Speak Up!

It was early evening when she came down the stairs and told us she was going to church the next morning.  She needed to go, and so she was going. And anyone else who wanted to was welcome, more than welcome–she’d love the company–to go with her.

To say I was taken aback would be an understatement.  I was speechless for a moment or two.

Not because I thought she was wrong for saying it, but because I was a little shocked–and envious.

Here was a young woman, my sister, younger than I, speaking her mind.  Saying what she needed.

I want to do THAT.

The thing is, no one thought she was wrong or inappropriate for speaking up.  Quite the opposite.  We all worked it out so it could happen.

And so it did.  And it was a good thing.

Well then.

Over the weekend I heard two people sharing stories about a mutual friend.  It seems that he is a particular eater.  Not picky.  But intentional.  I get it.  So he went to a gathering at one of the friends’ house and under one arm he carried a blender.  In his hand he held a bag of things to blend.

For his healthy smoothie.

He was there for the fellowship, and knowing that he probably wouldn’t be able to eat what was there, he carried his own vittles.

Okay then.

And no one thought unkindly of him.  Hearing the story I was again envious that this man was able to take care of himself, in the least obtrusive way possible.  He did what he needed to do for him, which made him able to be a better friend to all at the party–because he wasn’t stressed over the menu and what he could or could not eat.

My sister was a better parent, I’d daresay, after she was able to go and feed her soul as she had expressed she needed to do.

Good for them.

Sometimes I have a need, and yet I’m hesitant to express it.  Out of guilt?  Feeling selfish?  Not having enough time?  Perhaps it’s being raised in the south where you often hear, “Bless her heart, she was such a good person–never took a minute for herself, always doing for others. Such a gracious lady.”

Yes.  That.

I don’t mean to say that we need to become self-centered and egocentric, but I don’t think, as evidenced by the church visit and the blender, that folks will gasp in horror, clutch their pearls, and kick me out of polite society if I say, “Hey, you know what I need to happen right about now?”

But that’s what I fear, I think.

Offending.

Seeming selfish.

Bad parent.  Spouse.  Friend.  Family.

“Did you hear her just say what she needed?  I swanee, she’s got some nerve!”

The truth is that I think those who love me will likely shrug and say, “Huh, never knew that, okay.”  And the ones who don’t may very well tsk tsk and shake their heads and maybe even wag their tongues–but I can’t let that keep me from speaking up.  Besides, my needs are not really all that interesting fodder for gossip anyway.

Last fall I really wanted a fire pit.  I hinted around and no one was biting.  (Well, who can blame them–I was being really subtle so as to be more grace-filled…..*sigh*)  Finally I resorted to “sending pins” on Pinterest and YouTube how-to videos to the Fella and my oldest.

And you know what?

I got that fire pit!  On my birthday.

And the adventures we’ve had since we got it?

Priceless.  

It was hard for me to speak up.  (Well, I came close, right?  With the videos and pins?)  But I think my people were a little relieved that they didn’t have to guess or try to hack into my Amazon account to see what I might want.

A fire pit?

Sure thing.

Took me nearly twelve years of marriage to figure that one out, but now that I have, I’ve figured out it’s actually pretty nice.

And if it can’t be done or made or given, well that’s okay too.  That’s part of this speaking your needs thing.  At least someone has thought about it and tried.

What’s on your heart? What matters to you?  What would mean the world to you if someone would just…..?

Tell them.  Speak up.  It doesn’t matter what it is, if it comes from deep down within you, this need, then it’s okay.  Just tell someone you love and trust.  Tell someone what you need.

I’ll be you’ll be surprised.

Tonight I’m thankful for those who listen to me and who encourage me and give me permission to want and hope and need.  And speak up.  Most of all I’m thankful for my fire pit, which is fun in itself, but also warms my toes–and my heart, as I remember that I was heard when I spoke my heart…..and it was okay.

Love to all.

 

My fire pit being built, because I asked.

