Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Mentor

I know that I promised the conclusion to the short story and you are all waiting so patiently but I have to interrupt today to share part of my story, actually a very special person in my story. About a year ago, a friend of mine came over for supper one night. I had been thinking about her a lot and had really felt like I had to ask her something. For a long time, I had been watching her. I watched how she spoke about others, how she treated people, how she made time for people, how she was not afraid to take on challenges, how her life reflected her faith, how she raised her children, how she taught, and how she handled the struggles of life. In all this watching, I realized that she was someone that I would like to have mentor me. That night that she came over for supper, I was going to ask her if she would become a mentor to me. I felt like I needed guidance and the strength of another woman to help me with my faith and to keep me accountable to how I wanted to live out my life. Her example inspired me. Here was someone who I knew would be honest with me, ask me hard questions, and love me no matter what.

Well, needless to say, I never asked her. She came that night in pain. She had just been at the physiotherapist because she had very intense pain in her lower back and wanted some relief from it. As we ate supper that night, I watched her some more. As we talked and laughed, I could tell she was uncomfortable but she was enjoying the moment and wanted to be with us despite her aching back. She shifted restlessly throughout supper and dessert, trying to find a comfortable position. I knew that I couldn't ask her my question at that time and silently prayed that she would get better. Hoping that a time would come when I could.

A week or two later she was diagnosed with cancer. The pain in her back was a tumor. My heart broke. My question remained unasked. Over the next months I spent time with her, watching, listening, and noticing. She smiled, she wept, she listened, she shared her journey, she remained steadfast in her faith, she created memories with the special people in her life, she studied the scriptures, she showed all those around her that hope is only found in loving Jesus, even in the darkest of days.

A couple months ago, I thought about my question. I realized that I didn't really need to ask it anymore. She had been showing me everything that I needed to know. Her life, her story, her faith were a living example to me. She had been mentoring me all along. Her life was impacting my own. Through her struggles and her battle with cancer, she modeled to me that life is about living. Life is about the moments that you spend with the ones you love. It's about impacting others in small but life changing ways. It's about being who God made you to be and knowing that He loves you immensely. It's about laughing and crying and feeling. It's about speaking words of love in truth and honesty. It's about letting the people that you love, know that they are special to you.

Yesterday, I watched as my mentor, my friend, was lowered into the ground. The ache in my heart will be there for a long time. It is hard to say good bye to people that you love. I look forward to the day when we can sit and talk and laugh again and share together our stories of lives lived loving God and loving others.

Thank you, my mentor. You will forever be in my heart, Joanne Grace.

Friday, December 10, 2010

In a Yellow Cab - Part Three

Breaking the silence she started to speak, “Sam, I have....I have something that I need to tell you.” The invisible string pulled his head down again and he began tracing the crease of his pants with his index finger. “I didn’t know where you were these past eight months. I couldn’t find your phone number anywhere, I called your work and they said you had quit. They said that and were working somewhere else. Your email address didn’t work. None of your friends, not even your parents, knew where you were. I had no link to you. Except....except the child that is growing inside me. It’s our baby, Sam...our baby.”

As she spoke in her gentle, non-accusing way, something broke inside of him, it was the invisible string snapping. The emotion, the grief, his desire to hide what he was really feeling had robbed him not only of his daughter, but his wife, and would continue to rob him if he didn’t grab a hold of the hope that was before him. His eyes, flooded with tears, could no longer focus on his hands. He lifted his head to meet her eyes. He still wasn’t sure what to say, but he knew that he had to try.

“I....I’m sorry,” he faltered briefly. Trying to dab uselessly at the wetness on his cheeks with his coat sleeve he continued, “I have so many regrets. I wish I had known how to deal with losing Claire. I wish that I had known how to share that with you. I know you needed me, but I just couldn’t find the words. I just couldn’t.” Her slight nod across the back seat says that she understands what he is saying. It encourages him to go on. “I left because every time I looked at you, I knew that I hadn’t just lost Claire...I had lost you too. That killed me inside. I didn’t feel like I could fix any of it, so I left. I thought you would be better off if I was gone.”

“It’s been hell, Allie. I have not spoken to anyone about more than details of my job, in months. I’ve never been so alone. Even after Claire died, it wasn’t like this. This is worse. It’s like the air just doesn’t have enough oxygen in it. It can’t sustain me. I feel like I’m constantly gasping to inhale. I’m like a balloon that is slowly being deflated. The worst part is knowing that I did it to myself.” His face crumples and looks like the deflated balloon he had just described as he places it in his hands and sighs. The tears still flow, he can’t seem to stop them.

Allie reaches for him, and awkwardly pulls him closer to her across the seat. She grabs his left hand and places it on her rounded belly. She places her own left hand on top of his and is silent. He looks into her eyes, searching. A moment later the little one stretches under the pressure of their hands. It’s as if he or she can sense that this moment holds a tangible uncertainty and is offering a gift of things to come, things that are certain. There is life. There is a future. There is hope.

(Stay tuned for the conclusion of the this story.....)

Friday, December 3, 2010

In a Yellow Cab - Part Two

(Be sure to read Part One of this story if you missed it!!)

He saw pain in her eyes, that was familiar. But he could see something else. Something that had not been there for a long time. Could it be...hope? His eyes traveled to her left hand, to the place where he had put a ring on her finger seven years earlier. It was still there. He stared at the swelling bump that could only be a child growing inside of her and asked himself the question that he could not yet voice, “Could it be mine?”. He didn’t know the answer to that question. Would knowing bring him more pain?


It had been eight months since they had parted ways. After their sweet little Claire had died in her sleep at five months, their world had broken into a million pieces. Although she had not been in their lives but a brief moment, their daughter had been the light and the joy of their lives. The day that she left, she took light and joy with her. He could still feel her warm little body nestled on his chest, her soft, tiny hand wrapped around his little finger. He could still see her dimpled smiles and hear her happy shrieks in his mind. He savored the hours he had spent walking with her in the night, singing sweet lullabies in her ear. He longed for those quiet moments again, when he could love and be loved so simply. He would always grieve for all the things that they would never be able to do together, for all the moments of life that they could have shared as a family, gone forever.

Putting words together to share their loss had not been something either of them had strength to do. They drifted apart over the next year and a half, both locked inside their own grief and not knowing how to find solace in one another. They rarely held each other. When their eyes met across the dinner table, they quickly looked away to avoid seeing the ache mirrored in the other’s face. He would hear her sometimes in the night, crying softly into her pillow. He never knew what to do to comfort her. He could never say the words, “It will be alright.” Because they were words that he did not believe himself. He knew that he loved her, but he no longer knew how to show it. Part of his heart was numb to love. It was too painful to love, because love could be lost.

One morning he woke knowing that there was nothing left to say. All he packed were his clothes and a tiny pair of Claire’s shoes that he had bought her for her very first Christmas. He looked at his sleeping wife one last time and had left their apartment, closing the door softly behind him. He had not seen or heard from her in the past eight months, because he had disappeared. He thought of her when he thought of Claire, which was every moment. He had missed her. Looking at her now, he longed for her touch, something that used to be as natural as the air that he breathed. He wanted to reach out his hand and run his fingers through her silky hair but he had ruined all that. He had thought about calling her many times but could not bring himself to phone her and endure the screaming silence of their broken hearts. Yet, now, she sat across from him in the back seat of a cab, pregnant, and eyes searching his face for some sign of the man she used to know and love.

