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Monday, October 27, 2014

Allume Reflection #1

I’m sitting here, in a still sleep-deprived, mind addled state.  I have faces and words, hymns and racing thoughts running through my brain. They run just as I did at Dulles airport to catch the tram to the terminal, to my bag, to my home, to my family.

I brought back memories, and dirty laundry, pounds of books, challenged assumptions and this:

I show hospitality to those around me, and angels unawares, when I treat each person in this world – near or far, face-to-face or remotely – with honor.

Honor and dignity don’t care about labels, skin tones, manner of dress, customs, language, ability, status, or the other person’s attitude toward me.

I can only be responsible for my own heart and my own actions in this life.  And believe me when I say with full confidence and assurance, I will be held responsible for both.

I was profoundly struck by the words of Shauna Niequist during her keynote speech at the Allume conference last week in Greenville, SC.  Hospitality was the topic, and as the author of Bread & Wine, this is not unfamiliar territory.  When she spoke of entertaining and engaging with others she defined a benchmark for success:

I practice true hospitality when others leave feeling better about themselves than about me.


I don’t need to be the chef that leaves you wanting more, the designer that you wish you could hire, the entertainer that you would see again and again, the host who should have her own television show, the stylist that you want to go shopping with you for a new wardrobe, or the hero saving the day.  I only need to love – and let others love me in their own particular way.

Easier said than done, right?  Yes, until we practice it over and over and over.  I find it interesting that PRACTICE is the word most often combined with hospitality.  Practice may never make perfect in this fallen and broken world, but practice may make it a little less so.

So this is my take away, my intention.  Just so you get the irony in that last sentence.  INTENTION is my one word this year.  I’m pretty sure that back at the beginning of the year I wasn’t thinking about this application.  I love when God grows us and shows us new ways.  Now all I have to do is say ‘yes’ and follow.  Join me?

One way to show love and hospitality to others is by linking arms with the Allume Giving Circle and Pure Charity.

First, sign up with your own account.  Do that here:

Second, help us spread the word about Patch a Child’s Heart with Preemptive Love Coalition.

How can you practice “hospitality” in a new way starting today?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Review: Breathing Room by Leanna Tankersley

I’ve been sitting on my thoughts, letting them soak in good and deep.  Sometimes they need to percolate before they have the right strength and lose the raw edge.  The need more body and refinement.  Really, this post should’ve been up a week ago, but it just wasn’t there.  I’m not sure it is yet.

There are times when ideas and books get into your DNA and you can’t express the difference, but you know it’s there.  Think of a holy virus that starts small, but fills your being with a new way of living.  This is how “Breathing Room”, the new book from Leanna Tankersley, is feeling to me.

Never have I read so many chapters with my mouth hanging open and feeling as if maybe I’d been spied on without knowing it.  Maybe those who wear hand-crafted aluminum foil hats to keep out the thought monitors are onto something.  Or maybe, we all have a lot of the same thoughts, but aren’t able to define what nags at us on the tired, lonely, dark, or frazzled days when we want it all to just. go. away!

That feeling of holding our breath under water to make it through to the next day, we’ve all been there at some point.  We are pushing through for the next big inhale that will sustain us as we hold it again.  But there’s a fundamental problem.  Taking in a big inhale is not what we need to do.

               The opposite of holding your breath isn’t inhaling, it’s letting go.

Letting go!

Letting go of the frantic, the control, the desire to suppress grief, the holding it togetherness – all that exhausts us.  The letting go is what gives us room to breath, to accept who we are and FULLY LIVE!

Leanna blends honesty, humor and a mastery of literary devices in “Breathing Room” that makes it entirely readable, relatable, and revolutionary.  It’s filled with “me, too” moments as well as empathy expanding moments for those you may not have experienced.  The insights are thought provoking and may change your perspective on the private struggles of others – and yourself.

I was given an advanced copy of Breathing Room to read by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing, but my opinions and subsequent self-evaluation are entirely my own.  I would be remiss, though, if I didn’t tell you that you should read this and see for yourself.  Available now through your favorite bookseller.

Disclosure:  I was provided a copy of this book for review.  As always, all opinions are my own.  This post contains affiliate links.  Thanks for your support when you use them.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Did You Know - Part 2

I started this story back in April. You can read Part 1 here because I'm sure you can't remember from that long ago. I had to re read it to see where I'd left off.

