Friday, December 30, 2011
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Monday, December 26, 2011
...when hope and joy and peace reign because of a baby King.
...when giggles come from little girls as they play together and create for hours.
…when I celebrate another year with my man.
…when I’m caught between holidays and a rhythm.
…when I recall the beautiful moments of the months, both the sweet and the difficult.
...when I choose trust over fear as a new year dawns.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Monday, December 19, 2011
Friday, December 16, 2011
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Saturday, December 10, 2011
The journey of the lasagna began over a week ago. Because I’ve been using the same recipe for four years, my husband suggested we try a new kind of lasagna. You know, something different.
That’s when I turned to The Pioneer Woman. Friends rave about her. But, given my culinary issues, I stayed away until now. I mean, her website screams “I am homemaker extraordinaire!” It scares me. ((shutter))
Last weekend, I gathered my ingredients and looked at the cook time in the heading: 30 minutes for prep and 30 minutes to cook. Easy, right? That’s what it said at least.
On Monday night, I cooked the meat. We had a group of leaders arriving at 6:30pm. It was 5. My husband nervously watched the clock and suggested perhaps I just finish the meat and grab something else before our guests arrived. So, meat cooked on Monday.
Tuesday, Christmas party at church. Wednesday, let’s roll up the sleeves and keep on going. But, then, a horror. There, buried deep in the instructions, were the words “the sauce mixture should simmer for 45 minutes.” In short, we ordered pizza while I finished cooking, stirring, and layering. I completed the layering at 7:30pm and placed it in the refrigerator.
Thursday, a meeting at church. Friday, we finally cooked that layered-bad-boy. After his first helping, my husband said, “I like your lasagna better.”
You’d think I’d be upset after all that work. Instead, I threw my arms around him and kissed him. That compliment was almost worth all the trouble. Almost.
And what am I making today? Another Pioneer Woman dinner because I bought the ingredients last weekend, and they expire today. Who knew it would take five days to get around to eating the lasagna? I plan on starting my soup at noon.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
I have to admit stepping into Advent has been hard for me this year.
I’ve been pondering its meaning for a couple of weeks while “all the cool kids” write about it. They seem to know something I don’t, and I feel like I should have this figured out by now.
I asked God to show me. Reveal what He wants me to know this year. And, instead of stepping into Advent, I kind of got thrown. Allow me to share a little about my week.
If you’ve read my recent posts, you know I’m trying to figure out what to do next job-wise. I have a possible project but no start date to go with it. There is no way to speed up the process either. It must unfold. Waiting.
On Tuesday, an organization dear to my heart took a major shift. Many people I love are affected by the change. The extent of the impact is unknown. We don’t know what will happen next. Waiting.
My best friend is pregnant and oh-so-sick. After being on bedrest for days, her husband rushed her to the emergency room this morning. As she takes new medication, all she can do is be still. And wait.
Maybe that’s why I’m not sure what to do with Advent 2011. Our family finally took a big step this year by moving to Kansas. I don’t want any more waiting. I like moving. Makes me feel like I’m in control.
Let’s discuss control for a moment as we think about what happened to young Mary. Talk with unexpected angelic presence in her house? Hmmm. Yeah, that most likely wasn’t on the daily to-do list. Give birth to the Savior of the world who is now growing in her womb? Probably not on her list of life-goals.
Yet, what could she do? Wait. Hope. Cling to her Lord. We, too, cling to what we know and more importantly Whom we know when unknown circumstances come our way.
When the news about the organization broke, I sent an article about the transition to my friend, Heather. Under it, I wrote:
I feel sad about it. But I also know God is so much bigger than this. His plan and purposes will prevail no matter what happens. I/we will be faithful to His kingdom.
Maybe that’s it. Yes, there is waiting. But there is also hope. Because we serve a mighty God who came as a small child. His purposes are bigger than the uncertainties. His kingdom is vast.
We trust in His timing. Not our own. We wait, sometimes with groaning, sighing, or tears, in anticipation for Him to come again. We don’t know when. We don’t know how things will work out now. But we wait. In the presence of lit and unlit candles, we wait.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
I’ve managed to talk myself out of a lot of things in the last 31 years.
Take figure skating, for instance. I grew up in Colorado Springs, home of the Olympic Training Center. When I was around age 4 or 5, my mom offered to get me skating lessons. I guess she figured I was in a perfect place for professional training, if I really loved it.
I refused because it sounded scary.
All of these wasted experiences because of fear.
There is one other thing I gave up a long time ago because of fear: writing.
When I was 13 years old, my best friend won a magazine contest by completing the end of a short story by our favorite author, Susan*. Not long after that, Susan came to speak at my middle school. She started asking if anyone in the class happened to know my friend because she hoped to deliver the prize to her personally while she was in town.
