Real Ladies Don’t Have Tattoos

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The Atlanta airport was crowded as people were waiting to board the plane to New Mexico. I scanned the area looking for a seat.

Excuse me, sir. Is this seat taken? I asked with a smile.

The man looked up, smiled back and said, No, help yourself.

After settling in with my Starbucks and Kindle, I noticed the man began to fidget just a bit. He looked over at me and said Real ladies don’t have tattoos.

He then got up and walked off.

This wasn’t my first rodeo with someone who had thoughts about tattoos but it had been awhile so I was taken aback for a minute. My first thought was Real gentlemen don’t act like jackasses either! (Of course this creative comeback was after he left…probably just as well…sigh)

My second one was Dear God, please do not let him be seated next to me on the plane! (In His mercy, God forgave my first thought and granted the second.)

This man had no idea who I was, where I was from, what I did for a living, where I was going. Nothing. Except that I had a tattoo and he had an opinion.

Kind of ticked me off a little.

I wasn’t going to share this story but then I read an interesting passage a few days later in Luke 7 with a line that caught my eye.

Jesus gets a dinner invitation from Simon who was a Pharisee. While there, a woman of apparent scandal comes with her alabaster jar of perfume. She kneels down and washes Jesus’ feet with her tears, wiping them with her hair then proceeds pouring the perfume over them.

Instead of recognizing this intimate act as one of asking for forgiveness or one of worship, the Pharisee was disgusted that a.) she is a sinner and b.) Jesus seems to be oblivious to that fact. Maybe this Jesus guy wasn’t who he said he claimed to be after all. (v39 paraphrased)

Jesus then turns back toward the woman and says to Simon, Do you see this woman?

Funny question. I imagine everyone SAW. But did they really SEE?

Simon looked at this woman and only saw a sinner. Jesus looked past the sin and could see a woman.

How many times have I looked at someone and not been able to really see them because I couldn’t get past the outer appearance or my preconceived opinion or my own arrogance? How many times have you?

In her book Braving the Wilderness Brene Brown talks about how the dehumanization of people starts with calling names and forming opinions based on assumptions. (Everyone should read this book!)

The moment that man in the airport looked at me, saw my tattoo and immediately summed me up as not a real lady…I became less human in his eyes. He didn’t really see me, only my tattoo.

Dehumanizing happens when we jump to judge and no longer lean in to learn.

I can think of several ways that people are being made to feel less than. The following are just a handful, maybe you can share more. It’s when we…

Look at an overweight person and assume they are lazy.

Walk past a person of a different color than us and clutch our purses tighter or assume they think they are high and mighty.

Look at a person whose lifestyle is different than ours and not see them, only their “sin”.

Walk past a homeless person and assume they don’t want to work.

Look at the single Mom paying with food stamps and tsk, tsk.

Look at a person’s political stance and immediately assume you are either a snowflake and stupid or cold hearted and callous.

We form opinions about people as whole groups without ever getting to know any one in particular. We look but do not see, without ever hearing their story.

Why? I really don’t know. Do you?

Maybe it’s easier to judge than to learn. Maybe if we got to know someone we would have to get down off our high horse (everyone has ridden one at some point), change our opinion or, heaven forbid, our way of thinking.

Maybe if we really took the time to see the person and not be so quick to critique we would realize that they are more than their weight or sexual preference or political side or skin color. Maybe there’s a story there that you have no idea about.

Maybe if we took a minute to listen and learn we would understand how the homeless came to be living under a bridge or the addict got to where she was or how that Mom became single.

Maybe if we stopped looking and started really seeing, we would show more kindness, compassion and learn to love people who think different, who look different, who act different, realizing we are ALL human beings needing to be seen, valued and loved.

Since practice makes perfect, let’s practice this…

No more name-calling.

No more jumping to judge…let’s leave that to God.

Stop LOOKING and start SEEING.

Imperfect progress is still progress and sure would make the world a better place.

kw

 

 

Roundabouts, Reason and Realization

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Does anybody else find roundabouts confusing? There’s a new one close to where I live and I was trying to picture in my mind where the exits would lead but simply wasn’t sure. (There is nothing logical about my sense of direction…)

One day when I had a few extra minutes, I took one of the exits to see where it would lead and ended up where I still recognized where I was but it wasn’t where I thought I would be. At least I wasn’t going around in a circle afraid to exit for fear of getting lost anymore.

