February 20

President’s Day and White Sales.

I could never be president.

And though I honor the position, I’m not sure how to celebrate President’s Day today.

There are no tall top hats hiding in my closet. I don’t have a set of wooden teeth laying around the house and I haven’t used a feathered calligraphy pen and bottle of ink since art class in high school.

I’m terrible at art.

And taking time off.

To me, it’s another working day. For some, it might mean shopping and a major white sale with new fluffy towels and discounted sheets with a high thread count for the guest bedroom.

The kids in school today will no doubt hear stories of past presidents, the pioneer politicians for our great nation.

I remember trying to earn a Presidential award in sixth grade but it challenged me on other things I wasn’t good at, like running fast and climbing a rope.

Pull-ups and push-ups have never been my thing except for those ice cream push up things and I’d run as fast as I could to catch the ice cream truck as soon as I heard the chiming bells of the speakered song.

Actually, I think I always got a bomb pop.

Because they were big and bright, red, white and blue.

And I’m patriotic like that.

My friend Kim is starting a new design consulting business where she uses what a homeowner already has and better prepares a home for sale by eliminating excess clutter and boxing treasures for senior sellers.

Sellers who have gone through periods like the Great Depression, World Wars and the bombing of Pearl Harbor. They are a thrifty generation that holds on to things, things like knick knacks they don’t really need, aluminum foil they can wash and the people who have always been in their lives.

It’s a generation of people who understand love and loyalty, hard work and respect. They were a people led by presidents who had to be strong during difficult times and were raised to do the right thing. Even when no one is watching.

Now it seems we thrive on watching the disorder and chaos among us. We tune in to more drama and love to listen to ugly words and back and forth bantering that is angry and hate filled.

I hear stories from kids who have been hurt and unaccepted by their peers. I also know what it’s like to own a story and a past that causes people to hate you. Most mornings I pray that God would help me to have a loving heart towards all people. The ones who are kind and the ones who are not. The people who agree and those who don’t, but still agree to disagree, out of respect.

Hateful words are hard to drown out.

In his farewell to the Presidency speech, Richard Nixon said, “Always remember others may hate you but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them. And then you destroy yourself.”

In Luke chapter 6 it says, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.”

Haters gonna hate.

Readers gonna read.

Lovers gonna love.

Bakers gonna bake.

Presidents gonna…what?

I think how hard it must be to lead the people who are not the pillars of past generations, the ones who didn’t have the benefit of surviving and growing up through challenging and hard times.

I wonder how you go about leading generations of people who refuse to lead themselves?

Or the ones who are simply not able to.

We need great Presidents to help us with the push-ups and the pull-ups and the getting back up again. Not because we want an award, but because we’ve finally had enough of being down.

We need a President to inspire, protect, respect, honor and lead us again to being a great and united country. One nation, under God.

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February 17

And then what happened?

I have a new code phrase for properly conveying my rising level of stress.

It’s pretty much the same as Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon declaring Mistletoe when they visited his cage fighting family members.

“Harley’s in the truck and she needs to pee. Please take her out,” my daughter ordered immediately upon her arrival.

I’m trying to be loving, and being a lover of all things furry, I dutifully went like a good mother to retrieve and relieve my canine grand child who was spastically springing up and down the passenger side of the white truck, yipping with every bounce.

She communicates most effectively with that high pitched kind of bark, the kind that runs right through your temples and sounds a lot like the battery operated dogs you buy at Christmas that flip and turn and bark.

Yip, yip. Bark, bark. 

The doors were locked and so I walked back up the ramp and into the clinic.

“Where are the keys?” still patient at this point.

They were sitting in the seat next to her. I just watched A Dog’s Purpose and silently hoped no one would be shattering the glass during the 39 seconds it took to get back out to the parking lot to unlock the door…but it was too late.

There were well pronounced streams of pee beginning to soak into the seat in a random pattern on the passenger side. Harley is also the kind of dog that tinkles when she gets excited so every time I tried to reach her, she dribbled a little more urine on the middle console, as she stood there shaking her white fluffy fur.

Unable to find the leash, I crossed the parking lot and went back inside again as the phone repeatedly buzzed and hummed in my purse. Real estate is funny like that in the middle of the afternoon.

