Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Christmas Story

I have a Christmas story to tell you. It's a story about light and love shining into dark places, a story about following the lead when Spirit nudges, a story about bringing hope into someone's world.

Photo by Alex Dram via Flickr
It was December of 1990, or possibly late November, but the point is, it was the Christmas season. The fall had not been good to me, and maybe that's a play on words because it wasn't just autumn, it was me falling with no one to catch me and I was raw from a relationship gone all twisted and wrong, and in my pain I made decisions that were probably the right decisions but who can say with all this time gone by? I dropped out of school in my last semester. Yes, the very last one, with only my student teaching to go to make me a full-fledged English teacher. I quit it all and walked away, and I have no regrets now because God can redeem the most broken of situations, but at that time I was lost.

Going home wasn't an option for me, although it would have made more sense then living off the dwindling resource of my last student loan, trying to find a job for which I was neither overqualified nor under-qualified. As my account dwindled there were groceries delivered anonymously to my door, and there were friends who took me shopping when they found out I had no food. And they were their own little bits of light and love, so they are a part of this story.

When the Christmas season hit I finally found a job, just a seasonal job, working in the mall at the bookstore. I could tell you stories about the characters I met, so many of them their own kind of broken and wounded. I was down to my last dollars. Literally. Seven dollars in my bank account, and a gas tank that was threatening empty. I told myself I could make it until my first payday.

Payday arrived. I worked my shift and collected my check, leaving the mall in late afternoon to head for the bank and then the gas station. I never made it out of the parking lot. Well, to be precise, I made it out of the parking lot and on to the mall loop road and up to a stop sign. And then nothing. I sat there in my completely out of gas car as holiday shoppers pulled around me and went on their way, cars loaded down with bags of gifts. I'd like to say I was strong and knew exactly what to do, rising to the occasion with grit and determination. But I had no grit left and my determination, well...I'd spent a lifetime having it drilled out of me. So I did the only thing I had left to do. I cried.

And then a knock on my window and a woman asked "Are you ok?" And I probably sobbed out something about 'out of gas' and 'first payday' and 'thought I could make it to the gas station' and...and...and...

A man stopped and helped us move the car into a parking space. And then this woman, this complete stranger, loaded me into her station wagon (because those were still kind of a thing), drove me to the gas station and bought me some gas. She wasn't going to stop, she said, but she felt a nudge and she looked and saw my tears. And in that moment she chose to be light to me.

I'm not going to say that my world was instantly better because someone was kind. I didn't ride off into a sunset of joy and plenty. There were still struggles, there was still healing to be done. But I will tell you that I have NEVER forgotten that little flicker of hope that was lit that day. A hope that maybe I wasn't forgotten, wasn't beyond God's notice, wasn't finished yet.

And isn't that what Christmas is? That reminder that in the midst of our darkness, light came in. And that light started small but the darkness didn't overcome it and that light was the hope and the promise that we weren't beyond God's notice, that he wasn't finished with his plan yet, that salvation was near.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Advent III - Waiting

This isn't the poem I wanted to write, but in the midst of work craziness and a sick child and now the sudden (if not entirely unexpected) passing of Mike's grandmother it's all I've got...unedited because life in this in-between time, this waiting for another advent, another coming...well, this life just has to be lived unedited in all of the high points and the low points. So we wait with the world, groaning through the low points and rejoicing in the triumphs for that day when there will be no more low points, no more sickness, no more stress, no more worry, no more death.

Photo by Isolino Ferreira via Flickr


This is life
The whole mess of it
The sickness
And the dying
And the laundry
And the laughter.
In the middle of the pain.
We just keep on turning, turning
As we wait for redemption
Wait for God in that one brilliant moment
To explain the whole plan,
End the waiting,
The wanting.
Conquer death,
Grave,
Moth and rust.
Dust.
We are waiting,
Living in the middle
Steeped in mess
But touched by glory.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

When God says 'wait'

Have I ever told you the story about how I got my job? My wonderful job that I do from the comfort of my home, sometimes in my pajamas and fuzzy slippers if it's just that kind of day. The job that has let me be present for my children in the ways that I want to be present.

