Shining brightly.

Luke 1:78-79
Because of the tender mercy of our God, With which the Sunrise from on high will visit us, TO SHINE UPON THOSE WHO SIT IN DARKNESS AND THE SHADOW OF DEATH, To guide our feet into the way of peace.”

This morning as I’m dropping three 5th graders off, we drive up on the trees opening which revealed the most glorious sun. As it was rising, the rays were shooting out from the clouds. The kids were amazed by the sight. They immediately said “hand me a pair of eclipse glasses so I can see it better”. I explained “you will be in total darkness if you look through the glasses, because it was only the sun’s rays”. As I admired the sunrise, it reminded me of my life in so many ways. As I go about my days, I so forget to look up at the beautiful sun and moon. But it’s always there. Everyday. Shining bright or hiding beneath the clouds. Without fail, it is there.

As is our life with Jesus. He is always there, whether we need him or not, he is shining down on us. Even in the storms or rain, He is still there, watching us, protecting us from ourselves. He is the sun. We rely on him to make everything grow and get better. We depend on him to shine on us when we are down. He never fails to deliver. He is the sun, who after we face a terrible tragedy, He is still getting up with us every morning to shine upon us. He encourages us everyday. He shines bright to draw us outside. He changes our weather, our seasons. We grow through these sunrises and sunsets. We change.

There is something glorious about the morning when the sun comes up. Everything is nice and new again. We can be cleansed. Over and over again, devoured by the days and nights. If we try, we can look with our face toward the sun, and heal everyday. We can change in His sight. He’s there, shining so bright we can barely look most days. Through the clouds of our life, if we look, we can find Him, our savior, the sun, peeking through. Waiting to shine and make us new again. Shining brightly.

Also, the sun rises and the sun sets; And hastening to its place it rises there again. Ecclesiastes 1:5

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Fortes fortuna juvat 

“Fortune favors the brave,” from the ancient Roman dramatist Terrance declared.  And as Mary South describes, “there are many good reasons not to toss your life up in the air and see how it lands.  But no one wants fear to be a reason either. Adventure comes with no promises or guarantees in life.” But risk and reward are twin siblings.  Just like love and fear are distant cousins.  

If you find a new purpose, does it seem silly to start again at age 47? If you asked your friends and family if they thought you should sell your house and move to the ocean, would they think you’re crazy? If you wanted to save the whales in Alaska, open a candy shop, or start an alpaca farm, would they drive you down to the nearest hospital for a head X-ray?  For all good intended plans, there must be a bit of madness involved.  That little spark of interest to think, what if you couldn’t fail? What if the universe conspires to help you follow your steering star? 

So if you set out to chart a course to your life, you will definitely be met by two different feelings. Remember those distant cousins – Love and fear? Fear is the feeling when  you imagine telling your boss, “so long, I’m moving to Antarctica to live my life” and the feeling in the pit of your stomach when your Dad says, “what the hell?” And you begin to question your sanity and question your future.  What if you run out of money? What if your soulmate doesn’t show up? What if you end up becoming a bag lady?  What could be possibly worse than that? Living the same life now, always missing out on your purpose. A little shred of love dies away each time you give up on your dream.  A slow drip of the faucet of your life. Your dream will begin to wither and die. 

When my father turned 60, he decided to climb Mt. Rainer.  He just made up his mind, trained for it, and did it.  Then he decided to walk the Appalachian Trail, then on and on, mountain after mountain, he climbed. He is now 74 and is leaving in August to head to California to spend 10 days hiking.  If he had fear, we never saw it.  But if he had missed those experiences, then his life would be different.  He found his happiness there. 

Imagine living in a white room.  All your favorite things gone.  Your children, your husband, boyfriend, live-in nanny, three legged dog, all gone.  Only you inside your white room.  Where would you live?  What would you be doing? Would it be warm near the ocean? Tucked away in a cabin in the woods? In a big city apartment? Where would you go and how would you fill your days? Now fill up your white room with the important people and a few favorite things.  Draw it and write it down.  Recreate your life. That’s the love.  That’s the purpose.  Fear goes away with risk and that’s how you choose love. Pick the right cousin. 

Only one

I’ve had a theme this summer. In between the swim practices and meets, cleaning, washing clothes and feeding kids, I’ve been reading. A lot. I’ve read “Hallelujah Anyway”, “Big Magic”, “Love warrior”, “Present over Perfect”, “the Passion Test”, “the Secret”, “Spirit Junkie”, and “Option B” to name a few. As I’m reading, I’m plotting out new ways to live my life. Maybe my boat is still docked for now, but my ship will be sailing eventually. I’m emerging myself in different quality of life these days. Soul searching, if you will.

