at last, a work of heart

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I have spent the bulk of my life in hospitals.

As a physical therapist and as the daughter of a hospital pharmacist.

My brother and I would sit on the floor of our father’s (tucked in the farthest

corner of the hospital basement) pharmacy and spin lids onto empty

prescription bottles.

Whenever there happened to be a child

needing an overnight or extended stay, our father would have us

visit.

You know, the healing wonders of a friendly face.

Several years ago, a new hospital was built and during a visit

with my parents, my dad gave me a tour.

We had barely begun the tour and my tear ducts disobeyed me.

I remembered the old hospital but this new building was like

the most beautiful cathedral of healing.

It’s common to fear hospitals, it is understandable

as they can be a frightening place.

Hospitals have always felt like church to me.

In fact, the reverse should be true.

Churches should be like hospitals.

A sanctuary of healing for everyone with various types

of sickness.

The place where you find company when you fretted you would sit alone.

A setting where you are engulfed by outstretched arms helping you to stand.

*****

After dabbling in writing classes and filling stacks of journals,

I decided to start a blog.

Before I could bring this blog into existence,

I had to decide on a name.

For a person who adores words, this was not an easy task.

As I grappled with calling

and purpose, the echo in  my ear kept reminding me,

I was God’s work of art.

Each one of us is a priceless and unique work of art.

The patch of time where I had struggled most intensely with identity,

faith and living in the midst of trials required deep intricate surgery.

It was heart work which could only be adequately performed

by a masterful Physician.

A Work of Heart was born on August 26, 2006, a day

after my 42nd birthday.

Initially I only made my address known to my family and a few friends.

Over time I grew stronger in my passion to encourage others and

I made my blog public.

The landscape in the blogging world has changed immensely.

Initially I had to explain to many what a blog was and now

it seems everyone has one or knows someone who blogs.

Year by year I began to find my voice and grew braver.

My original tagline was Fresh Ink From Above.

I felt as if God was reaching his hand down upon my own and

infiltrating every drop of ink onto the page.

I never recapped my pen without feeling as if

God had mingled with me and met me.

As I have written often, writing felt like prayer.

Is it any surprise to know I envision

A Work of Heart as a hospital?

I hope when you spend a moment on this blog

you will be able to find respite from the downpours

of life.

I am here to open up the most expansive

umbrella of encouragement over you.

I want you to take off your coat and shake

off some of the debris of life.

Although a hospital is hallowed ground,

I don’t expect shoe removal as I know

your time is precious.

In fact there are three wards in this hospital

I want you to remember:

  • Pay Attention
    A Work of Heart is the art of paying attention to
    God in our midst.
    He is everywhere.
    I have found him slices of pizza, hailstorms,
    the pages of books and at the foot of wheelchairs.
    Search for him in the spectacular ordinary days of life.
  • Rest
    We all belong to a collective group of weary travelers.
    I am hiking right beside you.
    We were meant for work but we were also meant for play
    and refreshment.
    Don’t forget to plan time for less of everything.
  • You are not alone
    I pray there will be a word, a sentence or a paragraph
    which will reinforce the reality that you are not alone.
    You are not alone in your struggles.
    Last week, when I shared about empty wrappers,
    a friend on Facebook wrote,
    “We are all the same!”
    We were meant to share this life experience by giving
    voice to our commonalities.
    I will continue to unwrap my struggles along with
    my triumphs.
    Let’s walk this unpaved road together.

The very best part of A Work of Heart is you can visit

without having to leave the comfort of your home or

change out of your pajamas.

Better yet, I don’t have to drag you out of bed!

I long to lean in close and whisper words you need

to remember.

You know these words, they reside within you,

perhaps you have

just forgotten.

When I press publish, this will be my

700th post.

I think God knew there would be a milestone to celebrate

at the conclusion of recapping my blog history which

is part of my story.

I am so humbled whenever I find evidence of someone’s visit here.

There have been a wealth of words written this week but never

enough words to capture the God who escorted me to this space.

You see, I am a girl who needs every ward in the hospital too

as I tend to race off on my horse at full speed.

I don’t always pay attention to the signposts as I forge ahead on my path.

I collapse exhausted in need of rest and relief from my folly.

Yet in the distance, I hear the sound of galloping and I am scooped

up by the Father.

