It was another one of those “When Harry Met Sally” moments. Not the one in the diner, but that one when Marie, Sally’s friend, quotes an article she read without realizing Jess, Harry’s friend, was its author.
I had barely arrived at a church leadership retreat when Terri said, “I need to ask you something.” It had been a while since we had seen each other, and I had no idea what she wanted to ask.
“Are you a writer?” a question that is still odd for me to answer in the affirmative after all these time (because most people are asking if I’ve published a book), but in this case she explained why she was asking before I could even answer.
Terri is a nurse by profession and I didn’t know she was working at a local elementary school now; her job changed a while back but it was news to me. “There’s a quote painted over a mural on one of our walls, and the author cited is ‘Robin Dance.’ IS THAT YOU??”
She couldn’t recall the exact quote but she described the artwork–a sea motif with a large manatee. Immediately I thought of the DaySpring print that was sold a few years back —
But even I couldn’t recall the exact quote used for the print. I just knew that whales are ginormous sea mammals, and maybe someone had seen the print and made the connection to a manatee.
What I did remember was that it was about the impact – big or small – everyone makes, a perfect message to send to school children of all ages.
On Monday morning Terri texted a picture of the mural, and sure enough, it was the quote from the printable I had wondered about. Terri investigated a little further and discovered one of the first grade teachers had painted it, and either she or another co-worker had found the original quote on Pinterest.
HOW COOL IS THAT? I don’t know anyone else who works at Sonny Carter elementary, and no one there has any idea the mural quote is by someone local.
Day made. I relish the obscurity of it all.
* * * * *
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There’s little doubt that familiarity breeds contempt, but recently I found myself wondering if familiarity can breed contempt even when it comes to Scripture. (Gasp!)
There’s part of me that scolds myself — a heretic at best, guilty of apostasy or blasphemy at worst — but if you hear me out, maybe you can identify? When I’m brutally honest with myself, I see how easily it can happen. It’s not a matter of disdain or unbelief, but more a case of having read or heard “go-to” passages so many times, you gloss over it or think there’s nothing new to learn or that you already know it all as it relates to that verse or this chapter.
But here’s the kicker: we might not even realize we feel that way. It’s as subtle as speed-reading through familiar words or skipping a section altogether because you “know” it so well. Oh, our enemy is a wily one.
I was thinking on this because I had sensed that Holy Spirit tug to write about 1 Corinthians 13, the greatest treatise on “love” ever penned. I’d wager even new believers or unbelievers immediately think Love is patient, love is kind, upon hearing the Scripture reference. It felt incredibly cliché to write about love during the month we celebrate Valentine’s Day, except . . . except . . . the battle in my head and heart was so fierce, it seemed important to listen.
Why would God want me to write about love? And perhaps a more telling question, why would our enemy not want me to write about love?
When I realized the simple answer to both questions was identical, the wrestle was over:
Oh, I hope you’ll click to keep reading this one. It’s something I’ve found myself sharing in so many different situations lately.
This giant 32-ounce mug is waiting to be filled with treats–candy, flowers or hot chocolate & marshmallows–
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only $5 through Sunday, so hurry. GREAT to stock up on at this price, and perfect for
upcoming teacher gifts, party favors, or a fun little anytime love gift.
Anyone who knows me understands the effect words have over me.
A harsh word can wound me for years. (I could show you the scars.)
A kind word has the capacity to inspire, move, challenge and encourage me, in all the ways that really matter.
There’s always a right word to use when you’re writing, a best word, and writers know it when they nail it. Imagine the image of an Olympic gymnast spinning off the uneven parallel bars and perfectly landing her dismount–I know it when I’ve scored a “10” by choosing the perfect word to communicate an idea. All writers know it.
A lot of writers (like me) like words so much we use too many of them. I hope one thing I’ve learned over the past few years is how to strike superfluous words. Wait–I know I haven’t learned it, but I’m learning. When I read some of my old work now, I see how I could cut it in half.
This is why I love poetry. Word economy.
Of course, poetry can be intimidating; it’s incredibly subjective. I’m not drawn to the work of all poets, but those to whom I am, I’m smitten.
I think it started with e.e. cummings in the fifth grade. I don’t recall a specific poem, but I adored his unconventional style, and he was the first author to make me think I could write poems, too.
Of course, just because you write poems doesn’t mean they’re good, but that’s not really the point, is it? If you’re satisfied, that’s enough.
I find it best not to find the value of art in the eye of the beholder.
It’s a pure expression of the author’s heart, undeniably beautiful–you just have to have the right eyes to see. If the author is the only one with 20/20 vision, so be it. That’s enough.
My niece introduced me to a new poet the other day, Nayyirah Waheed. Oh, my…. Her work is stunning. She’s a masterful word economist with the ability to knit together a few words into something that will slay dragons. Powerful. Provocative. Penetrating.
I don’t yet have her book yet; Abby wouldn’t part with her copy of salt. But I read enough to know I want to read more, and that I can learn a lot from Waheed; about poetry, sure, but also about life.
A few poems to whet your appetite; spacing, punctuation, and formation is all hers–
when they hear
and this is how
* * *
my favorite kind.
that i can
* * *
does not want me
it is not the end of the world
if i do not want me.
the world is nothing but endings.
* * *
you broke the ocean in
half to be here.
only to meet nothing that wants you.
