Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

(This was originally published in error as a separate page two weeks ago.)

Notes along this journey:

I’m not made for the corporate life. I’m just not. Others are. I’m not. It’s a box I don’t fit into. Small organization, yes. Work for myself, yes. Freelance, yes. Just be, yes.

Job searches are so much about trying to fit into the corporate life. It’s a bit disorienting that way. When people ask me what kind of position I’m looking for, I need to figure out a better way to answer, a simple way to say I want to earn enough to support myself by being a writer and a maker and a mentor and a learner and a teacher and a simple living guru and a disciple and a disciple-maker. And not worry if anyone else thinks that sounds irresponsible. I’m very responsible.

I believe I am called to live in such a way that shows another way is possible. A personal way, yet a community-building way. An artisanal way. An intergenerational way. A simple way. An ancient way. A contemplative, spiritual way. A way that supports justice and participates in restoring shalom to our world.

I do not know if in that description there are ways to fully support myself. But if God calls me to it, God will make a way. I have been consumed with how to continue to make a living. After all, paying the bills is pretty necessary in our culture. But it’s had me bound. And that’s a sign of not trusting. I don’t want to be bound. I want to make a life. My life.

I have this vision of a house like Nonnatus House. If you are a fan of Call the Midwife, you know what that means. Maybe not a full blown convent, because maybe it could be co-ed. But a place where people who like each other enough to live together share expenses, thus easing income-pressure for everyone, and share common areas. Share life. Share vision. Share service. Neighbor with their neighbors.

I stand at the crossroads, and I’m looking hard. I ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, because that’s where I long to walk. There I will find rest for my soul. (Jeremiah 6:16)

God wants me to see the path, and I want to see it. So the way will open. On that I’ll rest.


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Never one to jump right on a book trend, I just finished reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo.

I have not yet taken each item I own in my hand and asked myself whether it sparks joy for me. I may or may not do that, but I did take a bag of clothes out to the car today to drop off at a donation bin next time I go that way.

A couple of observations.

One, Kondo is a tad bit obsessed. Has been since she was a wee child, apparently.

Two, her obsession indicates her super power, to quote a life coach I know. She is gifted at not only tidying but its sister, organization, and at seeing that our relationship to our stuff indicates the orderliness or lack thereof of our psyches. I totally respect her for finding a way to turn loose her super power to help others, to spark joy in herself, and to make what I assume is a rather decent living.

Three, her personification of belongings and dwellings at first struck me as over the top. But then something about it started to feel right, as an expression of gratitude and respect.Maybe the child in me relates, the same child who felt that if I didn’t play with one toy for awhile, it would feel left out, like I loved the others better.

So I’m asking: Where does my apartment want my sewing supplies and fabric to be stored? Big mystery right now.

And I’m also asking: What are my super powers? How can I turn them loose for good in my life and in this world? Can I trust them to take care of me?

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Where I work we have a women’s empowerment training program called Soup of Success. Part of the funding comes from grants, and the other day one granting organization sent a team of interviewers to gather stories of success from graduates of the program. I was privileged to sit in on two of those interviews. They were powerful and uplifting and spiritual. I handle a lot of the communications for our agency, so I was hoping for some good quotes we could use. I heard that and then some.

One woman whom I’ll call Angelica now leads a class for women in prison called Beauty for Ashes. One of the things she tells them is that “It’s only midnight for one hour.” Persevere, and on the other side of the darkest hour we start moving toward the next day and sunrise. I can only imagine what it means to be in prison and have a gritty woman come alongside you with that reminder.

That night turned sad for me. Sad and tired. My life looked impossible, against me, overwhelming. I finally just went to bed, hoping to see daylight in the morning. And you know what? It came. In fact, it’s now two days later and thanks well up in me for the sunlight coming in my window, for a friend to call and compare our weeks, and for God who cares deeply enough about me to remind me that he loves me through the midnights and will bring back the light.

Oh, and for the resale shop where I found a bigger crossbody bag today. Leather even, and with today’s sale of 30% off, only $16. black leather crossbody bag

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This weekend I watched a documentary about design and advertising called Art and Copy. Several times during it I had to get up and do something creative, like pack up my camera to take to work or play with fabric scraps. It was that inspiring. I admire people who design, capturing concepts and our attention with words and images, and their drive for excellence.

Yes, we are drowning in commercial messages. But yes, art and copy can change the world in good ways, too.

Design matters as much as good writing matters.

I’m writing grant proposals this weekend, too. What a challenge, not to be boring. They’ve even removed the ability to control the layout of proposals, with online fill-in-the-field applications. I needed the beauty of that film.

My office got new furniture last week. Now the space is more than ever a canvas waiting for me to express myself and make it even more functional and nurturing. Slowly–it won’t be me if it happens all at once.

If you’re in the neighborhood, come and see.

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A friend sent me a link today to that Real Age Test you see online — you know, the one Oprah recommends. I bit and took it. The results: My “real age” is 4 years younger than my actual years. I feel at least that much younger. But then I’ve never been this age before. How would I know how it’s supposed to feel? Besides, I don’t like those words “supposed to.”

The results page said I could improve my well-being if I exercise more and take a baby aspirin a day.