I got stuck on a roundabout in my brain recently that had me sucked into the circle, confused as to which exit to take for fear of taking the wrong one. For a couple of days I felt as if I were on a ride where the gravity of spinning keeps your back against the wall. It does keep you from falling but also from going anywhere but around in a perpetual circle.

I could choose the road marked Picture Perfect for People. I have taken this exit before. It leads to a subdivision called Show Well Way. And even lived on Legalism Lane for a short stint.

In this neighborhood, you go to church every time the doors are open and work at every event offered, otherwise you will a.) “miss the blessing of God” or b.) get ostracized the next time you go. The verse to not give up meeting together (Hebrews 10:25) gets layer upon layer of rules added to it.

Condemnation is king. I once heard a lady say as she was walking out the door, I love to hear him preach. I feel so condemned when I leave. I thought she was joking at first but sadly she was not. (The Holy Spirit convicts not condemns…there is a difference.)

Perfection is preferred. Fight with your husband, spank your kids in the car, be depressed and deal with your junk on the way to church but when you walk through those doors…coiffe your hair, smooth your skirt and put a smile on your face. When someone asks you how you’re doing simply say, fine. You don’t want to be the one who puts the scratch on the vinyl of perfection.

All the while, people are hurting. People are struggling. People are wondering if they are the only one.

No. That’s not the exit I want to take nor the subdivision I want to live in. I sold that house long ago.

So I go back around the circle. I can choose the exit marked God’s Grace is Good.

When I first met people who were grace extenders…those who don’t purse their church lady lips and tell your daughter that it takes one sip of alcohol to be on the road to an AA meeting…it took awhile to let my guard down, to let them in, to simply be me.

But I’m so glad I did.

I am not perfect. My family is not perfect. We struggle. We fight. We have had renegades and seasons where depression almost won. I have a tattoo, (read more about my experiences with that here:     ) drink wine on occasion and call the deer flies a bad name when I’m mowing and they’re biting.

And I love the Lord more now than ever.

Some will say, this is blasphemy, tear their clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes. They will say that I’m taking advantage of God’s grace. I don’t think so. Which is worse…

Giving the false persona that I am a perfect Christian woman who has her act completely together. Or admitting where I’m flawed but always pointing the way to the One who is not.

When I was living on Legalistic Lane, I was worried about what people thought of me, but not necessarily what God thought of me. Perception was everything no matter how I was actually living. I tried to be good for the sake of show. Now I’m just me. I’m not afraid to admit where I fall short knowing his grace is enough for me in this moment. If I’m struggling in an area, I ask for help.

But aren’t you abusing grace? some may ask. God’s grace isn’t a ticket to sin. In fact its affect has just the opposite. It’s this grace, not people and their doctrines, that now drives me to continue to grow…in my faith, in my love for him and the people he puts in my path and yes, strive to be more obedient to what His Truth says to do. (And ask for forgiveness when I mow!)

I am a work in progress. And will continue to be until the day I meet the Lord face to face.

And so, for a hot second, I thought about taking the exit of picture perfect and moving back to the old ‘hood. But then said, nah, there’s no reason to be afraid to take the exit of the goodness and grace God has for simply being me.

The funny thing is whether you resonate with the first exit or the second; both are in need of Grace. So…

Just be you and I’ll just be me. And together we’ll be ever thankful for Grace.

kw

 

Aquanet, Cicadas and Fear

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Glamour Shots Circa 1980’s

We were traveling down the flat stretch of Highway 22&3, cornfields on the left, the outskirts of my small hometown on the right. The water tower stood tall in the center and was painted with school color pride, orange with Home of the Aces written in black. It was the 1980’s version of GPS guiding folks home.

I was with my then boyfriend turned husband in his ’67 VW bug. She was a real beauty, several colors of oxidized red with a lone blue fender. It was a four speed on the floor with lots of pep despite the rusted out floorboards that were hidden by galvanized plates. (My man would like me to mention here that she was undefeated in races….whether this was his skilled driving or her verve is still talked about today.)

