We gals grew up hearing and reading love stories and fairy tales from the time we were little. One of my very favorites was, and still is, Cinderella.
Perhaps I am drawn to her story because, like myself, she was just an ordinary gal.
And, she, like many of us, found herself stuck in what felt like the inescapable drudgery of daily life.
With the death of her mother and father, she felt very much alone and unloved. And sometimes we can feel lost and alone in this great big world of ours.
She also experienced the painful feeling of rejection and ridicule by those who should have loved her. Instead, her stepmother and stepsisters were wickedly cruel. And who of us hasn’t experienced hurt-filled words?
But then, one day, she encountered “divine intervention” and the experience was transformational, to say the least. From dirty cinder soot clothes to a sparkling new ballgown, she soon found herself the Belle of the Ball dancing with the Prince Himself.
But, as is the case in all our lives, in a blink of an eye, real life rushed back in and she once again found herself in the same old routine of life, back in the cinder soot. The memory of her encounter with the Prince began to fade.
Fortunately, her prince had not forgotten her. He had been searching high and low throughout the land to find her.
When he finally did find her, she was not dressed in that beautiful ballgown like the night he’d first danced with her; no, she now stood before him in all her cinder soot shabbiness.
He, however, could’ve cared less about her outward appearance. Because his only motivation for knocking on her door that day…was love. He loved her…just as she was.
Victor Hugo once said…
The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved…loved for ourselves.
And isn’t that what we all long for in the end?
Love stories. Fairy tales. Call them what you will, there’s a reason why we gals are drawn to them.
I think it’s because, like Cinderella, we too hope that despite our ordinariness, our unexceptionalness, yes, even our cinder soot shabbiness, we too might be chosen. And not just chosen. Loved. Loved for who we are. Loved NEW. Loved from ordinary into extraordinary.
Because if love is anything…it is transforming.
Play dates are the best. The other day, all of us moms lugged in our car seats with toddlers in tow, we spread out some toys across the living room carpet, and our babies just sat there staring at each other. The ladies cracked open some sparkling waters while the toddler boys roamed the room, and in no time, it was pretty apparent we didn’t get together for them anyways. Because really, a play date? Who are we kidding…more like a mom therapy group.
“So when did you introduce a second meal?” “How many ounces is he drinking these days?” “Can you take a look at her rash?” And on. And on. And on. No one else could possibly be interested in hearing about potty-training for a half hour, or my woes on how my baby’s sleep schedule has rocked my world. It would be a complete and utter snooze fest, a wasted hang out, to everyone else. Everyone else, except the very people going through the EXACT SAME THING. To them, it was like finally finding a lemonade stand on a hot summer day.
How have you experienced this in your season of life? You know who those people are. They’re the ones giving jerky, emphatic nods whenever you share the highest highs and the deepest lows of what’s really going on, chiming in to every detail with a, “Yes! Yes! YES.” Don’t you just love them? When you meet these people, you can almost feel the connection, the electricity in the room that comes from finally being understood, finally feeling like you aren’t alone, finally pulling back the curtain and getting a standing ovation. You walk away feeling nothing short of a kindred-spirit-kind-of-bond after all the confessing, debriefing, and empathizing.
My son came home from school one day and grabbed the dust pan and broom. I had wondered if this boy who rarely jumps into chores without my prompting had suddenly become responsible and independent during the course of the school day. As I was getting ready to sit down and congratulate myself for training him right, I heard him say, “Got it!” With that declaration, he grabbed a Ziploc bag from his pocket and carefully poured in the dust bunnies he had collected from under our couch.
By the expression on my face, he could see that I was quite confused. “It’s for science,” he said. “We are studying what kind of stuff makes up dust. We’re dissecting it!”
I didn’t know if I should be proud or offended that he knew just where to find these suspicious little dust-bunnies. I thought that I’d been successful at keeping those little buggers hidden. When it was time to host a party or even just a friend or two, I would take great pains to go through the house collecting and eliminating these dusty little reminders that people actually live in my home. I much prefer creating the impression that my family is so squeaky clean and happy that even the dust bunnies don’t gather here.
