Ten Things I Learned During My Social Media Sabbatical

A Vineyard in the Ohio Amish country.

There’s a scene in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty movie that finds the main character, Walter, who works for Life Magazine, on an adventure to find nature and wildlife photographer, Sean O’Conner, after one of the negatives Sean had sent in for an upcoming edition went missing.  

Walter finds Sean high atop a mountain in search of a snow leopard. They are side by side sitting behind a camera with a lens that could count the spots and whiskers of said cat. Sean is looking through the lens when he pokes Walter to look too. There she is, the most beautiful and rare of all snow leopards. Sean looks back through the lens then sits there in silence. 

When are you going to take the shot? (Walter asks) 

Sometimes I don’t. If I like a moment…I mean me, personally…I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it. 

Stay in it. (whispers Walter)

Yeah. Right there. Right here.

Yeah. Right here. 

How many moments meant just for me have I missed because I was looking to shoot a shot for everyone else? 

How many moments have I missed because I was busy bustling to the next beat instead of being right here

Whoa. Let those questions sink in a minute as you ask yourself the same thing. 

I realized a lot over the past month of taking a break from all things social media….

  1. Social Media is neither good nor bad but is simply what you make of it.
  2. It’s about Balance and Boundaries
  3. There’s always another idol waiting in the wings to take the current one’s place if you’re not careful. It’s about my behavior not the device/platform itself. 
  4. There is a feeling of freedom when not chained to checking your device for likes, hearts, stars, atta girls, comments and shares. My identity and worth are not wrapped around anyone else’s thoughts about me.  It’s easy to get caught in that trap! 
  5. Sometimes you have to disconnect to reconnect.
  6. Front porch swing conversations > ensuing a “comment” conversation.
  7. I don’t need to be accessible 24/7.
  8. I don’t need to answer every text, email, Marco or call at the exact moment it comes in. In fact, often times it’s better not to but instead, think about what my reply should be. 
  9. There’s no need to subject myself to everyone’s “expert” opinions all the time on everything from politics to mask wearing to corona virus cures to who’s the biggest idiot to who’s bad, who’s not…it’s exhausting to watch so why do I scroll…it’s like watching a wreck…you almost can’t not look. 
  10. There’s no need to get caught in the hustle and rush that keeps me ramped up. Hurry leads to worry and there’s no need for that. 

Bonus: 

11. It is possible to go from FOMO to JOMO. From the Fear of Missing Out to the Joy of Missing Out. 

This is a quick jot down of what I’ve learned. I’m still thinking through it…processing the pieces; seeing the affects and reading about the reason why we need rest from it all.  I do know that the break was much needed for my mind, heart and soul. I feel much more at peace and filled up. I guess you don’t realize how much social media has the ability to drain the energy from you (if you let it) until you walk away for a few weeks. 

I was worried that I wouldn’t know what was going on with everyone so I wouldn’t know what to write about. Afterall, I live a pretty ordinary life. But instead, in the stillness, I got to hear a Voice speaking loud and clear. He knows better than I the message that needs to be written; lessons that need to be learned. Staying connected to the Vine is much more important than staying connected through social media. (#12?). There’s so much more to share. 

Stay tuned. 

kw

Simple Garden Theology

I sang about it before I’d really had a chance to truly understand it. I really just wanted to hit my part of the four-part harmony. It was an old hymn from 1912, written by a pharmacist in his New Jersey windowless, damp basement, no garden in sight. C. Austin Miles must have known the garden was nothing new to God. It was a place to walk and talk with Him, to tarry and listen to the sound of His voice. A voice so sweet that even the birds stop singing. (Read about Mr. Miles and get the full lyrics of “In the Garden” here.

God and gardens go way back. In fact, He was the pioneer planter of the very first one. (Genesis 2:8) It was a beautiful place with all kinds of trees growing out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. (Genesis 2:9Rivers ran through it. Lush and plush with green goodness all around. It was a slice of heaven here on earth. 

Until a slice of “apple” was more pleasing to the eye than the rest of the entire garden. Eden taught us all about the importance of listening to God’s boundaries and the consequence thereof. It taught us the wiliness of the enemy and the ease in which we can get caught in the did God really say scenario of that serpent of old. (Genesis 3)

Vineyards, grape gardens, were commonplace in Jerusalem. In John 15, the disciple recorded Jesus’ teaching about the importance of staying connected to the True Vine in order to be fruitful. Words like abide and love, obedience and joy are found in this garden. Pruning, while seemingly harsh, is necessary for new growth and even better fruit, assuring us there is a sweetness to the process of pruning. 

