Monday, May 28, 2012


In the United States, today is Memorial Day and a day to remember those who have died in military service.  It's quite common to remember loved ones in general who have passed as well.  Remembering is a funny thing.  Sometimes you wish you could remember more about someone, but you can't.  Other times, memories haunt and we wish they would never return.

Today, I'd like to encourage you to remember.  Remember for growth and for learning.  Remember the parents or grandparents that were good and strong.  Remember them for the examples they set and the lives they lead.  Remember them for the sacrifices they made so that you and your family could benefit today.  It's always healing to the soul to remember the good moments where time stands still in your mind.

My sweet grandparents, J.D. & Susie Elmore, who lived strong lives of integrity, compassion and sweet simplicity.

My grandmother Cynthia Scott who was a wonderful example of love, creativity and joy!

But don't forget to remember those that did none of those things.  Those that hurt others, that made terrible choices.  Remember the wasted time or the destruction that resulted.  Remind yourself of why you're choosing differently today.  Remember the pain, not to dwell or wallow, but to grow.  Learn from your past, whether full of joy or much much sorrow.  You made it here today - remember so that you can be grateful for that!

Remember those that left this earth too soon.  Remember the words never said or the experiences they never had.  Again, not to open deep wounds of sorrow, but to redeem the time you have today.  We are not promised much and certainly not tomorrow.

So, remember and grow.
Grow closer to those around you.
Grow deeper in your convictions.
Grow closer to God.

Learn from the past and all the lessons it has to teach.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Silencing a Song

A Minor Bird

I have wished a bird would fly away,
And not sing by my house all day;
Have clapped my hands at him from the door
When it seemed as if I could bear no more.
The fault must partly have been in me.
The bird was not to blame for his key.
And of course there must be something wrong
In wanting to silence any song.

-Robert Frost

I've never been an accomplished poet, but I certainly appreciate a well timed poem.  Poetry can pack a punch in the pretties of packages - pricking your heart without the tiniest felt attack.  Perhaps we should all speak in poetic rhyme, saying what's needed at the appropriate time?

What song are you trying to silence?  God says he desires my faith and trust in his timing and plans.  I work desperately to silence faith and trust, so that I can replace it with my own plans and control.  Is there someone in your life that you spend a lot of negative energy on? Energy full of anger or frustration?  Feeding resentment and critical opinions? Let them be.  There is beauty in all shapes and sizes, but we don't appreciate it because we're too busy trying to paint over it with our own version.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Do Hard Things

When I went into labor with Jude, I felt ready for the pain.  I knew it was going to be hard, but I really thought I was tough enough for it.  About 8+ hours of active, med-free labor later, I knew without a doubt that I had not, AT ALL, been ready.  The problem was - and still is - my relationship with pain or more specifically, things that are hard.  Instead of embracing it, being patient with it, trusting it in any way, I resist it, tense up and convince myself I'm really trying to work through it.  If I had ran towards the pain, towards the hard stuff, I believe that it would've given the contractions a better opportunity to do their job.  Instead, I had a perfectly place low baby that didn't budge for a good while.

For me, doing hard things is becoming a necessity.  Life is hard and to be the person I want - to live a life I can believe in - I have to grow, learn, do hard things!

I've not read this book, but I've heard a couple of interviews with the authors.  Do Hard Things by Alex & Brett Harris is a book for teens about rebellion against low expectations.  Here's a small excerpt:

"Most people don't expect you to understand what we're going to tell you in this book. And even if you understand, they don't expect you to care. And even if you care, they don't expect you to do anything about it. And even if you do something about it, they don't expect it to last.
Well, we do."

Now, I'm not a teenager, but the concept is awesome.  And if you have teenagers or will soon, read this! Better yet, get your kids to read it!  What if we changed the direction of our life by purposefully putting forth more effort, by choosing the harder option, by raising the expectations of what we do?  How might that change you?  Experiencing a completely natural child-birth was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life.  And that has changed me for the better.  It has helped me grow and just be ways I'd never thought possible.  Of course, everyone has a different hardest thing, but was it life changing? Do you do hard things?  Or are you like me most of the time, avoiding anything remotely hard?

I'm still working on this and processing this idea in my own life, but I seriously feel like it's worth considering.  Struggle, like the baby bird hatching from an egg, brings strength.  Why do we try to eliminate it then? 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

You Are Missing the Point

If I were to begin focusing my energy with Jude on learning 2nd grade math (he's 18 months old), what would you say to me?  You wouldn't tell me that 2nd grade math is a bad thing for him to learn.  You couldn't even call me a bad mother or say that I don't love my son.  Math is a good thing to learn and something that will benefit him his whole life.  But you should say something like, what's the rush and how important getting some other skills mastered first is.  Let's work on saying 2 word phrases first, right?  Yeah, it's just a waste of energy to neglect the simple building blocks of his development for a complex skill that, even if he were to grasp in some ways, wouldn't be all that helpful for a while.

What does this have to do with anything? Well, I feel like this has to do with everything I see right now.  In  our rush to be bigger, better, smarter, faster, wiser, richer, even more spiritual in some circles, there is a lot of neglect for simple building blocks of life.  

