Thursday, October 31, 2013


October was  rich month of reading and learning. Three books: The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brene Brown, a million little ways, by Emily Freeman, and  The Irrational Season, by Madeleine L'Engle. I ended up with random thoughts, notes scribbled on papers, un-tied connections, similar themes. I am a visual learner, part of the reason I write out notes and copy quotes. I needed something to pull it all together, to make sense out of it all, to connect the dots.

Mind-mapping. This tool helps me take a jumble of thoughts and weave them together into a thought tapestry, a way to "see" the thoughts in an ordered visual that makes sense to me.

First, I had to define one word that tied it all together. Well, I ended up with two words.

                                                  IMPERFECT GIFTS

This phrase took thoughts from all three books and gave me a center, a point to start from. After that, I browsed through the notes from the books, picking out main ideas and consistent themes from them. 

As I was writing out the sub-topics, they seemed to flow in a clockwise pattern.
  • reflect the image of God
  • rhythm of the Spirit of God
  • vulnerability
  • weakness
  • wonder
  • show up
  • offer
  • intuition
  • confidence
  • courage
  • connection
The imperfect gifts I create and offer to others are a reflection of the art God has created in me. (Clarification: not that the gifts I receive from the Lord are imperfect - this is about what I do with His perfect gifts to me, in me)

I am looking for a quote from each book to include here. There are too many - like three whole books' worth. 

The Irrational Season is the third book in a series called The Crosswicks Journals. They are each written in a particular season of Madeleine L'Engle's life. For each, she picks one word as a theme. My theme word for this year is "quiet." Her words for her three books are: "Ontological, Ousia, and Anamnesis." And she doesn't consider herself an intellectual. In this last of the three books she thinks and writes through a full year of Christian celebrations with living memory - anamnesis - She writes, "...As I understand anamnesis in my writing, so I understand it in the Holy Mysteries. When we are truly remembering, when we know anamnesis, suddenly the mighty acts of God are present." (These are out of print, but are available on Amazon's used book lists)

Emily Freeman says, "[God] invites you to move with the rhythm of his Spirit. This is a mystery and wonder that is the gospel. He doesn't wait until we are conformed to a version of ourselves that we are pleased with. He comes in to transform us from the inside out."

My gifts, imperfect now, entrusted  to Him, offered as I show up and practice imperfection.

Brene Brown writes, "It reminds me that our imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we're all in this together. Imperfectly, but together."

My mind-map is not complete, not finished. Neither am I. More to learn, more to grow, more to understand. It was intriguing to me that "listen" showed up in three different places on the chart. A reminder to pay attention, to hear and see beyond my limited perspective. This tapestry of thoughts, these lessons, weave creatively into my heart, speaking to me of the Lord's love and extending into my days to give me confidence and courage to reach out.

I am linking with Emily's blog, Chatting At the Sky, sharing a piece of the art created in me this month.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

a million little ways

Have you heard someone say, "She's a real piece of work." Their eyes narrowed, one hand on a hip, the other hand out, finger pointed, their mouth tight, twisted to one side, their nose, elevated.

Have they said it to you?

Are you searching for value, for dignity? For someone to notice, appreciate you and what you do?  (click to see the 1:34 video trailer for her book)

In the brand new book by Emily Freeman, a million little ways, she speaks in her quiet, gentle, graceful (grace full) voice. Not a to-do list of a million things to do. I'm sure you don't need help making that long list. Not lists of ideas of what is art and how to craft it.

 Instead, Emily offers a glimpse into the heart of art. The Creator. A life. A masterpiece. A beautiful creation by a loving Lord. Yes, that would be you.

"...I hope to prove myself a worthy companion, an intuitive observer of the art of God. Still, there is one thing I know for sure: I know you are an image bearer with a job to do. And the simplest description I can come up with for what that means is this: You are art and you make art.
And the only place to begin uncovering what your art looks like is to start right where you are."

She says, "Now, look at Ephesians 2:10. 'For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.'...The English words used in this text - masterpiece, sometimes translated workmanship - these are translations of the original word...poiema. Our English word poem comes from the same Greek word. Workmanship, masterpiece, poem - all these words in Scripture are used to describe God's work - you and me.
"God calls you his workmanship, his poeima. What happens when God writes poetry?
"We do. We happen.
"We are walking poetry, the kind that moves, the kind who has hands and feet, the kind with mind and will and emotion. We are what happens when God expresses himself."

