Category Archives: Simply

Man and Dog

AKA Michael and Jasper

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Jan 2020 in Review:

yoga: 28 days
meditation: 31 days
strength training: 14 days
walking: 14 days
rest days: 5 days
Tacluso + Ysgubo: 27 days
Outdoor work: 4 days
Daily office + Bible: 31 days
Welsh: 31 days
Study: 12 out of 12 days scheduled

Read: *Practicing Depth Year with re-reading old fiction books that I already own rather than buying new.*

An Other Kingdom (NF)
An Uninvited Quest
Living Beautifully (NF)
Spying in High Heels
Killer in High Heels
Started but didn’t finish
Introduction to the Old Testament (NF)
The Hebrew Bible: Feminist and Intersectional Perspectives (NF)
Learning to Walk in the Dark (NF)
Mayhem in High Heels

Weather:

Sunrise on Jan 1 — 8:00
Sunset on Jan 1 — 5:32
Sunrise on Jan 31 –7:49
Sunset on Jan 31 — 6:03
Temperature on 1 Jan — 33-48 degrees (and partly cloudy)
Trend for the month was unusually warm. (We only had a fire 6 days this month.)
Temperature on 31 Jan –36-42 degrees (and snowing)

Low Waste :: Low Impact

Gasoline for Kim: 2 gallons
Electricity for household: 12 kwh (above our solar/wind allowance)
Water for Kim: 20 gallons per day
Garbage for Kim: 1 pound for the month
Food for Kim: $120 for the month
Money spent for Kim: $40 for the month, not counting Rx.

Advent

Post from 2018

Since renewing my commitment to live a small and regenerative life I notice areas where we are doing ok, but could definitely make some improvements. This year, Advent is getting a slight makeover.

Last year: Advent wreath with paraffin candles, and plastic bits and bobs attached to a wreath frame.

Not too bad, but I wanted to look at how the candles of Advent could be carried forward through the year, how we could use non-paraffin candles, and how the wreath itself could be changed for one that could reflect the seasons.

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What I’ve come up with is a wreath made from our grapevines, sitting on cardboard, with glass candle holders, beeswax candles, and seasonal decor filling up the spaces between the candles. Ideally (and ultimately), I want Kelly to bring in a round of wood just the size of the wreath so that it becomes its own little table/stool/home altar.

I melt beeswax into little plastic tea light cups (that I use over and over again). I do have to buy the wicks, but I try to find the hemp ones. About 4 years ago I bought 2 pounds of beeswax and we are still using it for candles and salves. Bees are hopefully getting added to our little farm sometime in the next few Springs. That should make the beeswax even better!

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Each evening of Advent, we light the candle(s) and this year we are reading David Cole’s A Celtic Advent..It is a quiet, peaceful transition into the darker evenings. It lends itself to less television and more reading.  Just the way I like it!

Post from 2017

Advent marks the beginning of the church year. It comes at the darkest time of the year, surrounding us with hope, peace, joy, and love. It invites us to anticipate the arrival of Jesus and the light he brings into the world.

Advent gives us a chance to step back from the cultural norm of gift lists, shopping, a frantic pace, decorations that overtake the house, and an expectation of “more.” Advent, for me, is not just a time to count down to Christmas, it is a time to prepare my heart and my home for a deeper connection to the Christ.

Our Advent traditions are pretty basic because I like to keep it simple. My first step is always to clean the house and look for things to donate. While I’m cleaning, I put away all the knick-knacks that normally sit around our house. I usually buy new cloth napkins (white and blue, see a thread?) The advent wreath is given a place of honor. I really like to use blue candles and I’ve contemplated using all white candles. This year I’m using 3 purple, 1 pink, and a white Christ candle that were part of an Advent activity at my church.

Each night during my Vesper devotions, I light the appropriate candles, say the Vesper service, and read the scriptures (I use the Book of Common Prayer for my daily reading) and finally I conclude with the week’s collect from the BCP. This adds less than a minute to my normal Vespers routine.

girls’ trip 2018

My best-est friend, since second grade, and I got together for a two day trip this week. We always have such a lovely time together . . . talking, eating, and talking. We spent our time together at Spring Mill State Park in IN.

