Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Four inches of fruit. Oh, yeah.

You know how there are those Shoe People who have a special closet just for their heels and organize them by heel height, brand and color?

Well, I've never thought of myself as a shoe person. But then I opened my closet and a chorus-line of pumps screamed, "Liar!" I guess leaving them in a heap instead of organizing them doesn't excuse me.

So, I admit it. I do like shoes. I just don't like paying a lot for them. My ideal shoes are adorable, well made, and reasonable. Recently I came upon a new brand that are (in a squealy voice) soooo cuuuuute! And reasonable, too. (Shout out Pin Up Couture!)
Jellybean likes them too! Though he prefers to sit beside
them. Buckley wants to taste them, which is why he's been
chased out of the photo op.

Well, a pair just came in and even trying them on with cargo pants in the living room I am instantly four inches taller and feel two points more attractive. Flats are great, and more comfortable, sure. But they don't make you runway strut to check the empty fridge to see if anything has materialized. Heels literally lifts your spirits.

I do believe the best things in life require effort and persistence. But you can only persist on so many fronts at the same time. Sometimes, you need a new perspective on your efforts, and four-inch heels can provide just that.

It's nice to have things in life that make you feel good about yourself. Things that are easy wins.  For me that is lipstick and shoes. And so, today, I'm thankful for my new shoes with cherries on them. For the good people of Pin Up Couture who thought, "Cherries and bows. Yes." And for the fact that we ladies get to wear heels.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Hearing Crickets

I am late to start reading the Christmas story this season, but better late than never. What awes me, what lingers in my mind like that last hint of chocolate and swirls in a pattern too complex to grasp, is the faith. My thoughts snag on Zechariah and Mary. Zach caught my focus last year and my respect for him grows. And Mary, well the fact that there has ever been a 14 year-old girl that was ready to hang up her cell and put away the nail polish to become mother to God... truly miraculous.But for today I will talk about Zach.

Not only had Zach's own most fervent lifelong prayer--a God-honoring one, even, for a son--gone unanswered, but that was par for the course for the last five hundred years. Five hundred years. That's more than twice the length of time that the U.S. has been a nation. God had not acted for his people. His chosen nation lived under a Roman thumb eager to smush them. No miracles. No explanations.
No. Word.

And yet even when the only thing he heard were crickets, or their Middle Eastern relatives,
still Zach served. Throughout his life. Without expecting--though I believe, deep in his heart, hoping--to see something, anything, that would display God's nearness. Or at least his awareness. He left his wife at home and donned his robe every time it was his turn to man the temple. And he prayed and offered sacrifices and blessings. Faithfully.
Still. Nothing.

Then one day, his lot gets cast to go into the Holy of Holies and sprinkle the altar. A big deal. Exciting. Maybe nerve-wracking. I mean, there were bells on the robe and a rope around his ankle, so if he did something wrong and bit the dust right then and there, they could drag him out without further offending the Lord. Or maybe not so nerve wracking. I mean, would God break generations of stillness to snuff out one old man? Apparently Zack thought it was possible. He revered this God who did not provide good parking spots, or green lights, or last-second victories for the home team. Who hadn't given him a son. He was faithful. Righteous. 
In the midst of the nothing.

Well, when he went in, the angel appeared and all that silence shattered in an instant into thousands of tiny, irreparable pieces. An angel of the Lord says, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John." Zack blinks. Opens his mouth. Closes it again. Scratches behind his right ear. I probably would have said, "what?" But not Zack. He's a step ahead.  "How?"

I think it's a testament to Zack's faith that the angel gets a little testy at this point. I mean, we're talking not just one entire life of zilch, but all the grands he can remember had zilch too. Except for weird Aunt Bertha who would always predict God's will and then change her forecast when it didn't come true.

For most of us, certainly for me, the angel would have had to scrape me off the ground and slap my cheeks a few times, let me pinch myself to ensure I wasn't dreaming, and then repeat the whole thing half a dozen times while I tried not to squint skeptically.

But Zack? His faith is so staid, so thick and solid that the angel really expects him to take all this in without question.
Even after all the nothing.

One seemingly fair question, and the angel makes Zach mute until his son is born and they name him John.

Only I think it was an act of grace, not temper, that silenced Zach. When you've lived in silence that long, there is nothing scarier than hope. Before he even got to the miracle-baby part...God had heard his prayers? God had listened? All that stillness wasn't a lack of attentiveness. It was just...stillness. Broken now, with an old guy. Not the wittiest priest, or strongest, or even the best teacher. For real?

Why him? Why now, when he and Elizabeth were so old? Running after a toddler? At his age, with knees that ached when it rained? And Elizabeth, as much as she would love a son...well, he'd heard the hollers and screams from other homes when a birth came. Could she make it through it? But then the angel had said they would have a son. Still, it was all too crazy.

It was the last time he'd eat Taco Bell before going on shift. That had to be it. Because if it was true...it would be the very best thing Zack could imagine. Just the thought lifted his heart off the ground, made it soar. That God heard his prayers, and promised to answer them. I mean, hoping for a special moment in the Holy of Holies was one thing, but this? To believe would lean him way further out over nothing but faith than he'd ever dared before.

And therein lay the problem. What if he was wrong? If he was being a foolish old man and it didn't happen, well, he really wasn't sure if he'd survive. No, that wasn't it. He was certain he wouldn't survive. The fall would crush his heart.
Yes, hope is so very dangerous.

But the angel left him mute. An inescapable sign that something had happened. A constant reminder. Whenever he wanted to welcome a parishioner, when he wanted to tell Elizabeth he was home, when he gave in and decided to order Taco Bell again, he would be reminded that God had broken his silence.
It was something.

He couldn't ask others to pray that God would fulfill his will, he couldn't share doubts and cynicism with Elizabeth. It was a bit ironic, certainly, that when God decided to speak, he also decided Zach shouldn't.
But then maybe not so ironic. Maybe that would be a gift we could all benefit from.

I get edgy when I don't hear God, don't feel him, don't sense his movement. I start to wonder what might be him, if he even sees me anymore. If in all the bustle of all the lives on the planet, I'm just not worth the time and energy it would take to relate.  And it hasn't been centuries since he's moved perceptibly. It hasn't even been my whole life. And even when I feel lost and can't find him, he moves in those around me. Even when I don't feel it, I see it.

I'm so thankful for these supports to my fragile faith. Thankful that God is faithful even when I am not, that his love extends to the Heavens. That two-thousand years ago he broke his stillness and sent his Son to this earth late Christmas night to answer prayers none of us knew to pray in the first place.

My Dearest, when I lose you I miss you desperately. I'm afraid so often to lean hard into you. I'm not even sure what that, distilled, means. Thank you for the pillars that do. For the Zachs I can lean on. Thank you most that you are love. That as far fetched as it sometimes seems, you always see me and love me more than I can take in. Help me get that. In the meantime, I will try to remember who you are and how narrow my perspective really is. To trust your love even when I can't see it.  All my love.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

I bless the rains down in Aaaafricaaa


That ridge in the background is my knuckle.
There are some wonderful things about the changing of the seasons. Scarves, soup, Christmas carols, Christmas trees, and vegan green bean casserole to name a few.