“Where is the leash?”

Something about the door she whisper-hissed.

Just five minutes earlier, before my daughter arrived on the scene, the soothing sounds of the running wall fountain lulled me into a peaceful state of mind.

I’d  just come from reading to pre-pre-school kids on National Read Out Loud Day. Children that used the indoor potties at appropriate times and mostly sat still to hear The Hungry Dinosaur, LMNOPeas and The Adventurers.

Staring into impossibly hopeful faces that shout strange and wonderful things is fun to me. “What are some other things we can bake?” asked the teacher.

Peaches, potatoes, pizza…they list.

“Heads,” one child replied.

The teacher’s eyes grew wide and her brow stretched a little before moving on to the next bake-able food item. I sat in the reading chair, not believing that I was now the guest speaker who got to sit in the reading chair! I remember exactly where I sat on the mat when I was the one anxiously waiting for the next page to be turned.

I refrained from mentioning the witch in Hansel & Gretel, because she baked heads. Or at least intended to anyway.

So what happened next?

I went back outside and checked the passenger side door pocket for the hide-and-go-seek leash. Nope. Another trip back in. My daughter was focusing on filling out the form and I tried super hard not to do that thing where I grit my teeth and ask a question.

“Where is the leash?”

“It’s in the driver’s side door,” I now hear more clearly. I suppose I should have checked there the first time. And on it goes.

Dog tries to escape, dog finally on leash, dog poops without a bag, retrieve a bag from the un-peed-on console of my car, sit with the dog bouncing about with her smelly allergy skin rash while I try to explain the title commitment to a buyer on my phone as calls keep beeping in.

Either the warm sun was heating up the car, or my blood pressure was getting higher and hotter, when suddenly, it was just too much and I started laughing into the phone as I explained to the other Tina what was happening all around me.
When the words, “Cross-eyed Pomeranian,” came into the explanation, we both started laughing. “That’s it!” I said. “Say it with me now. Cross-eyed Pomeranian.”

That is the new code phrase.

Seriously. Say it.

When laughter finds a way into a situation, the stress has to go and peace is restored.

I thought about the keys, the leash and the title commitment and realized again that we are not sitting on the passenger side of life. We are the drivers of our next adventure.

And I can’t wait to turn the page and see what might happen next.

 

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February 13

Come See the Man who Always Sees You

Come See A Man.

Really?

That was the title of the message I raced around the house getting ready for yesterday.

I believe some Sunday mornings are for extra snuggling under the covers, reading in bed and stacks of buttermilk pancakes. And bacon.

I also believe there are some Sunday mornings that I need to be drenched in the spirit, more than maple syrup and maybe I might need a word from God.

So I went.

“She was an adulterer. And a ho!” I heard shouted from the pulpit.

On one of my moodier, more sensitive days that may have hurt my feelings.

But I’ve already been to see a man about that.

I’ve been to see him several times, the way a person stops in after work to wind down and have a drink with their favorite bartender, the one who listens better than anyone else and keeps the whiskey sours coming without judgement and so they drink every glass like an offering.

This week, I’ve been busy at work and helping my daughter with her new real estate business. Repeatedly, I found myself saying the words offer and counter offer. She’s been frustrated with all of the forms and flyers and has a hard time focusing because she’s mostly distracted by a man and the kind of relationship you don’t wish on anyone’s daughter, especially your own, because you know heartache is the only outcome.

“My daughter, what does he have to offer you?”

This used to be a valid question, an old-fashioned one asked by adoring fathers who were concerned about the future and well-being of their daughters.

It’s one many daughters don’t hear, and we don’t ask it honestly of ourselves.

Because we don’t know what real love looks like.

And instead, we grasp for feelings of affection in whatever direction the crumbs may fall. We numb the pain and drown out the voice of sanity by making excuses that we want to believe because we are afraid to stand on our own.

Alone.

But what if we weren’t?

What if the offerings we’ve been given in unkept promises, sparkly trinkets and late night booty calls only pale in comparison to the kind of love that leaves us full from the inside and unashamed in the middle of the day.

When we really come to see a man, the kind of man who really can fix all of those broken parts of us, we find ourselves breathless.

And on our knees.