He has pursued me and chased me down,

not to scold me or even to shake my shoulders in dismay.

He simply has been trying to catch up to me so he can reaffirm

His love

and delight in me.

Here’s the clincher,

no matter how far away I ride,

no matter how deeply foolish the mistakes I make,

he reminds me He has always been

right beside me even when I couldn’t hear the panting of

his horse’s breath.

Welcome my friends to A Work of Heart.

*****

This is the final post in a series called A Work of Heart History.

If you have a thirst for more words, you can read the previous

entries here, here, here and don’t forget here.
~~photo credit: Fahad Zahid

Image

welcoming back words

For years, I had buried words deeply into the earth

and I feared they were beyond hope of emerging.

If you picture an avalanche, the initial sliding snow

is relatively small, like frozen skidding pebbles, seemingly innocent.

As the speed increases, more snow becomes entangled with force

and anything in the path of an avalanche is obliterated.

I felt an unparalleled ambush of words, illustrations and images.

Notebooks were scattered all over the house for

quick retrieval to scribble down ideas.

I am sure I possessed a glazed expression as I

tried to upload the words coursing through my mind.

I am also sure it wasn’t always a joy to live with me.

After taking a few writing courses,

I started to gather scraps of courage

to share my writing beyond my journals.

What was I to do about physical therapy?

How does one who entered the field to help people

announce the need to exit?

It felt so counter and harsh to admit this reality.

However I could barely care for my family

much less physically shoulder the needs of patients.

I feared I would disappoint the people in my life by saying

I was abandoning the profession.

Undoubtedly I had put a lot of effort into becoming a P.T. but

others had been a tremendous help and support.

Was I going to let them down in the process of following my heart?

I recently heard author Sue Monk Kidd  explain her decision to no longer

be a nurse. She knew nursing was one of the noblest of professions

and she had chosen it because it was traditional and safe.

She recalls that she was a pretty good nurse, she cared,

did her best but she never felt as if it were her true

place of belonging.

She felt homesick for home.

When she began to write, it was a homecoming.

She believes it takes courage to find out what lies

at the bottom of our hearts.

I could have expressed the same sentiments.

I was a pretty good physical therapist.

I worked hard, I cared deeply about my patients but I

never felt exhilaration in the way I did holding a pen.

I did not work outside the home in any capacity until Caleb was 8 years old.

I decided to give physical therapy another try.

Perhaps after this long absence, the old feelings wouldn’t resurface.

My first day of holding a list of patients to treat, I felt nervous and rusty.

As I was working with my second patient, her two sons anxiously hovered

as I positioned a walker before her wheelchair.

She had emphatically told me she was not going to walk today.

Perhaps this is why I loved working with children, it doesn’t

occur to them to answer no to your requests.

I gently told this sweet lady, I was there to help and

all she needed to do was make an attempt.

She amazed herself and her sons by raising to stand and taking

some slow shuffled steps.

I placed just the right amount of contact on her back to keep her

moving forward, out of the corner of my eye,

I saw one of the sons writing something and putting a piece of

paper on my clipboard.

At the end of the session, I gave my final instructions and issued

a good-bye to this precious family.

As I walked back to the office to tackle the computer

charting system, I glanced down at my clipboard and

saw this note:

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I set my clipboard down and I touched the words written by one of the

equally concerned sons.

I had extended simple kindness and expertise and considered it the natural

course of my work day.

To this dear son, it was everything.

I worked another 6 months and it became apparent

a shift in my heart had not occurred as well as aspects

of the practice had flown past me in my absence.

I also needed physical therapy myself for a neck injury.

At this juncture, I don’t know if I will work again in this field.

On the first day back in the trenches, what others

saw in me, despite feeling awkward and out of

practice was Christ in me, the hope of glory.

This was the visible reality of what others had

always seen leaning against each hospital bedside and kneeling

before wheelchairs.

There is no other way I can describe how

God worked through me repeatedly in spite of my weakness.

Two letters following my name allowed me to present an offering

to each patient on the hallowed ground of need.

Physical therapy had been a vehicle for His glory.

Writing was just a different make and model purchased

by the same God.

**********

To be continued…

The last post (I promise) tomorrow.
This post is from a series called A Work of Heart History.
Feel free to read the other posts here, here and here.