My fire pit being built, because I spoke up.

the mouse who roars

twenty years ago tonight

i shared with the world a tiny secret

that i carried beneath my heart

tucked away with a life of her own

 

the impending arrival of my little one

shared with all

was greeted with handclaps and laughter

and tears

so loved and wanted

from the very, very beginning

 

barely formed two cells together

and already we were dreaming and planning

and tossing around names

one name stuck that night

“the mouse”

my Daddy could be so clever at times

 

twenty years ago tonight

i had stars in my eyes

joy in my heart

and a little fear too, if i’m being honest

i felt quite small and inadequate

to do the task before me,

to enter the “otherworld” of being mama

 

twenty years ago tonight

i had no idea the joy and worry

i would feel over this little one–

but mostly joy

and pride too,

and love

 

all the love

all the joy

never could i have dreamed that the little one

growing beneath my heart

would one day carry it in her hands

and become my best friend

 

tonight i weep a little

that four of those who celebrated

with me

that night are gone

the story is left for just two of us to share now–

of that night and the laughter and the excitement

and the hugs and the hope

she is our hope

for all the good things to come

 

twenty years

how is that possible

just yesterday i was barely beyond that

and awaiting her arrival

my little mouse

with the roar of a lion

 

she will change this world

for the better

just as she already has

mine

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“the mouse” when she had just begun

 

Riding the Bus With Rosa Parks

This afternoon I rode on the bus with Rosa Parks in 1955, with Hugh Hollowell as the bus driver and David LaMotte as our time machine travel director.

He guided us back to the year in which Ms. Parks stayed in her seat, dispelling myths and helping us to think about what it must have been like–as the ones at the front of the bus and the back.

He shared with us about hero versus movement narrative.  While Ms. Parks has been labelled a hero, this protest was a part of a movement–a community of people who set about to make change with their actions–together.

As we sat there, and Hugh took the money from the “folks” boarding the bus, the scenario played out.

And then David asked the question, “What bus are you on?”

And we sat.

And thought.

Not the most comfortable few minutes of my life by any means.

What bus am I on?  What in this world troubles me?  Makes my heart ache?

What injustice do I feel so strongly about that I’m willing to take a stand?  (Or a seat?)

I think perhaps the most grace-filled thing I heard today was it’s not about fixing the world or saving the world, it’s about changing the world.

And these two great thinkers and champions for peace shared the good news that changing the world can take place right here, in our own communities, in our own homes, in our own hearts.

You don’t have to get a passport and board a plane to change the world.

You can do it in your day to dailies.

They didn’t say this, but I daresay it’s not 100% what you are doing but in part, the attitude you have–the why and how you are doing it–that can make a huge difference in how you change the world.

So much yet to process and think about from the past two days of listening to and sharing stories with these two very smart, very kind, and very real people.  But I couldn’t let the day go by without marking it and sharing with you all this very good news.

You are changing the world right now.  In the choices you are making.  In what you decide comes next.  In your attitude and in your relationships.  You are changing the world.

Go and be awesome today. Do something kind.  That’s a beautiful start to changing this world for the better.

 

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I have long admired, respected, and been inspired by the work, words, and writing of David LaMotte and Hugh Hollowell.  I was fortunate enough to meet Mr. LaMotte last March.  It has been a hope of mine that I would be able to meet Mr. Hollowell in person (in meat space) as well.  Yesterday that wish came true.  I have spent the past two days in great conversations and being inspired to be a better me by these two men who are constantly working on being “better” and living more intentionally.

To learn more about their stories, click here:

David LaMotte

Hugh Hollowell

Love Wins Ministry

Facts about Rosa Parks and What Really Happened  and also here  (I recommend you research this for yourself and read more about it.  Very different from the story we were told in school many years ago.)

Tonight I’m thankful for safe journeys, soul tanning, food for thought, and sharing stories.

Love to all.

 

 

Throwing Down Those Nets

Tonight at Evening Prayer, the story from the Good Book* where folks were asked to throw down their nets and follow was read.

And discussed.

While we were listening, the thought came to my mind–

What am I supposed to be throwing down “my nets” and doing?  

What?!

That’s a hard question.  I really wish I wouldn’t ask me things like that.

It is rare that I can throw down what I am in the middle of doing now and answer a question or need right away.

It’s usually–“Okay, hang on” or “Okay, in a minute. Let me get to a stopping point.”

Yeah, I don’t think that was the answer given in the story from the Good Book.

I think they just threw down their nets, were open to change, and went.

And while I realize that it might be a little unrealistic to think of doing that right now, I wonder–

what could make me stop what I am doing and GO?