However, as with anything there are some things that don't make the list. For some reason, when fall/winter hits, skin gets...dry doesn't cover it. Have you ever seen one of those nature shows, where the camera pans across a desert, so completely dry that the earth has cracked until it looks like a really boring, really difficult puzzle? Think that, minus cacti.

The same thing happens when I fly, and as I've flown to and from cold places this week, I've been considering using the back of my hand on dishes instead of a Brillo pad.

Which is why I'm grateful for lotion. It smells like coconut--I know, seasonally incorrect--and it shimmers and most importantly, it falls like a warm rain on the Serengeti of my winter hands.  Now I won't have to worry about snagging shirts or causing rug burn during handshakes.

Me: 1
Winter: 0

Thank you, Jesus, for lotion and whoever first thought of scenting it. Thank you for fall and yes, even winter, and that along with sandpaper hands, it also brings fireplaces fires, green bean casserole, tights, and best of Christmas. All my love.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Miraculous Landing of the Flight 'O' Death: Told from my admittedly skewed perspective.

It was a bright and sunny day when I boarded my flight to Chicago, but it didn't take long to become a dark and stormy night. Yesterday, as winds and cyclones tore across the Midwest, I boarded a plane for Chicago.

The pilot cancelled beverage service, which was mildly annoying. I sat there thinking of the tomato juice I wouldn't have, and felt superior to all the thirsty passengers for having brought my own water. About twenty minutes in to our one and a half our flight, the jiggling started.  It wasn't too serious, though the guy next to me would disagree.
I couldn't find a picture of a plane in darks stormy skies, so
just imagine the light blue is an ominous gray-navy,
then pick up your laptop and shake it vigorously,
and you'll get the idea.

I continued reading, trying not to fall asleep lest I flop onto one of the guys on either side. (I fly Southwest so I'm always in the middle seat.) My seatmates weren't hard on the ol' peepers, so I wouldn't have minded making either of their shoulders a pillow, but I don't think they would have appreciated drool on their shirts.

We jostled along, the flight attendants trying to tell the thirsty people they had to stay seated, while the thirsty people--whose last beverage had worked its way through their system--weighed the pros and cons of ignoring them to risk a broken limb on the way to the bathroom, or obeying and wetting themselves. Most chose option A, for which, I admit, I'm grateful.

It wasn't until we neared Chicago that the jiggling turned to jostling. More and more people went rigid and clung to arm rests. I praised Jesus for Dramamine and read on. Then the jostling turned to bumping, and the bumping almost immediately turned to that roller coaster sensation when you fall several hundred feet and your insides refuse to go with you.

I love turbulence about as much as I love mosquito bites, or realizing first thing in the morning that I'm out of coffee. But I was doing alright.

Until.....(insert dramatic musical riff) I peered past my terrified seatmate and out the window.  There, maybe 100 yards below our steeply angled wing, a little house sat with its lights on. We were so close I could see a dog burrowing under the fence. Okay, it was dark, but if it were lighter and a dog had been burrowing under a fence, I would have seen him.

I had just finished thinking, "My, that house is close," when, with a Six Flags-worthy drop, we were suddenly much much closer to the house. I think we scraped a few tiles off the roof as we passed.

This must have scared my hand because it clung to the arm rest. And while I think reading is as good as any activity to be caught up in when you die, I couldn't concentrate. I decided to ignore the window, thought about those inflatable slides and how I'd have to remember to go feet first, and reminded myself that lots of pilots had landed already in this tornado-force gale. I prayed ours was skilled.

Well, we wobbled all the way to the runway, hit hard, but we stuck the landing. Hallelujah. The plane broke out in applause and we all gave each other that knowing look you get when you feel a near death experience has enlightened you.

The weather is still rough today, I just hope it gets better before I return. Unless you're a burglar reading this. Then I'm home already with my two pit bulls, Jellybean and Buckley.

Thank you, Jesus, for airplanes, water bottles, Dramamine--oh, thank you for Dramamine--and the lovely Christmas tree I found waiting at the hotel. Please be with all of those affected by this storm. All my love.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Insert some clever pun with the word "Fall" or "Leaves"

Yosemite.
Maui.
The moon.
Northwest Arkansas.

What do these places have in common? Very cool landscape.

What do they not have in common? Cool sounding names. Sorry, Northwest, Arkansas.

But it truly is beautiful countryside. I drove home today through the Ozarks. They're just on the cusp of turning all the rich colors of autumn. It was a nice drive, one I always enjoy. But in a few weeks it will be breathtaking and I hope I have a reason to head that way and see it.

Which made me think how much I like change. It's weird. It's one of those things that is intimidating. I don't go out of my to find it. I cringe a little when I see it coming. Cover my eyes. But once I get the nerve to peer out from between my fingers, it's....good. Interesting. Even if it's not the change to vibrance that fall brings, having things be different makes those fall colors seem so gorgeous.

So, I'm going to have to remind myself of this at some point when I get freaked out because something is about to get different, but I really am grateful that the only thing that's consistent in life is change.

Thank you, God, for variety and change, for fall and colors and trees designed to vary throughout the year.  All my love.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Time is on my side. For once.

I believe in miracles, but some are a little wackier than others. Like mud making a blind guy see, and walking on water, and fishes that never run out.

Some are a little easier. For instance, there's a story in the Old Testament about how God made the sun stand still so Joshua and his peeps could route the enemy. I have no trouble believing this.  In fact, I'm pretty sure I experience it on a regular basis.

Every afternoon at work between one thirty and four thirty, I write reports, review reports, analyze reports. And instead of passing, time just oozes. Like molasses flowing uphill on a cold day. I'm pretty sure I could defeat a few armies in the afternoons and still have time to paint my toes. If I didn't have to write reports, that is.

Well, today was the exception!  I came back from lunch at 1:15ish and started grinding out those reports.  When I glanced up, expecting it to be, oh, 1:16, it was already after 2:00!  And then a mere blink later it was going on 3:00! And in less time than it would take to take down an Amorite, the work day was over.

Hallelujah! It's a miracle indeed.

Thank you, God, for a fast workday. Thank you for time. Please keep making it go fast during work and slow all the other times. All my love.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Charge!

There are a lot of messages I like. For instance the email from Starbucks that I've earned a free drink, or the note in my mailbox saying I have a package at the apartment offices.

There are also messages I don't like. One of my least favorites is this.

photo from mons-diary.blogspot.com 
Okay, so it's not exactly like that, but you know what I mean.  In my habit of jumping on bandwagons just as a new bandwagon takes off, I bought an iPhone 5 mere weeks before the 5s was released.

I like it. I really do. And I have the cutest blue polka dot cover.

But the battery lives as long as your average fruit fly. And if I play Pandora, its cut even shorter. Like a fruit fly with a bad nicotine habit.