No?

It all began with an accounting job, working long hours as a CPA for a public accounting firm, not really loving what I was doing, certain there was something 'more' out there. My heart ached to be home with my boys, to find some sort of better balance between my work and parenting, to reclaim some sense of being myself. But the timing felt wrong, and none of my interviews for other jobs panned out, and so I waited. And then a client sought me out for a job that would take me out of public accounting...and I turned it down. I turned it down because something inside whispered that it was only a step sideways, not forward, and that the time for moving forward would come.

And then God asked me to do something terrifying. Just as strongly as I had felt the 'not yet' of waiting, I felt the 'now'. And the Now was frightening. Quit my job, find some clients and do bookkeeping from home. It sounded fabulous except for that 'find some clients' part because when I tell you that I am an introvert who could not sell my services to anyone I mean INTROVERT and I mean NOT A SALESPERSON! Capitals, exclamation points, full emphatic declaration.

But I listened, and Mike supported (because he's awesome like that), and I turned in my notice at the firm. And then, about two weeks before my last day, I panicked. Because this was REAL and it was REALLY HAPPENING and oh-my-goodness-I-needed-clients. And a computer. And accounting software. I was scared, but when Mike and I talked about this we knew, deep down in the part that hears God whispering, that this was still the right move. It was only a few days later when one of the firm's clients asked the receptionist if she knew anyone who was looking to do bookkeeping part-time, maybe even from home. She gave them my name.

Can I tell you how wonderful it has been to work for them? They met my salary request, they provided every bit of hardware and software I needed, they paid for phone and fax lines to be installed in my home, they had exactly the number of hours that I needed to work. And they have been wonderful people to work for.

I thought I would do this job forever.

Then things changed. Out of the blue, their main client and the source of most of my hours was sold. I was facing the reality that in a matter of months when the sale was final I would essentially be out of a job. Yes, we would still have Mike's income. We wouldn't starve or lose the house or anything, but we'd need another small source of income just to close the gap. I was crushed. In my mind I envisioned myself working in an office again, feeling out of balance again, the boys coming home to an empty house and how on EARTH would I manage their activities now that they are older?

And what about that dream I had to be a writer? The dream that was just starting to gain momentum, the words and stories that were taking hazy shape in my mind? Was it dead before it even started?

I started making tentative plans for where to look. Substitute teaching? Contact my old firm to establish professional contacts that could lead to a similar job? And then on Monday, God said 'wait'. And the word was so peaceful that I listened. I told my small group about it, and the doubts I had that said "Is this really God? Or just my wishful thinking?" I resolved to listen and wait.

On Tuesday my boss told me that the sale was being pushed up to year end. THIS year end. As in 'three weeks away and not two months'. I told a friend that the waiting just got harder. But still I felt 'wait'. And I prepared to dig in and wait, with gritted teeth if I had to. Because although I haven't always felt that God and I are on speaking terms, and sometimes I've questioned everything that I think I know about him, there just really isn't a whole lot else I can do when he gives peace about something that would normally have me scrambling to Fix This NOW!

On Wednesday I went to my step class as usual, and I may have been a little extra distracted and its probably a good thing I didn't twist my ankle because most of that class was a silent prayer to help me wait, help me wait, help me wait. And then I came home and showered and sat down to work. I popped off a quick email to my boss about some paperwork, and then the phone rang.

I thought my boss was calling about the paperwork. He wasn't. He was calling to tell me about a bonus they would be getting from proceeds of the sale; a bonus that they wanted to share with me. And while I won't tell you the specific amount, I will tell you that it is enough to give me a few months of working at this dream of writing, without worrying about finding a job right away. Yes, we'll still have to be cautious with our money. But it is ENOUGH. Enough to dream a little, enough to see where God is taking me.

I called Mike and cried. I emailed my friends and cried some more. My friend called me and we rejoiced together and I hung up the phone and the doorbell rang. It was the mail carrier, with the package I'd ordered from Amazon a week ago. Kyle's Christmas present, and a book that I'd just tossed in because it was on my wish list and I needed to make up the amount to qualify for free shipping.

