Living Drafts


Draft

January 16, 2019 – Hope*Writers Prompts

            Drafting a piece of writing can be so difficult: figuring out some way to get those ideas out of your mind and down onto paper or a screen…somehow. Eventually, though, they do end up there, and then begins the task of tearing that painstaking draft apart and putting it back together again. That is what I love about drafts: the puzzling out and reconstituting of them, sometimes as something very different than what I started out with. I create something and then I blast my beloved creation apart, muck about with the pieces several dozen times, and then, eventually, end up with something that resembles a final draft. It may be a refined, elegant version of the original or it may end up looking nothing like the writing I began with, completely different proverbial eyes staring back at me from the computer screen.

            As a friend once reminded me, rather wisely: life is not being a great writer but a great re­-writer. Writing and life are about being able to to see where we have learned, grown, and changed, edit, revise our worldview as necessary, and life our lives accordingly. So, in more way than one, we are all living drafts every single day, always being revised into something new and exciting. Perhaps someday, new eyes will stare back at our Maker than those with which we began.

Morning Whispers


January 15, 2019 – Hope*Writers Prompts

When I wake on my own and the house is quiet, my dear ones still asleep, that is the softest, brightest feeling. There is that Christmas Morning anticipation fluttering from the sheer joy that I might be able to get up, get my coffee, and sit in the silence. Just sit and sip before the bustle of the day begins. A morning silent enough to hear the sun whisper as it rises.

Words Upon Words


January 14, 2019 – Hope*Writers Prompts

 I love words. I think you have figured that out about me by now. But there is something that I deeply dislike: saying words without a point. I don’t like babbling, and I feel exceedingly embarrassed when I think I am babbling pointlessly. I don’t think that I have ever wanted to be famous for my words, but I do know–or rather, have come to realize–that I want my words to mean something. I want them to be meaningful to someone in some way for some reason, whether that reason is encouragement, an inspiration to be and/or make the world around them better, to see others in a dearer light, or to extend that dear light to themselves. All I know that I am desperate for my words to mean Something.

Josephine March is my favorite novel character, and, inLittle Women, Jo longed for a life beyond her beloved Orchard House, a life that was astonishing. I am not reaching for astonishing, honestly. I am not entirely sure I could handle astonishing. I am not reaching for the book deals, the speaking engagements, etc., though I dearly do love rejoicing in and with those who have flown to those amazing, inspiring heights. I just have this craving, deep down in the belly of my soul, for what I write and say to have meaning, to fall on hearts and minds and sink in somehow for the better.

The Work of Christmas is for Me, Too.


As this new year begins, this is me. Full disclosure: total bathroom selfie. No glasses, no makeup, hair undone, no filters. Just me.

As 2019 begins, I am considering the work of Christmas, that work that began on Christmas Day and continues on from there. The work of love. One of the things that I am going to be working on is loving myself. I know very well what I have been struggling with, one of the chief things being building more rest into my everyday life. Not just waiting for spring, summer, or Christmas breaks to actually try to rest in that admittedly limited space but acknowledging my need for it as I go along throughout my normal days and weeks.

The work of Christmas needs to begin with me, as much as it needs to involve others. As a dear friend reminded me, I need to love myself and give myself as much grace and permission as I give others.

So here I am, just me, and I am going to work on loving myself better.

Nudging the Door Open (NYE 2018)


As today dawned, I realized that I had nothing prepared to post. No reflection, no little story indicative of where my heart and mind are right now. Nothing was prepared. Even now, sitting in my daughter’s darkened room while she falls asleep, writing by the light from the hallway, I am tempted to feel like I failed by being too busy or full-minded to give this year much thought. But, then again, it has been a busy, full-minded year. I spent a good portion of this year feeling and being not altogether myself. Stress took a heavy toll in the first half of 2018, as did change the resulting different routines and schedules. I finally made a significant health change earlier this fall that seems to have helped immensely with some of my balance and peace of mind, along with some emotional and mental work and growth. It’s been heavy lifting and it’s not over yet, but I feel that I am better for it.

2018 was a year full of change, both for myself and for dear ones close to me, and also a year of some beautiful, joyful moments.  I was gifted with the most amazing birthday in years by my loving husband and dear friends (I’m still chuffed from that, too). I also had the opportunity to throw off adulthood and run away to Disney and Harry Potter World for a Dapper Day weekend with a girlfriend. It was utterly splendid!

As this New Year’s Eve wanes, I hear the wind howling outside the windows of my house, and I find myself hoping that it will sweep away the figurative dark and dank and cold, the literal scary and disappointing and painful of this year, sweeping the doorstep clear for the new one.

