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Friday, May 13, 2016

Joy Junkie

"Scatter joy." 
(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

I am a joy junkie.

As a young girl I searched for it, not knowing what it was.  I was ill at ease with how I looked yet noticed beauty all around me.  My mom was a beauty, our home was lovely.  We lived in a bucolic setting which wooed me outdoors often.  And alone.  That is where my imagination flared - with book in hand, I ran away and dreamt of a much different story.  

Fifty years have passed since my walks in the woods in Connecticut. Today I am surrounded by Texan trees and live in a spot that is my fairy-tale-come-true home.  It is not extravagant or fancy yet it is my first 'home' in 38 years of marriage.

Parker Palmer tells us to ponder on what filled us with happiness as a child.  If we return to it - we might gain a deep seated joy.  When I read his book the first time several years ago, it opened my eyes and more importantly, my soul.  His words.  His thoughts.  Read it and you will be blessed.

Below are a few of my go-to's for JOY:

  1. Fill your tub with bubbles.  Soak! 
  2. Spray paint a little something.
  3. Take 20 and do 'legs up the wall.
  4. Grab a book and hide from the world.  I suggest "The Kitchen     House."

Friday, January 31, 2014

A Beauty Walk!

Art is a subject that is popping up everywhere around me.  And, although I am NOT an artist, for example…I cannot draw a stick figure, well, I have an artistic bent.  I appreciate beauty - see it often and in everyday stuff.  I am thankful that God made me this way.  

His beauty is what gets me going - what sets me straight - what can change my attitude.  I did not have a good one this morning.  Attitude, that is.  This day I woke up in a dark, weighty mood; I wasn't finding beauty.  And so I called on a few women to pray for me.  Do you know about them?  Maybe not them-them, but do you have peeps in your lives?  That you can ask to pray for you and not even tell them WHAT to pray for?  Just say "God knows."  And, then they are on it.  If you don't, you must.

I had to catch some beauty and the best place is right outside my front door.  Our funky, quirky, 1-story sits in a neighborhood with ginormous oaks, winding streets, a few fields, and the hand of God all over it!  With my ear buds in, my playlist 'on' - my step got peppy!  Every song spoke to my heart - the lyrics were prayers blanketing me AND lifting me higher and higher.  

God was the conductor on my jaunt.  At this very moment…

David Crowder's voice rang out:  
"He is the one, He is The King."  Agreed!  

The longer I walked, my body tired; yet, my soul soared.  I walked down a road that ended with an empty lot.  It must have had a home there once, but no more.  I saw it this summer in all its' finery - green, overgrown, magical.  This time of year….it looked different.  It matched my early morning soul - dry, lonely, sad.

I'd really like to ask someone if I could carry these two items to our place.  I'm loving that bench and fountain…I mean really - how sad do they look, all alone?  We would be a great home. It's a spot in our neighborhood that draws me in….I have to walk through and around trees and bushes.  The leaves crunch underfoot and I am once again, a little girl.  A child in the woods.  Alone.  In Connecticut, I spent HOURS in the woods and did not know about God.  When I look back, I know that He was beside me, protecting me, bringing me to this place - in life, in marriage, parenting, work, friendships.  How sweet, that even then, as a non-believer, as a 'non-knower' - He loved me.  

As I rounded the bend for the home stretch, 139, began.  Of course, My Conductor would play that for my finale.  And if that's not sweet enough, a chartreuse butterfly, graced our dry, brown yard.

I see beauty - in soul sisters who pray.  In music that heals.  On walks with The Lord.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Brew Some Bubbly!

It's a champagne time of year: Christmas, New Year's, parties, celebrations.  I don't like the stuff.…yet, my innards feel bubbly.  There is an air of expectancy and excitement all around me - even if it is only within me.  This bubbliness (a new word!) slaps a grin on my face while routinely washing dishes.  Or watching My Guy yell watch his Cowboys. 

January and September are months of renewal.  All the hype helps me amp up my goals, write lists, and tidy up.  It's natural and a lot of us go this route; yet this season is different.  There is an undercurrent coursing through me - lots of bubbles!

My Guy and I had an unusually peaceful fall even with #2 Son 'away.'  He's in a good place - literally and spiritually and I am very, very thankful.  This has allowed us, as a couple, to focus on us.  We eat on a tray in front of the TV, wait on each other, shop together, would rather be together than not.  Yes, we are goofballs who have a love affair going even after 36 years!  It is so much fun and of course adds to my bubbliness.  We've enjoyed many a fire in this, our new'ish, home.