Do you see that? Uncover the art you were made to live. It felt like a confirmation and a promise all in one.

But that's not quite the end, because on a blog that tells me what the free Kindle deals are for the day, THIS was the very first book listed. And I will just tell you that it is my first research book for the story I want to tell. And it could be coincidence, or it could just be that God has a sense of humor, because when God says 'wait' and you listen, and all of these things happen at once, really all you can do is sit down with God and laugh together at how much More he is than you could ever expect.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Advent II - Silence

Photo by Eustaquio Santimano via Flickr


Hush now.
Hold these seconds precious in your hands
Breathing in the stillness.
Shut the door on all the noise
And the hurrying
The rustle of bags
And the endless, endless rush and chatter
Of all the wanting and the doing.
Sit down and in the praying and the silence
Let the darkness be at bay.
Because it’s a weary world out there,
And the cold creeps in around the edges.
So let us wrap ourselves with silence
Just for these moments.
And hush.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Advent I - Desolation


Photo by D. Munoz-Santos via Flickr

Nighttime.
Lost within bleak wastelands of our wanting,
And each one drunk on bitter wine of self
We stagger on.
With empty hands and hearts
We search alone in darkness,
While wind batters and ice bites,
We stumble over the trash heap
Of our desires.
But all the things that glittered
Have lost their shine
And we fall shattered in their midst,
Still grasping at the pieces.




Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Turning pages




Photo by 1Sock via Flickr
I want this life to be neat and tidy
A book with all of its chapters written
So I can skip ahead to see the resolution
(Because I am impatient like that sometimes.)
Even a table of contents
Would be helpful,
With titles clearly showing
The trajectory of the tale.
I don’t always like this reading along
The plodding narrative that builds up
All
Too
Slowly.
And yet, habitual peeper at pages that I am,
There is a loss of some indefinable delight,
The endless possibility of all that just might be,
When I'm reading towards an end already known.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

All that I thought I wanted

 I'm digging back through some of my older posts from my first blog. Posts that somehow never quite got published over here for reasons that probably have more to do with laziness than anything. So if you're wondering why I'm planting tomatoes in the Midwest in November, I promise I'm not that crazy! This one seemed appropriate to the season and to the things that are going on in my life right now. Sometimes it is so easy to see what we lack that we hold on to what we have with all our might, completely missing the blessings that come when we are willing to let go and rejoice in plenty or in little.

Photo by Emma Brabrook via Flickr

Today I drove out to the garden center to buy some more tomato plants to replace the ones that are already failing in my garden. (Doomed, I tell you, they are all doomed!) I got the last, lonely little 4-pack. Their sorry dried-out state and exposed roots don't give me much hope for their longevity in my garden.

In order to get to the garden center I have to drive past one of the elite subdivisions. You know the kind, five story homes, sweeping lawns, 4 car garages; the embodiment of the American dream. And I will tell you that some days it is hard, driving past these perfect exteriors, to not feel a pang of envy, to hear a small voice whispering "Isn't that what you wanted? And you're never going to get it."

For years that was everything that I dreamed of, all that I thought I wanted. I grew up solidly in the lower middle-class income bracket and we weren't so poor that I ever lacked for food or the necessities, but there were rarely any extras. In an era before hipsters made vintage and thrift coolly ironic, my clothes were almost all thrift-shop and yard-sale bargains. In the era of Jordache jeans, I was wearing orange polyester and praying at every yard sale to see that coveted horse head on an item of clothing. I was consumed with the desire to have something that declared "I fit in, I am one of you." The memory of the first and only time I begged, really begged for a piece of clothing is still etched in my mind. It was the most beautiful shirt I had ever seen, pale flowers, three-quarter length rolled sleeves and I wanted it desperately. It cost twenty dollars. To my mother, no piece of clothing was worth that much. To me, it was the embodiment of a longing to express my individuality, to make my own choice about something. I won the battle, surprisingly enough, with my mother muttering that I wouldn't get my money's worth out of it. I wore it for ten years, long after the colors had faded, just to prove her wrong.