We had not a care in the world that summer day. With the windows rolled down (God’s air conditioning) and blue skies ahead, life was good! I don’t remember where we were going or from where we came when it happened.

The ping ping-ing of the VW engine was met with another, different sounding ping. A bug had hit the side mirror. No big deal. Except that our windows were down. All the way. Still, no big deal, right? Until…

It started singing the song of the summer cicada in my ear because that thing landed in my hair! And not just any hair. It was mile-high, permed with thick curls, Aqu-netted to get you through a storm, ‘80’s hair. (See photo above…oh wait…how could you not…that’s some big hair!)

I flapped my hands, shook my head and jumped (hurdled?) into the back seat of that ’67 VW faster than drive-in movie date night. My screaming turned to whimpering as I curled up in a fetal position and cried. Why?

FEAR.

I loathe cicadas. Of all the bugs in all the world, it had to be a cicada to stick its landing  with a perfect ten in my hair. My brave boyfriend is driving and weaving all over the place to try and find this vile creature that I had shook (or scared) out of my hair. Not until it was found and flung outside did I come up to the front seat. He was my hero that day and probably the main reason I married him.

We laugh about this now. But fear is no laughing matter. We have ample opportunity daily to be afraid. In a recent Facebook post I posed the question: Friends, especially of the female persuasion…I am curious to know…what do you struggle with or fear? In other words, what keeps you up at night?

Nearly 50 of my girlfriends commented. That’s a lot of angst. The reasons were wide in range… Kids was the number one reason whether young or old we parents worry about them…their safety, their health, have we done more harm than good in the way we raised them? Have we ruined them beyond repair? Then there’s our health and the health of our families…mental, physical and spiritual. Feeling out of control and not liking that one bit. Fear of failure and not meeting the needs of everyone. Finances. Future. And those dreadful iffy’s.

Yes. Opportunity to fear knocks quite rapidly.

I was at a conference recently where we sang a song that said, I’m no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God.

 So why do we? I stood there singing these words knowing I do fear. Sometimes it’s a fraidy cat fear, other times it’s paralyzing.

Notice it doesn’t say, I no longer fear. But rather that I’m no longer a slave to fear.

We live in a fallen world where the sky is blue one minute and a cicada is in your hair the next. How I react is key.

I can allow the enemy a victory (because we know, according to 2Timothy 1:7 fear is not from God so guess who it’s from) and be enslaved by it. (Who wants to let the devil win? He’s just dumb.) Or I can be like King David, admitting when I am afraid and run to the arms of my Father.

When I am afraid, I will trust in you. (Psalm 56:3)

Fear not appears many times all throughout scripture, not as a command so much as it is an encouragement that WHEN you feel fear, admit it, confront it, control it. Often times it’s followed by a for I am with you (our Father has our back.) Don’t let it win.

Being set free from something (anything) doesn’t mean the disappearance of it. It means we can face it head on, trusting God will give us the strength we need WHEN we need it.

I have a Father that could crush cicadas with a mere thought. Shoot, he’s even bigger than my ‘80’s hair and stronger than Aqua-net in a tornado. I’ll bet he’s bigger than anything that you fear too.

We’ll keep talking this through some more. Because that’s what we do…encourage, empower, engage…in the meantime, I’m watching out for cicadas because ‘tis the season and I’m a work in progress.

kw

Gifts, Rifts and Solace

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It’s hard to believe I’m six months in to this year of Solace theme. The older I get, the faster time goes. It’s been good with lessons learned…some fun, some hard, some in progress.

We celebrated my man on Father’s Day. He got the most diverse gifts from the kiddos this year…. a speedboat for the pond, two sassafras trees and a pedicure. (He kept asking all of us girls about what it was like to get one so…) He will be the fastest boat racer with the best looking feet in Warren County, standing between his sassafras trees and alongside his sassy wife.

(On a side note: If you read about me traveling with my man, aka Mr. Diamond, in the Speaking My Language post I must confess…he DID offer me his seat in first class when they bumped him up. My internal dialogue went straight to the not good enough. I don’t fit in with first class people because I am not a first class act. I wouldn’t even know what to do to be “proper.”  Sigh. I still have work to do on me.)

