Thursday, October 31, 2013

waking up the dream ...

  I've had a lot of nightmares lately ... old worries and fears creeping into my nights ... old thoughts ... and the book I've been reading lately made me realize something.

  I'd forgotten how to dream.  I'd forgotten how to believe in possibilities.

  I think it happened when things in my life got really wonky last year.  Wonky.  That's a word that can describe a lot of things ... in a lot of ways.

  Reading "a million little ways" made me realize that I'd stopped doing some of the things I used to do to dream.

  Emily Freeman talks about rescuing our childhood dreams, and talks about filling notebooks with drawings of houses,elaborate floor plans, and special hidden rooms and staircases.

  Me too.

  I used to fill notebooks with floor plans and clippings from magazines with decorating ideas.  Catalogs would come in the mail and I would circle things I would buy to decorate my home.  Not just as a child, but for most of my adult life.

  Until last year.  I stopped dreaming last year and started living my nightmares.

  But no more.  Catalog season has started, and I've bought a new notebook, ink pens and have my scissors close at hand.  I'm embracing my dreams and making some new ones.

  Because anything is possible ...

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

words that rescue ...

[Emily P. Freeman writes from her heart ... a million little ways ... and her words are impacting mine.]

"Our passions aren't the goal, but they are signposts, like arrows pointing to our center.  Here is the path to the deepest part of who you are, how you are made, the poetry of your soul." [p60]

"We don't have to be so afraid of desire.  It's time instead to wake up to it.  In the waking, maybe we will begin to see that instead of principles to follow, life is more like a rhythm to move with."  [p67]

"There is a mysterious connection between having hopes for our future and being secure in our identity now."  [p68]

"Either we have lived a lot of our lives denying who we truly are and we feel discouraged for the wasted time, or we see what we most deeply desire and want to forsake everything in order to have those desires satisfied now.  We are in danger of sinking into either regret and anxiety or self-effort and self-expression."  [p78]

"Believe in myself and I sink into the waves of worry, procrastination, daily tasks, and diagnoses.  There is no dry ground in sight." [p86]

"Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.“You of little faith,” he said,“why did you doubt?”"
~ Matthew 14:31 NIV ~

"Criticism is the key in the artist's life.  How we handle our critics could be the difference between creating art that matters and allowing the art to die." [p89]

"The critic in our head is hard to confront, mainly because we tend to believe every ugly word she says.  Her mantra just becomes a part of our normal, like how we always part our hair on the same side or keep our food from touching on our plate.  It's just how things are." [p95]

"The more I confess my frail humanity, the louder I hear the sound of another voice rising up in me, one that has some weight behind it.  it is the voice of Hope, and Hope speaks with courage and a bit of a laugh.  Because when those things we most fear will happen actually happen, we have a unique window of opportunity to take inventory of the battlefield in the aftermath.  We look around, blink our eyes, listen to the quiet, and think to ourselves, I am not dead.  That did not kill me after all." [p97]

"How we respond when confronted with the critic has the potential to be the most beautiful art we'll ever make .... It isn't something you point to, it's a way you live." [p105]

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

desire ...

[I'm continuing my series of posts on this incredible, eye-opening, soul-searching book... a million little ways by Emily P. Freeman]

"Uncovering desire is the practice of learning how to look farther beneath the surface than we may be used to doing.  It may require time, space, and solitude to allow our souls to become quiet enough to settle into what is most true.  Learning to look beneath the surface is an important step in uncovering the art we were born to make."  [p41]

"But if those desires become rights you clench in your hand, demanding they be met in your way and in your timing, you will never receive the satisfaction from them that you so desperately seek."  [p42]

"When we aren't able to translate what makes us come alive into our own language, the temptation might be to dismiss it altogether.  Many of us have spent our entire lives editing out our first thoughts.  We do this for all kinds of reasons ~ to avoid critique, prevent failure, please people, or simply because we can't see how they will logically fit into our lives.  So we tuck away our first thoughts, or in this case, our deepest desires, and we cover them up with more acceptable pursuits."  [p44]

"You have to uncover the art before you can release it.  The problem for most of us is, we have let the negative emotions decide for us that the art isn't worth uncovering.  We have allowed the terror of exposure and the risk of failure to out-weigh the truth of our remade identity."  [p46]

"Could it be possible that the thing you most long for, the thing you notice and think about and wish you could do, is the thing you were actually made and are being equipped to do?"  [p47]

Could it be?
The life I've always wanted ...
is the life I was meant to have?
And all I have to do to get it ...
is believe in it.

