December 9

Mixing it up, Making it Good.

vanilla

I’ve written more Words with Friends than any other kind this week.

It’s the perfect thing to do during the commercials, while waiting for my Hallmark Channel Christmas chick flick to come back on, but it’s not getting me any closer to completing all of my last minute shopping or the 2016 Goal Crushing I gave up on, in November.

Instead, I focus on the holiday, the fun and the giving.

I’m combining all of those things and making homemade vanilla and yesterday, when I woke with a cold so bad I could barely talk, I pulled out three huge bottles of Deep Eddy vodka and began brewing my batches. I was lured to Deep Eddy because my vodka loving friends said it was good stuff and I fancied the label and the retro girl forever embossed on glass and a diving board.

Diving boards always reminds me of fear crushing.

Especially the high ones.

As I carefully split each vanilla bean open and dropped them into their beautiful amber jars with black shiny lids, I thought about Christmas and giving, list making and choice making.

I remembered how easy it was when I was young to come up with a Christmas list of all the things I wanted. As an adult, that’s harder, but I think it’s easier to jump start the process and the New Year by reminding ourselves of the things we know we don’t want.

There are so many things I want to do and on some days, nothing is at the top of the list. Even with Ruth Soukup’s perfect planner, I struggle with naming what I want. And maybe it’s not because I’m unmotivated, maybe it’s because I’m finding out how weird and strange it is to be in this place of contentment.

Where walking the dogs and finding the hugest acorn I’ve ever seen brings me joy for days. People will look at you strangely by the way if your weekly highlight reel starts with finding a giant nut.

Just saying.

But yet, it’s the exhilaration of the high dive that keeps me pumped.

The what if’s and the why not’s.

The excitement that comes with doing something you want to do, but are scared to do.

I know at the end of the year, I want to take back that no fear feeling my grand daughter displayed at our new favorite, Kinderpark.

She climbed the metal bars, walked across the platform and then, I don’t know what she was thinking, I guess because we usually help her glide down the pole, she determined and independently, reached over, swung her legs around the pole and then half slid, half fell, the rest of the way down.

Sure she busted her lip open and got blood all over everywhere.

Sure I was going to be in grandparent trouble.

But I told her we’ve all done it. “Grammy’s slid super fast. Natalie’s slid super fast and Mommy’s slid super fast.” She felt like she was in the club. Not that kind of club. I kept the conversation to firemen and stories of the north pole, because she’s four and sometimes my filter works.

It’s surviving the sting of a belly flop that causes us to climb the ladder and propels us to give it a go, one more time, knowing we can do better the next.

Just like my vanilla, it takes time to get that deep, rich flavor. Spill some, slurp some, but lick every drop.

 

 

 

 

 

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December 5

Daring to Be Different, Escaping the Same

vintage-blue

There are two things we crave more than powdered sugar donuts or chocolate.

Acceptance and forgiveness.

328 highlighters don’t lie.

I’m reading Coming Clean right now. In the first chapter, Kim Miller writes about her mother, “She has been apologizing for as long as I can remember, but I can never forgive her enough for her to forgive herself.”

For those of us who have known what it feels like to walk around in grocery stores, neighborhoods and our lives being perpetually sorry, that line resonated.

Or maybe we’ve known the frustration that goes along with loving a person who refuses to accept forgiveness when it’s been offered repeatedly. We can’t erase memories that keep us up at night any more than we can wish people quickly past their regrets. Even though we talk over coffee, share and compare and notice that our differences are dramatic, they still are somehow the same.

Often we think we are alone and have more to be forgiven for. We get caught up chasing the elusive and forgiveness feels fleeting. More so than the permanency promised on the cross.

And just when we think we’ve moved on, someone shows up to call us out again, and brings it all back. The gloating button pushers that come to call names and loudly proclaim, I knew you when…

The ones who want to hold us down and back, because we’ve wronged them in ways they refuse to let go. We should still be hurting the way that they’re hurting and what right do we have to live happy now, after all we’ve done to disappoint?

