Saturday, February 13, 2016

Sights and sounds

I stepped onto my deck yesterday morning and these sights and sounds captivated me. I'm learning to see and to listen.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Lent and the art of reframing

"Use Lent to reframe the rhythm of your life."

A friend said this last night and it hit me squarely in the heart. Being the word lover, I've been chewing on this for a while now.

Reframe: to express a word, concept or plan differently.

What does it look like to reframe the rhythm of my life this Lenten season so I'm in a space where I can hear God better? Sad thing is, my life has been so busy that I haven't had a chance to even ponder this thought. Until last night -- the eve of Ash Wednesday.

I don't Lent well. (Like how I used that as a verb? Sort of like my other favorite non-verb, Adult. Do you adult well? I digress...)

Lent, the 40 days of preparation, reflection and inner examination leading up to Easter and the celebration of Christ's resurrection, "gives us the opportunity to reorient our focus toward Jesus in a world that calls loudly for our attention in so many ways," according to Thomas Christianson. It also "gives us a chance to create specific plans so that through our actions, we may train our heart to grow in love for Christ."

Lent is hard for me at times because of the crud it dredges up from inside my heart. It's hard to look at those things. But it's also good because it turns my heart toward the hope of restoration that Christ brings.

In the past, I've given up for Lent things I felt were good, but had an unhealthy hold on my attention and time (TV, social media, listening to music in the car.) The time away from these things was always hard the first few days, but helped me see how I sometimes used them as crutches or distractions instead of dealing with situations. Removing them from my life for a time allowed me to develop better habits and wiser uses for my time. When I re-introduced these things back into my life, they didn't have the same control they once did.

Last year, I adopted the Reverse Lent Challenge, a neat way in which I could love people well through the written word.

So what does this all have to do with reframing the rhythm of my life this Lenten season? The truth is, I don't know. I've been too tired and sleep-deprived to think about it. But I want to know. Perhaps a good start is trying to un-busy my life over the next 40 days and be intentional about creating space for down time (and better sleep) so I can wrestle with this question.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Snow day!

It's snowing today -- our first one of the winter season.
Down here in the south, people lose their minds when the fluffy white stuff starts coming down. They buy up all the bread and milk in grocery stores. They start doing foolish stuff on the roads. Granted, we don't get that much snow so people are not used to it and don't know how to drive in it.

A snow (non) event virtually guarantees the entire city shuts down: schools, businesses, many eateries. I happen to like snow days because that means we get the day off. Such was the case today. Whenever we get a snow day, I get the urge to cook, bake and eat up a storm. I present to you Exhibit A:

Blueberry cobbler. Git in mah belleh!!

The Lola homestead around 7 a.m. Just a dusting.

About nine hours later. Plucky dog loves the snow.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

For the audience of ONE

"I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure." -- Eric Liddell, Chariots of Fire

I competed in a national taekwondo tournament in Frisco, Texas, this weekend.
I love and enjoy people, but performing in front of them often makes me nervous and flustered. In times past, I've become so nervous at taekwondo tests and competitions that I get inside my own head, foil myself and mess up.

This time around I began thinking: what if I performed as if I were doing it before an audience of One -- as unto God? 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." So, why not taekwondo?

The shift in thinking was helpful because I realized that whether I earned medals during the competition or not, it was still God's show no matter what. This took some of the pressure off and even though I was still nervous, I enjoyed myself. I felt God's pleasure throughout the weekend.

I made a couple of mistakes with my form (a set of movements that demonstrate mastery at one's belt level), I lost points in a couple of my sparring matches for "hitting too hard," and I earned a gold medal in board breaks. Overall, I had a fantastic time.

Five of my teammates from my fall Peru Inca trek came out to support me.
So grateful for them and their love! :)

Thursday, January 14, 2016

A sweet welcome

I grudgingly broke my Facebook fast last night and logged on after a month away.
The first thing in my newsfeed was this photo: sweet memories of a sweet crew as we made our way up a tall mountain in East Africa for a neat purpose.
Definitely a great welcome back to the social media platform.

The jury is still out on what as to whether I'll jettison Facebook for good. (It did feel overwhelming after being gone from it for so long. So I got out of there today quickly!) For now, I've decided to hang on to it but keep the app off my phone. That way, I can still stay connected as needed, but the extra effort of having to go to a desktop virtually guarantees that I limit my time on Facebook.

Not bad for a monthlong experiment.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The lucky number today: 13


The lucky number today is 13, as my friend Count von Count would have you know.
As in 13 years that I've made Knoxville home. So glad to mark this milestone in this beautiful, scruffy city I've come to love.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Looking backward, looking forward

Ancient Roman god Janus. Source: Wikipedia
In college, one of my favorite courses was about the Greek and Latin roots of the English language. We learned about Janus, a Roman mythical god with two faces -- one looking backward and one looking forward. That's where the word "January" comes from.

I've spent the last few days reflecting on 2015 as I prepared my heart to enter this new year. One of my biggest lessons of the last year was grasping that we live within tension: life is beautiful AND life is hard. God loves us AND sometimes we suffer. Good AND bad things find us. We experience dazzling victories AND baffling defeats. It's a lesson that I'm carrying into this new year.

Life is so worth living and we are privileged that we get to do it. No one knows how many days and years we're allotted in this beautiful AND dangerous world. One thing we know is that we're all given the opportunity to live in a way that counts.

My prayer is that no matter where life finds us at various points in 2016, we would choose to live well and love others well. Sometimes, living and loving well is an act of courage. May we all rise to the occasion and do so with much joy.

Happy New Year! May 2016 be peppered with peace and many blessings.