Category Archives: START

Use the Force

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Newton’s First Law of Motion states that an object at rest will remain at rest unless acted on by an unbalanced force.

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An object in motion continues in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

So the resistance of anything to a change in its state of motion OR rest is not just a tendency…it’s the LAW.

This explains a lot.

  • Why it is so challenging to START something new.
  • Why it is so difficult to REST when in the midst of doing All The Responsible Things.
  • Why it is practically impossible to maintain appropriate balance the two–rest and work.
  • Why it is just as frustrating to keep on going but in a DIFFERENT DIRECTION.  So.  Much.  Effort.

I think that the Holy Spirit is or can be that “unbalanced” force for many.

It is unbalanced because it is stronger than the person it is acting upon.

It comes from a place of light and right and good and pushes us towards movement or rest or change that is not necessarily easy.

And by “necessarily” I mean NOT AT ALL, EVER.

The Holy Spirit that I am aware of  does not scream SLOW DOWN like an overzealous lifegard.

God does not pick us up and turn us around like a happy meal car, rev our engines up for us and point us in the direction He wants us to go.

Jesus didn’t heal every person who he laid eyes on.  Some people he even argued with.  “Do you want to be well?”  “What do you want?”  “Who do YOU say that I am?”

So spiritual inertia takes into account our human tendency to stay, to do or to not do.   What a brillant plan.  It is not all up to us.

How is inertia playing out with you?  (work/relationships/dreams) 

For me it is REST from helping many, in order to focus on those that ONLY I can help.

It is also CHANGING DIRECTION from some personal communication habits that aren’t effective.

Simultaneously it is MOVEMENT towards a skill set that has been ignored and now is the time to engage.

None of it is easy.  All of it is essential.

Is there a nudge you need to heed to rest?  Change directions?  Begin some new thing?  How will you Use the Force

See what I did there?

I would love it if you would tell me in the comments below!

Meeting Mr. Maggie at Malbons

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There’s a gas station in Virginia Beach where we like to eat.  Not even lying.

My husband lived here for about 8 months before the kids and I moved here from Michigan and he spent his solo time wisely–scouting out the best BBQ.  This one is totally our favorite.  I mean it is so good that the sauce isn’t even necessary.

So there we were, eating legit BBQ in a gas station on a Saturday late afternoon when an older gentleman struck up a conversation with me while hubby was picking up our Boss Hogg platters.  By some divine miracle, I had purposely left my phone in the car which turned out to be one of my best decisions that day.

He started by mentioning that “this whole area used to be farmland.”  That I did know, although we have only lived here about 5 years.  I enjoy speaking to people I don’t know as if we are already friends, much to the annoyance of my family.  As luck would have it, none of them were around so I asked him, “Have you lived here your whole life?”

“63 years,” was his nostalgic reply.  He launched into stories about the trouble he got into as a child, taking a bus to Norfolk waiting for a hot day where he and his hooligan pals would hang around the back door of the “speak easy” and look at the burlesque show.  “There was no air conditionin’ see?  So we would wait for a hot day and go down there when we knew they would open up the back doors so we could watch.  The men would chase us off, but the ladies would feel sorry for us, see, and make them give us something cold to drink.”

“How old were you?”

“Aw, I couldn’ta been more’n 9 or 10.”

By this time my husband was back with our meals.  I introduced myself and my husband and asked him for his name.  We shook hands.  He didn’t crush mine, which I am always relieved about when I meet a burly guy.

“They call me ‘Maggie’ from my football days.”

“Did you go to school around here?”

“Princess Anne High School.  Class of 1963.  No one could say my last name so they just called me Maggie and it stuck all the way through the service.”

Hubby humphed politely and turned his attention to his sandwich but I was riveted.

“So you played football…do you ever keep in touch with anyone you went to school with?”

“Aw, shoot yeah.  You’d be surprised.  Why, I was in the middle of Viet Nam when our unit called a strike on a town filled with communists.   We were watching and waiting to carry out our orders in the middle of the night when I saw a small moving light.  I thought ‘What in the world?’  I told my unit to hold on a minute and I walked out there into the field, and there were four American guys wandering around outside this city we were about to strike.  I said, ‘What in the world are ya’ll doin?’  One of the guys said, “We’re lost.”  I said, ‘Rick?  Is that you??’  It was my best friend growin up.  He was in the Army, I was in the Navy and there he was in the middle of a field in Viet Nam.  I told him, ‘You better come with me,’ and he said, ‘We were just about to go into that village.’  You just never know.”

When I asked if his high school is still in the same location as it was when he went there 44 years ago, he told a classic senior prank tale that deserves a post of its own.

What a treasure–meeting Mr. Maggie.  My husband even softened a bit when he spoke of the Karmann Ghia with “factory air” that he bought from a lady who wanted it out of her garage for the low low price of $1,200.00.

He was scratching off a lottery ticket as he explained to us that a similar one had been priced at $300,000.00 recently.  I’m not sure if his stories are true, exaggerated or the details are verifiable, but I do know one thing…

I won the lottery that day.