So I will unlock the door and nudge it open to let the cool, end-of-year air sweep through to see 2018 out and usher 2019 in. It may stand there on the doorstep, blinking in the light, confused and maybe a little scared, just as we are. For a long moment, we may stand there staring at it and it at us. I hope we will take a deep breath and step forward to meet the new year with kindness, courage, determination, and truth.

So happy New Year, dear ones. May your year and selves be blessed.

Sneaky Houses


On the way to my girl’s preschool, just across from the golf course, there is a row of houses. These houses are all set back from the road a bit, their driveways curving down into little valleys with the buildings nestled behind and in the deep cool green of ancient trees. My husband calls them “sneaky houses”.

I love sneaky houses. I love how they nestle there behind the treeline, screened, protected, and partially hidden. You can see them but only if you’re looking. If you’re not paying attention, you’d drive right by them. They hide there in plain sight, their beauty just barely peeking out. You have to look for them to find them. I also love that they are like people, particularly the people who have become the dearest and most special to me. Just like those sneaky houses, if we can look past what barriers people have been erected, the protections that have been hewn out, sink into the deepness of them, we may just find them even cozier and more welcoming than we originally thought.

Yes, I really do love sneaky houses.

What a T-shirt Reminded Me About Love


Today was the first day of my Spring Break, and I spent the day (and an empty house) running errands and sprucing up the place for Spring/Motherly visit/Easter weekend. As I knew that I had errands to run after dropping my daughter off at preschool, I simply pulled on jeans, flats, and a favorite t-shirt before shrugging on my coat (yes, it’s still ridiculously cold for spring). A clearance buy from UnlockHope.com, this shirt was a soft red with “Love is a Verb” lettered on the front in white stylized artistry. Yes, it is definitely a favorite: comfy and truthful.

A lesson I have taken to heart over the past ten years is the exact one this shirt expounds. Love is many things. It is not only a feeling, an emotion. Love is a choice. Love is an action. Love is doing for others, not just saying the three little words. As I moved throughout my day, I found myself contemplating the words on my shirt: “Love is a verb.” I started to look at my day’s activities in the light of this sentence. And I realized just how true it is.

I realized that I was loving my dear ones by taking care of getting the taxes done (almost always a depressing endeavor). We’ve had the same wonderful professional taking care of our taxes since the first year of our marriage because I fully and openly acknowledge that tax codes and laws are something I am complete and utter rubbish at. Utilizing someone else’s skills and expertise helps my family in the best way while also keeping us as safe from mistakes as possible.

I was loving as I washed dishes, cleaned the stove, and tidied the kitchen table, creating space ready for cooking and eating and ease of finding things.

I was loving as I filed away my daughter’s preschool worksheets and projects, saving evidence of her progress and growth for her grandmother to see, as well as the future.

I was loving as I filled the washing machine and folded the already-dried towels, ensuring that my dear ones have clean clothes to wear tomorrow and days after.

I was loving as I sorted through toys and tidied my girl’s table where she creates her art and plays with her Legos.

As I worked and cleaned, listening to my audiobook and pausing for quick text chats with friends (and even now as I sit tired and achy from the energy spent), I found myself sighing contently at the productivity and smiling at the connection my heart was making with my hands. Sometimes I forget that the everyday tasks I perform and the things that I do are love. Love personified. Love acted out. Because it’s true, dear ones.

Love is more than just a feeling.

Love is a choice.

Love is action, whether that action is holding space, tidying a sink full of dishes, hugging someone close and letting them cry, or listening closely without saying a word.

Love is indeed a verb.

Stepping into the New Year


Today was our teacher work day ahead of the start of the spring semester. Honestly, last night, day one hadn’t even begun yet and I was already ready to quit. Just thinking about it made me tired, exhausted. So, today, I gave myself some very pointed instructions: take care of what absolutely must be done for Monday and Tuesday to flow as smoothly as you can manage. The rest can wait until later in the week. And I stuck to those self-imposed limitations for the most part. I stuck to it rather well, actually.

I’m not good that: sticking to limitations. I end up having arguments with myself that go rather like this.

Only go this far.

But—there’s so much to be done! Just a little more.

No, you’re going to get overwhelmed and freak out.

I’ll be…

You’re freaking out, aren’t you?

Yeah.

I am not good at sticking to limitations. I am not good at just taking one step. I feel the need to take several more, just to make sure. Just to make absolutely sure that everything that needs to be done is done, every possible preparation is made, every security I can manage put into place to assure that things go as closely to how they need to go (read: how I want them to go) as possible.

This year, the odds are good that there may come quite a few situations that I will feel overwhelmed by and thus be tempted to take extra steps to try control said situations. My challenge and journey this year will be in taking just the next step. Not running ahead, not taking a few extra steps “just in case”, but in taking just the next step that I feel God has led me to take. And then wait.