Because the running is exhausting. The tidying and pretty-ing up we do to make ourselves acceptable is more times than not, a cycle of self-destruction that feeds the perpetual loneliness and validates the lies of the enemy.

You will always be alone.

Nobody loves you.

Who could love you, the way you are? 

And we believe that might be true, so we run.

Hard and fast into all the wrong places to fill all the empty spaces.

We come to see a man who can sell us something to soothe our pain. We come to see a man who offers a nice meal and a few stolen moments and more unkept promises. We come to see a man who treats us badly, but badly is better than no one treating us at all.

Always playing house, when all we ever wanted, was a home.

We accept the counter offer. We don’t say yes to the dress or God’s best, instead, we say, I suppose or I guess to something we know is less than what we deserve, because we are afraid.

I beg you to come see the man.

Come see the man who told me everything I’ve ever done and has left me running around town like the woman at the well, talking about the living dead, living alive and the living water.

Come see the man who accepted me in all of my brokenness, every shattered piece of it.

Come see the man who is the daddy that did not desert me when I needed him most.

Come see the man who has rebuilt my heart and soul and mind and captivated me with a completeness that cannot be explained, but only embraced.

Come see the only man who has ever left me

…unashamed.

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February 10

Are We Showing or Telling?

I got pulled over by the police last night.

Twice actually, within 5 minutes of each other.

That’s called, telling the reader. I just told you I got pulled over.

Admittedly, I was in the no-drive zone.

I once killed a possum on that road and it’s a street I typically steer clear of because no one wants to be called a stalker and when you are driving by an ex-boyfriend’s house at nearly midnight, you might get that.

You can only say, “I heard Jesus take the Wheel and ended up here,” once.

I just made that up.

But it’s funny. And I wish I would have thought of it before because showing up unannounced isn’t probably considered spontaneous and cute in everyone’s book.

That’s what I was thinking as I was sitting on the side of the road with police flashers lighting up the neighborhood and my rear view mirror. I thanked God out loud for not being pulled over directly in front of his house, while I was pulling mittens, repair receipts and a plethora of fast food napkins out of the glove compartment while I searched for my Geico card.

Please don’t let it be expired, please don’t let it be expired.

Just a few weeks ago, I received a new one in the mail. It’s sitting neatly in the things to be dealt with pile in my office. I thought of my messy glove compartment and the compartments of my life where I constantly try and shove my feelings away because I am an over feely kind of person.

I remembered a time I was a person who had to be dealt with.

Before the officer said a word I began to explain, “I’m pretty sure I wasn’t speeding,” I wasn’t creeping or stalking, I was driving back from Austin after spending the day with my daughter and I wanted to keep driving and listening to music and yes, I wanted to send a prayer. 

“I’m usually very careful not to speed through here.”

“You have a headlight out,” he said more informative than authoritative.

“I do?”

“Yes, you do.”

“Oh. I’m sorry. I didn’t know. I’ll get it fixed right away.”

“I’m not going to write you a ticket, but wait here for a minute.”

I looked nervously around the area, up and down the street, assessing the tree cover and bushes that were blocking me from any possible view while waiting for my written warning.

Our conversation ended with, “Thank you officer,” and then, not five minutes up the road, an SUV styled patrol car whipped a u-turn under the under pass at I-10 and hit the red and blue light button as he quickly approached my car.

Good Lord. I get it.

The second police officer approached my car and I had to open the driver’s side door because my window is still broken. Handing him the receipt for the warning I blurted, “I just got pulled over a few minutes ago.”

“What for?”

“Apparently my headlight is out.”

“It is. Where are you going now?”

“Home.”

“On John’s Road?” he asked looking at my license.

“No. I moved and I need to update my license.” I didn’t ramble like I usually do. I didn’t tell him I have a recipe for chocolate melting cake and that carbs are my new best friend and I’ve been putting off replacing my license because I keep thinking I’m going to wake up and be skinny again but it hasn’t happened yet.

“Okay. Well drive safe.”

“Thank you.”

I’ve been thinking about the difference between showing and telling and being thankful. We can tell someone we love them, but how do we really show it? I often wonder if I am only telling my daughters and not showing them as much as I need to.

Or how do we just say, thank you to someone who did the hard things?

