Friday, November 25, 2016

When Silence Is Loud Enough Your Inner Voice Whispers

"Words, words, words! So many words! 
They are wearisome things; and yet people cannot refrain from speaking."
~ Ecclesiastes 1: 8a

Silence. My ears rang loudly as I sat in my room this morning. Ears get so used to continuous sounds that in the absence of noise, they strain. Why are my surroundings so quiet? Well, the kids are with my parents and for the first time in awhile I've more significant time to myself. So I spent much of today taking a break from my own physical voice and from the voices of others. The megaphone of facebook media and news is too brazen for me at the moment. Today, silence was loud enough.

So I listened to coffee brew and my stomach rumble. I heard my cat softly walk through our home today. Do you know how quiet it has to be to hear those little pads connect with the carpet? Wow! Sounds that often take a backseat to the day have been ushered up front and placed center stage. Especially nice was simply hearing my own mental voice. I listened as my inner voice read Ecclesiastes, as it pondered Sarah Kay's "Useless Bay" poem and contemplate how there is no map in life - only a compass, as shared by Jason Silvia in his video, "The answer is love. The answer is yes." This day has been about me and taking time to ring out the sponged up emotions I've absorbed from others over the past few months. And at the end of these hours my little inner voice whispered, "you are doing just fine." *deep sigh*

You see, true reflective perspective reminded me of this truth: I'm not the cause of all the problems going on around me nor am I the solution. Trivial? Obvious? Well, maybe. But for this problem-solver's mind, a mind who has spent too much time lately hearing everyone else's voice shout over her own, that simple truth brings me deep, joyful peace today.

I'm thankful to God for time of silence, the time of metaphor musing and for the Compass. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Journaling Between Generations

Yesterday, my daughter and I went shopping together and, as always, I had such a great time with her! We shopped for Christmas gifts at a local book store, had several mini-heart palpatations over prices of different STEM games, and loaded down our rolling baskets with way too many cute items from a store called "5 Below." Do you have that store where you live? *Beware*

At the beginning of our mother daughter time, among a bunch of other eye-catcher items on clearance in the entryway, we found this journal. The timing of this little treasure was perfect because we had just talked about starting a journal of some kind together. (Thanks YaYa for that idea!) I love this idea of journaling between generations because it allows each of us to express ourselves in a deeper way and creates an heirloom piece of sorts. By comparing generational perspectives in a journal, I hope we can continue building safe places for us to express all the things we are going through in our lives at the moment. Plus, this journal has prompts!

I wrote my first entry this morning and will pass it on to my girl today for her to jot down her thoughts. Maybe this creative idea would be ideal for someone in your life too? After all, anyone could do this...father-son, sister-sister, best friends, or wife-husband. :)

Thursday, November 3, 2016


Jen and Brandon Hatmaker's posts have been on my mind, in my prayers, and a part of my coffee cozy times. Maybe all of the hullabaloo blew right over you but I’ve wrestled! And my two days of deep reflection have combined into the following post...a post which is probably not the answer of "yes, I agree with them" or "no, they got it wrong" that you may be expecting.

God spent time reminded me that my life equals to a "snap of the finger" in the span of time. He has whispered to my heart, "Do you really desire to spend it in controversy?" 

Uh, no, Lord!

So instead, He says...

A) Read my Word
B) From it build your convictions on how YOU should live for Me
C) Then live it

Those three things in themselves are a huge undertaking! In this American culture of fb complaining and twitter finger-pointing, it is so easy to get things tilted. But today God brought me again to Jesus' words to Peter in John 21:21-22 where he basically said to get my eyes off others and "...You follow me!" So I will be A, B, and C'n it and will encourage others to A, B, and C it themselves. 

James 4:11-13 (TLB), “Don’t criticize and speak evil about each other, dear brothers. If you do, you will be fighting against God’s law of loving one another, declaring it is wrong. But your job is not to decide whether this law is right or wrong, but to obey it. Only He who made the law can rightly judge among us. He alone decides to save us or destroy. So what right do you have to judge or criticize others?”

What a fool's errand it is to try to apply scripture, like you would a Band-Aid, onto the life of someone else. Each of us has the choice to read the bible (or not) and apply it (or not). At the end of days, I don't believe you will be there advocating or condemning me nor I, you. Each of us will stand to give account of our life and decisions only.

In light of this, pardon me as I leave this conversation right here to instead focus on the A, B, and C above. 

May you be blessed. May your hope be in Jesus. May your life follow his Word. And as you stand to give account someday, may you be found to be in Him.  