I desperately want to do justice to Emily, to convey to you the heart of her message and encourage you to pursue and learn what she has to offer. The words have layers, like an onion. Peel them back, work deeper, uncover the hidden meanings. And, maybe cry while you are cutting to the heart. One line I particularly appreciate, because it is filled with freedom. "You are a poem, not a robot." Yes, poems have patterns and rules and structure. But also the freedom to create and breathe, heart and soul, within those words.

I could go on quoting, but it would be better if you read the book yourself.

What does this mean for me? How does this change my day, my attitudes, my actions? My art is here. This home, this family, these relationships, as I go through my days, freedom and excitement happen as I create art. Not one perfectly brushed canvas or one perfectly worded manuscript or one perfectly weeded garden, but an expression of who I am, in a million little ways.

Are you a piece of work? Yes, in a wonderful, amazing way.

Thank you, Emily.

The book is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Dayspring.
Emily's blog:

I forgot to mention, Bloom Book Club with (in)courage is hosting a series of interviews with Emily, two days a week, now through Nov 21. You can listen in anytime to hear Emily chat about her book and share her inspiration.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

My Favorite Day

"What day is it?" said Pooh.

"It is today," said Piglet.

"My favorite day," sighed Pooh.

joining Still Saturday at

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hello There

Hello There! I am new around here.

I love to keep everyone very busy. Then I sleep for awhile.

We went to the vet. That was okay. She was friendly and gave me hugs and a treat. But she said I was only three months. Hmmm, thought I was bigger than that.

The other dog here, she is okay. We are learning how to play together, but sometimes she is grumpy and doesn't want me to sleep next to her. So, when I see her going to lie down, I race to the blanket and lie down across it first. Then, she doesn't have to lie next to me. Aren't I nice?

There are two cats, too. One just sleeps all the time. The first day she hissed at me and I got the message, "Leave me alone." The other cat is more interesting. He hisses at me sometimes, but he is more fun to follow around, kinda chasing him. I guess he doesn't know I'm not going to hurt him, I just want to herd him. Maybe I'll grow up to be a famous cat herder. I'm a Border Collie mix, but haven't found any cows or sheep around here. Guess it will have to be the cats.

They buy me cool doggy toys to keep me busy. But the best toys? A golf wiffle ball - I guess someone is supposed to be practicing their golf game - but I love to toss them off the couch, run and catch them. They are noisy when they bounce on the wood floor, which makes them even more fun.

My people say they love the wood floors. Easy to clean up my accidents. At first, we had trouble. They would open the back door and say, "Go to the bathroom." So, I'd go outside and play, come back inside, run into the bathroom and piddle. They didn't seem to like that. But we are coming to a better agreement now. I do my piddles outside - almost mostly - and they smile and cheer me on. It's a big deal, I guess.

Oh, another really cool toy. It's this box on a small table I can reach. These white paper things stick out of it. I can grab the edge of one with my tiny teeth, pull it out, run to the couch and tear it up. Then, when I go back, there is another paper waiting for me to grab and play with. Perpetual toys, pretty cool entertainment.

Oh, and I am supposed to tell you. The lady here is writing a post about some book, a million little ways, by a cool lady called Emily Freeman (I think she is cool because she has a dog, too). But she (the lady here, that is), is having trouble writing it because she is taking care of me (and the other people and animals in the house) in a million little ways. She'll get it done eventually, bye for now - gotta run - I smell a stinky shoe!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Ordinary Everyday Moments

"I think I learned the most about the value of the ordinary from interviewing men and women who have experienced tremendous loss such as the loss of a child, violence, genocide and trauma. The memories that they held most sacred were the ordinary, everyday moments. It was clear that their most precious memories were forged from a collection of ordinary moments, and their hope for others is that they would stop long enough to be grateful for those moments and the joy they bring."
"Acknowledging that these moments are really what life is about has changed my outlook on work, family, and success."

                                                                                 -Brene Brown
                                                                                   The Gifts of Imperfection

joining along with Still Saturday at

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Morning Watch

"O Lord, in the morning, You hear my voice;
in the morning I direct my prayer to You,
and watch."