.....stay tuned for the next part of this story coming soon.....

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Short Story - Part One

Here's the first installment of the short story I'm working on. Hope you get hooked.......

As he crossed the street, heading toward the yellow cab, his eyes never strayed from his shoes. He had every scuff and scratch memorized, down to the frayed strings along the inside sole of the right shoe, that showed the wear and tear of seven years. The brown leather shoes that molded to his feet were his only friends, his only comfort. For months now, his eyes had been trained to see only his shoes. The sun shone down brilliantly in the sapphire sky, but he never noticed it. It was too joyous, too much a reminder that time had marched on. The heaviness of his life was like a string tied around his forehead that pulled his head down, giving him an ache that traced all along his spine, pinching muscles and tying knots. He knew that he was unable to change it. This was his life now, without her, without hope.


He opened the rear driver’s side door of the cab and climbed inside, throwing his briefcase onto the seat beside him. His eyes returned to his shoes as he mumbled his address to the cab driver. He vaguely heard the other passenger door open at the same moment. He turned his eyes, head still down, to notice the backside of a person entering the cab. What seemed like an eternity passed until the other car door was pulled shut, he could not seem to pry open his own mouth to say that the cab was occupied. He kept his eyes down. He heard a sharp intake of breath as the woman beside him realized there was already a passenger in the cab.

“Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize,” she said somewhat out of breath. The cab driver headed into traffic, assuming that they were together. Just as she was reaching over to touch the cab driver on the shoulder, he saw out of the corner of his eye, her rounded, swollen belly that perched on her lap like a ball. His hand automatically went to where her left hand hung, mid-air and gently pushed it down. “We’ll share," he muttered more to his shoes than to her.

“Sam...is that you?” she asked hesitantly while turning as best she could to face him in the back seat. His head jerked upwards. The invisible string tied around his head pulling sharply at the sound of his name and her voice. Their eyes met.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Laughter

Oh, how I have missed blogging! My band and I just finished a practice. I have to say that it's sounding pretty great. We are tying up the loose ends and making some pretty great music. But I have to say that some of the best music we made today was the laughter shared. It seems to me that sometimes I kind of forget that I need to laugh. It's not optional to my sanity. To any casual observer today, they would have thought we were absolutely insane and that what we were laughing at wasn't even that funny, and they probably would have been right, but at that moment, there was nothing funnier.

I'm sure you've had these moments too. Maybe it's partly stress relief to laugh like that, uncontrollably until the tears are coming down your face and your stomach hurts, it's definitely therapy or something. I sometimes wish there was a laughter valve that you could turn on when you need a good laugh, but definitely off when something strikes your funny bone and you can't help the snickers no matter how hard you try. It's those inappropriate laughter times that have got me in trouble over the years. When you laugh at the wrong time or for the wrong reason there are consequences! I've been kicked out of class for laughing. I've been given nasty looks for laughing. I've felt like crawling in a hole because I've laughed at someone and it hurt them. I've been laughed at more times than I can count.

Laughing with friends today reminded me that there truly are "times to laugh" and we definitely need to find the joy in life. For me, the laughter, made an already great practice, even better. Work, music, friends and fun. What could be better?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sporadic


As for this, it's the antithesis of my life......
 Hello everyone! I just wanted to tell you that my blog writing may be a bit sporadic over the next month or so. My life is piling up on me and I have a gig that I am preparing for too. Between driving Elle to dance practice and swimming lessons, speaking in church, teaching a class at the Jr. High School, practicing for the gig, cooking, cleaning, laundry, being a wife, a mom, and friend I'm getting stretched. Life really is happening and I may not have time to write about it. I'm sure that I'll have things to tell you all when I have a few moments. Thank you for reading faithfully anyway...I really appreciate you all. Something to look forward to... a short story (something different for me!) that will have a few installments.

So for today, a quote to think about by one of my favorite authors, Donald Miller. " Our lives set the moral compass of the people around us. If it weren't for some of the stories my friends are telling with their lives, I'd have no guidelines for my own, no moral or creative reference with which to tell my story to God and to the world. I know that our stories matter and if they didn't, God wouldn't have placed us into the epic."

Enjoy today and live your part of the EPIC.......

Saturday, October 16, 2010

What makes you bloom?

I just witnessed an incredible thing. Yeast blooming. Yeast is an amazing thing to me. It is a living organism that seems to come alive when it is warm and has something to eat; sugar. When the conditions are right it blooms. It takes some time to wake up but when it does, wow! I don't know if you are catching my awe in all of this, but I feel like a little kid every time I watch it magically do it's thing. I think that you all should go to your pantry and try it....seriously.

Watching the yeast made me wonder what makes me bloom. What does it take for me to become alive and full of energy and passion? I think that I actually know. It's taken me a long time, years in fact, for me to realize what truly makes me tick, what makes my heart beat faster. It's knowing that I have something that could potentially impact the world and it's just because of who I was created to be. I'm not unique in this way either, each of us has this inside of us and for most of us it has been sleeping for a a long time or is just starting to wake up. Specifically, I use words to inspire and impact through writing and speaking. How that thing blooms in each of us is different and we all live it out in our own unique way.

Sometimes, like the yeast, our blooming requires a specific environment that is conducive to it actually happening. We need to feel like we are believed in. We need to feel like we have something to offer. We need to feel like we have people on our team. We need to feel like we can try and fail. We need to feel like our role is vital and irreplaceable. From experience, I know that these things definitely don't always line up at the same time in most cases but every little thing helps give us the courage needed to take steps toward blooming.

I know that there are days, even seasons, when I don't feel like I'm blooming at all or I feel that I have nothing to offer. I feel exhausted, drained and uninspired. I feel alone and even lost. This is when I know that I need community. People who encourage me. People who believe in me. People who care what I become in life. People that need me. People that I need. The very essence of each of us wants to be apart of community and I believe we truly become who we are meant to be in the environment of community. When you have people in your life that need what only you have and vice versa, it creates a desire to truly be the best version of yourself. It requires work (energy) to bloom, but it doesn't even feel like it sometimes because the blooming is so fun and the result is beauty.

Do you know what makes you bloom?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Thankful With a Twist

Last week I went through a lot of our stuff to take to Goodwill. Whenever I pack up the back of the car with stuff to give away, I feel like a little bit of weight is lifted off of me. I realize every time that I drop off our unused and unwanted stuff that things are just that, things. I often give away things that we don't use or wear anymore, but I asked myself, what if I gave away things that I really liked, my favorite even. Would I miss those things or would I go on living as I had before? I would like to think that I could be happy without my favorite things.