When I was a child, I attended a private church-school and, every morning, we said the pledge to the Bible. I pledge allegiance to the Bible: God’s Holy Word. I will make it a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

“A lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” If you know anything about lamps, then you know that their circle of light doesn’t go very far. It will light your feet for the next step but only the next step. One step at a time.

This year, I want to lean into taking just that next step. Just the next step that I feel led to take. Faith, patience, courage, trust…all of these things lead into this action. I want to be better at it, at them. That is my goal for this year, that is my lesson, my learning: to take just the next step. The very next step. That’s all.

 

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Opening the Door for the Year to Slip Out (NYE 2017)


Today is the end of 2017. As we close out this year, I know it has been a terribly hard one for many personally. Terribly, terrifically, desperately hard. We as a society have lost a goodly amount of progress and soul under a leader who is out of touch with life and decency. Many people have seen 2017 tear away their security, faith in leaders, their resources, and even their very families.  Still, they and others have risen up in the midst of it, voices raised in defiance and truth and a call for rights, help, and protections for all.

This reminds me that good is not gone from the world, and, for that, I am imminently thankful. There are good people. There are people who will live and fight for others, for their rights, for their survival. There are people who will hold up their fellow man and woman, hold them gently and close, and speak for those who have no voice. There are people who love and love fiercely, as God has called us to love, and nothing will stop them in their course of action. Good is not gone from this world and it will never go silently away.

In this year, there have been wonderful moments, beautiful moments, silent and glorious moments. There have been moments of incredulity, of misunderstanding and pain, of facing a hard truth and then walking in the light of it, however it may blister. There have been moments that felt so terrible that all I wanted to do was hide away from the world forever. But I didn’t.

I couldn’t. I wouldn’t. I didn’t then, and I won’t now.

As 2017 makes its way out, I won’t wish it farewell with great fanfare or warm its way with a Molotov cocktail (though it feels like it’s surely earned something of the like in more than a few places). Instead, I’ll simply open the door and let it slip out into the dark night of midnight, consigned to oblivion. Similar to Shakespeare’s own words: “Then, window, let day in and let life out (Romeo and Juliet, Act 3, Scene 5).” We will never see this year again, never see its moments again. All that lies ahead is new. The moments ahead that await us are precious and painful in their own right; they can stand on their own two feet and need no help from the past.

But, as I open the door for this year to leave, I let the new one in. Shiny and blue and looking around bewildered by the expectations that already settle on its shoulders, the things that are enacted and put into place upon its birth. I will do my best to brush those expectations off 2018’s shoulders like so much snow off a coat and just…let it be for a bit. For a few hours. For a moment. I will kiss my husband and child. I will pray peace and good and restoration over this year. I will call my still-awake dear ones and text my slumbering ones and wish them a Happy New Year. I will sip from my glass and blow out the candles.

I will welcome 2018. I will straighten my shoulders, look it in the eye, and meet it with all the love, courage, fierce gentleness, and soul I can muster. And I pray that for you, too. I pray for courage, grace, peace, restoration, and hope for you.

Happy New Year, dear one. May it be blessed.

The Mornings I’m a Person For


Today is Labor Day. No work. No school. Freedom to sleep in as one sees fit and is able. What did I do? I rolled out of bed at eight o’clock and headed to the gym. One of my sacred spaces. There I can do for me and just for me. I can work for my good and what I do is for no one else but me.  I can leave feeling accomplished and stronger. I love starting mornings like that.

I often declare that I am not a morning person, but the truth is that, within the right parameters, I am. Work mornings are all about doing, going, getting there (wherever there is) on time. They are rushed and clinical and I am focused on almost everything but myself. There are days that I have been so rushed that I have left my coffee on top of the washing machine and even forgotten to comb my hair or brush my teeth once or twice had to sneak into the bathroom at work to do so before I met anyone or my students. No, most days I am not a morning person.

Now, give me a morning when I can sleep until I wake up on my own (meaning, I’m not summoned by our four-year-old or an alarm). A morning where the light in the sky is tinged with newborn white and gold. A morning still so new that I haven’t even planned it out yet and anything could happen or be done, where I can choose to do something just for me without the guilt of all that “needs to be done”. A morning where I can drink in silence and cool breezes. Give me a morning with all of these magical ingredients and I’m absolutely a morning person and completely in love.

I love going out for breakfast. I love early morning matinees at the movies. I love morning walks and talks and deep thoughts, sitting on stairs, sofas, the foot of beds, and coffee shops. I love cuddling up in a cozy blanket and watching movie trailers. I love holding my TARDIS mug full of coffee in my hands and breathing in the morning mists that roll off the fields, basking in the silence of our little town in the early of the day. I love the dusky color of the morning sky, like the fragile, lovely shell of a robin’s egg. I love the feeling that the day is waking to greet me, rolling over in its arched bed like my loved one to start my day with a tender kiss. It’s in these beautiful moments that I am most definitely a morning person.

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