Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Brittle vs. Hard

Oh how I need an abundance of grace!

For myself---what a wretched mess I am.

For others....have mercy, I am impatient when things don't go my way.

For the journey--God, I really didn't think this was how it was going to look.

A high station in life is earned by the gallantry with which appalling experiences are survived with grace.
Tennessee Williams

Have you seen the Bill Murray movie "Groundhog's Day" ? While it isn't a favorite of mine, it definitely makes me think of my life and the manner in which I have to learn lessons. I feel like I am destined to repeat my flaws and mistakes like a broken loop on an old VHS tape sometimes!

Short-tempered, perfectionistic, critical, impatient, identity is tied up in my flaws and failures this morning. I am reminded that there is a better way.

I have a long way to go. Today, I'm stuck in about the third replaying...I'm wrestling with recognizing when I'm a jerk and moving on, instead of staking a tent in the land of shame, which I'm so prone to do.

I'm pondering where the brittleness comes from and recognizing what I've allowed to cause it. Back in my scientist days, I knew the difference between brittleness and hardness. Brittleness means a substance breaks easily under stress. Hardness is an indicator of how unyielding a substance is when force is applied.

My heart and my attitude have become brittle. Both are in need of Living Water in order to become resilient and pliable again. I'm in a drought spite of the many bible studies I'm participating in. When the earth is parched and cracked and a big rain comes, sometimes the water runs off instead of soaking into the ground. Ironically, we are in a season of relentless, soaking rain here in the valley. Everywhere you step you sink into soft earth. I need to soak my heart and mind, continuously, in the life-giving water of Truth to regain that soft, plowable ground that is moldable and shapeable without shattering.

I'm thankful for the lesson today-- that brittle doesn't equal hardened. I had forgotten. I'm thankful for grace, like rain, that will soften brittle places and allow more grace to grow.

As in nature, as in art, so in grace; it is rough treatment that gives souls, as well as stones, their luster.
Thomas Guthrie

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

\o/ God inhabits our praise....

“...I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalms 34:1).

Last night I was typing a comment to an old friend on facebook. I started the comment with the word "woohoo" in response to her son cooking dinner for the family. I was happily remembering him as a toddler, when we first met and thinking about how much time had passed.

My phone autocorrected my "woohoo" to "Elohim".

It reminded me that God inhabits the praises of His people- as if He were in that silly word of joy, Elohim in the woohoo. Sacred in eucharisteo. Holy in the mundane. God in my every moment.

It made me laugh out loud, that Papa would choose to remind me of his ever present joy in praise through such an unexpected coincidence.

I want to live a life of thanks.
Look for extraordinary in the ordinary.
Find grace in the everyday.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Daring to live fully....

that is the challenge being picked up by many of my female friends, both real and virtual. Learning to live fully, in the moment, embracing our current reality with grace, joy, thankfulness and an appreciation for the fact that we are exactly where we are meant to be, in spite of our circumstances because the sovereign God has placed us there, at this time, in this moment.

Boy, it sounds good. Especially when I'm curled up with Ann Voskamp's book, a hot cup of peppermint tea, my house is clean and my kids are quietly, peacefully engaged in something.

Not so much when I'm dealing with the raw material of me. Cranky, short-fused, snarky, saying all the words I mean to choke back instead of responding with love and grace because I'm so thankful for all of the stuff of life.

Truth? or Dare?

When I was a kid, I always took the dare. I took the dare because I fancied myself to be brave and reckless and there was some kind of thrill to doing stupid things....and I didn't really want to answer truth to questions that I didn't want to be asked.

As I am slowly, slowly, ever so slowly chewing my way through this book, I'm finding that God is asking me both questions and I don't get to choose. He is challenging me to look at the truth of who I am, and who I'm not. He is asking me to remember the Truth of Who He is, and to embrace that. Cling to it. Recognize it as the life raft that it is when I'm drowning in fear, doubt, anger, self-loathing, insecurity, feelings of failure and frustration. Truth.