"For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. 
They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."
~ Jeremiah 29:11 TLB ~

Monday, October 28, 2013

art within ...

[I'm really falling behind on my writing ... but I've been truly enjoying life in the process ... 
so that kind of voids my late posts, doesn't it?]

In "a million little ways" Emily Freeman helps us to "uncover the art you were made to live."  That alone sounds intimidating, but in reality, her words have opened up my eyes to all the ways that we are capable of creating, living, being, and giving art.

These are some of the powerful quotes I've highlighted from the first three chapters ...

"I can't imagine anything more dangerous to the enemy of our hearts than people who know who they are." [p15]

"You were born to make art.  ... Because you were also made to live art.  ... It's time to live as though we believe we have something to offer. ... Because it isn't only the painters who are allowed to be expressive, it isn't only the musicians who can touch our souls, it isn't only the novelists who can inspire us to dream." [p17]

"Perhaps those who make art in the ways we traditionally think of art give the rest of us a framework from which to live our lives.  They offer a gift of knowing what life could look like if it were handled more like a mysterious piece of art rather than a task-oriented list.  We may not all have the same skill or training as do the painters or the musicians, but we all bear the image of a creative God." [p20]

"Art is what happens when you dare to be who you really are.  ... We make art with our lives."  [p21]

For we are God's masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Ephesians 2:10

"These English words used in the text ~ masterpieces, sometimes translated workmanship ~ these are translations of the original word used in the letter to the church at Ephesus, the Greek word poiema.  Our English word poem comes from this same Greek word.  Workmanship, masterpiece, poem ~ all these words in Scripture are used to describe God's work ~ you and me. ... God calls you his workmanship, his poiema.  ... We are walking poetry, the kind that moves, the kind who has hands and feet, the kind with mind and will and emotion." [p25]

"Knowing you are a poem doesn't confine you to be artsy, it releases you to be you.  We are art, every one of us.  No matter our personality, skill, talent, or inclinations." [p29]

"Uncovering your art is about waking up. ... Being a mess doesn't disqualify you from having an influence.  And it doesn't make you any less of a poem."  [p36]

"Because you are a gift worth offering, and if you don't know that, we're missing out on you." [p37]

I don't want to miss out on life anymore.
I want to uncover my art.
The art of living.

morning ...


Friday, October 25, 2013

annie ...

This week I have come to a difficult decision, but one that I know is best for Annie.  I have decided that she is ready for another home ... one with a large fenced yard and children to play with.

When I rescued her from the woods almost a year ago, she was starving ... for food and love ... and in this past year she has gotten an abundance of both.  Her personality has begun to shine, revealing the sweet, gentle girl that she is.

But she is a Beagle ... bred for running and roaming ... and I don't have a yard large enough for her to stretch her legs safely.  I sometimes let her run in the field across the street where she was found, but I worry that her curious nose will take her out of earshot and into traffic.  She has once or twice followed a scent out of sight, and it has been too long before she came looking for me.  I worry that she will get hit by a car ... or by a person, now that her trust is starting to build again.

I've contacted two fellow bloggers who run dog rescue organizations, and have also emailed a beagle rescue group that is six hours away to see if they can help me find her a good forever home ... with a large fenced yard and children to play with.

Love this sweet girl.  Love love love her.  Deeply.  But she needs a fenced yard and we're not in a position to move for at least another six to eight months.  She would also love a family with children ... she loves the neighborhood kids that want to pet her.

If you know of someone who might love her as much as I do, who can give her fenced yard, and family to play with ... please message me.

5 minutes: together

GO:
Together, women all over the world came together to surpass expectations and fund some of Mercy House Kenya's needs in advance of the goals.

Now, we are coming together again to fund a second home for these women.

Together, we accomplish so much.