Groves of olive gardens are found in scripture with life lessons growing in each. Gethsemane is one such garden. It is a place that, in Hebrew, means oil press, i.e. a place for squeezing the oil from the olives. It is here that Jesus prayed so hard that His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. (Luke 22:44) While Jesus was leaning into His Father because of pressing matters at hand, the disciples were pressing into their pillows having fallen fast asleep. It was in this garden Jesus warns them to stay alert, to watch and pray so they aren’t tempted.  

God in the garden is nothing new. Garden theology 101 is still taught by the Gardener Himself…if we choose to pay attention. Take for instance…

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Weeds

You can be in the thick of them quickly if you aren’t careful.

I take a bucket out to the garden with me each morning and fill it with weeds in the hopes of keeping on top of them. They multiply to the Nth degree. Or so it seems. If I’ve missed a few days, the weeds take over the rows where we walk as well as around the actual plants themselves. 

Sometimes it takes the drastic measures of the rototiller to root out the masses. While that “gets ‘er done” on a large scale and is necessary sometimes, it’s the gentler approach, on your knees, carefully removing those that are closest to the plant that takes determination and patience. 

Jesus had something to say about weeds when He was telling the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13. He explained to the disciples that the seed sown among the weeds represents the person who receives the message, but all of life’s busy distractions, his divided heart and his ambition for wealth result in suffocating the kingdom message and prevent him from bearing spiritual fruit. (v22TPT bold is mine)

Who reading this hasn’t felt suffocated by one of these? Before you know it, you’re knee deep and can’t even see the Seed that helps you grow. Start tilling in some confession, repentance, obedience to get the soil of your heart back in shape and weed free. Get on your knees and pluck gently around the more tender parts and places, listening for the sound of the Gardener’s voice that is so sweet the birds stop singing to listen. 

Water

It’s essential to a garden if you want your plants to live (duh) otherwise the plants shrivel up and die. Lately, here in the Midwest the weather has been extra hot which means morning and evening watering. 

I go out each morning and give a thorough soaking and even then, in this heat, by evening things are looking droopy and in need of an extra drink. 

Jesus had something to say to people dying (rather they knew it or not) for a drink of water. 

His first encounter is found in John 4 and is with a woman who goes to a well for water and sees Jesus sitting, waiting, as if for her. Little did she know she was about to meet a Man like no other man and boy had she met plenty of them. 

He asks her for a drink. She’s confused because He, a Jew, is supposed to hate her, a Samaritan and a woman, and yet here He is asking her for a drink. She tells Him this to which He replies, If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink and I would give you fresh, living water. (John 4:10MSG)

Again, she’s confused because Jesus doesn’t have a dipper or bucket or anything to draw water from the well, so she asks Him about it and lets Him know that she knows of spiritual things so don’t pull a fast one on her Jesus! 

Jesus then tells her, Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. (my droopy plants can testify here) Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life. (John 4:13-14MSG)

Life can often feel like a trial by fire with one thing after another coming at you. Douse yourself in Living Water morning, noon and night when it feels extra hot. 

Experiments

Every year we do some experiments in the garden. This year I grew okra for the first time which blooms these gorgeous blooms before the fruit sets on! Who knew?

I also grew my tomatoes and jalapenos from seeds. It took time and patience to baby first the seeds then the seedlings then the bigger plants that could go outside under a covered area then to the actual big plant being put in the garden, in real soil. Lots of care. Lots of learning. Lots of YouTubing “how to” videos from some fellow hippies who are much wiser than I when it comes to gardening. 

Everything is doing beautifully! I would never have known just how I could grow things if I hadn’t ventured out and taken a risk. 

Sometimes we have to trust the Lord and venture onto a new path He has set before us. In Isaiah God says, Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:18-19NIV)

I don’t want to think about past experiments that failed, making me afraid to try again. I want to see what new thing God has for me! Springs in the desert and streams in the wasteland? Yes please! 

Maybe you’re stuck in a perpetual rut. Will you try a new thing? Who knows what flower will bloom if you do! 

Pests/Suckers/Nemesis

I walked out back a few days ago and watched a squirrel jump off the bird feeder, a chipmunk jump out of the oregano and a bunny be very, very still by the chamomile. Apparently, the JackRabbit family was in need of a soothing cuppa before bed. 