And so I dreamed of the day I would be somebody. Of the day that I could buy any shirt, any dress I wanted without questioning the cost. (Granted, designers like Gucci and Armani didn't figure into that desire, even then I didn't desire $10,000 outfits.) I dreamed of the house I would have, the rooms I would fill with furniture, the American Dream I would live. (Oddly enough, the American Dream looked an awful lot like the JC Penney Christmas catalog.) This was the pinnacle achievement in life, to fit in and to be seen as a 'have', not as a 'have not.'

But life doesn't always follow the plans we set for it, for which I am grateful because I have a suspicion that dream would have turned me into someone quite insufferable. Instead, I fell in love. I fell in love with a social worker and never mind that his income was never going to bring me even close to that dream. (Pardon me while the memories make me a little mushy. It is totally his fault I almost failed macro-economics; how's a girl supposed to concentrate on economic formulas when she keeps daydreaming about a certain crooked smile and hazel eyes?)

Here's what I know now, though. I've realized over the years that those dreams were never really what I wanted. I would not trade a thousand big houses for our first year in the attic apartment, on the hand me down bed that sent us both rolling towards the center. I wouldn't trade all the sweeping lawns for the basement apartment we lived in next, with the centipedes that fell from the ceiling. (Well, ok, I would trade the centipedes.) But that was the apartment we brought our oldest home to, that was where he learned to crawl and to walk, that was where the memories of his first smiles are captured. I wouldn't trade the four car garages for the house we lived in for six months before moving to South Dakota, or the months we spent in our in-law's basement, or the apartment we brought our second child home to.

It took me a long time to learn, but contentment doesn't lie in all that I thought I wanted. Contentment lies in my heart, in rejoicing in whatever my circumstances are. Contentment lies in knowing that I don't need all of that stuff to be somebody, that I'm loved as I am by my husband, my children, my friends, and most of all, my Creator. And yes, contentment even lies in scouring the thrift stores for something to wear, as long as it isn't orange polyester pants.

The flash of envy dies quickly as I drive past those huge houses. My house is alive with love and laughter. It's taking a beating from two small boys, but those dings in the wall are part of our lives. The shingles may be peeling but it's a roof and we are blessed to live in all of the richness and the mess and the goodness that lies under it. Life is good, and I know that I have everything I ever really wanted.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Widow's mites



Two was everything
But that’s what she gave.
When the bare table and the empty chair across the room
Still murmured of loss and of need
Two small coins held loosely were her gratitude.
While the proud postured nearby
Clanking coins and counting balances
Eyes narrowed to the focus of the number
She opened her eyes wide to joy
And gave lavishly a gift not measured by worth.
While those who must account in lined up columns,
Saw less about the story of the blessing
She saw more than the balance that was left,
And poured out all in thanks.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Stage Fright - A play in five acts and an epilogue




Photo by Simon Scott via Flickr
i.

I’m in fourth grade when my teacher says we need to participate in the solo and ensemble contest and my classmates laugh at me because I want to sing a solo. I know there’s music in my soul, but my timid voice won’t carry the breath that lets the notes soar true out of my mouth. So I sing with an octet instead, and I stand on the end harmonizing to Michael Row the Boat Ashore just hoping that my voice doesn’t swamp the boat. I don’t bring up that singing notion again.

ii.

Eighth grade and the music is still pressing against my teeth, begging to be let out. Six years of piano lessons and countless recital pieces but it’s my voice that begs to be heard. So I audition for the school musical and I tell the teacher I don’t think that was my best shot, because the nerves get to me and my voice wavers and in my heart I know I can do this. And I am either very convincing or he gives me another try...the details fade with time but I do remember the stage and the microphone and the first few bars of my solo soaring out in the darkened auditorium.

iii.

