Monday, January 30, 2012

Joy Dare :: Dancing with Peace

I love new things.
New calendars.
New journals.
New highlighters.
New pens.
{I might just have an obsession with office products!}

I enjoy starting fresh.
We all do, don't we?
Beginning anew in January with a clean slate, it seems, makes our hearts feel that we can conquer anything.

This month each day has been filled with excitement for the latest challenges, wanting to meet them head on, yet some days anxiety grips like a vice ready to squeeze you until you beg for mercy. It is almost as if the pessimistic, fatalistic, devil-on-my-shoulder is determined to conquer the year, the month, the day, even the hour.

And I find myself wondering what all of these "things" are for, these routines and goals and aspirations that seem to drive me forward. Why do I, the one who is falling back into grace again, constantly need this regimen to keep me from going mad?

I am a structured free spirit
A disciplined revolutionary
A conventional maverick

I want to march to the beat of my own drum and yet still make sure the tune blends in harmony with the world around me. The days bleed together in madness and ecstasy as I am both sorrowful and inspired to charge forward.

And I find myself counting my gifts, the graces in my life, not because of an emotional thrill but because I have made a decision to SEE. Sometimes the seeing is just merely stopping to remember -- the week, the day, the moments, the love, and sometimes there is an odd twinge of delight drawing me forward.

For fleeting moments, I even see Peace on the horizon dancing wildly like the Pied Piper beckoning me to follow her merry tune on a journey of discovery that is stranger to me than my own worries, which hold me in their uneasy comfort.

So....I dance.
and choose again to follow her song
until one day
it truly
becomes my own....

70) USPS and how it takes packages to my parents
71) Blue ink -- the new printer arrived to finish off the EWO Haiti newsletter

72) Blue bean bag warmer for my back & neck
73) Time with my goddaughter, Macy Hope

74) How my heart is changing in the foster care process
75) Mom's love of people
76) The freedom to set my own schedule
77) My friend, Ashley, coming to help me clean my house
78) Color pampering with the girls!

79) If I didn't go to Relevant, I would never have known her encouraging words in the very moment that I needed to hear it.
80) Walking out after midnight to put out the mail, the air and stars and chimes just took my breath away
81) Downton Abbey {all because of Twitter}
82) Alison's listening ear
83) Tricia's jokes

84) Ashley's servant's heart
86) "I came to give you a kiss."
87) The way the light shone on Morris' orange coat on the step
88) My Apple
89) Old pictures edited and shown
90) Planning for our "new" house with the "old" stuff

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Project 365 :: Week 4

Day 22 - Mom picked out some new hard-soled slippers for
me {and sis} for Christmas. This was their maiden voyage outside.

Day 23 - Jake Ray {my boss/friend's son}
and his rescued kitty, Nub-Nub, named because of his stubby tail

Day 24 - What I Wore :: Army green jack, gray & white striped dress,
long sleeved navy blue shirt, light gray scarf, skinny jeans,
and brown boots

Day 25 - Spending the afternoon with my bff, Alison
and my goddaughter Macy Hope

Day 26 - Color Training night at Mary Kay = fun with sis, Kasi and pal, Ashley

Day 27 - Spent the day finishing up the newsletter for EWO,
my parents' ministry in Haiti. Patches decide to "help" me! ;-)

Day 28 - Enjoying the sunshine on my face

I'm on a journey to chronicle my life with a picture a day for a year. I hope to discover the world around me in my day-to-day life in a uniquely different way as well as learn more about my DSLR to better capture those precious moments. Linking up with my friend Paige and others who are taking this challenge too.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Tender in Grief

I have been so full this week.
Full in my heart.
Full in my head.
So full that I think I may just burst at the seams.

The Father is relentless in His pursuit of my heart
And I crumbling under the unexpected surgery that my soul must undertake.

Really? Now, Lord?
But it's only January?

And little things make me want to cry, to weep because this body is overflowing with what needs to let go.

And then she is there..... gentle, so compassionate, so tender in my gushing
Listening, soothing, breathing life into my broken places.

I am typing my grief to her and although she cannot see my tears, I know she hears them because somehow, some way in this funny URL world, she has my heart.

"...Maybe pressing in to your healing - really grieving the loss..."

And I realize the time has come to release this hurt, this pain, this mantra of agony resounding in my head.

And I will.

