Saturday, July 23, 2016


I used my Saturday Power Hour to weed the “flower” beds by my front door this morning.  If this doesn’t seem like an event to write about, let me explain.  It’s July in Oklahoma which means the morning temps are already in the 90’s and it’s been upper 90’s for weeks and triple digits for the last few days.  It is a heat advisory weekend.  It will be hot, hot, hot until Halloween; therefore not the best morning to be outside gardening.  However, the choice was between sweating profusely and having to stare at weeds that were almost as tall as I am.  The house was two weeks away from looking abandoned.  I really want my house to look nice.  I want to present a pleasing image to the neighborhood or at least not be THAT house. So, out in the heat I went.  As I was sweating weeding I realized that if I had planned my landscaping according to season, I wouldn’t have to be outside in July.  If I weeded and mulched and planted in April and May, these weeds wouldn’t have taken over.  The problem is I didn’t want to work.  I really want there to be garden fairies who magically work all night so I can wake up and enjoy a beautiful yard without having to do any work.

The unfortunate part is that life doesn’t work that way.  The only thing I don’t have to work for is God’s love; everything else requires planning and participation.  You might be saying, “You can pay people to weed.”  Why yes I could; that still takes planning to earn the money to pay professionals.  I need to be willing to do the hard work in order to enjoy the fruits of my labor.  

Our spiritual life is the same way.  I have been spending time getting back to basics, intentionally carving time to read scripture, examine my life and actively seek God’s presence and direction.  Returning to a schedule, a rhythm, of my everyday life to plot a course in the direction I want to go.  If you don’t plot your course, you won’t get where you want to be.  You get tossed about from place to place.  Most people wake up and wonder how they got here.  I don’t want to be that person.  Not being that person takes work.  That’s where desire and reality collide.  I don’t want to put in the hard work of examining my life.  It takes time, it can be painful because I make mistakes, I would rather binge watch Sherlock.  So things slide, the calendar fills up with events and I am very busy.  Then just like the weeds, I wake up one day and realize I am overgrown. I forgot to schedule the important things.  I forgot that I can’t do everything.  I forgot to orient my to-do list around the person I am called to be.  So, when this happens, it takes extra effort to weed and prune and clear away the weeds that have encroached on my purpose.  It takes more work than if I had keep the constant, steady rhythm of daily discipline but the alternative is letting the weeds overrun the place.  

While I am weeding I ask myself these questions.  Does my current calendar clearly show that I invest my energy in what I called to be?  If not, what needs to go?  Does my calendar include time and space to listen to God? Invest in relationships? Have fun?  If not, I am too busy and I need to stop.  Am I better than I was yesterday, last month, last year?  This is tricky because there are seasons and if you work on one part of your life, you will then turn back around and work on another.  Maturing is more of a spiral than a straight line.  Here’s my biggest questions: Does my energy go to the things I am uniquely called to do?  There are many things that distract me, have I chosen the best thing? These questions are hard and the answers usually require more work but they are worth the work because the alternative is a life of weeds. 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Mid-Christmas Reflection: 5 Things

I consider December 26th Mid-Christmas because I subscribe to the old-school notion that Christmas lasts until January 6th (Epiphany). You know, the 12 days and all.

Anyway, it's a weirdly warm but rainy Saturday and it's a great time to sit and think of all the things I am grateful for this Christmas season. So, here are 5 things.

1.  Caroling with our Sunday School class.  We are a small, warbling bunch but this is our 3rd year caroling at a nearby retirement complex.  It is a beautiful night when you get to be with people  you love doing something good that brings joy to people on the margins of life. Hilde and our friend Aubrey also play violin inside the actual nursing home. When they played in the memory care unit, I almost lost it.  The residents are in all stages of dementia. Most were kind of smelly, they had just eaten and some still had bibs on. One lady was missing a sock.  When the simple Christmas music started they lit up. They were so happy.  It was such a poignant moment that a simple gift of music from 2 teenagers could bring such joy. Totally what Christmas is really about.

2.  Dinner with friends.  We had people over for Christmas dinner and I was in my happy place.  I love people. I love people in my house. I love to feed people.  We shared dinner with old and new friends and had hours and hours of conversation and ate tons of food. It reminded of the saying "Every table is altar." The love and fun that flowed around my table was an offering of gratitude.
Taking joy in friendship and celebration is truly worship that honors God.