It’s the end of my sophomore year; I audition for the school’s concert choir. I don’t make it. I go to music camp that summer and in the fall I audition again and I am in. I don’t know what drives me to keep pushing at this thing. At Christmastime I sing “I wonder as I wander…” clear and strong but there’s that ONE note that always trips me up and I start to dread it, start to falter for the fear of it. And on performance night a choir mate tells me that my solo almost sounded good that night. Her cattiness sits like a splinter in my heart, and even though I sing Handel for contests and receive good marks, that sharp doubt never leaves again. (And dare I tell of the moment I’m oh so not proud of at the Junior Senior banquet, she with her out of town date and her handmade dress when I tell her she almost looks pretty that night. When revenge tastes sweet for two seconds until I realize the bitter bite it masks and that really I haven’t won anything.)

iv.

I audition for my college Chamber Choir because what else can I do but try? I am shocked when I make it in, and spend the next several years convinced that it was a mistake, that this director so highly talented and respected confused my voice with that of the girl next to me. Some days I am the only alto in rehearsal. On those days my voice fails me and I can’t sing for the nerves and the certainty that I don’t belong with these people who are music majors and minors and plotting their professional careers. I can almost hear the collective eye roll coming from the other choir members. After two years I drop out. I don’t let anyone hear my voice again. But years later, when the surgery for the maybe-cancer takes it from me for a time, I cry.

v.

I have a deeper-down dream than singing. A dream that I’ve held so close I’m scared to tell it for fear of the eye rolls and the ‘who does she think she is’ that wants to put me in my place. One failure, one silly third grade contest where I put my dreams on the line and poured my heart onto paper was enough to bury it down in the dark where the fear of not being enough grows roots and tangles hope. Sometimes it is the things we want the most that scare us numb with the fear of hitting the wrong notes, of it not being beautiful.

Epilogue

Fear steals our voice, stands on the stage and tells us to go trembling back to the shadows behind the curtains. It steals our successes and says that the voices telling us to jump only want to see us fall. It hushes the Spirit, slapping down the tally sheet of flaws and reminding us of every failure so carefully inscribed. Fear lies, and if you brush aside the tally sheet and look for hope you find the Spirit waiting. Telling you to sing, write, paint, dance, and create with all your heart and to be filled with joy in the doing.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Here.


Today, set aside all of the things that demand attention and live. Just for a moment, walk in the snow and the sun and the soft babbling of the ducks on the pond and just be here.


Smile like a crazy woman at the wonder of it all and smile some more because I'm smiling, really smiling and it's been too long.


Forget about the housekeeping that is never done enough anyway and the work that will be there later. Stand in the cathedral of water and snow and leaves and listen for the whisper that says grace is here, always here, even when we miss it.


Today there is sun, and no promise that it will be here forever. The last leaves will fall. Harsher snows will come. The skies will get dark. But today there is the sun and the snow and maybe that is enough.



Monday, June 3, 2013

Kyrie eleison

Photo credit: Mike Brown via Flickr

Broken we come,
Weak with the wounds of our warring,
Flesh laid bare and seeping pain
With every stumbling step.

We trail the blood of words said
and unsaid.
Of tears shed
and tears withheld.
Of all things done
and still more undone,
A thousand marks upon our skin.

Doors open and we,
battered and shattered we...
We smile.
and we sing the heartsick Kyrie
as we bleed.

Lord have mercy.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Through.

It felt so good to get out with the camera and hunt down something to photograph. I am absolutely reveling in being pain-free after more than a week of dreading every movement. I feel kind of invincible at the moment, even though I'm mired deep in the push to get all of the 2012 reporting done for work by the end of the month. It will get done, even if I have to stay up half the night to do it.

So it is fitting that today's photo prompt was 'Through'. I'm through with the pain, almost through my busiest month, maybe even kind of through the weirdness of my emotions and doubts over the past number of months. And that's a good thing. Even a major fog today couldn't dampen my spirits much. It would be nice to see the sun, but I was rather pleased with my foggy pictures.




Monday, January 21, 2013

What I do.