Peace, Love & Rock-n-Roll

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A few summers ago I worked for Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation in the Therapeutic Rec department.  They run a program called Camp Explore for participants from elementary through age 21 to participate in health classes, music, drama, games, science, and a whole lot more.  All of the participants have some type of special need.  Some are very talkative, some don’t talk at all.  Some are very speedy, while some don’t walk at all.  It is very hard work but also incredibly fulfilling and inspiring.

The highlight of each summer is the Talent Show on the last day of camp.  It is always a packed house–standing room only.  The parents, friends and community at large file in early, parking all around the host school.  I knew when I got my seat and program that I was in for a treat!

Camp Explore 3

There was a garage band, Taylor Swift, music from The Voice and American Idol, story time with the 3 Little Pigs and a Big Bad Wolf, puppets,  guitar solos, patriotic songs, and dance moves galore.

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The thing that I loved the most was watching great courage and unbridled joy on the faces of each participant, and the excited staff members and volunteers who support them wholeheartedly.  Also, I was surrounded by proud parents.  THAT was an environment pulsating with joy!

Camp Explore 1

I was amazed at all the participants–not just the ones on stage performing their talents, but also the ones who waited patiently in folding metal chairs with their staff through the two hour program and slideshow.  It made me think…

Sometimes it feels like the whole world is swirling around while we wait, invisible.  Each person is valued.

Other times life thrusts us into an unexpected spotlight when we’re not sure we’re ready.  Each person has risks.

Often we make noise and a racket when it’s not our turn.  Each person deserves to be noticed–in or out of the spotlight.

Camp Explore 2

Yet other times, we know our stuff backwards and forwards, say our lines and sing our songs with confidence–perfection be damned.

Before we go and after we are finished we acknowledge others, clap our hands, stomp our feet, or cheer enthusiastically for someone else when it’s their turn to shine.  Each person is an individual champion.  However, we are always more victorious together than we would ever be alone.

What I learned from the 2013 Camp Explore participants is that when it comes my turn to shine, I can proceed knowing I have prepared, and in the meantime, I cheer.

Camp Explore 4

**And when my boss asks me “Are ya busy?” I say “YES!”

Her Favorite Things

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I’m so glad I’m not the only one who makes up new lyrics to epic songs.
To commemorate her 79th birthday, actress/vocalist, Julie Andrews made a special appearance at Manhattan’s Radio City Music Hall. One of the musical numbers she performed was My Favorite Things from the legendary movie ‘Sound Of Music.’
Julie Andrews
Here are the lyrics she used:
Botox and nose drops and needles for knitting,
Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings,
Bundles of magazines tied up in string,
These are a few of my favorite things.
—————————————————–
Cadillacs and cataracts, hearing aids and glasses,
Polident and Fixodent and false teeth in glasses,
Pacemakers, golf carts and porches with swings,
These are a few of my favorite things.
—————————————————–
When the pipes leak, When the bones creak,
When the knees go bad,
I simply remember my favorite things, And then I don’t feel so bad.
——————————————————–
Hot tea and crumpets and corn pads for bunions,
No spicy hot food or food cooked with onions,
Bathrobes and heating pads and hot meals they bring,
These are a few of my favorite things.
———————————————————
Back pain, confused brains and no need for sinnin’,
Thin bones and fractures and hair that is thinnin’,
And we won’t mention our short shrunken frames,
When we remember our favorite things.
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When the joints ache, When the hips break, When the eyes grow dim,
Then I remember the great life I’ve had, And then I don’t feel so bad. 
 Ms. Andrews received a standing ovation from the crowd that lasted over four minutes and repeated encores.

The Beautiful Sand

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“Abraham was past the time when he could have children.

But many children came from that one man.

They were as many as the stars in the sky.

They were as many as the sand on the seashore.

No one could count them.”  Hebrews 11:12

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“If each sand grain is unique imagine how unique each person is?”

Irritating though they sometimes be, grains of sand are a thing of beauty.

Sometimes we feel we are surrounded by them.

Sometimes we choose to avoid the joy just beyond them because it gets too messy.

Sometimes we can become covered in them.

But they are beautiful.  If you look close enough.

Unique and beautiful.

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Staying Engaged

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I was prompted to pray for a marriage today.

On my way home from church I had to make a stop at a store that I don’t typically go to.

Thinking about the personal prayer prompt I had been given earlier, my mind wandered as I walked into the store.

I specifically remember stepping away from the heat through the automatic-open doors and into the cool A/C as I considered several people I know who are experiencing challenges of all sorts.  I also thought of several engaged couples I know and the unique stress of those months for the brides and grooms-to-be.

A bored helpful employee asked me immediately upon entry if I needed help.  “Nope,” I said.  “I know exactly what I’m looking for.”

As I grabbed my items and went to the front to check out, a distressed woman spoke up from behind me directly to the cashier.  She worriedly held a cell phone to her left ear, conversation halted.