But my son knew better. He knew just where to find the shady characters. And now, he was going to dissect the very dirt that can expose me for what I am…a hider, a fake, a person who needed help.
No book is a chapter
No chapter tells the whole story
No mistake defines who we are…
One day a gentleman came to my mother-in-law’s door saying that he could resurface her driveway for several hundred dollars. He told her, “I’ve been doing some resurfacing in the neighborhood and have enough supplies to do your small driveway.”
She and my sister-in-law had been discussing that very thing recently, so she said, “Sure, why not?”
After working a short time, the gentleman came back to the door to say that he had finished the job. Happy that he had done such quick work, she readily wrote him a check and continued about her day.
When my sister-in-law got home, she gingerly walked across the newly resurfaced driveway. But, something seemed amiss. It wasn’t until she spotted her own footprints on the floor, that she realized that the guy who had “resurfaced” their driveway had conned mom by pouring motor oil over the driveway not by laying tar.
She and mom immediately jumped in the car and headed to the bank to stop payment on the check. But, that con man had gone directly to her bank and cashed her check straightaway after leaving her place.
Mom was heartsick. Devastated. We all were. Not only had he conned her out of a significant amount of money. He had left her with a big mess to clean up.
We may think that kind of thing could never happen to us. But, catch any one of us off guard and we can be duped just like my mother-in-law…
Sometimes with much graver consequences. Like Jehoshaphat.
Yep. That’s right. I said, Jehoshaphat.
You may not be familiar with this king of Judah. But, he was one of the good ones. And that’s saying something, because there weren’t too many of them back in the Old Testament days. In either Judah or Israel.
The Bible describes him in 1st Kings 22:43 and in 2nd Chronicles 20:32 as a king ‘who did right in the eyes of the Lord.’ That’s because Jehoshaphat’s heart was devoted to the ways of God (2nd Chronicles 17:6). He sought God’s direction (2nd Chronicles 18:4). He implemented reforms. He removed idol worship from the land (2nd Chronicles 17:6). He raised up judges to act according to God’s standards (2nd Chronicles 19:5). He set in place spiritual standards, as well, teaching his people God’s Law (2nd Chronicles 17:9) and elevating godly men to the priesthood (2nd Chronicles 19:11).
Yet, like all of us, in unguarded moments, he, too, was fooled. One of those decisions cost him a fleet of ships (2nd Chronicles 20:33-37). But, the other nearly cost him his life.
I beg you to step into whatever adventure God has for you, whatever the cost. He leads us down different paths,
but none of us is led down the path we would have chosen for ourselves…
Trust whatever He has for you. It will be better than anything you can plan for yourself.
— Francis Chan
The sun was especially hot. As he reached for another heavy board, sweat dripped onto his dirty hand, creating a miniscule, muddy stream. Without thought, he wiped his brow, leaving a muddy trail onto his forehead. Then he straightened his back slowly, like a morning glory unfurling in the early hours, and he went back to the task at hand.
Board. Nail. Pound.
It was of no surprise when he began to hear the cacophony of cackles and derisive chuckles, increasing in volume after several more heartbeats as the sun increased its power. Especially on a day like today; hot days like this brought them out in full force.
There were the usual. The voices that enjoyed hearing their own rise above on a strong, conceited current and riling up the encircling crowd, like a mother with her chicks that followed blindly, although not to such a nurturing leader.
“Hey Noah!” He heard the familiar voice.
Board. Nail. Pound.
“Your feet are looking particularly dusty on this fine day. How interesting… Shouldn’t you be standing in mud by now?... Oh wait…” He shaded his eyes as he strained his head forward in exaggeration, focusing his eyes towards the distant horizon. His arm catapulted towards the sky, his finger pointing. “Is that a raincloud forming in the distance?... Look everyone, a cloud!”
