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Friday, September 28, 2012

To Be Grasped

Linking up with Lisa-Jo today for Five Minute Friday.  Here are her rules:
1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..
Five Minute Friday
OK, are you ready? Please give me your best five minutes on:  Grasp

It’s there, almost at your fingertips, just out of reach.  Your heart’s desire is just beyond your grasp.  It invades your dreams and your daydreams.  Everywhere you turn is the thought of what you could attain… if only.

Every day is a struggle to prioritize, to leave the urgent for the important, and then return.  Books sit on shelves collecting dust and projects sit half done.  They are there, just out of reach for the moment.

Then the opportunity to serve someone, but the toddler is pulling.  The face that so desperately cries out for prayer, but the light is changing to green.  Go.

The anger and judgment pop up out of nowhere, in the kitchen, in the mall, at the preschool.  You know better, you grasp for that Spirit that is inside to well up, to fill out all the empty spaces that are inhabited by self.  Looking to Paul, to Peter, to the Samaritan woman, to Jesus.  Yes, to Jesus!  That’s the answer.


Ugh!  So unfinished and hanging there in mid air like that.  This was prompted by the first thing that came to mind and is the direct result of my study of John for Community Bible Study.

Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
Philippians 2:5-7

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Plan It: Handmade Holidays: Pinterest to Present

Today is the 25th which means it is time for the second installment of Handmade Holidays: Pinterest to Present.

If you are just joining us on our little holiday adventure, WELCOME!! You can read all about how we are moving from Pinterest board to Present in the original post.  Come back here when you are finished reading.

Today we are moving on to phase 2 of our plan.  Don’t freak out on me if you think you are a whole month behind and can’t join us.  For many people, it wouldn’t seem right unless there was a last minute scramble.  We are trying to avoid that altogether, but I know you.  You want this year to be different. Here we go.  I’m going to help you get ready for…


Christmas Tree in Bryant Park, NYC

Last month the challenge was to make your PICKS.  Pick your people and your projects.  I have two things that I want to do. 1)homemade hot chocolate mix and 2)knitted dish cloths.  The dish cloths will be for my mom and mother in law, per their request.  I have to tell you that this will require substantial improvement in the knitting department, but I really want to get them made.  The hot chocolate will be for cousins, teachers…maybe even a little for me.  I need to further research the ingredients and recipes.  I want it to be amazing! 

I located my holiday control journal (link) and have been thinking about the card situation for this year.  Sending out Christmas cards or letters seems to be my holiday Achilles heel.
Time to move on….

Step 2: PLAN

Take your projects and list everything that you will need.  Don’t forget about the canisters, bags, ribbons, tags, instructions, ingredients, boxes, shrink wrap, filler, utensils, fabric, yarn….  You get the idea.  List EVERYTHING!

I already have my yarn, needles and patterns for the dish cloths.  If someone can tell me where to find a couple extra hours for each day I’d greatly appreciate it.

For the hot chocolate I need to determine: the container, a scoop, labels, decorative accents for container, best recipe to use, best ingredients to use, how to gift wrap for presentation, tags.  That may seem like a lot, but it’s worth thinking about that now instead of looking for a tag that will work without messing up my container (i.e. those little sticky gift tags).

Be creative!  Go back to Pinterest and look at gift wrapping ideas.  I’ve also found resources for containers and other unusual items .  Have fun with it.  Why not be a JOYFUL GIVER this year??

Pull out your box or bag and start collecting all of the items you’ll be using along with your lists and instructions.

How about your little Halloween treat baggies, Thanksgiving place cards, napkin rings and the like that you were considering?  Halloween is just over a month away.  What about wreaths?  Come back this week, I’ve got a great tip for you.

I’ve also started collecting items I’ll need for my Truth in the Tinsel advent crafts.  I’ve organized my other supplies so I can easily tell what I still need.  I want to make it more than 6 days this year.


Do these two things and let me know in the comments what great ideas you are coming up with.  I want to be able to help you with the next steps.  Grab a button while you’re at it to remind yourself and share with others if you like.

I’m getting in the holiday spirit just thinking about it.  We have passed the 100 day mark.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Wide Open

Linking up with Lisa-Jo today for Five Minute Friday.  Here are her rules:
1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..
Five Minute Friday

OK, are you ready? Please give me your best five minutes on:  Wide

My arms, my eyes, my heart.

I want to keep them all wide.  I want them to take in and not push away; be open and receptive, not shunning.

I feel the anger rise and the clenching begins.  The jaw tightens, the eyes narrow, the fists and pulled in elbows.  Then the heart pulls its hood over its head to go to a corner and sulk because it has been injured – again.

