Are We Simply Asking the Wrong Question?

Have we confused what with who?

I know all you grammar junkies out there are screaming, “it is not with who, but with whom!”

Yes, I know smarty pants.  Keep your pants on; this is not the point.

It seems like the same questions are being asked in a variety of ways–

What is my purpose?

What is my calling? 

What do you want me to do? 

What?  What?  What?  

What if we changed what, to who?

Remember that silly comedic thing from way, way back–so much so, it was in black and white…

Who’s on first?

What’s on second?

Maybe they were onto something, besides irritation.

Maybe we should answer the who first by focusing on whom we desire to do the what.

And, if our central focus is on HIM, the WHO, who put us here in the first place, then the what will naturally become secondary.

And, at times when we don’t know the answer to the what’s in life, we are not thrown off balance in confusion, because we will always have the WHO–being Jesus.

Just the rambling in my mind as I sit her pondering this thought…

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When Passion and Purpose Collide

As I glanced around the room last night at a Bible study full of beautiful single moms, I felt my heart swell with love and gratitude for the place God has placed me.

I have been part of this group on and off for about five years now.  Really a crazy story how I, a mom who has been married for most of her adult years, had ended up in this group solely brought together by their common unmarried status.

But, even though I could not completely relate to their daily struggles, I felt a close connection form from the very beginning.

I feel at home here. 

It could be because of the genuine love displayed toward one another.

I am not entirely sure–but, I am glad to be part of this leadership circle placed together to walk alongside and encourage them live to their full potential.

Have you ever felt you finally found your place in life?

That place where passion and purpose collide?

For me, my heart naturally gravitates toward individuals in life who are considered the underdogs.

Those who, for whatever reason, do not have the odds stacked in their favor.

Not necessarily with this particular ministry, but, in general.

Those whose potential flies under the radar in life.  

Perhaps because of circumstances outside of their control.

Or, perhaps bad decisions veered them slightly off course.

Either way, I love to walk alongside and help bring them back on track.

Help them discover their full potential–so they can soar, despite life’s circumstances.

I watched ‘Dumbo’ recently, and realized this oversized elephant was actually an underdog.

No one noticed his true potential–not even him.

Yet, one little mouse saw something spectacular in Dumbo.  And, this little rodent became his cheerleader, and encouraged this clumsy gray elephant to take flight.

And fly Dumbo did.

What about you?

Have you pinpointed where your passion and purpose collide?  

Intelligence Questioned

Went on a hike in 100+ degree heat with Hubby the other day.   Why on earth we hike in such extreme temperatures is beyond me.  But, most of the path is shade, so it’s not too bad.

I can be a bit neurotic when it comes to suspicious sounds and surroundings though.  It could be because of the infamous dog bite of 2010.

Anyway, as we make our way through these dense surroundings, my mind plays a familiar phrase as I approach each questionable leaf:

Leaves of three–let it be

A friendly phrase reminding of the potential foe in the midst.

When a memory, from years gone by, pops in my mind and makes me to chuckle.

It actually may be one of the stupidest things I’ve done on record to date:

I took hold of poison ivy.

On vacation with a friend, out in the woods, we spotted the infamous leaf of three.  I am not certain who came up with this grandiose idea, but the thought was planted by one of us all the same.

We would take home a piece of this plant, and, as a way to miss school, we would rub the leaves all over ourselves.

Genius I tell you.

So, I pulled some of the plant and placed it in a bag.  Yes, I took hold of poison ivy with my bare hands and placed it in a baggie.

Now, what do you think happened next?  Well, if you are of a certain amount of intelligence you can imagine how this played out.

I ended up with a nice outbreak.

And the uncontrollable itch and discomfort accompanied me home, and entertained me for days on end.  Oh, it gets even better–I am completely healed before the first day of school.

I am certain this type of stupidity falls into the Forrest Gump category of:

Stupid is as stupid does

For years, I believed I lacked true intelligence. Not because of the stupidity of this stupid moment, but because somewhere along the way, I was convinced I was not smart.

Funny? Yes.

Pretty? Sometimes.

Caring? Always.