He is also daring me to live it out loud. He is asking me to recognize the idols of comfort and peace and acceptance that I've built altars to in my life, and burn them. He is urging me to destroy the false securities that I've stored up for my own comfort and satisfaction. He is daring me to trust Him and to live my life with that at the forefront.

I am finding that I am not the brave, reckless girl I once thought I was. I've built up buffers in my life to feeling and being. I am reminded of the skin horse in The Velveteen Rabbit....
What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

"I suppose you are real?" said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.

I want to be real.

I want to live real.

It is the truth. I'll take the dare, and challenge you to do the same. Truth and Dare. Let's do it.

People with their minds set on you,
you keep completely whole,
Steady on their feet,
because they keep at it and don’t quit.

Isaiah 26:3 (The Message

Friday, February 4, 2011


I read Ann Voskamp's blog entry today regarding Simple Homeschooling, and found myself thinking about the things I allow to derail me on a semi-regular basis.

She talked about living a daily liturgy, allowing our days to be routine, reverent and an act of worship-- all concepts I've thought about before, but there was a new reminder regarding my hurried life in today's thoughts.

Hardstopping. Stopping to pray, read, write, whatever the necessary thing is-- in spite of what needs done.

When my triplets were little, I did that. I had to. I stopped to pray with them, read to them, play with them. I stopped whatever I was doing because I recognized that the days were fleeting and I'd never get it all done, anyway.

The laundry piled up, the dishes constantly worked their way toward chaos instead of order, the toys were always on the floor and the dog always needed walked.

Now, however, in a house filled with teenagers, its not quite so disordered. The dishes get caught up and the laundry does, too, on occaision. Plus, there are many hands to lighten the load so it seems that we can "get it done".

There is a sense that the house can be ordered, the laundry be managed, the dust can be conquered and the dog hair can be contained, if we just stay on top of it. Schoolwork can be completed, the daily tasks and routines can find a stopping point...

And we hurry. We hurry to get it all done so that we can idle. I'm struck by what the goal is. Complete it. Check it off. Finish it. For what? To have time on our hands?

Many years ago, Jeff got a ticket for rolling through a stop sign. He looked both ways, saw nothing coming, slowed down and cruised right through the intersection. A policeman saw the roll through and gave him a sizeable ticket. He was sentenced to traffic school in order to get out of paying.

Ann's words were traffic school for me this morning. I am living my life looking both ways and rolling through the intersection. I'm rushing living, waiting for God to show up when He is already here. I'm hurrying up to wait.

I'm looking at my fourteen year olds scratching their algebra assignment in notebooks today, recognizing anew that time is fleeting. I need to hardstop, to pray with them, read with them, play a game with them. It doesn't matter if the dishes aren't put away at this moment in time or that there are four baskets of laundry waiting to be folded. Dog hair needs swept off of the staircase, but it always does. I have to.

The days are short. God is here. I want to stop and recognize Him instead of rolling through the intersection on my way to nowhere.

21-25 Thank you for responding to me;
you've truly become my salvation!
The stone the masons discarded as flawed
is now the capstone!
This is God's work.
We rub our eyes—we can hardly believe it!
This is the very day God acted—
let's celebrate and be festive!
Salvation now, God. Salvation now!
Oh yes, God—a free and full life!
Psalm 118: 21-25 The Message

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Have you watched that tragic movie?
It's probably 20 years old or so by now.

I remember watching it when I wasn't even twenty-five and sobbing until I thought I'd be sick. I can't really imagine the impact it would have on me now, now that I'm 42 and not living up to the potential that is placed in me.....not really living life to it's fullest....choosing the coma on some days.

See, the gist of the movie is that there are some patients who suffered from encephalitis or something like that, and they've been living in a comatose state. The, the miracle drug arrives.

They awake.

They speak, see, feel , taste, engage.

They experience life, so joyfully, engage in it, express themselves.

Then ( spoiler alert. Hey. It's a 20 year old movie. Cut me some slack.) they start to slip back into their comatose state.

For all of the joy, the hope, the purposed doesn't really matter. Temporary at best.

Tragic. True story, too, based on a memoir by Oliver Sacks in the 70's.

Here's the kicker, though.