Bono sings these lyrics, "Where you live should not decide whether you live or whether you die." He is talking to us, with much stuff. We live in riches, we have more than enough food, we are warm and sheltered from the elements, we have access to safe drinking water, we have more than one of something (most things), so many that we have favorites. He is challenging us to look at our stuff and how it has ultimately blinded our eyes to the rest of the world that is dying. These people are not dying because there is a lack of stuff in the world but because there is an inequality in how resources like food and water have been shared. I know that there are lots of reasons for this inequality and many of you reading will think about corruption in governments, and how sometimes poverty is a result of poor choices. These reasons, to me, do not change the fact that people are poor and that they are dying. These reasons also do not negate the need for people to help change both the circumstances and the results of poverty.

I read a story recently about Mother Theresa that I would like to share with you. It's  from a book called 'Irrisistible Revolution' by Shane Claiborne. Claiborne spent a summer in Calcutta with Mother Theresa and this is what he writes, "Mother Theresa was one of those people who sacrificed great privilege because she encountered such great need. People often ask me what Mother Theresa was like. Sometimes it's like they wonder if she glowed in the dark or had a halo. She is short, wrinkled, and precious, maybe even a little bit ornery, like a beautiful, wise old granny. But there is one thing I will never forget - her feet. Her feet were deformed. Each morning in Mass, I would stare at them. I wondered if she had contracted leprosy. But I wasn't going to ask, of course. "Hey Mother, what's wrong with your feet?" One day a sister said to us, "Have you noticed her feet?" We nodded, curious. She said, "Her feet are deformed because we get just enough donated shoes for everyone, and Mother does not want anyone to get stuck with the worst pair, so she digs through and finds them. And years of doing that have deformed her feet." Years of loving her neighbor as herself deformed her feet."

This story impacted me in two ways. First, that my castoffs, the things that I give away out of my abundance can end up deforming some one's feet. Second, that Mother Theresa didn't want someone else to suffer so she suffered in their place, out of love. I ask myself again why I give "the crumbs from my table", to quote Bono again, when the poor deserve dignity, respect and the best of everything, just like I do. The poor don't need to become like us (we don't need to be like us either, if you really thing about it), but they do need to be taken care of, known, suffered with, and fought for.

I don't know what you will do with these thoughts today on Thanksgiving, but my hope is that you will give thanks and also be inspired to give out of your abundance and blessing, your very best, not the crumbs or the castoffs. Dream about what you can do to take care of, know, suffer with, and fight for the poor. They are all around us.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Rarity

One thing that I've discovered is that whenever Jeremy and I are in a car for a long period of time, great conversations just happen. We solve the world's problems, discuss art and music, dream about what the future looks like and even sometimes our relationship gets mulled over. We laugh, tease and sing badly, making the kids laugh in the back seat. I enjoy being with him in the car, the hours seem to fly by. Sometimes I think we need to be in the car to reconnect. It's kind of strange but that's just us, I guess. It's a shame that these car dates are so rare.

For any of you that have small children, I am sure that you can relate when I say that you should go on a date whenever you possibly can...even if your kids are sitting in the back seat. Times of meaningful conversation are few and far between. Sometimes, you have to be creative when it comes to the time and place for dates. I've been working on a song for a few weeks that talks about this whole thing, how rare it is to just be in the same place as your spouse and just "be". Thought I would share the lyrics with you all today....

Rarity

No stars are out tonight
But there's a glow in spite
It's rarity
My head is on your chest
Take a moment to ingest
This charity

No radio or telephone
Just you and I
On our own

This fragment of our life
You're the husband, I'm the wife
It's intricate
Details, colours, brush in hand
Drawing sketches where we stand
So delicate

No radio or telephone
Just you and I
On our own

(That's what I got so far, hope to finish soon....time seems to be so fleeting lately....)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Heaven

My Grandma passed away yesterday afternoon. Some of my first thoughts after I heard the news were, 'I wonder what the first few minutes in heaven are like?'. That was an overwhelming thought to me. What's it like to not have a tired and fatigued body and mind? What's it like not to be bound by the demands of time and space? What's it like to be with God? Does He give you a big hug and say how happy He is that you are there? Does he give you the personal tour? Does He whisper all the secrets of things that you never understood on earth? Does He laugh with you over the funny things that you said or did? Does He show you colors and sounds and foods that your senses on earth could never experience? Do you feel like a foreigner in a strange land or do feel that you have finally come home? What's it like to be at peace? What's it like to know that pain and sadness and heartache will never again keep you up at night? It must be amazing. I think that your mouth would hang open in wonder and awe. I think that your heart would feel like it was going to burst out of your chest.

I read a quote about heaven awhile ago that brought heaven into focus for me. It's from a book called Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey. She says, "We cannot know exactly what life will be like in eternity, but the fact that Scripture calls it a new "earth," and tells us we will live there in glorified bodies, means that it will not be a negation of the life we have known here on the old earth. Instead it will be an enhancement, an intensification, a glorification of this life. In the Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis pictures the afterlife as recognizably similar to this world, yet a place where every blade of grass seems somehow more real, more solid, more substantial than anything experienced here on earth."

I can see my Grandma admiring the flowers and smelling them again for the first time. I can see her enjoying the music that floats on the air as she catches up with old friends and loved ones. I can see her breathe in the fragrance of fall, colors becoming an intoxicating perfume. I can see her laughing and it becomes a melody that is carried on the wind bringing smiles to every one's faces. I can see her walking in the shade of towering trees and reaching out her hands to touch the softness of the lion's fur that is walking beside her. I can see her rocking sweet babies that have not yet been born and telling them secrets about what life is like. I can see her eyes light up as she sees the glow and brilliance of the throne room of God, knowing that it's the safest place. I can see the smile on her face as He reaches out His hand and invites her to sit with Him, and taste some of His home cooking.

Maybe I'm out to lunch and I have conjured a picture of heaven that is not anything like how it really is, but I'm willing to be wrong. I know that God is in the business of blowing my mind and my thoughts out of the water.

These are just the pictures that came to me.
They make me smile even though my heart is sad.
They give me a glimpse of the beauty and splendor that accompanies being with God.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

If I died today....

Today we are remembering the life of Lisa. Lisa was a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a teacher and a mentor. Her desire was to share her life with others and to leave God's scent on all that she encountered.

Lisa was the mom of Elle and Coen. Her children saw Lisa at her best and her worst. She was generally a pretty easy-going mom but at times a little bit of psycho would come to the surface. She rarely spent the amount of time that she would have liked to with her two favorite little people. She often lost her patience and her cool but tried to make up for it with hugs and words of encouragement. She often felt like she was taking one step forward and two steps back. She knew that her greatest influence was the one left on her children and tried to instill character, values and a desire to know who Jesus really is in her kids. She was starting to see the fruit and that brought her so much joy. To Elle she would say, "Elle, you are strong and beautiful. Use your strength to help the weak and keep finding out that love is an action word." To Coen she gives these words, " Coen, you are a world changer. Let your energy and zest for life spur you on towards people. They need someone like you." She will miss impromptu cuddles, uncontrollable giggles and kissing them every night as they sleep.