 

 

knocking on the door of a work of heart

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The final day of April dumped 12 inches of snow leading up to

graduation from physical therapy school.

The end of July found us scurrying for cover against golf ball-sized

hailstones.

Carl and I were not sad to leave behind the rigors of graduate school

or extreme weather seasons, but we dreaded saying goodbye

to two of my classmates who had met and married during our 2 years

in Rochester.

Brennan and Ellen, had become “our” couple and it seemed

implausible that we would ever find this type of connection again.

Carl gently pressed the accelerator and I found it impossible to

end my backward gaze and face the road before us.

Shards of my heart would always inhabit the land of 10,000 Lakes.

We inked a star on our paper map and headed to Portland, Oregon

as neither of us could find work in our original destination of Seattle.

I began work at a center for medically fragile children and Carl searched

for a job in medical technology.

Pediatrics comprised the first 5 years of my practice

and was my sweet spot.

Over the next 15 years, two daughters were born and hundreds

of patients were treated.

As varied as the settings and schedule I worked, my caseload

was just as diverse.

I worked in orthopedics, oncology, burn units, spinal cord

and brain injury rehabilitation.

I felt the fragility and intensity of life working Level 1 trauma

and the pulsing joy of cardiac patients with patched up tickers.

Sometime around year 10, I began to struggle getting patients out of bed,

not physically but emotionally.

I couldn’t bear being the one who would make them hurt to hasten their healing.

I wanted to lean in close and chat with the bed ridden.

I wanted to comfort the families and perhaps drop off a casserole.

I never possessed the hard-core personality of most physical therapists

and I couldn’t fake it any longer.

Even though I wanted to hand in my gait belt,

I knew there was a reason I became a physical therapist.

God had given me the necessary aptitude, it wasn’t a fluke.

During bouts of discouragement, I would reflect on the

days prior to graduate school.

I witnessed unimaginable mercy and favor

by the hands of the Mayo board.

I had failed the second term of college physics

(a graduate school requirement), hoped to

never let Mayo be the wiser by

attempting to “fix-it” during the

summer but I belly-flopped again.

I thought about how often God whispered the same sentiment

as the generous people at Mayo said,

“We know who we picked.
We picked you and we still want you.”

Weighty words of grace reached into the depths of my failure

and chose me.

2003 opened with the revelation of adding another child to our family.

Oh he was a feisty one and it was a challenging pregnancy.

Barely through the first trimester, I developed painful sciatica and could not

lift more than ten pounds.

The sciatic nerve originates in the lower back and runs the

full extent of the leg.

When it is irritated or compressed, it becomes angry.

The nerve fires back by signalling pain, numbness and even

disruption of movement.

Sciatica is the painful loss of control.

My manager was polar opposite to those before her or my Mayo

angels, she informed me over the phone that I “was of no use to her

if I couldn’t lift patients.”

The response stung in the moment  but faded to relief.

I allowed my wee boy full range of my body until he arrived

with great joy in late September.

The next 5-6 years were a compressed period of losses and heartache.

This would be the second stripping away period in my life related less to my

identity but exposed the  faulty substance of my faith.

I had sciatica of the heart.

I felt mismatched in my career and had no tangible

control over the unending and crushing

circumstances of my life.

I frequently tidy our home when I am stressed.

If I can’t order my world, I can at least bring peace

to my surroundings.

On such a day, I uncovered old work files and casually

shuffled  through a decade worth of performance evaluations.

Without exception whether comments from colleagues or bosses,

the highest marks were not in my abilities as a clinician but

as a writer.

I could no longer ignore the words.

It was time to pay attention.

I had dropped my bookmark  and perhaps it had landed

safe and securely anchored in a life boat of words.

**********

To be continued…

This is the third post in a series titled A Work of Heart History.

You can read the other posts here and here.

 

 

before a work of heart: pt.2

Our lives are like a glorious page turner, in which we are not able to determine the twists and turns.  Had we known which way the details of our lives would align themselves, our lives would be predictable and not the journey that they are designed to be.

There are many times that I feel as if my bookmark has fallen to the ground.  I scramble to pick it up as if by simply holding it in my hand, it will magically replace itself.  I rifle through the pages trying desperately to find my location. 

Where am I?