The crowds’ eyes followed. The voice continued. “Maybe today will be the day our fine friend gets his much-needed rain! We might actually get…an inch, or maybe two! Just enough for the bottom board of your boat to get wet, Noah. How about that? What do you say, Noah?... Why so quiet?”
The laughter followed. More mocking. More heckling.
Noah reached down.
Board. Nail. Pound.
Did you know there was a day when the sun stood still?
Ever since my first-born was just a tiny kicking blob on an ultrasound, I’ve debated about his life verse. There’s so many compelling nuggets in Scripture that could ennoble him to live a faith-filled life… but I was always stuck on the cliché, oh-so-common verse in Joshua: “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (1:9).
Shouldn’t I be more creative though? This verse was announced at my college graduation ceremony, screen-printed on the back of my volleyball warm-up tee, etched into half of the mugs in my cupboard, and at the risk of sounding melodramatic, it’s splashed across every other Christian trinket you could possibly find around the globe.
But. Even so. I’m convicted with the thought that its over-use shouldn’t diminish the potency of what this verse delivers. Because there’s power among these words. So much strength to draw from. And it introduces a character in the Bible with such sure faith—exactly what I hope for in my son.
So yes, I’m stuck on that man Joshua. The one with the audacious faith that made the sun stand still. And I’m talking literally. Joshua needed more time to defeat his enemies, but in order to do that, he needed daylight. So, when evening hours hit and the sun started to dip down, Joshua very simply asked God to pause it from falling further. To freeze time for His people. Who would even think to pray that prayer? To believe that God will literally stop the world for him? Stop the scientific order that faithfully repeats itself like clockwork day-in and day-out? Joshua. And God gave him exactly what he asked for.
Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” – (Matthew 14:31)
My heart was beating wildly as I watched my son stand at the edge of a small cliff off the coast of southern Greece. The beautiful turquoise waters beckoned him to jump, but his feet said “no.” While I had watched seven older cousins make the leap, I wondered if giving permission to my youngest to jump off a cliff might have not been my best parenting decision.
Fear was gripping his little mind. There was the fear of physical harm if the jump didn’t go well, and the fear of humiliation if he decided to crawl back down the cliff. After all, his brother and cousins had already made the leap.
I tried to yell up words of encouragement when I remembered years ago, trying to get him to jump off the diving board at our local pool. If I remained on the side of the pool, he would jump off the board sideways, narrowly missing the edge of the pool. But when I swam out beyond the diving board, then he would jump out safely and swim right to me.
I immediately left the side of the cliff where I was safely watching from afar and swam out to where he would ideally land. I said, “Just jump out to me and swim my way, just like we used to do at the pool. Don’t look down, just look at me. I’ll be right here.”
What happened next was a combination of sheer terror and sheer delight (mine and his) as I watched my son leap from the edge of the cliff and into the water in front of me. Within seconds, he emerged from the brilliant blue, wide eyed and smiling. He swam right to me and screamed, “I did it!” He may have doubted the water, but he trusted me at my word, that I’d be there when he came up.
In his gospel, Matthew tells a story about the disciple Peter, who also towed the line between fear and trust.
When the disciples find themselves out in their boat caught in a treacherous storm, they see Jesus coming out to them, walking on the water. As if this isn’t scary enough, Peter stretches his fear and faith a little further. Peter calls out to Jesus, “Lord, if it’s you, ask me to come to you.” And Jesus says, “Come.” So, Peter swings his feet over the side of the boat, carefully setting his feet down on something that should have engulfed him, and miraculously, stands up. Then Peter begins to take tentative steps toward Jesus. He looks forward. Although I have no way of knowing, I picture Jesus keeping Peter’s gaze with an expression of encouragement as if to say, “Keep walking!”
Written by McKayla Adams
Not all who wander are lost.
…but, maybe a lot of us are….
The “Not all who wander are lost” quote from Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings series has become a quote that is hard to escape. It's plastered across posters, photos, jewelry and journals. In fact, my mom bought for me an engraved necklace with the very quote.