Has anyone turned in a ring?

The compassionate cashier replied, “No ma’am…but I will call my manager.”

While the manager was summoned, and unfortunately affirmed that no ring had been turned in, the distressed lady murmured dejectedly to no one in particular, “It’s not the kind of ring that someone would turn in.”

My optimism kicked in and I found myself saying, “You never know.” And to make further conversation with her, ” Was it loose on your hand?”

Distressed Lady nodded.  Phone still at ear.  “It was less than 20 minutes ago.”

She left the store and I shook my head, making small talk with the cashier.  “I couldn’t bring myself to ask if it was a diamond…poor thing.”

The cashier sympathized too.  “I should probably not be wearing my ring at work.  It could easily fall off into a customer’s bag.”

As I walked back outside the automatic doors, I felt that lady’s pain.  I prayed to the God Who Sees.  “Lord, you can see everything.  If it’s possible, please allow me to help this lady find her ring.”  My inner dialogue went like this:

Where did she even go?

Man this pavement is sparkly.

I guess I’ll take the crosswalk instead of walking right to my car in case that’s what she did too.

Did she maybe cut through the mulch?

I wonder what kind of ring it is…what did she say?  A ring that someone probably wouldn’t turn in…

So is it maybe an engagement ring?

Wow…I never knew asphalt could be so glittery.

If she’s still here and I make it back to my car, how much longer should I stay to help her look?

Is she even still here?

About 10 steps away from the front of my car, in the wide open space between parking rows it materialized at my feet.

3-stone-engagement-ring

I knelt down grinning, knowing full well OF COURSE God would help me find it.  Why wouldn’t He?  Here.  It.  Is.

He sees.  He knows.  He cares. 

The lesson I had just taught to the elementary kids at church that morning was about Paul explaining to the people in Athens who their “unknown God” is.

When I arrived here the other day,

I was fascinated with all the shrines I came across.

And then I found one inscribed, “to the god nobody knows.

I’m here to introduce you to this God

so you can worship intelligently,

and know who you’re dealing with.

The lesson concluded with the encouragement that each of us can tell people what we know about God–some will listen and some will not.

I picked up the gorgeous three-stone ring, placed it on the first knuckle of my index finger and held it high over my head so that she could see me wherever she was in the parking lot, if she was still there at all.

“Ma’am?”  I called looking right and left, hand held high, pointing skyward.  I didn’t see her anywhere.

“YES?!”  She yelled from a crouched position between two cars down the row a ways from mine.

“Is this it?”  I knew it was.  Without a doubt.

“SHUT IT!”  She hollered as she raced over to me.  It was almost too good to be true.

For almost half an hour her wounded spirit had searched against all odds, dwelling in the frustrated hope that it could be found and that until/unless it was, life as usual couldn’t continue.  She was frozen in panic.  Time and her heart stood frosty still, though simultaneously ticking away.   Then, in the moment hope became reality I noticed the last dregs of her uncensored doubt fully register and then get tossed away.  She was only steps away from her renewed treasure.

I could hardly contain my joy at this divinely orchestrated reunion.

She hugged me repeatedly.

Relief was everywhere.

Distress was nowhere.

Unrestrained joy was imminent.

My words gushed into her shoulder as she embraced me a second time.  “I prayed!”  For the benefit of us both–and whoever it was that was still on the frantic cell phone call I repeated as she thanked me with a look of pure gratitude and borderline disbelief,  “I just want you to know that I prayed that God would help me find it!  And He did!”

She put it back on and I asked to see it.  I hadn’t really looked at it except to pick it up off the ground.  It was back where it belonged on her left hand where I could admire it and wish her a hearty “Congratulations!”

I’m not only amazed at the God Who Sees helping me to see too, but also that I can count on Him to answer my prayer(s) for the people I had in mind as I walked into Walgreens.  And for all the engaged people.  And for all the married people.  For us all to find our treasure and STAY ENGAGED.

May we ask for help when we need it.

May we tirelessly search for the treasure found only outside ourselves in others.

May we bravely share the treasure found only inside ourselves with others.

May we boldly and often pray to the GOD WHO SEES.

May we have the strength to accept when someone unexpected comes alongside to bring us out of distress.

And may we all stay engaged–with our Others and with our God.

What do you need to see today?  Who can you ask to help you?  Who can you help?

How to Write Like a Child

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Today I stumbled on some cute kid notes on the Huffington Post and got fresh inspiration for writing:

what is love

Emma K. reminds me to just be me.

suckItup

Stress happens.  Don’t let it interrupt the day.

spy rules

Great rules for spies–and humans.  Especially fond of #7, #9, and #10

redsolocup

Way to include necessary details, kid.  Paint that word picture!

i will NOT

 Don’t ever let anyone, ANYONE tell you what to do.

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Frankie & I, we write for the craft.  Not for the stacks.

And for those times I’m feeling low, and dark, and that I have nothing to say,

I will remember this simple encouragement…

shine ass bright