In the book I have been reading, "a million little ways," Emily Freeman talks about we are all artists.  We all create.  She says "That's what artists do.  They pull back the covering on our inner life, allowing us to see things beneath the surface, things that, without their compassion, creativity, and generosity, we may have missed."

Together, we have created art for these women in Kenya.  The art of compassion, of love, of generosity.  We have been creative in helping them create new lives.

Together.

STOP.
Five Minute Friday

Thursday, October 24, 2013

claiming life ...

I was trying to join with Jamie Ridler Studios yesterday morning and play a little catch-up.

Life ... just gets busy sometimes, and all of my good intentions for blogging every day about life have just created ... a busier life!  They say "be careful what you wish for" and that has become so true for me lately.

Jamie posed the question for Wishcasting Wednesday "What do you wish to claim?"  I've already begun claiming life ... so now I want to claim a life as an author ... full time abundance with writing and blogging ... and a way to make it a full time financially abundant life for us.

As a hint for things to come ... I've started reading a wonderful book titled "a million little ways" by Emily P. Freeman.  It has 12 easy to read chapters, and I have begun writing a blog posts on how her words are changing my thinking.

In November, because I have so much to be grateful and thankful for ... I will begin a series of thank you letters.

Wrapping out the year, I have started a series of posts from the book of Luke to celebrate the Christmas season.  One post for each of the 24 chapters of Luke.

Friday, October 18, 2013

5 minutes: laundry

Five Minute Friday
GO:

Annie pulls a sock out of the dirty laundry basket while I am at work and carries it around the house with her.  She doesn't chew it, nor does she lick it because when I find it in the middle of the hall later that night it is free of holes and dry.

I think it comforts her.  Alone in the house with Trooper and Oreo ... she misses us while we are at work.  She carries the sock ... like a teddy bear ... for a sense of security.

It reminds me of the nights when I wore my husband's t-shirt to bed ... clinging to the comfort of his scent.  Of the times after my father died when the smell of fresh sawn and milled wood in the large hardware stores ~ he was a carpenter ~ made me remember him ... and miss him all over again.

Clean laundry brings a physical comfort.  Soft and smooth on the skin, we feel refreshed.  But sometimes unclean laundry can bring back good memories too ... memories of life.

STOP

Thursday, October 17, 2013

a second chance at life ...

Ralph Lauren's newest models don't suffer from eating disorders.
In fact, their biggest issues might be fleas ...

My blogger friend, Karen, is also stepping out in style ... for the dogs.
You should check out the legs on some of those sweethearts.
Karen is one of those beautiful women, inside and out.

Amy, another blogger friend, works for the Richmond Animal League
and she blogs [here].  I love that Burg found her ... and she found Burg
when they needed each other most.

Life is like that.
Sometimes you get a second chance.

Grab it and run with it.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

risking and reaching ...

Wednesdays have often been linked to Jamie Ridler Studios for Wishcasting Wednesdays.  Last week I had started a post about what risks I wanted to take ... but I let life take priority and so never finished it.

Today I will.

I read a blog post this morning from an Australian blogger whom I deeply respect and admire.  Eden Riley grabs life by the throat at times in her blog and spits in its face.  She is raw in her honesty, and I love reading her truth, even the parts that make me cringe and cry.  She has faced her demons again and again, and while there have been times that they have nearly beaten her ... she has still stood tall and conquered them.

Last night, one of the many clouds that has hidden the sunlight from her family in years past rained on them again and a life was lost.

Life.

We risk it every day because there are always circumstances beyond our control that could end it.  Speeding cars, crashing planes, the evil that lies in the hearts of others.  But we risk it because we want it.  We want life, we want to live, and we want it more than we want anything else.  We reach for it in ways that excite and exhilarate us.  We want to feel it, taste it, see it, and hear it.  We want to touch life.

Even those days when we feel beaten down, afraid, and alone ... we want life.

My heart aches today for the loss that Eden's family is feeling ... for that déjà vu that never seems to go away for them.  My heart aches today for all of those who feel beaten down, afraid, alone, and hopeless ... because I was once one of them.

This is my wish ... that all those who are without hope would find it ... that all those who are afraid would have courage ... that all those who are beaten down would be lifted up ... that all those who believe they are alone in their struggles would realize that they are never alone, and all they have to do is reach up for the Hands that long to hold them.