The definition of “wander” according to dictionary.com is “to ramble without a finite purpose or objective—to go aimlessly or to stray.”
But, why would we wander in the first place?
For a lot of us, this quote stirs in us a desire to travel…to wander away from our routines and sameness. To discover newness. This can be an amazing thing! Stirring away from our comfort zone, growing in new experiences, or even leading to journeys of self-discovery and deeper faith.
Some of us, in fact, just love to wander. I am one of them. I am constantly in search of a new adventure. I’m sure that’s why mom thought of me when she saw this necklace.
Although wandering can be a journey of growth and discovery, I fear that sometimes the desire to wander can come from an unhealthy motivation of a broken state; that the desire to wander is aroused from a physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual discontentment.
Maybe we are even unknowingly trying to wander away from a painful storm we are in the center of. I know this first-hand.
I heard an old man speak once… He said that he’d finally figured out a few years ago that his profound sense of control, in the world and over his life, is an addiction and a total illusion. He said that when he sees little kids sitting in the back seat of cars, in those car seats that have steering wheels, with grim expressions of concentration on their faces, clearly convinced that their efforts are causing the car to do whatever it is doing, he thinks of himself and his relationship with God: God who drives along silently, gently amused, in the real driver’s seat.
I don’t know if it’s because I’m a firstborn. A child of divorce. A burden-bearer by nature that desperately wants everything to be alright. Or a combination of all three.
But, I do know this… I definitely struggle with control issues.
I can’t tell you how many conversations I have had over the years with my Spiritual Director that have centered around this stumbling stone in my life.
I’ve wrestled down the need to please others. Perhaps when you are pushing sixty you finally realize that the only one worth pleasing is God. I’ve made this my goal now…
Walk worthy of the Lord, please him in everything…
I’ve also learned to let go of perfectionism.
Unfortunately for my boys, I didn’t learn that lesson until later in their childhood. Poor guys would stand befuddled in the middle of a room wondering where their toys went when they turned their backs on them. In an effort to keep the house neat and tidy, toys got swept away into the toybox as quickly as the boys would set them down.
My sister once challenged me about my need to have everything in its place and it hurt me terribly. But, I got the message loud and clear one evening when after scurrying around like a mad woman after the boys, my hubby asked me, “Is the President of the United States coming for dinner?” I responded with a quizzical “no.” “Then let the boys play!” he responded.
Young mommies take a tip from me…
Parents, don’t exasperate your children…
I think back to when I bumped into a friend at the mall just days before my maternity leave was over. With her own baby on hip, my stay-at-home-mom friend explained she needed some fresh air—and what better place than among the clothing racks, shoe sales, and hubbub of other SAHMs looking to get out of the house.
I just stared at her. Her life seemed so carefree. Anyone passing by would covet (what looked to be) a life full of free afternoons and minimal stress. But within how are you’s, you look so good, and give me life updates, she pulled me in between clearance racks and divulged. (That’s what we do, you know. Us women can’t help where we are. If there’s secret confessions to be made, we will SPILL… Even if it means hiding under hangers.)
My dear friend grabbed my shirt, her toddler started screaming, and her shoulders collapsed. She said, to be honest, some days are hard. Many are lonely. And sometimes she just wishes to be back at work, enjoying a lunch with her colleagues, and feeling accomplished by a marked-up to-do list. Doing something for HER for once.
Later, I bumped into another friend who returned back to her office, briefcase, and dress suits after spending months at home with her kid. Another round of how are you’s, you look so good, and give me life updates. All the same, she spilled the beans. “It doesn’t help when he screams at daycare drop-off,” she permits. “That can make anyone cringe–but as I sit in meetings, I’m wondering how he’s waking up from naptimes and looking up to an unfamiliar face. Wondering why it’s not mom.” The worst–those days when she comes home late just in time to put him down for bed, she wonders if it’s worth it.