God I love this season.

I need this season of quiet contemplation. I need this time to remember all that I’ve been forgiven of and the love that shows up for me winter, spring summer and fall.

I can’t imagine where I would be without God’s sweet and perfect spirit that sits with me when I remember my regrets and sorrows and the things I too often forget, that I’m forgiven for. A whisper in my ear, I knew you when…

 

And I loved you then.

I love you now.

I wonder how much more do I have to do.

Nothing. 

I think about how much I love to go out for nice dinners and the waiter brings fresh cracked pepper for my soup or salad and says, “Tell me when…

When is it enough?

Tell me when.

I knew you when.

Because if you knew me when, then I’d like to believe you can also sometimes see the glory of God now.

And if you know my story, then you also would have to know that he has been my strong tower. The lifter of my head. The changer of my mind and my heart. The one who I can run to when I am filled with fresh sorrow and new regrets.

Because I knew you when, was like, five minutes ago.

And I am still loved. And that’s all I really needed to know anyway.

In chapter nine Kim writes, “I was teased for being shy and for being new and for anything else I dared to be.”

When we decide to come clean, everything changes. And that’s really how it is for those who dare to be different.

And we will never be the same.

 

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December 2

We Don’t Walk Alone, Though Alone We May Walk

walking-alone

It was a dark and scary night.

That’s sort of a joke, but it was dark, and it was sort of scary.

And my feet were hurting so bad, it felt like I was walking on glass every time I took a step forward. Mr. Riley and Charlie, my new, temporarily adopted, I’m probably gonna have to keep him ’cause he’s so awesome dog, were  looking at me like I was holding them up from an important canine event.

C’mon woman. Walk already. 

Shuffling my feet no faster than Tim Conway on The Carol Burnett Show, I began to get desperate. I had just hit the uphill stretch of sidewalk on Lattimore when I decided I couldn’t make it home on my own and needed help.

I’m bad about asking for help.

But I pushed the numbers to call one of my clients who lived just a few blocks away.

“I’d love to help. But I’m in San Antonio.”

Crap. 

The gel inserts I just purchased and shoved into the foot of my boots were scrunching up inside and jamming my toes and I was pretty sure they were bleeding. My mom told me that morning to forget the padding and buy some new tennis shoes, especially if I was serious about walking my self-scheduled 4.5 miles a day.

5 days, a jacked up knee, and new pair of Nikes in, I’m thinking that was a lofty goal.

Most of mine are.

Last night, I decided to complete my office makeover and finally attempted to haul an old beat up chair out so I could put a new one in its place. But then, it wouldn’t fit through the door.

I remembered to take the legs off first and then the screw driver was too small to fit up inside the leg, so I searched and found another one that was long enough but not the Philips I needed and so I struggled another 10 minutes trying to get that off before deciding to go to my, still not organized garage bench, and look for the right tool.

That’s the point of this rambling post today.

It’s important to have the right tools.

Everything is easier if you have the right tools.

I don’t always have the right tools and it’s probably the reason my chicken wire compost cage collapsed and sent me into a tearful fit in the backyard. All that was missing to complete the temper tantrum was Chevy Chase’s plastic Christmas sled and reindeer ensemble.

I could have kicked Rudolph to the North Pole after all the time I spent on that.

There is a reason they make lists for projects in craft books.

For this project you will need:

A hammer

5/8 nails

scissors

twine or bailing wire

They never list the patience of Job.

And when I think about my project lists and life lists, I consider what it will take to get things completed. Maybe it’s a hammer, or maybe it’s an increased measure of joy.

Maybe it’s a package of nails or a better understanding of the why.

And maybe we have all the tools we need, and sometimes, we are still, just afraid.

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November 28

Vintage Beauty: The Old & the New

ornament

Everything old is new again.

This past weekend at Dickens on Main, there was a resurgence of something familiar that I’d forgotten.