Because if love is patient and kind, not full of envy or pride…

If love’s not easily angered…

If it’s not self-seeking and it’s not rude…

And it doesn’t keep a record of the wrongs we do.

What love really is then, is a sacrifice. One that hopes and trusts.

Love is a verb. It should not be a violation.

And most times, showing up is required.

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February 6

Who Won the Superbowl?

I stood in line at the super delicious donut shop in Spring Branch on Sunday morning and for a millisecond thought about running over to HEB instead for some breakfast kale chips.

As I stood there thinking about goals and my contrasting actions, the cutest mom ever walked in wearing a messy bun, yoga pants and a Cross Fit t-shirt.

Immediately, I loved her.

Because I have to love a girl who is standing in a donut shop wearing branded work out clothes.

Immediately, I wanted her to come over for a slumber party.

Hey, let’s round up all of our contradictory Sunday morning, sugar loving friends and have a get together like the guys do for Superbowl. We will still have all the messy and delicious Superbowl food of course, including ridiculously spicy hot wings.

A gathering of the hot messes, an attractive disaster, as Andy Stanley referred to in his sermon on Your Move that I listened to twice. I moved over 450 miles this weekend showing property and keeping appointments.

When I heard the we call out to dry bones song on Air 1, I thought of my own mess and the Popeye’s box of chicken bones in the back seat and the tipped over container of red beans and rice.

Because I also have several packages of home made organic dog treats neatly bagged in the back also for National Love Your Dog Month, it got me thinking about love and messes and calling out.

Jesus I muttered on several occasions because I knew I’d over done it.

Too much work, sugar, running and too much over thinking.

I kept searching the messy seat next to me for the paperwork I needed for an appointment 59 minutes away. I couldn’t immediately lay my hand on the amendment I needed to get signed, but I thought about the amen part of the amendment when I realized I had productive drive time to listen to a podcast.

Dry bones, chicken bones and dog bones present.

Amen.

I think I’d rather be in cool clean-up mode or a warm disarray than a hot mess, but God didn’t send Jesus to point out all of our flaws.

It is the messes we make and the messes we see around us that make us so much more aware of what we are not.

Perfect.

And as Andy explained so awesomely, if we are aware of our imperfection and are able to acknowledge that we don’t measure up, then what we really are doing, even if we are not believers of God and all that religious stuff, we are admitting that there is a standard for perfection.

And we don’t meet it.

The cross doesn’t condemn, but points us to an awareness that we all fall short.

And that should make us want to shut up more and criticize others less. It should make me want to be more concerned with my own dry bones and dog bones and the issues I have buried right along with the scattered chicken bones in the back seat.

I think about the time I drove around with a hidden box of Church’s chicken under my seat. It held both dry chicken bones and a bowl of pot.

How ridiculous does a person look carrying around a box of chicken everywhere?

The spirit of the Lord has comforted me in my messes and led me gently, sometimes abruptly, out of them. I’m reminded daily of all the ways we don’t measure up, and more importantly, that we don’t have to.

God is not keeping score of our fumbles.

I think that’s really super.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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February 3

Love is a Verb. It’s an Action word & A song Lyric.

I don’t often hear 80’s rock ballads when I talk to God.

But sometimes I do.

Sitting with Mr. Riley in my pleather rocking recliner with a cozy blanket and hot cup of coffee in hand, I closed my eyes and breathed deeply.

Some mornings I don’t babble on about all of the things I think I need.

Some moments and mornings, I just sit and hope I will hear.

That’s not exactly true.

What I really hope is that a hologram Jesus will appear in my living room and sit on the coffee table in front of me even though no one is allowed to sit on the coffee table and he will say to me, “This, this is the way…”

Conflicting messages crowd my mind all too often and it’s exhausting.

So I sat there the other morning, breathing deeply, quiet and gratefully thankful.

Thank you Lord for this beautiful home and a roof over my head, thank you for a yard big enough to have a garden and where my dogs can run around chasing squirrels and kids on skateboards on the other side of the fence. Thank you that there is food in my pantry, more than I need, thank you for my business and my clients who are friends, thank you for my daughters who are sometimes even friends now, thank you for this town, your church, thank you for the people you put in my path, thank you for hot water that comes out of the faucet even if I have to wait a minute or so for it to get there. Thank you for your healing and forgiveness and mercy and…

Have I given an appropriate amount of thanks to start in on my needs list? What is the praise to begging ratio anyway?   