For Mother’s Day I got a kit from Ancestry.com. You can learn a lot from a little spit. I am 58% Great Britain (with a wee bit of Ireland/Scotland/Wales thrown in for good measure) and 23% Scandinavian (my love for burning things as therapy makes total sense now…Viking pyre anyone?)

My sister (who has her own dad drama to tell) asked if I doubted that Dad was really my dad (which she found out in college was not her Dad…you guys…visions of a Super Soul Sunday outside, with a backdrop of fall foliage and peaceful sky while sipping hot cider turns into a Jerry Springer beer brawl real quick with our upbringing.)

And though this wasn’t that kind of kit, I told her yes. He had often “teased” through the years that he wasn’t sure I was his. My sister and I both agreed that at this point in our existence it really wouldn’t do either of us any good to find out for sure who’s your daddy. We had step-dads but they sounded more like the beginning of a bad joke…a gambler, an old man and a drunk were sitting at a bar…

She made the comment that she has been pretty much fatherless her whole life and didn’t need one now. But then again, have we ever truly been without a Father? Earthly? Perhaps. Heavenly? Never. We just didn’t always recognize (or allow) him to be at times.

God has shown himself faithful during these six months of solace. But why am surprised? It’s who he is.

So much to learn.

I also discovered if you write enough words for people to read, you will (eventually) offend someone. I got a message from a friend who wrote As a dear friend please take this critique knowing it comes from my heart. I started to read your blog this morning but you lost me at the word “bejesus.” She goes on to tell me why and then asks this question: how do we as Christians become all things to all people in order to save some and at the same time not be conformed to this world?

I replied Thank you for caring enough to share your thoughts. I guess I don’t think of that word as offensive or a bad word. I certainly don’t mean it as such but could maybe find a different way of expressing that idea. I do try to be the real me when I write though so balancing all that is a delicate dance for sure. I do have more thoughts but am heading out for a walk…

The word bejesus is an exclamation attributed to the Irish, used to express surprise or for emphasis. It has nothing to do with Jesus, the One I love. But that’s not the point I suppose. Where is the balance of being me yet not offending? Of being a work in progress and yet not making that be an excuse? My friend admitted to being legalistic at times and asked Am I being too rigid?

All good questions that I hope to write about next month so we can have some discussions around it.

I also learned that we (my girlfriends and me) live in fear of many things. Way too many! So along with the above topic to discuss, I am writing a series titled Freedom From…

How appropriate for the month of July!!

Here’s to six more months of Solace, writing and the adventures of faith!

kw

 

 

Footprints and Paths

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I’m sitting here binge-eating Cheetos. I suppose doing so makes me feel like I’m getting away with something sinister. Tomorrow morning is my first day with a friend who happens to be a personal trainer. She is going to wear me out real good so the jokes going to be on me.

I’m wrestling with words today. Maybe in some weird way, crunching a Kool Kats snack will give me some inkling of an idea what to say to you. I think I’m stuck because I want to say soothing words, healing words, words that matter. It’s the week leading up to Father’s Day, which brings all manner of emotion.

There are those of you whose Dad’s are still around and you know them and love them. What an absolute blessing!

There are those of you whose Dad’s have passed away and whether those wounds of grief are gaping wide open or scabbed over, you still miss him. You wander down the card aisle willing yourself not to search for the one you’d give him if you could. Father’s Day brings with it a melancholy of memories, thoughts, smells, trips, clothes, and sounds.

I’m sorry. Sorry for your loss. Sorry for your sadness. Sorry for the hole left in your heart when he passed.

We wish that time would do what only God can…heal our hurt, soothe our soul and grout that gaping hole.

There are those of you whose Dad’s have passed you by. You grew up wondering why? Weren’t you pretty enough? Thin enough? Smart enough? Enough of anything enough? You wonder what was wrong with you that he didn’t want to be your Dad? Instead of feeling like a princess, you felt like a pauper. Unwanted. Unloved. Unseen. Unheard.

I’m sorry. Sorry for the years you weren’t valued. Sorry for the times you felt unloved. Sorry for the voice never heard.

We wish that people could do what only God can…love lavishly, value voraciously and hear your hearts cry.