My love for old things.

We thoughtfully meandered in and out of the antique stores, the ones I love so much more than the shops that are shiny and pricey and new. As I was eyeing an old clock, I heard a group of twenty somethings say, “It smells like my grandma’s house in here.”

And maybe that’s one of the things I love the most.

If I could turn back time. 

My eyes could hardly take it all in and I felt like that precious childlike wonder of the season had found its way back into my heart, just in time.

And that’s when I decided to start collecting vintage Christmas ornaments.

Luckily we still have a few of these most fabulous antique shops in downtown Boerne and walking through them feels like the next best thing to real treasure hunting, without the pirates.

I’ve also been searching for sets of old Russian nesting Dolls to give to my girls for Christmas. I know they’d rather have Kendra Scott earrings or a new James Avery charm, but long after I am gone, I want them to remember what Shawna Niequist illustrated so beautifully at the Belong Conference.

We are the most happy and whole we can be, when we remember to change and grow and bring the joy of our smaller selves inside of us, with us. Always.

While Christmas carols played on the turntable in the background, the smaller me loved to stare at the fragile ornaments on the tree.

I knew not to break them before I knew what it felt like to be broken.

I wish I would have known to be as careful and purposed with my life as I had been with the ornaments as we took them out of the box and placed them on the tree.

Of course, now, we think we no longer have to be careful like we used to. They are plastic and unbreakable. Not easily shattered on a hardwood floor.

And so I looked in and out of all the shops, past the delicate china and antique dolls, up and down the aisles with paintings and broaches in search of the old ornaments with the less than perfect, Christmas bling.

The lone survivors of a set from the 50s. Or the 60s and 70s. I found a blue bell with silver garland hiding on the inside and a pearl white ball etched with darkened silver. I almost walked right by a unique wooden set of Santas and Christmas trees, but spotted them on the table as I turned a corner and bought them in their stapled baggy for $4.99.

Joy to the world.

I hold the delicate decorations in the palm of my hand and can’t help but realize the wonder of it all, this life, so temporary and fragile. I notice the scratches and the imperfections and think of the families and the living rooms they adorned.

Living and life, sometimes dangling from a string. It is both worthy and beautiful to see old things become new again. The way I think God always intended for us to live.

 

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November 25

Star Light, Star Bright. Apologizing for a less than Holy Night.

christmas-lights

Less than 17 hours before turkey time, one daughter was convincing another daughter of all the reasons she still needed to participate in Thanksgiving.

And then from her soap box, i.e. the couch,  she began explaining to me, the un-uniqueness of our fairly regular family squabbles and disagreements.

“Why do you think there are so many movies about families coming together at Thanksgiving and Christmas?”

“Because it’s normal that we’re not normal,” she continued.

Because I always wanted to live on Walton Mountain, I rebutted, “I think some people are normal.”

“Not anyone we know.”

“I’m sorry no one cares about the stuff you care about and no, we don’t want to hear about starving orphans at dinner. I’m sorry. I wish I cared, but I don’t. I’m in college and I care about trying to earn extra money over the holidays so I can see Tokyo Police Club in New York in January.”

“That’s what I want to talk about. Go. Fund. Me.”

She’s the realist in the family who often waffles between a business management degree and some kind of counselor. I wanted to switch places with her on the couch except that’s where all the dog hair hides, says my better housekeeping daughter.

Natalie should get extra credit for all the counseling she does around here. We are passive aggressive people and stuff our issues until we’ve had enough and then we explode like the burned out turkey on National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, one of my most favorite Christmas movies of all.

I love that that beautifully sexy Christie Brinkley wore her red suit in the pool and the rest was left to the imagination. I always laugh hysterically when the squirrel comes flying out of the tree.

But then I went and landed myself on the naughty list last night by trying to fit in and because I love Billy Bob Thornton. So we went to see Bad Santa 2.

I should have known it would be too, too much.