Because as another wise woman always says...which makes sense to me MORE now....All's Grace.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Joy Dare :: Snow-Quiet Moments

I peeked my nose outside first.
Maybe it is a habit I have picked up from my cats, assessing the outside world before I step into it.

And yet either way, I know that I must step out into the midnight darkness to send off those newsletters prepared for consultants of beauty to plan their weeks and months ahead. With my nocturnal tendencies, getting them out in the morning for the Saturday post is too great of a risk, so I brave the nighttime cold.

I step out with trepidation, anxiously awaiting the biting winter winds to whip through my too-often-sensitive and aching body, my senses are flooded with awareness and memories all at once, and I turn around and run to my love, slumbering on the couch,

"It's snowing! It's snowing."

Considering the Haitian and African heritage from where our childhood remembrances come, snow is a precious and rare commodity in our house, so his eyes alight and look out the door, but the precipitation has just begun and barely visible to the naked eye so his oh-so-tired eyes fall back to sleep with a smile.

With more energy and life now, I pick up my postal delivery and flit out the door to bask in the not-quite-yet-wonderland. As magical as the morning dusk to some, this midnight hour is to me. The world is quiet. The snow falls tiny and unnoticed. There is no one around.

This is....MY gift, and I will enjoy it.

I breathe deep this oxygen-soaked air, lifting my face to the sky allowing the barely-there flakes to fall upon my cheeks and nose and eyes. I cannot help but raise my hands to the sky, for they do not want to miss out on the joy of this moment.

It is only a few minutes before the chill in my bones beckons me back inside, but I am enraptured as I amble back into the living room.

"I love the sound when it snows."
His words pull me out of my reverie.

"You can hear it from in here?" I ask him.

"The whole world is so quiet when it snows. I like that sound," my ever-laidback man sleepily answers.

Hmmm...his words make me ponder. This anxious heart of mine. This one who craves peace like an addict. How I fill my world with noise so the noise inside does not overwhelm me.

Emily Freeman at Chatting at the Sky talks about the kind of faith that can change your life, the kind that is life-BREATHING to this easily troubled soul. It makes me realize that I am not alone in my madness of a mind and heart.

"Even though the house is quiet, I'm running on the inside
as if things are in full swing.
My feet haven't moved by my soul is rumbling."

Oh! Isn't this me?

"Everything in me wants to fight the unveiling of the anxieties that threaten to overwhelm, push them back from showing up in my day. Christians aren't supposed to be anxious, right?....But we must let them rise up, so that we can release them into His hands. Speak fear out loud, so that He can give words of truth."

So while for me those snow-quiet moments of the soul are few and far between, I am choosing like Emily and like Ann and like SO MANY OF LOOK and to SEE breathe and to receive HIM choose and to accept HIS peace...

49) Olivia & Jake Ray laughing as I "fake cried"
50) My friend, Holley
51) The 35 minute ride home when my phone died {making me soak in the quiet}
52) Isaiah 43:19
53) grace
54) Judge not lest you too will be judged by that same measure.
55) yummy, healthy microwaveable meal on a busy day
56) Beautiful sunshine in the brisk winter day
57) Learning about grace from the judgments still deep in my heart
58) The way of my own reflection through the lens onto the mirror, seeing the fresh skin
59) My URL friend, Alece's, pic with LONG hair
60) The little "m" on the M&M's
61) Beautiful snow falling on my head
62) Last year's 2 feet of snow {we do not see much around here most years}
63) The rain melted the snow {sad} but the puddles on the pavement were pretty in spite of the muddy places.
64) Those pesky little laugh lines forming around my face
65) The Ragamuffin Gospel gifted to me by Christy Polek
66) Newsletters - a job I get paid to do from home
67) His daily new mercies
68) His RELENTLESS love
69) His peace in the midst of my storms

Won't you join me? Take The Joy Dare!
Here is a list of ideas to daily help you to SEE in the midst of the anxiety-driven world...

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Project 365 :: Week 3

Day 15 - Mom and Dad do last minute paper work and mailings before
they leave to go back to Haiti.

