Ugh.

Or maybe Yuck.

One word to describe the way I feel physically and emotionally.

I’m still tired and coughing.  It doesn’t help that the weather is changing every hour.

Hot enough to wear a t-shirt and shorts going barefoot one day.

Then a t-shirt, flannel shirt, sweater, jeans and socks the next.

Can’t the temperature be relatively the same for at least two days in a row.

Cedar and mold and dust…all at the same time!

We’re all carrying rolls of toilet paper around.  I’m too cheap to buy Kleenex.  I’m very into multi-purpose home supplies right now.

The studio has stayed clean.  I know it’s been less than twenty-four hours, but I’m going to cheer myself on with a win anyway.  I was able to find everything I needed for my art class today without rummaging through piles of stuff.  That felt good.

This second class that I’m teaching is older kiddos…junior high and high school.  I’m really enjoying it, but they are all super-talented.  A couple are more naturally talented than I am.  At least I have more experience than they do.  It’s going to be challenging to keep up with them!

Today on the home-front we sorted through wedding stuff and got a lot of it boxed up into some sort of order.  New lists and more lists – things we forgot and things we didn’t think of.  I think it’s going okay (except when I start panicking and lose it!).

The bridal shower is tomorrow and guess who forgot to get a gift.

Then we just have two more weeks until the big day!

I’ve made a decision to leave Facebook for a while.  I just can’t deal with the drama, the arguments, the name-calling and the total suspension of respect for differing opinions.

If you read my posts as they are shared on Facebook, you can continue to do so.  I will not be getting notifications of comments or “likes” however.  To stay in communication, you will need to log on to faithacrestudio.com and “follow” me here.

This was not an easy decision.   I’ve “unfriended” a lot of folks that just couldn’t let up with the continually negative posting. I kept thinking people could or would calm down and relax a little.  That maybe we could start sharing our daily lives again and keep in touch about the little stuff – the little stuff matters too.

We can’t live in a constant state of fear, panic and readiness to battle every anticipated tragedy.  I know this because I’ve been doing it since childhood and my body is worn out.  I’ve shared this before.  For my health and sanity, I just refuse to do it anymore.  I’m bowing out of the front lines.

When you wake up every morning looking for the next horrible thing that has happened, or more likely the next horrible tragedy that hasn’t happened yet, you miss out on the simple beauty of the everyday.  We see what we are looking for.  I am choosing to look for hope and joy.

I’ll still be here…sharing my stories and my moments.

Our stories and sharing are what is most important right now.

The goodness is still present.

There is still hope.

The steps we take in our daily lives will always have more of an impact on the world than any march.

Little things matter.

Our love matters.

Never stop believing that.

Thoughts from the Shower

It’s easy to believe in an absolute truth when standing in a crowd of those who believe the same thing.

When we are children we are taught in black and white, right and wrong, good and bad.

At some point we should grow up and start experiencing the potential truth of other values. In part, I am referring to value as it exists in art.  Value is the lightness or darkness of tone or color. There is a whole lotta gray out there between the black and white.

If you spend all of your time in the same place you’ve always been…the coffeehouse, the workplace, the congregation of fellow believers, your neighborhood, your comfort zone…you are not challenged.  Absolute truth is comfortable.

If you hear something over and over again, you’ll tend to start believing it.  That happens in our childhood when we learn basic values from our parents…our family…our people.

Then we start venturing out into the world.

By high school, we are usually full-on challenging our formerly held “truths” – the truth of our parents.

I don’t believe that means we are always thinking for ourselves.

It often means that we are just taking on the beliefs of the crowd we are in.

I’m not saying that it’s wrong.  As humans, we need others.  It’s nature.  It’s science.  It’s who we are.

There can be safety in that crowd, that herd, that gang of like-minded individuals. Comfort even.

But there is even greater danger.  Danger to those that are not in the “in crowd”.