If I backtrack needlessly, it is fruitless…territory already covered.  Lessons learned and vision restored.  If I jump ahead of my place, I will only be skipping important details that are essential to any good story.  Oh, it is so tempting to sneak a peek, just one juicy tidbit to keep my interest engaged, but that morsel will be all the tastier when it is revealed at the proper time.

(excerpt from A Work of Heart blog post-September 2006)

(I fought the urge to rewrite the above.)

If I am honest, had my life been a book, I wanted to be the author.

I wanted to name all the characters, describe the plot, subplots and

construct the ending.

Although predictable endings are often chided, I considered that possibility

fabulous in my book.

Not having a plan or direction in my life unnerved me.

I placed my qualms in a brightly colored box filled with perfection and performance

enveloped with a sparkly smiling bow.

As college approached and tensions heightened,

the public library offered me tranquility and a comfortable setting

to determine the course of my life.

On Saturdays, I would stride toward the reference section

containing  mammoth volumes about careers

and hoist one upon a table.

From A to Z, I would investigate career options, requirements,

salary ranges and who was best suited for each profession.

From the pages of a heavy tome in a library, I chose physical therapy

as my career choice.

I had laser sharp focus in college.

There were subjects I was drawn towards but

if they weren’t on the map,

I ignored the gravitational pull and I drop kicked those classes.

With the exception of a semester of college physics which proved to be

my undoing, I worked hard enough to earn grades necessary to

apply to physical therapy school.

Carl and I had been engaged for a few months and we had a huge decision

to make regarding physical therapy school at

Northwestern University in Chicago or

The Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

Graduate school began three weeks after Carl and I had said our vows.

We stuffed our Honda, waved goodbye to family, friends

and wedding gifts and headed to Rochester, Minnesota

and called it a honeymoon.

We were young, in love and anything familiar to us was thousands of miles

away, visible only if we squinted in our rear view mirror.

The P.T. program at Mayo was affectionately or not so affectionately

called mini-Medical school.

It was intense and not the ideal orientation for newlyweds.

Physical therapy school proved to be

the catalyst of stripping away chunks of my identity.

I found myself uncomfortable answering questions on the spot.

I cringed when I demonstrated techniques before my classmates.

In college, I set up camp in a library and studied without time constraints but as

a young married, I had to learn how to balance school and a husband.

After 8 hours of class most students were in the library or anatomy lab for

the rest of the night.

I wanted to study but I also longed to be with Carl.

I wanted to decorate our apartment and cook meals yet

Carl worked late hours, I would return to an empty apartment and find

a pan of Hamburger Helper and a note from Carl.

I was accustomed to working hard enough to ensure good grades,

now I inhabited the lower third of my class.

Every clinical day I put on my white laboratory coat over my “Mayo Way” dress

code and raced to keep up.

I used to have hours to spend with God, now I could only nod my head knowing

He was with me but we felt like strangers.

I felt every bit like the pizza Carl would bring home at 2 am.

We would sit on the floor and catch up.

Slivers of slumber gave way to awakening with the pizza

hangovers we thought were exclusive to college.

There was a silent conversation between our eyes expressing

disbelief of how our newlywed bliss was spent in tiny scattered segments.

My carefully constructed life was a jumbled up mess of partially devoured

wedges without hope of fitting back into a whole concentric circle.

The steadfast words filling those two years were found in textbooks, clinical

evaluations, board exams

and love notes from my husband encouraging me to not give up.

All words written by the hands of others and not my own.

Could my bookmark be retrieved once it floated to the ground?

**********

To be continued…

This post is from a series called  A Work of Heart History.
You can read the first post here.

 

before a work of heart

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As a child, the letter “e” looked like a profile

with a perpetual smile.

Whenever I saw my first and middle names side by side,

I envisioned them grinning from ear to ear.

You are invited to crack a smile as well and nod your head even if

this thought process makes no earthly sense.

Perhaps being named Helen Lelia in honor of my

grandmothers was reason enough to beam with joy.

My story is strung together by paragraphs composed of

embraced and ignored words.

I am not a shade different from the majority of writers

who proclaim they “have always written”.

I spent hours practicing and changing my handwriting.

I can’t recall a time when I didn’t keep a  journal and

I remember fondly a pink 5-year diary

with a gold lock and key.

It remained fairly empty as the lines were so narrow and my

handwriting was not.

Who could possibly summarize a day in three slender lines?

