What I Learned {February 2015}

Linking up with Emily Freeman over at Chatting at the Sky for a monthly review of what we’ve learned. If you missed Emily’s post on how she keeps up with her monthly lessons, check it out here. And link up with what you’ve learned this month or just leave your monthly lessons in the comment section here. Let’s learn together.

In no particular order:

My first design when playing with Canva (our son liked it)

My first design when playing with Canva (our son liked it)

Canva I’m a sucker for new apps and this one is not only for mobile devices but can be used on your laptop too. Since I’m also a sucker for free I downloaded this app that is described as “Amazingly Simple Graphic Design Software”. It has a very stylish look to it and isn’t complicated to use but, I haven’t found much of a need for it. After having it for several months, it hasn’t become my go-to. I’ll stick with PicMonkey.

Royal terns are in the foreground with black skimmers in back

Royal terns are in the foreground with black skimmers in back

I learned the to identify Black Skimmers and Royal Terns. This lesson learned thanks to Facebook friends who know their Florida fowl better than I. The black skimmers are the black-winged birds in back in this photo. This was taken on Florida’s gulf coast on Marco Island one of my favorite places period. I’ve not seen the skimmers here on the east coast.

Unsure if this is a Welk or Trumpet Conch

Unsure if this is a Whelk or Trumpet Conch

Another lesson learned from my visit to the Gulf Coast was the different between Conch (pronounced Conk) and Whelks. The difference seems very slight with the main one cited as the Whelk lives in cooler temperate waters and the Conch more tropical. Right. It’s Florida and either side of the coast in the southern areas are fairly tropical. It doesn’t make much difference to me which one is which but maybe I sound a little smarter. Maybe.

cow face
I’m not quite there but I’m learning to say, “I’m an artist” without the following qualifiers: but or I just…

After using the free version of Evernote for several years, I learned I can max out the monthly space allotment. Yep, it’s taken me that long to really put this tool to work for me.

I learned Google+ photography communities is better for getting feedback on your photo’s than posting to Flickr. I especially enjoy the Street Photography photo’s.

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Taken from the hotel balcony on our mission trip to Haiti March 2013

I learned that if I accidentally touch (and I mean barely) a dead lizard that poured out of a vase I was emptying I will jump up and down screaming like a child and then place said vase in front of its dead body in the sink and not visit that side of the kitchen until my husband gets home. I’m just saying this would probably be what I would do if it actually happened. And bleach might be involved.

I learned I may be officially too old to watch the Grammy’s anymore.  I don’t even know where to begin on this so I’ll just say,  heaven help us all!

Five-Minute Friday {visit}

It happened in the blink of an eye. How our arms went from rocking our babies to waving goodbye.

How the home they were born into turned into two, three, four, as our calling took us to new towns, different houses and faces but kept us together.

Those who’d traveled this parenting road said it would happen, said it would come too fast and it did. From the white cap worn for kindergarten graduation to the cap and gown for high school and college. It was a flash that our home went from theirs to live to a place to visit.

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The son and his wife get on a plane and the daughter and her little family pack the car, complete with dog, and we ready the house that has never been theirs but home isn’t the house.

We anticipate the visit because it’s a time for coming together.

family christmas  family christmas

 

lunch time at the falls

But it’s temporary. A visit isn’t where you’ll live, but when it’s the kind of visit that is led by your heart, it’s a place where time goes too fast, again. Hello’s and goodbye’s collide. Laughs and hugs are shared, too much food consumed and too few photo’s taken.

The house lays still again. In anticipation for our next coming together of joy their visit brings.

Linking up with Kate Motaung and flash mob of bloggers for to free write for 5-minutes on the word prompt provided by Kate. Join the party!

You’d be surprised

You would be surprised.

If you walked through the doors of our Center, the place called Adult Rehabilitation Center that sounds plain and ordinary like maybe it’s for physical therapy or something, but if you walked through our doors and see what we see, well, I don’t think I can explain it fully.

I wouldn’t have known before and I’ve been around this type of work most of my life.

Ft. Lauderdale ARC

Ft. Lauderdale ARC

The faux fireplace in the day room adorned for the holidays

The faux fireplace in the day room adorned for the holidays

altar

Here’s the expectation: a homeless shelter, with homeless looking men (i.e. dirty, smelly, unwashed), sleeping on cots in a big room. At night they line up to be fed from a soup kitchen because, you know, we’re The Salvation Army and we have soup kitchens.

I’m not sure what the expectation is of the day time. Maybe that the homeless men just hang around outside or go hold their signs at intersections or loiter around convenience stores until it’s time to get in the soup line.