In the next couple of days, if you look around you and find that you are in a crowd that believes in the same “truth” that you do…

Make sure that you have shone an intense light on the truth that you are espousing.  Have you thought it through?  Are your thoughts your own?  Are those thoughts comfortable?      Are you challenging and redefining that truth?  Do you feel the need to “defend” it? Are you comfortable and safe?

If you consider yourself a champion of the oppressed, the different, the marginalized, does your protection apply to all people who believe differently than you?  Does everyone matter?  Did you decide who was worthy of your efforts or was it a group decision that you threw your hat in with?

It’s not brave to stand in a crowd and defend your “truth” in the safety of numbers.  A majority of voices doesn’t define what is true or good or right.

Truth is not found in argument, in protest, in noise, in conflict, in chaos, in darkness.

Truth is when you are alone, in contemplation, in intelligent thought, in light…

Make your voice known.

Share your truth.

Make the world a better place.

Recognize that truth, as you understand it may differ from the belief of the person standing next to you.

Rejoice and be glad that you are able to stand next to and with someone that you do not agree with.

That is freedom.

That is these United States of America.

 

The Sun Came Up

The sun did come up to day.  It’s not shining brightly, but it’s there.  I am grateful.  I can’t say that I spent any amount of time as I went to bed last night worrying about whether the sun would rise or not.   It’s just not helpful for me to worry about stuff that’s out of my control.  There is nothing I can do to assure that the sunrise will occur.  I’m just grateful that is has so far.  And optimistic enough to plan on it happening again tomorrow.

I’m pretty sure that I’m not doing “enough” to make the world a better place.  I admire a number of people that I believe are doing a great job of it.  I try to emulate some of their behavior.  I’m sure that I fall short.

I think a lot about what I am doing and what I should be doing. I worry about being “enough” and doing “enough”.

Is it selfish of me to buy a new art journal or should I donate the funds to the local food bank?

Do I need a new pair of shoes when there are people in the world doing without?

Is it right to complain when my air-conditioning goes out when much of the world will never even have that luxury?

Am I a horrible person to be resentful at times when I feel that I have less than someone else…or turn a blind eye to the fact that I have so much more than many?

There is much wrong in this world.  That has always been the case.  It would be easy to fall into the pattern of just not caring at all.  To turn a blind eye to all of it. To give up, or not to try at all because it seems hopeless.

To be sure, there are many problems to be solved.  I think that it is unlikely that we, as members of the human race, can easily even identify what all of the problems are, much less prioritize and figure out how to solve them.  It’s just not that simple.

I’m a reasonably intelligent and fairly well educated individual.  This all makes my head and heart ache.

There is so much anger and hurt in this country right now. So much name-calling and hurtful rhetoric.  So much reactionary thinking and actions.

We are all affected.

“Win” and “Lose” are inadequate words to use in this situation.  They don’t appropriately describe anything about this situation at all.  Nothing is finished.  The work is not beginning or ending…it is continuing.  It’s not a race in a straight line and not really a race at all.  I don’t expect a finish line to be crossed in my lifetime or that of my children.

The race we should be concerning ourselves with is the human race.  The people that we know, those we have yet to meet and those that will remain strangers to us.

To acknowledge that one groups’ fears, anxieties and needs cannot take priority over another..  That we all have value and are important.

We must all dream of and work towards a better world…a world where me must do the work we are called to do.

We must all live in this world…the world that the sun rose upon today.

We must do this together in our own small or large way.

We must be thoughtful and kind.

There is not just an “us” and a “them”.  That is divisive thinking.

There is me and you.

With a big job to do.

I don’t have any glib answer.

If only it were that easy.

I do know that my thoughts and study in the upcoming days will be about the definition and meaning of words like “rights” and “needs”.

What are my rights?  What are our rights?

What do I need?

What happens when my perceived rights infringe upon the rights of others?

What is fair in that case?

How often do I take someone else’s word for what is right and fair and just?

 

Am I sensitive to the needs of others and what impact my choices and decisions have upon them?

Am I being selfish or uncaring, or am I standing up for what is good and just and fair – for myself and for others?  Where is that line, and is is static or fluid?