3. Christmas Eve service with my family.  Even though it's crazy full, it's such a beautiful service.  Our church does communion on Christmas Eve which reminds me that Christmas only begins the story of Christ. Ultimately, Christmas and Easter are linked.  We worship a God who descends in order to heal. 

4. Food.  Maeve, Hilde and I have a running joke that food is our love language. Maeve has been baking out of a vintage cookbook Visions of Sugarplums by Mimi Sheraton.  It has Christmas baking recipes from around the world.  She made simple butter cookies, Pfeffernusse, swirl cookies and Moravian Love Buns on Christmas.  Hilde has been perfecting her shortbread recipe and this year we purchased shortbread molds.  The molds make it look beautiful and it is was too easy to eat.
Christmas dinner was full of sharing food with friends. My friend Deidra made red velvet cake from scratch and I introduced her to Tuaca.

5. Family.  Maeve and Hilde decorated 99% of the house by themselves.  I would come home from work and the trees would be up and the house was decorated. Another day Maeve worked with Daniel to put up the outside lights.  They did ALL the Christmas baking and made 2 dishes for Christmas dinner.  When they have their own houses, they are either going to go all out or say,"I did that when I was younger, I'm not decorating any more."  I am truly aware of how awesome my daughters are on regular occasions.  They never cease to amaze me.  This Christmas went way beyond normal awesomeness. They made my load so much lighter this year.  The only thing I had to do was order from Amazon Prime and cook Christmas dinner.

5 things.  I could have written more.  My advent devotions this year have me thinking about how the Incarnation affects me today.  Not just that God moved into the neighborhood all those years ago but that I am called to live out this Incarnation daily.  A large part of the process is to open my eyes to the wonder around me.  This Christmas season that's been so easy to do. 


Saturday, September 5, 2015

I don’t make my own lip balm and I am fine with that.

Pinterest for me is either a blessing or a curse. I love that there are so many creative ideas there. I hate that it seems like everyone on Pinterest does everything perfectly. And by everything, I mean everything. It seems like the modern mom has to create inventive food in the shape of cute characters, is the CEO of her household utilizing binders for cleaning, paying bills and tracking her children. All of which are stored neatly in her command center, conveniently located steps away from her craft station. So that when her handmade chalkboard and burlap calendar says it’s so-and-so’s birthday, she swivels in her “Ikea hacked” chair where she can beautifully wrap a batch of her handmade lip balm. (Lip balm made with essential oils and coconut no doubt.)

Lip Balm? I’m expected to know how to make my own lip balm these days? Even if I knew how to make lip balm, I am never going to make my own lip balm. There are two reasons for this.

First, as a mid-40’s full time working mom with homeschooling teenagers, there is simply no time. I can’t even make time for the hobbies I really enjoy let alone find time to make something that is to me a personal hygiene necessity.

Secondly and most importantly, there are people way better at making lip balm than I could ever be. Sure, we can all learn to re-model our own houses, build dining rooms tables, concoct our own beauty supplies, and craft chandeliers from mason jars, but not all of us are gifted and talented in all things. When we think we have to do it ourselves we miss out on an opportunity to value someone else’s true gift. The idea behind a marketplace, an economy is that I have goods and services that other people need. Conversely others have goods and services I need. A marketplace is essentially a building block of a healthy community. It says we need each other. It says that together our community is stronger together. Purchasing goods can be a profoundly connectional experience.

If I made my own lip balm, I deprive myself of the experience of going to the store and standing in the aisle, gaping at the wondrous varieties of lip balm. Someone invented all these. Someone, probably a chemist, mixed ingredients together to form something that will provide nourishment to my cracked lips. People who possess the gift of knowing what ingredients will be poisonous and which ones are safe. I will never be a chemist. However, I can take a moment to be grateful that chemists exist.

The same thing applies to house painters, landscapers, plumbers, electricians. I happily pay for their services because they are experts at what they do. A good plumber’s worth is far above rubies. I think that’s in the bible somewhere.

Most of us have become so jaded about the economy because we live in a Walmart driven world that prizes individual achievement and profit over the common good. Corporations are far removed from us. We have forgotten that an economy can be beautiful; dare I say it, even sacred.  Instead of trying to live independently off the grid, maybe we should try to engage in the economy. We can work toward restoring a sense of interdependence and honoring other’s gifts and talents. That is in the bible – 1Corinthians 12 is all about living life as one body with many parts, learning to live together. 

I know my place in the economy. I am happy to buy your lip balm if you read my article.