Which makes me grateful for car chargers. While I would like to be the kind of organized that always has a pen in her purse, a plan for dinner, and fully charged electronics, I'm just not. Even with a car charger my phone does die on occasion and its misery. I mean, I just know that the pivotal call/text/email/facebook message/tweet/retweet that never comes while my phone is on will soar through cyberspace and hit the brick wall of my dead phone leading to nebulous but serious consequences.*

Okay, yes, I do have control issues.When I think back to the pre-cell days when you stood tethered by a cord to the kitchen phone counting twenty-two rings before you decided the other party must not have an answering machine, it's all hazy like a bad, low-tech dream. Less stressful, but still.(Shiver.)

While walking around with a dead phone is probably a good exercise in letting go, its a lesson I don't have to learn, thanks to my lovely blue car charger. And for that I'm grateful.

Thank you, God, for whoever put the cigarette lighter in cars that now serves to charge things. Thank you for portable technology, for my phone and its cute blue cover, for all the crazy apps it lets me use. Thank you for friends who send me texts, tweets, emails, and messages elevating my phone from an electronic paperweight to a means of connecting. All my love.

*Note: I have no qualms whatsoever when my work blackberry dies. In fact, I gloat a bit over its still form.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Fortune

Long ago, an industrious restaurateur realized he had a bunch of extra cardboard coasters he didn't know what to do with. After a bit of thinking and fiddling, he discovered that if he folded them into a U-shaped pocket and slipped a piece of paper inside, he could give them out as cookies to grateful patrons.

Okay, I made that up. But I am not convinced anyone actually likes fortune cookies. They are to cookies what charcoal is to gems. But, that little scrap of paper inside makes us crack it open anyway to see what our fortune is, and then eat the halves because it would be wasteful not to.

Tonight at P.F. Chang's I got this:

Not really a fortune, P.F., but trueish. I would amend that by saying summits. As in, plural. And then I agree, even if it's still not a fortune.

Thankfully, we don't climb alone. This past weekend at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference I got to spend time with my peeps.  I left my day job behind, including my blackberry (suck it, blackberry!) packed up my favorite outfits, and jetted off to Indianapolis.

It was fabulous to catch up with old friends and meet so many new amazing writers.

But even in Indianapolis,  I was approaching the summit. I couldn't leave the hard bits of life behind, which I thought would be a liability. But, even though I didn't know it at the time, this was the very reason I went this year. Because I talked with two dear friends who helped share the load. Who can look over the other side of the mountain, can see the view that I can't yet envision, and help me continue to climb. 

Rachel Hauck and Reba Hoffman are two people I want to be when I grow up. Both had their own biz goin' on at the conference, but each took time to stop, talk with me, pray with me, and exhort me. To help me free my feet from the cold packed snow and start to climb again. These are the encounters that change you. Give a fresh view of the world that cannot be taken away. After all, that's really all that changes at the summit. You're still on top of a mound of rock, but the perspective is wide and long and beautiful.

Yes, I pitched and learned and pitched and learned. And that was fabulous. But the most lovely of blessings is seeing that God had prepared these two and gave them to me. Just the gifts I needed right when I needed them.

Thank you, God, for your people who you have been generous with. For painful/wonderful writing. For hope.  All my love.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dream Day

It's Dream Day.  Fifty years ago, 250,000 people flooded the National Mall  for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a speech, then went off book and shared his dream for the future of our country in what became the anthem for Civil Rights.

Looking back, it's amazing to see the impact one man had. But it cost him. What I love is that he knew the cost and he stepped up anyway.

These days in the Young Adult genre is dominated by high stakes stories in which a teenager has to risk everything to save the world. These stories resonate with our common desire to have a cause bigger than ourselves to fight for, and to put our whole selves behind it. They make me wish to be a warrior with a clear mission. And yeah, if a hot guy is battling alongside me, I think I could find a way to deal with that.

But I wonder, would I really fight?

I'd like to think so, but I don't know.

It takes a special something, a special courage and commitment and focus to fight like that.  And I'm grateful for all those bright souls throughout history whose light has shown a better path for the rest of mankind.

Thank you, God, For Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for how far we have come and for how far we will go. Give me the courage of conviction to fight injustice and evil everywhere I see it, without letting the weight of personal cost stop me.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Big floppy awesomeness

So, it's been a long summer full of lots of driving and work that leach the time and creativity out of life. It has been all I can do to keep up with my novel writing, thus this poor little blog had to wait for life to slow just a smidge before it got any more attention.

That day has come!

I was trying to think of something profound to write about, but really, I'm not particularly grateful about profundity at present. No, as usual, its a simple thing that I appreciate.

This weekend three girlfriends who live in two other states and I will meet in Destin, Florida. We've got four days in a beach house with nothing to do but sunbathe, read, sleep, eat, sip wine, watch movies.   For me, mostly it'll be laying on the beach with my kindle, and flipping over every 30 minutes. And yeah, okay, some wine.

Beach reading is one of my favorite pastimes, which used to involve a lot of squinting. But then, last year, I bought a big floppy sun hat.

No only does it mean I don't have to squint or worry about burning my nose, it also makes me feel like one of those girls in a perfume ad. All glamorous and pristine.

So, today I'm thankful for floppy hats. And beaches. And long weekends, and a kindle, and vino. But mostly floppy hats.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Great Wasp Quandary

In life we all face quandaries.  Some are little, like what color toe polish to wear (seafoam green), whether or not to run the yellow (always--I mean only if safe to do so...), and white or red wine (yes).

Then there are big ones that, if they have a solution, are outside my scope. Like, what needs to be done to rescue Italy's economy, why would anyone make filled cupcakes, and how do I get rid of the red wasp occupying my closet?

Well Italy and cupcakes remain out of reach, but I spent most of yesterday puzzling over the wasp situation. I mean, lucky for me I happen to have a significant heap of clean clothes still sitting on the dryer, but most of my shoes were in hostile territory.  So, my options were either surrender the closet for the wasp's lifetime and accept that I'd have to make questionable footwear choices, or try to dart behind enemy lines and rescue some heels.

I hadn't decided by the time I got home, and found that there was in fact a third option. When said wasp finds the crack under the door and sneaks out, sic twenty-four pounds of cat on him.  It wasn't my first choice, I worried that Buckley or Jellybean would get stung. But I wasn't there to stop them, so they faced down the foe and won!

Either that, or the wasp was aged when he invaded and they just happened upon him as he tried to make his way to the sliding door to look at the trees as he took his last  waspy breath.  Either way, I saw the wasp staggering toward the window, dogged by two cats. He made it to the groove for the sliding door and hunkered down, and since Buckley will eat anything, I put a box over the wasp. He got to die in peace and Buckley didn't have to deal with the effects of eating a stinger.