Both situations are completely understandable, common. Even predictable. You want to be there to witness every major milestone in your baby’s childhood, and you can’t imagine sharing the responsibility of raising your child with someone else. I’m nodding right along with you. But there’s a pull to follow your dreams, pay the bills, and/or get some social time (aka me time) for your extroverted self. I’m still nodding. Which to choose?
I like the concept of setting some resolutions for the new year. I feel like January is a time of reset, a chance to take a deep breath and head into the next year with a plan to become someone, well…better.
Numerous polls and articles list the top resolutions. Some people want to be thinner, some stronger, some wiser, some wealthier. Some want to be more generous, while others want to read the Bible more. Most of these goals have something in common—people want to be better versions of themselves. Let’s face it, we all want to improve. And the start of a new year gives us an opportunity to start fresh.
After all, the writers in the Bible are continually encouraging us to try and follow Christ’s example, reminding us to be…better.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:12-14)
Julius Caesar instituted New Year's Day on January 1 to honor Janus, the two-faced god who looks backwards into the old year and forwards into the new. The custom of New Year’s resolutions began in ancient times, as the Romans made resolutions with a moral bent—mostly to be good to others. To them, Janus was the god of beginnings.
You probably base your self-image on past experiences. If you’ve failed, you feel like a failure. If you’ve made poor decisions, you think of yourself as stupid. That’s the old way of thinking. When you gave your life to Jesus, he made you entirely new. Your poor choices—made either before or after beginning a relationship with Jesus—do not define you. You need to feel good about yourself or you will never live the life God has for you.
– Leon Fontaine, The Spirit Contemporary Life
The other day I received yet another free gift in the mail. It seems that once you give to a charity, your name gets around. It must be an effective way of incentivizing donations—mailing out calendars, note pads, labels, cards, coins, stickers.
As I was opening my latest envelope—from a charity I had never heard of—I perused the enclosed gifts; the Christmas address labels went into the trash—my name has been misspelled for years with a small “a” and I just couldn’t do it again. Then my eyes landed on the Christmas gift labels. I might keep those.
My relationship with labels, though, has become rather intense lately.
There are some labels I just love. I thrive on order, and anything that helps me achieve that is comparable to Sony and Cher (yes, I know they broke up later, but I’m still in denial).
Labels help my life run more efficiently. They let me know what I and my family and friends can find in certain bins without digging. Labels tell me what package goes to which special person. They tell me what ingredients and nutrition are in a bag or can. They tell me how I can most effectively wash each item of clothing.
There is another type of label, though, that I am disliking the more I get acquainted with it... And those are labels we place on people.
“I’m feeling very thin and vulnerable, in a good way.”
Amy Layne Litzelman
It hit out of nowhere. The flu.
It started as a simple little sore throat the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
Soon the “dripping facet” phase kicked in, and I couldn’t get Kleenex’s to my nose fast enough.
The bug hit my vocal cords next leaving me speechless for almost a week. Which some may not have thought such a bad outcome. But, then, gravity pulled it all down into my lungs and the coughing fits began, leaving me exhausted.
I won’t bore you with any more details. But, let’s just say there is a reason why I’m sharing my woes with you.
You see, it’s the holidays. And with the holidays come certain expectations.
Gifts, for one. As I’ve been incapacitated these days, shopping is out. Fortunately, we live in the days of Cyber deals. So at least I’ve got that one covered.
But, there are other expectations.
Like cookie baking. By this time in December I would’ve had several varieties of Christmas cookies made and in the deep freeze. But, this year I just baked my first batch. And it may be the only batch.
Like decorating. Most of my decorations are still in plastic bins out in our garage.
Like hosting parties. Due to my nasty bug, there will be no parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting or caroling out in the snow...
I find it all a bit depressing not being able to pull it altogether and create the kind of Christmas we’ve had in the past.
But, I know that I’m not the only one struggling to keep up this Christmas.
My toddler was a tiny one-year-old last Christmas, fascinated only by the basics—staring at the lights on the tree, rearranging ornaments, and thrashing around wrapping paper.