All within the same day, I watched with exuberant glee the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and Johnny Swim’s performance, cheered for the first ever, totally amazing, Girl Scout float, baked pumpkin chocolate chip bread, tried to organize a family farm giving event and then watched a movie, while hiding behind my popcorn during all of the embarrassing sex scenes.

Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

That’s the verse that played on a repeat loop in my head throughout the movie, in between my laughing at the less inappropriate parts.

Hollywood’s holiday holiness warmed my insides when I saw during the previews that they were showing Breakfast at Tiffany’s on the big screen. I love when Holly tells Fred Baby that people don’t belong to people.

But man do we try.

The last R rated movie I went to watch, I ended up walking out early because dizziness took over and thought I might actually throw up on the guy in front of me. I swore to myself then, to stop seeing them.

But I’m sometimes a person who still wants to belong, and standing on the outside feels awkward and lonely on occasion. Especially during the holidays when you want everything to sparkle and shine and smell like sugar cookies.

I fear I will never see a Christmas tree lot in the same way.

In an attempt to resuscitate the sweet holiday wonder, I thought of the boy in the movie, and how he made both me and Billy Bob both tear up when he so perfectly sang Silent Night.

And then I went home and started untangling the day, my heart and the beautiful white Christmas lights.

All is calm. All is bright.

 

 

 

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November 21

Giving Gifts, Changing Lives & Old MacDonald’s Farm

gratitude

Thanksgiving is an under rated holiday.

Before the Halloween candy is gone, retailers start rolling out the wreaths, ornaments and the crazy Christmas sweaters. In my spare time I’d like to knit a nativity scene into one and then attach removable animals, wise men and Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Every year I threaten to steal my mom’s pewter squirrels. She has some of the prettiest fall plates and Thanksgiving decorations ever. Ritualistically, I run my hand over the etched colors in deep harvest gold and contemplate how many animals I could pocket plunder.

Her assortment of squirrels and woodland animals come in all shapes, sizes and textures. I absolute love them but my mom taught me stealing is wrong and she redirects me to the holiday table that is not just a table but a feast and feeding frenzy for all.

I think about the people I love who have passed and how much I miss them at this Thanksgiving table. I don’t think I ever thanked them enough for the way that they loved me.

Thank you.

This week I sang the Farmer in the Dell and I’ve been trying to find a vintage Fisher Price farm for my grand daughter. Remember the kind that moo’s when you open the doors?

I’m excited to share my super fun, super giving Old MacDonald Had a Farm idea over dinner this week.

During the holidays, we used to pour through the pages of the Sears catalog and wore those pages down to softness while we found every gift we “needed.” Now I get catalogs filled with gifts and barnyard buddies people really need.

World Vision says,  Give a gift. Change a life.

ChildFund International, Real Needs. Real Gifts. Real Change.

Every year I get a little more thankful and a little less needy. We just don’t need the way some people need. Although at 8 or 9, I thought I really, really needed a Holly Hobbie sewing machine.

My brothers and I grew up spending some of the most special and precious moments of our lives on my grandma and grandpa’s farm just outside Grundy Center, Iowa.

It’s where I fell into the hog pen I was warned to stay out of because I am a rebel, and also a clumsy fence climber.

It’s where we spent days building a tunnel system in the snow and then lost one of those brothers who had fallen asleep in the warmth of our very own igloo.

This is the farm where my brother accidentally, i.e, intentionally, shot me in the face with a BB gun, though I don’t remember if that’s actually a true story or just the story I told at school to cover up a life size pimple that grew from the side of my nose and under the circular band aid.

Anyway.

It was also at grandma and grandpa’s farm where we learned literally and exactly what it meant to run around like a chicken with its head cut off.

Yuck. 

We searched for asparagus in the ditches and hunted Morel mushrooms.

Yum.

Farms are the food source of America. I’m so grateful for the love that was shared on ours. And I want to give that back.

$75.00-$99.00 gets you a goat or a sheep to give.