Move?

Act?

Grow?

Oh, not as in leaving this life I lead, but instead, what could make me change my priorities?

What would I make myself interruptible for?

What could make me give up some of my creature comforts and take action that will make a difference in the world?

What can I give my heart and my all to?

I don’t know, but as we turn the pages of the beginning of this new year, I’m aiming to find out.

I want to throw down my nets and go and see.  And do.

And change the world for the better.

Even if that just means changing the path I’m on.   Sometimes slowing down and listening can mean a change for the better too, I think.

Change is hard, and I’m genetically predisposed not to take to it very well either.

Wishing you all a reason to throw down your nets and good people to go and see and do with.

Love to all.

 

*John 1:39-50

Mark 1:16-20

To Me, Age 22

A tearful and joy-filled day of remembering someone who loved life.  Loved cooking.  Loved people.  Loved his family.

And loved my sisterfriend.

As I sat there watching the slide show of pictures of him throughout his life, including the wedding pictures–the wedding I had the joy of being a part of, in the same building where I sat today with the tears flowing–

I found myself face to face with my 22-year-old self.

I saw her and my sisterfriend, sitting side by side in the little office with the cinderblock and wood top desk.  I saw them working together to get the job done, but also they laughed.  And they listened to music.

And they talked.

And in those moments between payroll and accounts payable and making signs and calculating timecards,

a friendship was born.

As I looked at my much younger self, I wanted to whisper–

That one sitting right there?  The one you just met and are getting to know?  The one who is funny and vivacious and kind and smart and is putting up with you right now at this very minute?

She is your sisterfriend.  She is going to continue putting up with you.

One day, you will be able to say, “I’ve known her for over half my life.”

One day, you will hug each other and hold on tight and whether the tears are yours or hers, whether it’s her sadness or yours, it won’t matter.

Because you will share the journey.

You will be there to laugh over the crazy things people do, the choices they make.

You will be there to stand up for each other, to say, “hey, this girl right here–you’d better treat her right.  Or else.”

You will be there to stand off to the side and bring comfort merely because you are there.

There will be periods of time, years maybe even, when you won’t hear from each other,

but when it all boils down to it,

when things get hard or wonderful or life finds you in need,

that one, she will be there for you.  Just as you better be for her.

Life doesn’t always deal you a friend like that one.

The one with the bat.

The one with the smile and laugh.  The one with the stories.

The one who will carry your stories with her to the grave.

The one who will let you into her family, who will share love with you just as she does.

Hey!  You!  The 22-year-old me who thinks she’s got it all together, who thinks life is rolling along pretty well–engaged, new job, college degree…..

Yeah, you do have it pretty good

but not because of any of those things.

It’s because of that girl right there.

Your sisterfriend.

And all of the women like her.

Who stand strong and love their friends fiercely.

Yes, girl, you have it good.  Now reach over and hug that girl next to you.  Both so young, both have so much wonderful adventures and heartache in front of you.  And it will be okay.  Not because it won’t hurt, not because you will get over it, but because you have a friend to share the journey with.

And to sit in the dark with you when the lights go out.

Because, my sweet self, they will go out.

No, don’t worry about a flashlight.  That’s only temporary.

Grab your sisterfriends.  That’s what light eternal is made of.

Friends.

 

Wishing you all a friend who will spend the next twenty-four plus years putting up with you.  (And a small warning, once you offer to use your bat “as necessary,” there are some folks who are hard to get rid of after that.)

 

Love to all.  Especially my sisterfriends.

 

The Universal Language of Magic

For some reason I started thinking about old TV shows and how good I used to think they were.  Maybe it’s because I’m feeling nostalgic or maybe it’s because my Cousin came by and we were talking about the movies we grew up watching.  He loaned us Superman and Superman II, so we were talking about those and movie ratings and how that’s changed and so on.

And I thought of Bewitched.

I’m not sure why.

But I thought of it, and just like every other time in my life, it gave me comfort to think back to that show.  I wanted to be Samantha, sure–but when Tabitha was born, I wanted to be her with almost every fiber of my being.  She was adorable and had magical powers and well, yeah, isn’t that enough of a reason to want to be her?  Oh and Aunt Clara.  Of course.