Shauna Nequist, my new friend, who wrote the book, “Present over Perfect”, offers me some advice. You only need one. One set of dishes, maybe one lipstick? One swimsuit, one jacket, one pair of tennis shoes. We live in a world of abundance, and for me, it’s just getting too much. I’m suffocating. I’ve always been, an avid consumer. Spending too much on clothes, shoes, purses. It’s a habit, a crutch, a way to avoid your unhappiness. What girl doesn’t love a new pair of shoes to make her feel joy?

My mother in law, years ago, told me that she was becoming a minimalist. I laugh. What? You are throwing away your pictures? Your good dishes, your clothes? I’m sick of all this stuff she tells me. Well, hell must’ve frozen over – because now I’m feeling the same way. I’m ready to hire a big container like they do in front of a building reconstruction and start purging. My kids laugh when I watch Tiny House. I tell them, just wait, you kids move out, I’m buying me a tiny house, too.

Because you see, that now I want my time to go to experiences, travel, being in the mountains, hiking and biking and swimming at the beach. I’m on a mission, and although I don’t have the funds to travel or go all the time, that’s what I’m planning for. I want my kids to be reminded that there are more colors of skin than just your own, more languages, more customs and more experiences than what we see in our little town in South Carolina. We just got back from Washington, D.C. A couple days ago, and my oldest asked me why are there so many different people here? And I realized that he has only seen a small population in our world. We vacation like most do, the beach in the summer, maybe a few towns nearby. What a shame I haven’t exposed my kids to more than this. My father responded to him that by the time he is my age the world will be different. We will be surrounded by all sorts of different people. I hope so.

My point here is this. Do I need another pink sweater like the other five in my closet? Do I need to eat out three times a week? Or can I give my kids a taste of life outside our front door…taste life in a new way. I’m minimalizing my life to make a difference in my kids lives. I only have five more years for Spencer, I want to give him absolutely every experience I can before he leaves my nest. So I’m picking only one. Only one lipstick, one purse. One sweater from now on. It will be hard and I will fail again and again, but my boat cannot sail until I’m ready to get on board.

Good energy

There’s a test you can do in your home to find out if you have a good or bad energy. If there’s been a fight, death, anything harsh or upsetting you can take this test by adding a mixture of salts and vinegars to a cup of water. After a few days you can actually witness a change in the water. If you have no change there are no negative “atoms” if you will, in the home. I have not taken this, but I suppose it serves the same purpose as “crystals” or “saging a home”. I don’t necessary agree with this, but it’s interesting to me the science behind the theory.

So my question to myself is, am I leaving negative energy around me or positive? Wouldn’t that be interesting to see the remains of a fight or yelling in the air? What if every time we spoke ill of someone it left a mark in the room where we once were? Would we change our behavior? God says we should never gossip or talk bad of someone. Yup. It’s hard not to do. Everyone gets mad from time to time. But imagine those marks left in your child’s conditioning or in your best friends heart every time you said mean words.

If you have ever worked around glitter – hello teachers! You know the impact of spreading glitter. It ends up on you and your clothes, in the carpet, your hair for days!! Same with sand. So if every time we left a little something with our friends or our children would we want it to be a sweet beautiful reminder of us? Or a negative vibe that is left for that person to remember us by. Just food for thought. Tonight when I put my kids to bed, I want to think they have a good energy lingering of their mom.

Unfolded

In Japan, there is an art called kintsugi. It is the process of taking a broken vase or bowl and sealing it back together with gold resin. The product, after receiving this process, is more beautiful than it was previously. Many collectors treasure these pieces and they are very valuable. When I read about this process it reminded me of our lives. The older we get, the more gold lines we receive. If we’re lucky, we survive our lives without too much damage. But honestly we always come out better if we’re tarnished. We all have that one friend who lives life with only sunshine and daisies. The one who married well, has a perfect husband and kids. Yes. That friend. Then we have our bestest friends, who survive being cheated on, death of a parent or child, raised themselves, put themselves through college as a bartender, and you get the picture…you know who they are. The friend with the gold lines. The friend who has lived several lives in her short life, the friend who will give you money when she’s broke, bring you flowers because you cried, bring herbal tea because your throats hurts. She earned those gold lines.

In my connection class at church I taught a lesson and shared this story. The lesson was on breaking yourself down before you can build back up in God’s perfect time. If you recall the silversmith, he refines the silver, spends days and weeks, then at last burns it until it is ready. Then he buffs it. It’s only ready when he can see his very own reflection. Our lives are reflected in that silver. Are we still in the burning process? Are we laying there, like a broken vase? If we are lucky, we have been temolished. Then and only then, can God take our poor broken spirits and lay into us His precious gold. Then we are really of value.