Weather: mid-upper 80s, partly cloudy, but dry

Activities: walking, talking, and eating

Packing List:

  • wearing: t-shirt, cardigan, shorts, unders/bra, trainers
  • in the bag: pjs, t-shirt, unders, yoga pants (for lounging), swim suit, sandals (for pool), sun hat
  • 3-1-1: shampoo/soap bar, face serum, deodorant stone, toothbrush, toothpaste, lip balm, eye drops
  • Iberian Cube: altoids, Rx & supplements, comb, phone charger, ear buds, mini first-aid kit,

Merlin

That last scene in MerlinBBC gets me every time. Hope, patience, friendship, longing . . . and just a hint of “come on already”.  Stories like this feed my soul.44C239CA-3AF0-4CC5-AC76-5ACE18CD9E82

Lent 2018

It begins in ashes . . .. it journeys through darkness . . .it ends with celebration

Lent is the period of time between Ash Wednesday and carries on for 40 days, not counting Sundays. Sundays are not counted since they are the weekly celebration of the resurrection.

Ash Wednesday — Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.

In my faith tradition we begin Lent by hiding the allelujah and removing decorations from the sanctuary. We receive the ashes as a sign of our mortality, self-examination and repentance. We remember that it is only by his gracious gift that we are given everlasting life.

At home, my altar is covered with a gray cloth, I place a bowl in the center and each day as I do Vespers I place a paper of self-examination, repentance, or prayer for another into the bowl. I will burn these papers during the Great Vigil (Saturday night waiting for Easter Morning). I also like to use rocks and a smaller tea candle on my altar during this season.

I have seen people who make rough wooden crosses and literally nail their requests to the cross during Lent and then attach flowers to each nail on Easter morning. I like this idea, but prefer my quiet bowl, rocks, and candle.

Epiphany 2018

6 January 2018
Holy Day:  Epiphany
Chalking the Door
A traditional way of doing this is to use chalk to write above the home’s entrance, 20 + C + M + B + 18.
  • The letters C, M, B have two meanings. They are the initials of the traditional names of the three magi: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar.
  • They also abbreviate the Latin words Christus mansionem benedicat, “May Christ bless the house.”
  • The “+” signs represent the cross and 2018 is the year.
 Dreikönigskuchen–3 Kings Cake
Ingredients
  • 4-4 1/4cups flour
  • 2 tsp dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 tsp orange zest, thinly stripped
  • 1 1/2 tsp lemon zest, thinly stripped
  • 1/2 cup raisins, cherries, cranberries (whichever your family likes best)
  • 1 whole almond
Egg wash
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1Tbsp water
Coating
  • 1/8 cup apricot jam
  • 1 Tbsp hot water
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat together all ingredients except for the almond, egg wash, and coating.
  2. Once a soft, smooth ball forms, set it aside to rise until doubled in bulk. About 2 1/2 hours. Be sure to cover it and place in a warm spot.
  3. Divide the dough into 8 Pieces, one a little larger than the rest.
  4. Roll each piece into a ball and arrange the 7 smaller balls around the slightly larger one on a sheet pan, forming a flower.
  5. Let rise another 30 minutes, then brush with the egg wash.
  6. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  7. Prepare the glaze by mixing the apricot jelly with a tablespoon of hot water.
  8. Bake the rolls for 30-40 minutes, or until deep golden brown.
  9. Brush with several coats of apricot glaze and sprinkle with the coarse sugar
  10. Once the bread is cool enough to handle, poke an almond into the bottom of one of the rolls.

Living Small

Living small . . . because there isn’t enough time to do it all.

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I have a category here on the blog that I call living small. I’ve used this term to mean living simply and living with less, but I’ve never been satisfied that those two ideas are “exactly” what I mean. It is a word that often comes to my mind when I read about people living big lives — doing big things, writing big books, having a big following on their blog or on social media.