When we lived in Japan, we had channels that we could watch American programming on.  We could watch channels like Lifetime with about a two-week delay.  (This really made me happy as I was watching Christmas movies well into January–AS ONE SHOULD.  Obviously.)  We also got Japanese channels.  We really liked watching sumo matches and enjoyed the ceremony and regality of it all.  We even had our favorite wrestlers.  I haven’t watched a match since we moved back, but those are happy memories.

Somehow while we were there, I heard about the release of “Bewitched in Tokyo.”  I don’t remember if I read about it in an English paper or saw a preview on a Japanese channel.  Either way, I set the VCR (yes, VCR!) and recorded the first episode.

Adorable.  A brilliant adaptation of a classic.

Sorry, was that too much?

Still, it was really fun.  Two adorable Japanese young people, living in a high-rise apartment in Tokyo.

But everything else was the same.

So much so that they used the same story lines.  For each and every episode I got to watch.

The only difference was I couldn’t understand a word they were saying.

And yet I knew exactly what was going on.

The beauty of knowing a story well and enjoying something despite the differences.

I recently saw an interview with a woman about polygamy.  She was no less than vehement when she said, “It’s wrong.  I hate them.”

Hate?  Really?  THEM?

I mean, you might disagree with how they are living and what their choices are, and you are allowed that.  But HATE them?

Oh me.

Tonight I’m thankful for the memory of “Bewitched in Tokyo.”  In a country where things were so very different and life was not at all familiar, I found that we are more alike than different.  That someone in Japan loved the story of “Bewitched” enough to share it with their fellow Japanese friends and family and strangers alike–that is beautiful to me.

And that I could understand it, even though I spoke “skoshe” amount of Japanese–well some things are universal, aren’t they?  They need no interpretation.

As we go through this weekend of remembering and aiming for peace in the world, may we all take a moment to remember, that despite all of our differences–

we all like to laugh at made up stories about magic.  Among so many other things.

Wishing you peace and love for all.

Just a little glimpse into the wonderful show that brought me great joy…..

 

Hold Your Treasure Close

Seems like there’s some entrepreneurial spirit going on right here in our own house.  I’m not sure if it’s because the new season of “Shark Tank” has begun (my whole crew likes guessing if an endeavor will get an offer and if so, who will make it), or if it’s because they know there’s another eleven months until Christmas so they might have to earn and buy their own fun things.

Either way, our Princess, who was a huge help in taking down Christmas, decided to sell the candy canes we’d hung on the tree.

Yes, we did just take down our Christmas tree.  I won’t give you an exact date, but it was sometime between Epiphany and–ummm today.

So there are all these candy canes, and goodness knows we don’t need to eat them all, so she put them in a basket with a “For Sale–50 cents” sign and a free newspaper (leftover from Christmas) if you buy two.

Call me a bad Mama but I told her I bought those things one time, I’m not paying for them again.

Somewhere (I suspect she twisted her Daddy’s little finger) she collected some cash and change.  Today she had moved her set up to the couch directly across from where I sat reading and writing while she was working on math.

IMG_6692

Subliminal messaging?  She needs to work on it, but she’s off to a good start.

At one point she went to practice piano and left it all sitting there.  Cooter walked up, grabbed a handful of her change, and went running to where she was in the other room.

“Here. You need to put your money in your pocket.  You need to keep it close to you if you don’t want it to get stolen.”

My first thought was he was the only one we needed to worry about “stealing” the money from her, so it was highly ironic that he was suggesting she take great care with it.  He also told her, “A wallet is the first thing you need to buy with the money you make.”

Oh me.  A real entrepreneur in the making.  Only he’s already told me he wants land.  “Real estate’s where it’s at, Mama.”

He’s not even eight, for goodness’ sake.

After they went back to what they were doing, I sat and thought about his words and the truth in them hit me.

We do need to hold those things close we treasure the most.

Our hearts, our spirits, our names, our honor, our family, our beloved friends.  Hold them close and never let go.

Huh.

Turns out for an almost eight year old, he might be onto something.

But no, I’m not giving him real estate for his birthday next month.  If I did, what on earth would I give him when he’s ten?

Wishing you all really good things and people to hold close and treasure.

Love to all.