"Your life will be brighter than the noonday.
Even darkness will be as bright as morning. 
Having hope will give you courage.
You will be protected and will rest in safety."
~ Job 11:17-18 ~
NLT

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Life ...

Living it ... 
in R's over the last five days...

Day 1
Reunite & Rejoice

Day 2
Relax & Reminisce
Nothing out of the ordinary.

Day 3
Reflect & Rekindle

Day 4
Rejuvenate & Refresh

Day 5
Rest & Restore

What letter best describes your life this past week?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Jude 1:13

13 They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.
Source: WeHeartIt.com

Jude is one chapter long, a letter written as a warning to all believers.  The verse above is in reference to those who did not believe and who would cause believers to stray from their faith by their ways.

Recent events in my life, however, have shown me that in reality we all are those wild waves of the sea.  Those wandering stars in the blackest darkness.

Our free will gives us the choice to do as we please.
The grace that was given to us with the sacrifice of the Lamb, is all that keeps us from staying in that darkness.

We cling to His light, sometimes faltering, sometimes falling, but always with the grace to come back into the light and seek forgiveness.

I'm so grateful for forgiveness.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

a new chance at life ...

Ever want a "do-over?"

A chance to get a fresh start, a new opportunity, a chance ... just a chance to begin life again?

To learn from mistakes and not have to repeat them?

To recreate who you are ... without everyone reminding you of who you were?

Yeah ... me too ... and so glad that I'm getting that chance ... at life.

What would you do?  Who would you be?  Where would you go?



Monday, October 7, 2013

a life of learning ...

I love to learn.

Years ago when I was working as a client services representative for a medical group, I spoke at luncheons given by a Medicare supplemental insurance company.  I would speak to 20-50 senior adults who were anywhere from age 55 to 95 about the benefits our medical group could provide if they selected us as their primary care provider.

I was always amazed at the difference in coherent thought and understanding in the men and women I helped at these luncheons, and the fact that the defining differences in them was whether or not they had continued their education beyond high school, or if they had worked outside of the home.

Here is a simple explanation ... continue to work your brain ... or risk losing your ability to process critical information.

One of the most powerful tools for change that we can give someone is the opportunity to learn.

"We know from study after study that there is no tool for development more effective than the education of girls and women."
~ Kofi Annan ~

I have been so blessed to watch the Internet community step up to the plate and help the women at Mercy House reach their goal to get a van to help young mothers (and their children) in Kenya.  Now they are stepping up to ask for help in creating new classrooms.

"Educate a boy, and you educate an individual.
Educate a girl, and you educate a community."
~ Adelaide Hoodless ~

I'm so looking forward to seeing how this new phase of (in)courage's fundraising for Mercy House Kenya goes!
Celebrate this update!
In just one day, the classrooms were funded.
WOW

Saturday, October 5, 2013

dancing to life ...



"If you are out of your cage, by all means, flap your wings."

... and get up and dance.

Friday, October 4, 2013

5 minutes: write

GO:

I write about my life here.  I wrote about it there in my first book, and a little bits and pieces of it in my second and third books.  I'm writing again about my life in another book.  A book about choosing life.  About hitting that wall and wanting it to end, but finding the light again.  The life light.

I'm also looking for ways to sell the rights to my second and third writing attempts.  To sign them away so that we can get a fresh start, a clean break, and so I can focus on just writing about what the past three years of my life have been ... because when I write, the words escape.  Maybe to help someone else, but at the very least, to free me from the nightmares.

Writing is a form of exorcism sometimes.

I want to write about choosing life ... and living it.  I want to write about the miracles that have happened in our lives that made me choose life again ... and how they continue to change my life.

I want to write about life.

STOP
Five Minute Friday

Thursday, October 3, 2013

making us stronger ...

I found a card this morning that was written to me by my uncle who died a month ago from cancer.

He had written it in February in reply to a card of encouragement and hope I had sent to him after finding out about his illness.

He responded, "Life has given us some lemons to chew on." ... "What hurts in life can only make us stronger."

I don't think he knew how his story would end, but his words were true.  Life does sometimes give us lemons to chew on ... tart, sour days that leave us feeling hurt, twisted and bitter.