Maybe it is the way I’m wired (INFJ, 5w4), maybe it’s my family situation (adult son with autism), maybe it is my health (auto-immune disorder), maybe I just don’t have ambition . . .

Maybe. Or maybe it is because I am not called to live a big life. Maybe I am called to living a small life— but living a small life really well.

I think it is what was stirring when I decided to blog about my family’s journey. I think it is what I was reaching for when I decided to long-form journal and blog. I think it is what I was sensing when I decided to stop living life so “quantified.” I feel like exploring this idea and seeing where it takes me.

I’ve chosen a few areas where I want more, where I want depth, where I want to focus. And I’ve chosen a few areas where I want less — less distraction, less luring me away from mindfulness, and less novelty of the new.

I want more:
* wellness
* simple-ness
* language
* favorites

I want less:
* confusion
* stuff
* social media
* novelty

 

**Photo taken by me in New Orleans, right outside the aquarium.**

July 2017: Faith Journeys

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Our co-priests are on sabbatical (May 14-Sep 3) and our parish is having all sorts of fun, educational, and just plain cool forums and presentations. Thankfully most of them do not involve “stuff” that I would have to bring home.

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This project did. However, it has a lot of meaning wrapped up in one simple stained glass cross. It’s small enough to tuck into any corner of a suitcase. Every time I look at it hanging in my window I am reminded of the lessons I am learning during this journey with my beloved parish.

Bookends

BCP and Beads

BCP and Beads

My day is bookended by Laud and Compline. Laud starts with the glorious words, “Let my soul rise up to meet you . . .” and Compline ends with ” . . . And asleep I may rest in peace.”

Joy & Happiness vs Fear & Scarcity

In The Gifts of Imperfection Brene Brown says that we don’t fix (fear of) scarcity with abundance but with sufficient (enough).

I’ve been giving this a lot of thought. I’ve been drawn to voluntary simplicity for a decade now. It began as a spiritual practice and has influenced all areas of my life. I had never considered that I might be drawn to it as an answer to fear of scarcity.

However in reading through this section, again, I noticed that I often feel a lack of . . .sleep, time, and health. So while I’ve gotten control of fear of scarcity concerning money and possessions, I’ve never addressed these other more nebulous areas.

I think it is easy when dealing with an auto-immune disorder to chalk a lot of feelings up to how you’re physically feeling each day. It does seem that days when I wake up achy, dull, and swollen that is much harder to express courage, compassion, and even connection with others. I often just want to curl up into a ball and have the world go away. And on those days when I wake up feeling great everything just seems to fall into place and it’s easier to be the authentic me.

I’ve been working for a little over 4 weeks (at the time I’m writing this) with an Ayurvedic counselor. The work has been enlightening from a purely physical viewpoint, but also because it brings to mind so much of what I remember from this book. Physically I am feeling better than I have in a very long time. The dietary and lifestyle changes put into place were difficult at first, but as I began to build routines and habits they are becoming almost second nature. As I have felt better and better, I’ve noticed that all that soul work really laid the groundwork for this endeavor.

I’m learning how routine creates a sense of “enough” in the areas of food, sleep, time, movement, and health. As I sense “enough” in these areas, I feel the gifts of happiness and freedom flowing back into that area of my life again. My story continues to include this disorder, but slowly it is being pushed into a corner where it can inform but not control my sense of well-being.

Since happiness is an emotion based on circumstances, I realize that it was never my joy that this disease was taking. It was my happiness. When I ask myself what would make today awesome and then when I journal what made that day joyful, I think I have been focusing more on happy than true joy. As I read back through my journal I noticed these were all things that effected my emotions.

Happiness comes and goes, but true joy is a bit like a light in my soul. It is there just waiting for a chance to shine. So starting today I’m going to work on having two lists. One for what would make me happy. The second for where I saw true joy displayed in my life. I think the distinction is important and this is one way I can acknowledge that distinction.