I had a childhood friend who moved from my hometown of Pullman,

Washington right at the beginning of our grade school years.

We wrote letters our entire childhood and through our teen years.

Oh how I wish those letters were still in my possession. Sigh.

It’s doubtful I will ever abandon writing letters and cards even in this

age of technological immediacy.

My Aunt Lelia was a creative who defied definition.

She possessed the most amazing handwriting I have ever seen.

When our family would visit her, she would hand us copies of her latest

newspaper articles.

If the timing was perfect, I tagged along whenever she went into the newspaper

office and I was hypnotized by the murmur of writers and

chatter of typewriters.

She gave me my first Writers Market when I was in late middle school.

I read it from cover to cover as if it were a novel.

Thumbing through page after page, I tried to decipher this new vocabulary of query

letters, submissions and SASE(self-addressed stamped envelope).

I dreamed of the day someone wanted to pay pennies for my words or

allow me to write the squishy centers of Hallmark cards.

Sadly my aunt departed too soon, she would have loved blogging.

She would have adored laptops and social media!

During my years in college, I often felt a nudge to send friends

cards or letters.

At the time, I would not understand where the compulsion resided

but I would heed the plea.

I would sit down, allow my thoughts to quiet and

release my pen to glide wherever

it desired.

Once deposited in a mailbox, the letter might cross my

mind once or twice but for the most part,

I was able to release the words to the postal service

for their safe delivery.

Over the years, I would hear a common collection of words from friends.

“Your letter came at just the right time.”

“I can’t believe the words you wrote in that card.”

“How did you know to write what you wrote?”

I would express gratitude for the words being meaningful

but I had no recollection.

I couldn’t grasp adequate words to explain.

I didn’t recognize nor did I pay attention to the reality

of witnessing the Spirit and the crazy mystery of God.

The signposts pointing to God were there, the words flowing

from my pen were indicators,

I chose to take a detour away from words.

To be continued…

 

 

the reality of my corner office

 

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I imagine most homes have one or two prized places to sit.

The overwhelming majority of my family likes to plop into their seats and

linger for a while in one place.

It’s not the most comfortable chair but it possesses the best lighting and I dare say the

best place for inspiration.

The head chair at our dining room table is this highly favored spot.

I have dented the cushion with countless hours making lists,

pouring over books or verses and  pounding out words

upon my laptop.

Others like to read the newspaper while eating their morning Wheaties.

Some just sit with ear buds in place and read.

Any given activity is abruptly stopped to witness the increased

traffic pattern of birds finding our bird feeders.

There is an unspoken language in our family and we all make way for whoever

happens to take a seat first.

I appreciate this grace extended to all.

Most days I can wait my turn as I have the most access to this chair.

Over the last couple of years, there have been extended times where the

chair has been occupied…continually.

I decided to turn a section of our “everything” room into a creative space for me.

It already had bookshelves where I kept most of my books and there was a table,

several cupboards and EVERYTHING else.

It was a room where items without a home found a rest stop.

When we first moved in 20 years ago, it was an empty room which we christened

the Costco room. We couldn’t imagine it ever being filled from floor to ceiling.

I got serious last summer and it has taken nearly a year to recover this space.

The process was lengthy as each time I cleared a space,

some lovely wonderful precious person would fill it.

Did I mention they were lovely and wonderful and precious?

Okay!

Good!

I had to reinforce new boundaries for this room.

We all had to reorient our thinking.

When company would come, it had been a pattern to dump wayward objects

on my work table or on the floor.

Returning later, I would find a mountain of stuff and it would extinguish any

creative flame.

We all have places in our lives not only our homes

which are crammed from floor to ceiling.

We shout halt to a few areas in our lives to welcome space and

are puzzled how easily and quickly a no vacancy sign returns.

This small space is a work in progress because this room is not a static space.

It is going to take constant monitoring and avoiding slipping back into bad habits.

Even though it is functional, I have to rewire my thinking

and remember to come downstairs.

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For many evenings, I would walk down the stairs, turn the switches

of the lamps and let my eyes dance around the room.

I would smile, I would dream a little and head back upstairs.

Months of painstaking work and I felt powerless to enter into this set apart space.

Perhaps I was scared to consider what might be created in this place.