I really wish we were sitting across from one another right now. Words on a page seem, I don’t know, too black and white, too bleh. But I’m gonna try the best I can…

I have no idea why things happen the way they do. Like why do some people get great dads and some people get dads who are, well, not even in the picture? Why do some great dads die way before they should? How do some people get past their grief and here you are stuck in a pit for so long that you’ve wall papered and painted? Why do some people still care what their dads think when their dad could care less?

I was walking down the driveway after a fresh snow had fallen and I noticed footprints everywhere. There didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to them. Big ones like a coyote. Hoofed ones like a deer. Small handprints like a raccoon. Large thumping ones like a rabbit. All hither and to. No rhythm. No pattern.

But when I looked from my second story window, I could see definite paths that were taken, trails that made more sense. Some led to the creek where the animals could drink. Some led to the field out back where they could seek shelter. There was a purpose when I changed my perspective.

I must trust that my heavenly Father is good even when things here are not. I need to believe that God is good at being God even when things are hard and I don’t understand. I have to believe that he knows the journey I’m on and there is purpose in the path that is mine.

He sees from a different perspective, from a different point of view. A view we cannot possibly understand most days. But I can lean in when the grief is great or when I need to know Someone is proud to be my parent.

I know these words may fall short of what you need, like clichés sprinkled with Cheeto dust. I don’t mean for them to. I can’t explain it.

I just know on the days when I let God be God, I don’t yearn for something that cannot be because He fills that gaping hole magnificently.

He sees you. He loves you. He hears you. He wants you. He cares.

kw

 

 

Speaking My Language

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My man and I  were on a flight coming home from visiting our daughter in New Mexico with a layover in Utah. My man has a fancy diamond traveling status and was greeted like royalty everywhere we went. Me? I got the pat down (or feel up) and treated like my mascara wand could give McGyver a run for his money on creative ways to land the plane.

“We” were Mr. Wright’ed at every turn. How was your flight Mr. Wright? Anything we can get you Mr. Wright? Would you like to bump up to first class Mr. Wright? (And he DID! But that’s a story for another day! He did meander to the back of the plane to offer me his dessert…) No wonder he likes to travel…

All of that would have been super annoying except that his status got me a welcome to the Sky Club Lounge any friend of Mr. Diamond is a friend of mine greeting from the woman behind the lounge counter.

I found us seats with the best view to people watch while my man got us plates of bread and cheese and me a glass of wine. (Mr. Diamond ain’t so bad after all.)

All settled in, I casually sipped my wine, nibbled on my snacks and critiqued the unsuspecting travelers. There was the lady beside me talking on her phone to someone who was obviously VERY hard of hearing. We ALL heard about her family member who was in the ICU and how she hated leaving her there etc. etc.

The lady in front of me, who’s back was towards me, was getting peeved at loud lady. Every time loud lady answered hard of hearing lady, peeved lady jerked her head around so fast I thought for sure it was going to snap off and land at my feet. Peeved lady would dramatically turn back around and aggressively pet her Shitzu who was failing its one job of being any emotional support to its master.

There I sat casually sipping and nibbling. Would you like another glass of wine Mr. Diamond’s friend? Don’t mind if I do.

Meanwhile a group of five women came in, sat down, took two sips of their drinks then decided they were late to their gate and left. Leaving behind full plates of food, bottles of beer and glasses of wine. Such a shame. Especially when the entertainment was so good!

That’s when I spotted him.

His nametag said Jean. He was a table busser and had come over to clean up late-to-the-gate-party-of-five’s-mess. This twenty something’s demeanor was quiet. I tried to make eye contact…not in a cougar-ish way but in a sucks to clean up after people kind of way. I’ve bussed tables….it’s a thankless job.

He finally did glance my way. I smiled. He politely nodded. (Maybe he had heard that I wielded a mean mascara wand and didn’t want to engage. Or maybe he knew I was a couple of glasses of wine in…anyhoo…)

He made his way around the lounge, cleaning tables, being polite and quiet. Loud lady and peeved lady had left. So I sat there watching Jean work. Something intrigued me about him. (As I’m typing this out, I realize how utterly creepy I sound…)

He never engaged in a conversation. He never interacted with the travelers. He simply went about doing his job. Until…

I heard, more than saw, a couple come in who were conversing with each other in French. Jean’s eyes LIT UP. His body language and whole countenance changed as he made his way toward the French speaking couple. He was grinning from ear to ear as the three of them conversed. There was energy in his step the rest of the time we were there.