Psalm 5:3 (translation from the notes) ESV

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Resilience. What is it? I have been called brave at different points in my life. I never felt brave. I felt tired or weary or overwhelmed, but not brave. Yet, the comment would come again, from another source. "You are so brave."

A morning glory vine poked up and spread its leaves and tendrils on the edge of my walkway to the garden. It was in a bad spot - on the ground, underfoot, no place to climb, but I left it because I loved its perky purple-blue blossoms each morning which glow from within. And, I knew it would be short lived, coming up a few weeks before frost arrived.

The frost came last week. Two nights of twenty-seven and twenty-eight degrees. I moved some of the flower pots in to the garage for protection, and resigned myself to losing the sensitive plants. Sure enough, many of the plants, including the morning glory, were a shriveled, black mushy mess.

I didn't pull up the morning glory vine, mostly because I am really bad about weeding. That is one of my big-time procrastination issues. The days warmed up again, with nights back in the forties. Within two days tiny green shoots came up, and in another day the stems were a foot long. With a new bloom each morning.

 This, to me, is a picture of resilience. Courage. Bravery in adverse circumstances. The quote is perhaps a bit trite, but, it is true. "Bloom where you are planted." Even if frost threatens or the situation is less than ideal for your growth. Grow and bloom.
frost damage, new growth

I am reading my way through The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brene Brown. She writes and studies shame resilience and vulnerability. Not an easy, fun book to read. But good. It is a needed message in our culture of stress.

She describes resilience as "the ability to overcome adversity...the ability to bounce back." How do we cultivate a resilient spirit? Well, I can't explain it - yet. Working on that. I love watching the morning glory each day, looking out the window to see if it is blooming. If the sun isn't up yet, there is no blossom. It waits until the sun shines on it, then unfurls its colors. One bloom, not much, but for me, it is a smile, a gift. A reminder to be resilient, and maybe even brave.
Morning glories have another unique characteristic. They bloom in the morning, wilt by afternoon (hmmm, me too), and each bloom lasts only one day. They display their glory, one day only, in the morning sunlight. Each day, I want to build the ability to bounce back, to move forward, to cultivate a resilient spirit. Resilient-in-training.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Change the World

We don't think about it. As we slide our feet over the edge of the bed, touch the floor and lean our weight on them to stand up, we don't think about changing the world. Maybe not even thinking at that point. I'm not. By the time we pick up the day's clothes and walk toward the bathroom, thoughts begin to surface. The day begins: all that has to be done, should be done, or we want to do, clamoring for our attention. But, is Change the World on our list? Probably not.

Lee Silber, the author of a book that changed the way I function in my little world, Time Management for the Creative Person, writes a newsletter. Last month, he tossed out an invitation to write and submit a short story. I like to write short-short stories at 500 words. He asked the short stories to be 200 words. A challenge. How to convey the idea that if we get ourselves out of bed and do the work that is that day's gift, we will have an impact? How to convey the idea that even the smallest effort, the smallest steps do create an impact, your imprint on the world? I am grateful he included my story in his newsletter this month.

When you feel like you are just a drop in a bucket, remember, even small drops create ripples that can  change the world.

I can't figure out how to link to the email which is his newsletter. So, here is my story.


“Jimmy, get up now, you are late.”

“So what?”

“So, the team is counting on you to make that perfect play. So, in two weeks when the sport scouts are at the finals, you won’t be chosen.”

Jim sat up, yawned and scratched his head. “What?”

“Because you aren’t in position, the other team will break through the line and your team won’t score.”

“Mom, you are making this up.” He swung his feet over the bed and dug through the mess on the floor for his shirt.

Mom set the clean, folded laundry she carried on his dresser. “Your shirt is here. What you do affects everyone around you, one way or another.”

“Isn’t that a bit far-fetched? You are exaggerating. Just because I run a bit late this morning, the world is not going to change. You could never prove what might have happened.”

“No, but be sure irresponsibility has negative effects.”

Jimmy shrugged, “Like ripples in a pond.” He grabbed his shirt and walked to the bathroom.

“Hey Jim.”

“What now?”

“We just had a serious conversation and it is five minutes before seven. It’s going to be a good day.”