The Gifts of Imperfection, part 2

Part 2 of my summary of The Gifts of Imperfection.

Garatitude and Joy:  Both gratitude and joy are spiritual practices. This means they are not attitudes (which are just ways of thinking) but practices (which are ways of being). Happy (emotion based on circumstances) is not the same as joy (which is often felt in spite of circumstances). You must choose each day to be grateful and joyful.

One way I do that is in my journal. Each morning I ask what can I do (realistically do, not dreamily wish for) to make today joyful — it helps to phrase it “What would make today awesome?” Then as the day progresses I check in and incorporate those things into my day. Each evening I list those things that made the day full of joy. Sometimes my morning list and my afternoon list are very different. Joy comes in surprising places. I’ve always kept a gratitude list in my journal. Most people say you should write your list down each evening. I prefer to start my day reviewing the things I am grateful for from the day before or even things from the middle of the night.

Brene Brown says the opposite of joy is fear (and specifically fear of scarcity). We see this in our lives as worry, anxiety, fearfulness . . . and we don’t fix scarcity with abundance but with enough. For the past 10 years I have been practicing voluntary simplicity. I have found in it a realization that enough is more than adequate.

Intuition and Trusting Faith: Intuition is a rapid fire, unconscious associating process. Observe-scan for existing patterns-reach conclusion; occasionally this is so fast it just seems as if you know without knowing how you know. Sometimes the answer is clear and sometimes the answer is more input needed. Anne Lamott says, “The opposite of faith is not doubt but certainty”. I think what this means to me is that some things are a mystery and I just have to have enough courage to to believe what I cannot see.

Creativity:  I don’t normally think of myself as a creative person. I can’t draw, paint, sing (well, I can sing, but nobody wants to hear it), write a novel, or any of those things that are typically thought of. What I can do is cultivate and curate meaning. I like to make sense of things — not like science facts, just life. I like to see the patterns in life and express those patterns. For me this often takes the form of journal type entries on this blog,

The biggest hinderance to creativity is comparison. Comparison is all about conformity and competition. And I have to say I am NOT into conformity or competition. So I was thrilled to learn that my cultivating and curating meaning is a form, my form, of creativity. It has opened doors of freedom that I’ve kept pretty close to the vest all these years. I’ve even been doing the Headspace meditation pack on creativity. Some pretty interesting thoughts come out of my head. Thoughts that I used to let others squash or ridicule me for are now embraced and given a voice.

Play and Rest: Play here is defined as purposeless. In other words, we play for the sheer joy of play, not to learn something, not to get in our exercise. Rest is downtime. Rest is not necessarily sleep, although we definitely need to make sure we are getting in enough sleep. I’m pretty good at the rest aspect of this — because of my auto-immune disease I make sure my day has time set aside to just rest and renew.

Play isn’t something I’m very good about doing though. I’ll romp through the yard with the puppy (I really need to stop calling him that; he is 18 months old now). I love a good bike ride, but only if someone else is riding with me and talking. Does binge watching my favorite shows count as play? I’m really asking here. . . .

Next up: Calm and Stillness; Meaningful Work; Laughter, Song & Dance

Auditory Processing & The Gifts of Imperfection

In September, during my morning walks, I listened to the book _The Gifts of Imperfection_ (by Brene Brown). I listened for the “outward” stretch of the walk (and thought about it on the “return” stretch, occasionally accompanied by some pop/rock music). In the afternoon I’d sit down with the book version and reread the section I had listened to earlier that day.

This turned out to be a pretty good system for me. I process a lot of information audibly. I think that’s why I get so distracted in a classroom setting. I hear you sniffling, I hear you shuffling the pages, I hear you getting your cell phone out of you pocket — I hear you. This “hearing you” means my attention is split between you and what I’m trying to process.

