Category Archives: Simply

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 . . .

Personality Tests

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Our family is quite a collection of personality types.  We spent a super cold, Polar vortex cold for the meteorologically inclined, weekend taking personality tests.  We are geeks like that!

Hannah went first and came back with an INFP which she delighted in since it is very rare.  Only 4% of the population have this type.  They seem to be the creative geniuses.    She came into the bedroom saying, “How did you do it?  First Michael with Asperger’s then me with a very rare personality type..  You defy the odds Mom.”

Like any sane, rational, mature adult woman . . . I laughed.  I laughed and I wondered how did I end up with 2 rarities.  Then I took the test.

Guess who has THE rarest personality type!  That’s right. Me.  So This whole “Defying the odds” just got bigger.

Funny thing is, I wouldn’t have expected this result.  I know which Disney character I am, I know which Lord of the Rings race I am,  Star Wars character, Star Trek character, Winnie the Pooh character, and on and on . . .

The thing is, and it is kind of scary . . . the description is me.  It is me deep down.  The me I don’t let out all that often.  The me I keep safely tucked away.

Although apparently not that tucked away since others read the description and go, “Yep!  That’s you.”   Brett, a young friend of mine, was amazed at how accurate the description is.  Brett sees me 5 days a week and we talk — a lot.  So she knows.  She sees.  So now everyone at work is all into the personality tests.

It is neat because we all see the strengths and weaknesses of each type, and we love each all the more for these differences.

it’s beginning to look . . .

a lot like Christmas.  The Christmas season always starts with me bringing out a new I Spy puzzle book.  I’m not sure how the tradition started, but we’ve got 6 years’ worth.  Kelly and I sat last night and worked through a couple of them.  It was a wonderful way to settle down after a busy week.

My phone and I are finally starting to understand one another.  Hannah worked hard to teach me how to send myself pictures from my own phone.  Someday I may catch up to the technology in my simple little phone.