Hats And The People Who Wear Them

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My little guy wears many hats. His crocheted Yoda hat works well for cool weather, the blue and white striped fedora works well for going out, and his pumpkin stem hat goes on for sleep. He has a shelf full of them, one to identify every kind of event.

I have many hats too. I love them despite the guaranteed hat head—after years of sun damage, a hat is much more valuable to me than stylish hair. Vanity got me nothing but skin cancer.

But the hats I wear most come with valuable names: Mommy, Wife, Friend, Writer, Artist, Employee of that other job, and the not-so-valuable names: scrubber of floors and bathrooms, scooper of the litter box, cleaner of hairballs, puke, random pee puddles, and anything gross and sticky.100_2432

What usually happens is the need to pile on multiple hats at once. This is where blessed, too busy, and exhausted morph into one hat. I call it: Huh? It’s kind of like a fedora and pillbox hat in one—half stylish and the other half—not so much.

This hat is heavy, but it’s the hat-in-fashion because we’re supposed to wear it with pride, right?

Wrong.

I have another hat—one that our culture laughs at. It does give me hat head—that pressed down circle around my head. I think many of you wear this hat too (it’s called The Crown)—but like me, you probably keep putting on Huh? because we think it works better to take everything on ourselves. And despite the pillbox influence, people think Huh? looks more stylish.

When The Miracle of Rain came out, someone in the publishing industry sent me an article on how authors are supposed to manage their time. “I have a newborn baby”, I said. “I’ll do my best, but…”
“Read the article,” he said.

So I did. I read how this woman became a bestselling author because she marketed her book full-time, wrote full time, was a full time mom, held down a full time job, went back to college and managed to stay in shape. I’m serious, this woman claimed to have done it all—full time, wearing her extra-strength Huh? hat.

Me thinks her hat was fiction.

The person who sent me that article? I don’t work with him anymore, and I will never put on that hat again because what it does is squeeze your brains until they fall out. And then you have another sticky mess to clean.

But The Crown is light. And it works for you when you need to rest.

Wait—what’s that word?

Rest.

So disregard those brain squishing Huh?’s and the people who pawn them. They’re nothing but bling for the pillbox. The Crown? Well, the Maker of your crown said that people will indeed mock you, but that’s okay, it’s only because they’re tired and unable to see what they’re really wearing.  It’s been said that when the whole kingdom wears their crowns, they light up the world. I think our world could use a little more of that.

Sheesh

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Hi friends! I’m still catching up with last week. In fact, last week is still chasing me.

Really, it’s holding a flaming torch underneath my feet saying, “You’re not finished with your work yet.”

Even Raphael can’t fight this one for me–he’s gone into hiding.

DSCF1319So have a blessed week, and I’ll see you next Monday.

Noah and Goliath

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My son tears through the house with his cape on. I still see a chubby-cheeked baby, but he is not. He is Superhero Noah. He is Thor, defeating the villains, Spiderman protecting his home from invaders.

When I sit him down to practice his letters, he frowns. Even S for Superhero doesn’t capture his attention.

“I need to get the bad guys, Mommy.”

I admit, I have concerns about him starting school in the fall. Is he ready? His legs don’t want to be tamed, they want to run, they want to pedal his bike…he is energy wrapped up in uncontrolled blond hair and smears of ketchup.DSCF1156

He does love books though. He will soak in a story—sitting still—and learn from any kind of adventure, especially if there is some kind of battle.

But if it’s not akin to The Very Hungry Dinosaur or Tyson the Terrible, he has no interest in learning the traditional way.

We read about David. David is a superhero for sure—small guy beats huge giant—Noah is all kinds of excited about that.

Something pops out at me about this story so I dig into it a little more—I even open a book I had waiting on my kindle and begin making my way to the heart of this small King, because no matter how often I have heard about him, flannel-board memories keep popping up and it loses something.

Until I focus on the slingshot.

It’s the slingshot. David doesn’t bat an eye at the seasoned soldiers or worry about his lack of experience. He doesn’t even consider that he doesn’t have a sword like everyone else has.

He hasn’t been schooled in battle. He is a harp-playing Shepherd.

I don’t think he cares about what he lacks. No—he draws upon who his God is, and the tools that God has placed before him and pulls out all he has.

Thump. He kills Goliath with a child’s toy.

I’ve decided not to worry about Noah (as long as I think of David). Because God gave him those busy legs and fighting spirit, and somehow, somewhere down the road, he will face a giant. And hopefully he will remember who God is. Hopefully he will remember that who he is and what he has is more than enough.

