Monday, December 5, 2011

Still learning...

There was a very disheveled homeless guy sitting at the entrance to the church last Sunday. Did you see him? He was sitting on the corner of the street at the driveway that goes into the church parking lot, holding a sign that said, "Disabled Veteran. Will work for food." We passed him as we drove in, his hair was red and his eyes a remarkable blue that stood out from the darkly colored, perhaps even a bit dirty clothing he was wearing, a hole in his pants at the knee and I think an old ragged Army jacket.

I have been an advocate for the homeless. I've volunteered many times at an outreach center, more of a hospitality house in Northeast Kansas City. I've collected supplies, helped serve these folks meals, assisted in finding the appropriate sized clothing for them, have even cleaned showers and toilets so the next person can have a clean bathroom. But seeing this fellow sitting on the drive to the church just struck me as being out of place, something about it was a bit odd and it invoked cynicism in my heart. I believe I even remarked out loud to my husband, "Well that's a convenient place to set up shop on a Sunday morning."

We walked into our warm church (it was a breezy cold day) and were greeted by friends and church family even more warmly. I made a cup of tea and didn't give the homeless guy another thought as I settled into my seat and waited for the worship team to begin to lead us. Once the music started, I was swept up in all that I had to be grateful for. It was the Thanksgiving season after all. I sang with passion and praise for my Heavenly Father who has blessed me well.

But then my thoughts took another turn as I stood there clapping along. What about the man outside in the cold? The one who served out country and is now disabled. The one whose cardboard sign did not ask for a handout but for an opportunity to provide for himself and perhaps even a family. Was he any less deserving of God's goodness and provision. I bowed my head and guilt covered my face. I remembered the verse about leaving the altar before presenting your offering if you have anything you are holding against another person. Was I holding this unfortunate soul in judgment for crimes he may not even be guilty of?

When the music stopped, the children were dismissed and we were directed to greet one another. Instead of the usual good morning, happy Sunday hugs, I headed for the church doors to see if I could find this man to invite him in. But to my shame, he was no longer there. I felt awful.

I sat back down in my seat as our pastor began to speak. I can't even tell you what the message was that day because my thoughts were elsewhere. I thought about how I might have better responded to the man's plea for assistance. I could have stopped and asked him in, offered him a cup of coffee and a snack. I could have talked to him about his life and his needs and maybe shared those needs with our church who has always been quick to respond generously when a need is made known. It was communion Sunday so before I could go forward to receive my Lord, I needed to ask for forgiveness and I did. "Father forgive me for being so caught up in my own agenda and life that I overlooked this gentleman with the kind face and piercing eyes who maybe needed a touch from you today." I went forward, received and sat back in my seat, head bowed.

Then something amazing happened. I looked up and there he was. This raggedy, blessed man was standing in line to receive communion. Hallelujah! Someone else in our church had invited him in and apparently the man was a believer! I love my church family and was feeling blessed (and ashamed) to know that where I had failed, someone else had stood in the gap and invited him in. Tears filled my eyes as I determined that I would go speak to him as soon as the service was over. I was convicted that I owed this brother in Christ an apology.

I stood and turned to walk toward the area at the back where everyone gathers before and after services to visit. I spied him immediately, he was quite tall. He and another member of our congregation were engaged in quite an enjoyable conversation it seemed and their laughter struck me as odd. As I got closer to them it became more and more apparent that they knew one another. I waited for an opportunity to speak and when the time came all I could say was, "It wasn't real, was it?" It was then when he introduced himself to me as "Chris." He is the son and brother of members of our church. The story was that our Youth Minister had set the scene up as a test to the teenagers of the church to see how they would respond. It was a test and I had failed miserably. The truth is that Chris was indeed a Veteran and he indeed was disabled, so his sign conveyed no mistruths. He thankfully was not homeless but I apologized to him nonetheless.

It was a lesson learned, a lesson of humility and a lesson of grace. Humility knowing that even though I profess to be an advocate for those who are struggling, I am not perfect and my casting judgment can still get in the way of serving them and God. Grace in knowing that there will be many other opportunities in my life to get it right.