It's not every day that solutions like this present themselves, and I'm always grateful when they do. Thank you, God, for Buckley and JB, toe polish, wine, and a wasp-free apartment.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Art of Racing in the Rain

Yesterday I finally read The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein. It was a lovely, heart-wrenching read, and it made me grateful for prose and Kleenex and pets.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Independence Day

To celebrate Independence Day, I watched...Independence Day: the rousing 1996 classic in which Will Smith and Bill Pullman pull our nation, nay our world, up by it's alien-zapped bootstraps and fight back, saving all mankind.  I admit, it made me proud to be an American. And human.

Not only did the movie engage my sense of patriotism, adventure, and butt-kickingness, but it reminded me of several timeless truths.

- When alien spaceships show up, it is bad to be in big cities.

- If your team is engaging the enemy, make sure at least one of you is an attractive, don't-take-no-for-an-answer rule breaker who will stop at nothing to save the planet. They're probably the hero, which means they can't die, so it's a good idea to stay near them.


- If your team is engaging the enemy, don't be the funny, team-building one in the group or you're toast.

- Always look to the middle distance when saying something profound.

- If the world seems to be coming to an end, be prepared to learn a moral lesson.

- Aliens have the same basic physical structure as people and are smarter than us. And ugly.

- The best way to unite a group is to provide a common enemy, so all the peoples of the world will agree to put aside two millenia of differences and bomb the snot out of the space invaders. Go world!

- If you have a deep dark secret, or a great fear, you will have to face it. But when you finally do, it means the invasion is almost over and victory is just around the corner.

- It doesn't take superior intelligence or superior technology to win. It takes the triumph of the human spirit. Gets 'em every time.


I'm truly grateful the great men who, avoiding the selfish desire to make themselves kings, gave birth to this great nation (she said, looking off into the middle distance.) And that I live in a small town.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Accidentally Fashionable

Trendy is not my middle name. At best I could probably claim Occasionally Fashionable.  I love sale racks way too much to ever be on the cutting edge of trends, and as for hair styles? Well, my hair grows  almost as fast as an oak tree. So it is that six years after my I-should-dye-my-hair phase, I still have have resuscitated hair brushing my shoulders. I am forever grateful to Angie, who didn't cry when I showed up with had gone from scarlet to wine and asked her to make me a blonde again. It took four hours and a significant financial investment, but she put me back to rights. I learned my lesson.

Since then, I haven't done any coloring at all, mostly because I was afraid my tortured hair would finally give up on me and fall off. Which means, I have this great line where Angie's highlighted masterpiece ends and my own mid-brown begins. 

The red days.
Enter this year's most genius trend. A lady complimented me on my hair and I thought she was being either subtly sarcastic or really sympathetic until I discovered (drumroll) Ombre!  It turns out people are actually dying their hair to get that nearly-grown-out look that I've achieved through six years of waiting! Instead of walking around feeling like a doof, I'm actually--dare I say it?--trendy!

The purple/black days. What can I
say?
So, today I'm grateful that the timing worked out. That what was a consequence has become a badge of style. I'm grateful for all kind people at GMA and my friends who keep me apprised of what latest style is, and definitely for the chemical wizards who perfected hair color and highlights. And still I'm grateful for Angie, so I'm not swinging around town with mid-brown hair fading to dark purple. Though now that i mention it, that could be fun too....

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Power of One

Yesterday I sat down to listen to a sermon and the intro was a little skit about how lame Christian singles are. The great irony is that the message was that the church should not be exclusive, it should be the most inclusive place in all of culture...

I guess they didn't see what they were doing. Singles are the last minority in the church that it is okay to ridicule. No one actually says it, but I get this pervading sense of, "If you were as good a Christian as I am, you'd be married. You're just not ready yet." Or, "There must be something really wrong with you. After all, God told us to go forth and multiply."

Well, while there may in fact be something really wrong with me, I don't think that's keeping a ring from my church-going finger. After all, some incredible people in history--and even in the history of Christianity--were single. Here are just a few.


C.S. Lewis - He did marry in his late fifties, but wrote almost all his great works as a single man.

Susan B. Anthony - We seriously owe this chick for her part in winning women's rights.

Sir Isaac Newton - Discovered three laws of physics that are the basis for classical mechanics. You're welcome, everyone-who-uses-anything-mechanical-ever.

Queen Elizabeth - Everyone's fave royal until this new batch cropped up.

Jane Austen - Mr. Darcy. Need I say more?

Bonhoeffer - Theologian and part of a plot to take out Hitler. Pretty intense dude whose impact is still felt in the church today.

Coco Chanel - An orphan, actually, who started the world's most pervasive fashion company. Rock on.

Mother Teresa - I have a feeling she's going to have a really good seat at the table when we get to Heaven. But as humble as she was she'll probably keep getting up to fill water glasses for other people.

Every Pope.

Oprah - One of the most influential women in America.

St. Paul - He didn't even seem a big fan of the institution. Too busy gallivanting around starting churches

Dr. Condoleezza Rice - the first female African American secretary of state, now a professor at Stanford.

And, of course....

Jesus! - Yes, the one we worship as the son of God was unmarried!

So, today I'm thankful for all those wicked-cool single people who changed the world. It would be a less glorious place without them.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

When did Summer decide to show up?

On day three of the year's first heatwave, I'm grateful for A/C, white wine, and blueberries.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Year's Worth of Thanks

It is my birthday! I'm *CENSORED* years old today, and Google had a little party-looking design on my screen this morning, and Starbucks gave me a free coffee. But more even than free coffee, I have enjoyed the thoughtful birthday wishes on facebook, texts, phone calls, gifts, vegan cake, and donations to IJM on my behalf.

So thank you for the wishes and thoughts!

Other things that happened this year that I'm thankful for:

getting to know Jesus better

Maui and the Whales!
so many good books
Cambodia (and the cool new friends I made)
Guatemala (and the cool new friends I made)
getting to be a part of what God is doing in Cambodia and Guatemala
The Hunger Games movie
vegan cheese dip
a new apartment
another manuscript completed
my pappasan chair
Starbucks mugs
four new red lipsticks
Deep Thinkers Writing Retreat (and the cool new friends I made)
Christmas
Dante the Charcoal Impala
TWO half marathons, only one of which I walked.
The Sixth Annual Buckner Turkey Trot Racing Team
a Twitter account
seeing the scripts I wrote performed by digital animals
John Mayer's new album
Lime-a-Ritas
Lief the Apple

And so much more. It was a good year, that's for sure and I have high hopes for the next. Here's looking at you, *CENSORED*!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Holy Fork

I used to like the little salad forks with short prongs. Now I'm more a fan of the full size dinner forks. There is a chance this is due to the amount of pizza I consume and that the longer tines don't smash the crust or displace the toppings.  It could be that my mouth is bigger. I prefer to associate it with maturity--how, I'm not sure, but I prefer this explanation nonetheless.

I was reading a book yesterday where it said, roughly, that surrendering to God means accepting that your sole purpose is to be used by him in lives around you. It sounds spiritual. And it makes me shudder.

If this is true, I'm essentially a sanctified fork. It's really hard to feel fulfilled by that. And I don't think that's what God wants. That's certainly not what Jesus preached. He was a lot more about being. Being a branch, being a son/daughter, being in Him and Him in us.