$29.00 for three chickens says, “I give a cluck.”

One dairy cow for $497 if you have moooore to give.

Three fruit trees for $24.00.

A whole starter farm complete with two sheep, one goat, six chickens and feed costs $395.00. Make it a family project.

Maybe you could give your own duck dynasty with 5 ducks for $35.00?

Even if you’ve never stepped foot on a farm, fell into a pig pen or thrown on an old pair of overalls, overall, we can make a difference, together. When we have the capability to change lives, let’s.

There are real people with real needs. Families who could thrive with a farm animal or two of their own. Or a $100 dollars will buy a bicycle for a girl trying to get to school.

Or outrun her little brothers who act like such boys.

If gratitude unlocks the fullness of life, I’m convinced giving is the key to being fulfilled.

Please consider giving an animal or gift today. Consider making a real change.

E-I-E-I-O 

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November 18

From Cereal Boxes to Books: Instructions on Life

 

disappointment

I’m reading a book right now called, Holding up the Universe. It’s about an unlikely friendship between an overweight girl and a boy who can’t recognize faces. It’s young adult, I think, and out of my normal genre of reading material.

My love for reading began with cereal at the breakfast table, Discover the Hidden Secrets...on the back of the box, and ever since then, I’ve been drawn to interesting titles. Usually I read a lot of non-fiction, how-to type of books.

How to be a better person.

How to love God more.

How to have better relationships.

How to be more like Jesus.

How to have a more effective prayer life

How to be an effective leader

I’m embarrassed to say, the other day, I secretly wanted to one-click purchase The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*CK. I’m not sure how it ended up on my, based on past purchases, recommended reading list, but it did.

And it was a book that spoke to me. Not quite the same way Romans 5:8 did when we had our first serious encounter, but in the way my mom would correct me as she pointed down the hall to my bedroom when I started to get over emotional, whiny and ridiculous.

The permission given get-away, “You need a nap.”

Another great title, I think.

You Need a Nap. The Subtle Art of Taking an Adult Time Out.

Right now, I think I have over-committed myself to at least four different mentor ship programs, extra jobs, and my email box fills daily with more, more, more instructions on how to achieve more and succeed.

My thoughts on success are shifting, or maybe that’s just something that happens as the holidays roll around and it’s more important to me to just sit and sip hot tea with a great book in my hand than it is to find myself stuck in traffic and chasing more stuff.

It’s a season of slowing down, not speeding up. For me, it’s a time to reflect and take in the lessons learned and process the losses, while the year is winding down. Giving thanks to God and the people who made it so super special. Right now, I am loving being with new friends and clients that I am just starting to get to know.

When I feel such an incredible silent push to be goal crushing, I don’t feel like it. I know that part of being a grown up is doing things even when we don’t feel like it, but I need a nap first.

Some mornings, I look in the mirror and like Jack in my book, I can’t quite recognize the face looking back at me. I ask myself, “What is your problem?” 

And realize I’m disappointed.

With myself and how little I’ve really gotten done in 11 calendar months. Or in 49 years. And for the last several days, I can only hear June Carter Cash singing, Time’s A Wastin’, the song I heard while staying up way too late and trying to get more things done.

But there is also this sweet, permission giving, voice nudging its way in.

It says, Stop. It’s okay. 

It’s okay to rest and not run. 

I am holding up the universe, so you don’t have to. 

 

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November 14

You Call the Shots: Living Life on the Outside of the High Game Fence

untitled-design-100

Hundreds, maybe thousands, of yellow tickets were rolled around inside the giant mesh barrel. We drank tea or water, beer and wine and waited for our number to be drawn.

Well, most did anyway. I didn’t buy any raffle tickets at the Wild Game Dinner on Saturday night because I don’t have a conceal to carry license and the prize I wanted to win the most was the one I made myself.

Everyone’s future prize winning, fate in a barrel, stirred up my thinking. I thought about all of those tickets and numbers and all the people waiting for their name to be drawn, waiting to win.