This “hearing you” comes along with being a HSP (highly sensitive person) and an introvert (quiet people, I just need some quiet). This combination can make it difficult to stay on task, or to be honest, even think if the environment is loud enough/chaotic enough/over stimulating. For example: I once worked for a company that played music through the whole building. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love pop music and keep a selection on my phone for helping me power through the second half of my walk, but I don’t listen and do anything mental at the same time. Just does not work. Not. At. All. One day the same song played on repeat and loud (that Lego song: Everything is awesome) for over an hour. In attempt to maintain my sanity, I put in my earbuds and tried to listen to the Bach cello suites. I ended up frantic, in tears, and unable to do even the easiest of the tasks assigned to me.

This particular day left me with a sense that I was imperfect, I was flawed, and my boundaries were not important. Almost two years later I can still feel the shame I experienced that day. No adult wants to be brought to tears by a stupid Lego song.

So the book _The Gifts of Imperfection_ was really encouraging for me to read. The book talks about Being Enough and the three daily practices or tools that we need in order to set boundaries and know we are enough: courage, compassion, and connection.

Courage: to speak (and live) my whole heart’s truth openly and honestly, putting my vulnerability on the line, and owning my own story. Contrast this with hustling, performing, pleasing, and proving.

Compassion: to recognize our shared humanity, dignity due a person simply because they are, and maintaining boundaries.

Connection: the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued. Contrast this with being communicative and self-sufficienct.

Authenticity: letting go of who we think we are supposed to be and embracing who we are. — This is the key for me. Being an INFJ, HSP, and auditory means I am going to experience life in my own way. Knowing this can help me set boundaries . . . I.e.: if you’re going to play that song on repeat for over an hour, I should probably go home or at least hide in the bathroom.

Self Compassion: Be slow to judge yourself, there is no such thing as perfect, and I am not what I accomplish or perform. A second boundary for me is knowing that I can not handle violence in movies or tv. For a long time, I assumed it was simply the visual image that disturbed me, but an incident the other night showed me the music and the sound effects have a lot to do with how intensely I perceive the violence.

Resilient Spirit: resilience is the ability to overcome adversity. The single biggest factor in my resilience is my faith. In the Anglican Communion I find faith, love, support, connection, meaning, and reliability. There is something incredibly comforting in knowing people all over the world are praying the same prayers and reading the same Scriptures. This comfort allows me to “feel all the feelings” and sort through them.

Other sections of the book include: gratitude and joy, intuition and faith, creativity, play and rest, calm and stillness, and meaningful work, laughter song and dance. Thursday I’ll take a look at each of these and talk about the lessons I learned from each.

a living alleluia

Augustine: A Christian should be an alleluia head to foot.
From A Year with God, Day 88

Alleluia = Hallelujah; praise the Lord

What does it mean to be a living alleluia?

We’re just a few days from Palm Sunday. A few short days from remembering Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem riding a donkey. He’s coming not to conquer, but to gather us up like chicks to a hen. This is a compassionate entry. It’s clear that those present are moved to worship him as he deserves to be worshipped. He says even if they didn’t, nature herself would proclaim his praise.

I want to be part of the crowd praising him; I want to be part of nature praising him; and I want to be one of those who worshipped even at the cross. A huge crowd of praised when things seemed be going right . . . In other words, when it looks like he is going to fulfuill their expectations. Yet, they all seem to fade into the woodwork when the hard part comes.

Am I guilty of this? Do I fade into the mist when it’s a difficult day to proclaim him? This seems like a good time to ponder the question.

In the Episcopal Curch we “bury the Allelulia” for Lent. We cover it in our sanctuaries and we refrain from saying it during our services. This lends itself to reflection upon the suffering of Christ and a sense of waiting for Easter. Since we are usually dismissed with a double Allelulia, I’ve noticed that I leave the service feeling a bit incomplete.

Easter Sunday sees the jubilant return of Allelulia and the joy I feel when hearing and speaking the word is profound.

This year I want to remember that joy and I want to worship fully: fully when present for corporate worship and fully as I go through each day.

cows

I was huffing along this morning moaning to God about the state of things (namely my firewood supply — or lack thereof, the world in general, and my inability to “master” a certain yoga pose that I’ve been working on). As I came around the corner, the hill and the cows came into view. They looked so peaceful. It was chilly enough that their breath came out in great clouds of steam. They glanced up, mooed and grunted, and meanandered toward the bottom of the hill.