Jeremy was the love of Lisa's life. They had seven years of marriage together filled with laughter, tears, heartache, misunderstandings, dancing, music, hugs, kisses, dreams, construction, work, mistakes, miracles, joy, learning, kind words, harsh words, and lots of love. Lisa's greatest desire as a wife was to make Jeremy feel like he was important, valued, strong, smart, special and loved. He was all of those things. She often said the opposite from what she really wanted to. She was getting better at recognizing the strengths that Jeremy had and encouraging him to follow his dreams. She would love to see him enjoying the present and putting the future in God's capable hands. She wishes they had more time to discover each other and share that with their kids.

Lisa's parents, brothers, sister-in-laws, nephews and nieces were very special to her. She was far away from them across the miles but spent many hours thinking and praying for them. She loved talking with her Dad on the phone. They often "preached" to each other the things that they were learning. She always had hard time saying goodbye to her Mom and often called her just to cry. It was like having a hug when she needed it the most. Her brothers were amazing. She was so proud of the men that they had become. They always encouraged her to be her best. She hoped that she did the same for them.

Lisa wore her heart on her sleeve. Often tears and laughter filled the same moment. She loved and hated that she felt things deeply. She enjoyed trying new things. It gave her a sense of adventure just to try, whether she failed or triumphed. She was often very harsh in her judgements. The fact that she was also as stubborn as a mule didn't help. If she had a judgement, she often couldn't be swayed from it. She felt that she was learning though what things really had value in life and spent time fighting for those causes. She was a champion of the underdog, which often brought tension. She spoke of things, people, and situations with passion. This passion was often seen as strange or weird. Not a lot of people really knew how to handle this aspect of Lisa. She didn't mean to hurt people but she did mean to rock the boat, make people think, and inspire change. She was learning that sometimes the approach she had for doing this needed some tweaking. Her real desire in all of it was to point people towards Jesus and the freedom that comes from truly understanding who He is and what He's all about. It was something that she was searching for and trying to live out herself.

Something that Lisa valued more than almost anything was investing in people. She felt that it was important to share her stories, lessons (both learned and relearned), trials, and triumphs with people who were often asking questions themselves about how to live. She loved being with people and tried to inspire hope and unlock people's gifts and dreams.

Lisa often felt scattered, weak, scared and inadequate but she always knew that God was not finished with her. He was still working on her, making her more like Himself. She loved playing the piano and making music that she believed was on His Ipod. She enjoyed the creation that He made and spent time taking in the sunsets, stars, wildflowers, fall colors and the amazing people that He placed in her life.

Lisa's wish for those who are remembering her today is to be honest with yourself in the present; right now. Discover your strengths and use them to help others. Look your weaknesses in the eye, stare them down and set goals that turn those weaknesses into opportunities for growth and stretching. She would say to you all, "Try new things, give of yourself to others, love God  and share that love with the world around you. You can change the world. Live."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Storytime

I met a stranger in McDonald's today while the kids and I were eating lunch. My Mom always said never to talk to strangers, but over the years that saying has lost it's fear. Sorry, Mom. I am a disobedient daughter. I have found throughout my adult life thus far, that some of the most interesting conversations that you have with people are the very first ones. The conversations in which you learn about where people are from, what they do, what their life has been like up until the moment that you meet them. I love hearing people's stories and life experiences. I love asking questions that uncover their valuable history and memories. You can learn so much from what other people have lived through and learned. The sad thing to me, is that I feel more comfortable doing this with complete strangers than I do with people that I've known for years.

Sometimes I look around at the people that I interact with often and realize how little I know about their story. Even with some of my closest friends, I am missing pieces of their stories. Most often conversations start with, "How are you doing?" and that is as far as it goes. Sometimes, out of the blue, I learn something that I never knew. A piece of the story that makes my friend make sense or shines light on to the way that they think and act. And I wonder why I never knew that before.

This blog, for me, tells pieces of my story all the time. A lot of it is my everyday life. Some of it is about people who have impacted me. And still another part of it is my memories. Another part is about what I dream for the future. Telling your story is as important as learning to listen and find out what other people are all about. What I write about tells about me; what's important to me and what I strive to achieve throughout living my story. I find that telling people your story puts it into light sometimes. What I mean by that is that when you share it, it becomes real and then you are accountable to it.

My very first blog talked about my dream to become a rock star. By writing that piece of my story I have become accountable to you with what I do to achieve that dream. You can mark my progress, or lack thereof, now because you know part of my story. I think that maybe we don't tell our stories for this very reason sometimes. If we share about our dreams and we don't achieve them or if we fail, we might look idiots. Heaven forbid that our story is not perfect! I have learned a secret, it's often the tension and the struggle that makes for the best kind of story. When you overcome the hard things, there is victory. If you aren't fighting for something or struggling to overcome adversity and challenges, your eulogy is going to be putting people to sleep. (That's going to be my next post....my own eulogy....stay tuned.)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

False Advertising

I was reading the label on my shampoo bottle yesterday and I discovered something that I just can't seem to wrap my head around. It said, "For healthy looking hair." What does that mean? Does it mean my hair just looks healthy after using this brand of shampoo, but it really isn't? Is healthy "looking" hair what I want, or do I want hair that is actually healthy? What if the bottle of shampoo said, "For 'clean' looking hair?" What are the slogan people really saying? Here's another one that stumps me.... on a tube of face cream...."Reduces the appearance of fine lines." Does the cream keep fine lines from appearing? Or does it make the fine lines appear smaller? I think what I'm looking for is some clarity. I'm not sure what these products are really trying to sell. Maybe I do know, but I'm playing hard to get until they say what they really mean. Why do we eat up things that are so unclear and nebulous? What are we looking for?

People are advertising all the time too. We want to appear a certain way so, we dress a certain way, we live in a certain neighborhood, we drive a certain car, we buy certain products that really don't promise anything specifically. Somehow we think that the 'appearance' of things trumps the actuality of real life and all it has to offer. We have to look like we have it all together even if we don't. We paint on a facade that covers how we actually feel, think and look.



It's like only showing people pictures that we think we look okay in. We are embarrassed to have people see us without the "perfection" mask in place. (These photos were taken around the dinner table when we were experimenting with crossing our eyes!! They crack me up. What are these pictures saying about us?) Is this what we really want or need out of life? Wouldn't life be more impacting and inspiring if our pursuit was for character rather than the 'appearance' of character based on our material possessions and how we look? Does the product, ourselves, reflect who we truly are? Are we advertising something that is invaluable? Or do we let our facade do the advertising for us?


I have asked more questions than I have answers for, hope you ponder what you are saying to the world...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Rubber Boot Trauma

I had to get Elle a new pair of rubber boots today since her feet have been growing like crazy. It's been quite wet here the last couple of weeks and she's been complaining every time she has to put her hand-me-down boots on. They were just too small. So, she now has new, black boots with hearts on them. She's sporting them right now with a bright pink skirt....so into fashion, my girl.