I came forward. And do you know what happened? My favorite author picked me up at my house that night and took my friend and me to dinner! Dream. Come. True.
Then, my friend and I became pen pals with Susan. We each wrote her letters, and Susan wrote us personal messages back.
A few months later Susan came back to town for a young writer’s conference. (Did I mention that Colorado Springs is also a mecca of Christian publishing?) For the truly ambitious (me!), they offered a way to turn in a short story ahead of time to be critiqued by a visiting author of our choice. Guess whom I chose.
Unfortunately, the critique session with Susan was devastating. She put her marks all over my story. It was bleeding. Bleeding with ink marks and comments that don’t make sense to me, even to this day.
To top it off, my friend submitted a story too. A few weeks later my fellow budding writer got another letter in the mail from Susan. I did not. In fact, the woman never wrote me again.
For the next few years, I only wrote in personal journals. Because the fear crept in. I believed I wasn’t good and never would be. I was too afraid to try again.
Here’s the thing: fear is exhausting. It makes us do crappy things, such as lying, hiding, being impatient, and feeling sorry for ourselves.
I don’t want to be afraid anymore. I know deep down that I am a writer. I’ve tried some very creative ways to get around this fact, mainly so I don’t have to deal with the possible hurt that comes with the writing life. In the end, it just leads back to my God-given path.
So, today, instead of fear, I’m choosing courage. Brené Brown tells us in her TED talk on vulnerability, as well as in her book The Gifts of Imperfection that the root of the word courage is cor, the Latin word for heart. (I'm really big into Latin these days, can you tell?) Originally courage meant “to speak one's mind by telling all one's heart."
That is what I want to do. It’s what I’ve longed to do. Tell my story with all my heart.
Writers are only human. (I suspect Susan simply may not have known the best ways to help young authors write. She was a new author at the time and had her own journey to take.) But that is exactly what makes us good. We are human. We have passion and heart and blood running through our veins. We have moments of defeat and victory, like everyone. And we want to share it with the world.
I know I do. No matter the cost.
*name changed for protection
Monday, December 5, 2011
I realize this question can be asked in a variety of intonations: fear, hope, exhaustion, or frustration. Mine is hopeful.
And I’m also trying to determine what to do next with my hopeful “what next?”
A few years ago, I attended a vocational retreat with Potter’s Inn. Vocation (from the Latin word vocaré) means “voice.” To hear that voice, one must listen. At one point in the workshop, the leaders encouraged us to think back to what we most loved when we were eight years old.
I loved reading, writing, and teaching. (Well, teaching Sunday School to my dolls that is!) And I loved Anne of Green Gables. I wanted to be Anne of Green Gables. After all, Anne writes and Anne teaches. She also has a fiery passion that can’t be contained.
I want to listen to my own fiery passion. Too many times, I’ve set it aside or stuffed it down. However, it takes that delight to carve out a life of being the person God created me to be.
I’m not talking about a job. Those come and go. In less than two weeks, my job is going. What I’m talking about is a way of life that is in-tune with knowing God’s best for me. It is listening to what makes my heart “sing” and then acting out of that deep gladness.
This week, I have someone helping me work on my résumé. I’m grateful for the opportunity, but I can’t help thinking about how incomplete that document will be when it’s done. It can’t possibly hold all I am or all I may be in the future, with God’s help.
I am not alone in this season. God is with me. He saw the innocent little girl dressing up in long skirts more than two decades ago. He sees me now. Paying attention to my delights brings Him delight. He wants me to know myself more because the more I know of the self He created, the more I will know Him.
Knowing Him all of my days is the greatest life I can imagine. While the road ahead of me might not always be marked with blooming white trees, there is a Voice behind me, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
Friday, December 2, 2011
Don’t believe me? Consider the episode a few weeks ago when Jeff asked me to bake a few cookies for a men’s gathering at church. I pulled out some cookie sheets, closed the lower metal drawer, and experienced a flash of light coupled with a popping sound. I broke the oven. Not kidding.
In addition, I’ve been working fulltime for the last seven years. On too many occasions, I bad talk myself because I can’t be at more field trips or class parties with my oldest daughter or rock my little one before her nap all seven days of the week.
I stumble home and convince myself I need to have a perfect dinner on the table at exactly 6 o’clock each night. Then, I snap at anyone who ventures near the kitchen while I attempt to be my own self-imposed version of Martha.
All of this adds up to guilt and shame. I feel like I am less of a mother and less of a wife because I fall short over and over. Not just that. I feel like a failure.
But is that really the truth?