Me & My Guy

Getting my home back and Christmas packed up is good.  My Guy pitched in so it was tackled with ease.  One of my JOYS is to construct vignettes, and fluff around the house. Two books I've devoured over my 'staycation' on that very subject are The Perfectly Imperfect Home and Tom Scheerer Decorates!!!!

And, I've found a new blog to motivate me.  Calling It Home is one I'll follow - I love all things 'home.'  An entire week AT home is ahead of me before returning to work.  So much time and I do not want to waste  or ignore it but instead….be present over perfect.  (Oh that Shauna Niequist does it every time!!!).   Be present.  How!?  For me, I intentionally thank God for every-single-thing.  My heart and head have done a 180 and I can actually feel the gratefulness, the gratitude build, bubble, and burst!  Years ago I read Brother Lawrence's account of practicing the presence of God.  As much as that tiny book touched me; I thought it was nigh impossible.  I would give it a try and have success for a bit.  But, it's a slow brew----this bubbling.  It takes practice.  It is a discipline.  

My prayer for the new year is one of Brother Lawrence's:

"O my God, since Thou art with me, and I must now, in obedience to Thy commands, apply my mind to these outward things, I beseech Thee to grant me the grace to continue in Thy presence; and to this end do Thou prosper me with Thy assistance, receive all my works, and possess all my affections."

Cheers to 2014!!!! May you bubble over from the inside out….

Monday, October 21, 2013

No More Corkage Fees...for me!

I read a lot.  I have stacks and stacks of books.  Most are highlighted, underlined, and loved on.

Periodically, there is one that stops me in my tracks.  A year and a half ago, my pastor recommended Parker Palmer's "Let Your Life Speak-Listening for the Voice of Vocation." It spoke to me alright and since that time I've been on a mission of sorts.

As old 'mature' as I am, I've sensed that I was holding onto something, or something was holding me back.  I'd envision a cork on the top of my head that needed UNCORKING.  No reference to wine, please.  Perhaps the word UNLEASHING is more ladylike!

I'd pray and ask God to reveal whatever IT was....others saw IT as well - they'd mention that very thing to me.  What is it, Vava????

God is good.  He met me in a camp in the woods the first weekend in October.  I nailed my ____ to the cross, literally and figuratively.  Whew----it took a lot of work, a long time, but His love never fails!

Then Emily P. Freeman of "Chatting at The Sky" comes along with her book,  "a million little things-uncover the art you were made to live" and it is blowing me away. I'm on page 105 and it ends on page 212.  These first hundred pages are peppered with my comments, squiggles, and highlighting.  Goodness - I could not begin to give you my favorite quote thus far.  There are so many....

I've joined the (in)courage bloom book club because they are discussing Ms. Emily's book.  I am so down with the manifesto that I did what they asked and posted a pic on Instagram.

(there are a million little things to Vava; these are but a few: I love coffee, the sea, my dogs. I enjoy travel.  I love Jesus and in looking back at what hints of my design were hidden in my childhood, found a picture of myself as a wee one).

What is my art?  Gosh, I am no 'artist' per se.  You do NOT want me to sew anything, paint even a wall for you.  I can barely eek out a stick-figure.  However, I DO have something to offer this world!!!!!  And, it's really, really empowering knowing this... but most importantly, believing and LIVING fully!

If you want to join in, it's not too late.  I'd love to uncover our art together!  

"Art is when we do work that matters in a creative way, in a way that touches [people] and changes them for the better."
   - Seth Godin, author and entrepreneur

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Anticipation (in a GOOD way!)

So much has gone down since my last post.  And of course, God is in all of it! As I mentioned, I don't talk much to our son; however, almost two weeks ago, a VERY cool God-sighting occurred.

My Guy and I were having an intellectually stimulating conversation  watching TV at 9 pm when his cell rings. I can hear the anguish, the crying over the phone!  It was our son----all 23 years, 6'2" of him, unashamedly bawling and blubbering.

"The Mom" came out in me. I felt as if I had been punched in the gut.  He calmed down as did I.  The old-self would have mushed, gushed, and cooed.  In her place, I spoke with strength, a calm and a presence of mind.