* * *
can we speak in flowers.
it will be easier for me to understand.
— other language
* * *
as a writer, if someone falls
in love with my work.
i know they have fallen
in love with my mind. having
no idea what my face
looks like. they chose my
mind. art may be the only
place a woman can be whole. and seen.
without being seen.
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“The story of your life
is the story of the long and brutal assault on your heart
by the one who knows what you could be and fears it.”
John Eldredge, Waking the Dead: The Glory of a Heart Fully Alive
It almost seems like a dream to me, that season. I wouldn’t call it a nightmare exactly, but it was dark and desperate, and I couldn’t find my way to morning. I drifted through days marking time, barely living in the ways that matter most.
Right foot . . . left foot . . . breathe in . . . breathe out.
Perfunctory motion got me through another day.
That smile on my face was a masquerade, a lie — camouflaging the truth of my fractured heart.
I hid it well, or at least I think I did. Mostly anyway.
Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
It wasn’t difficult to hide behind my children. With three in school it was easy to volunteer myself to death. I hadn’t yet made the discovery I was an Olympic peace-keeper and people pleaser (something for which I’ll likely be in recovery ’til the end of my days), but I didn’t want to bother people with my woes. I had lived in this place only a short while and friendship roots were shallow. Plus, there were so many bigger, worser problems in the world.
Comparison is always a thief, isn’t it?
Comparison can rob us of joy, yes, but sometimes she steals the dignity of our struggles. To suggest that my battle holds no significance simply because your battle has presumably greater weight is disservice to us both.
If it matters to me, it matters.
If it matters to you, it matters.
It was so long ago, but memory brings it close. Remembering even now brings shudders. But there was something I (finally) learned that changed e v e r y t h i n g.
January 4th my husband and I started Whole30 for the fourth time. Our secret? Apparently the fourth time is the charm.
I tackled the “What is Whole30?” question a while ago, so if you aren’t familiar, take a moment to become acquainted. Then use your handy back button to return and finish reading. (I’ll wait for you.)
Tad and I are Whole30 evangelists. We believe in it. That being said, it is very much a love/hate thing for us–
We cry when we have to tell our restaurant server, “We’ll pass on the candied pecans in the salad,” and I have to give away ALL of my homemade sourdough bread when I make a batch. We miss the noodles in chicken soup. We miss the beans (legumes) in chili. Lots of things to miss (buh-bye Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie), so it’s best to focus on what you can have.
Basically whole foods as close to their original state as possible. High protein meat, seafood and poultry; healthy vegetables; moderate fruit; and my guiltiest of pleasures, nuts–cashews and almonds and macadamias, oh my!
Whole30 is not intended to be a “diet.” It is lifestyle change. It is more about well respecting your body, caring about your health, and exercising self control over instant gratification. We’re killing ourselves, people. Ignorance is not our body’s friend.
For 30 days you commit to not eating any sugar or sugar derivative, no added sugar (practically every processed food in the US has some form of added sugar…buyer beware), most forms of dairy, no pastas or legumes (including peanut and soy), no alcohol, no grains of any kind.
And I think it is ultra important to note we sign up for this for our overall health and to break our sugar addiction, not for weight loss. Whole30, similar to a Paleo diet, touts incredible health improvements in these areas:
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- type 1 & 2 diabetes
- sinus infections
- skin conditions
- bipolar disorder
- arthritis and joint pain,
- thyroid dysfunction
- Lyme disease
- chronic fatigue
- Celiac disease
- multiple sclerosis
and even more…!
Isn’t that crazy? But isn’t it worth a try if you have issues in any of the above areas?!
The first time we went through Whole30 we were legalists. The Hartwigs, inventors of all things Whole30, expect the best for you, setting compliance in all areas as The Standard. I didn’t even chew gum (artificial sweeteners), and to the degree that I could control meals out, I ate only the foods included in the program.
I’m not going to lie: No sugar and no grains that first time around were a shock to our systems. We not only counted the days, we counted the minutes of each day. Thirty days felt like 100.
But this go ’round has been easier. Much easier.
We’ve known what to expect. We are barely keeping up with the days (though with the end in sight, we’ve gotten to the point we’re over it….).
I’ve gotten more adventuresome. I’M ON MY THIRD FREAKING BATCH OF HOMEMADE MAYO and I might not ever buy it again! Clarifying butter is no big deal. I’ve made homemade barbecue sauce and ranch dressing, and some kind of avocado dip for veggies. I bought a julienne peeler to make zoodles and matchstick carrots and to shred spaghetti squash. I bought spaghetti squash for the first time! I’ve tried new recipes–some of which I’ve added to my regular repertoire, others that I’m happy to have tried if only to learn never again!
I mean it when I say I was the person who said, “I could never do that,” primarily suggesting I couldn’t go without any sugar for 30 days. So don’t give me that excuse.
The most common quote the Hartwigs hear from their book is one I’ve repeated many times to friends in conversation–
“It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Quitting heroin is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Drinking our coffee black. Is. Not. Hard.”
Perspective shreds your sad, little, tired arguments to pieces.
Ready to try it? I’ll be your biggest cheerleader!
Related links that might offer a bit more encouragement:
Buy “The Whole30.” (A simpler approach to the program in five easy steps. HIGHLY motivating.)
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