The Crux of the matter is… The Heart

I’m just barely getting this in on time… its the last day of the month.  February almost went by without a post. UGH.  I feel like I should have done better, done more, and yet if I look back at what I have accomplished this month, its nothing to sneeze at.  In the last six weeks I have:

  • moved to a new town
  • set up house in my new apartment
  • started a new job
  • organized two fairly sizable events for said job
  • joined a weekly tweetchat to help organizations get social media exposure
  • agreed to be on the board for a new not-for-profit
  • found a local Jesus community
  • re-connected with old friends
  • started meeting new people… and
  • most recently I’ve started a new business endeavor with Pampered Chef.

Whew – ok, I’m not the slacker my inner “Do-More” tells me I am.

photo credit

So why do I still have that inner diatribe yelling at me?  What is it that isn’t satisfied? Because in all that busy-ness I wonder if I really am making a difference.  February is Heart-health awareness month – especially for women.  Fitting seeing as the middle of the month is Valentine’s Day and its practically decorated to the hilt with hearts.  And all of this leads to my introspection of my emotional heart health… Why do we do what we do?  What is this thing that drives us?  I believe it’s because we want to see a better world around us.

This shows up every week in the tweetchat.  We worked with an 11 year old girl who wanted to give soldiers a piece of home to show them that we appreciate their sacrifices.  Who knew it would blow up into a viral social media showdown, but her point was always the same.  To honor those who sacrifice for our freedom.  That’s the heart.

Health issues be it for women, those reconciling with scars from treatments, the late-term effects from cancer treatments, or Alzheimer’s and dementia are filling the twitter feed. Why do people care about it? Because it has impacted them and trying to help people either avoid unnecessary trauma (emotional, mental, or physical) is the goal.  To help and give support and encourage. That’s the heart.

Did you know that a real feminist is a wonderful person to be around?  She acknowledges the right of every woman to make her own choices – and we don’t all have to look the same.  Whether you choose to work or stay at home with your kids or to not have children at all.  We are not better than men, men are not better than women.  True equality is in acknowledge and celebrating differences rather than being defensive about them and tearing down others.  Why is this important? Because as the quote says, ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’.  And I believe that if that is true, then logically  acceptance of one’s identity in Christ is the source of joy. To know, believe in, and own your true identity.  That’s the heart.

Unless we truly know our heart behind all the things we “do” we will continue being redundant, and run in circles like the proverbial rodent in a wheel, always busy but never accomplishing anything.  A recent twitter follower, when questioned about why he chose to follow referred to my bio and said “I think it was the wanna be world changer – I think the world can be changed, but it takes focus”  And he’s right.  It DOES take focus, knowing the heart.

What is the heart behind your actions? I hope you take some time to know your heart today.

New Year… New life

I’ve been silent dear readers.  Why? I’ve been finding my new life.  Truly.  I moved back to North America from Africa in October.  Spent a month in Toronto with family helping with my late grandmother’s estate, then moved into Mom & Dad’s in November to contemplate what my life would look like since the big change in August.  Well, the waiting is over – here are some details of my new life…

Image

My sunny spot

New Home – a sweet and cozy little one bedroom apartment in a sleepy South-Central Massachusetts hamlet.  I’m trying to find where everything belongs and in the mean-time I’m living with the boxes…

New Job – I’m refocusing my organizational passions in the medium of radio.  I’m the Office Manager for The Q 90.1 FM.  We went on the air in early December 2012, and I came on board in mid-January.  I’m excited about the possibilities of sharing a message of hope in this region.  I still get to use all my knowledge of social media, organization, and meeting and sharing life with people.

New Life – so with a new home and a new job, is this really a new life?  Not exactly.  You see, with all the things that have changed me over the last couple of years, it is now the intention to have a renewed focus on being true to my God-given identity.  What is that?  As I put on my instagram bio “Girl. Jesus-follower. Wanna-be world changer”

You see, we are created by God with a destiny.  Not only that, but we are given the passion to pursue His purpose for us if we will be honest with ourselves and connect with our Creator.  If I’ve learned anything from the grief process, it’s that in the end, it’s not the things (new home) or paycheck (new job) which give merit to our lives, for in reality our physical selves will decay and become dust.

What truly matters is the impact we make on people.  The lives that have influenced us, the hearts we have loved, the souls that we touch as each of us passionately pursue our divine purpose

A Monkey’s Meditation

I’ve been staying with relatives the last three weeks as I help sort through my grandmother’s remaining possessions that were in storage whilst she was in the nursing home after her stroke.  By times its been just sorting & tossing, while other times tears have coursed down my cheeks as I dawdle down memory lane and wish I could have more time.