The words from my baby's mouth were new words out of his mouth:  "The spiritual warfare here is so real.  There is evil here.  I hold my Bible and cannot open it for all the distraction."  THAT is not his normal lingo.  (I know it is because so many are praying).

He then told us something that made the Mom-punched-in-gut feeling hit again.  "There are two really evil men who whisper horrible things to me."

I breathed deeply.  I ran for my "Prayers That Avail Much."  I prayed. He listened. I ended the conversation telling him I love him.  Because I do...just not the way I used to.

The next day he called My  Guy to inform him he had slept like a baby.  THAT was a very specific prayer as he had not slept in three nights.  Then....get this.  Oh. My. Goodness.

The two 'bad guys' had not gotten off their bunks or from under their covers since 11 pm the night we prayed.  It was 1:30 in the afternoon the NEXT day!!!!!  Do you believe prayer works????  We do!  God gave me a visual of two HUGE, warring angels sitting on those bunks, not allowing the evil to roam around.

It sounds awful yet I am not devastated. God's so huge that He holds me up and is with me through all of it.  I have been able to thank Him for this season.  I've needed the break----my focus is on Jesus, The Healer.  He's so sweet - giving me a retreat much needed, terrific books that speak right to me, friends who pray.  And...THE sweetest - a husband more tender, more loving, more like Jesus than ever.

Recently, I've found some lovely, deep, causing-me-to-think blogs.  Check 'em out....and enjoy!!

She is bringing out the artist in me.  Yes, me!

She is partnering with me.  In life.  We are on a journey (Jer-Ne!)

She is fun to follow on Instagram and has a GREAT site!

I'm bound and determined to live the life that is deeper, truer and has been hiding inside of me.

Love this fall and its' harvest of peace, restoration, healing and anticipation!!!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Croce Cry

Isn't that the way they say it goes?
Well, let's forget all that
And give me the number if you can find it
So I can call just to tell 'em I'm fine and to show
I've overcome the blow, I've learned to take it well
I only wish my words could just convince myself
That it just wasn't real
But that's not the way it feels…
-Jim Croce

I had not heard his voice in twelve days.  A call came through, and I took it.  It was ‘the system’ and I allowed myself to hear “Hi, Mom.”  Whoa.  Those two words can really do a number on ya.  I was as stiff, cold and stoic as I was in our last conversation….

The crazy part of our story is that as NUTS as our drama is, as intense and heavy…so is our love.  God made me to love deeply.  And I have.

For me to turn aside, not engage in conversation with him, was difficult, to say the least.  It’s just better not to talk at all.  I need to not answer 866 #s!

What would Jesus do?  Would he answer and talk on the phone?  At this moment, I am a confused Mom.  Lord – give me the strength I need. You are what I need.  Help me to pull away…if I am to pull away.  Help me to know what to do.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Out of the Deep!

5 AM:  I weigh 500 pounds. It's hard to walk, I am deep water.  Or so it feels.

My heart and soul are heavy and forced me to stay put today.  It is a work day; but I simply cannot. I sit here with a late cup of's normally at 5 am not 10 am.  

10 AM:  Joining me is my grand-dog, Lucy, a pit bull.  #1 Son has trained her up well.  I cannot tell you how much I love this dog. She knows what's going on (and the other dogs do too!!). Canines know us, feel us, and I believe, empathize with us.

I walked into the sun room to quiet my heavy heart---planning to read and just be blah. And, there sat Lucy, with her blue eyes, staring me down. After loving on her  a bit, sipping hot coffee and reading Shauna's latest post, I'm swimming upward from the deep

I've got a couple of beautiful boys.  One is shiny, the other is tarnished.  Shiny son owns Lucy.  When he introduced her to me a couple years ago, I was petrified.  Really nervous about her.  She IS a pit bull.

We are dog-sitting for a while and I welcome her.  She makes my dogs look like buffoons!  Lucy is well mannered and loving.  As I was petting her, the words "beauty for ashes" played in my mind. The world fears pit bulls; yet they can be beautiful if loved and trained correctly.  Beauty for ashes.

I am praying for #2 Son - that his ashes will be restored to beauty.

11:30 AM:  ...thankful for coffee, the beautiful light in our home at 10 am, dogs' unconditional love, and for days to take care of oneself.  Thank You, Lord, for new minutes, and hours  - You Who pulls us from the deep.

Onward & UPward........