Day 16 - What I Wore :: New Skinny Jeans from Kohls
at 1/3 of the original price, my FAV lace up combat-style boots,
creamy-gray long sleeved shirt, and short sleeve tannish cardi

Day 17 - My desk at the Pink Opportunities office
where I work a few hours a week doing office admin, newsletter design,
and website updating for my Mary Kay director friend

Day 18 - On our way to foster care training, Arno and I went
to OC Kabobs, a Middle Eastern style restaurant.
Arno is stirring the pinto bean dip which he promptly decided
that he did not like. I, on the other hand, loved it!
It's the rice and beans staple of my childhood coming
back through my tastebuds. YUMMY!

Day 19 - My sister & I along with a couple of friends went to be guinea pigs
models for a Mary Kay consultant training night. It is always fun
to get FREE pampering and learn a few tricks of the trade too!

Day 20 - Mhmmm...indulging on some leftover Christmas treats
Gotta love those M's.

Day 21 - Just past midnight, as the temps cooled down,
the precipitation outside built up into this fluffy white stuff.
One benefit of being awake late at night was that I got to enjoy it
since it was gone by morning with rainy drizzle to take its place.

I'm on a journey to chronicle my life with a picture a day for a year. I hope to discover the world around me in my day-to-day life in a uniquely different way as well as learn more about my DSLR to better capture those precious moments. Linking up with my friend Paige and others who are taking this challenge too.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Vivid

On Fridays here at The Little Missionary Girl, we slow the pace and take JUST 5 minutes to let mind and heart run free, to pour words onto screen unlimited by that relentless editor inside, to just soar with abandon and to see what comes....

This week......


Life is full of color to me.
Bright hues of golden yellow
Sultry tones of deep red
Mellow visions of bright blues
Calming palates of rich green

Nothing is ever simple or plain to me.
Sorrow is keen.
Joy is unspeakable.
Pain is horrendous
Love is unfathomable in its depth.

I see the vivid nature in everything, everybody, every circumstance
How the tapestry weaves us all together
How our lives twist and turn and crash and even burn
to the rhythms of seeming happenstance
and yet....

The bliss of grace seems wild
Waving its banner high and true
in every moment and every breath
Alive and Real
for all to see
If we will only look
it is there
in all
its VIVID clarity.

Join me??

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Who am I to Judge? {Relentless Grace}

It's funny how God reveals His character to you.
It's funny how He shows you when yours needs some tweaking.

And not funny-ha-ha, but funny ironic....funny surprising.

Last night, Arno and I sat down for Week 2 of our foster care/adoption training-certification classes. The room was filled with nearly 20 people, each with different motivations and agendas for taking these classes. Too many, it is personal -- getting back their grandchildren or a brother who is part of "the system." For others, like us, it is global, more generalized -- to make a difference in the life of a child/children. Whatever each individual's incentive, the general consensus in the room is a heart for children, a desire to help the helpless. It is kind of a beautiful thing really, finding this common bond beyond generation or race or religious affiliation.

And yet, people are still people and with the informal format lending itself to open discussion, opinions quickly come to the surface from those who cannot hold their feelings at bay and lay open, bare, on the table.

This study of people fascinates the psychology-lover in my brain. The group dynamics, the point-of-views of the various cultural backgrounds, and the way each one's desire to be there triggers a deep, raw place of BIG emotion amazes me.

We are not merely here in a class to learn.
We are here because we care and we care BIG and we care HARD
and sometimes the emotions are bigger than we can handle.

So as I quietly watched the dynamics unfold and listened to the opinions of others as well as to the continuing mantra of not judging others being repeated by the facilitator -- each other, birth parents, the social workers -- I realized that albeit calm and discreet in my mannerisms, my heart and mind boomed with emotions and opinions as large as any other person in the room.

As we drove home last night, I articulated to my love some of these weaknesses that I saw in my own heart, these judgments STILL there in spite of my own incredible journey of grace....

How could I think that my appraisal and examination of another's faults or weaknesses should be the measuring stick to which I hold another's value or worth?

And yet....what do I do when those ill-fated choices have impacted the life of a child negatively? In spite of my own barren arms, the momma-bear heart beats violently in my chest to rescue and to run away with this broken little ones to never be hurt again?

But where is the love?
Where is the redemption in my heart?
Where is the desire for restoration and reunification of the family?
Where is it in me, the one who has been hand-held on a pilgrimage of grace, who was broken open to understand how he redeems my broken places, and who continues to walk a path of relentless grace and mercy?

Who am I to judge?