Thank you, Father, for this lesson today.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Life Interrupted

"A life interrupted is an inspired life." Not sure who that particular quote is from but it is interesting.

Oh, how about this one: "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans." Woody Allen said that.

That's probably more fitting with what happens in my life. I make plans. God laughs. Not because he doesn't want me to make plans. We should make life plans and goals. The trick is not holding onto those plans so tightly that we miss what God has for us. When we hold on too tightly to having our own way about things, that is when life gets really tough. Kinda like a spoiled child having a temper tantrum. The loving Father says, "My child, this is what is best for you." The Child says, "But I wanna do it MY way!"

So, I've been wandering around in the wilderness for a while. That place is dark! Full of chaos and drama and sickness! Don't want to go there again, at least not for a long, long while.

LIFE: There will be interruptions. We are to trust. We are not to rush after the things we have planned for ourselves. We are to keep a quiet heart and attend to the work that has been put before us, whatever the interruption is. Time will be made to attend to our planned work.

"Be still. And know that I am God."

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Shop Update

I've added several new mixed media pieces to my Etsy shop today. You'll find the link to my shop on the right. These new pieces all have lots of great texture and are sealed in beeswax which is just yummy!

Here are a couple of my favorites:

Check it out and let me know if you see something you like!

Saturday, June 4, 2011


I need for this to sink deeply into my heart... and stay.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Could I ever give myself with such abandon as this?

(mosaic by Daryl Lynne Wood)

Father, I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me,
and in all Your creatures -
I wish no more than this, O Lord.

Into your hands I commend my soul;
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands,
without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,

For you are my Father.

prayer of abandonment - charles de foucauld

Sunday, May 22, 2011

My Prayer

More holiness give me,
more striving within,
more patience in suffering,
more sorrow for sin.

More faith in my Saviour,
more sense of His care,
more joy in His service,
more purpose in prayer.

Philip Bliss


Thursday, May 19, 2011


I listened to a podcast online recently about procrastination, a topic I am personally very familiar with. The speaker had a couple of guests on his show that had differing viewpoints of the various causes for procrastination.

One guest said it is a character flaw. A weakness of the will. That folks (like me) who procrastinated did so because they opted for instant gratification (say playing online computer games) rather than working on a project (say setting up an Etsy shop to sell art) even though the project completed would bring much greater rewards.

Another guest suggested that procrastination was related to perfectionism. Perfectionists often have the attitude that if a thing cannot be done perfectly or if they doubt their ability to perform perfectly, they opt not to do it at all. An all or nothing mentality. Or perhaps it is the perfectionist's fear of failure or performing sub par that keeps them procrastinating.

Another view from a caller was really interesting to me. This gal suffered from a generalized anxiety disorder and described facing a task or project that she was procrastinating on was like a game of rock, paper, scissors. The anxiety over beginning was great enough to keep her from performing. But when the anxiety over the consequences of NOT doing whatever the task was became greater than the anxiety to begin, then she proceeded full speed ahead and felt she often performed better under that pressure.

I don't know which of these theories is the "truth." My truth is, I can see myself in all three. And I know procrastination has cost me. It has cost me opportunities, money, accomplishment, and joy.

Several things have fallen into my lap recently...NOT coincidence I have learned. A conversation with a good friend, a Bible study, a couple of quotes arriving via email over the course of a few days have spoken to me and have encouraged me to begin what has been my heart's desire for the past couple of years.

On the sidebar you will find a link to my Etsy shop. I've listed several of my art pieces and have several more to list as well as some other vintage/artsy stuff. I'm going to make a commitment to work on this "business" side of art over the next few months and see where it takes me.

Words of encouragement welcome. ;~)


"You must take action now that will move you toward your goals. Develop a sense of urgency in your life." Les Brown

"To speed your success, twice a day form a clear mental picture for two minutes of the one thing you want; and tell yourself it's already yours. Imagine it is." Author unknown

Sunday, March 20, 2011

One Thousand Gifts

What does it mean to be poor?