Because I’m realizing more and more that beautifully decorated walls aren’t the best things I can give my family. I’m also learning it’s okay I’m not a super-chef in the kitchen. I don’t have to make amazing dinners to be loved. And, speaking of love, I love my family.
I love my daughters. We read books to each other and bake (burn?) cookies together sometimes. We have family movie nights, dress up for teatime, and take trips to places like the pumpkin patch on the weekends.
I love my husband. I believe in his calling to attend seminary and in who he is as a pastor. I believe in his gifts. And, along our family’s journey of work plus graduate school, I found some surprising ways to use my own gifts in God’s kingdom.
What this all really adds up to is being okay with who I am. Being okay with my strengths as well as my weaknesses. It also means believing that God sees me as no less than His beloved daughter, no matter what is set out on the table for dinner.
With this in mind, I’ve made a decision. I’m going to stop calling myself things like “bad mother” and “bad wife” when I make a mistake or things go wrong. Truth be told, that’s a lie. I’m going to see myself as God sees me: enough and fully loved. After all, I am Rebecca. Not Martha.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Best Blog Post...
Is there anything better than one of your favorite bloggers posting on another one of your favorite blogs on a topic you love? (The answer is no!)
My heart lept for joy when I even glanced the title of Sharon Hodde Miller’s post “It’s Your Job to Break the Women’s Ministry Stereotype” over at Her.meneutics. The blog only got better with each line. Sharon’s messages are intelligent, and I appreciate her ongoing call to humility. A perfect combination!
Who knew Parenthood was so good? And am I the last person on earth to figure out that Mae Whitman, who plays Lauren Graham’s daughter, is the little girl from One Fine Day?!
The Bravermans are a family I want to know. They love one another and many of the conversations could easily be taking place in any house on your own street. Each character, from the oldest generation down to the youngest, has their own struggles and victories. I can relate.
Also, great music to go with the great writing!
Kristin’s New Website…
Kristin Ritzau is one of my favorite people in the world. I’ve been following her blog for several years and counted down the days until her book was released last year. Finally, last May, I got to meet Kristin when she came to Colorado Springs to stay with me and host a workshop.
I’m excited about Kristin’s newest steps. One of them includes the launch of her new site over at kristinritzau.com. I invite you to take a peek. But I warn you. You will want to stay longer than a few minutes or else return with a pot of tea and a journal.
There’s another reason you’ll want to visit her site. I am offering you a FREE copy of A Beautiful Mess if you can find where my full name is mentioned on her new website. Be the first to leave a comment on this post telling me where you found my name and mention the phrase immediately after it, and I will send you a copy of her book.
My new Tweed Hat….
My little one being creative…
What inspired you this week?
Friday, September 23, 2011
Have you ever experienced a worship time that was so beautiful it made you cry?
At the end, you felt undone by the Holy Spirit. And you were ready to go out and serve.
It wasn't because of a formula or a ritual. It was because of what God did, in and through His people when they were together.
We came (ran?) back week after week to get another glimpse of the beauty in the brokenness. His beauty. Our brokenness. Given to Him.
Through the Word. The prayers. The Table. The Peace. The sending.
We were changed.
"I had glimpsed Jesus and there really was no going back." - Kristin Ritzau, A Beautiful Mess
(posting taken from my art journal, 9/11/11)
Thursday, September 8, 2011
It wasn’t pretty.
If I’m really being honest, the fit started the day before we moved from my beloved homestate of Colorado to a new dwelling place in Kansas. It wasn’t over the move per se. More like certain details related to it. Namely, the empty home sitting back on Quiet Circle.
Given that God worked out so many other aspects of our move, I figured this one would be taken care of no problem. We were anxious about leaving the house behind and all the many things that could go wrong with it. Because I was so sure we’d have a renter lined up, the day before the move came, and I was frantically calling someone to come mow and water for us the following week.
To make matters worse, the cleaning company we hired missed a bunch of places in our home, didn’t actually clean the carpets, and then broke some things too. They refuse to give us a penny in refunds so now we are footing the bill to pay for a second carpet clean. I should say an actual carpet clean. Lousy, lying crooks.
Do I sound whiny? Now you know how the fit started.
So, the house is empty still. And I’m exhausted. I’m tired of being on the phone. I’m tired of getting my hopes up when we have a showing. Why isn’t He doing anything to fix it?
I don’t know.
I don’t know why He allowed our cleaners to take us to the cleaners. I don’t know why I lost two babies last year. I don’t know why He does what He does or why He doesn’t prevent what I want Him to.
I told a couple of friends last week that God and I weren’t on speaking terms right now. I was screaming for answers. He wasn’t giving me any.
As with any good temper tantrum, one must calm down eventually. (Yelling, kicking, and pounding your fists day after day is exhausting after all.) And so I did. At church on Sunday. From music to prayers to Eucharist, God took me on a journey that reminded me of His peace.