....and I then realized that I am there for more than to learn to be a "good" foster parent....

I am on this journey to love MORE like Jesus.
To understand His unchanging mercy,
His propensity to redeem EVERYTHING,
His as-far-as-the-east-is-from-the-west grace

To allow Him to be RELENTLESS........

in changing me.....

into His image.

And I cannot help but smile.....
Yeah. He's kinda funny...this Father of mine.
Maybe even a little funny ha-ha.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Joy Dare :: Sorrow Revisited

In the past few years of my life, Sorrow seems to have become akin to my own skin.

Like a regular character in weekly drama, Sorrow maintains its burdensome role, weighing heavily, breathing its mantra into every moment until eventually the rules change, the story lines deepen, and promise & hope bloom all along the margins changing the very landscape of this creative, artistic soul.

And while I, with trepidation, begin to embrace Sorrow's role in my world, I am often still caught off guard when her dominance rules a uninterrupted space of time in my reality.

Like last week, when I found myself past midnight, adorning my aching body with coat and slippers and climbing into my van, shutting the door, blasting the heat, and unabashedly weeping.

I like to call it a cleansing cry.
Some people call it, the "ugly" cry.
Whatever you call it, my soul screamed for it in order to come out of that mournful place.

It took a cry, a drive, some alone time, and even a little Big Bang Theory to draw me into a place of emotional numbness to be able to then face it in a healthy, productive way.

Today, Ann Voskamp's words on anxiety struck me, challenged me in the fallout of that aching...

“'The stability of the world depends on the rejoicing in God’s works…. If on earth, such praise of God does not come to pass… then the whole order of nature will be thrown into confusion…'
~John Calvin~

Our worlds reel unless we rejoice. A song of thanks steadies everything.

The answer to anxiety is the adoration of Christ."

And then I remember...these gifts I am counting. This day-to-day ritual. This disciplinary routine. And so I continue to look, to see, to measure the beauty in the mundane and profound. To choose joy.

28) Grilled caesar dressing
29) Another woman joining The Joy Dare because of a 1000 gifts tweet chat
30) My key lime sparkling water {hits the spot EVERY time}

31) Homemade purses by the Haitian people as a self help program
32) Yummy snacks provided during our 1st foster care training session!!

33) My 14 yr old kitty cozying up in my lap when I come home
34) The pretty lights my sister installed in my bedroom
35) My cozy mattress with the extra foam built in picked out by my love and I when we got married 6+ years ago
36) Waking up next to the love of my life every day
37) The sound my kitties make when they want my attention or just for me to know that they love me
38) The soothing sound of my noise maker that helps me fall asleep
39) The sound of my mother's voice caring for her mother
40) Father giving me space and time when I needed it
41) In the discipline of counting, I find His grace
42) The grace I see in the sacrifices that my parents make with their lives
43) My new yoga pants
44) Ranch pretzels given to Dad to take back to Haiti with him
45) Pizza to share {It's not delivery....}
46) Watching Peni's Noah play and laugh
47) Hearing Noah's 5 month old sis, Molly, laugh as she watches him
48) Seeing my friend walk in her passions & her dream after years of waiting {mom & personal hair studio}

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Project 365:: Week 2

Day 8 - Sitting on the floor trying to go "manual" with my camera
I'm a WORK in PROGRESS in this area. It's gonna be awhile!

Day 9 - Time to put away the Christmas tree....we always do it a "little" later
because it makes me sad to say goodbye to "my" tree

Day 10 - What I Wore :: New Brown Flat Boots from Journeys,
skinny jeans, rouched gray-green dress from Banana Republic, and
a black cardigan and knit hat with red necklace

Day 11 - First training session for foster care & adoption
certification. 1 week down, 8 more to go.

Day 12 - 2nd anniversary of the 7.0 quake in Haiti.
It meant SO much to the 4 of us to be together on this day,
so of course we had a little photo shoot.
{photos shot by my love}

Day 13 - Paperwork for our house parents
sign their part before they head by to Haiti next week

Day 14 - My old hunter boy, Morris, checks out the lay of the land.
{I love this kid... ;-) }

I'm on a journey to chronicle my life with a picture a day for a year. I hope to discover the world around me in my day-to-day life in a uniquely different way as well as learn more about my DSLR to better capture those precious moments. Linking up with my friend Paige and others who are taking this challenge too.

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