Most of the things that have triggered weepy moments, have been things that she wrote or cut out of a magazine, or something we read together – words.  Words are powerful, they are able to go around the world and convey images and experiences so that we can all share them.

Here’s one poem that she saved in a bible, that made me laugh, and think – all at the same time.

 

A Monkey’s Meditationmonkey not listening

A monkey musing in his cage

Upon the progress of the age,

Half-whispered as I happened by,

“This evolution is a lie.”

 

Surprised to hear him speak so plain.

I paused profounder truths to gain.

Unconscious I was there to heed,

He thus continues with his creed:

 

“For mortal man to try to trace

Descent from our illustrious race

Is rank injustice to our clan,

The monkey much surpasses man.

 

“In bloody wars, men butcher men;

They slander both with tongue and pen.

They cheat, they lie, they swear, they steal;

And wild with wine, they rock and reel.

 

“They trample justice in the dust;

They loll in luxury and lust.

Their men, their women  young and old.

They sell their very lives for gold,

 

“They laugh at law, they twist their truth,

They crucify the dreams of youth.

Their hearts are hard as solid stone,

They worship God with lips alone.

 

“Man thus has left a trail of crime,

Too foul to sanctify with time.

The record of the human race

Brings flaming blushes to my face.

 

“The monkey leads the simple life,

Is loyal to his wedded wife.

No lady monkey yet, of course,

Has ever sought or won divorce!

 

“The monkey home is still serene,

The father, king; the mother, queen.

The little monkeys, too, obey

Their parents in the good old way

 

“We have no haunts of sin and shame.

No racketeers our ranks defame.

Our record stands an open book

At which the world has leave to look.

 

“No self-respecting monkey can

Admit himself akin to man.

According to the Word from on High

This evolution is a lie.”

~ D.E. Guyton

 

From a tract published by Osterhus Pub. House

4500 W. Broadway

Minneapolis, MN

Life matters…

Our relationship with this world is a strange paradox. The same can be said for our relationship with social media.  It can bring friends from around the world into one place – as small as the palm of your hand. Sharing stories, major life events, participating with peers in all of the up and downs that life dishes out. Celebrating the victories with a retweet or like, bemoaning a crisis through a comment.  We have distilled life into bite-sized pieces of 140 characters or less.

distorted magnified imageYet, the frailties of our humanity are magnified. A headline from the Toronto Star on Saturday decried “Death by Social Media.” As a social media person, I read these stories with an avid interest, searching my own motives and agendas about being online.  This, unfortunately, is not the first tragedy of its kind.  A friend recently posted about a similar situation on his blog, reminding us that we need to remember to humanize our social media.

Every post is a person.  Behind those avatars, profile pictures, and cover shots is a real live breathing human person with a soul and a story.  Each post, tweet, blog, and instagram is the reflection of a moment of life. And every life matters.  They matter to God, and as a Christian, they should matter to me.  Whether it is a life barely begun in the womb of a woman, a life that is malnourished because of poverty, one that is at risk of being trafficked as a slave or sex-object, or one that just somehow fell through the cracks of nets that government and society have set up – they are important.

God sees them. Even if we don’t.  He invites us to participate in His Kingdom by “hollowing out a great space in the hearts of those who will risk this loving and compassionate life-style.”  To extravagantly love others is to risk hurt, rejection, and pain. To experience the sufferings of Christ. As I search myself, I hope I find a soul hollowed out to be filled with love, rather than one fits “the world’s mold that will leave us misshapen in our souls.”

**italicized quotes from “Tent Revival Homecoming” presented by Bill Gaither © 2011

Not Fair!

“No fair! No fair! No fair!” my inner crimson-cheeked, tear-stained inner preschool wails and throws a fit. “This isn’t FAIR!”

And the truth is – it isn’t fair that plans get cancelled and dreams don’t always come true.  It’s not fair that I’m no longer planning a wedding, pinning my dreams on Pinterest, preparing for a marriage and family.  It’s not fair – but it is life.

Life is not fair as our mothers oft told us in our younger days.  It is not fair, balanced, and organized.  Rather, I believe instead, it is more like managed chaos with moments of crises and excitement thrown in just to keep it interesting.  So I can either choose to sulk and pout and pitch a fit about the unfairness of it all OR I can suck it up, put on my big girl pants, and look for the new opportunities that are in front of me now.