But today, I could be upstairs, watching the birds and witnessing the breeze create a

spring snowfall as white azalea petals are tossed airborne.

Instead, I am sitting in a different chair with a different view.

I wonder:

Are there any spaces in your life?

Is your day filled from pillow to pillow?

Do you have a space but are afraid to “sit in the chair”
because of what it might demand?

Sometimes only a corner is needed to resuscitate 

your passions.

Where in your life are you longing for space?

Name it and believe the people in your life will

support you.

Let them amaze you in their solidarity

to not abandon the stuff which does

not belong in your space.

Take a deep breath and claim your space.

**********

A few months ago, I changed the tagline for A Work of Heart.

Bonus points, if you can remember the old one!

The current tagline still needs a bit of tweaking and condensing but for

now it is a piece of A Work of Heart.

I have become aware how many people who pop in and read this blog either

are not in my offline life or haven’t read from the beginning.

Some are in my day-to-day life and only due to the wonders of Facebook,

have just discovered I write.

I started A Work of Heart almost 8 years ago

and next week, I would like to share a bit of

my story.

I think it will be fun and even if you do know me,

you might discover a tidbit I have neglected to mention.

Join me for  a short A Work of Heart history session.

Have a most blessed weekend!

oh for the love of empty wrappers

I abandoned several months of low carb living Monday for something

in a brightly colored plastic sleeve.

Small discs of peanut butter and chocolate heaven melted

in my mouth as I chose sugar to be my soother.

But that was the other day, let me backtrack a few weeks.

I decided to take a risk.

I applied for something in the arena of writing knowing

the odds were numerically stacked against me.

I decided to consider it an exercise without

expectations pinned on the outcome.

I pushed click and a fragment of myself flew off into cyberspace.

I uttered this to no one except a few lines in an email to a friend

and in private chats with God.

Then I waited.

The way you wait for the thick envelope to land in your mailbox with

a thud during college application season.

Everyone knows thin does not mean you are in.

(Which is not always the case, but let’s go with it for
the purposes of this post.)

One morning, I glanced over my inbox and there it was.

The. Answer.

It was a lovely and kind email even though it felt like a thank you

wrapped in tissue paper tattooed with the word no.

Not you.

During the waiting period, I had made positive self-talk my ritual.

I prepared myself and would not allow any hopes to escape into the

atmosphere.

Yet a few wafted through a small keyhole in my heart.

I moved on because life does carry on with or without my permission.

I thought the disappointment had been absorbed until a week later,

I innocently visited a website revealing

the ones who had been chosen.

Somehow now it made a difference, it felt different seeing faces.

Even when I allowed my calculator

(yes, I am crazy like this)

to do the math telling

me that a mere .0189473684% of the pool of applicants were selected,

it didn’t seem to matter.

It ruined my day.

Or should I say, I allowed it to ruin my day.

I hoped consuming the contents of a wrapper would

fill the lack I felt in my heart.

The peanut butter cup was my gateway drug for

the rest of the day.

Carl didn’t even say a word (bless him!) when he saw

me eating a brownie or two during the NCAA

basketball championship game.

I wish I could blame my binge on

my march madness bracket debacle,

but I can’t.

Empty wrappers, sacks, boxes or whatever

container are not a recipe for contentment.

In the moment, a perfect and harmless antidote but

in the aftermath, the cause for the consumption

sits smugly watching you take out the trash.

Tuesday was another day.

The rhythm of the morning was a fresh gift of mercy.

Later, I returned from a walk and while showering it occurred

to me that I had prayed for God’s will regarding this opportunity.

I had prayed the right people would be selected.

Isn’t that what happened?

Isn’t that answered prayer?

Is it still answered prayer when I am not fond of the outcome?

What does it mean when the right person doesn’t mean me?

In that moment as water crashed upon my head,

I felt drowned in the reality that perhaps my

praying is much more like prodding.

If I am honest, this awareness hurt more than

not being chosen.

Every solitary day God chooses chocolate stained me.

I commence a pity party whenever my will is overridden.

It’s me who needs to be prodded back into alignment.

It may seem inconceivable and sound insincere based on the

above lament, but when I received my rejection email,

I prayed for those selected.

I prayed for how God was planning to use them to minister to others.

I said a carbon copy prayer for myself.

On Tuesday I prayed again.

I prayed the same prayer.