But smart?  Not usually a descriptive of me.  

To steal a quote from Foghorn Leghorn:

The girl’s about as sharp as a bowling ball. 

Now, I do consider myself a suburban form of ‘street smart’.

Could be my educational background that caused the low-grade evaluation of myself.

We can blame it on algebra.  Or, maybe science.

Why is the sky blue, or the grass green?  Cause God made it that way.  Duh.

Truth be told, I am smart.

Actually, algebra was a strength early on as I qualified for Algebra 1 Honors freshman year of high school.  But, instead of the pursuit of mathematical equations, I chose pre-algebra with my peers, and accumulated nearly 20 suspensions to round out the year with a big bang.

The problem was a difficult life-story problem which contributed to my self-induced delinquency.

Which eventually spread into the questioning of my intelligence overall.

Could be because I believed the internal dialog that composed continuous negative evaluations of my intellect.

But, I am not stupid.

No longer do I entertain negative equations that enter my mind, which I am not for certain are from me anyway.

Instead, I fill my mind with truth.

Years later, I went to community college and completed Algebra 1 with an A!

Stupid does does not necessarily mean stupid is.

 

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)

A Letter to A Little Girl

A dear friend sent me a link to another blog site.  The post was an assignment to write a letter to your seven year old self.

While I missed the deadline to do so, I wondered, what would I say to me?

Before I could tell me about myself, I needed to remember who I was when I was seven years old. Years seem to blur together when we are young, so I brought on specifics by looking to what I specifically wore in my school picture.

All green. Oh, I would have made St. Patrick proud. Garanimals were the clothing line of the day, which coordinated outfits together by matching tags of one piece of clothing with another, by way of matching animals. So, this wild animal of a girl ended up in a dark green turtleneck underneath a two piece patterned pantsuit. I think it was the snaps that had sold me on this forest combo.

I would love to say it was my first and only pantsuit, oh, but that would be a lie. Anyway, I am still holding out on being the first female President, and pantsuits are a necessity. I’ll choose buttons over snaps though as I have matured somewhat.

This was the year my grandma got hold of the scissors, as my bangs are about one inch long—and curled under.

Okay, now that I have a glimpse of you, Miss Pretty Princess, here goes…

I feel like I don’t really know you.

I know some stats–like you began your softball career this year. You were the youngest on the team. You played right field. You walked on base or struck out. Never hit the ball once. Never touched the ball for that matter.

But, I see you standing tall and proud at the coaches end-of-season party.

Other than that, I don’t know where you went–what you did for fun.

One year and these are all the memories I can retrieve. This is most frustrating. I wish I had more of you to pull from so I could give you some really good advice.

For heavens sake, you lived and breathed every single day—all year long.

What I do know is this small glimpse is you on the surface, but what went on in the depth of your little heart, I have not a clue.

It could be because little sister died when I was six– that made seven die away with her.

So, little girl, wherever you went, whatever you experienced, whether you felt the silence I have toward you, or not, remember this:

You are noticed.

And, you are going to be okay. It may not feel like it right now, but hang in there.

I may have forgotten you, but you were never forgotten by God.  

 

The Danger of “Fake it ‘Til You Make It”

Fake it ’til you make it…

The self-motivating, self-induced pep talk to keep you going on until, eventually, the momentum of your feelings catch up with your determination.

Yes, faking is good.

When I have a bad day, I sometimes pretend to be in a good mood, and, before too long, the frown is no longer upside down.

It is good to make believe–until we believe.  

But, we need to be careful we don’t go to extremes on this false fabrication.

Sometimes I am in danger of becoming a phony to myself.  

A pseudo version of the person I was created to be.

I felt this counterfeit character come to life when I accepted my last position as Children’s Minister.  Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love children, and I am gifted in this area.

During the interview process, I expressed my concern over my lack of heart for this particular position.  Yet, they hired me anyway.  Go figure.

I thought maybe I just needed to grow to love this position, and, in time, I eventually would.