Isn't this what you saw in your mind's eye, or something like it?

Or maybe this?

Or even this?

When we think of the poor, we think of those who are without: without homes, without clothing, without food, without money. Without all the material things that most of us have an abundance of and take for granted.

If you ever have the opportunity, spend some time among them: in Mexico, on the Navajo reservation, in Haiti, in Kansas City or whatever city you live in. You don't have to go far. Reach out. Share a meal. Talk to them. Take the risk. Get to know them. You may go in thinking you have something to give to them.

But the truth is, they have something extraordinary to give to you.

They will show you that being "poor" means relying on God for every need, every day. It means to be watchful for God's provision, knowing that everything that comes into your life, every need met, has been delivered from His hands. It means giving thanks for every. small. gift.


I believe, WE are the poor. Our lives are so busy with work and family, little league and dance class, committee meetings and ministry. We are always in a hurry to get from here to there. We miss so much. We miss every small gift that comes from God's hand. Yet we are not satisfied. We are not content. We think there is never enough. Not enough space, not enough money, not enough stuff, not enough time. WE are the poor.

So here is my dare to you:

Begin a list of the things you love, a list of the things you have to be thankful for. Open your eyes and heart to the little gifts from God that are hidden among the deadlines and the dishes. When you see them, write them down. Nothing is too large or frivolous. Nothing is to small and insignificant. Because it all comes from Our Father who loves us and knows how to give good gifts. Begin thanking Him in all things, naming them one by one, until you get to One Thousand Gifts.

It will change you. And when it does, I'd love to hear back from you about your journey into thanksgiving.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Prayer for Healing

Thy name is my healing, O my God,
and remembrance of Thee is my remedy.

Nearness to Thee is my hope, and love for Thee is my companion.

Thy mercy to me is my healing and my succor
in both this world and the world to come.

Thou, verily, art the All-Bountiful,
the All-Knowing,
the All-Wise.

a baha'i prayer

Saturday, January 29, 2011

You Learn

After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,

And you learn that love doesn't mean leaning
And company doesn't mean security.

And you begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts
And presents aren't promises,

And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,

And you learn to build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow's ground is too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

After a while you learn...
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.

So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure...

That you really are strong

And you really do have worth...

And you learn and learn...

With every good-bye you learn.

Jorge Luis Borges

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Love the Questions

I was sitting in my therapist’s office trying to remember this Rilke quote and all I could remember was “love the questions.” I’ll look up the full quote as soon as my internet is back up and running and include it in this post but for now, I really want to focus on loving the questions.

I’ve been someone’s wife or mother since I was 17 years old. Now I am no longer wearing a wedding ring and my youngest flew the nest 3 years ago. For the first time in my life, I am living alone and I’m trying to figure out what this should look like for me, my life without being defined by roles and expectations of others. Sometimes, I can catch a glimpse of the opportunities for growth this will mean for me. But more often, at least right now, I find myself stuck in the muck of emotions. There is too much quiet and time to dwell on the fear and loneliness. I was reminded today this is grief -- the sadness, the bargaining and the anger. The loneliness can be overwhelming and you feel like it will never be any different. But these feelings will eventually give way to acceptance and hope.

I’m so impatient with myself, wanting to figure it all out, map my course, to know where my life is heading. I SHOULD know the answers, shouldn’t I? But how would I know? I’ve never done this before. I need time to sit the doubt, to embrace the loneliness, to find peace in the acceptance.

I likened it to sitting through winter. Many see winter as a time of death, barrenness, darkness, and cold. But that is only a temporary state and doesn’t really speak to the truth of what is happening in nature at all. The truth is, much of what we think of as life goes dormant in the winter. It’s a season of rest and quiet; a time of gathering nourishment and regeneration. It’s a period of preparation for the Spring that will inevitably come.

So I am in a season of winter in my life. I don’t have the answers and that’s okay. I don’t really know when the spring will come bursting with new life and the wonder that goes along with that, but I know the spring WILL come.

So for now, I will learn to do as Rilke advises in his Letter to a Young Poet:

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.