Then I smile.

Because you can’t work God.

And he knows I’m thankful.

And humbled by all that has happened in the last five years. He knows I’ve felt lost and confused and alone and more like a nomad than a person who knows where their home is. Some mornings I have nothing to say at all except thanks for getting me through.

I wondered, What do I really need Lord?

And that’s when Foreigner’s 1984 rock ballad popped into my head.

I want to know what love is.

As I recalled the words of every lyric, I thought of what God’s definition of love is in 1st Corinthians. It’s the verse we hear recited at weddings but often forget when push comes to shove and people and loved ones begin bustling our feathers.

I thought maybe that would be a good topic for an e-book, and rolled some ideas around before I remember that I’m super flawed and rogue and there are many more qualified who should be or already have written books about God and love and I decide I better get a move on my real job.

But I need a word first.

And a drum roll.

Because you know what I did?

I reached over on top of all my granddaughter’s books in the book rack that sits next to my pleather rocking recliner and I grabbed my soft cover, easy to read NavPress bible, The Message and casually opened it.

To page 1683.

The Way of Love 

The words leapt off the page!

Leaped, lept, jumped. Whatever. They fell right into my lap.

It was right there. 1st Corinthians, Chapter 13.

I shook my dog. “Oh my gosh! Mr. Riley do you see that? Can you believe that?” I think he furrowed his brow in canine amazement.

My landlord Julie said, “I live for things like that.”

A touch from heaven. A spoken word. A message loud and clear.

If you want to know what love is, it’s right there.

I am going to read it every day this month while I think about flowers and chocolate and love.

And God.

I want you to show me. 

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January 30

When a House becomes your Home, Everybody Wins

My love for houses began with a yellow roofed Fisher Price play house.

And then it was my Barbie Dream House with the pull string elevator.

At an age when a lot of girls were interested in other things like shopping, lip gloss and Gloria Vanderbilt jeans, I loved flipping through Better Homes and Gardens magazines.

We moved around a lot when I was young and by the time I graduated from high school I think we figured out we’d lived in about 22 different places.

Packing and boxing, from one home to the next, each time moving from something good to something better.

My favorite home was the bungalow home where I grew sunflowers as tall as the sky. It had oak wood trim and bookshelves that flanked the stately square columns that separated the living room from the dining room.

Our plants hung in macrame and soaked up the sun that came cascading through the upper windows. This was the scene of the scar on my knee that came from skate boarding down the steep driveway and an understanding that adult promises can be just as easily broken.

We hung out with the other kids in the neighborhood under the giant Mulberry tree on the corner. My mother would yell from the over-sized front porch, “Get off that street corner!” but I was there for the free fruit and my best boy friend that lived across the street.

Funny how I always thought she was afraid of the mulberries staining my clean clothes. I have a better understanding now of her warnings and how un-easy it is to wash certain kinds of stains away.

The gray house across the street had a sun room on the second floor, just off my bedroom and it made the best Barbie playroom ever, even though I was too old to play with Barbies by then.

That was the house we lived in when I was pulled over by the police for robbing Kentucky Fried Chicken and it was the house where the paper boy stole a watch from under the tree at Christmas. It’s where we lived when I took my first job detasseling and earned enough money to buy my very first stereo.

Our home on 29th St. was the smallest rent house among many beautiful, two story, owner occupied homes. I had a paneled bedroom in the basement where I could play my albums on repeat for hours. This is where I taught my brothers to play Bottom’s First.

I didn’t know then that each of us were perfectly capable of finding the bottom on our own.

Every house we made a home and we made it ours, together.

Maybe that’s one of the reasons I’ve loved my 25 years in real estate. I get great satisfaction from putting people in homes, knowing that this is the kitchen where the cookies are made and the home work is done.

This is the place where you will gather together to tell about your day. It’s where you will laugh and hug and complain and give goodbye kisses.

It’s where you will cry when no one is looking.

For most of my real estate career I have been with a RE/MAX office.