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Secret Joy of Secret Giving Longterm

During the holiday season, we brainstorm together how to help...the homeless in downtown, the forgotten senior in the nursing home around the corner, or the fatherless in group homes who don't even realize even exist in our own neighborhoods.

Something about the timing & grandness of our "help" seems so...well counterfeit. We know planning a huge coat drive/food drive/toy drive meets "our" instant gratification and helps a few folks...but what about when they need help in January, or April, or some random weekend in June? Maybe a secret commitment to a cause for 6 months/year could really change someone's life...maybe it could even change YOUR life!

Are we not more like the people Jesus spoke about who give a tiny part of our "surplus"??? Mark 12: 42-44

Matthew 6:1-4 (NLT) Teaching about Giving to the Needy
Jesus said, “Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. 2 When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. 3 But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. 4 Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

I'm not saying I'm not guilty. I'm very guilty...which is why God probably put it on my heart to write today and challenge myself and others. :) But you may be asking yourself...when is she going to get to the "secret joy" part?

Deuteronomy 15:10 "Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly, for the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do."

Galatians 5:22 "But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness..."

Friday, October 21, 2016

What Does Support Look Like?

sup·port (verb)
  1. to bear all or part of the weight; hold up 
  2. give assistance to; enable to function or act
Have you ever taken the time to consider what support looks like to YOU as an individual? We may assume that everyone feels supported by the same things, and although some might be universal, other support actions may not be as intuitive.

But before getting into the exercise, why is developing a strong support system so vital? Mayo Clinic writes, "Several studies have demonstrated that having a network of supportive relationships contributes to psychological well-being. When you have a social support network, you benefit in the following ways:
    • Sense of belonging. Spending time with people helps ward off loneliness. Whether it's other new parents, dog lovers, fishing buddies or siblings, just knowing you're not alone can go a long way toward coping with stress.
    • Increased sense of self-worth. Having people who call you a friend reinforces the idea that you're a good person to be around.
    • Feeling of security. Your social network gives you access to information, advice, guidance and other types of assistance should you need them. It's comforting to know that you have people you can turn to in a time of need."
So support systems are important but how can people effectively show you support if you've never thought deeply about what support looks like to you? And honestly, how can you truly be a support to someone else if you are basing the support you provide solely on what you "think" would make the other person feel supported? Deep stuff. 

Below is a copy of my answers to the exercise. I took 5 minutes and tried not to over-think, too much. HA. I hope to be able to find out what "support looks like" to my family and friends too! For me, the most surprising things that came to mind were: thoughtful questions (you know, those that dig deeper than 'how are you doing?') soft voices, sitting together in silence, and inside jokes. 

Support systems are grounding and uplifting at the same time however, how we individually feel supported by those around us can be different. I hope you'll take 5 minutes today, or over the weekend, to do this little mental health exercise too. As poet, Thomas Merton once said, "We cannot be ourselves unless we know ourselves." :)


Saturday, September 17, 2016

"The Creative Meltdown"

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” ― Thomas Merton

My daughter and I went to "The Creative Meltdown" last night. This unique event was a solo art exhibition of Lindsey Strehlow, author of the Creative Souls Blog. Her heart-stirring paintings, scultptures, and dance-designed art are meant to provide a glimpse into what it is like to live with both creativity and mental illness. I hope you'll check out this artist online or at any upcoming exhibits because these few photos will never do her work justice. 

One wonderful aspect of last night was to be reminded that art is created to make us feel something and is not just a meal for our eyes. In fact the sculpture below brought me feelings of whimsy giddy! However, I journeyed around the entire room and had many unspoken conversations with certain pieces. I met a few times with two paintings positioned on opposite walls. (paintings above) Viewing them was so rewarding the first time that I wandered over again to each one and enjoyed their company even further. The textures, shimmer, brush stroke motions, moving. After our time together I found myself feeling more smoothed out and unruffled.


Last night the art, and people, that pulled me close into conversations had movement, deepth, and understanding. I especially loved the moments spent with my elegant friend, Maryanne, who shared about the art that spoke to her. Suddenly I realized that I was moved by those specific pieces because they give me feelings opposite to how I feel as I work to climb out of the boxes society and culture tosses me into each day. I'm a creative. I will always long to follow His Spirit, for trust and truth, and for grace-filled relationships. So during the quiet reflection of my Coffee & Cozy time this morning, two reminders were whispered: 

  • to keep myself fluid and soft 
  • to remain bold and vulnerable, especially when so many are watching (Lindsey taught me that)

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.” ― Martha Graham