There is no human relationship we would applaud where the sole purpose of one party was to be used by the other. And we're piddly old humans. Not even half as wonderful as the Divine. So if we expect more of each other than a list of to-dos, why would we expect less of the God who so loved us that He gave His son? One doesn't make a move like that to beef up his silverware drawer, but for relationship and for all-consuming passionate love. He did it so he could know us and we could know him.

I think fully surrendering means giving God who we are. Not to be used, to be enjoyed, reveled in. And to talk and spend time and bask in him too. The doing will happen, sure, but its more a "doing with" than "being used by."  Jesus spent a lot of time kicking it in the hills with no one but his father. And yes, he did a gazillion miracles with God, but they were in it together, and some days he didn't do any at all. I bet he didn't feel bad those days, I bet he just relished his Father and let his Father relish Him.

So, while saying I'm not going to claim I've mastered this "fully surrendered" thing, I'm excited to get there. Not to reach the silverware drawer, but to sit around with a cup of joe and spend time with the God who wants me. Just me. And to do works not to be used by Him, but to experience life and the joy his service brings alongside Him.

Thank you, Lord, that you are a God of relationship. You're not a taskmaster. I repent of the days when I try so hard to earn the affection you lavish on me just because. Let me experience more of you, more with you. Please don't let me miss out on this relationship because I'm doing things, or ever. All your love. And all mine.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Texts that Saved The Day

I don't know if you've read that book Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day or not, but I hope so. It's a children's lit classic. And it was roughly what my day looked like yesterday.

I won't go into the why though much of it had to do with work, and at more than one point throughout, my day slid past terrible and into horrible range. Part of me wanted to give up and pout and was even a little jealous of kids young enough to pull of a tantrum without facing institutionalization. 

Disclaimer: While I do have to
carry a blackberry for work, I by
no means support their use. This
was the only texting picture I
could find that was free. So there
you go.
But, alas, I'm not that young anymore, and the Holy Spirit always elbows me in the conscience when I'm about to write off anything He's given me, including days. But I couldn't fix the things that were wrong, they were and are outside my control.  It was looking to be a hard, bleak Thursday.

BUT. 

Yesterday morning I got a text that my sister was praying for me. And then a few hours later texted with another friend who was praying for me. And then in the afternoon yet another friend texted out of the blue that she was praying for me!

Just knowing people are praying is amazing. I used to think it was more benevolent to pray without telling people so they wouldn't think (or maybe God wouldn't think...I don't remember exactly) that I was only doing it so I could sound virtuous.  But now I tell people. Because it is a huge comfort to know that someone else has chosen to spend time talking to God about you, that they care and he cares and you're in good hands.  And it's cool to know that God, knowing when you're trying your best but you've had it up to here and need some help praying through a thing, taps some of his other sons and daughters on the shoulder and asks them to help you out.

While my day didn't exactly get better until about 6:30 when I had a glass of wine and took part in a writing video chat, I kept thinking, what would have happened if people hadn't been praying? I may well be in a straight jacket right now.

Thank you, Lord, that it's a new day--and not just any new day, a Friday!--and that you are with me even in the bad ones. Thank you that prayer matters and for my wonderful friends who lifted me up. All my love.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Humbled

On this cold day in Dallas, where I will do much sitting in a conference room before driving home, I'm tempted to resent the day, to feel I must forebear with whatever grace I can muster.

And in the middle of these thoughts, God reminded me that this is the day that He has made. I should rejoice and be glad in it.  Which will require me getting humble and being grateful for the day I get to live at all, for the job I have that brought me here, that I remembered to bring a jacket, that tonight I get to sleep in my own bed, that I can go to Starbucks before we start today, that the Almighty cares enough about me to call me to gratitude, and that Jesus died to save me.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Voice

I love plots. Love them. So I'm not a huge reality TV fan. If there is a plot it feels contrived.

But, yesterday I turned on the TV and The Voice was on. I do like the idea of this show, and hearing the judges banter is fun. I was muting it during commercials/background stories/coming-up-next-promos to work on my own plot, and unmuting when the contestant finally stepped on stage. Mostly it was interesting.

But a few times, well, it was that moment when your fingers stop moving, you stop speaking, thinking, blinking, and just listen as the sound builds shivers over your skin and down your spine and every now and then pricks the backs of your eyes.

I love that. That transient moment, unretainable and uniting, when something transcendent reaches past the barriers and noise and life and draws all those present into something deeper, true.

Me, I can carry a tune okay, and sound really good while drive-singing with the music super loud. But I will never make angels weep or flowers bloom or stars drop from the sky just to be nearer.  I think the best I can safely claim is that I won't kill rats or break glass.  But I'm okay with that, because I truly think I value those stellar voices so much more since they're out of my grasp. And I'm thankful that I got to hear some.

Thank you again and again for music and really good singers and for The Voice and the brave people who walk out onto stage and let it go. Thank you for the unifying dimension of music, for the variety. All my love.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Renegade Pants

This week saw me, the boys, and Dante the Charcoal Impala in OKC for Easter and work. Both went fine, but it felt good last night at 9:30 when we rolled to a stop at home. I did lug the boys and then my suitcase up two flights of stairs, but I did almost nothing else as far as unpacking/preparing for today.

Which was fine until this morning, as I scrambled to get ready on time and realized I didn't know what I had that was work appropriate and clean. As I twisted my hair into a knot I mentally shuffled through my options of cleanish clothes to assemble the most reasonable option. Unfortunately they were more ish than clean, it looked like my only choices were a dress or jeans. The heavy duty shoes I planned to wear to this manufacturing facility wouldn't exactly work with my dress, and jeans would be far across the casual line for work.

I made one last, semi-hopeful search through my closet for something to jump out and say, "wear me!" No clothing talked to me, but as I shoved aside unfit clothing, I found a quiet pair of black pants, clean and wrinkle free, ready to save the day.  They'd been hiding out for the last, oh, I don't know how long, and I'd forgotten I had them. And they're a pair I like, too! Needless to say I won't lose them again. Well, at least not any time soon. I threw a sweater on and wasn't even late as I left.

Today I'm thankful for renegade clean pants, and for casual Fridays so I can put off doing laundry at least one more day.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Gold

I like to say I listened to Mumford & Sons before Everyone listened to Mumford & Sons. But, I'm pretty sure everyone likes to say that. Whatever the case may be, this British folk rock band is equal parts weird and wonderful, and their music, when you can decipher the words through a thick accent, has a spirituality that is blatant and poetic. (They do drop the occasional F bomb in some of their tunes which I'm okay with, but just be aware if you're about to go to iTunes and download their art.)  

A friend told me recently to listen to I Will Wait. Not only is it a great song to play loudly while driving with the windows down, but I looked up the lyrics and loved it all over again. They are simple and profound. Here are the lines that most captivate me.

Raise my hands,
Paint my spirit gold
Bow my head
Keep my heart slow.