Then I stop and see myself, not in a mirror – I don’t dare walk past for a physical glimpse – but with my mind, and soul, and spirit.  Then it comes, the realization that Who Am I to take offense at such a small slight?  Was a response that extreme necessary?  Then I can open again.  

It begins with the mouth to ask forgiveness and then I go to the arms of the forgivers and they are opened wide for me.  Then I return to where I was and start again.  Wide open to love.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Did You Get the Meme, Oh!

Origin of a meme

Here a meme, there a meme, everywhere a meme, meme.  Old MacDonald had a what???  E-I-E-I-Oh, my!

I see this word everywhere I turn lately.  Whilst I’m daydreaming along with Pinterest, it’s there.  As I play with my cohorts on Fridays, it’s there again.  Facebook, even, provides no escape from the word.

I do not consider myself an early adopter, or even one to comprehend early new words that creep into our lexicon.  It is because of my deep love but shallow understanding of linguistics that I try to develop a full morphology of a word before using it in public.  My inner Henry Higgins comes alive and I want to dig down to the roots before transplanting anything into my vocabulary.

This has been a tough nut for me to crack and feel confident with employing “meme”.  I have a vague sense of its usage, and a more vague sense of the actual meaning.   At this point I must do my research.

Let’s begin with the pronunciation.  By my title you can clearly see that I assumed it rhymed with the first syllable of memo. I do hope you got my play on words and that it didn’t fall flat.  Unfortunately, this is incorrect.  Meme, sounds like meem, which rhymes with dream.  Knowing how to say a word is a good start.

Encarta English dictionary gives this definition:   any characteristic of a culture, e.g. its language, that can be transmitted from one generation to the next in a way analogous to the transmission of genetic information.

The all-knowing Wikipedia offers:  an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture. [2] A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate and respond to selective pressures.

At the end of my post here, I’m developing a more developed definition.  What I want is a simple definition.  Can you help me out?  I’d love to hear your definition.  How do you use this word?  Do you understand it, or are you as puzzled as I am?  Is blogging the new meme to spread cultural information?

Heeelp!!!  J

I have linked to the source of the photo, but was unable to determine the creator of it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Words with Impact

So, did you read that thing the other day?  It was about all this stuff that just seems so important, but isn’t really.

Maybe you did, but you probably don’t remember any of the contents.

Photo credit

Earlier this evening I read a post by Jeff Goins titled, “Five Weak Words that Make Your Writing Less Effective” .  When I finished reading through the post I scanned the comments.  The shorter ones that confessed to the over utilization of these words sped past my fingers.  The longer remarks listed other offending pronouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs.  I must now confess that I am particularly guilty of typing those “lazy” words more frequently than any reader need consume.

Have I stumbled upon one cause of diminished impact by my words? Potentially.

You are by this point curious as to the offenders.  I will list his five: stuff, things, got, was/is/are/am, went.  Jeff gave an honorable mention of sorts to: very, all, important, used to, every, never, feel, seem, think, often, almost, big, small, have got, just.

Subsequent writers proffered their own lists.  I became intrigued, engrossed, and then horrified.  Words added included: it, believe, seems to me, probably, would/could/should, that.  There were more, but you get the gist.  My favorite was the use of swear words.  Janey Goude noted that her high school English teacher had stated “cursing is the sign of a weak mind, a lazy mind, or an uneducated mind that lacks the vocabulary to express a depth of human emotion. Command of the English language makes cursing obsolete.”  I agree.  That was the only bright spot for me as far as my writing was concerned.

Now I must apologize for the laziness in my writing that I have published without careful review and editing.  I desire for my words to have impact and to leave a lasting impression.  I don’t want that impression to be of myself, I am a too poor representation of my potential through Christ.
I want these lines to hold a mirror up to reflect the Sonlight onto you.  In that light, my wish is for you to aspire, to create, to encourage, to be encouraged, to laugh, to nod in understanding.  I’m learning that I have responsibility.  I must embrace that and do the work as unto God.  This is the only purposeful way and I must determine to be more diligent.  

This determination applies not only to writing, but to every “job” that I have approached with laziness.  I’m sure this was not Jeff’s original intent, but the impact of his carefully chosen words has produced a harvest of implication that I must now reap.  This is a challenge that I want to meet.

Linking up with Mary Beth at New Life Steward

and with Katherine at Just a Thought.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Finding Community

I’ve been thinking about community a lot the past few days.  I crave community, but beyond that I need community.  We all need community to different degrees.

