Sunday, October 24, 2010

Reality Check

Ten Things You May or May Not Know about Me:

1. I love deeply, forgive easily, loyal even when that loyalty is not deserved. I wear my heart on my sleeve and may offer you affection and words of love before you are comfortable with it but that is only because I believe love is a choice we make every day, with every person we meet. And I choose to love and really struggle with letting go.

2. I have a dark side that very few have seen. I'll leave it at that.

3. Aside from that, I am very open about my life and who I am. This has been a learned concept for me. I used to be very self protective but that makes for very superficial relationships. But hiding who I am only results in fear of being found out, so I choose to let you see my failures as well as my successes. In fact, I'm probably more comfortable sharing my failures.

4. My life is ruled by my heart, intuition and perception. This can be a bad thing because feelings can change from day to day. But I have a gift for discernment. I will know when something isn't as it seems. I may not always choose to listen to that still small voice inside, but I know.

5. I can forgive anyone for (nearly) anything. I've learned that forgiving doesn't necessarily mean forgetting. I can release any hurt that is caused and choose not to hold a grudge but that doesn't negate the consequences and sometime that means I don't have to put myself in a position to be hurt again.

6. I am the Queen of Procrastination. I put off things until they absolutely must be dealt with claiming that "I work best under pressure," which is of course, a lie. I've lost opportunities because of it. I pay my bills late sometimes. My house isn't always tidy. I lack self-discipline always thinking tomorrow will be a better day.

7. I have an anxiety disorder. I've lived a life based on fear most of my life - fear of judgement, fear of rejection, fear of abandonment. I've worked hard to learn how to deal with it and now strive to live my life out of love. Medication helps. Stress relievers like exercise, eating healthy, doing art help, too.

8. I'm an introvert. Meaning that when I need my batteries recharged, I need solitude and will often withdraw from family and friends in order to reconnect with that part of myself that gives me strength. Sometimes that means long walks in the woods. Sometimes that means locking myself in "my room" with music and paint. Sometimes that means going away for a day or a night by myself. I need the freedom to do that.

9. I'm a social advocate. My heart is broken for the plight of the poor and oppressed. I give money to the homeless man standing on the street corner (not my business what he does with it). I do not judge people for their life (or lifestyle) choices. We all come to the place we are in life through differing circumstances and who knows what choices I would have made if I were in your shoes. My dream would be in the city or in a third world country and live among the ones I've been drawn to reach out to, to better understand, to be a friend, to stand alongside and work together to overcome. I LOVE stories about those who have overcome!

10. I am a Christian. Okay, you probably already know that. But my walk with God is based on grace and relationship and not on my ability to follow rules and religion. This means that my life may not always look like your preconceived idea of a Christian. I fall, I fail. I'm far from perfection and will not pretend otherwise. I won't push my beliefs on you but if you ask, I will freely share about my faith because it is the most powerful thing in my life.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Going Under

Ever feel like you're just going to drown? Various happenings over the past couple of months have left me feeling weak and vulnerable, my heart bruised, raw and exposed.

I'm fighting the temptation to begin building walls.

I know that isn't a good place for me to live.

So as I made a trip into the city this morning, I drove by the house I grew up in, a place where I always felt safe. I visited the cemetery where my parents are buried and sat in the grass by their grave markers, trying to remember what it felt like to be a young girl who had parents to kiss all the hurts away and arms to hold me when I was feeling scared.

I miss that today.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pro Deo

The name means "For God."

Pro Deo Youth Center was established about a year ago by Andy and Kylie Ewing in Lee's Summit, MO. Andy is a Lee's Summit police officer and began building relationships with the teens in his community. Those relationships grew and eventually led to inviting kids to the home he shares with his wife.

I had an opportunity to visit their home this evening with a group from my church. We provided a simple meal of sloppy joes and chips and cake for around 30 teens and young adults who came and went throughout the evening. The Ewings open up their home every Tuesday evening to any kids wanting a free meal and a place to hang out with friends. Most of the youth stayed and played cards, video games and ping pong. It was loud and busy and alive. Each time the front door opened and another teen or two or three entered, Kylie greeted them with a smile and a hug, always asking how their week has been or asking about various challenges she knew they had been facing.

I talked to several of the kids there. Most were in school or working. Many had big plans for their lives. Others are struggling. There was one young mama with a 3-month-old baby. Some are homeless. Some don't have supportive families. Some are societies outcasts. Judged for their appearance with piercings and tattoos and black hair and such. Often judged without the benefit of even a conversation. Skateboarders. Hair stylists. But they all gather in this home, that has been opened up to them in the spirit of God's love, and they feel welcome and cared for rather than shunned and judged for the life choices they have made. The Ewings are providing them with a "family." A place to belong, even if only for one night a week.

And isn't that what we all need? To feel loved and a place to belong? Even more so for teenagers and young adults who are living in a time of such chaos and uncertainty, trying to find their place in this world. I'm so thankful there are people in the world like the Ewings who have made the commitment and sacrifice to reach out to kids. They are the kind of heroes we need more of.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Beautiful Things

I am a child of God, saved by His amazing Grace, given freely out of His love for me.

I don't deserve it. I am far from perfect. I am broken, lost, unworthy. I've made a mess of my life time and time again. I've fallen so many times and have been unfaithful to the only One who has always been faithful to me.

Yet, He lifts me up again and again. He welcomes me back with arms wide open, cleans me up, helps me find my way, and loves me like there's no tomorrow.

Grace. Given freely, undeserving. Amazing.

It's there for all of us, wherever we are in life. We can come just as we are. We don't have to wait until we get our lives cleaned up. He wants us to let Him do the cleaning, allowing Him to bring healing.

I'm feeling so grateful for this unconditional love tonight. Thankful that even with all my weaknesses, I know He still loves me and will still make something beautiful out of my life.

Heal my Heart

Before I left on my trip to Haiti, one of my prayers was that my heart would be open to give and receive and to allow myself to feel what ever emotions my experience conjured up without shutting down. I didn't want to close myself off to what I was seeing just because it was hard and hurtful to see. I think that's what compassion is - allowing yourself to feel the hurts others are experiencing.

When I came home, my heart was full and I needed to find a way to express what was there.

Brokeness and pain, yes.

But also healing and hope.

And Love.

This series of heart canvases is the result of that. There are others still there, waiting for the opportunity to come to live with canvas and paint and text. These are the ones I've completed.

If you want to see more details and closeups, please click on My Art page. I'll continue to update that page as new pieces are completed.

Thank you to all who take an interest. Feel free to contact me if you want to make a purchase or have any questions!

Peace and Grace,

Friday, October 8, 2010

First Friday!

Thanks to my sweet daughter-in-law, I get to display some of my art work at one of the midtown restaurants, Bulldog, for First Friday in November! I'm so excited!

I spent the better part of the day yesterday painting and got 3 more pieces finished. I'll post pictures later.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Let the Healing Begin

A line has been drawn in the sand. He says, "this day you will choose." Your very life weighs in the balance of that choice.

Pray. Close you eyes and listen. Let the healing begin today.

Because of His Grace...