But each day also gives us the opportunity to add some sugar to our lives and become stronger ... making our days full and sweetly flavored.

All we have to do is reach for it ... reach for life.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

two bunny days ...

Years ago when I worked on the opposite side of town from where I live, I would take the scenic route to work.

The old business highway winds past a part of the bay, behind the paper mill and one of the oldest communities here, down through downtown, and out towards the beach along a drive that on one side has the bay, and on the other some magnificent Southern mansions.  It has always been my favorite way to travel to the beach, especially during the holidays when the houses are decorated.

Source:  WeHeartIt.com
Although the road past the paper mill was less than scenic on the one side (and quite unpleasant to smell), the opposite side of the road presented a lake and occasionally, the wild rabbit sitting on the edge of the grass, nibbling on the clover.

I started to refer to those rare rabbit sightings as one bunny days, and was always hopeful for a two bunny day ... which I took to indicate it would be a special occasion day.

Recently I've started taking the scenic drive to and from work again ... just because ... and have occasionally seen a wild rabbit.  It occurred to me that even when I don't see two rabbits, I know that they are still there, just out of sight.
Source: WeHeartIt.com

I've decided that regardless of whether or not I see them, I'm going to start declaring each day to be a two bunny day, because that is just the way life is sometimes.  We have to make it a special occasion ... if for no other reason than the fact that it is a two bunny day.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

31 days ... of Life

 I'm joining a new meme tonight ~ the Nesting Place ~ to write about the same topic for 31 days.  The category I've chosen is "Inspiration and Faith" because I have chosen a topic ... one that is sort of borrowed from Hallmark cards ... "Life is a Special Occasion."

  Life is ... a special occasion.

  Life.  The act of living.  The act of loving.  The act of laughing.  Life.

  Getting up every single day ~ whether you want to or not ~ and living.  Taking steps, going through the motions, doing what you need to do one step at a time.

  A little over a year ago, I would have argued that it wasn't a special occasion, or even anything worth doing.  I was in a bad place, after a cancer diagnosis, after leaving a job that caused more stress than what it was worth, after broken promises, after all that I lost ...

  I woke up one day to realize that all was not lost, promises were kept, leaving that job was just one step forward, and the cancer was just something that if I gave in to it would consume me, but that was a choice I had to make ... or not make.

  Life is a choice and life is a special occasion.

  For the next 31 days, I'm going to be writing about life, and the celebration of it ... one day at a time and all the beauty that comes with the party.

how He looks at me ...

  I've been previewing a book for the past month.  Normally I'm not such a slow reader.  I could have finished this book in two days and put it on the shelf and forgotten about it.  But I didn't want to do that with this book.  I wanted to savor it, re-read chapters again and again, and I wanted to live in the words I found inside of it that have begun to change my life.

  I've been following Courtney's blog "Women Living Well" for over a year now.  I found her at a time when I wasn't living well ... and when I wasn't wanting to live.  I knew that I needed to make some changes in my life, and when I found her Proverbs 31 Bible Study, I thought that would be a step in the right direction.

  And it was.

  I will admit that I was at first intimidated by Courtney's life and her faith.  My faith, while strong, was smaller than a mustard seed at the time.  But like the mustard seed, it has grown as I have begun to realize how He looks at me.

  I'm not perfect ... and neither is Courtney.  Her book shares her transparent moments when she stumbles, but it also shares her triumphant moments when she picks herself up in her walk with the King.  It isn't a how-to guide for being the perfect wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt ... it is a how-to guide for realizing that we are loved and forgiven ... because of how He looks at us.

  One of the most incredible things that has changed in me since beginning this book, and following Courtney's blog, is not just realizing how God looks at me, but how my husband looks at me ... and in seeing that, I have begun to look at myself through their eyes.

  I can't say that this book will change your life.  But I can say that it has changed parts of mine, and for that I am grateful.

  As part of the celebration for Courtney's book hitting the shelves (and Kindle) this week, I'm offering a free signed copy to one lucky reader who comments below.  Tell me about a moment in your life when you saw yourself through someone else's eyes and how that changed you.  Winner will be randomly chosen in one week and contacted by email.