Creepy lady (that’s me) realized something that day; we all need someone who speaks our language. We all need people who hear us, understand us, who get us. How foreign do we feel when we think we’re the only one struggling with something? How isolating is it when we think we’re the only ones who fight with our spouse or who have prodigal kids or feel less than sometimes? How alienating is it to think that other Mom’s never get tired or heat up a frozen pizza for dinner or hide ice cream bars to eat late at night after bedtime?

We need each other! It’s why I share real life on here. The thing I hear the most from women I counsel? It’s nice to feel like I’m heard. Not judged. Not fixed. Not shamed. Simply listened to.

To have someone speak your language, to walk beside you and get it, is the best gift we can give.

Au revoir Jean! Thanks for the life lesson! (And the wine!)

kw

 

 

 

A Hallway of Doors Galore!

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Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened for you. (Matthew 7:7NLT)

I’m not a very adventurous person. (My family is grinning at that understatement.) I (over) analyze the sweet bejesus out of everything so by the time I make a decision about something, having written out the pros and cons and what if’ed every possible scenario, I’m almost 100% sure I’m making the right one. Whatever it may be.

I’ve been praying for direction for quite some time now. Asking for doors to open or doors to shut. What I’m finding is it’s not quite as simple as that.

Sometimes the door shuts. The answer is no. You didn’t get the job. You received a rejection letter. Divorce papers are signed. The stick is negative. The prodigal is still prodigal-ing. The promotion went to someone else.

There is no mistaking the shut door. Even when you pound on it, shove it with your shoulder, beg the owner, it will not open.

Sometimes the door opens. The answer is yes, please, come right in and have a seat. Opportunity will be with you shortly. May I get you something to drink or eat? I trust the journey here was not too taxing.

 All is well. Life is good. You are at peace. You know THIS is what you are meant to do.

Black and white. Yes or no. Clear and concise. Plain and simple. Those are my kind of doors. No figuring out. No paralysis of analysis. No second guesses.

But what I learned is there may be a third option. What if…

You knock (ask), the door opens (answer is yes), you walk through (in obedience) only to find it feels foreign. You double-check the address. Yep. You wrote it down right. After all, you prayed for this open door for months now.

This was me recently. It was so confusing.

Did I hear wrong? Take a wrong turn somewhere? Go down the wrong hallway? Get off on the wrong floor? I can’t quit. I PRAYED for this door to open. And. It. Did.

But from the very first day of walking through the door, I had doubts. Not before mind you. Maybe it was just me getting used to new house sounds, the creeks and pops of the floorboards. Maybe if I gave it some time, the new surroundings would become familiar.

Deep down I knew. This wasn’t for me.

So I prayed AGAIN…

 Lord, I am confused. I thought you opened this door for me to walk through. Why am I feeling like this isn’t for me? Help me to understand.

 Here is what he showed me…

A closed door doesn’t mean it will stay closed forever. Sometimes it will. Sometimes it won’t. If it does, will you trust me? If it doesn’t, will you try?

An open door doesn’t always mean you back your U-Haul up to it and move in for good. Sometimes I open a door for you to walk through so you can see that is not the place I have for you. But because you are stubborn (the nerve!) and keep praying the same way, I opened this door so you would recognize the one I have for you.

Never underestimate what you are already called to do. Don’t run from it.

Will you trust me?

I had felt like such a quitter before he showed me this. This door wasn’t the wrong one. He had something to teach me at that particular address. Had I not walked through, I would not have learned the lesson. NOT trying at all because of fear of failing would have been the failure. I never want to be afraid to turn the knob, walk through the door and try what the Lord puts in front of me. I want to trust that my Father will show me if this door is the right one for me, if I am moving in or just staying for dinner.

NOT trying at all because of fear of failing would have been the failure. 

And then I ran across this from Paul in his letter to Corinth…

Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said good-by to them and went on to Macedonia. (2Corinthians 2:12-13NIV bold is mine)

Even a saint like Paul walked through a God ordained open door only to discover his journey was to be elsewhere. Whew…

How about you? Have you tried something you just knew you were suppose to do and then knew it wasn’t? Was it confusing? Maybe God was showing you more through that open door!