I'm not so different some of the time.

I live numb. Dull. Undisciplined and unpurposed. Catatonic to the purposes God has written in my DNA and called my heart to. I blunt my own passions and dull my own heart by accepting things that are less than.

Less than what I'm meant to be, less than what I dream of doing. This, too, is a true story. Based on a not yet written memoir by me.

Ephesians 5:14 (The Message)

11-16Don't waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It's a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ.

Wake up from your sleep,
Climb out of your coffins;
Christ will show you the light!
So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!

Yeah, man!

That's the cry of my heart this evening. I'm climbing out of my coffin and inviting everyone in my life to do the same. My husband. My kids. You, if you're so inclined.

These are desperate times. Let's make the most out of every chance we get, Christ will show us the light.

Switchfoot - Meant to live
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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Such Great Heights....

I love that song by the Postal Service.

They will see us waving from such great
Heights, 'come down now,' they'll say
But everything looks perfect from far away,
'come down now,' but we'll stay...

Yeah, it's January. Time to set such lofty goals that I'm overwhelmed by all of my own aspirations. I'm not even gonna pretend that it's a new concept for me, or that I'm even very successful at the whole new beginnings and new lease on life stuff....


This time feels different.

This time, I'm old enough to know that change doesn't come easy and I don't expect it to. This time, I'm just ready for it. Change. Ready to embrace it with my flabby, forty something arms and hold on to it for all I'm worth.

I have lofty goals.

I want to be more like Jesus. Not because I'm supposed to. Just because I'd rather be like Him than anyone else. I long to be more like Him. More loving. More forgiving. More passionate. More God centered and purposed to live for the things that matter instead of being blindsided by the things that don't.

I want to be healthier. Spiritually, sure. But mentally, emotionally and physically, too. I really want to be the best me I can be. My momming and wifing is definitely affected by my lack of energy and I want that to change. Strike that. I *need* that to change.

I want to laugh more. Louder. Even if people look at me funny.

I want to live in the moment, with abandon. The moments are flying by. I don't want to miss out on my life while I'm waiting for it to happen.

so. I'm going to do some hard things this year, that will hopefully be less difficult when next year's "New Year, new goals, new outlook" post rolls around.

I'm going to move. Often. I want to become a runner. Scares me to put that in print because I am an awkward, limping runner at best right now. But, there it is.

I also want to revamp my cooking. I cook like a madwoman and take great pride in it...but my kitchen forays definitely need a facelift. 2011 will be the year of "Cooking Light". Yep. I'm going to pull out all of my issues of that trusty magazine and cook a year's worth of meals from it's illustrious pages. Think Julie and Julia without the butter, foie gras and hopefully with the opposite effect on my waistline. If I'm disciplined about it, I hope to chronicle that progression on these pages. We shall see.

Finally, I'm going to perfect the balancing act of self-discipline and grace for my mistakes. Well, I'm going to work on perfecting that artful balance. I want to be who I was created to be and not beat myself up in the process.

Happy New Year. Hope yours is off to a fantastic start. I've managed to keep all of my lofty goals for the 48 hours that it's been 2011.

Friday, February 26, 2010


My girl is headed to the local veterinary office this morning. Twice a month she shadows there from 9 to 6, assisting with surgeries, calming dogs and cats and owners, feeding treats, pulling stitches, cleaning exam rooms..... You name it, she does it. She plans on being a vet someday and has the great benefit of following a friend of ours and learning from her. I am amazed by how much she's learned already. What size tubing to use during anesthesia, dosage amounts, dispensing meds, all kinds of diagnostic well as the day to day details of running an office, expenses versus income, payroll, overhead, a lot of behind the scenes stuff. Shadowing has been and continues to be an invaluable experience for her and she hopes to continue through vet school---learning all she can to be the best veterinarian she can be. She is challenged and taught, there are requirements made of her, yet nothing is expected of her that she is not yet ready for. It is a phenomenal opportunity.

I need to start shadowing. I want to learn all I can to be the best Michele I can be. Come to me, get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me. Watch how I do it. learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly. Matthew 11:28