All this thought about rubber boots reminded me of an episode from my own childhood. It was a rainy day and mom was kicking my brothers and I out of the house for some reason..... Our rubber boots lived in the garage that was attached to the house, saving mom some extra cleaning from the mud and other things that would surely be tracked back through house. In my day, all rubber boots looked the same, black with orange soles. My mom had painted things on our boots so we could come home from school with same ones. Mine had daisies painted on them. (My brother's had lightening bolts on theirs and were dubbed with silly names. They even made up songs to go with their boots!!! I think I will have to tell more stories about my brothers at a different time!!) Well on this particular day, I clearly remember going onto the garage to get my boots and one of them was lying on it's side. I picked them up and carried them into the mat in the entrance. I then proceeded to put my foot into the boot that had been tipped over in the garage. There was something squishy in the toe, so I took my boot off and dumped out the squishy. It turned out to be a salamander. It must have crawled into the garage and found a home in my boot. I screamed and ran in circles around it. (A pretty typical girl thing to do!!) I think mom got the salamander into the dust pan and chucked it out the door while trying to console me. I was scared to put my foot into the other boot!!! To this day, if I have left a shoe or a boot outside, I tip it over first. Just to make sure!!! You never know what could be in there....

I find it funny that I still do that. One bad experience has tainted me somehow. I no longer have boot trust. One squishy salamander has jaded me. Often this is how I react to other situations and people too. If I have a run-in or a negative experience with someone, my memory is like an elephant's. I don't forget how that feels and I'm very wary of entering into the same situations with people again. Some people become taboo for me, because I think they are out to get me.

I've been thinking about second chances lately. There are a lot of people that need a second chance from me. There are things that I just need to get over. I would like to trust people. I would like to be forgiving. I would like to not be afraid of what "might" happen. I would like to respond to people without covering up past encounters. I'm starting to think that disappointment is a normal thing. People will let me down. It's how I respond to disappointment that uncovers how much I'm willing to be a friend.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pastor Jones and Me

I don't know if you've been following the headlines much this week and if you heard about the pastor from Florida that was planning to burn the Qur'an today. He was planning to burn the Qur'an in protest of the proposed building of a Muslim mosque near Ground Zero in New York City. Today, the ninth anniversary of the September 11th bombings, was his planned date for the burning. When I first heard about this earlier this week, I got a huge knot in my stomach and I felt this intense sadness and also anger that another stupid thing would happen in the name of "Jesus". Pastor Terry Jones felt led by God in his plans. (Enter eye roll here.) Even faced with the knowledge that innocent people's lives were being placed in danger because of his actions, he persisted in his plans. (Enter punch to the face here.) Even when top government officials, including the President, were urging him to stop, he wasn't listening. (Enter Simeon Rottier tackle here!!!) Only after receiving death threats of his own did he stop to consider that just maybe it wasn't such a great idea to burn the Qur'an. (Enter throwing hands up in despair!!!)

Over the centuries, Christians have been labeled judgmental, arrogant, hypocritical, intolerant, fundamentalist, conservative, racist, exclusive, and the list could go on. I, at times, have not shown that I am any different from what people expect from a "Christian". This week started out like that. I realized that I was thinking about Pastor Jones with judgment, arrogance and intolerance. I was the very things that Christians are famous for. I felt like the enemy was within my own ranks and I had to do something about that. Thus the punches to the face and the Simeon Rottier tackles!! As I took time to ruminate and really think this thing through, I was reminded of Jesus words concerning enemies. He says "...love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst." (Matthew 5:44) I was definitely letting the worst come to the surface. It hurt me that someone, calling themselves a Christian, was doing something so crazy and thoughtless. But I was, in my thinking, really angry with Pastor Jones and thinking he deserved to be tackled by a really big football player and somehow I was still able to call myself a Christian. That was a jolt to me. Jesus asks that I LOVE my enemies and pray for them. He wants me to be generous and gracious to others the way that He has shown that to me.

It's so easy to hate. I look at the world and I see it everywhere. It's difficult to love those that hurt you, to be gracious to them, to extend them patience and tolerance. I don't agree with burning the Qur'an at all, but I do believe that I needed to see how my intolerance of Pastor Jones was, in fact smearing the face of Jesus' reputation just the same. So, Pastor Jones and I both need grace and we both need to keep finding out who Jesus is and what He's all about. I'm praying for you, Pastor Jones.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Grandma

I'm baking bread today. While it's rising I thought I would blog. Baking bread and doing domestic type things always reminds me of my Grandma. She's ninety. She had a stroke about five years ago and has since been in a senior's home where my Grandpa visits everyday to spend time with her and help her eat. I miss being close to them and look forward to the brief visits we get to share together whenever we make the trek to Saskatchewan.
This is my Grandma at our wedding reception, 2003

Growing up I never knew that my Grandma was extraordinary. It never crossed my mind. She was just Grandma. She was just there and I thought that every kid had a grandma like I did. Now I'm not so sure. I'll try and give you a picture of this woman from my childhood. She is tall and big-boned. She has a wide smile and an a defined jaw line. Her hands are work worn yet gentle. Her fingers are often stained from canning fruit and vegetables. Her laugh flows out easily and she loves to tease. She has mischief in her eyes and a quick wit to match. Every Saturday morning she drives downtown to get her hair done. She smells like baked bread, freshly laundered clothes and pickles. She likes to pick her teeth with a toothpick. She is efficient in her work. She is hospitable and always has a feast ready and waiting to be thawed for any visitor that stops by for coffee...think doughnuts and squares and oatmeal-date cookies...oh my. She is an amazing cook, not having to use recipes anymore because she has made kucha, fried chicken, cabbage rolls and perogies hundreds of times. Her house is tidy and organized and always smells like she's just baked something yummy. She takes time for family and friends and gives of herself for her community and church. She is willing to share her knowledge of plants and baking and often takes willing students for tours of her sunroom and flower garden. She likes to tell a good story, especially ones that will get people laughing. Sometimes she has to take her glasses off and wipe her eyes because she is laughing so hard herself from the telling. She goes to recitals and concerts to show her support for grand kids. She invites them for sleepovers at the lake. She loves holding babies and fussing over them. She likes to read, cross stitch and make afghans for every grand kid. She is talented and has excelled at almost everything that she puts her hand to, yet she would never boast. She is serious and humorous. She is kind and firm. She is practical and friendly. She tells it how it is and has a soft spot in her heart. She hugs roughly but honestly. She is some woman.

Grandma holding Elle, 2005
This woman, of my chilhood disappeared five years ago. I miss the amazing woman that my Grandma was. She was full of life and had a spark of passion for doing simple things in extraordinary ways. I don't think I really ever told my grandma that I thought she was amazing, while I had the chance. I'm not sure I knew how amazing she was until I stopped to think about it. I want to honor my grandma today and recognize the role that she played in my life. Thank you Grandma for who you are and all the things that you have passed on to me. I tell my kids stories about you all the time. I love you and I think you are beautiful. When I take my fresh bread out of the oven today, I will cut off a big slice and put lots of peanut butter and honey on it and dream about the after school snacks at your kitchen table. I'll be thinking of you.....

Take time to think about people in your life who have left an impression and then tell them. Honoring someone is beautiful.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

First Day

Vacation. Love it. That's where I've been the last week and we had a great time. It was the first time that our family has ever gone on vacation. Destination: Lethbridge, Alberta. Why there you may ask? This was a working vacation. Jeremy played two one-hour sets everyday with his friend Bob at the fair in Lethbridge. The rest of the time was spent just being. I actually felt more normal than I have in a while. I actually played with my kids instead of working at some project. And the best part was that Jeremy was with us. I don't know how things work in a all of your families but I do know that I seem to be alone with the kids a lot of the time. We got to swim, play on a playground, go for rides at the fair, ride a pony, eat scrumptious cupcakes, visit with wonderful friends from long ago, explore an old fort, and watch cartoons....together. Coming home to routine has been hard because this week is bringing something new into our world; Elle's very first day of school.

