Monthly Archives: December 2013


photo-75One of my dearest friends tried to drop off Christmas treats to us last night. We weren’t home.  Thanks to Rob our exterior was bright with lighted Christmas balls, but the front porch light was off. Later that night I read the following text from my friend: “I think I am at your house, but it doesn’t seem like it… do you have a bunch of lighted balls out front?”

It’s a funny text… but also a sad commentary. We have been so busy building a home and business since we moved, that we have been somewhat isolated socially. I keep up with people via scattered calls and facebook, but I am disconnected without a real sense of community. We need to build a life – rich in relationships and meaning!  My sweet friend has so seldom been to my house, that she isn’t sure if she’s in my driveway when she comes! What happened to having friends in our homes?IMG_2504

I used to have a house full all the time — birthdays, Young Life,  families:  just adults and with kids, after the game, before the prom, pot luck, Bible Studies, fund raisers, committee meetings, just to talk, getting a friend’s opinion about decorating, gardening or a new outfit… our house was vibrant. What happened to that way of life?

The children left home, people went back to work, I moved, remarried and returned. But I don’t think any of those things tells the whole story, because it seems that I’m in good company. These days I hear from friends of all ages comments like: “I never see anyone,”  “we really do need to plan a get together,” “I’m so busy, but I don’t know what I do.” Every now and then there’s a birthday lunch, a ball game, or a charity event to see friends — but what happened to just having people over? For a celebration? Or for no reason other than fun and fellowship?

What happened to making the effort to know your neighbors and to friends dropping in for a visit — sharing flowers, vegetables or baked goods? I usually don’t even see people I know at church, and few linger to talk afterwards. What happened to simpler times where people had more time for each other — just to enjoy each others company and “do life” together?

is this friendship? life? worthy of the time I give it?
is this friendship? life? worthy of the time I give it?

Now it seems that WAY too often “conversations” and the sharing of lives happens through the viral youtubes and blogs of strangers, texting and facebook with friends — even emails, the junk mail of our day, go unread. Phone conversations are avoided, because  they interrupt plans and tie up too much time and energy. The art of a hand-written letter or note is all but lost, and even shopping and pizza deliveries are scheduled online! We are eliminating a myriad of face to face interactions (opportunities to show love) — all in the name of what? Efficiency?

Check out this info graph to see what all that “efficiency” is getting us! No one will be surprised to hear we are a tired and stressed-out nation. What happened to the virtue of rest from our labor and Sabbath rest in Him? Even in church we are often busy,  overwhelmed, tired and lonely.

And is all this cyber-connectedness making us feel more sense of community? One man’s own loneliness spawned research and an article containing the following quote: “Loneliness has doubled: 40 percent of adults in two recent surveys said they were lonely, up from 20 percent in the 1980s. All of our Internet interactions aren’t helping and may be making loneliness worse. A recent study of Facebook users found that the amount of time you spend on the social network is inversely related to how happy you feel throughout the day.”

Mom and Dad on her 82nd birthday!

I want to change my life. “BUSY” in my book is the latest addition to bad 4 letter words. I want to be available to people when they need me — family, friends and strangers — and reach out more to form relationships and share my life. I want to write frequent notes of thanks and encouragement. I want to meet my neighbors and rekindle old friendships– in person! I want to give more away: my belongings and myself. I love the ideas of paying it forward and small acts of kindness, and want to be intentional in my “stranger” interactions. Won’t you join me? More “busy” posts to come.  I would love to hear your experiences and ideas!

Even my blog  and art pulls me away from face to face interactions; I can be an artistic hermit… I’m going to schedule my writing and schedule our LIVING! Have more parties and visit with more real-live people! 😉 There’s a place for meeting in restaurants and talking on facebook or in texts. Hard work is Biblical… these things aren’t bad.

But being together in someone’s  home is different… it’s intimate and vulnerable. I remember sitting around my maternal grandmother’s big dining table, multiple generations just talking without rushing off after the noon meal.  Our small town didn’t have many restaurants, so she had guests for “dinner” almost every weekday after she retired. Granny grew vegetables and roses in the back yard and shared them generously. She volunteered reading at the elementary school library well into her 90s, and offered long term housing to many relatives and friends at various times in their lives.  I think these activities help explain why she lived to be 107!

