Tag Archives: life

No Post Sunday

readers choice

postponed until Monday

I don’t know about you, but my get up and go has got up and went.

Motivation level is zero. Therefore Reader’s Choice 2012 will be postponed to begin Monday instead of Sunday.

Now get off the internet and go spend time with someone you love.

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Filed under blogging, life

Dare to Hope

I love Christmas. Really, I do.

pink poinsettias

it’s beginning to look a lot like…

I love that our culture still reserves a time to celebrate Jesus’ birth. But the churning of the holiday season is a mixed bag for me, and I’m not the only one.

After I published the bah-humbug-ish post Saving Duck this past Tuesday, my best friend, my closest cousin, and my brother all contacted me within a three-hour period. These people are more dear than I deserve, so their concern could be a coincidence. Just in case, I thought I better clarify.

First, I’m okay. You’re okay. God willing, we’ll all make it through.

Second, this is not a retraction of my thoughts from my last post. The unrealistic expectations of a perfect Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Year’s are destructive. They steal our joie de vivre and drain our bank accounts. We question our faith and our sanity.

Now I know there are a few of you who would prefer I only write about shiny, happy things. I appreciate that, and I wish I could meet your demands.

But I can’t.

It’s not my intention to be a negative Nelly. I do write about fun stuff as well from misread song lyrics to missing underwire, from discontinued lipstick to dismissed hair accessories. But to me, it wouldn’t be honest or helpful to present as if everything is sunshine and roses (or pink poinsettias) when it’s not.

Yesterday I hung out with some Christian girlfriends. One caught my attention when she said, “I don’t really like this season. I mean I like Christmas, I just don’t care for all that goes with it.”

Her courage struck a chord. One by one, every woman recounted personal stories of how painful the holidays can be. My December dread didn’t seem so abnormal after all.

The wisest of all the women shared a story from when her kids were younger. She and her husband piled their little ones in the car and drove across three states to visit a relative for Thanksgiving. The trip wasn’t a surprise visit; the relative knew they were coming. Imagine their shock to arrive just in time to stand in the driveway and wave good-bye.  Grandma had made other plans to go out with friends for Thanksgiving dinner instead.

chocolate turkeys

don’t be a turkey

“We laugh about it now,” said my friend. “We joke and say, ‘Remember when Grandma left us on Thanksgiving?’ But at the time, it wasn’t funny.”

This is in part why we need other people in our lives. It’s why we need to tell each other the truth. It’s why some of us write and read and comment. How good to know we’re not alone. Others have walked this road or on it with us now. Many have survived. Maybe we will, too.

Walk on, pilgrims. Walk on.

Yet I still dare to hope
when I remember this:
The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease. Lamentations 3:21-22 NLT

He Walked a Mile by Clay Crosse. An oldie but a goodie.

Do you still dare to hope? Tell me more.

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Filed under blogging, family & friends, life, women's studies

The Duck Index

My yoga instructors offer a wealth of material for blog posts. 

Boomer explained a concept I must share with you. Something she learned from her yoga instructor. A practice called the Duck Index.

image by cursedthing, creative commons license

image by cursedthing, creative commons license

Many years ago, Boomer’s instructor gave her this advice: only do what brings you the joy of a three-year-old feeding a duck. 

“We all have to do things we don’t like to do,” said Boomer to my class. “We can’t only do the things we enjoy.”

True. We all deal with dirty dishes, smelly laundry, complicated tax returns.

“But imagine the happiness of a three-year-old feeding a duck,” she said. “We can choose to do more things that give us that kind of joy.”

Boomer put the joy of a three-year-old feeding a duck on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the greatest. She called the scale the Duck Index and began measuring experiences against it. She started saying no to as many things as she could that didn’t rank six or more on the Duck Index.

No to another volunteer opportunity when her volunteer hours were already maxed out. No to lunch with a demeaning colleague. No to a last-minute dinner with friends when what she needed was a night off.