A prayer for the selected.

A prayer for me who has been eternally chosen

by the heart and will of the Father.

 

No prodding needed.

 

 

stability

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I want every single portion of God’s inspired word to have a chance at my heart.
I don’t want a single issue in my soul to remain unmoved because I wasn’t
careful to expose myself to the full breadth of His wisdom and revelation.
I expect God to surprise me with insight from what I might have thought to
be the most unlikely portions of His words.
I want the full package, so I read the full package.

—from Secrets of the Secret Place by Bob Sorge

This weekend contained what I affectionately call Super Saturday.

For most of the nearly 21 years we have lived in our home, Carl has summoned his

work weary body to play early morning basketball.

He is a superhero in my book on the court as well as in winning the dark morning battle

against the comforter.

I call these Saturday mornings “super” because I am able to

rise a little a lot later than Carl and bask in the quiet of the house.

I spend time in the Word, perhaps catch up on a Bible study I am

doing with friends and can joyfully linger longer than on normal rushed mornings.

I pray and sometimes read a book.

I am recovered.

On Super Saturdays, I can luxuriate for an hour or more in the silence.

The curve of my soul longs for space, time and solitude.

Over the years there have been any number of combinations of slumbering

children pressed into beds on Saturday morning.

The youngest member of our tribe is made in the image of his hoops playing dad and

rarely sleeps long enough to my liking.

Super Saturdays are a gift I spread my arms

wider to greedily receive.

I resist the pull of extended slumber.

I don’t mind seeing my dog waiting at the bottom of our

steps.

We both are looking for an open door.

I fill a glass of water and prepare the kettle for tea.

I slide into my chair and exhale.

I breath out because I don’t want to inhale the chatterbox telling me,

I don’t have enough time, 

someone will wake up any moment,

aren’t you still tired.

I simply keep breathing and dive in that very second.

I write out a Psalm, read and pray through passages of scripture.

Upon reflection, I discover I have spent time in

old and new,

poetry, letters and history.

When the last verse is consumed I feel

flooded by the synergy of the passages.

I have one more day of reading in  Deuteronomy.

There has been an undulating rhythm in reading this time,

God, your God seems to open each verse.

There in the silence I whisper as well,

God, my God,

you are the one who ties each

verse from beginning to finale.

You are the one who invites me along despite my failings. 

You have intertwined me with your plans, purposes and promises.

Every plea I utter falls on open and affectionate ears.

As if the spell is broken I hear feet sliding

down carpeted stairs.

This sacred sequestered morning with my

Maker has informed my heart deep enough

to offer welcome to my semi-conscious son

instead of feeling interrupted. (Progress!)

Later in the kitchen over hot mugs of weekend fortitude,

I chat with Carl about my Super Saturday.

He says,

“This must feel like stability since you have been reading
the last couple of days.”

I respond with a grin,

Oh I like that word Carl.
Stability.
Thank you for saying that.

I’m going to hold onto
that word for a while.”

This response actually came an hour later, when I was finishing

a book and Carl was performing more heroic feats over

our bills.

What I immediately said to Carl was reflexive,

my default

steeped in

the school of perfection

and performance.

I have come to see them as twin idols flanking my mantle.

“Well, yeah, but I have been reading everyday.”

I voice my deep wonder about God and without

missing a breath, I feel the need to point out my “spotless” record.

Stability is found hanging out with the one who holds

the substance of my life in His hands.

Showing up is a discipline and doesn’t add tally marks to my worth.

I am stabilized when I exchange my horizontal posture

for a vertical position before Him.

Some days I am fortified by allowing Him to love me while

my head continues to dent my pillow.

God is all parts stability and this is a beautiful blessed reality.

A welcome relief to my soul.

I can find Him in 5-minute segments or occasional

Super Saturdays.

God in all His awe-inspiring stability makes every day super.

 

 

sabbath moments

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Each week, we travel our way through a tangled network of iron and steel.

The Sabbath is your opportunity to joyfully take the off ramp marked detour.

Sleep.

Play.

Laugh.

Just Be.

May the Lord whisper His blessed reminder, it’s just you and Him.

The Lord bless you
    and keep you;
 the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
 the Lord turn his face toward you
    and give you peace

Numbers 6: 24-26

 

 

 

 

 

springtime musings

Marimekko April desktop

Hello Spring!