Alumni Sunday

An offering of dance in our worship service

 

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visiting a nursing home

visiting a nursing home

Yes, you’d be surprised.

Surprised at the professional, college-degreed men who no longer have insurance to pay for the 28-day treatment programs and are looking for another chance at recovery.

Surprised at community that exists among these men and how they mentor the new men, helping them find their way in their first days.

Surprised at the level of care provided through the counseling staff and work therapy program.

Surprised at the cleanliness of the facility and how organized this place is.

Surprised at the brightness that has returned to their eyes and the smiles on their faces when they are greeted by name.

Surprised by their willingness to read scripture in a public meetings when they’ve never held a bible.

Surprised at the recovery meeting requirements for them.

Surprised at how we celebrate holidays, sobriety and every day.

Surprised at the number of family members who want nothing to do with them until they “fix” their problem.

Surprised how much they look like your brother, or uncle or co-worker.

Surprised at how God’s grace and love can change a wretch like me.

Five-Minute Friday {open}

sign at The Bean Trees

I’ve been wrestling with this jar of Mod Podge. When it was new, it was easy to open. But each time I use it, more of its sticky goo collects around the rim making the lid harder to open each time.

I strain and groan as if to use every muscle I have only to feel no movement.

One more try, and, OPEN!

The very purpose of this material is to hold things together. Or to provide a sheen to a finished product or a base coat on which to use other material. It’s very substance makes it resistant to opening.

Somewhere in my life I became like this jar of Mod Podge, resistant to certain pulls, unwilling to open my heart and my will. Trust was shattered and the open closed.

On the surface I appear open. Open to listen to others, to hear them out and to consider. Open doesn’t mean you have to accept.

I’m feeling more like the jar after the glue has stuck to the rim making it so closed that hands have to strain and struggle to pry it open. And I know it’s fear that’s keeping it closed.

Some days are like that only this time it’s some months are like that.

The thing about the Mod Podge is it’s water-soluble. Yep, just plain water will release its grip, will wash it from my fingertips and paint brushes. Water.

Maybe it’s time for a cleansing to open my heart. Fresh living water that is pure and satisfies. 

“Jesus: 13 Drink this water, and your thirst is quenched only for a moment. You must return to this well again and again. 14 I offer water that will become a wellspring within you that gives life throughout eternity. You will never be thirsty again.” John 4:13-14 the Voice

Linking up with Kate Motaung and the fabulous Five-Minute Friday bloggers. Drop by to add your voice to the conversation or encourage others.

I Don’t Wanna

“I don’t’ wanna, I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna”

She plopped herself on the airport floor, her mama leading her away from the crowd of folks at the gate. She looked all of 5, jacket nearly slipping off of her shoulders as she bounced on her legs, emphasis for her mama’s benefit.

Her mom stood in the parent pose of silent resolve, “I can outlast you”,  you could hear her thinking, her eyes a different determination. It’s tough to be a parent in public these days but she was a superstar.

baby on beach edit

toddler beach boy

Deerfield Beach and Atlantic Ocean

I watched the scene playing out, thinking if only a video of this could be played for the girl when she’s older. Trying to recall similar scenes of my childhood and thinking how often I’d like to do what this girl is doing now, showing everyone that she doesn’t want to, never knowing what it was she didn’t want to do. Is that even the point? The why? Or just the will?

The quiet truth comes late to me, not wanting to admit my grownup way of showing my will.

I didn’t want to go. I don’t like the show, the ceremony, the dressing up as if we’re someone when I really belong with the no-ones we think we’re helping. I rationalize in every way I can when the truth is I want what I want and I don’t wanna.

There’s no throwing myself to the floor endlessly saying the words. If you’re anything like me, we’re past that. We have more sophisticated ways of showing our will. At least I do.

I make sure to find a seat in the back. I try to lose myself in the crowd, willing not to be noticed or seen. Just get through it.

I try to say the serenity prayer, at least the line I can remember, “help me accept the things I cannot change” and a moment of stillness comes. It’s short lived before someone says something that makes me roll my eyes.

It is a terrible place to be and I can make the place terrible for those around me. Those who have to live with me, listen to me. Or maybe they’ve grown tired of hearing my grownup, “I don’t wanna’s” and just nod at the right places. Sometimes he says it’s not easy being you, with a smile in his voice that I know is his way of trying to soothe. This man is ridiculously patient.

I’ll beat myself up for this. For not being able to let God take over my spirit, for not being able to give these anxieties fully to him and that’s when her words came to me.

Time was short and my eyes skimmed her post but when they fell on this, I saw the truth:

“Anxiety can wear anger’s mask.” Ann Voskamp

It sounds like anger. The words, the tone, the resistance, all masked as anger when truth is it’s that thorn of anxiety I guard as though it’s my life’s companion and I guess it is. We need to break-up but every time I decide to call it quits it never lasts.