So, I started to self-motivate:

  •  Don’t you see, this is a privilege
  •  You are blessed for goodness sakes
  •  Look at all the people who are unemployed–you should be grateful
  • Who said you need to live your dream–you do laundry and clean toilets; it’s not like these are dream jobs.  
  • Suck it up

I faked it–hoping over time, my feelings would match up.  

And, for awhile, the challenge of the new position had me preoccupied enough to compensate for the loss of feeling.

But, only for a short time.

I began to lose me–the real me, the passionate person who was once fully alive.

Unfortunately, because of where I was at, I lost the ability to breathe. I lost my liveliness.

It could be because of the mask which I placed over my face–the replica–that was causing me to suffocate.

But, one day, when I could take it no longer, I removed the false exterior and began to breath again.

What I realized was this:

I have done a whole lot of faking–not only in this area, but, in many areas in my life.  And, being real–well, it feels really quite strange.

But, I am tired of living a Las Vegas version of the unique landscape He has crafted within me.

I have to be me.  

What about you?  Do you ever feel you are an imitation of the individual you were created to be?

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)

Resuscitating A Repressed Life

Repressed, or possibly suppressed.

Either way, my memories are absent in the years surrounding your absence.

Fuzzy. Faded.  I am sure I lived more than I have before the age of ten years old.

I do have some vivid snapshots; but then I realize they are not really real, but a figment of an overactive imagination. (I guess this is better than an overactive bladder.  Everyone seems to have one nowadays based on the sheer number of commercials on TV.)

I remember our plane going upside down on our way to England when I was four.  I see myself–smiling–hair hanging straight down in mid-air,  like icicles on the edge of a roof.

What in the world?

I should have known this was an imaginary scene since no one mentioned this frightening episode in all these years.  (Big Sis laughed hysterically when I mentioned this memory–yes, I should have known it was fictitious!)

I imagine my memories are in hiding–waiting to come out and be known.

Come out come out wherever you are.

I guess this is why the sole picture of you is so important to me.  It is significant to have details of your life.  Because if I remember you, even the slightest detail, there is most likely a chance I may bring back some memories of myself from the dead.

Figure out where my carbon footprint has been.

A carbon footprint is the measure of the environmental impact of a particular individual or organization’s lifestyle or operation, measured in units of carbon dioxide.

Of course I had to look this up (And chose the child-friendly definition).  When I homeschooled my girls, we often bypassed science for Starbucks.  Yes, my children will attest this as truth and they’ll complain that they missed out on precious education–but I don’t see too many frowns when I purchase their cappuccinos.

Anyway…

We take in oxygen.  We give out carbon dioxide.

We, as humans, leave a certain amount of impact on the environment.

Makes sense.

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I saw a small plant coming alive through the concrete.

 Plants give off oxygen and take in carbon dioxide.

Like a paradigm shift of the science variety.

Has me thinking–maybe if I breathe oxygen into your existence–a paradigm shift will bring the buried memories to the surface.

So, I wrote you a letter of all the data I have in my mind of you.

Little Sis,

Your initials were different. Big Sis and I are, JLB, and you were TMB.  Could they not find a good name for you that begins with the same letters so you would not be an outcast in the sibling department?

I guess they could, since Little Bro was named JLB just three short years after you left us.

Over the years, I have had difficulty saying your name–Tanya.  One of my closest friends can attest to this.  For the life of me, I couldn’t remember her name.  Weird, since I have no other friends of family with your name and it is not that difficult to pronounce.

Your face is fuzzy to me.  Probably because the pic looks as if you have peach fuzz covering your features.

Why did you leave us this way?

I am sorry, but I don’t think I attended your funeral.  Maybe I did.  I just do not remember.

I’ve forgotten you.  Laying there all alone in the ground.  We put a tombstone as a remembrance years after your death.  Before that, there was only a small marker marking your short-lived life here on earth.

Still, I do not visit.  I am sorry.  I wish I were a better sister.  I wish you didn’t have to leave.

Did we share the room with the blue-floral-hideous curtains?  I was six, for heaven’s sake, I know I should know these things.

One time I wrote about you, but it was too painful.  So I omitted you from the book.  

I imagine us being close.  I would have loved you had you stayed.