I need to be more like the cows . . . ackowledge the intrusion of fear, doubt, and inability, but not get stuck there.

I need to be more like the cows . . . trusting my needs will be provided for.

I need to be more like the cows . . . remembering that my yoga is to become not to forceably master.

Grace, it seems, is still at work in me.

morning office

Even though it is August, which should be steamy, hot and humid here in southern Indiana, the mornings have been cool and brisk. I’m not complaining, just observing.

My morning walk used to start at 6:00 and the sun was rising. Now I’m sleeping an extra half an hour just so I can say the words of the Daily Office, “O Lord, let my soul rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun.” as the sun begins to appear over the horizon.

It puts my day in context. It reminds me that the most important things in life are my faith and the gift of a brand new day. A new day to move my body, eat good food, and drink amazing Chai Lattes.

By the time I reach the road, I’ve moved on from greeting the day to confession. I like getting that out of the way. Mostly I like getting to the line, “So that I may walk in your will and delight in your way to the glory of your name.”

Ah yes, this sets the tone for the day that awaits my return. I have a couple of miles to think through my tasks, pray for those that come to mind, and simply take in all the beauty of my neighborhood.

As I leave the road and walk back down the driveway, the collect comes to mind. “Almighty and everliving Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day. Preserve us now, by your mighty power, so that we may not fall into sin nor be overcome by adversity. And may all we do ever be the fulfilling of your purpose.”

One more reminder that I am not alone in this day and these tasks. I’ve been brought here and given a purpose. I acknowldege that sin and adversity are part of life, but admit that I prefer not to fall nor be overcome.

This simple rhythm brings such comfort and stability to my life. I am ever grateful for the faith community that has brought these words into my life. I need this structure. I need these prepared words.

I’ve been asked if simply reciting these prayers and words doesn’t feel contrived or like I’m slacking off in my prayer life. On the contrary, I have discovered that these words lead to a greater depth of faith. They have become the starting block of a conversation that sustains me as I go through the day. A day framed by Laud, Sext, Vespers, and Compline. A day that comes back to God at regular intervals. A day that I know is mirrored in a multitude across the globe.

———————

Admiration

Admiration — worthy of respect, approval, esteem, admiration, and veneration

I’m standing in front of the woodstove, eyes closed, body swaying, thinking through an assignment for a course I’m taking. I’m stuck. I’m blocked. I’m getting nowhere. So I sway. Swaying seems to help me relax and closing my eyes helps me focus.

I’m really digging deep and then I hear a chortle.

Body stops, eyes open, and I see Michael sitting on the couch watching me. Apparently I look funny. He wants to know what I’m thinking about so hard. So I share the assignment and my problem. He shares some insight that really gets me started and I’m off . . . racing toward the notebook and jotting down thoughts, visions, questions, and faces that come to mind.

The assignment was to think about people you admire, why you admire them, are you like them, are they opposite of you, or are you striving to be like them.

I had a few people in my mind. I could actually see their faces, but I couldn’t figure out why. Why did these come to mind? There are multitudes of people I admire, but these were stuck in the foreground and would not budge. It was Michael’s observation that pulled it all together for me. He instincitvely saw the pattern that I was struggling to grasp.

Here are the things my list have in common:

Their lives revolve around their values (principles).
They show strength and courage to sacrifice (life, reputation, monetary gain) for those values.
They show grace and mercy to love those who belittle (persecute, hurt) them for those values.
My list is a funny hodge-podge, but now that I see the commonalities, it makes perfect sense. Some of the people are real, some are characters. Some I know a lot about, and some I am still learning from and about. Some are the point, some are the counterpoint.

Together they paint a portrait of who I want to be “when I grow up.”

So who was on my list:

Jeus: Perfection come down to live among us as one of us. Love, grace, mercy, meekness (the old definition), kindness, but strength — such strength.