This week marks the 44th anniversary of RE/MAX founder Dave Liniger’s venture to create a unique real estate experience that has gone completely global. No one in the world sells more residential real estate than RE/MAX.

It is an organization that believes in warm welcomes and opening new doors of opportunity.

It is a company that feels like family.

Wherever you live, we’d love to open doors for you, whenever you’re ready.

For something that suits you better.

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January 27

When Make-Believe Makes You Believe…

Wearing her knitted red beret and a tailored black and white herringbone coat, Saydee Grace buckled into her seat on the airplane.

“Where should we go?” I asked.

The island vote was unanimous among all of the passengers. The mother of five year-old Natalie, took the empty pilot seat and started pushing buttons.

I looked over at Saydee who was excited, but a little apprehensive and sitting up very straight while she waited for the engines to roar.

From across the aisle, I made motor noises while she looked around, out the window and began to get visibly worried.

“Um, Grammy. The flying part’s not working.”

The HEB grocery store, food truck, vet clinic and mock airplane at the Doseum captivated our imaginations yesterday, but the scholarly words spoken from a 4 year-old, stayed stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

The mom pilot got up from her seat and Saydee quickly waved her arms like an air traffic controller, directing her to sit back down and complete the course.

“Hey, hey! We’re not at the island yet!” she bossed.

The flying part’s not working and we’re not at the island yet.

Exactly.

I sat in the chair, unable to buckle up and for a few seconds, considered my own failure to launch.

I thought of all the times I sat in the pilot seat of my life, pushing random buttons with no plan for the course and ended up exactly where I started. That’s no way to travel or live.

I thought of all the times I failed to show up and disappeared like a blip off the grid, lost in my own Bermuda Triangle, missing for days, years and those brief and fleeting moments we later learn were too important to miss.

Something about playing make-believe, makes you believe again, that you can. You can do anything.

We charted our coarse like gypsies at the museum, my grand daughter and I. Every so often, I said a silent prayer in my head that the phone wouldn’t ring so I could be fully engaged in our play date.

When you’re ordering fake food and coffee from the stool at the side of a food truck or traveling the streets of San Antonio on Molly the Trolley, it’s important to not be distracted. Grandmas should always be fully engaged.

“Calling all passengers for flight…” I said into the walkie talkie as Saydee tried to fit her luggage through the baggage belt.

Growing up, we always heard how fast the time flies, but we didn’t believe it because we knew the time suck of summers in August, when time dragged so slowly we thought we’d never get back to school.

And anyway, we were never 8. We were 8 and a half. We weren’t 12, we were 12 and a half. We were just about to get our driver’s license and then, almost legal.

And then you wake up, with grandchildren.

And you wonder how time flew so fast and why you are still the same.

And in some ways, you aren’t. Not really.

But I think some of us still feel we’ve missed the runway or like our flying parts are broken. We decide it’s all moving too fast and we long to live on island time where we can slow down and take it all in.

Every scent, every smile.

I realize, I am the pilot of my plane, even if Saydee doesn’t want me to be because she wants me to sit next to her and she knows that I am Grammy and I do not fly planes.

I bake cookies, read stacks of books and build table forts. She’s never seen me fly.

Not yet anyway.

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January 23

How do we leave a lasting impression?

6 months of my new desk calendar are soaked with coffee.

When it dries, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to schedule anything in February at all.

The birds were chirping, the sun was shining, I was taking in the beautiful start of a Monday by walking the dogs and then sitting down to write. First things first, right?

When we show up to do the work, your muse or the spirit or God himself will show up to help. Some days, they work together to help me gets words on the page.

This morning, it was just coffee.

I wanted to write a positive, “Hey, it’s almost the end of January, how you doing with the New Year so far? Cut yourself a little slack, but then get back to getting crazy serious about goal crushing and making moments happen,” kind of post.

This may not be that.

Searching through Canva for just the right image, I found a quote by author Rachel Silverman. “The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential, these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.” 

Yes, Yes! I thought to myself excitedly. I gathered my thoughts and mentally began putting the words together before touching the keyboard.

Then I lifted my hand to select the image, bumped my cup of coffee and spilled it all over my calendar, the new contract I wrote last night and a listing folder.