What’s your slingshot? Tell us in the comments.

The Lion

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There’s something comforting about driving a clunker. Maybe it’s because I come from a long line of clunker owners (present and former). I peer at the narrow nose of my Nissan and remember riding in Grandpa’s Nissan-from-a-different-decade, and smile. Yeah, these are the clatter traps that have taken a few kids through fast-food drive-thrus. They’re permeated with years-old perfume: pine needles from camping trips, French fries, and shampoo wafting from headrests. What’s a new car smell when you can be accessorized by memories?

And there’s a reason why they live longer than dirt—they’ve driven over all of it. Sure, when a car has lost its luster, just spruce it up with some Arizona pin striping. Plow through those cat claw bushes, tear through those dusty trails and be proud of your baby’s new threads.DSCF1325

Anyway, by the time you can afford a new car, you’ve had to replace so many parts in the old one that it becomes like new again.

But with experience.

Would you want an SUV that purrs up a hill, or one that Roars? Uh huh, my Nissan is a Lion. She’s a scarred-up, battle-strengthened, vintage-awesome Lion.

And she’s not afraid to get her wheels dirty.

So if you happen upon a rust bucket Lion today, give her a wave and think about the service she’s done. And remember, one day, your car will be someone’s  treasure. Stuff her with joy.

A Mother’s Temper Tantrum

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The battle with common core reminds me of this right now. My daughter, once so hungry to learn, is often in tears by the end of the evening because of the work load heaped on her shoulders four days a week.
Don’t get me wrong, our educational system is in need of a rebooting, but this most recent answer is not the answer. It’s an attempt to keep up with the Joneses, a misdirected competitive spirit…a show about nothing.
Is more of the same better?
I learned more about history from the field trips taken and novels read than any history date I had to memorize. Really, I mean, I can think about all the time spent in class, trying to learn about our nation as if all it is can be laid out on a spreadsheet—and those memories tell me nothing.

But a Mark Twain novel? I got it. Or the museum we visited where we got to see the muskets and homemade flags up close. That’s when I understood the passion of our forefathers. Traveling the country with family? I see why our ancestors fought so hard to win this land.

So America, instead of extinguishing this 100_3262And stifling this

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Or taking time away from family game night (because no matter how much our kids will learn in the classroom and studying for hours after, they will one day get tired of the faded friendships and broken homes and wonder where our values have gone—what our investments have gained us—how no one lays on their deathbed wishing they had done one more page of spelling words).

Lets come up with a better solution.

I’ve studied Harriet Tubman and Washington, and Lincoln. And what do I see igniting the root of their success? It all just comes from their hearts being in the right place.

What are your thoughts on our educational system? Tell us in the comments.

Contest Monday

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Happy Monday everyone. I’ve been busy this week, talking with Grace Thorson at A Sparrow Reads (giveaway) about writing. She has a lovely blog–I encourage you to pay her a visit. I’ve also been studying, and working on my WIP (more on that later).

But today I bring you an awesome giveaway. A Young Love giveaway to be exact…tons of books to win, and a generous amazon gift card. The contest is open until February 14th.

 

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Go her to enter: Young Love and Bleeding Hearts Giveaway.

 

 

 

 

Have a blessed week, and I’ll see you next Monday

Kingdom Armor

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Sometimes, waking to a dark house is not just a dark house. Sometimes, in the deep of night when the stars have rocked our home to sleep, a foe slips in. Melding into our dreams, it shapes them into nightmares, shaking us awake.

One by one, we all search for sleep again. I tuck my little girl back in first, and being a discerning soul, she always requests an extra prayer on these nights.

Next, comes my son. I usually have to cuddle with him until he slips back into the land of nod or else he won’t find rest.

As I lay there, things drip. The house cracks and the scratching noises in the laundry room is not the cat for he sleeps deeply on the couch as twenty-year-old cats do. The dogs outside sense the foe and growl, announcing its presence to the neighborhood.

I can’t settle my legs. Despite my exhaustion, the foe thrusts his blade into the air, whipping up a battle that most people blame on the full moon.

It’s not.100_3745

I pray and put on my armor. I guard my son until I feel peace because he has not yet found his own armor.

Boys need a special kind of Knight Light, for their battleground is a fierce one.

My son slips into even breaths and I lift my request to the King.

“Please let my son take up his armor soon. And let his Knight Light never dim.