Mr Rogers: Gentle, informed, loving, caring, grace, mercy, accepting, and again, the strength, such strength.

Jimmy Carter: A new hero for me. He was much disparaged as I grew up, but I’ve been reading his writing and finding values, truth, grace, focus, and again strength — mighty strength.

and then came 2 characters: Sidney Bristow and Hector of Troy: loyalty and honesty. Physically: protective, willingness to die, and standing up for the right side (even when it wasn’t the winning side). They are physcial representations of the values I see in the others. They mash it out in the “real world” in ways I could never conceive of or deliver. Something about that physicality both inspires and indimidates me. But, that is another lesson for another day . . .

So in my world, we’d all have heroes. Some perfect, some flawed, but all giving us hope and inspiring us to be the best we can be.

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Patience

“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there someday.” Winnie the Pooh & A.A. Milne

It was bound to happen. After two full weeks of staying home, knowing now that I shall not return to work, I began to look around me and take stock of the house. Little things that I would like to do, little things that need to be done, and little things that I need to send on to new homes. It was pretty easy going. I tackled each room before moving onto the next: starting with my bathroom, moving through the master bedroom, coasting through the living room, breezing through the yoga room, and sighing through the kitchen.

As my body moved to an old familiar rhythm, I began to take stock not just of my home but of my soul. I felt like the old hymn writer: It is well with my soul.

I’ve always loved the river. I suppose growing up in Evansville where the Ohio River is so dominant has a lot to do with it. I loved to sit and watch it flow past. My high school sat high on a hill over the river and I remember lots of chats standing on the sidewalk, looking out over the bowl, waiting for buses, and looking toward to the river.

I always hoped the river would take me somewhere far away: to a better place, a better life, a better me.

I hadn’t yet learned that everywhere I go, there I am. I would learn that, but not in that place. I married young (but happily) and Kelly joined the Air Force. Where the river wouldn’t take me the Air Force did. I saw so many amazing things. I did so many amazing things. I lived in the most incredible places. I lived in the most uninspiring places. I met the most extraordinary people. I met the most ordinary people.

30 years later . . . the Ohio River is my neighbor again. It is the same river, but a different city. I can bike there, or drive there, or hike there. I like knowing that the stream that runs through this land runs into a creek which runs right into the river.

I have learned to be gentle with myself. I have learned patience. The urge to run — to drift — has passed. I know, like the river knows, that I shall get there someday.

honor

Honor –honesty, fairness, or integrity in one’s beliefs and actions. The courage to do what is right, no matter what.

January sunlight is streaming through the windows. It is a rare and glorious sight. Too often, in the past, I have not noticed how it lights up the windows and a spot on the floor. Too often, I have ignored it because it doesn’t bring a great deal of warmth.

Yet today, I am curled up on the couch in a puddle of this delicious sunlight. One hour later and I would have missed it. It will have passed on to another angle and another spot. But for now, it is warmth, comfort, security, and promise. As I sit here the occasional thought that I should be doing something pops into my head. I shrug it off because, even though I followed through on the enlightenment that came at the end of my week of turmoil, I am still tender. It was like picking off a scab. You’re tender and pink underneath. I’ve been giving myself extra grace this week.

This extra grace has brought with it plenty of time to think and ponder. My thoughts have generally turned upon the concept of Honor.

Honor is such a funny word. I seem to know what it means, I see examples of it in the world around me, and yet the definition seems too cold, too formal. I am a huge King Arthur fan (and Doctor Who, and Lord Peter . . . and I do wonder what that says about me, but that is totally beside the point. I think.) I suppose what I am trying to say, and saying very poorly, is that I like my life to be transparent. I am who I am, and I would prefer it if everybody else is too. I desire to live a life of honor. I like my values to be lived out in my day-to-day life.

I suppose that is why I root for the underdog, defend the downtrodden, and am a warrior when it comes to my family. if we are all image-bearers of God, then we are all worthy of respect, dignity and honor.