We were never the same since your absence.  Mom was sad for a long, long time.  Sometimes it was hard for her to leave the house.

Dad had difficulty too, I am sure of it.  He was angry at someone or something.  To this day, there is an undercurrent of irritation underneath his skin.

I wish I could say more to you–but, this is all I’ve got.

Until we meet again, so I do not risk forgetting you completely, know that I am going to get a copy of the one picture of your short existence and frame it.  I think I’ll put it next to Grandma and Grandpa.  They are probably right next to you, aren’t they?  Grandma with those loving arms holding you close.

You will arrive at the Big 40 this year.  Six days before my 46th.  I know– I’m getting old.  Big Sis turns 50 this year.  Maybe we can have an honorary celebration in your honor.  Maybe on September 5th.

Last year, for the first time since September 11th, 2001, I celebrated my birthday.  Before that, I despised the idea of celebrating myself, then this unlikely tragedy happens to occur this day, of all days, seemed a good excuse to extinguish the flickering candles and birthday cake all together.

Well, no more.  I will celebrate me from now on.  (I am sure you know what happened that day.  You are most likely quite close to many of those fallen heroes.)

Big Sis clarifies my writing.  I did indeed attend your funeral.  I shared a room with her, not you–the room with the hideous blood-red carpet.

We purchased this headstone for you so you will be etched in stone in our memories forever.

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Whether my mind ever remembers, you are forever planted in my heart.

Rest in peace, Little Sis.

You Think I Got Potential?

She was edgy and somewhat dangerous; one of those sketchy individuals we are better off steering clear.

Dangerous like Kit DeLuca, the sidekick of Vivian.  The spunky girl with the feisty mouth and shady profession.

If you are going, “huh?” right now, I am referring to the characters in the movie, ‘Pretty Woman’.  To refresh your memory, it is the happily-ever-after story starring Julia Roberts, who is a prostitute named Vivian, who turns into a princess of sorts by the end of the movie.

Kit was not at all like Vivian.  You see, Vivian seemed ill-equipped for such a scandalous profession, yet Kit seemed unaffected by her destructive lifestyle.

Or, so one would think.  Maybe she had believed she had so little to offer, that she began to believe there was no other option for such a messed-up person as she.

But, Vivian didn’t think so.  She saw something special in Kit, and believed in her until the very end…well, the end of the movie.

The final scene before Vivian is rescued by Edward Lewis, AKA, Richard Gere, has Vivian and Kit saying their goodbyes in the apartment they shared:

Vivian:  We believe in you Kit Deluca.

Kit:  Whoa. Whoa. What is this? 

Vivian:  It’s part of the Edward Lewis scholarship fund.

Vivian:  We think you got a lot of potential, Kit De Luca.

Kit:  You do? You think I got potential?

Vivian:  Oh, yeah. Don’t let anybody tell you different, okay?

Vivian believed in her friend, so much so, that she gave most of the money she earned from her week-long trick, to her troublesome roommate.

She saw potential, while others only saw trouble.  

I love to see the potential in people.

Like discovering a diamond in the rough; seeing the facets that have yet to glisten.

Jesus sees potential, while others only saw trouble.

Jesus saw potential in some risky individuals–sketchy, shady, destitute characters He chose to fully invest.  Actually, investing in high-risk individuals seemed to be a norm for HIM.

What if we took His cue and fully invested into the lives of some risky individuals?

Without weighing the risks.

Without receiving anything in return.

Would we do it?

I’ve had the privilege to invest in some risky characters.  One in particular comes to mind, and a conversation I have in mind to deliver to her today:

Josie:  I see tremendous potential in you.  

Josie:  It is worth the multiple texts, phone calls, talks over coffee.  All the exhaustive hours poured into you have been worth every minute to see you smile with your head held high.  

Josie:  I believe in you.

Josie:  Don’t let anybody tell you any different, okay?

In the end, we see a twinkle in Kit’s eye as she shares her dream of attending beauty school with her potential new roommate.

A dream she was allowed to dream because someone fully believed in her.

Who is your Kit DeLuca?