Time for new desktops for April.

I have always loved Marimekko.

Marimekko has two desktop options with or without a calendar.

You can make your selection here.

I could never get my act together to post March’s selection

but I still love it. Feel free to download it without the calendar here.

One last option from Dawn Camp, go here.

*****

Last week during spring break, we took a trip to Astoria.

I am so glad we seized the opportunity as it was THE best

weather day of the week.

Carl worked in a laboratory for two years before we married.

The girls were too young to remember visiting years ago.

It was fun to have Carl show the kids where he lived, worked and

we also fulfilled a bucket list item for the girls in visiting

The Goonies house.

Carl lived in Astoria during the filming and his claim to cinematic fame

is part of his truck is

seen in some versions of the film.

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I love this picture of our three. But I am not going to say a word about how old my son

looks. It could be that he has decided to rock the ‘fro these days but my word.

I see the future and I am unprepared.

Like I said, not a word.

*****

During one of the monsoon-like days,my parents were visiting us here in Portland.

It seemed the perfect time to watch 20 Feet from Stardom.

My second time watching it. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and

rent it. If you live close to me, you can borrow my copy.

If you don’t believe me, it won the Oscar for the Best Documentary.

I wrote about how I forgot to eat my Red Vines while watching here.

*****

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My beautiful and brilliant mother celebrated her birthday yesterday!

With each passing year, she exudes more joy and compassion,

more generosity and energy,

and more fully Felicia!

I love you Mor.

*****

I remember I could hardly wait to turn 30.

I suppose it was due to the fact that it felt like I could finally

qualify and call myself an adult.

I also have never really gotten “freaked out” about big milestone

birthdays.

Most likely because I was one of the young ones in my class.

I was barely 18 when I started college.

But as the sands of the hourglass have been quickly amassing,

I have had much more reason to pause turning 50.

It seems solid and weighty.

I feel I am at a particularly critical juncture in my life.

I am career-less.

I wonder what is my vocation?

What is next?

Retirement is closer than it was 20 years ago but

at this point, I won’t retire from any job.

I question if I am stewarding my time well?

It hasn’t been until this chapter in my life that I can accurately

see how driven I was in my 20′s and 30′s.

My 40′s have been the polar opposite.

I think my 40′s have been recovery from burn-out

on almost every role in my life.

So as I simmer in this end of decade soup,

even though I feel quite unresolved

in my identity moving onto 50,

I am looking at this patch of time as a gift.

I am doing a lot of soul digging instead of

wallowing which can be like trying to keep upright

on a downhill slip ‘n slide.

This week I started Donald Millers’s Create Your Life Plan.

Don and Shauna Niequist have created a 10 video module

coaching program to help create a life of meaning.

I have almost done half of the modules and it has been

life-elevating.

It has helped me upend the hard parts of my life history

and find gratitude and understanding.

There is a cost for this program but it is way less than one

therapy session.

They are still offering an early bird special and there is a

100% money back guarantee.

But truly the two names Donald Miller and Shauna Niequist

should be more than enough to convince you.

It would fun to do as a couple, in a small group or of course

individually.

*****

Books I have read recently:

Tatoos on the Heart-my friend Paige sent me this book. After I was halfway through
the book, I sent her a text saying that I had given up underlining and was simply
bracketing sections I loved. I can’t say enough about this book especially since
it is true. (Adult language-heads up)

Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair-I read this short book over
an evening. It’s Anne Lamott which is really enough said. But I loved reading her
thoughts about life in a post-911, post-Katrina, post-Sandy Hook world.
So much suffering, how do we live?
Great thoughts,stories and as always excellent weaving of words.

What I am reading now:

Found: A Story of Questions, Grace and Everyday Prayer-I am loving this book already.

On Writing-A Memoir of the Craft-just because.

Pastrix:The Cranky,Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and Saint.

You could say I am on a memoir feast of sorts.

*****

I hope you have gained a little something from me unleashing the contents

of my mind onto the screen.

I know I have aged a bit just in the writing.

Welcome Spring!

A time of new life, beginnings and perhaps even

a bit of soul-searching.

Bring on the showers, digging in the dirt

and basking in the splendor of blossoms!

*****

P.S. Check out my tweet on the sidebar if you

want to know how April Fools Day dealt with me!