For now, I am going to talk to my daughter about what is going on in this country today for just a little bit and then…

we are going to get back to work doing the things we need to do in anticipation of tomorrow’s sunrise.

 

 

 

Not an Easy Day

To be more forthright, it was a damn hard day.

I should have stayed off of facebook, but I didn’t.  I got sucked into reading post after post and comment after comment.

I resisted commenting for the most part.  I did not contribute to the inflammatory and reactionary rhetoric.  I “liked” a couple of things that people said and I typed “peace” a few times.

Honestly, I didn’t recognize a couple of my friends from the comments they were typing.  If I didn’t know them, I would consider it unlikely that we could be friends based on some of their comments today..  But, I do know them.  I’ve shared meals, cares, concerns and prayers with them.  I’ve had lively conversations and faced change with them. I care for them and have history and memories with them.  They are my friends.  I understand their fear and apprehension.  I did not expect the blanket condemnation of anyone who disagreed with their vote.

But, we humans are complex creatures.  We all carry our history, our family, our experience and our secrets.

To try and categorize anyone with a word or label is unrealistic.  It is unfair.  It is short-sighted.   We, as human beings, defy classification on such a simple level.

I am not the person I was yesterday and am not yet the person I will be tomorrow.  I make mistakes.  I try to learn from them.  My actions may not always live up to the hope I have for myself.  I talk a good game.  I try to love others, but honestly, I’m still trying to figure out how to love myself.  I fall short.  I fall down.  I get up although sometimes it takes a while.  I try to listen to others and be respectful of their opinions even if I don’t agree.  I change my mind.  I grow.

There are, however, some things I hold to be true.  The most important thing being that we are nothing more and nothing less than children of God.

We are born to be unique, creative and loving people.  We are different from one another in many ways, and rightly so.  We are human.  We will not always agree.  We have different vocations and battles to fight. We are also alike in many ways.  We are complicated.  This all weaves together to create this world.

The differences are easy.  Living together in harmony, not so much.

Change is hard.  Change is more than hard.  It is frightening.  It also happens whether we like it or not.

Change is happening.  It happened four years ago.  It happened yesterday.  It will happen tomorrow.

Here’s the hard part for me…

for I have a deep-seated need to be liked – to have the positive affirmation of others…

Nevertheless, this is what I believe:

  • That I am damn lucky to have been born in these United States of America.  I am privileged to live here and to enjoy the freedoms that I have.
  • I believe in peace.  I also firmly believe that peace does not just happen.  Sometimes it must be fought for.  I deplore violence and war.  I support the armed forces of this country and the sacrifices that they have made and continue to make.  We are free and enjoy the rights that we have because of their service.
  • I will always recognize and honor the American flag, the pledge of allegiance and the National Anthem regardless of who holds office in this country.  These symbols represent the citizens of this land and the history behind it.There is no country on earth that I wish to move to.  This is my home.
  • Peaceful protest is an important part of our country’s history and legacy. The destruction of property, looting, burning and violence are in no way peaceful.
  • Generalities are an ignorant way to group people.  We should be careful of the way we label and categorize others that do not agree with us or that we do not understand. Furthermore, unless you can see into the heart and mind of another, do not presume to know who they are or to understand their actions.

I voted yesterday.

I did not vote for Clinton.

How I voted is not the sum total of who I am.  It does not define me.  It was a difficult decision.  My vote was not cast without a great deal of research, thought, and prayer.  In a perfect world, I would have had different choices.  I don’t get to live in perfect.  I am aware that my vote has the potential to impact some people that I care about in a negative manner.   I made a choice. There was no option that would please or serve everyone. I believe that both of the major parties failed the American people.  I hope for a better future where everyone is heard and where everyone matters.

I am not a racist.  I try to walk with love in my heart for all.  I try to get to know people before I make a decision about who they are.  There are people in this world that I don’t particularly like.  It’s not because of what they look like.  It’s because of who they are. I was not really raised to be open-minded. It is a choice I make.  Sometimes I mess up.  Most times, I don’t.  I am hopeful.