A little stroll further out into the garden and I notice the zucchini leaves turning yellow, a sure sign of the squash bug. A giant maggot looking beastly thing that worms its way into the base of the stems, hollowing them out so they can’t get the nutrients or water the plant needs to survive. A half-eaten strawberry lies just outside the box, a sure sign of the dastardly chipmunk. Doesn’t he know you don’t season strawberries with oregano? Maybe that’s why he only ate half. 

The tomatoes grow all manner of shoots off the main stem. If you don’t pinch off some of these, you’ll have lots of green leaves but very little actual tomatoes because all the nutrients and water goes to keeping those little suckers alive and well. Anybody have the life sucked out them from time to time? Pinch those suckers off! 

We have an enemy whose sole (soul?) mission is to steal, kill and destroy the abundant life Jesus came to give us. (John 10:10NIV)

We have to learn how to stop him from achieving what he sets out to do. We do this by learning his tactics and how to look for signs that he’s there. I learned that a mix of hydrogen peroxide and water sprayed on the leaves of the zucchini kill the bug (and its eggs) that burrowed its way into the heart of the plant leaving it without life sustaining water and nutrients. 

Paul talks about the armor we’re to put on every day in Ephesians 6. Remember the Vine from the intro above? Stay connected. How? Study His word. Listen to His voice. Pray. Obey. Believe. Trust. Nothing squashes the plans of the enemy like a daughter who lives like she knows who her Daddy is! 

Inspection Inspection Inspection

Every single day, I walk in the garden, looking, watching, waiting for something to happen. In fact, I do it so many times a day my family pokes a bit of fun at me. Not only am I looking for pests, suckers and my nemesis (that dastardly chipmunk!) but also new growth. 

Just when you think nothing is happening, you’ll look closely and see a bloom on the tomatoes or the tiniest green bean or a zucchini ready for picking under one of the giant leaves. 

The next day you go out and there’s a tomato where the flower used to be, a handful of green beans ready for picking and the vine of the cucumbers has somehow reached the top of the fence! How did that happen? 

It may seem “just like that” but really, I’ve worked hard tending, caring, weeding, watering, inspecting multiple times a day. 

Growth happens over time. It takes hard work and doing what we need to each day. Then “just like that” you’ll find yourself…

~ Remaining calm in a situation that would have caused you to blow your lid a few weeks ago. 

~ Feeling peace in the middle of some heavy hard stuff. 

~ Praying instead of worrying. 

~ Reaching for your Bible instead of the bottle or food or shopping or Neflix or…

~  Finding joy in a less than joyous season. 

~ Being the bigger person. 

~ Forgiving even though they didn’t apologize.

~ Practicing self-control…and succeeding.

~ Listening when you really want to react. 

~ Apologizing. 

Man. It’s so fun when you notice growth because you’ve kept the weeds at bay, when you notice you’re thirsty and go drink from the well of Living water (often), when you see a flower bloom because you weren’t afraid to try a new thing, when you’re prepared for a battle with your nemesis. 

I think C. Austin Miles was on to something…even if I can no longer carry my part in a four-part harmony. God walks with me and He talks with me and He teaches me simple theology in the garden using weeds and chipmunks. His voice is so sweet that I stand in awed silence, listening, loving, and learning. 

kw

Even When I Whisper

The Dominican Republic coast. Courtesy Mallory Wright.

Do you need something to drink? 

Silence

Hey. I’m getting some lunch. Do you need something? More medicine? Anything?  

Crickets. 

Todd walked in the room where I was lying down, crutches beside me, hip in a brace, apologizing for forgetting that I had lost my voice after the second surgery. He leaned in close to listen. 

My voice strained to speak even a whisper, to ask for what I needed to make me more comfortable, to ask for help. 

It sure feels vulnerable when you don’t have a voice, when you can’t speak loud enough for someone to hear you, when you can’t answer the questions being asked from the next room, when you can’t vocalize your needs, when you can’t speak above a whisper. 

As I laid there thinking about this, I was thankful that I had a husband who remembered, came up close to listen. 

What about God? Does He hear my whispers? Does He hear when I feel vulnerable and unable to voice my needs? Does He care? 

I believe He does.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

The writer of Psalm 116 has found himself overcome by trouble and sorrow. (v3NIV) He was greatly afflicted and in dismay. (v10-11NIVHis soul was in dire need of rest. 

Maybe you can relate. We live in a world that is troubling and brings much heartache. There is much to be anxious about as we are bombarded with 24/7 news reels telling us all that is wrong in this chaotic world. 

Politics. Pandemics. People.

Riots. Rumbling. Razing. 

Voices. Vitriol. Violence. 

Death. Divorce. Damage. 