The image of a spirit painted gold. That is what happens, what God does. What I want him to do. I tromp through the world splashing myself with mud and grime, sometimes because I stomp, sometimes because the road is just that grimy. Every now and then I trail my fingers through the muck to see what it is like and a few times I've been shoved down. I try and fix it myself and just end up smeary and panicked.

But in the presence of an Almighty who specializes in drawing beauty in unlikely places, my spirit is painted gold by the light of Him alone. Nothing is needed of me but to be there, be fallen upon. And the joy, the rest, it calls me to worship.

Thank you, Jesus, that you are a painter, a recycler, a rescuer. Thank you for music and color and hope. Thank you for British folk rock bands and for inspiring them to put in such simple words the most awesome experience available on this earth. All my love.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Simon's Best/Worst Day

This morning, since it's good Friday, I read Luke 22:1-24:12. The story of my Beloved Jesus dying. I couldn't stop until he rose again. This day breaks my heart. It reminds me of how far beyond my comprehension the love of God is.

I was struck by the experience of Peter as I read. Pete is kind of a hot head. He was probably in more than one bar fight back in his Simon-The-Fisherman days. The kind of person who takes himself seriously--too seriously--but whose convictions are whatever serve him best at the moment. Who hides deep ravines of insecurity behind towers of ego.

He wore a gold chain around his neck, he always knew the best dirty joke. He was his mama's pride and joy but everyone else...well, it wasn't that he didn't know what they thought, that they measured him and saw someone who wasn't enough, it was that he couldn't fix it.

Then one morning, after fishing all night and coming up with nothing--knowing it would be another week of dodging the credit card guy and ignoring the pointed comments made by wife and mother--he pulls the boat to shore to begin cleaning the nets. But today there's a crowd of people listening to some dude talk.

 At first Simon and the guys are talking back and forth, ignoring the crowd. After all, the crowd was in their space, not the other way around. But in a lull, the voice carries over on the wind. It's not unusually deep, not really unusual in any way, except....except that it's passionate. Whoever is teaching really cares about people getting it. He's telling stories even. Not quoting scripture, just talking. Teaching. Without meaning to, Simon and the guys slow as they listen. The crowd continues to grow, people walking and running to hear this Teacher.  So many people crowd that it gets hard to even see him. If they weren't standing on the boat, they wouldn't be able to see a thing.

And then he looks over. For the first time, someone looks at Simon. Not at a fisherman. Not at a blowhard. At Simon. He sees all the stuff that has always been there, but never ever been known. When he climbs in the boat to teach, Simon and the guys quit even pretending to work. He's riveting. And when he's done, he tells them to cast their nets over the side.

The guys all look to Simon for some wisecrack. Something about the fact that they'd thought of that already. But it just doesn't feel right. Simon does make the point, but not to be funny, and tells the crew to do it.

Eyebrows raised, his guys lower their nets. For a second nothing happens. Then, with a creak and a groan, the lines pull taught. The nets are full. But not just full, so full that the lines are actually pulling the boat over. If their friends hadn't been close enough to help they'd have gone down. And when the drama of the catch is over, Simon meets those eyes again. Knowing but not condemning. Interested and not critical.

"Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" Like so many other things, it just blurts out. But this one is true. So true it burns his eyes.

The teacher doesn't leave. No, he invites Simon along on a journey that would change the course of, well, everything. Even his name.

Three years later the swearing is less frequent, the blurting? Not so much. But Peter has a purpose beyond Friday night. He's on the team of the next King and he's all in. He has been known, called out, called down, lifted up, and loved for three years in a way he didn't know was possible.

And tonight he's losing it all. Jesus has been taken. Not only that, but before he left he said Peter would deny him three times. And then Peter went and fell asleep while he should have been praying. The night is not going well. He's terrified, but unwilling to let his Master out of sight. Jesus is his point of reference. The hinge on which all existence, all hope, all import rests.

Peter will be here for him. Maybe not in the middle of the crowd, but here, by the fire, close enough to the light that Jesus will see him and know he's not alone.  And he'll pray, to make up for the prayer he should have offered earlier when he fell asleep.

 A girl keeps staring at him. Peter ignores her, but she won't go away. Then she points. "This man was with him."

Peter turns and eyeballs the guy next to him, but it doesn't work. The whole circle stares at him. She's nodding. The eyes across the fire narrow, the circle shifts restlessly.

"Woman, I don't know him." He tries to be casual, stares at the fire.

People are coming and going and snippets of what is going on is told. Peter sits quietly keeping tabs on Jesus. A guy who saw the whole arrest go down joins the group, telling the story in high drama, and eyes him. "You also are one of them."

The crowd turns. There are more people now. Someone shoves him from behind. Murmuring begins.

"Man, I am not." Peter glares, then shoves back the goon behind and stares down a few suspicious people.

The story teller shrugs and goes on with his tale.

What is taking so long? Jesus hasn't done anything wrong, surely they've figure it out by now. But another hour passes and Peter settles in. Makes conversation with a few guys. One of them listens for a while, then sneers. "Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean."

"Man, I don't know what you're talking about!" It blurts out. Loud. And it's a lie. So ugly it burns his throat.

He turns to see where Jesus is and meets those eyes.

In that moment, their first meeting flashes back. Those are the eyes that see him, perceive who he is. Not who others see, not even who Peter himself claims to be, but who he really, truly
is.

And even now, even after the worst night of his life, they look into him with love.

Peter couldn't take it. He fled, weeping. From guilt, yes I'm sure. From regret and sorrow over his own sinfulness, his own selfishness.

But also I think because in that moment he realized just how vast was the love of Jesus. In his ugliest moment, in the midst of denial, Jesus loved him. It is a love so big it can't help but break the heart it fills. It gushed through him, tore down the tower of ego as Peter saw his truest self. And then it flooded the chasm of insecurity. When he saw that love, all other things on earth ceased to matter.

This day breaks my heart. It reminds me of how far beyond my comprehension the love of God is. Thank you, Jesus for dying for me. That sentence is so inadequate. All words are.  You bought my soul, you have won my heart, and I give you my life and all my love.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Hey, Soul Sista

March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, or so the saying goes. This year in little rock March came in like a lion and is going out like a meaner lion.

But, just for this afternoon, it's warm enough to roll down Dante the Charcoal Impala's windows, crank up the pop, and sing.

Thank you, Lord, for sunshine, drumbeats, and Dante.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Two Right Shoes

In the interest of full disclosure, I took this pictures several
years ago in Africa. But trying to snap iphone shots while
behind the wheel is really dangerous, and frowned on by
my company. But, it looked like this.

Every day when I come home from work, I find Jellybean peering from under the kitchen table, and Buckley? He presses his nose to the gap where the door hinges and sniffs the great outdoors. Always at the back edge of the door instead of the open part. I'm torn between wanting to show him the main opening where he can sniff all he wants, and being glad I don't have to worry about him getting out. But I do open the patio door when its nice and let him sit by the screen, watching for bugs he can tray to catch through the mesh.