I thought of the resistance that Steven Pressfield writes about in the War of Art. 

Sweet Jesus.

I thought of the verse in the bible that says Man makes his plans, God directs his steps. 

Some say, Man makes his plans, God laughs.

I was not.

And I haven’t found that part in there yet.

Instead, I ran for a towel, mopped it all up off my desk and folders, and then sat quietly to wait for the motivation to inspire to come back to me.

I’m still waiting.

But my blog deadline is 10:00 and the scent of leftover pumpkin spice is permeating the air and my diligently organized paperwork. I can’t remember the story I was going to write about when I sat down this morning even pre-caffeine peppy.

Inside me though, there is this thing.

It’s the same force that has me scurrying and hurrying in the kitchen to put all of the dishes away before the timer on the microwave stops. It’s the push to jog/walk just a little bit further than I did yesterday. Today, I will go past the fire hydrant.

It’s the will to win and the desire to succeed.

I will push myself a little more, because I know that accepting less doesn’t lead me down the path I want to travel.

If we want more out of life, we have to require more of ourselves.

We have to demand to be different.

Fanning through the pages of my desk calendar, I can see that the coffee has seeped all the way through to December now.

And I realize, that is the key.

By keeping those pages filled with things that matter, we soak up life and all its goodness.

We find the key to unlocking personal excellence when we determine to press on in spite of our messes and spills, leaving fresh new impressions on every day we choose to live life to its fullest.

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January 20

My Way.

Or the highway?

My daughter and her best friend are on a plane right now to New York City.

It’s a girl trip to see one of her favorite bands.

She’s 19, already in college and on the dean’s list. I always knew she would be a traveling, adventure seeking kind of girl.

When Natalie was little she went through an archaeology phase so I bought her a dinosaur egg from the Witte Museum and she would scrape and scrape and then carefully scrape some more.

Wearing her red and blue flowered bandana tied up under her hair and behind her neck, she’d head out into the wild back yard and find her dig site. Later, she would come back into the kitchen with a her most recent discoveries and a few bent up kitchen spoons.

I told her to use the hand trowel in the shed, but she didn’t listen.

After carefully placing her findings on the kitchen counter, she pulled up a stool and began her own personal PBS interview at the counter top island sink.

“So you’ll want to carefully rinse with soap and water, then begin gently scrubbing and wiping away the debris to really get a good look at these beautiful things.”

She found several pieces of quartz, a matchbox car with muddied wheels, and an old Murine glass eye dropper from Chicago.

If she was using the trowel, it may have been damaged, but she did it her way and scored a piece that has been proudly displayed on my bookshelf for over a decade.

I think of all the times I ignored good advice with less proud results.

And the times I welcomed wisdom.

I come from a long line of stubborn self-doers.

The wisdom found in Proverbs 8 wasn’t discovered by me until I made it all the way to the bottom of my life and realized that my way, wasn’t working and I needed help digging out.

Growing up, I always heard the phrase, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” and I was always determined to do it my way.

Until I was forced to find my way into an AA meeting because I answered honestly, to a question my pastor asked as we were painting above a window one day.

“I heard you were smoking pot again,” he said matter of fact-like.

“I smoked some pot, I wasn’t smoking pot again, as in a routine kind of way.”

“Well, I don’t really care. You can smoke pot if you want to smoke pot.” 

really?

But then he continued.

“You’re just not going to be on the worship team any more if you do.”

I considered explaining and validating the medicinal purposes of weed to a person who’s mind can’t seem to stay steady, but I didn’t.

Instead, I went to AA and learned that the third step is turning our lives and will over to the care of God as we understand Him.

As a person who has often had a hard time walking a straight line, I understood him to be merciful, gracious and above all, loving.

My way had me reaching for the mirage of other satisfying things when life became too much…or not enough.

My way had me argumentative and defensive at times.

My way had me in a mess.

And my way had me in hiding.

Children of the light, live in the light. No darkness can penetrate it.

I don’t even know if that’s a verse or what, but it’s a thought that keeps coming back to me as I walk through the wooded area behind the house.

It’s always been the love of God and others that has helped me scrub away the debris and the things I don’t need.

All things with love.

Wisdom calls for hearing.

Always, with love.

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