Do you remember your first day of school? I don't think I really remember mine but it has been forever memorialized with "The First Day of Kindergarten Photo".

Me, bad hair, squinting into the sunlight, great runners, Holly Hobby lunch kit, standing in front of the flower bed by our house.



I tried to duplicate it with Elle this morning, minus the sun shining directly into her eyes!!! She sure is a lot cuter than I ever was!! I don't remember feeling excited or scared or anything, it obviously wasn't as big of a deal to me as it was to my Mom. I've never asked my Mom what my "first day" was like, but I know that I have been dreading this day for quite awhile while Elle could not stop talking about it. I always knew that I would have trouble letting my little "big" girl go out into the great big world. But here I am, doing just that. Watching her step onto the bus this morning and having it drive away into the fog, literally, brought a couple tears to my eyes. What is it with being a parent, more specifically a mom, that brings about all this emotion at the most happy times? I was one of two parents who also went to the school to take some more pictures and of course make sure she was alright, more for my sake than for hers, I think. She's fine, I knew she would be. But, I miss her. I think that Jer thinks I'm a psycho, but it really is a big deal. Life is forever changed in our family. That's huge. I'm excited for all of the things she will learn and experience, all the friends and mentors that she will meet and grow to love, and all the ways that she will make her mark on the world. I just wish that I could see it all unfolding..... I guess that's the letting go part about having kids. There are somethings that they have to navigate in their own, and I have to have faith that the things that Jer and I have taught her in the last five and half years are the start of someone great, Elle! But, you know what, I'm already looking forward to tomorrow when she's back!!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Adventures in Fern Hollow

Last night I got to hang out with a great friend, Autumn. She has been away in Jasper all summer working and is now home for a few days before heading back to college. She penciled me in for last night and I was so glad to be able to hang out with her. Of course, my idea of fun, walking through the forest on some beautiful trails (armed with cameras and a bear banger) turned into something more like an adventure. I have to say that adventure is something that I have come to expect, especially in the company of certain people!!

We hit the trails shortly after 8:00pm last night. It was a beautiful night, a little smokey due to the forest fires burning in B.C. and a little buggy; but that's just to be expected!
We saw and ate wild raspberries.

We chased a spiky porcupine.

We listened to some grumpy hawks squabbling.

We hugged a massive tree.

We swam in a fern-filled hollow.

We watched the murky waters of the Pembina.

We saw the track left by a black bear....and tried not to step in some other "fresh" offerings he decided to leave on the path.

We enjoyed each other's company as we walked aimlessly down leafy trails.

As it turns out one of our trails came to a dead end. Instead of turning around and taking the path back where we had come from we ventured on into uncharted territory along the river bank thinking that we would soon come upon the open "camping spot" just around the bend or the next bend or maybe it's the next bend??!! Autumn called this "off-roading". I called it adventure. We felt like we were walking in the jungle or what we imagined the jungle to be like. The foliage and fallen trees were very thick and at times hard to traverse through. Autumn kept wishing for her machete, a purchase recently made in El Salvador, to cut through the thick brush. And I kept wishing for a sight of the "camping spot".

After what seemed like an eternity, probably about a mile, of off-roading on foot through the bushes, hair full of forest-type things, snags and pulls on our clothes, pokes and prickles in our feet we finally came to a spot where we could see the opening along the river bank where the camping spot was located. It was getting darker by the minute. We gracefully (ha!) jumped down from the river bank to walk the rest of the way in the mud and see the frogs scramble out of our path along the river. We survived our adventure and didn't have to stay in the middle of the spooky woods all night long with the bears and the porcupines.

What I found interesting in all of this, was that the woods were intriguing and beautiful until we felt like we were battling them and feeling a teensy bit lost. That's when the fear came and took away our eyes to see the beauty that was still all around us. Instead, the woods became threatening and full of hungry bears. The woods were the same, our perspective of them had changed. Crazy. You can draw your own life altering conclusions from that!

The evening ended with laughter, of course, and banana bread. Which is how I think every adventure with a friend should end.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Time

A poem of Solomon...and a song by the Beatles....

There's an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything in the earth.
A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace.

 I was reminded of this poem from Ecclesiastes today because I felt bound by time. I had X amount of hours today to do more than my allotted amount of X was offering me. I have a list, you see, of things that I have deemed important and that I absolutely need to get done. If I don't do the things on said list I just don't know what might happen. It could be catastrophic, or so I believe. As I was laying in my bed trying to use my allotted seconds for sleep in a productive manner I could not stop thinking about time and how in the grander scheme of things why I have put so much pressure on myself to use my time to be a human doing rather than a human being. Nowhere in Solomon's musings are the "to-do" list types of things. Solomon's list is rather like a "to-be" list. He describes time as more of an intense experience to be shared and felt with others.

I tend to focus a lot of my time on the tasks that will never really cease needing attention. I don't think this is necessarily wrong it just does not lend itself to me feeling like I'm actually getting anywhere. (I think this might actually be the definition that is found beside the word insanity.) Sometimes I feel like I am wasting this precious life on things that really don't matter, which leads me to question what really does matter. My kids. My husband. My family. My neighbors. My community. People and how I treat them...that's what matters.

Sometimes I picture God just watching us go from here to there and do silly things... like going to meetings that really don't accomplish much or dusting a knick-knack for the hundredth time or checking another thing off the to-do list or playing solitaire...ALONE. He must be just shaking His head in wonderment at how we use our time. We seem to think that our time is indefinite and unquantifiable (if that is a word!!). Two of my favorite philosophers of all time, Bill and Ted, have most excellently summed up the brevity of our time in this quote, "All we are is dust in the wind, Dude." Dust. Wind. Dude.

I'm not exactly sure how to fix our time dilemma. But I think I want to have a to-be list on the same page as my to-do list. I think it might remind me to have a little more perspective on how I use my dust.

Friday, August 13, 2010

And now for something upbeat......

I bought Elle a bird book back in the spring and it has had a prominent place on the window ledge by the kitchen table ever since. Elle loves learning the names of the different birds and I have actually heard her singing the song of the white-throated sparrow. Sometimes she takes her book and her mini binoculars outside in search of the birds that she hears singing in the treetops. She told me that she would like to have a pet eagle! I'm not sure an eagle would do well in a cage in the house?! Can you imagine what you would have to feed an eagle? That is somewhere my mind does not go willingly.

I have noticed that the song birds have left our neck of the woods over the past couple of  weeks. They don't beckon me from sleep in the morning anymore. It's been so quiet in our yard, it's almost eerie. I didn't know that I would miss the warbling birdsong filling the air until it was gone. It has been troubling to me that they have disappeared. I wasn't ready for them to leave. To me songbirds are the epitome of joy. They wake in the morning and they just have to sing. It's inside them and they have to let it out. They are not trying to do be something else. They don't try to bark or moo or quack. These little songsters just give it all they got and let the world know they are there.