My mom is also  a gifted hostess. She and my dad housed business associates and friends overnight on a regular basis, with tremendous grace and welcome. They had dinner parties, and were frequently invited out. They considered it a privilege and a priority to visit their friend’s in their homes all over the country! She and her neighbors share “treats” year round — the first bloom in season,  a welcome gift left by the door when someone’s been away, custard when someone’s sick, tomatoes from the garden, or something they picked up for a friends just because.  My mom and dad created holiday traditions that no one wants to miss! I want to claim back some of my mother and grandmother’s “old-fashioned” hospitality to family, friends and strangers.  I put it out there.. hold me accountable!

Verses about Hospitality


1 Peter 4:9 ESV

Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.

Matthew 25:34-46 ESV

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?

Romans 12:13 ESV

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.IMG_2225

Leviticus 19:34 ESV

You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

Titus 1:8 ESV

But hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.

Luke 14:12-14 ESV

He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

Colossians 3:23-24 ESV

Our new friend, Jose, in Costa Rica
Our new friend, Jose, in Costa Rica

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

Romans 16:2 ESV

That you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.

photo-61Acts 28:2 ESV

The native people showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold.

1 Timothy 5:10 ESV

And having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work.

IMG_2461Ephesians 6:7 ESV

Rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man,

Mark 9:41 ESV

For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.

Luke 10:25-37 ESV

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”IMG_2539

Isaiah 58: ESV

Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

Proverbs 31:20 ESV

She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.

IMG_2486Galatians 5:13 ESV

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,

IMG_1321Luke 19:1-10 ESV

He entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small of stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.”

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

honeymoon’s over…

Article #2 (see explanation) written in 2006,  just after my divorce was final. 2013 perspective added.

IMG_20082006 article: The planning that goes into a wedding is infamous and growing these days. The average time from engagement to wedding is about 18 months,  and the event dominates the bride’s life, as well as the lives of those who love her. The day arrives, the honeymoon passes. What has she done to prepare for the name changing, life altering new family that is the result of the ceremony? Oftentimes, not enough. I know it seems weird, but divorce could be compared to a wedding, the birth of a baby, or numerous other significant life events to which we give intense attention, but arrive on the other side utterly unprepared for the new reality.


2006 article: I spent months preparing for what seemed to be an inevitable trial. I was hands on in my divorce. It was my only focus outside of necessary chores and my children. Unexpectedly, we settled three days early. I spent a few days in a surreal fog. Many friends took me out to celebrate (not the end of our marriage, but closure in the legal process and a new beginning). I was busy with the details of wrapping things up, then as quickly as a return flight’s landing ends your vacation, the “honeymoon” was over. For so long I had worked toward the details of our legal settlement. Suddenly, a new reality of my singleness and permanent change gripped me. I know it sounds naive, but I felt blindsided by my new status.

IMG_1787Life as I knew it ceased to exist, yet the world continued around me unaffected. Not only was I no longer married, but the divorce ended my “job.” The family dynamic in my home was entirely different, and I was transformed personally. What next? I had no idea, yet I felt the need to DO something (still do at times). My ex husband and I still own our home together. I decided I could not live there any longer! Buying a new house for my children and me became my new focus and passion. I found THE house, “placed” furniture on graph paper, and planned a garage sale for the rest. I came so close to financial stupidity, I still shudder.

2013 perspective: At a more stable and appropriate time, we did make a great decision to move to a new home. It wasn’t a move per se that was bad, but my urgency to act, to DO in an effort at resolving the pain, uncomfortableness, and chaos of life. We needed to be together without distractions. I needed to rest and let God heal me.

IMG_12462006 article: Ambivalence saved me. I am very passionate about many things — including the near purchase of that new house. But in the aftermath of divorce, my passion is almost always mixed with ambivalence. I swung to a dogged financial prudence. As rapidly as I fell in love with the house, I dropped it. I realized I must slow down and test to see if my passion finds a steady mark. I decided to stay where I am and enjoy living there until it sells – – a much wiser choice. There is already an abundance of change and chaotic nature to my life. Why did I think adding even an exciting stressor would help?

At this point, most change I’m experiencing is unavoidable. I am newly divorced (a word it took a few months for me to say outloud). I dropped my oldest child off for college for the first time, three weeks later. He is ready and I am immensely proud. My job was to prepare him for the joyful day of launching. Of course, I cried my way home through Alabama and Georgia. He will thrive, but what of me?  With his departure came a drain of vitality in our home. He leaves a huge void. The “we” of our home’s daily dynamic quickly went from 5, to 4, to 3… What is the new rhythm for us? Again, I feel the tug to DO something. Should we go on a trip? Plan the holidays? I catch myself and slow it down. The answer is that I don’t know how we will be or what it will look like, and that’s okay. We are making it one day at a time.