It makes me think about expectations, though. For Buckley, the front door opens one inch wide, and if you lean close, you can sniff the outside air. His view is so small.


I was talking with someone yesterday about the strange phenomenon of blessings. For me, nature, and specifically the beach, is always special. And seeing the humpback whales was like the mother of all blessings. For this other person, it is seeing rays of sunlight streaming through the clouds in that way they show in movies, where the light cuts through the dim in precise, powerful bands.

You know how when something good happens, we almost expect something bad to follow? It feels like, I don't know, the balance of life will counteract the wins with equal amounts of losses.When something goes right, even in that joy, there's this tinge of dread that mars the moment as we wait for the left shoe to drop.

What an awful idea. And not Biblical. What if Jeremiah 29:11 said, "For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you half the time and to harm you the other half. Plans to give you some hope and a moderate future."

But it doesn't.  Praise Jesus, it doesn't.

"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. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the Lord.

I admit that, having had such a splendid time on vacation--did I mention I saw whales?--a sense of foreboding settled over me. As the pessimistic saying goes, the higher you are, the farther you have to fall.  But like I said, I was talking to someone who is wiser than I and saw through that wretched perspective.

God is a giver of good and perfect gifts. He is one hundred percent generous. He is not worried that we'll have too much joy, or get more than our fair share of happiness. He doesn't withhold goodness until it can be blended with a little bad. He isn't into balance at all. He freaking gave his Son to die for an undeserving world with no no big, scary but waiting. Just the biggest, best, richest, most mind-blowing gift ever given.

Do bad things still happen to good people? Yes. To Christians? Yes. But God is not an abusive parent backhanding his children with evil, so they will need him to bandage the wound. He is far to wonderful, glorious, to Him, to need any such manipulation in order to incur praise.

God doesn't drop left shoes. He drops two right ones. He is pure. He is good. He is unchanging. And when that bad comes, even then He is walking with us,  kissing wounds inflicted by life, and in the midst of that, giving good gifts.

My view is so small. Like Buckley, I tend to cover my eyes and peer through a narrow gap between doubt and fear at what God has offered. Unfortunately, I don't have the excuse of being a cat.

And to fear retribution for happiness? Well, isn't that a brilliant way to keep us from the freedom of resting in, trusting in, and rejoicing over not just the gifts, but the fact that the Giver offered them for no other purpose than to delight us.

As I drove home, I mulled over the conversation with God, tested what it would feel like to shunt dreadful forebodings, to expect good from He who promised it. And then I looked up. Rays of sunlight streamed through the clouds in that way they show in movies, the light cutting through the dim in precise, powerful bands.

You are generous, glorious, a giver of sunlight, whales, and fresh outdoor air. Your gifts are beyond my meager imagination, and I'm so grateful. Thank you mostly for Jesus, that my sweet Savior, strong and brilliant and brave, went to the cross knowing full well what was happening, and loving even more than he hurt. My heart, my life, my all have been won by you. All my love.

Friday, March 22, 2013

I Saw Whales!

One of the coolest things I've ever done happened last Sunday, when my cool little brother and I went whale watching. I didn't want my view of these massive mammals to be on a camera screen, so I just held it and pointed where I thought I was looking.

Sometimes it worked. Sometimes I got pictures of the sky or I lopped off half the whale. BUT, we saw soooo many that I still managed to get a good collection, which I'm proud to present to you now. These are humpback whales. We also saw false killer whales, which are like Shamu only all black, and although they didn't do anything very exciting, they are very rare and so this was apparently a big deal. I don't have any photos of those, just picture a black triangle protruding from the water and moving kind of fast.

On the left you see a whale head poking up. I am told this is very aggressive man-whale behavior. The equivalent of getting up in someone's grill, usually over a lady-whale.

This is the lady-whale that started it all and her baby. She is on the left. Her baby was a boy (the guides told us, I couldn't tell.)

This is her baby. While mama and the two man-whales who were fighting for her affection are roughly the size of a school bus, baby here is only the size of, oh a suburban, if it were skinnier and had fins.


This is the baby again, he was showing off.

This would be an aggressive male. They got SO close!

This is mama and baby together. Mothers with young whale-kids aren't usually in the mood, but she must have been one fine piece of tail, because the two dudes fought for a long time.

This is half of a tail going underwater. I didn't snap in time to get the whole thing.

When a lady-whale is feeling frisky, she will wave one side-fin above water. I don't know why this is sexy to whales. But then, I also don't know what it looks like from under water. 

Okay, I don't know if you can see the shadow, but one of the man-whales swam right next to our boat, and then dove straight down, which is apparently uncommon. His tale was enormous.

This is another shot of a man-whale. See how close they came?

And this is even closer!  Blammo! This man-whale might have bumped our boat. He came up right under the bow. All the scratches on his back are from the fierce underwater battle for the fair maiden. They will head-butt each other, and sometimes one will lay on the other to try and keep them from coming up for air. But, these fights aren't usually to the death. 

Again, I don't know if you can see it, but that white spot toward the bottom is a marking on a man-whale's tail.

Both man-whales came up for air at the same time. That fuzzy spot in the foreground is the remnants of his spray...spout?...well, the water that shoots up when they exhale.

This is not a shark, it's half a tail. Again, I wasn't quick enough to get the whole thing. But it was big.

I had prayed to see at least one whale breach, and instead saw baby breach like five times and a mama-whale in the distance breach twice. I was so psyched and told God so. I just love his creation!  And then two days later while on a ferry, four grown up, school-bus sized whales breached in a row. It was like the marine version of the Rockettes. Sadly I didn't get a picture, but I was reminded how lavish God is.  

Thank you for the tropics, for Maui, for a great vacation, for blue whales, and for so many stellar experiences with them. All my love!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Hana

Me and my cool "little" brother in paradise.
This is pre frigid swim.

In my experience and my head, Maui was just one giant beach punctuated with luaus. This is not true. Over the weekend my brother and some of his friends and I went camping in Hana. If you are not familiar, the road to Hana is a circular trek around the island. The way to Hana is all lush, verdant green and waterfalls.  Once you pass Hana you are in The Beyond. Isn't that cool? The Beyond.

We hiked a bamboo forest (yeah, didn't know Hawaii had bamboo.) It was mysterious and made me feel like saying profound Confucius things, like, "This is so neat!"

Then we climbed ladders, and rope-climbed over rocks and even had to swim across a frigid pool to get to the highest waterfall. Yes, Hawaii has frigid pools, I didn't know that either.

"The Cliffs of Insanity!!" (Meniacal laughter!)
Not really, but that's what it made me think of.
Look at that tiny person just to the right of the
fall for some perspective. You might find
yourself saying something profound like
"It's so big!"
In Hana, we hiked up to a 400 ft. waterfall and once again I found myself spouting eloquent poetry, like, "Wow," and, "It's so pretty!"