I have had the privilege of knowing a couple of human songbirds. They aren't singers per se but they are people that are full of joy. One of these people is my very own Mama. Songbirds love to laugh and spread a feeling of contentedness wherever they are. They are comfortable in their own skin and somehow rub that off on you when you are with them. You want to be around people like this because they seem to have a secret about life and you hope that if you keep company with them they will tell that secret to you too. I think that all of us could do with more laughter, contentment and joy in our lives. That's why these people are so attractive to us; they are somehow able to pull these things out of us. They have a gift. I also know when these people have disappeared from my life. I know when I have not had a good laugh in a long time. I know when I am feeling just out of sorts. I know when everything seems to be overwhelming. I know when I need a shot of joy. Sometimes the cure is connecting with a songbird.

Sometimes the cure is to be a songbird for someone else.
Giving joy means having joy.
Sing a song that is infectiously sparkly and invites others to sincere cheerfulness.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Lifetime Student

I love reading. I like to think that I always have. My mom said my favorite reading material as a toddler was the Sears Catalogue. I would flip through the pages and point to things asking what they were and expanding my vocabulary. I remember when I started reading chapter books like Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables and how I just couldn't put them down. Reading transported me to places outside of my time and experience. I would read long into the night, often hurriedly putting my book under my pillow and faking sleep as my parents climbed the stairs to go to bed. I still have a hard time putting a good book down. Just one more page, one more paragraph, one more sentence are guidelines that I can never seem to stick to. Chapters later I am still awake and reading.

Over the years I have read many books, both fiction and non-fiction. Reading books has been a source of pleasure, knowledge, wisdom, and challenge in my life. Without reading I would never have had the desire to write. One of the regrets of my early adulthood is that I didn't go to university after I had finished three years of bible college. I didn't really know what I wanted to study and pour my energy into so I opted to work and pursue some rock star dreams. The desire to learn and be challenged was inside of me then and I have to say even more so now. Reading has given me an education that has been tailored for me. I love reading books that challenge my small ideas and mindsets. I love reading books that awaken my passion for people and causes. I love reading books that call me to something more than what I currently limit myself to. I love reading books that make me think about faith and God in a new light. I love reading books that teach me about places that I have never been. I love reading books that help me learn about different cultures and history. Reading has expanded my knowledge as well as my awareness of the things that I have yet to discover, my ignorance.  My greatest educator has been found between the covers of a book at the fraction of the cost of formal education.

Reading has not offered me a job, a degree, or letters behind my name, but it has enhanced the person that I am becoming. Many people leave university and never again crack the spine on a book. This is so sad to me. Cramming books down people's throats because they need to read them for an assignment or a course does not instill a love of learning or knowledge. I read something recently that promoted the idea that leaders are readers. I think about the kind of person that I want to follow and they are people who don't necessarily have all the right answers but who are asking the right questions. As I alluded to previously, knowledge isn't about being right or having concrete answers but about realizing that there are still things to learn and to educate yourself about, the things that you are ignorant about.

I am assuming, that because you are reading this blog right now that you value reading and learning. On this assumption, I would like to challenge you to read books, blogs, newspapers (anything you can get your hands on) that expands your knowledge and makes you ask questions. Become a lifetime student, knowing that there will always be something else out there to discover. Get a library card; it's unlimited access to thousands of books with little cost. Promote reading to children, it's time well invested on the leaders of the future.

Question? What book has influenced you the most and in what way?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Energy

Spunk, get-up-and-go, oommfff, energizer bunny, dynamo, vigor, gusto, zest, verve, pep, live wire, and fervor are all words that are, to me, synonymous with energy. Many of you know that I have two children, Elle and Coen. This word, energy, applies to both of them but in particular to child number two. Coen is two and a half years old and is full of life. The following words have been said about Coen upon observation or from having spent any length of time in the same room with him; rambunctious, monkey, hyper, handful, wiggly, and does he ever sit still?

Coen loves to be where the action is and if there is a dull moment he will fill it up with some kind of craziness. He giggles and tickles and runs very fast on two small legs. He throws things and loves to get into the honey when he thinks that no one will find "his royal stickiness". He is an amateur escape artist and can con anyone into giving him things laden with sugar, his drug of choice. And then he smiles and wants to cuddle melting your heart into a big puddle of goo (he gets that from his Dad). Five seconds later though he starts up with the mischief all over again (he gets that from his Dad too!). This is just how he is and I love him to bits. The downside is that he really seems to wear me out. I sometimes wish that his energy could recharge mine somehow.

Everything about life requires energy. Relationships, jobs, studying, parenting, cleaning the toilet, playing Bocce ball, learning Japanese, riding a unicycle, pulling weeds, climbing Mt. Everest, and writing a blog late at night, all require that some effort on our part is exerted. I don't know about you, but when I have completed a task that required a lot of energy I sometimes like to stand back and just look at it for a bit, even if it's only an abstract observation in my own mind. I like to think about how the work that went into whatever I was trying to accomplish was worth it. I like to think about how that work can or will affect others around me. I love it when I can look at my effort and feel like I did my best. There is a sense of satisfaction in energy well used.

The flip side of this happy coin is the fact that sometimes the energy we put into things drains us. I know that I have a lot harder time seeing the value in things that make me feel like I would rather just stay in bed! Sometimes there is not a whole lot of immediate return on the energy that we spend. This is called investment. The return is far into the future, if ever. Yet these uphill battles and struggles are worthy pursuits because they require us to persevere and to be faithful even when there doesn't seem to be an end to them or a reward. Maybe the reward for our investment is not our own, but someone else's. I know that as I parent my monkey, Coen, the energy that he consumes from me, is my investment in who he becomes. As much as he wears me out now and keeps me on my toes, I know that every moment I spend with him will shape my little world-changer and it's worth it!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Dilema

Want to write...have to work. Here's a poem from long ago 'cause I really do need to do something productive (not that this isn't!!). Hope you're long weekend is smashingly fun! Lisa

Umbrellas are for wimps
Tea is for the ladies
Money's for the rich folk
And bottles for the babies

Couches for the lazy
Not enough hours for the farmer
Jewels for the Queen
And fancy words for the charmer

Sunshine for the flowers
Rain is for the mourners
Romance is for fools
Bad boy were made for corners

Music is for dancers
Dogs are man's best friend
Monday's are for complaining
Letters were made to send

The sea is for the fish
The sky is for the stars
A love seat made for two
Race car drivers for race cars

Sleep is for dreamers
Kittens made to purr
Swearing is for idiots
Pots were made to stir

Junk was made to collect
Grass for bare feet
Little girls have their giggles
While Grandma's have their sweets

Toes are for tickling
Warm blankets for the cold
Gossip for the time wasters
Card games for the old

Secrets are for friends
Lawyers made for lies
Snow angels made for God
Leaving for goodbyes

Castles are for kings
Cabins for the woods
Movies for celebrities
Messages understood

Parents made to hug
Kisses made for lips
Stars were made for wishes
Hula hoops for hips

Night is for the owls
Honey for the bees
I guess the only two things left...
Are you and me

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Need to Breathe - Something Beautiful - Exclusive Performance




This song and video are exactly what I'm talking about.... Something Beautiful can be made even when we are still unsure and don't have everything figured out. It's raw and sweet and full of hope for something beautiful. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Song

Over the years I've written some songs. People always ask if I have some formula for writing one. They want to know if the melody comes first or the lyrics. They want to know the creative process and how it all comes together into a song. I think I often get a strange look on my face, dumbfounded and idiot-like, whenever I get asked these questions. For me, there has been no formula.