You know Ann. You know what she’s going to say, that when anxiety and fear threaten to consume you, to count your thanks, your gifts, God’s blessings that overflow in our lives. But all I can hear is the voice of fear, an uneasiness that is without reason.

This is the real me. The rebellious spirit that rises up that isn’t about rebellion but anxiety over… what?

Oh, I hope you know where I am on this. I hope you get this fear that can take over your mind for no reason except you don’t wanna.

birthday party girls 6509

HJwithPuppySasha

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I can gather up my fears or His peace.

The fear is comfortable, it’s what I know, a near constant companion if I’m to be true.

But peace? It is the less familiar, the choice that takes new steps, small and deliberate. It takes a slowing down, a humbling of self, a giving of grace to self and others.

There are words tucked in my mind, words from long ago that I search for, something about “a child shall lead them”. How many times did Jesus gather the children up to him? And He, He was the child the old scribes said would lead them. Lead them to peace.

To the Savior who stretches his arms out to the children, stretch your arms out to me. Pull me up from the floor, from my pouting ways. Let your grace wash over me in an assurance that calms my fears and brings welcome peace.

Earth crammed with heaven?

It’s an old joke daddy loved telling his aunt. The joke about St. Peter giving a newcomer a tour of heaven and as they passed this one area, St. Peter says, “shhh, they’re Church of Christ and they think they’re the only ones here.”

Daddy’s eyes sparkled with mischievous fun telling his Church of Christ aunt this joke more time than she would have cared to hear it. Him a preacher in a different denomination, him a believer heaven would be filled with believers not denominations.

Before you get all up in arms about Church of Christ beliefs, I’m not up on their doctrine and know that in any given denomination there are many different tenants taken to heart. This isn’t about that.

This is about a book title I saw: Earth Crammed With Heaven by Elizabeth Dryer.

This is about the beauty of those turn of words and the possibility that earth could ever possibly be filled with heaven.

But what if our view of heaven is a place with rooms like the old joke suggests?

There’s the post-modern wing with Rob Bell and Brian McLaren readers. The stadium sized area for praise and worship lovers and the acoustically formed concert hall for those preferring the old hymns.

Surely there’s an incense filled area with icons and candles and there must be a street corner somewhere, gold-paved of course, for the likes of William Booth and the Sally bandsmen.

This is ridiculous, of course. Except, except sometimes we live like this. We live thinking more about being right than right living and we make no room in our lives for those different from us.

So if earth were crammed with heaven? This is the only quote I’ve seen from the book, the one that is resting on my mind today:

“In a profound way, our intentionality is a key ingredient determining whether we notice God everywhere or only in church or only in suffering or nowhere. It all depends on how we choose to fashion our world.” Elizabeth Dryer

street preacher sepia

Bethany Children's Home 2399

 

 

worship

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It was a question asked when I was in Haiti two years ago. Where did you see God today? And what Ms Dryer says requires intention.

It seems natural to see God in church or while we’re doing churchy things. But if we believe God is all around us, are we looking for him everywhere?

We often mention seeing God in nature but do we see him in spider webs as much as we see him in sunsets? In gnarled roots as much as swaying Palm trees?

I need a redirection, a realignment of my eyes and my views to see a God I believe created the universe. The God who loves the one struggling with faith as much as he loves Billy Graham. 

This is what keeps me in awe with the only One whose love is without conditions or boundaries. He alone gives hope for an earth being crammed with heaven.

 

Five-Minute Friday {when}

When will you be home?

When can you call?

When will you grow up?

When will the pain stop?

When will my prayers be answered?

When do we need to leave?

When do you get the test results?

When are you going to change?

When am I going to change?

And Van Morrison sings the words, “when will I ever learn to trust in God?”

The numbers on the clock seem to creep at an agonizingly slow pace when we ask, when? 

“When we’ve been there 10,000 years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun.”

SunriseSky10

That’s his favorite verse of the old hymn we sing every week at the close of our community worship.

It’s a progression like those good old hymns are. Theology set to music and words we sing as a sending out of these men who have asked, “when will I stop the cycle of addiction, of abuse?”

The first line reminds us of this amazing grace that make the blind see in that metaphorical way. Make us see, Lord, make us see your love for us.

We sing on and the pause comes, the pause before the last verse when he says, This is my favorite. I want to see you there, singing into eternity, singing praise to God.

When we see God, acknowledge his presence and claim that He Is God, when we love him and accept his love for us, when can be now.