Fiercely for YOU!

kw

More Joy in One Ordinary Day

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Why is everyone hungry for more? “More, more,” they say. “More. More.” I have God’s more-than-enough. More joy in one ordinary day. (Psalm 4:6-7 MSG)

 That last line got me…

More JOY in one ORDINARY day.

I want to find joy in the simple satisfactions of every day rather than be always waiting, ever disappointed when the marvelous is mowed down by mere.

It takes extraordinary courage to find joy in ordinary days when the world is hungry for more.

It’s easy to do isn’t it? Chase after the massive monumentals; the bigger-than-life-itself stuff. The living with tomorrow in mind and miss the here and now. I don’t want to become so busy chasing after extraordinary that I miss the joy that comes with the ordinary.

I never want to tire of the wonder of an egg. How does a chicken make an outer shell with an egg inside? Not to mention the greens, blues and all manner of hues. And then there’s one yolk or two?

I never want to tire of the smell of sun-kissed sheets dried on the line. It makes for the outdoor to come in and my sleep so fine.

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I never want to tire of watching bees work to make honey. They take nectar from a flower and turn it in to something worth more than money.

The smell of bread baking and apple butter making.

Georgia peaches that travelled so far, line my shelf in wide-mouth Mason jars.

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Sunrises and sunsets and super moons that are blue, remind me each day to be grateful and true.

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Photo of this beautiful blue super moon is courtesy of Dianna Dickson 🙂

Old hymnals filled with songs I hold dear. They tell of grace and a cross and of Jesus who’s near.

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I want to notice the forget-me-not so tiny and small as well as those who feel like flowers on a wall.

The snow as it glistens like diamonds in the sun. The hoof prints of deer making a path as they run.

The smell of a babe as you rock her to sleep is a joy in one’s heart forever to keep.

Sitting on my front porch swing listening to the frogs as they sing.

The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest. (Thomas Moore)

There’s nothing wrong with setting goals as long as we don’t get so busy racing towards the next thing that we miss the victory of today. There is more joy in an ordinary day when we s-l-o-w down enough to notice. Chasing after slow is a bit of all right too.

It does take practice. And determination. And courage. It takes a certain fearlessness and fortitude to say STOP in a world full of clamor and commotion.

We are so wired by technology to always be on, always be involved, always be in the know, that it takes a literal brain reboot to enjoy (in joy) silence and solitude and God’s more-than-enough.

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings. (William Arthur Ward)

There is so much to be thankful for, so much to be joyful about, so much to be blessed by…in a simple ordinary day.

Fiercely for you!

kw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feeling Like You Can’t…

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I woke up at 2AM thinking about the previous day. I had some minor outpatient surgery to repair some varicose veins. I woke up the morning of the surgery feeling pretty anxious. That’s usually not how I roll. You do what ya gotta do. Ya know?

Cosmetics aside, I needed to have this done so the blood could flow back up my leg freely.

We arrived at 5:30AM, got registered quickly and was sitting in a very quiet surgical waiting room waiting for the staff person to arrive at 6. The longer I sat the more I felt the need to leave. Fight or flight I believe they call it.

Thankfully I was taken back and prepared for surgery before “flight” happened. I decided to “fight” by repeating this praise song by All Sons and Daughters…

It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise
We pour out our praise
It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise to You only

And all the earth will shout Your praise
Our hearts will cry, these bones will sing
Great are You, Lord

…over and over in my head.

Ironically, I woke up from the anesthesia with the feeling that I couldn’t breathe. I looked at one masked face after another telling them with panic in my voice I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.

All of them told me I was fine. I was talking so I was breathing.

It didn’t help.

I reached back for the nurse anesthetist who had told me in pre-op prep that if I had any problems to let her know and she would help me. She grabbed ahold of my hand, told me not to worry, put an oxygen mask on and told the rest of the team that I was having a panic attack. She then proceeded to give me some “calm down medicine” in my IV. Calm down medicine is like sitting under the poplar tree at my grandparents house sipping iced tea on a hot summers day…cool, calm and refreshing.

The irony and parallel that I thought of at 2 in the morning?