It is never too late to start over as my friends The Afters keep blaring in my earbuds.  Consequently I will – even at the old advanced mature age of 35. The possibilities before me are quite varied – and hard to believe – God trusts me to hear Him and choose.

SO – anyone want to hire a 35 year old administrative, organizational aspiring writer who likes to travel, enjoys new experiences, and wants to make a difference in the world?

Seriously – if you know of something, email me.  Thanks!

A preponderance of thoughts…

A busy mind is a terrible thing to waste.mind maze

Ever have those days where your head is so full of various thoughts, words, emotions, that you just don’t know where to start to put it down… Just as you think you have a clear direction on one topic, something else grabs your ears, and yells “Pay attention to me!!” So off you go – putting oil on the proverbial squeaky wheel, until you lost the immediacy and original passion for the first idea, but not entirely, so it sits there, percolating, simmering until a new perspective on that idea bursts and drags your mind to muddle that through.

There and back again… 

Back and forth, hither and thither, up and down – my imagination has wandered to the reformation, before creation, and into the light of eternity this week. From Germany, Narnia, New York, Jerusalem and the golden streets of the heavenly realms. Theology, dogma, the doctrines of sacrificial love, preparing for coming crises, the acceleration of change in our culture…

How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?

Thoughts can be so elusive sometimes.  Is it possible to pull the ephemeral from the air and make it something physical, the solidity of black and white words?  If the possibility exists, tell me, will someone else understand it?  For what good is it to put the thoughts out there, to tell the message, if no one can comprehend what is being said?

In the stillness… 

In quiet and tranquility , if we wait long enough, and ponder a thought sufficiently, it will eventually settle. It will solidify, and clarify.  Thoughts must be sifted out of fiction, filtered through experience, and tried by the fire of truth before being declared in the public forums. Once processed, a true thought will come out, understood by the soul, heart, and mind, transparent not only to oneself but also by the audience.

 

So, I will continue to wrestle my focus between a variety of thoughts, ideas and concepts – noodle them through, and once I understand my perspective on the ideas, I will share them – or not, if they should happen to fail the tests of truth and time.

The landscape has changed

barren landscapeLife is a journey.

Have you ever been on a long road trip, taken a nap while another person was driving, and you were totally disoriented when you woke up because the landscape around you had changed and you were now in unfamiliar territory?

When this happens in life what do you do?  Suddenly, the future before you has changed.  You’re not sure what to do.  What had seemed a certainty is now gone, instead of a few possible choices, anything is a possibility. While choice is great, too many choices are overwhelming.

Having a game-plan doesn’t ensure success.

Personally, I’m the type who prefers to always have a game-plan, and usually with a few back-up plans just in case Plan A falls apart.  Unfortunately, sometimes my plans turn into an epic fail.  And even though I’ve said I’d rather take the risk to either succeed spectacularly or fail epically, its really no fun to feel like you’ve failed.  Success is always preferred.

Right now my heart hurts, my brain is on overload, and my emotions are all over the map.  How do I make sense of this? Where is God in all of this?  Did I miss something? Where did I go wrong? Is my judgement really that off? How could I have possibly messed this up so badly? Can I really trust myself again? These are the thoughts that plague me in the quietness of the night hours. Nothing makes sense to me anymore. Even listening to my iTunes can be dangerous if the wrong song plays in the shuffle.

What’s a girl to do?

“Be still and know that I am God.” Still.  Do I know how to be still?  Not very well.  In fact out culture pretty much shuns stillness.  Between books, internet and social media, television, movies, smartphones, and tablet devices we have an multitude variety of things to keep our minds and brains so entertained that we forget how to be still and just listen.  Sometimes we’re afraid of our own thoughts – but are those really what we need to be listening to?  I’ve heard it said that to get to true stillness we need to:

Quiet our actions so we can hear our voice

Quiet our voice so we can hear our thoughts

Quiet our thoughts so we can hear our breathing

Quiet our breathing so we can hear our heartbeat

Quiet our heartbeat so we can hear our soul

Quiet our soul so we can hear the Voice of God (paraphrased)

The landscape has changed.

So, here in this new place, which seems so barren, I’m allowing myself to be still. To be okay with being in the ‘in-between’.  And  while I’m being still and quiet He will heal me and then He will whisper to me which way I’m supposed to go.

I’m okay with that.

if its scary quote