I love being in those big groups with common shared experiences.  

 Or to a Stanley Cup parade, because how often do you get to do that? (This photo cannot show how stinkin' hot it was that day!)

I love being one-on-one with a girlfriend sharing the mundane and the Holy work of God.

I just read Stefanie’s UpLIFTing Words about 5 reasons why she chooses community.  You know what?  We all have different reasons why we need this.  We all have different reasons for why we avoid it or don’t make it a priority.  A good one to throw out there is that it is WORK!  After all the houseWORK, yardWORK, schoolWORK, and even work WORK – who has the time or the energy for more of it?  It begins by making that conscious decision that it is worth it.

We aren’t called to be Lone Rangers in this world.

I went to my first Community Bible Study Tuesday morning.  I was one of about 40 newbies to this collection of 400 women all wanting to study and grow in God’s word – in COMMUNITY.  I’ll be placed in a much smaller group of women that will allow relationships to form.  I planted to seeds and I will have to tend to them to see them bear fruit.

I’ve also found ways to build other communities online.  One, is a super surprise secret that I can’t tell you about for a few more weeks.  You’ll have to just sit tight for that one.  But there are others.  The blogosphere is teeming with amazing women that share my heart song.  Twitter has connected me to amazing women on the other side of the country and the other side of my county.  Facebook has introduced me to people I grew up 20 minutes away from, but have just found yesterday!  That is not an exaggeration, literally yesterday.

Allume is building a community for me that will let me have girls’ night out for 3 nights in a row in just over a month.  There aren’t enough hash tags or emoticons in the world to express my excitement over that.
Tonight I’m going to hang out with my #FMFparty girlfriends starting at about 9:30 Eastern Time until I have to hit the hay.  Those west of me and the night owls will wait for Lisa-Jo’s prompt for Five Minute Friday.  They will then pour out blessings for me and you through their keyboards and have them ready to greet me in the morning.  I’ll read their words, be encouraged and send them on to others (after I’ve written my own).

I encourage you to strike out and start making your own community.  There are so many ways to do it now.  You never know who you might meet along the way.  I can tell you this.  If you are meeting with one or two others who share your faith and love for the Lord – you will meet Jesus there.  That’s pretty good company – as good as it gets, actually.  It’s worth the work.

Where are you finding unexpected community?  What is community doing in your life right now?

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.  Matthew 18:20

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Close to Home

My husband celebrates his birthday on September 7.  We had only been in our home in Chicago for a few months when this day rolled around in 2001.  I wanted to give him a special treat, so I got baseball tickets.  Our first game together at Wrigley Field!  Since you can only go to a game when one is being played, we would have to wait until the 10th.  We went to the game, we ate hot dogs and peanuts and I believe the Cubs beat the Reds.  It was a great time.

September 11, my world was going to change.  I could hardly sleep for the excitement, but knew I was also going to sleep in the next morning.  I was going to start interior design school  the next afternoon.  I would ride the Brown line to the Loop and walk over to S. Michigan Ave for my first drafting class.  Did I mention I was excited?  Morning rolled around and I was awakened earlier than planned by my mom calling.  Then I got the news: a plane had hit the World Trade Center.  I felt bad, but knew it had happened before and it was probably an accident, but then she explained there had been a second.  We all know the rest of that terrible story.

I sat glued to the television and with the phone at arm’s reach.  It became evident that the Sear’s Tower was also a potential target and that the Loop was shutting down.  For those of you unfamiliar with Chicago, this is the central business district.  I wanted my husband out of there.  He was in falling distance of that massive structure.  He happened to work for a major financial institution headquartered there and was partially responsible for getting everything locked down.  It wasn’t just buildings that crumbled on that day.

Needless to say, yet I will, I didn’t start classes until the next day.  Moving through the city was strange at the least.  We had been spared the worst of the tragedy.  Then the stories started coming and continued to come for years.  While I was not there, no one in my family or immediate circle was lost, the stories came very close to home.

A few days later, I found out from a friend that my next door neighbor was in Manhattan with her parents searching for her youngest sister.  She had worked in the tower for only 6 weeks after getting her first job after graduation.  My neighbor found this out when he saw Leslie on Good Morning America being interviewed about their search.  My heart descended and my first trip to Ground Zero included and intentional search for her name on the wall.  There it was – Katie McCloskey.

When the news came out about the Cantor Fitzgerald office we racked our brains to remember that nice man’s name from the conference that had been held at Top of the World. Where was his business card and what about the people running that conference that was again being held right then at that same location?  These are questions still unanswered for us.