This year, Oscar is two, and things are obviously different. He wonders why Rudolph’s nose is red and laughs when Frosty says, “Happy birthday!” instead of Merry Christmas. And he’s not only preparing for his very first Christmas pageant, but he doesn’t chew on the manger scene anymore either. Instead, he places the angel correctly above the stable and hums “Away in the Manger” while rocking pretend baby Jesus in his arms.
Even though Oscar experienced Christmas last year, his ever-growing mind soaks up all the songs, stories, decorations, and lights like it’s new this time around too. In a way like everything’s fresh. And the awe in his eyes is plain for all to see—showcasing just how captivating and extremely interesting every detail is.
Amidst the wonderful smells of turkeys basting, gravy simmering, and pies baking, I smelled something foul this past weekend. I caught a whiff of it on the way to Grandma’s house, passing homes basking in the glow of twinkling lights and plastic nativity scenes. I stole a sniff of it when I noticed the peppermint creamer served alongside the caramel macchiato and pumpkin spice varieties. I couldn’t ignore the disgusting odor settling into our conversation around the Thanksgiving table as well-meaning aunts and uncles asked my kiddos what they were hoping might show up under the tree next month. The scent is not easy to ignore. It’s the sneaky stench of Christmas panic.
This panic likes to boil up like a pressure cooker. It starts sometime in November and increases in strengths and potency as we move into December. I don’t really know if this sense of panic is only reserved for mothers. I can’t imagine this impending dread is gender specific. I just know that it’s real, that it’s palpable, and that it is already threatening to overtake that sweet, lingering aroma of Thanksgiving thankfulness—a time that we are supposed to give only gratitude. No gifts. Just thanks.
I have decided that this year, I’m going to be intentional about keeping the air around me fresh from the stench. I made a choice to at least preserve the month of November as stench-free. This is not easy as my stack of Christmas cards sit unlabeled on the dining room table. The smell is difficult to ignore as I open up the paper stuffed with shopping ads and coupons. The aroma of greediness and busyness threaten to overpower my sweet smell of peace. But I am trying. This year, I am trying to ignore the sneaky stench of Christmas panic.
They ate till they were gorged— he had given them what they craved.
There is a difference between eating and drinking for strength and from mere gluttony.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
The sparrows that moved into the neighborhood in recent weeks number in the dozens. Since their arrival, my favorite songbird, the little house wren living in our veggie patch, has flown the coop. In fact, they’ve driven out several of my sweet bird friends.
From sunup to sundown, they gorge themselves at my feeder. Every spot filled with little brown birds. And they’re not much into sharing, either. At least not with birds of other varieties. My cardinals and chickadees must make do with the leftovers they scatter on the ground below.
I’ve gone to some lengths to scare them off. I’ve even trained our dog to chase them off. But, they just toy with her now…they’re not in the least bit frightened by the sight of her.
I’ve taken the feeder down for a several days, only to discover them back in droves once it goes back up again.
The feeding frenzy happening in my backyard reminds me a lot of the frenzy to come. You know the one. It occurs every year around the holidays.
The time when folks camp outside of stores all night long hoping to be the first to grab all those door-buster deals. The time when tempers are short and lines are long. The time when we conveniently forget about calories so we can gobble down goodies without guilt.
That time of year when we human beings begin to look, and act, a lot like my sparrows.
To most Americans the holidays mean overindulgence.
A time when we loosen our belts. Eat too much. Drink too much. Buy too much.
“There is a Me that I cannot see.”
– John Ortberg
He was doing it again.
The kids and I just looked at each other, laughed, and rolled our eyes and let him continue.
You see, my husband was telling someone yet again about his year off from drinking Mountain Dew.
But well, really…
About six months into his third time of trying to go off this very addictive beverage, my husband returned from our neighborhood gas station.
As he walked through the door, I heard my daughter, McKayla, say, “Oh dad…and you were doing so good! Hasn’t it been about six months that you’ve been off?”
Brent looked at her baffled.