“I could have done those things,” she said, “but someone would have paid for it. Either I would have paid for it in resentment and fatigue. Or those around me would have paid for it because I didn’t really want to be there.”

Sometimes saying no without guilt is difficult. But the more I do it, the easier it gets. The more it makes sense. 

Do I want to do this? Do I have to do this? 

If I don’t want to and I don’t have to, who will pay if I do it anyway? 

Can I say no to this, so someone who wants to do it can say yes? 

Can I say no, so I can say yes to what I want to do?

“Shoulders back and down. Don’t wear them like earrings,” said Boomer as our class continued. “Pay attention. You control where your shoulders sit.”

I am not the center of the universe. I am not in control of all the events in my life, but I am not a martyr or a victim either. I can place my shoulders back and down. I can say no without guilt. I can say yes to what brings me joy. So can you.

Pay attention. Your duck is waiting to be fed. 

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Ephesians 4:1 NIV

Wake on up from your slumber, baby, open up your eyes.

What scores 10 on your Duck Index?

 

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Filed under life, women's studies

Chicago Songs

When life takes the wind out of your sails, go to Chicago.

Chicago subway tile

Chicago

That’s what I did. In 1997, I was 26 and newlywed when my husband and I moved to the Windy City. My mother had died less than a year before. I was awash in grief, living 13 hours away from home, cloistered in a 35th-floor apartment, spending much of my time alone. Imagine a low-budget production of Lost in Translation set in America without Bill Murray.

I paced the streets. Trudged up and down Michigan Avenue, walking and waiting for something, anything, to strike me. Hit me. Wrestle me back to life.

Moody Church entrance

The Moody Church

One Sunday not long after we’d moved, my husband and I ventured into the historic Dwight L. Moody Memorial Church at Clark and LaSalle. That day I heard Dr. Erwin Lutzer talk about grief and heaven and what was to come when we died. He was preaching the sermon series that inspired the book One Minute After You Die.

Coincidence? I think not. This. This was where I needed to be. For our remaining 18 months in Chicago, we treasured our time at that church listening to that preacher. And we learned songs I hadn’t sung before.

A mighty fortress is our God. A bulwark never failing;

Yes, I know. It’s a textbook hymn of the faith written by Martin Luther. The churches where I was raised sang praise songs. Fine, scriptural praise songs. To my detriment, Luther and his brave, abiding words had been kicked to the curb.

Not in Chicago. There we sang Martin Luther and Charles Wesley, Walter Chalmers Smith, Samuel Trevor Francis, and Horatio Spafford. And we began to learn how to stand. When you’ve done all you can do, when there’s nothing left, when no one seems able to help—to stand. It’s a lesson I’m still learning today.

Our Helper He amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing.

Barack Obama was in Chicago the same time I lived there. We must have walked the same streets, felt the same icy wind blow across Lake Michigan. I wonder, did we eat in the same restaurants? Unknowingly, did our paths cross at the Harold Washington Library stop in the Loop? What different experiences we must have had in the City of Big Shoulders. How much has changed since then.

Fast forward to this week. The status updates on my Facebook feed tell the tale. So many people are hurting from the results of this past Tuesday’s election. They’re afraid. Disappointed. Confused. Awash in grief. Unable to understand the bent of the electorate and the heart of the President.

Did God forget the unborn Tuesday? Does He no longer care about them or their parents? Did He change His mind about stealing? Is taking something that belongs to someone else now fair and just in His eyes? Perhaps He is disappointed with His flock. In anger, has He disowned American believers struggling in a culture that careens toward destruction?

Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also—

There were calls to move to the middle. Move to the right. Establish a third party. Ban evangelicals. And then there was this from a pastor friend:

“Whether the election results leave you euphoric or stricken, let’s remember that whoever holds political power in America, the Lord holds sovereign power everywhere. He says, ‘By me kings reign and rulers decree what is just.’ Again, ‘The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it wherever he pleases.’ (Prov. 8:15, 21:1)”

Hancock building in clouds

Hancock building

Today the wind rushes across the Kansas prairie as powerfully as it whips through the concrete canyons of Chicago. It caresses the waters of Savannah just like it rocks the waves off Santa Barbara. It flies over the hill country of Texas with the same intensity it batters the ravaged and bustling streets of New York. We cannot tell where it comes from or where it’s going. But God knows.

This is a time to stand. Actively trust God and rest in Him. Examine ourselves, confess sin, and be restored. Return to the certainty of the Word that does not change with political pressure.

March fearlessly into the future of America, knowing that come judgment or prosperity, God Himself has ordained it. He will not desert His own.

The body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still: His kingdom is forever!

Our fight is not with people. It is against the leaders and the powers and the spirits of darkness in this world. It is against the demon world that works in the heavens. Because of this, put on all the things God gives you to fight with. Then you will be able to stand in that sinful day. When it is all over, you will still be standing. Ephesians 6:12-13 NLV

 What helps you to stand?

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Filed under America, faith, life

Halloween Polka-Dot Pumpkins

drilling pumpkin

thank you, honey!

Today I have a quick Halloween Pinterest success story to share. 

Like our last triumphant Pinterest project, simplicity is the genius of this idea. You know, the “Why didn’t I think of that?” factor.

Besides finding the pumpkins and the pin, I can’t take any credit for this. My husband did all the work. He scooped out two large pumpkins and power-drilled holes in them. The results are warmly glowing, other-worldly jack-o-lanterns, polka-dotted with candlelight. These are the classiest pumpkins ever to grace our front porch!

The white dotted jack-o-lantern is especially magical, I think.

white glowing pumpkin

subtle glowing jack-o-lantern

The idea for polka-dot pumpkins is available on many Pinterest pins from sources like MarthaStewart.com and Creative Connections for Kids.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”
Matthew 5:14 ESV

The Light in Me by Brandon Heath.

What’s the best part of making a jack-o-lantern?

NOW APPEARING ON PROJECT UNDERBLOG

Today I’m honored Dear Mr. Zuckerberg is appearing on Project Underbloga submission-based, collaborative writing project honoring the smaller voices in the blogger community. What a brilliant concept. Go see what we small and mighty have to say.

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Shopping with the Stars

Shopping for glasses for my husband was a star-studded event. 

We met Drew Carey.

DC

Whose line is it anyway?

Arnold Schwarzenegger.

AS

Hasta la vista, baby.

Elton John.

EJ

She packed my bags last night pre-flight.

And John Belushi.

JB

I’m a soul man.

Much of the joy in life is about who’s traveling with you.

S

Have your people call my people.

If the frame fits…

A cheerful heart brings a smile to your face; a sad heart makes it hard to get through the day.
Proverbs 15:13 The Message

Take your Vitamin C and Smile.

Who travels with you in life? What or who do you have to smile about today?

 

 

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Filed under family & friends, humor, life

Swim Noodle Boot Stuffers

winter lace up boots

swim noodle + tall boots = genius

This is Monday, and I said I would be back around mid-week. Monday is not mid-week, but some things are too important to wait to share. Like this quick Pinterest success story. An idea so simple, so ingenious, so must-do.

Swim noodles cut to size and used to stand tall boots at attention! 

Less than five minutes with a bread knife and two worn-out swim noodles resulted in four pairs of boots set upright and ready for winter weather. If only all things in life could be this easy and common sense. Reduce, reuse, recycle!

Pinterest logo

Pinterest success!

This idea came from a Boutique Narelle pin. The author measured the swim noodles, cut with a saw, and vacuumed the edges of her boot stuffers, none of which I had to do because of two magic words: bread knife.

She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth. Proverbs 31:19a The Message

These Boots are Made for Walkin’ by Nancy Sinatra.

What are your Pinterest success stories?
Please include links to your pins!

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Filed under life