What kind of world do I want? I want a world filled with honor.

Contentment

Contentment–a state of happiness and satisfaction

I’m sitting here, in the living room, watching a number of birds at the birdfeeder. There are Tufted Titmouse, Black-Capped Chickadee, Dark-eyed Junco, Slate Junco, Cardinals, and a whole host that I have yet to identify. Watching the birds gives me enormous joy.

My son, knowing my love of birds, gives me birdfeeder poles and feeders as a gifts. Each birthday and Christmas I am taken to the store and told to chose. It is a simple pleasure. Yet, I find profound happiness in picking out a new feeder and deciding what kind of food to use in it. I have 8 different ones now and feel like I now attract a good variety.

I’ve learned such lessons from the birds this year. Lately the world has seemed cold and harsh — and not just the weather–but the birds come on schedule. Some decked out in brilliant plumage, some dressed a bit more humbly, but they all come to the same place. They are equal here: I whoop in delight at the plainest sparrow and I whoop in delight at the woodpecker with his brilliant red and deepest black.

They all come seeking sustenance. They are industrious little creatures. They’ll work away gathering and eating, flitting from feeder to feeder in search of the perfect combination for that meal. They do not favor the fancy food over the simple.

They come trusting. The dog, Opal and the cat, Cricket may sit in the window and watch (or stalk, in the case of the cat) but the birds seem to know they are safe at the feeders. The birds also come trusting that there will be food in the feeders.

Yet, it is not a blind trust. They will carefully observe a new feeder for a few days before beginning to partake of the food. Opal’s trips across the porch lead to a short term mass exodus. Our trips to refill the feeders are met with watchful curiosity. Nobody gets too close, except the chickens but that is a different story, yet they don’t go far.

2014 was a good year. A year of much growth and feeling settled. There were times I wondered where the love of God was, where the money to pay medical bills would come from, and doubtful that God could sort out the mess that four adult family members are bound to create. Yet, God was faithful: I have a church home and traditions that I am growing into that give me enormous comfort; I have zero medical bills that need to be paid freeing up much needed room in the budget; and mutual respect and love seem to win the day when things get strained.

2015 is a clean slate, an open book, and journey just started. I wonder where it will lead. I’m content to let the lessons come as they will. I’m content to just put one foot in front of the other. I’m content knowing that a prayer book, Bible, and candle are helpful reminders that as I delight in the birds, so God delights in me.

And that my friends is the real secret to contentment.

Flux

Flux–the process of flowing or flowing out

Flux is such an interesting word. I love the way it feels in my mouth. It just sort of rolls around and then exits. I sort of wonder if that is how the archaic meaning took form. If you don’t know the archaic meaning, it has to do with the expulsion of body waste. Yeah . . . that.

Flowing or flowing out suits my feeling today. November is such a melancholy month. I seem to be more introspective this time of year. I’m preparing for my birthday, Thanksgiving, and then Advent/Christmastide. I’ve always thought that the swiftness of this time of year contributes to my desire to look inside, take stock, and evaluate.

Mostly, I like what I see. I own who I am. I am not who I was. I am still becoming.

My church teaches that we are always growing into who we already are. Always growing into our baptism, always becoming the saint we already are.

I like the imagery.

Today during yoga, I noticed that my practice has a more natural flow to it than in days ( weeks, months, years) past. There is no hurry, no competition, no struggle. Just me and my mat, flowing, evolving, growing, changing. Yoga is good for my body. Yoga is good for my soul.

Anyway, as I was noticing that my breath and movement were in harmony, I was thinking about all changes that have brought me to today. To a new blog, a new church home, a new appreciation that I am not defined and limited by how those who only know me “from back then” or from those who choose not to see who I have become.

or who I am becoming . . .

So part of my world will be the Grace to let others be who they are. No judging, no expectations, no holding them to the past. Grace enough to love through the hurt; Grace enough to extend forgiveness; Grace enough to love without measure; Grace enough to realize you too are becoming . . .