Sometimes a melody comes in the middle of the night and I have to get out of my nice, warm bed and go play it on the piano. I have a digital recorder by my piano so I can remember what I came up with in the morning. Sometimes I have a line of lyrics that I just can't get out of my head and it becomes something more, like a poem. Sometimes words and melodies are fused together upon conception and cannot be undone. There is no formula. I wonder if other song writers have formulas? Somehow I doubt it.

From the time our little brains started asking "why?" we have been basically asking the formula-type questions. It's in our nature to want to know the order and the structure of things so we know where we fit in all of that. I am no different. I wonder about the strangest things sometimes...why are butterflies called butterflies? (I've never seen a butterfly anywhere near butter.) Why do drive-thru ATM machines have braille on the keypads? (I hope there are no blind drivers out there!!) Why do people get cancer? Why do people have to suffer? Why am I here? Why?

Why?

I think we want to know the answers to these questions so we can feel sure of something, so we can somehow have a little less fear. I read somewhere that fear is basically a lack of understanding. I get that. That's why we demand answers and formulas and cures and encyclopedias and security systems and insurance. We want to cover our backs and rest easier at night. There is safety in knowing?

I have become more and more aware lately that there really are no formulas. There are no books by self-help gurus, doctors, scientists, or heads of national security that can and will always get it right. They can't come up with a formula that fits every person everywhere, in every culture or time in history. Life was never meant to be formulaic. It is fluid. It is reliant on things we can't even see or touch like air. There are so many things that just can't be put into a neat and tidy mathematical equation. We don't get a script at birth laying out what our life will look like. We make choices. We become reliant on other people, who have questions too. We create. We learn to trust, even when it doesn't make sense or it's scary. We live courageously without knowing what the next moment will bring.

As a creator of songs, I know the lack of process that goes into creating one and I have never lost a wink of sleep over that. There's definitely something freeing in not having to have it all figured out. A song becomes something as I create. Life becomes something as I truly live it.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Watcher

Have you ever watched a spider? Have you seen a spider drop from the sky on an invisible thread? Have you watched a spider weave a web so intricate and delicate? Have you gazed in wonder and horror as a spider wraps it's prey in a blanket of sticky, silvery thread? Spiders have always intrigued me. I am not one of those girls that screams and runs around freaking out about the eight-legged, arachnids. I don't kill them, or stomp on them, or jump on a chair because I think they are amazing. They are the architects of the animal kingdom. I marvel at how something so small can do the things that they do without ever being taught. I could sit for hours on my deck at night and watch as the spiders do their splendid work.They truly are magnificent.

I have been reading Charlotte's Web by E.B. White to Elle the last little while. I love hearing from Charlotte's perspective what it is like to spin a web, what the different kinds of line are used for, and how she explains to Wilbur that it's really not that awful to eat a bug. Wilbur, in his innocence, believes that he can spin a web as good as any spider and sets out to make one with a rope tied to his curly, pig-tail. Of course, no matter how hard he tries he just can't do it. He is not a spider. He is a pig and pigs do not make spider webs.

Watching is entirely different than doing, as Wilbur found out in his web-spinning experiment. Spectating is not playing. Reading is not writing. Painting by numbers is not painting. Assembling IKEA furniture is not cutting, sanding, and creating the design of a chair. Looking at your bike from inside your house is not riding it. Knowledge is not wisdom. All of these examples point to something more.

So much of our lives are spent as watchers. We see other people do things and somehow we think that we could never do that. We limit ourselves. We tell ourselves we can't. We compare our 'would-be, not-ever-tried' experience with people who have invested time, energy, practice into skill development and think that because we can't be the best at something, like those other people, we shouldn't even try. Here's a secret. Now listen up. At some point those people that are doing those things that you think are amazing tried something. After the trying, they decided that they were going to pursue it with everything they've got, whether they succeeded or not. We are all afraid to suck, to be mediocre, and to possibly be ridiculed, so we don't put ourselves in that position...ever. And then we wonder why we are bored, flipping the channels, and generally grouchy with the way our lives are panning out. We aren't really doing much; we're just watching.

I love hearing people's stories of when they've tried something new and they find out they really love it. Even better that they really didn't, but they tried, and it was okay. You can appreciate something, like how I view my eight-legged friends, and still not be able to spin a web. I'm not saying that I'm going to try and spin a web, but watching can and should inspire action.

I dare you to move.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Husbands


Seven years ago today, I got married to Jeremy. It was a beautiful day that we talk about often. Time has marched on and here we are seven years into this thing called marriage. We started as a family of two that day and now it has grown to four. I thought I really loved Jer when I married him, but I know now that the love I had for him then was very small and untested. I think about people that have been married for thirty years plus and what love must be like at that point, after living so much more of life together.

Marriage is interesting. It is not really what I thought it was in my naive teenage years. I imagined that we would have hours of uninterrupted time together...ha! I imagined going for walks together at the end of the day. I imagined love letters and flowers and all that other stuff that I thought was romance. I now think that romance is stolen kisses with kids hanging off our legs. Romance is is sitting on our deck as the sun goes down, not saying much of anything, just being together in the same place. Romance is a hug when the day starts and a kiss goodnight. Romance is belly laughing at each other. Romance is crying in each other's arms. Romance is talking through life's ups and downs and celebrating that we continue on the journey...together. I am glad that I have been surprised by what marriage is really like. I am happy that it is different and so much more than what I thought it was.

Husbands are interesting too. I had room mates a couple time during my single life, but I have to say that having a room mate is not the same thing as having a husband. Room mates do not have the same expectations as a spouse. You don't have the same kind of time and love invested in that kind of co-habitation either. I have seen every side (maybe not quite every side) of my husband, Jer; the good, the bad, the ugly, the selfish, the angry, the gentle, the compassionate, the heartbroken, the sweet, the harsh, the lovable, the servant, the generous, the taker, the father, the friend, the son, the brother, the idiot, the genius, the creative, the destructive, the playful, the work-aholic, the lover, the artist, the musician, the builder, the brooder, the depressed, the joyful, the hungry, the grumpy, the hilarious, the actor, the studious, the amazing, the driven, the thoughtful, the thoughtless, the kind, the romantic, an the absolutely most disgusting. And I love him, with a bigger love than I thought my heart could hold. The crazy part is that he has seen all of my sides and he loves me back. The wonder of it all!!??

I am so honored that I get to spend the rest of my life learning what it means to love every side of Jeremy Seatter. It's hard, it's wonderful, it's complex, it's painful, it requires more than what I am capable of at times, but it's worth it. I get to learn about love by loving.