and gave us the cross that had hung in Christy’s room.)
I saw these side notes and started to say prayers of thanksgiving – not in the most sincere of ways at first. I prayed thanksgiving prayers for people who had a hand in those side notes. I prayed for people who provided Christy’s care – I thanked God that this young child was able to be held and loved by parents who where the only ones that could love her completely the way she needed to by love – no one would’ve loved her more. I thanked Him as hard as this was that she was born alive to meet us and for us to meet her.

Over the course of awhile – I realized there was a peace – one that in no way I would’ve found on my own. It was God’s peace and few could understand it - A peace that surpasses human comprehension. I can now look in the deepest corners of my heart without seeing or feeling bitterness, anger, resentment, or confusion – even thinking back to those moments at dawn that day in 1994.

Our future will always hold the pain of the past. I will never get the answer to WHY – Why was she born with this fatal disease? Why did she have to die? WHY, why, why? I can only receive those final answers when I stand before Him in His glory – even then it may not matter. But I can see the effects and blessings Christy brought. We have two wonderful sons in our family who most likely wouldn’t be here now. We may not have made choices about family events or family priorities as often or strongly as we have done without knowing the preciousness of time spent with our kids. We may not have looked for an opportunity for me to be a stay-home-mom. Several of our friends who were struggling in their faith grew spiritually. One family had two children baptized. People came and told us how our family changed their families.

How did I evict this renter? DESPAIR was barricaded in my head.

I chose ACCEPTANCE. As I prayed sincerely and focused on being thankful in the midst of Despair, as I focused on God (who did not cause this thing – I don’t believe he looked down and said let’s send Naomi’s world crashing down today ) who visibly walked through this valley of darkness with us. I ACEPTED the situation – didn’t like it and wanted answers – but I ACCEPTED it. And His peace was wrapped around me.

To evict “event renters” I think you eventually must ask yourself “do I want to live in Despair or Acceptance?“
Giving up the pursuit of control brings you to Acceptance and Peace.

Lamentations 3:32
Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.

Note to reader: A great help for my despair was the gift of this book:
Talk with someone who’s walked your path. Peace that surpasses understanding is more than a possibility.

September 7, 2010

Serving the Eviction

One of my friends posted an Ester Lederer (a.k.a Ann Landers) quote as her status not too long ago. It’s been surfacing in my mind on and off during my still time. Whenever something does this, I’m usually being ‘encouraged” to take closer look. Translation – God is shaking His head and saying “Stubborn child, you didn’t quite catch it the first (second, or third) time around – you’ve got some thinking to do!”

The quote: “Hanging onto resentment is letting someone you despise live rent-free in your head.”

Bazinga! A little jolt to my psyche is making me look at myself as I considered the truth of the quote. I needed to be honest with myself and recognize where I am emotionally with my “renters”. I’ve been feeding them, providing heat and utilities, even fluffing pillows.

Time for an eviction notice! Nobody is going to live rent free in my head – being kept alive, allowed to stew and nurture the resentment, bitterness and anger – have that control. Guess it’s time to make peace. Hmm… MAKE peace. The verb here is make…that’s an action. Make, means to bring into existence by shaping or changing, to produce or cause to be. Dang it! - I have to DO something to make peace. It won’t magically happen if I just leave things be.
My ‘renters’ deal with relationships I have with a couple of people that have caused heartache. I still deal with these people in different life arenas on a pretty regular basis. Dealing with them causes anxiety, resentment, and hurt. I needed to make peace with the relationships I have with them. A question comes to mind - Why do I have to make the effort? I didn’t choose to be treated in such ways that are ignorant, at times spiteful, inconsiderate, rude, uncaring… A simple apology would be in order and would really help to mend fences but I know there will be no sincere repentance, no reparation – especially since there is no hint of recognition that they have caused hurt (so I may not be able to make peace with the individuals but I can make peace with the relationships). .
How can I evict them? The only way is through forgiveness. Forgiveness is a choice.
Forgiveness in the case of these two will never come in response to apology, reparation, or contrition. I need to forgive not for their welfare, but for my own welfare – emotionally and spiritually.
It is only after the forgiveness that I will forge a new course, one that is without the “squatters’ of bitterness, anger, resentment or hatred in my head or heart.
Are you letting anyone live rent free? Find it overwhelming to face giving eviction notice on your own? Reach out to the people that love you for support; to people who’ve made it through; to the One who loves you and will enable you– Your Lord and Savior.

Colossians 3:13
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

September 6, 2010

of icebergs and people

I saw an image of an iceberg that was created by professional photographer Ralph Clevenger ( ). I was struck by its beauty first and then the awe and wonder of it overcame me. Mr. Clevenger has been quoted as saying: "I created the image as a way of illustrating the concept of what you get is not necessarily what you see.” He was referring to his manipulation of several photos into one to achieve the piece of artwork. However, the statement is also quite applicable to the iceberg itself. It is scientific fact that only one-ninth of an iceberg is above water due to the ratio of density between pure ice and sea water. It’s overwhelming to comprehend what really lies beneath – the shape, the actually size, the complexity, the beauty, the hidden...the danger.