IMG_1100Life is not the same, and forcing this new reality into the old mold will not work. I was always big on family dinners. I still believe they are important, but I am realizing they can occur at breakfast or in a restaurant. Right now, the three of us seem to feel more at ease when we are in places other than supper around our table. More of our traditional family style dinners may occur in time, but for now, I am happy we are together and talking about our lives.

We can and must try new ways of being a family, but we don’t have to do anything to affect big changes — not yet. And I don’t have to have all the answers — for myself or my children. We will embrace the holiday season soon, retaining some elements from the past and creating new traditions to fit our new life. My future (now and when all my children leave home) is a huge question mark! There is no substitute for time and patiently living my way to the answers of whatever will be with a lot of grace, faith and trust.

2013 Perspective: Change for change’s sake is bad. It is only a bandaid or temporary anesthetic when used as a diversion or distraction.  Slowing down, settling in and simplifying are good. Familiarity and continuity brought comfort to me and my children. After divorce, we needed time to process, to grieve,  to heal,  to accept a new reality. But almost 8 years out, I  also caution you: don’t be afraid of change! Some change is good!  I made a lot of changes! Some BIG changes. Some short-lived and some permanent. Some serious and some silly! Experiment within healthy boundaries.

IMG_1621Just to start your thinking… I started wearing high heels and became more fashion conscious — for a while. 😉 I tried new recipes! I let my hair grow out long. I thought seriously about piano lessons, getting my pilot’s license, and  starting a business — they never happened. I worked in a new job that got me out in the community with people I never would have met otherwise. Old friendships are important and so is meeting new friends (especially some who were single or had schedules that better matched mine). I included several single “guy” friends. Their perspective and company was a great addition to my singleness. I started shooting skeet for the first time and playing tennis again. Biggies:  a few months after divorce, I started a new job and  started dating. I moved once in town then again to a new city to start grad school.

Your list will look totally different. The point is moving forward with hope.  Ask for forgiveness where needed, forgive yourself, and LIVE  your new life. One day a friend said something hard to me, but that was the catalyst for my moving forward with grace, joy and purpose. It was many months after my settlement.  The injustices, pain, and circumstances of divorce still dominated my thoughts.  Darcy said, “you are ALL about divorce.” She was right.

IMG_0742It wasn’t that I didn’t know I was all about it, I just didn’t know there was another way to live! I was so used to the problems of the last 20 years of my life, I continued to live in them.  Like a wounded bird who is nurtured to health in a cage. One day he is moved outside,  the cage door is opened, and he is free to fly away. What if he still lives in that “cage?” The door was open to life, but I refused to leave the cage of my past and fly! Until Darcy… what a gift she gave me.

I was unprepared for singleness, and possibly you are too. Perspective is everything. Have a blast searching, seeking and building a new version of life.  Accept and enjoy the process as often as possible.  Be creative, be patient, and be gentle with yourself.  Hang tight to what’s important, especially those you love and your Heavenly Father. Trust Him and His Word.

Rob and I are still building the infrastructure of our new life at almost 50. I never thought it would be this way, and often I’m tempted down the path of self pity. I have to say, “don’t do it!” Perspective is everything! I’m discovering that my friends who have celebrated a silver anniversary are experiencing many of the same changes I am.  Divorce does not define me. Opportunities await, the joy of the Lord is my strength, and I know that God has a plan. Love and gratitude are key… more to come as I journey.

Some familiar verses that brought me through the aftermath of divorce follow.

Psalm 73:23 (MSG)

21-24 When I was beleaguered and bitter,
totally consumed by envy,
I was totally ignorant, a dumb ox
in your very presence.
I’m still in your presence,
but you’ve taken my hand.
You wisely and tenderly lead me,
and then you bless me.

IMG_5923Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Matthew 6:33 (New Living Translation)

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Ephesiand 3:20-21 (NIV)

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen


this little light of mine

I recently told a small handful of good friends about my blog — with the sincere goal that I would have no expectations for their responses, or if they would even read it. This is not a performance for me to receive feedback. While I love hearing from friends in comments, how others receive my offering is not the point. A week after admitting to my blog, I am riddled with doubts. The voice in my head spews accusations. “No one is that interested in your stuff.” “You don’t even live the life you speak about in the blog.” “Your art is very elementary.” “Everyone has a house, decorations…” “People might disagree or be offended…they might reject you.”

Christmas Angel, I painted to decorate my foyer! (not my closet)
Christmas Angel, I painted to decorate my foyer! (not my closet)

ALL those statements have elements of truth in them. I am not all that special of gifted. I struggle to live to what I have already attained. I may get some things “wrong” or just write a boring blog that doesn’t touch another soul! These thoughts are all parts of what I like to call “the little picture,” and they often leave me confused and afraid.