Linking up with Kate Motaung and a host of word-hungry, flash mob loving bloggers writing furiously for 5 minutes on the word Kate provides. Stop by Kate’s and join the party.

The way of love

Shoeboxes covered with hearts, the fancy lacy paper doily kind. The little cards you’d take to class remembering to give one to everyone not just your friends.

word hearts

The pastel chalky candies with silly phrases that were more fun to play with than to eat. Maybe that’s just me.

That time when Valentine’s Day was fun and silly and innocent and meant nothing more than the box of cut out cards and box of candy. Maybe chocolate!

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Our first Valentine’s day together, he proposed. Two months after our first date, or was it 6 weeks? Too soon and too scary and his words were certain and sure and mine, mine were weak and timid and how could I have been prepared for that?

Then

us 1977 polaroid

I should have seen that look. The one of love and maybe I did but I was too…..what? young? Definitely. It was more than that. It was not understanding this kind of love. One that spoke of a future and one that was deeper than I’d seen or known.

I was 19 and my future looked like next month.
I was the child of divorce. Love looked broken to me.

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37 years later, his words are still sure and mine, weak and scared, but sure.

Kids miss a lot. You don’t wonder if your parents love each, you just assume they do. It’s  looking back and realizing you didn’t see celebrations. Not for each other. No anniversary celebrations. No gifts exchanged. I didn’t see them hold hands or hold that gaze. What 8-year-old looks for that? What 12-year-old thinks of more than the confusions of adolescence?

Maybe their generation didn’t make a show out of celebrations. But where was the show of love?

this year

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My Guy

And then this man comes along who shows you all you’ve never seen between man and wife and it’s good but it’s new and you have no idea how to respond to his gentleness and sincere words.

The tension has always been there. The one created by the undoing of one marriage that birthed trust issues and built guards around the heart as if the heart can be protected once love comes in.

I haven’t made it easy for this man. He’s made it easy for me. Easy to grab his hand and hold close to him because he knows my fears threaten to overtake me at any moment. He knows my strength is a façade to keep hurt at bay. He knows and he still loves.

Nearly every, maybe every Valentine’s Day he says this is the day I asked you to marry me. He smiles because he knows I still squirm. I become that 19-year-old who knew nothing of a love between husband and wife. The girl who was just beginning to learn how my parents divorce had torn apart my world. The girl who was scared to say yes but more scared to say no.

He likes to see my face flush and me short for words. He knows my story. He sees deeper than my scars and he sees what I haven’t been able to see for myself.

In recovery we say ‘God did for me what I couldn’t do for myself’ and he did.

We know it was God’s bringing together and it is God’s keeping. It is learning God’s love that never gives up, always looks for the best, keeps no record of wrong.

God’s love that wins. God’s love that lasts.

When I accept God’s love I can accept being loved and I am.

This is the way of love.

Show me love

At 50+ years of marriage they held hands when they walked. We joked it was to steady one another as their balance was a bit off. Teeter and Totter their son called them. They teetered and tottered into each other which is the only place they wanted to be.

He called her baby doll when he wanted something and she knew it. She knew he was angling for her to fetch something for him but she smiled and he grinned mischievously.

Ruth and Byrd

Byrd and Ruth

They went through tough times long before I became part of their family. They were tried in some of the worst ways possible, losing a son, breast cancer, manic depression as it was called then.

They retired early for health reasons, mostly because he figured he’d run his course and it was time to enjoy life and they did. Even after bypass surgery side-lined him a bit and two operations in successive years to remove a benign tumor on her optic nerve. They healed again. Together.

Love never gives up.

We had just married when he was in the throes of depression. He sat silent, rocking back and forth on our visits. This man I barely knew, the one who would come to treat me like his own daughter, love me and look out for me, I was seeing him at his worst.

Our next visit would find him running high and talking a mile a minute. He regained the weight he’d lost and she was beside him through the literal highs and lows. Through all of it while doctors regulated his meds to find a balance.

Love cares more for others than for self.

They didn’t know they were showing me love. The giving and taking care, the smiles and laughs they shared. This lasting love built on more than attraction, more than desire.

This love they made into commitment, through good and bad, highs and lows, this love was modeled to their kids. This is the love my husband saw and shares with me. He saw it in his parents marriage and his grandparents marriage. Sixty-two years together they shared.

I saw it too. The same sly smiles his grandfather had when his wife called out, Conrad! The way his smile turned her stern face into a chuckle.

Hudson with Nana and Papa

Nana and Papa's 50th

Show me this love. This love that goes beyond gifts of romance, this love that surpasses troubled times.

The Messages says: “Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

That is the love they showed. To anyone who was looking, watching, this is the love that was tattooed across their life.

Show me this love.