I am a women.  I have been sexually assaulted. I believe that life is sacred.  I also believe that sometimes women have to make hard choices.  Those choices should not be taken lightly.  I am not qualified to tell someone else what they should do.  I have made the hard choice to carry on with a pregnancy that could very well have killed me and left my family without me.  I made that decision.  It was mine to make.  I would not judge any woman who chose a different path.  Their journey is not mine.

I believe in love.  I believe that finding someone in this world that loves you, makes you feel safe and cares for you, is the greatest gift ever. I found that person. I would hope it to happen for everyone that seeks such a relationship.  I believe in being true to who you are. It is not my right or my desire to tell anyone who to love or who to be.  I would simply hope that you find love and happiness and are free to be true to yourself.  I support you.

I believe that we have an obligation to help and support each other.  To feed the hungry, shelter those in need and support those in crisis. I don’t always live into this belief as much as I should, but I am trying.  My table is an open table.  All are welcome.  We’ve had some good times around our table.  The gatherings have been comprised of many diverse individuals.  I hope that tradition continues.

After the facebook postings I have read today, I am afraid that I will lose friends with this admission.  I have been the recipient of hurtful words today even though they were unintentional.  That’s the problem with social media. It is so easy to send out words without a clear understanding of where they might end up.

I am fearful for the future.  I have been fearful in the past.  Nothing has changed with recent events.  My husband and I have worked hard.  We have an uncertain financial future.  We have done our best to raise our children to be good people.  I am proud of them all.  I am fearful for the future that they travel into.

I believe that change is necessary.

Politics as usual has got to stop.

The government can’t keep spending money it doesn’t have.   That’s not the way it works. It doesn’t work in my house and it shouldn’t be tolerated in The White House.

We are living in a dangerous world.  We must be realistic about the threats to our safety. Rational steps must be taken to keep our country safe.

We lived without health insurance for years.  For most of my children’s childhood.  We have insurance now through my husband’s employer.  It is not cheap.  It requires a significant portion of our income.  And, we have significant medical debt that was not covered by that insurance.  Health insurance is not the only issue.  Out of control medical expenses, a lack of access to medical care for many, and an awareness of the importance of mental health care are just as important.

I believe all lives matter.  All lives.  That doesn’t mean that I value any one group over another.  It means that… all lives matter. All. Lives.

There are so many issues facing this country and the world. That’s not new.  There are problems to be solved.  It’s obvious that we don’t even all agree on what issues are the most important, much less, how to solve any of them.

We need to quit relying on the government for everything.  We need to care for each other. Listen to each other.  Really listen.  Try to be understanding.  Exercise patience.  Comfort one another.  Respect diversity.  Practice tolerance.  Neighbor to neighbor.  One on one. You and me.  Different and yet the same.

Tomorrow morning, I will get up and go about my business.  I will live into the needs of my day, the needs of my family, and those that I care about.  I will attempt to reach out, in my own small way, to make a difference in the lives of those that I can.

I will live my little life in the best way possible, think hopeful thoughts, pray for guidance, and hopefully continue to share this journey with my friends.

Doors

I took a shower today.  I woke up this morning and realized that I couldn’t actually remember the last one I took.  To be honest, days around here are a bit confused anyway. Too much T.V. and morphine (my sister, not me).  I’m thinking about getting one of those little whiteboards like they use in the hospital…Today is Saturday, August 27, 2016.

Anyway, I took a shower.  Please don’t judge.  Some days we have to grab the small wins and run with them…

Now, I’m thinking about doors.  This was prompted by a Caring Bridge post by a friend with stage IV colon cancer.  She just found out that she wasn’t accepted into a drug trial that she was hoping for.  “No further information.  Just a closed door”, she wrote.

I’m thinking about the slammed, closed and locked doors that I’ve faced in my past. About the disbelief, grief and pain those door have caused.  The teen-age crush that didn’t work out.  The job that I didn’t get.  The phone call that never came.  The dream that wasn’t realized.