 

 

middle of January

and before you know it,

it’s the middle of January

and you’ve only just put away the Christmas

and so your heart would already be a little heavy–

touching her things and giving thanks

that she shared them with you

and all the memories attached

with each little Santa or nativity

or snowflake

 

and you remember those words of blessing said

as her precious hands tucked them in their boxes,

words from your own mouth–

May the next time we open this box

our spirits and our health all be good

 

but it wasn’t to be

and the middle of January comes

 

bringing more memories

 

her smile over the simple cards you made

or the little trinket nothings you crocheted for her

that she always kept

over the many years of childhood

 

her joy and happiness over the lemon cake recipe

you found and made that had no cholesterol,

she tried to take good care of her health

 

and all the laughter once you grew up

over sharing mushrooms

 

she spent years making her birthday about everyone else

finding joy in the little things

making each person who wished her well

feel one of a kind special,

no matter how elaborate a gift they offered

whether a pencil drawing

or a new robe

(there was that one year)

each time she exclaimed

it was the best ever

and the joy in her eyes was genuine and true

 

her birthday

a day to remember and cry a little

for crying in the middle of January

is okay

more folks than a few usually do

 

as the calendar page turns

and I see her name with the cake and candle there,

drawn just as she always did on her own calendars,

my tears will blend in with those for whom

this month is just hard in general

 

I know how they feel

the joy that was just so full and glowing

full of light

and precious

has been put away

and is gone

 

Only Christmas will come around again

soon enough

but I won’t see her eyes twinkle or

hear her tell me how I am loved

or how beautiful she thinks I am

until I too leave this world

 

and so the tears and memories fall

as I blow out the candle

and remember

 

The Empty Shelves

The little concrete building

with bars over the only windows,

the ones at the front

looking out over the busy road

at all the customers they had hoped to draw in.

There are signs in the windows,

advertising the cigarettes that they planned to have on the shelves.

 

The neon light hangs slightly off-center,

never having been plugged in at all.

It is for some drink or another

that never graced the shelves,

only that unlit sign stands testament to what

was supposed to have been.

 

Everything was ready and appearances were good,

on the outside.

Only the inside of this little store

was never stocked.

No one ever entered its doors, seeking

spirits or sustenance.

Or conversation.

 

No one stood behind the counter,

doing the job she was hired for.

No one pulled his truck up to the front door

and unloaded cases of Coca-Cola

or Ritz Crackers.

Or Moon Pies.

 

Empty.

 

No substance there at all.

Sometimes we are like that little cement brick building.

The structure is there, everything’s ready,

as far as the outward appearances go.

 

But–

we forget to get our insides ready.

Our soul is empty and not at all prepared for what we want to appear

ready for.

What we’ve said we can do,

we haven’t always prepared our hearts

or souls

or minds for.

 

I drive by the little store and think

about what a shame it is that they didn’t stock the shelves

first

and then put up the signs inviting people inside.

Parting the Fog

A cold, gray, foggy day in Georgia.

Tucked away in the warmth of home.

This evening we ventured out in it and as we were about to get in the car to head home after dark, the littles exclaimed their surprise that it was still foggy.

“Look!  It’s even foggier than it was earlier!” Cooter was amazed.

“Mama, look, I’m walking through it.  Does the fog go right through us as we walk?” our Princess asked.

Oh bless her.

I love that she’s still so young and naive and has no clue yet just how many ripples are caused by every step she takes.  In the fog, in her life, in this world.  Every single step. she. takes.

But as she’s only ten, and it was a cold dark evening, I tucked that conversation away for a day more filled with light.  Our own power to affect the lives of those around us and those not around us–the potential for so many questions and the potential for the fear and worry that will likely come with it–yes, it begs for a day more filled with sunshine and light breezes.  And butterflies.

Definitely butterflies.

So tonight I gathered my thoughts and shook them off, and I wrapped my arm around my baby girl as we walked to the car.

“No, baby, you go through the fog–it moves aside as you walk.”

“Oh cool,” she said as she skipped ahead.

Bless the young’uns.  And their awe and wonder at the world.  Bless them as they celebrate things like Christmas lights still up and  misty, foggy night drives home.  Bless them as they grow and learn just how small they are and just how huge their footprints can be.

May your ripples today be far-reaching and bring good to all they touch.

Love and Light to all.

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