The irony…the fact that I was singing the lyrics about God’s breath in my lungs and pouring out praise and then “coming to” feeling like I couldn’t breathe!

The parallel…how many times has life punched you in the gut and taken your breath away? Like life is spinning out of control? No one is listening. No one is helping you. How often does the enemy try to convince you that God is not there nor does he care?

The enemy wants us to feel like that. He wants us to panic and hyperventilate and grasp at whoever will listen.

What do (should) we do instead?

Praise the One who can help in the middle of it. And then watch the devil be defeated!

I know. I know. That’s the last thing you want to do. It’s easier to focus on the situation at hand and not on the One who can handle the situation.

We want to march out with the white flag singing I surrender all to the very one who is taking our breath instead of the One who is Breathtaking.

King Jehoshaphat had an entire (vast) army coming at him…the Ammonites and the Moabites got together and ganged up on King J and his crew. Guess who led the army out to meet the “-ite” brothers? The praise and worship team! Check it out…

After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: Give thanks to the Lord for his love endures forever. (2Chronicles 20:21 NIV emphasis mine)

Because nothing screams victory in battle more than a bunch of choir singers.

It just doesn’t make sense does it? Shouldn’t we send out our elite soldiers with their battle ready skills and armor? There are people trained for this kind of thing. Keep reading…

As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. (2Chronicles 20:22 NIV emphasis mine)

Notice as they began to sing…not before.

Apparently we aren’t the only ones confused by this war tactic…

The men of Ammon and Moab rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another. (2Chronicles 20:23 NIV)

So the next time the devil tries to knock the very wind out of you, leaving you to believe your Father doesn’t care, that your Dad isn’t big enough, don your choir robe, inhale a big old breath, exhale some praise and sing baby sing. It will confuse the heck out of him.

That my friends is the best “calm down medicine” this side of heaven.

Fiercely for you!

kw

PS Surgery went very well and according to my man, my legs look like I tried to shave them with a very old razor and no readers. You guys.

 

 

Comfort Food

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Why is it the kids pick a dish involving your homemade noodles whenever you ask what they’re hungry for?

 My man asked me this as I was rolling out noodles for Johnny Marzetti, a family favorite for decades.

There is something comforting about combining eggs with flour and a dash of salt. Rolling them out then up, slicing them thin and spreading them out to dry on a cookie sheet.

But it’s more than that.

I get the recipe out every time. Oh, I don’t need it. I’ve made the dish so many times through the years that it’s been put to memory long ago. It’s more than directions on a card. It’s memories of the heart.

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Seeing that familiar handwriting reminds me of sitting around the old oak table at my in-laws. A table where we ate together, played games together, did homework (yes, I married my high school sweetheart) together.

I remember the pan she used, the apron she wore and the Saturday morning conversations we had as she whisked, mixed and rolled. My mother-in-law, Evelyn was solace for my soul.

As I’m whisking the eggs and getting ready to add the flour, I’m reminded of all the times I watched my Granny mix noodles together. When asked why she never measured out the flour she used, she told me you just feel of it and know when the dough is ready for kneading. I can’t tell you a measure because when it’s storming the damp air causes you to need more flour. You’ll get familiar with the feel the more you spend time making them.

 My Granny was a woman of simple means. A country girl from the hills of Tennessee who could make do with very little. There is something comforting about simple, isn’t there?

There is solace in that recipe card with stains from use, those handwritten words of direction and the memories from long ago. It provides comfort food for the body.

But these words on a page are like food for the soul….

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.

(He is my soul Provider.)

He makes me lie down in green pastures,

(He is my rest Giver.)

He leads me beside quiet waters,

(He is my silence Sustainer.)

He restores my soul.

(He is my soul Rescuer.)

He guides me in paths of righteousness for his names sake.

(He is my steps Director.)

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

(He is my Peace.)

(Psalm 23:1-5 NIV)

Like familiar writing on a stained recipe card this familiar passage doesn’t have to be looked up. Most of us have it memorized. But when you need to feed your soul it does one good to see and read the writ of old.

It provides, quiets, sustains and restores.

Like. Nothing. Else. Can.

I can’t explain it. I just feel of it and know.

Here’s to simple solace.

Fiercely for you!

kw