I’m wondering how many times I accepted that unopened door as a permanent “no”.  The times I didn’t go looking for a different door.  A different way to access that dream.

And, I’m pondering the times I did look for an alternative route and a different portal.  Or sometimes the opportunities that I didn’t actively seek, but that presented themselves with time and patience.  The man I married, a different job…

Looking back, some of those closed doors were a blessing in disguise.  I wouldn’t have believed it at the time, but now it’s evident.  The teen-age crush that was based more on looks than compatibility.  The job that would have involved moving to another location and would have prevented me from being available for my sister now.

But doors that don’t open hurt when you run into them.  Sometimes, in hindsight, it may turn out to be for the best.  And sometimes, it may turn out that they were just stupid, closed doors that you  couldn’t get through.  You may never know the difference.

Still, there is hope in believing that there are many doors in life,  and most of them can be opened – with time, patience and discernment.

Today I will be in continued thought and prayer for those dealing with doorways…

Those standing at locked doors and looking for the next one.

Those hurt from the slamming of the door.

Those facing a door that is slowing closing and limiting their access both literally and figuratively.

Those locked behind a door wanting out but afraid and unsure of the next step.

Those who don’t have any doors available to them at all.

Those who can’t see the door because they don’t know where to look or are choosing not to.

And those standing in front of the door, but who are afraid to knock.

 

Focus

It’s been long week.

Youngest daughter is ready for school on Monday.  Uniforms are bought, books are all here, the lunch bag is ready to be packed, and the lunch food is all bought.  We have met the teachers and seen the classroom.  She is more excited than scared now.

Son has started packing for his move.  There are boxes sitting around as he makes grown-up decisions about what to take and what to get rid of.  He is endlessly figuring out finances and making lists of what he might need.

I have a plan for what I am teaching on Monday and have purchased the supplies.  All is not ready, but it can be in a short amount of time.

The house is livable.  That’s really all I can say about that subject.  Unless we are really close friends, please don’t choose right now as a time to drop by for a chat.  I won’t open the door because the first statement in this paragraph is a lie.

Barret the dog is fed for this moment.  By the time I finish this paragraph I have no doubt that he will be heading for the food dish again.  Anybody have any dog food coupons?

The neighbor who has time to drive around our neighborhood and make lists of what is wrong with everyone’s property and then post it anonymously has not yet targeted my house.  I’m sure it’s coming.

There’s just one other thing going on that I haven’t shared because it’s not really my story.  I can say that my sister had two days of major surgery on Monday and Wednesday of this week.  She’ll be coming home tomorrow or Monday.  I am her caretaker.  I don’t mind. We don’t use the “love” word, but she means a lot to me.  This surgery has been hard.

As I was leaving the hospital today, I realized that I was done…drained and empty.  I thought about finding the chapel and resting for a while, but I don’t really have the time to lose it right now.  Everything is holding together rather nicely I think (picture something repaired with duct tape or maybe picture my old washer with it’s stick and ball leveling plan).  I’m okay.  Not great, but okay.

On my way out of the hospital, I saw this through the window….this dove perching on a courtyard fence outside a hospital window.0806161109a

I have an affinity for birds.  More than once a dove, in particular, has made an appearance in my life at a serendipitous moment.  This was that moment.  This day.  I stopped in the hallway and said “Oh”.  Out loud.

With all the craziness around me during the last couple of weeks,  I had lost focus.

Focus on what is important and what is not.

Focus on what I could control and what was out of my hands.

Focus on what needed to be done and what could wait.

But mainly, I had lost focus of who I am.

Dealing with new situations, people and environments, I lost my footing.  I got caught up in looking outside of myself for structure, approval, and truth.  For a person with anxiety issues, this is dangerous ground.

It results in a feeling of inferiority as I focus on what is wrong with me (in comparison to others) rather than what is unique.

It is isolating as I feel worse and worse about myself and tend to retreat from interaction with others.

It is demeaning.  It reduces my view of myself and others to a a set of superficial characteristics that have little to do with who we are as human beings.