Angela, who makes some of the best cream pies I’ve ever tasted, won three guns. And I wonder if she knows that before her name was called three times, she was already such a huge winner.

At some point, she set some goals, got to work and determined herself to open a cafe on the most charming square in downtown Mason that became Willow Creek Cafe.

There was nothing random about it. She wrote her name on the ticket she wanted.

I saw Jennifer who always told me her and Levi wanted a big family someday. Someday is here and I’ve lost track of how old or how many little Munsells there are running around, helping their mama stir the barrel and walk the tickets to the front to be called out over the microphone. I’m so happy for them.

As I struggled to keep the back crack covered in my new purchase of camouflage skinny jeans, I thought about all of the ways we pull back and stay quietly under cover when we are called to move boldly towards the barrel and call our own shots.

We don’t have to wait to be selected, picked or chosen.

We are to live outside of the high game fence, wild and free.

Saydee Grace brought tears to my eyes yesterday by completely reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

I don’t know that I’ve ever heard it said so sweetly in all of my life. Her most clear, and clearly her favorite big word in the whole pledge is indivisible.

Her liberty begins with a W.

wiberty and justice for all. 

With liberty, we are free to sing as loud as we want to when we’re driving home at midnight and free to add extra sour cream to the dinner I prepared on Sunday. My future son-in-law, without asking, freely turned the Cowboys game towards the table while we ate, and my feathers only ruffled on the inside for a minute or two.

I determined myself to be grateful for hungry, happy faces gathered around the table, even with touchdowns and television interruptions.

What does that freedom look like for you?

What is the prize you are hoping to win?

For a few days now, I keep going back to the turning of the barrel and the way those tickets rolled around and upside down. We waited patiently for the reach in and the calling of the names and at Wild Game Dinner it’s appropriate, but in life, I think not so much.

We need to remember we write our own names on our own tickets.

It’s not a random selection of winners. We win the prize we want the most, when we accomplish the things we desire to do. There is no waiting on anyone, but only our own goals to shoot at.

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November 11

Service with a Smile & A Sacrifice

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I don’t often talk about my prior military history.

I don’t stand when they ask veterans to stand because I come from a long line of family members who served honorably, many on the front lines, and I did not.

Instead, I stood in bar lines in Annapolis, danced on table tops for drunken sailors, and served my country in a whole lot, less honorable, kind of way.

In the late 80s, for a myriad of reasons, some valid, others just excuses, I quit college and joined the Navy. It was such a bad idea, that no one would even drive me to the MEPS center on the day of my final departure. I walked the entire way down Fleur Drive, determined to get there, arriving at boot camp with the worst blister known to any heel.

Several days into marching, rifle twirling and throwing up, my foot became so infected they suggested I call home and make arrangements to leave. But, after an abrupt conversation with my mother, who reminded me of what an idiotic plan it was to begin with, I became even more determined to stay, continue a career in the military and possibly, like Debra Winger, find myself an officer and a gentleman.

My recruiter, who was not as much of a gentleman as he was super hot, told me I would get to sail the seven seas and it would skyrocket my writing career. So, he signed me up as a JO and I joined.

Journalist.

He didn’t tell me how serious the Navy was about following rules or that I appeared to be a very, very poor match for a military lifestyle. He also didn’t tell me they could change my career selection without my permission.

When I finally made it through boot camp, they informed me I would be a torpedo man.

Torpedo man.

I quit college to be Torpedo Tina? 

In that moment, I learned exactly where the phrase cussed like a sailor came from and became even more determined to dive bomb the military plans they had for me. The only officer I found was the one behind the big desk, demoting me for bad behavior. It was sort of like getting sent to the principal’s office, but a little more serious.

I once rocked myself off the DOA sidewalk after standing at parade rest for a ridiculous amount of time while I awaited my punishment for some dumb thing and getting sidetracked by a fuzzy tailed squirrel that had more of my attention than the petty officer in charge.