The exercise I know. I’ve become way too sluggish.  So tonight, at least, I did my core strength exercises and put in one of my ballroom aerobic DVDs to work up a sweat. The baby aspirin: I have some, and from time to time I take it for a few days. But it feels just a tad more invasive than I’m comfortable with.

I recently invested in a used copy of Barbara Gufferman‘s book, The Best of Everything after 50. Her point is to be your best, whatever age you are. I like that. I owe it to myself, to those I love, and to the world at large. It’s just good stewardship of what I’ve been given.

I’m also working through a book called The Intentional Woman: A Guide to Experiencing the Power of Your Story with Becky and Jo. One question in it is, “You are God’s masterpiece. What does that mean to you?” This is what I wrote: “To get a hint–I am a Vincent Van Gogh. I am a Bach fugue. I am a Frank Lloyd Wright. I am an Eames chair. I am Katherine Hepburn at her best. [not literally, you understand. I’m clear that there is only one Kate.] I am Paul Simon’s lyrics, a C.S. Lewis book. I am one gorgeous pink peony with red flecks in the center. I am crashing surf. Vibrant. Breathtaking. I move people. They look at my life and say, when they can get the words out, “What a God…!”

I’m going to leave it there and trust that you, reader, understand that answer with the humility I meant in it.

Masterpieces are timeless.

How do you respond to the idea of being God’s masterpiece?

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I just watched the movie Secretariat. It’s probably not the best movie ever made, artistically speaking, but I enjoyed it. At the end, when Secretariat was tearing up that Belmont track, pulling further and further away from the other horses, and the soundtrack was playing “O Happy Day,” I could not contain myself.  “Let him run his race,” Penny Tweedy’s father had told her before he died, and she did. Using the strong will God gave her, she found people who would also let him run his race, and by simply being the creature God created him to be, he ran it. It was his race, and more. I saw the glory of God.

Penny ran her race, too. Actually, at 88  she’s still running it. I loved the spirit portrayed in her, the never give up spirit, the know who you are and press on spirit.

I’m sure all this has been written previously, but tonight it’s mine. I needed to see it, to hear it, to clap hard, in time to “O Happy Day,” to the end of the race. I needed to hear in my head again the line from Chariots of Fire when Eric Liddell says, “God made me fast, and it gives him pleasure when I run.”

The song at the end of the movie says, “It’s not how fast, it’s not how far, it’s not who cheers, it’s who you are. In the darkest night you make your sun. Choose your race, and then you run.”

God, are you pleased with my race these days, these weeks? I hope so. Thank you for re-energizing my spirit this way. I want to be the person you made me to be, full out.

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Thoughts on the Incarnation and social media:

Christmas is all about the Incarnation. God took on the form of a human to come live among us in this messed up world and ultimately give his life for it. As The Message version of the Bible puts it in John 1: 14, “The Word took on flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.”

Jesus had a physical body. He skinned his knuckles in the woodshop, got diarrhea and colds, and guzzled water on hot days. He ate meals with his friends. He laughed at their jokes and cried with their sorrows. He worked alongside them. He looked them in the eyes and listened with his heart. He clapped them on the back.

Because God himself did it, we know that being physically with other people matters.

I recently heard a speech titled “Who Is Your Neighbor?” by David L. Myers, director of faith-based initiatives for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He made a comment that stopped me cold: “It’s easier to ignore your neighbors because you’re too busy staying connected.” Yikes. He suggested disconnecting part of the time and intentionally seeking out ways to get to know people, in person.

Social media networks are marvelous. They help us connect verbally with each other. In fact, we become addicted to these virtual connections. Yet in our virtual community, we can and usually do maintain a layer of insulation from each other. Do we realize how many people out there, some we know and some we don’t, desperately need another human to care enough to look at them, to listen to some piece of their story, to sit across a table and share a meal, to embrace, to miss them if they aren’t there? Are we willing to sacrifice any part of ourselves for our brothers and sisters?

Tonight my son Paul posted this: “Ah, Facebook. Where pretty girls can make hundreds of imaginary friends. Where people can post their feelings when no one else will listen. Where ex-es can meet and chat before ‘one last’ hookup … Where even your social network is playing reruns. But oh well, it’s not like anything else is on. Right?”

How profound and sad–and true, I fear.

There are times I stay up way too late, checking and rechecking my Facebook, Twitter, and email accounts for some little comment, anything,  from someone I care about, some little thing to make me feel connected. Then I realize how bankrupt that is. It’s not all that different from having TV on all the time just to make noise “for company” when no one else is around.

What Paul is saying, and what David Myers was saying, and part of what Jesus continues to say in his Incarnation, is that we need physical presence of and with each other, and we impoverish ourselves and others if we are so occupied with staying connected (read: social media) that we don’t have any time to get to know our neighbors.

90 % of all communication is nonverbal. That means that Facebook — or even this blog — only gives you 10% at best of what I want to convey. There’s no body language, no facial expressions, no tone of voice. No presence. Emoticons just don’t cut it.

I’m gong to keep up with my media accounts — including this blog — but will you join me in making time to get to know our neighbors, the ones we actually share physical space with, whether in the grocery store, at work, or across the street? And let’s ask God to help us do it as best we can the same way Jesus would, with kindness and compassion and truth. It’ll most likely be messy. But Jesus got pretty messy when he stepped into our neighborhood.

This Christmas and beyond, let’s give — and receive — presence.

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