The dove had no such issues.  Just outside the hospitial, in the midst of suffering and healing, death and life, sorrow and joy…a virtual microcosm of humanity…this dove was building a nest.  She found a slender piece of grass, she rested for a while on the top of the fence, she flew to her nest and carefully wove the grass into place.  She knew who she was and what she was supposed to be doing.  And she did it.

I know that, as human beings, our lives can never be that simple.  But, we can learn from her.  In the midst of our daily lives, we can never forget who we are and what our job is.

  • I am first and foremost a child of God.  If this is not a belief that you can identify with, please don’t stop reading.  You are here because you can identify with something that I am writing.  Please stay because…
  • I strive to be tolerant of others and what they believe.  This world is a mighty big place and would be a lot less interesting without diversity.  Sometimes I fail at being tolerant.  I keep trying and learning.
  • I am creative.  I make some cool stuff sometimes.  I believe that teaching creativity (and having art sometimes happen as a result) is one of the most important things that we can share with children and adults who are willing to be child-like when necessary.
  • I am stubborn.  Sometimes this is even a good thing.  I don’t quit easily and when I do, it doesn’t last long.  I get back up and keep going.
  • I am learning not to be afraid to fail.  A mentor once told me that she accomplished so much because in her words…”I’m not afraid to suck.”  These are words that I try to live by.
  • I am funny.  Well, mostly sarcastic, but they’re kinda the same thing so we’ll stick with funny because it sounds nicer.
  • I’m intelligent.  I don’t know everything, but am good at sounding like I know a lot. When confronted with something that I don’t understand, I try to learn. I believe that intelligence and education do not always go hand in hand.  Some of the smartest people I know never finished high school.
  • I believe in the choices that we have made as a family.  We live on one income.  We don’t live in a fancy, expensive house.  We drive a old truck that is paid for.  We are working to get out of debt.  Sometimes we do without or make do as a result
  • I’m always scared and insecure and I get up in the morning anyway.  Most days, I even leave the house and venture out into a really scary world and pretend like I know what I am doing.  Sometimes, I even start to believe in myself.

My hope and prayer for you all today..

Believe in yourself today.

Remember who you are.

Don’t get lost in the world.

Focus…

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Laundry is Fun

0603161257The new washer is here!  Researched and pondered upon and paid for with cash.  My original intent was to purchase the cheapest washer available, but then wiser heads provided counsel.  Thank you family.  We purchased a more expensive washer, but one that will last considerably longer and is very energy efficient.  If you do an average of 6 loads of laundry a week on the cold setting, the washer has an estimated energy cost of $11 annually.  Of course, I did 6 loads of laundry the first day!  Still, it should save us money in the long run.  Purchased on Memorial Day weekend, there were all kinds of sales, specials and rebates applied, so I am happy with the expense.

Our special needs budget is depleted and we go back to saving for the next item on the list.  It’s a rather long list, but the “joy” factor in saving, waiting and anticipating is well worth it.  It’s also new to me.  I grew up in an environment where if you needed (wanted) it you went and got it.  I am proud of the intentionality of this purchase.

The washer has been named “Tony” by my youngest daughter because it sounds like Iron Man when it fires up.  She has spent considerable time watching the clothes spin and slosh around.  “It’s like a fish bowl, but you don’t have to worry about the fish dying.”  The first load found us all huddled around the washer watching for longer than I care to admit.

Today, I am reminded of the simple joy to be found in doing laundry.  Taking a pile of dirty, smelly wrinkled clothing and transforming it.  Being mindful in the transformative process.  Sorting and filling the washer, measuring out the soap, watching it tumble…transferring the wet load to the dryer.  Pulling out the warm, fresh items and carefully folding them into a neat stack.  Quietly doing a task that I’ve done a thousand times before, but taking the time (and effort) to realize that even such a menial and mundane task is a blessing to others and a luxury that most of the world will never know.

Remembering that I am privileged to have as much as I have – electricity, a washer and dryer, a home to shelter it in, clothing and linens in an abundance, family to make things dirty, and the burgeoning ability to manage it financially with more wisdom.