The challenge today is to take a picture of what we do. I've already taken a picture of my computer, I'm not sure there is much else that one can do with that. And I've taken a picture of food, so that pretty much covers the whole 'I feed my family' thing that takes up such a large chunk of time.

How does a mom sum up the span of what she does?

This is it. THIS is my master list, my 'I could not survive without this' planner. This is what I (theoretically) do when I am not working.

I need lists. I need lists like some people need air. I need air too, so I guess that means I need air AND lists. Oh, I tried other plans for getting my house cleaned and organized and they did not work. Somewhere there is an unused email account filling up with thousands of emails from FlyLady. Even on the 'please don't inundate me with 50 emails a week' plan I STILL spent half my time trying to read emails and tips from her and nothing ended up getting cleaned anyway.

But this, this is awesome. I found it last year, and for about fifteen dollars for the download and getting it bound it was well worth it. At least, it was worth it for the four months I kept up with it, faithfully checking off tasks each day. After that, when my brain fell apart and I couldn't seem to get anything done even with a list staring me in the face it was more of a taunting 'see what you SHOULD be doing and aren't?'

Still, I'm back at it this year. I printed it out and had it bound last week, but haven't checked anything off yet because 'sit in your chair and whine about how much pain you are in' was not on the list. (I totally would have rocked that task, though.) I'm going to start small, aiming for just getting ANYTHING checked off during the week. And I will consider that an accomplishment.

Because this is what I do.

Something I saw.

So I've missed a few days of the photo challenge. That happens when you mess up your back and pretty much the only thing that makes it happy is sitting on a chair and not moving. I tried the whole 'get up and keep moving' thing, but that is more easily said than done when you are so crazily out of whack that movement means you are thrusting more things out of line to compensate.

But, by Sunday evening things were looking a little better, and we enjoyed a game of Castle Panic as a family.

This is what I saw.


The boys are finally getting to the stage where we can play games with them that are actually fun for people over the age of 6. (I'm looking at you, Mousetrap.) We're still working on the whole thing of 'do not jump around and shake the table or throw the dice half-way across the room', but I'm assuming that will come with age. In the meantime, we've solved the 'But I NEVER win' complaining by getting some cooperative games like Castle Panic. It also makes it easier in the learning stages because we can discuss strategy with them and help them to plot out the best course of action. Teaching logic is always a win in my book.

And that's what I saw on my Sunday evening.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Water.


Today's prompt is 'Water'. Fitting, I suppose, since it has been rainy and foggy all day; definitely NOT normal for South Dakota in January.

I'm actually super happy with this shot of our downspout. I was doubtful I'd get a good picture since I was out running around all day and then when I got home the neighbors were in and out of their house loading stuff into a car and I really didn't want them wondering why I was crouched by my downspout with a camera.

Also, I found the setting on my camera that I've spent the last two days searching for. It's the little things that make me happy.

Not so happy? The fact that we're going from a high of 36 today back down to more normal January temperatures of 12 tomorrow. Which also means all of this water is going to freeze. I plan on going absolutely nowhere. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

One o'clock.

I am just utterly BRIMMING with excitement for the photo challenge today!

OK, not so much. Today's challenge was to take a photo of what we were doing sometime between one and two o'clock.

This is it, folks. This is what I am doing every single day between one and two.

Exciting, no? Working from home is not the most glamorous of lives. I do, however, have a Curious George notepad, so I guess there's that.

(Also, I have no idea why this isn't sharp...it only looks like this in Blogger.)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

'T' is for...

Today's photo challenge prompt was to take a picture of something that begins with the letter 'T'. Have you ever noticed that when you need something to begin with a certain letter, nothing does? Maybe it's just me, but my house seemed suddenly devoid of the letter 'T'.

I thought about photographing the tortilla soup I was planning to make for supper, but I knew the light would be gone by the time it was ready. That did, however, remind me that I forgot to pick up Tortilla chips at the grocery store. So I guess it wasn't a wasted thought.

A tree? I've got to say, it would be hard to make our spindly, bare trees look good right now. Maybe an artsy shot taken by lying on the ground underneath one. But it is cold and there is snow on the ground and I didn't want the neighbors to think I'm crazy.