It is peace in the midst of trouble. (Didn’t He say there would be some of that as a follower?) Peace that is mine because He’s got a view beyond what I can fathom. It is rest in His grace and His plan. It is surrender.
Surrender hurts. Surrender means giving up control. It means trusting in something I can’t see. This is kindergarten stuff, guys. Actually, I remember teaching that concept to a group of 3-5 year olds one summer. But I forget when it comes to big things like leaving a home behind. I never had to do this kind of thing before.
In the midst of surrender, guess what happened. God and I are speaking again. It’s probably because I stopped screaming long enough to hear His voice again. It is strong but gentle. Loving when I am nothing but loud.
Friday, May 27, 2011
One of the advantages of my job is that I get to write off-site two days a week. It's a wonderful gift. Occasionally I go to Panera Bread, but my favorite moments of creating are spent at my kitchen table. In that time, what is my greatest inspiration as I type away? Music. (And I play it rather loudly when I'm alone.)
This week, a song I heard on Tuesday hasn't left me. I've been humming it as I compose day after day on the blank page. And it's appropriate because it is about words.
Here are the lyrics to the first verse and chorus:
This is such a blur
Tell me what's the hurry now
Have we been running round in circles
Missing all that we could be
You say it's not too late
We are words
On pages that we've left unturned
An ending no one's ever heard
We are a story slowly unfolding
- "Beautiful Words" by The Afters
Slow down. Missing all that we could be. It's not too late. We are a story. I don't know about you, but I usually want now. No slow unfolding. But that is not how our Creator works. His story unfolded over centuries. Our stories will have a century, at best. But how amazing to realize that our story unfolds within His.
Life naturally brings numerous examples of this: marriage, children growing at a rate that seems like an inch a day, the tomato plants a co-worker gave me yesterday, composing a lesson and corresponding audio script about David and Goliath.
So, as I continue on my writing journey this morning and prepare to step into this long weekend, I will rest in the unturned pages God has numbered for me and take joy in the single words coming forth in the next few days. I will probably rip some paper to create some art journaling pages and dance barefoot in the living room with my girls. I'll also sit next to my beloved as we venture into the mountains. Slowing down....
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
First there was Dr. Gregory House.
Then there was Ron Swanson (or as my husband calls him, the human version of the beloved cartoon character “Garfield”).
But there is one curmudgeon you might not know about: Arlen Faber.
Arlen Faber is famous, even though he doesn’t want to be. Twenty years before, he wrote a book called Me and God. As with most bestsellers, this one spawned a whole host of other books such as The Me and God Diet and Me and God for Teens. (Yeah. You know the type.) And it also produced a group of rabid fans who would love to do nothing more than meet the man behind the work.
Arlen is behind something alright, but it’s not his work. He’s hiding behind the door of his home. Inside those walls, he spends his days tossing unopened fan mail into a pile, reading books about spirituality, and yelling out words that would make most of his faithful readers blush.
What really makes Arlen holler is the day his back goes out. His agent, the only person left on his speed dial, decides that he needs to figure out a thing or two on his own. So, she leaves him on the floor of his home.
His only choice is to crawl to a chiropractor. And he does. Through the streets of downtown Philadephia.
Enter Elizabeth. What’s a curmudgeon to do when a beautiful woman fixes his back and leaves him speechless? Suddenly books about spirituality are traded for books about love.
On top of that, someone discovers where Arlen lives and agrees to trade silence about his address for answers to his questions about life. After all, Arlen has direct access to God…right?
I stumbled on The Answer Man(currently on Netflix instant play) by accident, and it made my day yesterday. Jeff Daniels is hilarious as a disgruntled recluse. Yet, his heart is so big when you watch him interact with Elizabeth’s son. I think my favorite movies are the ones where connection and community show up in surprising places. This movie surely fits that description.
In addition, it unmasks the notion of perfect people who have all the answers. In the end, we are all broken and asking for answers. Only God can weave our paths together and turn our attempts at navigating life into something bigger and more beautiful than we can imagine.
Watch it for yourself. Here’s a little peek:
Monday, February 21, 2011
I think I’m in the same place with my faith. Once upon a time, I kept it all locked up in a neatly-fashioned library of my mind. Then, grace got involved and I found myself pulling every one of those nicely organized books to the floor.
There it sits even now. In a heap of “mess” on the floor.
Occasionally, I pick up a book and file it carefully where I think it can go. God’s goodness. Unconditional love. Shame. And, of course, grace. That one goes next to suffering. They can’t help but go hand-in-hand, I’ve discovered.
The rest remain. For now. Currently holding on to hope.