Mc pointed to the beverage in his hand.
“What? This?... This isn’t Mountain Dew.” He said.
“Isn’t that a Mountain Dew icee?” she asked.
“Yes. But that’s not the same thing,” he replied.
“What?!” Mc laughed.
From the kitchen stove, I leaned back and took a peak at him standing in the mud room. He had to be messing with her I thought. I searched his expression. No. He wasn’t joking.
Beginnings are always messy.
Last year, our family moved into a charming, full-of-character, little blue house that was built in the 1920’s.
Almost everything is beautiful in its own regard: The wide farmhouse sink. The French doors peeking into the living room. The sturdy hardwood floors. The composed clawfoot tub in the upstairs bathroom. And since we are in no way Chip and Joanna Gaines, my husband and I breathed a deep sigh of relief when the inspection came back clear, and it was move-in ready! Nothing to fix, change, or update.
Well, almost nothing.
When you walk into our kitchen, sure, you first see the woodworking of our tall cabinets paired with that drool-worthy farmhouse sink. (To which my husband actually said, “We will take this out, right?” I can almost hear you gasping through the screen. I know, readers...I have since enlightened him.)
But when you look to the left, you see a randomly placed stove and when you look to the right you see a floating fridge, and when you take a closer look, you see no countertop space, and I hate to even write this down, but no dishwasher. It’s random. And ugly. And somewhat maddening.
So this week, we’ve looked our kitchen square in the eye and started making progress towards renovating it into something functional and aligning the charm with rest of the house. Starting with the paint.
We (and I mean we, as in my husband) laid down the prime the other night, and as I walked into the kitchen to see the progress as only a dutiful contractor would, he quickly said, “It’s just the prime! There’s streaks and you can still see the wood paneling underneath, but don’t panic. It’s going to take a few coats to get it to look how we imagined.” He knew I would panic. Lift my eyebrows. And wonder what we were thinking trying to DIY. He knew I would be skeptical, discouraged by what appeared a messy situation. Because I like to see betterment in the progress.
But sometimes, it gets messy before it gets good. Have you ever experienced that?
Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile.
-William Cullen Bryant
This morning the sky looks different. The sun is lower and not quite as bright. There is a nip in the air. A big change is taking place, and I can’t stop it…even if I wanted to.
Every October, the transformation is set into motion. In our yard, it starts with a lone maple tree, the one that soaks in the sunlight all summer long and offers a shady place for the perennials to grab shelter from the heat. As the sun angle shifts, that same statuesque tree begins to turn a beautiful crimson. I catch a glimpse of it through the window in my hallway, and I know that this wonderful summer season has come to a close, and fall is going to be rushing in before I know it.
I have always been fascinated by the changing of seasons. Maybe that is why I chose the Midwest as the place I wanted to live and work. I feel the change in the weather is also an opportunity for change in my own life, and I find myself looking forward to this seasonal change even more than maybe I should. Fall always brings hope of a spiritual reset of sorts, a time to prepare for a season of rest, and I am almost always ready for it.
Counting other people's sins does not make you a saint...
Unfortunately, it’s a reality of this dark and fallen world. It isn’t one we like to talk about, maybe because we can hardly fathom the situations ourselves.
Maybe even you have been subject to the pain of this not-so-rare phenomenon; it knocks us off our rocker when the people we suspect the least commit a moral failure. Chances are you have felt the confusion, shame, or hurt in one way or another. A famous speaker, a local pastor, and even someone in our own friend and family circles.
It’s the very reason some have chosen to avoid Christianity like the plague saying they have no desire to be apart of a group that represents hypocrisy. Christians and non-Christians alike are all stuck wondering: how can someone who claims to follow God commit such actions?
Initially when I would hear about someone committing a moral failure, I separated that person as far from someone I could ever be as possible. Like I am walking on the side of light and good and that person like Anakin switched over to the dark side. Without doing it intentionally, I got this lens of disgust and belittlement while placing myself on this pedestal of Christian superiority.