The Beyond was different. It was like driving through African plains, if they grew on the side of a hill that ran into the ocean....and lava fields, and then this brilliant green high country of some land where people drink beer and leave pots of gold at the end of rainbows.

All of this was stunning. It was the kind of pretty that makes you feel cleaner, better, important. If the God of All spent time knitting these vast waterways, these delicate flowers, these abundant trees, these ragged lava beds, and now I'm seeing them, well I will carry a piece of that. A knowledge of Him I absorbed in the midst of the wonder and between photos. It has to change me. It must.

Seriously, even Disney couldn't come up
with some of this stuff.
Sunday was a truly cool day, too, but more on that later. For now, I am grateful for a God who doesn't just make beauty, who doesn't just revel in it, but who speaks through it. Who can take the nasty this world throws at us and from it draw glorious good for us and for his name, sure. But who chooses to speak joy through stunning colors, power through the spray of mighty ocean waves firing off of stalwart rocks, peace through the quiet of pre-dawn as the sun eases unrushed over the horizon, love that he made it all and lets me see and enjoy it.

Thank you, Lord, for your creativity that is always refreshing, for the endless wonder of who you are.  All my love.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Basking

There are two types of people in this world. Mountain people and beach people. Okay, there are probably some other kinds too, but it seems that most of us are more raptured by the beauty of either colossal craggy peaks, or by the endless rippling ocean, the soft and steady hush of waves on sand, the feel of a silky breeze dusting all the excess heat off your sun-warmed body...I'm obviously a beach girl.


For a list person like me, a fulfilling day is usually heralded by a long line of dashes through my list of things to do. But there are a few exceptions. 

1) Mission trips. If I play with kids and get nothing else done, its a day well spent.

2) Beaches.


It had been, oh, I don't know, maybe two years or so since last I settled in a beach chair, set my phone alarm for thirty minutes, and read in my own version of heaven.  So today I hit D.T. Fleming beach at about 10:30 and since I was by myself, figured I would probably stay, doing my thirty minute front/back rotations until 1 or 1:30.  Yeah, I stayed until 3. 

It was nourishing. Relaxing. Strangely fulfilling. I would like to say I pondered the vastness of a God who could not only create an unfathomable ocean, but then fill it with countless, wild creatures.  But I didn't. I did shout out the occasional thank you, but mostly I just basked.  Maybe tomorrow.

Thank you, Lord, for beaches, for water so pale and brilliant and for the prefect breeze, for waves that sing to pretty a song to drown out with man made music, for my kindle, and for sunscreen so I don't regret my day of rotating in the sun. All my love.

PS. Spell check just wanted me to change the word raptured to the word ruptured. Ewwww. Gross. I sincerely hope the beauty of the beach doesn't rupture anyone.

Monday, March 11, 2013

A New View

This is a view from my balcony that I recently texted my brother.


This is the view from his apartment that he texted back.
















He wins.  Why? Because my brother makes his home in Maui. And as of tomorrow I'll be sharing his view for a week. In writing, the scene set up is intentional. It reflects the mood and promise of the scene.  While my life isn't exactly filled with the human equivalent of naked trees, I would like to think that stepping onto a scene in Maui will bring good things, not the least of which is time with my cool bro in his corner of the world.  

Thank you, Lord, for brothers, for beaches, for airplanes and new swimsuits and fake tans and that Maui has Starbucks. Mostly though for brothers and beaches. As amazing as the inventions of man are, they never can even fall in the same bracket as your own good ideas.  All my love.

Friday, March 8, 2013

God doesn't write in blue.

You know how sometimes you just need something new? I felt that way recently, and fought it. I don't want to be a person who needs things.  I mean, aside from food and shelter and clothing and baths and sugar.  But like the chickenpox virus, it would go dormant for a while, but it was still there. Niggling.

Fortunately for me and my bank account, my nigglings aren't for new cars or boats or designer anything. No, when I crave a new thing, it is most often pens. But not just your every day Bic, the fun brightly colored pens that normal people wouldn't use for business.

So, alas, I made an emergency chapstick stop the other day and found my way back to the school supply aisle, when what to my wondering eyes should appear but an 18 pack of fancy pens. Get this: neons, glitters, and metallics.

The fact that they're writing implements delights the writer in me, even though said writer would be better served with a multi-colored keyboard cover. And the brilliant array of sparkle and shine appeals to the six year-old in me.  Buckley likes them too.

I wonder if God gets that way sometimes. He just wants something shiny and new and brilliant and superfluous.  I mean, scientists are still discovering new species. This year they've found new Indonesian owls, Papua New Guinean shellfish, and spiders in South Africa. The owl is pretty exciting.

Obviously God could have, and I have no doubt did, create many a species long ago that we people just haven't discerned until now. But I wonder if also, just for his glory on an average Friday, he speaks a new creature into being.  If it flips out humans, so be it.  Creator is part of his nature, so the ongoing exercise of the aspect of God shouldn't be unexpected. He makes new stars--God likes sparkly things, too--so to add animals to his world that will make it more intriguing, beautiful and vast seems very much like him.

While I don't necessarily feel the need to justify my new pens, it does remind me in a very tiny way of God's bounty. He is not a minimalist or an industrial engineer. He's not an economist bent on shaving out the excess. He doesn't write in blue ink. No, he's lavish and rich and loves to surround himself with beauty and vibrance. It is an aspect I often overlook, and yet am so grateful to benefit from.

Thank you, Jesus, for being abundant and generous, and loving variety and color and texture and shape and plenty. Thank you for new owls, for colored pens, for colors in general. You are vast and creative and the more I know of you the more I want to know.  All my love.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Special. The good kind.

There are those things in life that get better with time. Like classic jewels, fine wine, comfy yoga pants, and friends. Recently two of my dear friends got in touch to say they were thinking of me. It was unexpected and wonderful. And then an acquaintance and I spent some time hanging out and saw a glimpse of ourselves in each other. That kind of recognition of a common soul, or a kindred spirit as Anne Shirley would say, innately recognizes the special. You go along feeling good, confident, enough. And then someone comes along and tells you you're special.

It's not a message the world will offer. You can be good enough. You can work hard enough. You can on occasion be accepted. But never does the world admit you are uniquely splendid.

But the thing is, you are. We all are. And no, that is not a contradiction any more than it would be to claim that each Van Gogh is special. We are masterpieces. And like all art, tastes differ. Not everyone in the world will love every piece. I, for one, don't really get modern art or cubism. But I love me some da Vinci and Thomas Kincaid.

So it is with people. Many will interact and appreciate. Some will actually say it out loud. And a few will recognize the great worth in the details and connect. These relationships are the glimpses of an eternity of being truly known. These interactions are a taste of what our Father intended. They are like prisms in a black wall through which the light of day can be seen, and they paint the world with color that is true.

I'm so thankful for these people who are rich prisms in my life, and who have reminded me what it means to be me. I'm so thankful for friendship and for the One who created it. I'm so grateful that I will die friends with these people (hopefully long from now) and yet we'll still hang out in Heaven at the heavenly equivalent of Starbucks.