Let it shine bright when it’s time for him to take a stand.
Let it not wane when a damsel tries stand in front of it.
Let it shine fierce if he or his fellow Knights get lost in the battle.
Let him keep it securely in place, so it doesn’t get snuffed out.

And lastly, let him never try to replace it with a generic version.”

Rom 13:12 (NIV) The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.

How to be an Impressionist painting

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In my teen years, I handled life with my hands dipped in paint. I found joy in the blues and reds, found peace in knowing I was good at something, and for my own entertainment, it confused those who kept trying to put me in the preppy box. Yes, I behaved myself. Yes, I was quiet and most everyone assumed I was an A student and read a lot (I did read a lot). But the messy paint and my “unique” way of fashion had more than one person scratch their heads. “How do I complete this picture?”

My art teacher encouraged me to paint big. He recognized that I was more of a free spirit and didn’t accept bashful art. I didn’t either, and I flourished with giant flowers and portraits of whoever was brave enough to model for a bunch of teenagers.

No erupting pimple could dampen the thrill of art class.100_2417

On one occasion he made what I thought a strange observation. “Your watercolor…it looks great from far away, but it loses something up close.”

There it is again. Up close I’m not quite. Not quite what?

I worked on my art, studying the masters, taking the passion to college—polishing up a bit and producing better work—but there was always that messy quality.

Of course, it worked for Claude Monet—if you look at his paintings up close, they’re a little messy. A little unorganized, but step back a bit and…hang that on my wall, please, and on every wall in my house. His work is an overall collection of wow.

Do we all really need to be normal? As one of my reviewers said about Faith Seekers: “… is occasionally like free-form jazz” (which, after mulling over, left me in chuckles). What do I do with this free-form part of me?

Twenty years later, Jeff Goins answered that question.

“Maybe the best moments in our lives aren’t meant to be so cut and dried. Maybe the mess is beautiful.”

Is this how God sees us? He knows we can be messy, and up close we’re far from perfect. But we’re His art. Why do we fight so hard to be accepted as normal? God made us unique from the beginning, and He calls it wonderful.

Grace and the Doppelganger

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My kids are sweet, round-cheeked, kitten-cuddly miracles. But they have doppelgangers. Oh yes, these creatures of darkness bear fangs. They shout and push their competitive natures into my peace at least three times a day. It’s a tug-of-war about which creature got more juice, who got to sit on Mommy’s lap the longest. Who got the most violent…

“Mommy, he hit me, and threw my baby bear!”DSCF1156

*sigh*

But I know what it’s really about. It’s why when people come to my desk at work and dump their bad day into my lap, I know better than to take it personally (although I do bite on occasion). It’s not about who got served first. It’s not even about the doppelganger who complained about the staff member that refused to personally clear the snow around their car, de-ice the path from their car to the front door andwipeofftheirshoessotheydon’tslipontheimportedtile. It’s really not. And when someone flips you off in traffic because you’re only going 5 miles over the speed limit instead of the expected 15, it’s really not about how much they dislike you or your driving decisions. Like my kids, what they’re really saying, in the deepest parts of their heart is: “What about me?”

People hurt. And they display their pain in various ways. Revengeful natures, criticism, anger, jealousy; it’s all a masked plea to gain the attention of our parent.

“Do you see me God? How much do you love me, really?”

Even those of us who know Him forget how much he has already done for us. Would I, like Him, sacrifice my son for the jerk who spit on me? No, I wouldn’t. But God did.

His only beloved son, who at one time was a child–a round-cheeked kitten-cuddly miracle, minus the doppelganger side.

My kids hear me only when they’ve quieted down and taken their masks off. Otherwise, they get consumed by The Creatures, blinded to how much they’re loved.

A good plan for the New Year would be to live in grace. To give it, receive it, and give thanks for all that’s been given to us. That’s where we find peace.

Looking Hope-Forward

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Good Monday, friends.

I hope this day brings you unexpected blessings (Did you win a copy of Faith Seekers from last week’s contest? Check your inbox to find out).

The thing I’m hearing from a lot of people is that the rundown from 2014 is such a mixture of blessings/struggles that it ends up being a heavy year regardless of the good. Yea, sometimes it’s hard to shuffle through it all.

I had a great year with some shadows mixed in like most, but what stands in front of me, staring me in the eyes with fire-hot intensity are these words of wisdom from Hannah.

Have a blessed week, and remember:

 

GodHasNotForgottenUs

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