Over time, it’s possible that washing will become a mindless task again…one in a list of many that I struggle through, but maybe not.

Perhaps, this very intentional purchase signals a significant change around here.  That would be a blessing indeed.

Fragile Vessels

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Years ago I did a commissioned art series for a church pastored by someone that I hold in high esteem and care deeply for.  It was an advent series that we entitled “Fragile Vessels”. These vessels were made out of old papers, lace, and fabrics and were set on the stairs leading up to the altar and lit from within with candles.  The sermon series dealt with the fragility of human life, the appearance of the Christ as a small infant, the resiliency of the human spirit – the complexity that is the Christian faith.

I strongly believe that art should be experienced with more than the eyes and therefore these pieces were handled a great deal – especially by the children of the congregation.  There was damage as would be expected of fragile pieces.

At the end of the advent season, these pieces were returned to me and were carefully stored in a box.  They are among the objects that I have struggled with the disposition of in recent days.

At the time, I was seriously exploring a vocation as a minister.  Since then, my path has changed dramatically.  I don’t doubt that my journey today is the correct one, but would be lying to say that I don’t have some regrets about how things turned out.

I would say that I am still a believer in God, but my interest in “organized” religion has changed dramatically.  I question more and study further.  I am open to the beliefs of others.  I am not so sure of anything anymore.  My faith is not blind.  I am older and more mature.  The world is complicated.  The answers not so clear.

The pastor that these pieces were created with and for is no longer an active part of my life.  I’m not very good at staying in touch with people – even those I care about.  On some level though, I still feel a strong connection with her.  She is fighting a difficult health battle right now.

We are fragile vessels.

Words rarely fail me.  In this case they have.  Prayer just seems inadequate.  I couldn’t sleep tonight thinking about my inability to let go of these art pieces, her illness, our loss of connection, and my failure to find words to articulate my thoughts and feelings.

And then I thought about the fact that many cultures believe that prayer can be carried by smoke in the wind upwards towards heaven.

The fragile vessel made of old paper, lace and fabric wouldn’t stay lit.  The fire kept going out.  And then a light rain started to fall.

Maybe we are stronger than we think.  Maybe we don’t have all the answers.  Maybe we aren’t meant to understand it all or know what the outcome shall be.

Some things are just a mystery.

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Grace

My fingers on the keyboard.

What to write?

So many things happening in the world and my life:  world tragedies, a college graduation, homeschool to catch up on, holiday preparation or lack thereof, housework or the lack thereof, illness, my last art class today and it’s lesson plan or lack thereof, 3 broken-down cars in the driveway, planning transportation for four people with only one car, politics, stupid people, a friend’s surgery, the fragility of life, priorities, a vivid idea for an art project in my head, kiddos coming home, kiddos leaving, finances..

All swirling around in my head.  What to do first?  What can wait?  What doesn’t need to be dealt with at all?  What can I do?  What should I do?

No wonder that it can seem easier to do nothing at all.  Anxiety complicates it all – depression takes hold.

So easy to say, “Simplify!”  But, what does that really mean?

Eliminate what’s not essential.  Figure out what matters most.  Prioritize.  Have realistic goals.  Have a plan.  Don’t buy what you don’t need.  Don’t do what you don’t need to do.  Don’t have what isn’t useful or what doesn’t bring you joy.

But, day to day, the whirlwind of the everyday can sweep away the plan, the priorities, the intent to live a more simple life.

Life isn’t simple.  People aren’t simple.  The unexpected happens.  People do stupid stuff that messes with the plan.  I do stupid stuff that knocks me off track.

What word do I want to type?

GRACE.

That’s the word I want to live into today – in all of it’s definitions.

The grace of forgiveness.

The short prayer of thanks.

The simple elegance or refinement of movement.

The courteous goodwill.

The attractively polite manner of behaving.

The bestowal of blessings.

To do honor or credit to…

GRACE for you, for me, for the whole world.

Amen.  (so be it)