Towels? Some things do not need to be documented. The mess in the boys' bathroom is one of them. My dirty laundry pile is another.

Tired? I had a very tired boy whom I had to shake and nudge for over a minute this morning before he woke up and growled at me. It probably wasn't the best time to take a picture of him.

Taxes...I am fairly certain that no one wants to see a picture of a blank tax form unless they are looking up tax information on the IRS website.

Trebuchet? I don't have one of those handy at the moment.

Tomato soup would have been perfect, had I thought of this before eating my lunch. I suppose I could always go for the more existential theme of 'Tomato soup, all gone.' But, as with the towels, I'm not quite ready to stoop to taking pictures of my dirty dishes either.

In the end I decided that T is for...

Trombone.
Ten-year-old.
Testy. ("Can THIS be the last picture? Are you done YET? Come ON!")
Also, Terrible lighting. (Thus the playing with Picasa editing.)



Sunday, January 6, 2013

Mine.



This is mine.
My place,
my space.
Lost
in the pages,
I wander.
Adventurer.
Heroine.
Magical.
Bold.
Unbound
inside
bindings.
This,
my domain.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Movement.

It's South Dakota. It's winter. It's cold and gray both outside and in. This means that just about the only thing moving today is the snow. Have you ever tried to take a picture of moving snow? NOT easy.

My day feels like the emotional equivalent of standing in the middle of a snowstorm and trying to take a picture of the snow. Can't pin it down, can't make it clear. Sometimes life is like that and the computer-brained part of me REALLY hates that.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The view from here.


The view from here
is cold
and sharp.
The ice numbs,
a spear
of clarity.
Waiting to be banished
by the sun.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Heart.

It is entirely possible that my brain exploded when I tried to read the manual for my camera. At least, that is the excuse I'm giving for not posting yesterday's picture. I have also had a raging headache ever since as proof of the explosion. (That might also be the result of trying to do payroll and listen to the soundtrack of Les Misérables at the same time. Surprisingly not a good idea.)

I was a bit stumped about what to capture for today's challenge of Heart...and then I remembered something I've been saving for a blog post for quite some time, one of those little serendipitous finds that makes me smile whenever I look at it.






A heart in a stone, found in our rock landscaping. (And by landscaping I mean 'pathetic rock beds around some scraggly bushes.) And it is so, so fitting because I've been thinking about what I would pick as my one word for 2013 and the word that keeps pushing to the top of my mind is love.

We were challenged in church to think about what to take on as we go into the new year and for me it all comes down to love.

Loving my family. Extending grace to them.

Loving myself. Leaving behind the thousands of lies that keep me from experiencing the complete fullness of love.

Loving my neighbor...friend and stranger, near and far.

Loving God.  Not in some abstract 'go to church and sing a few songs about him' way, but really and truly grasping what it means to love him and to BE loved by him.

I know it seems like such a ridiculously simple thing to some people, but I'm not sure I could have picked a more difficult word.

But if the patience of time can wear a heart into stone, I am confident that love can seep into the corners of a heart that feels sometimes like its own little stone.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Today.


What's blog etiquette for saying "Hey, I'm back yet again? After yet another extended absence?" Whatever, consider it said.

I'm using this blog as space for my latest undertaking, the pursuit of a better picture. Or at least figuring out what all of those settings on my camera mean. If I come up with words to go with that, it's a bonus. As a kick start, I'm taking part in the 2013 Photo A Day Challenge hosted by Fat Mum Slim. One photo each day, based on the prompt. I thought that posting them on my blog would be a good way to motivate myself to actually keep up with it.

It's not going to be fancy. It's not going to compare with the wonderful pictures taken by my more creatively minded friends. My words aren't going to be beautiful, or buzz-worthy, they are just going to be me. Simply me. That's all I have to offer and I hope that by the end of 2013 maybe along with taking better pictures I'll have learned to be okay with that.

This is my offering for today. Just the simple, the bread and the soup and the sparkling juice pretending to be wine.