I left off by mentioning a long road that led to Las Vegas. That road started with lots of paperwork, and lawyers, and photos, and scrapbooking, and phone calls, and updates.... and you get the picture. There was a lot of PROCESS!  Processes can seem slow and arduous until they kick into high gear.  At that point it is white-knuckle-hanging-on-for-dear-life fast.  I'll start where the pedal hit the metal.

One early autumn Thursday night in Chicago I sat on the sofa in our high rise apartment with my husband as we got ready for our bi-weekly update call with our agency.  After going through all the standard questions and pleasantries, she said, "I wouldn't normally tell a client this, but I think someone is interested in your profile."  I think my heart skipped a beat, but knew better than to get it's hopes up.  She said that they would call us with any news.

This is where life gets crazy.  I'm going to go fast.

Friday, I had spent the day finishing up laundry and packing for our beach vacation.  I finally got around to taking a shower in the afternoon.  I turned off the water and heard the phone ringing.  I grabbed towels and ran out dripping through the hall to answer THE CALL!  There was a little boy, almost 9 months old, were we interested?  They would send an email with photos and important documents.  [I'm not going to share those here.  Sorry.]  I was caught off guard - even with the previous night's conversation.  I immediately forwarded the email to Shane at work and called him up.  Within 10 minutes I was back on the phone and finding out what was next.  There were several more calls.

Like I said, we were on our way to the beach.  We sat at a gate in O'Hare airport and made plans to have a phone conversation the next day from our hotel in SC.  You think turbulence on a flight will make your stomach flip.  Try finding out you are potentially going to be a mom -  in a matter of days!!!

On Sunday we went out to breakfast, and hit a bookshop - it was a rainy morning.  We were doing everything we could to figure out what to say to this birthmother and be on a vacation at the same time.  My parents were coming down the next day, but we didn't want to get their hopes up yet.  We were about to burst.  Other friends were in the area and met us for dinner.  We HAD to tell someone.

We had the phone call and it was a go!  When I say go, I literally mean go!.  She wanted us to fly to Vegas from vacation and then we could go back.  Unfortunately, that's not how things work.  We had to buy a small netbook at the beach so we could send the 567 emails that had to be sent that first week!

We splashed, swam, ate seafood, book another flight for the next week with an open ended return, booked a hotel with an open ended checkout, booked a rental car for an undetermined amount of time, then we went back to Chicago the next Saturday.  The next few days were CRA-ZY!!!

Sunday was church and unpacking with the start of laundry. Monday, Shane had to work and completely change his schedule for the next two weeks.  I hit the baby stores - all of them.  We had been shopping, so we knew what we wanted. I bought a stroller, ordered furniture, got bottles, towels, diapers, detergent for the diapers (!), a bathtub, a couple toys, and anything else I thought I might need immediately.

Tuesday and Wednesday was full of making arrangements, more emails, and figuring out how to pack everything.  I even wrote a note for the TSA explaining the white powder and to PLEASE not throw it away.  I would need it to wash all the diapers they saw.  I'm sure we were sleeping and eating food during this time, but I don't remember that.  We should have appreciated that more when we had it.

Thursday, October 1 2009 we boarded a plane for Las Vegas!  That day I had my first Fat Burger - it was glorious!  We also went to dinner at the great little place in Henderson called Coyote Canteen.  I give it two big thumbs up.  Again, we should've appreciated the small things more, like hot food.  :)
We decided to drive down the strip to see it, just incase we didn't have a chance to later.  That was really nice.

On Friday, October 2, 2009 we killed time all morning before our 2:00 appointment with the agency.  We got there a bit early.  Someone saw us in the lobby and told us we could come on back.  We went to a small, nondescript conference room and there he was!  Can you stand that cuteness??

 I'd be lying if I said it wasn't completely awkward and uncomfortable at times for a number of reasons.  Less than an hour later we left with this little bundle, one bottle and a car seat.  Oh, and an overwhelming sense of WHAT IN THE WORLD DO WE DO NOW!

So even though it seem like the end, it was really just the beginning.  That was FIVE years ago today.