Eventually, I made it through “A” school in Orlando after going AWOL for the weekend with a dark haired boy named Scott and throwing the biggest bash I’ve ever been to at Daytona Beach.

They put me on a ship in Norfolk, Virginia where I painted a lot of gray, not 50 shades, but just one. Lots of it.

And so, I do not stand when Veterans stand.

I’ve seen and heard real stories of men and women who really served.

I personally know several, like my sister-in-law, who had to leave her one year-old son behind after getting stationed in Korea. She was another young girl, who made an abrupt decision at a very young age to go against all parental advice, joined the Air Force and ended up making her family very proud.

Unlike my humorous and somewhat less honorable story, Dinah just retired after 20 years of service.

This morning when I woke up, I thought about her and my marine father and my grandfathers and my ex-step father, Dick. I think about my new friend Jill Ross who didn’t chase after officers, but actually became one herself in the United States Navy. For the choices and rules she followed to achieve such greatness, I am so proud.

Service with a smile, and a sacrifices not too soon forgotten.

I’m proud and grateful to all of the men, and especially the women, who struggled to serve in a way that only other women can understand. Their challenges are different and I am so deeply honored to know them and appreciative of their pioneer spirit and determination to succeed in serving a country where anything is possible.

 

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November 7

Stringing Me Along on a Mantle of Grace

deer-string-art

The David Gray station on Pandora, a glass of cheap red wine and a new hobby make all things better.

For a little while anyway.

I hammered and hammered, without getting hammered but vulnerable enough to reach out in a text to an ex who I’d hoped could talk me off the ledge of life, death and daughter despair.

He didn’t respond.

And I wasn’t surprised.

All did not go as planned or prayed this past weekend and I found myself wondering how far I could run and how cheap airfare is to foreign lands, far, far away from here.

In a happier, closer place, like the garage, I channeled my energy for good and focused on the string art project. Immediately, all annoyances went away.

I thought they were gone for good until it was completed, then the issues came creeping right back up the way they do when things are always on your mind. I began to question all that’s gone on, gone wrong and my broken pray-er life.

Home Depot doesn’t call the tiny 3/4 inch nail color rose gold, but that’s what we call that shade in girl world. I hammered the pattern to look just the way I wanted it to and then began stringing it into unorganized art.

Weaving and winding the threads made me less anxious and closer to peace. I realized that art never looks the way it’s supposed to look when something beautiful is in the making.

It’s messy.

Sometimes you have to stop and start over because the threads get tangled, feelings get hurt and it begins to look like something you don’t like.

Art is finicky.

It takes time to create.

Time I should be writing and working on my National Write Non-fiction in November challenge, but the words I have to put on paper are not pretty, eloquent or encouraging. I’m writing in the trenches right now and they read tired, over-written, forced and remorseful.

And that’s not the way I want my art, my relationships, or my God to look.

I wonder where he is in the middle of all this mess and when he doesn’t respond immediately, I over analyze and begin to dismantle the days, piece by piece, recalling each conversation and wondering where the mistake was.

I wondered silently if he’s just been stringing me along all this time.

I wondered about the three strand chord that’s not supposed to be easily broken.

I wondered about the promises I’d held onto with such a tight fist, yet they seemed to slip through my callused fingers.

And then I remember that he is God and I am not. That helps me relax a little more.

Stringing and not screaming is helping me get better at resolving conflict. Sometimes, when I want a second opinion in the middle of a sleepless night, I think I just want to hear that I’m not alone, the struggles are real, and not exaggerated by my discouraged mindset and low hanging head.

I’ve always said I would not have animal heads hanging on our walls, but when I placed the completed picture above the fireplace, it fit so perfectly.

Oh deer.

As I stared at the finished piece, I was reminded again. The picture of perfection is not a perfect picture, but the quiet acceptance that he is at work, weaving details together in a way that we cannot.

Displayed always, on a mantel of grace.

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