Valentine’s Day

It was the week before Valentine’s Day, 1995.  My bff Kelly drags me out for a drink and karaoke.  Really I didn’t want to go.  It was so cold that night.  But her persistent attitude always won me over!.  Ok just one drink I said.

You stuck out like a sore thumb.  Dressed in a suit, an overcoat, dress shoes and tie, this was the last place you fit into.  You and your work group, lost on the way to dinner from north Carolina.   I saw you across the room.  Next thing I know you were beside me, saying hello. I told you -it’s hey down here,not hello.  You laughed.  You bought me a beer, I commented on your socks. Connection. Instant.  It’s what Cupid says is a perfect shot.  Be the end of the night you had my phone number and two attempts to kiss me.  I knew you were the one.

By valenties day, I had the first of many dozen roses, many phone calls and  we were smitten.  Two years till we were married, you had relocated,  and our lives began.  We survived a lot.  Death of your father and two brothers, my infertility treatments,  affairs, and three houses later, I thought we were through the hard times.  But we had no idea that your life would end so quickly and my life would be changed forever. Lots of pain and heartbreak in those 20 years we were together.

But the good news too.  We adopted three beautiful children.  We always chose each other, survived.  After our almost divorce, we reunited stronger than ever.  You were such a good father and husband.  Even in  The bad times, I still got roses and beautiful cards.  We still loved each other.  Everyday.

What ive learned is to really appreciate you.   Appreciate your love for each other. God gave us staying power.  Words mean a lot.  Be there when people need you.  Don’t have regrets.  Look at the camera when someone is talking to you. Don’t get distracted. You might miss something really important. Like Valentine’s Day.

Destiny

One of my favorite books by Martha Beck, is called ‘Steering by Starlight’.  It’s an amazing book about destiny and dreams.  I’m really fascinated by how the universe works to give us ideas and coincidences and destiny.  Just like the book , ‘The Secret’, how we can visualize things into becoming our own.  I love it when the universe conspires to make us get ideas or gives us plans to look into our future.

No

Tem-po-rar-y

Temporary-definition is lasting for only a limited amount of time; not permanent. I like this word.  Growing us as a sensitive child (although few knew this) I hated to think of any thing, pet, relationship,etc. as temporary.  Being 47, I’m more into temporary things.  Once I realized that everything is short-term, including life, it became easier.  My body. My parents. My kids. My house. My money. It’s all here for a short time.  Everything as we know it is on a time line.  Just like those time lines you draw in third grade. Time is a great professor, teaching us how to live, mistakes to make or not make again.

Want to try again? In love? You can. It’s all temporary. Learn to paint, write a novel, look at a rainbow. They are all temporary. You can start over every minute. Starting over is the great answer to temporary. Thank goodness some things don’t last. Like the flu or the chicken pox, we just have to ride it out and wait because we know it’s short lived. Hopefully we get to spend a lot of time with things and people we love, but the temporary relationships are the ones we learn the most from. The bad loves that break our hearts and teach us life lessons. The fun friends who we spend our summers with and move away when school starts. The college roommates we have then we all graduate and move home or into different states. They’re all temporary, but boy are they great memories. The teach us better than anything else can. They teach us to live harder and stronger, to take greater risks, and love more.

God winks

I read a book explaining a God wink as a “unexplained coincidence”.  For a Christian, I now believe that there is never any such thing as a coincidence.  All things happen for a reason and God puts people, things, events, stresses in our lives for a reason. The reason He puts them there is to teach us to be grateful and to draw us closer to Him.

I’ve had so many God winks in the past two years to count.  So many times I open my phone to find it open to my late husband’s  contact.  I open my closet to find his old shirts laying in the floor.  I find objects that he liked in a peculiar place.  I love ❤️ these things.  It’s like looking for a puzzle piece and I always keeping my eyes open for the next present.  I’m always grateful for them! God knows what we need and when we need them, but unfortunately in this text savvy world, we are so busy looking down,  we miss these gifts.

Yesterday while the kids were at swim practice I was walking around the college campus with my dog.  While I walked, I actually looked or hunted for, God winks.  It’s really easy to do, but you have to pay close attention.  I’ve found that if you hear something, turn around and find it.  Is it a red bird? Is it a honking horn that looks like Robert’s old car? Or just paying attention to things around me, like newly budded flowers, birds nests, butterflies.  Thinking about someone, and then they call. After my walk, I realized that there are always God winks around us we just have to be open to them.

I also know I won’t find them sitting in front of the TV or iPad.  I won’t find them with my ears and eyes closed.  I have to find them and be grateful when they come. Most importantly I have to thank my Father for his precious gifts.

Coincidence is God’s  way of staying anonymous-Albert Einstein