It occurs to me that people share similarities with icebergs. The ‘surface view’ of a person is quite limited. Just like the “tip of the iceberg” - when we interact with someone, it is actually just the tip of the person. As you get closer to someone, you may uncover parts that are below the surface – humor, insight, strength, character. But there are still parts hidden far beneath the surface – hidden hurts, anxiety, depression, an eating disorder, traumatic life event, so much more.

There have been many times that I have had the hidden revealed to me at a latter time only then to fully understand and appreciate someone’s behavior or character. Each time, it is a lesson for me to give people the benefit of the doubt, to have compassion, to develop patience, to remind myself there may be something I don’t see or know that requires understanding. All lessons I hope to help my children with. All lessons I hope others use when they hit more than ‘the tip of the iceberg’ with me.

Icebergs or people – there is One that knows every inch, every unseen aspect in the darkest, deepest, most hidden parts. Nothing is hidden from view. With this complete, intimate knowledge comes an immeasurable love. I feel an admonishment, encouragement and challenge for me to view individuals through His eyes and with His love. It is humbling, encouraging and comforting to think that this ‘iceberg’ – me – I am known intimately and loved beyond measure despite what lies beneath.

Psalm 139:1-3 “O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.”

Psalm 136:26 “Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.”

September 4, 2010

Echoing in my head over and over.....

It’s happened again!!! I wish it was as easy as tilting my head and hitting myself while shouting “get out, get out, get out”. But it is still there haunting me…

It’s a fact that at some point in a person’s life they will suffer from an earworm. This will easily happen multiple times in a person’s life. I chuckled when I first heard this phrase identifying the condition. Digging a little further I was surprised that this is an actual term coming from German translation of Ohrwurm. It is a part of a song or music that repeats over and over in a person’s mind – that tune that gets stuck in your head and you can’t get it out. Some familiar ones might be: muppets theme, who let the dogs out, we will rock you, the lion sleeps tonite, theme to mission impossible or the theme to Rocky. Uh-oh…hopefully I didn’t start something.
So now I have a diagnosis but why does that music get stuck in my brain? Take your pick – a brain hiccup, a brain itch, a simple rerun of something in my environment that is repeated, a subconscious need that is being expressed (comfort, nervousness or motivation). Does it really matter why? Will knowing why help me get rid of it? Is there a way to get rid of it? Maybe I’ll have to just sit back, hum along and wait – not let it stress or drive me crazy. It’ll run its course.
Hmmm – maybe other things I’m stuck in, life’s crazyness, can be handled that way – sit back, hum along and wait (key being to LET GO AND LET GOD). Who knows…I could even pick the tune I hum while sitting back. One may even see a smile as the glance my way.
Psalm 130:5
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.

September 3, 2010


I’ve been noticing bits of color appearing in the trees. Slight but beautiful touches of color as if the Creator gently stroked his paintbrush here and there. Change is on its way. Summer to Fall. I love being in a geographical place that experiences the change of season. Anticipating the changes and rhythms of seasons is enjoying …soothing …natural. Each season brings things to enjoy and look forward to.

Entering the season of Fall we are brought to change visually through the beauty of color. Fall stimulates our sense of touch as we harvest or experience cooler temperatures. We hear the sound of geese as they fly past migrating for the winter and the chatter of squirrels as they gather for what is to come. There’s a certain smell Fall brings with leaves (in the Midwest there was always the smell of burning leaves) and fires beginning to burn as smoke rises in chimneys. What about the tastes of fall – squash, pumpkin pies and breads and….

There is a focus on harvest, gathering, reaping what was sown. With that come taking stock and a sense of abundance.

Yep season brings change. A daughter goes off to college reaping the harvest of all her diligent work. She’ll be gathering new friends. There’s a migration of young adults that settle in. Two young men (kid2 and kid3) stay but head out into the school fields to begin gathering learning also.

With this “season” of time in my life a friend queried of me about my heart’s experience. I’m changing ‘seasons’ going from mommy to mom; going from nurturer to guide; going from the provider/boss to mentor/friend. I am looking at the beginning of the harvest that comes from planting seeds of faith, respect, honor, compassion, empathy, hard work, consideration, love. We are reaping young adults who are firm in faith, responsible, gifted in their own way… We are taking stock and finding an abundance beyond measure. For our work was guided, nurtured and truly blessed by the Father.

Change may bring bittersweet and bring apprehension – but I do see and feel the joy of this season which multiplies as I see that joy felt by my children during their season of life.

What is your ‘season’ yielding?

There are sighs coming from this ‘farmer’ but the season is natural…soothing in a way…and full of enjoyment.

God is good. He knows we need seasons…He knows I need this season.

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven."

Ecclesiastes 3:1