To be independently wealthy, its highly unlikely that all you can get there in a few months, piggybacking on someone else's idea and hard work.  Work.  Make money. Save money. Repeat.  Simple building blocks.  The big ideas and huge opportunities, if they come, will come later.

To be faster - faster athlete, faster learner, faster success - you must be able to do whatever it is slower and do it well.  Only then can you successfully perform faster.  If you just try to do everything fast, you'll stumble, drop the ball, run into others because you weren't paying attention and ultimately fail.  Slow down.  Master.  Speed up a bit.  Repeat.  Simple building blocks.  Being quick in all areas may come, but not today and not without work.

To be wise or more spiritual does not demand fingers in every pie.  Spiritual wisdom is not achieved by involvement in large projects, doing x number of good works and being skilled in Church Drama 101.  I know its easy to think that it is, but that's like going to the gym every day, just watching.  It doesn't make you any healthier.  Sure you learn a few things, but health - spiritual or physical - is not achieved by osmosis.  The sins and secret life we carry around, much like toxic fat, isn't going to just evaporate.  And whether you feel it or not, it is poisoning your life.  Self-reflect.  Confess.  Purify.  Heal.  Repeat.  Start with simple building blocks.  Without these, the rest is irrelevant. 

I am tempted daily to DO so many things.  Big projects to start, good works to maintain, wonderful wonderful things that most would applaud me for!  And, like I said, they are good things.  And maybe next week one or two will make it to my To-Do List.  But do you know something? I make them pointless and irrelevant by the things I neglect.   Things like my motives and attitudes towards those I am helping or others in need.  Things like neglecting a bleeding marriage and disobeying direct commands to respect and honor my husband.  Things like showing no regard for God's wisdom or opinions in how I spend my time, use my mouth or treat my family.  The world debates over how to bring about peace, end hunger and positive change.  I don't know the answer, but I know that if I abuse and neglect the things and relationships that I have the most control over, the simple building blocks, I'm much more of the problem than the solution.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Shootin' for the Moon

I've been accused of being too serious, not flexible enough and planning way more than doing.  
And it's true.  I forget to laugh at myself.  I hate plans that change.  
And the act of planning makes me giddy while the act of doing is exhausting.
But, today I'd like to share my defense.  There is a good reason why seriousness, commitment and planning are a regular part of my life and I pray always will be.  Have you ever heard the inspiration quote, "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you'll land in the stars"? It's cheesy, but this is the reason.  
I hate being rushed.  I wish life didn't require a strong work ethic.  I always, always run out of time.  I procrastinate.  I indulge in facebook, tv and eating too often.  I can talk myself out of doing all kinds of work.  I break things.  I lose things.  I disorganize things.  I forget things.  When left to my own devises, I can mess up anything.  And before you kind-hearted souls even start, I'm not looking for a "Oh no you don't dear" or a "You do so many good things, dear" because that's not helpful or the point.  Even serial killers have been known to be polite.
Planning, structuring and analyzing to perfection is beneficial in my life because it gets me somewhere.  It will never get me to an ideal or probably not even halfway, but it gets me further.  It helps me grow.  If you never approach your life seriously, if you never stick with what you plan and never make a plan to begin with, then you will sink farther into the quicksand of regression.  No growth, no improvement, and probably things will get worse.
As I am daily convicted of, balance is the key.  You can't plan everything.  You have to laugh and run in the sprinkler sometimes.  And, yes, somedays the plan has to go out the window and its your job to embrace spontaneity.  

But if you shoot for the moon, you just might land in the stars! 
I can't even type that without gagging, but you catch my drift. :) 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Why Writing is So Important

Sometimes when I begin to write, I have no idea what I'm going to write about.  All I know is that there is a huge mass lodged somewhere between my throat and my heart that needs to be digested somehow.  The only way I can find to do that is to disassemble it piece by piece through writing/typing word after word until I finally understand what the mass was made of.  By that point, it no longer plagues me.  That's why writing is so important to me.  

We live in an America that can be very self-centered and entertainment-oriented.  In religious and service circles, the reaction to that is admonition to do the opposite: focus on others and serve others.  And I believe in those principles.  When every move we make is all about our needs and entertaining ourselves, life quickly grows miserable and pointless.  Balance, though, is always the name of the game.  We must care for ourselves so that we can care for others.  Never caring for what makes you healthy (physically, mentally & spiritually) leads to destruction and breakdown in your effectiveness and accuracy in serving others.  For me, writing is a beautiful tool that feeds the self while usually accomplishing other things simultaneously.  Side effects from writing regularly (letters, journal, essays, art in any literary form) can be self-awareness - Are you really who you think you are? Deeper honesty with yourself or those you write to, strengthening the health of your brain in the creative process.  Some even get paid for writing!

I know that everyone is always busy.  I am too.  And I hate that, by the way.  But if there was one thing I would encourage you to do - one thing I believe could light the fire that could change everything - that would be developing the practice of writing.  You will not regret it.