Since then, I’ve become friends with people who were living and working there that day.  Emily’s husband who had just arrived late at work and not even checked voicemail when the plane hit.  They left the city because he could no longer deal with the survivor’s guilt of convincing only one person from his office to leave the building with him.  The others decided to go back up the stairs and wait when they neared the 60th or so floor.

This couple who each walked miles toward each other without any way of communicating to meet in the middle and rejoice would meet me years later.  These are the stories that came to me in Chicago. Then other stories when we moved to the NYC area of neighbors watching the smoke from the silent beaches of CT, because 4 years later it was still fresh, met me in our new home.

So on this day when we remember the loss I am met again with new pain.  Just hours ago my sister in law lost her father.  When we hope pain fades over time I realize that she will never forget what day she lost him.  September 11 has become a marker for death and life.  Through it all we realize there is one constant, one unshakeable mighty fortress to which we can run.

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.
Psalms 46:1-3 (NIV)

Did September 11 hit close to home for you?  I’d love to hear your story and pray peace and comfort for all those still dealing with the pain of that terrible day.

Linking up with Mercy (Ink).

Friday, September 7, 2012

Mother and Son Dance

Linking up with Lisa-Jo today for Five Minute Friday.  Here are her rules:
1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..
Five Minute Friday

OK, are you ready? Please give me your best five minutes on: Graceful

Photo credit

Awkward is more like it.  It’s a tug and pull of wills and wishes.  We go back and forth at it all day, that little 3 year old and I.  I’m the one who started this dance long ago.  Shouldn’t I know the steps by now?

It’s different when you have to share the stage. Our pas de deux has more the fire of a paso doble, but without the beauty and coordination.  We clash and clang. We step on toes continuously – and after a while it hurts.  

The shoes don’t show the blood like an aspiring ballerina’s, but the hearts still feel the cuts.

We wound and injure as we learn this dance between strong-willed son and hard-headed Momma. The music gets drowned out until the end of the day.  

We sit on the bed, we read, we pray and we ask that tomorrow we will be more graceful.  More GRACE-FULL with each other.  Until then we thank God that he is full of grace for us and gives it so freely.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Confessions of a Creative

I have a confession to make.  I am completely uninspired.  So uninspired, that I’m writing about being uninspired.

I don’t know if it’s the weather, the days becoming ever so slightly shorter, sheer exhaustion, or what.  I have to say, it’s getting old.  I don’t like not being able to play with thoughts, or images, or words.  It’s dull.  I’m dull!  I want the fog to lift and the barrier to come down.

I’ve just been working on organizing all my crafty, designy tools and supplies in the hopes that it will light a little spark.  Nothing.  Still boring.

All this to say… SORRY!

I feel bad for even subjecting you to this little proclamation of my blasé state of mind right now.  The thing about creativity is that you never know when it will strike.  I’ve got a notepad handy and a pen within reach.  If something comes up I’ll share it.  Until then, there is plenty of housework to be done.  Maybe that is the stifling culprit. I have a sneaking suspicion it is. 

Until next time, I hope you are having an amazingly creative day.  Please tell me about it in the comments.  Maybe I just need you to inspire me.  J

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Happy Terrible Traffic Tuesday

That’s what they call it here in my neck of the woods.  The day after Labor Day is officially “Terrible Traffic Tuesday”!  Doesn’t that just sound like a kick in the teeth after the unofficial end to summer?  Most years I hang on to summer tooth and nail.  I love the long days and hours in the swimming pool or at the beach.  I love the throwing on shorts and a top – it’s so easy to get dressed. But, I digress…

Photo credit
So back to the name.  It’s not about vacation travelers heading back home.  It’s about the schools!  This is no exaggeration: there are hundreds of thousands of kids going back to 250 schools – in this county alone!  Does the thought of hundreds of thousands of school age kids make you shudder a little bit?? Sorry to scare you like that. 

I think the rest of the traffic is summer weary moms going to the mall, the grocery store, or Target – ALONE!!  They are in their cars listening to the radio station of their choice and blissfully clogging up the roads.  Who cares how many lights you have to sit through to make that left turn when no one is screaming in your ear about how much they don’t want to go to the store.

So, I will celebrate this day with all the other non-homeschoolers out there.  This is a day to celebrate personal freedom, expression of your own want-to-do lists and finishing a hot cup of coffee.  I will go to the grocery store and get everything on my list.  I’ll go up and down each aisle at my leisure.  I’ll happily breeze past every item with Lightning McQueen without giving it a second glace. 

So to the ones of us by ourselves today I say:

Happy Terrible Traffic Tuesday!