But there is a big picture in life. The one where God is central and Truth reigns – often contrary to worldly wisdom. I do have a set of experiences and personality traits unique to me. I do bear the image of God, and have a responsibility to offer back who He made me to be. I love this quote: “Our gifts are not from God to us, but from God through us to the world.” Janice Elsheimer, The Creative Call.  I knew the truth in all those attacks when I first put my blog out in cyber space, but I knew a larger Truth too. I hope many people are touched, encouraged, or helped by something I offer, but if no one is, there is a BIGGER picture. I am still sharing myself in obedience to a gentle nudge. I am discovering who God created me to be in this season of life, and sharing my reflections along the way. He is glorified when I ignore my fears and risk offering my authentic self to the world.

But man, oh man — the voices in my head! Putting a blog out with no “advertisements” is only slightly less private than my 5 foot high stack of private journals or my guest closet full of paintings! Telling a few friends is a step. “Going public” on facebook or to extended family members would really stretch me! And it is my goal… but first, I must address my fears, confusion and  doubt and let them be overshadowed by the big picture. My hope is that my musings will touch a similar place of attack in your life — and we will both be more free to live as we are, sharing our gift with those we meet.

photo-74I have always written out long-hand my thoughts and eventually many of my prayers. I have journaled and often illustrated my experiences and feelings from trips, school, dating and plain, everyday life. I have doodled, painted, decorated, cooked – all in an attempt at creating art and beauty. But, there was more to it. Usually the outpouring was kept private. So why bother? Why not imagine, contemplate, and create only in my mind?

I do all these things because I love them. They are the essence of “me” spilling over. I can hardly help myself, and I feel most fully alive when I am engaged in my art — whether it is writing, painting, conversations, flowers, decorating…  The better question is why do I so often keep my art — myself — hidden? And why do you sometimes keep the essence of who you are hidden?

IMG_1724There’s a song I’ve known all my life that’s baffled me as an adult: “This Little Light of Mine.” When, with all the other Sunday school children,  I yelled “NO!” in the line “hide it under a bushel, no! I’m gonna let it shine”, I was uninhibited. I could not have hidden my light if I tried! I hadn’t learned that I can’t carry a tune, or even that it mattered. I was just me, living in the moment! My voice and enthusiasm were my offering of passion and love to a God I was just getting to know! Hiding had not been learned because I saw no need. It came naturally to dance like no one’s watching and live like everyone loves me! I lived with abandon and without an critics — un-phased by applause or critiques. Awesome!

Sometime in early elementary school, an awareness of the opinions of others was learned. Their praise made me feel more valuable,  important, and loved.  I wanted to crawl under a rock if they ever felt I was inadequate in any way. Inhibitions, hiding, and self protection crept into my life if not my vocabulary. My imagination and private world prospered! I learned to go public only when I knew I could excel!

IMG_1113I grew up and wondered what it really meant to let my light shine. I knew the child’s song was based on the familiar verse Matthew 5:16. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” I like verses 14-16 in The Message translation:  “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” Did that mean Bible thumping on the street corners? Starting an important ministry? Leading Bible studies? Sharing the Gospel at work? Giving as much as possible? All these are possibly part of it, yes, but not necessarily always and not the entirety of the big picture. It’s much simpler than that.

IMG_1358Letting my light shine is to live with faith in the Love, worth and security that God offers — to live in the BIG picture where He is central. Ephesians 2:10 says “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works.” All I can offer is the person He made me to be — my deepest identity —  to Jesus in the presence of others! In as many ways as He suggests! What Jesus does or doesn’t do with my offerings in the lives of others is HIS business! It’s not up to me! What a freedom,  relief and joy! I only need to love Him, love others, listen as I seek Him and follow.

But now I have to press “publish” for you to read my thoughts. It’s still hard every time. Part of me is excited, another scared of judgement or worse yet, no one caring. I have victorious moments where I am lost in Him! It’s also part of my little world truth that often I live under a bushel where my light is ineffective. I am slow to live everyday in the realities of all God is teaching me. I am impatient with myself, until I remember that I am not the one transforming me! God will complete the work He is doing in me. Just because I can’t live perfectly the way I want to, doesn’t mean I don’t believe with all my heart what God is telling me is possible  — including that I am meant to share my imperfect life with others.

My present is all I have. I want to show up and say “YES!” to God with all the conviction and abandon I had as a child singing “NO!” I won’t hide my light!