Need I go on? 

Fortunately for us the Bible doesn’t claim to lift us out of real life, a life in which trouble and sorrow and pain are so pervasive that, at times, that’s all we can think about. The Bible doesn’t sugar coat a softer life if we simply believe in Jesus. It doesn’t minimize or negate adversity. 

In fact, Jesus Himself told us that in this unbelieving world you will experience trouble and sorrows…but we can have peace as we rest in Him because He has conquered the world. (John 16:33TPT)  

We don’t have a Father who sits “up there” while we struggle “down here”.

The prophet Isaiah tells us this is what the Lord says…when you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. (Isaiah 43: 1, 2NLT) 

When. Not if. 

Where is God when you feel like you’re drowning in those deep waters of despair or trying not to get burned by whatever life has thrown at you. He’s right there with you! Sometimes He allows us to go through tough seasons for reasons our finite minds can’t fathom but He never leaves us to our own devices because you and I are His beloved daughters and sons. (Isaiah 43:1NIV) 

Our Father is not distant but endearing. Even when…especially when…all we can do is whisper a prayer in the darkest of nights. The Psalmist tells us he loves the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because he bends down to listen…(Psalms 116:1-2NLT bold is mine)

King James tells us God inclines His ear. Inclines is to stretch out, to extend, to pay attention. I love to picture a Father who stretches out beside His daughter at night when the thoughts don’t stop rolling and worry walks through her mind, setting up camp like an old friend who’s going to stay awhile. An Abba Father who extends His arms and wraps me in the biggest bear hug ever. An El Shama Father who pays attention and listens as I whisper my worries, wants and woes.  

Only a Father as great as Jehovah God can hear the voices of millions of His children who are praying to Him at the same time and yet stoop down, lean in and listen to one single whisper in the middle of the night. In the middle of the deepest waters. In the middle of a rushing river. In the middle of trying to get the smell of smoke out of your clothes. 

He hears you because He’s near you. 

Kim Wright

Not far away, somewhere “out there” in the cosmos or even in the next room. He doesn’t forget because He got distracted. 

We live in a world that roars making us feel vulnerable and voiceless.  Rest assured we have a Father who can rise above the noise and lean in to listen. Even when all you can do is whisper. 

May we remember this so then we can say as David does in Psalm 116:7Let my soul be at rest again, for the Lord has been good to me. (NLT) 

Yes and amen. 

kw  

Breaking Up Is…

There’s an old song from 1960 sang by Neil Sedaka that has the title, Breaking Up Is Hard to Do. The song finds Sedaka pleading with a girl, asking her to remember the good times, as he knows he’ll be in misery if she leaves. I wonder how she answered his plea. Good times are great, but it takes an overall look at the relationship to decide whether or not it’s worth the time and energy to continue. 

I’m ten days in to breaking up, not with my man (whom I adore!) but with social media which in turn gives me space from my phone. Did you know there is a phobia of not having your phone? It’s called nomophobia. According to dictionary.com it’s “a term that first appeared in the results of a 2008 UK Post Office study which contracted UK research agency YouGov to study anxiety in mobile phone users. The term is a portmanteau of no, mobile, phone, and phobia.”

There’s also a phenomenon called phantom vibration syndrome which occurs when a person thinks his or her phone is ringing, dinging or vibrating when it actually isn’t. I have a friend whose arm had been amputated as a child and she talked about phantom pain or itching where her forearm was supposed to be. Same kind of thing. Only we’re talking about a phone not a limb. We’ve become so “attached” that it becomes a part of us, an extension of who we are, so much so that we find ourselves hearing or feeling things that didn’t happen. Often times it’s the reason why we are constantly checking our phone, and we don’t even realize we’re doing it. 

Bet you didn’t find those fun facts out on any of your social media sites! 

So, how AM I doing ten days into this break up?  

To quote Dave Ramsey, Better than I deserve! No really! 

The night before I was headed to the dark side of the moon, I went to bed with a sick-to-my-stomach feeling. How ridiculous is that? I went to bed wondering how I would stay connected, as if I had never had a social life prior to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. 

I have a friend, Lysa, who is traveling this road with me and shared some thoughts she wrote in her journal the night before catapulting herself into disconnection: 

Tonight I’m a little nervous.

Will I be able to let it all go cold turkey? 

How will I connect with people? 

What will I miss out on? 

How much extra time will I have? 

So, I’m not the only one. 

There are things I miss a bit like the convenience of groups and communicating or finding out things that are going on. But then my friends have actually texted or called…you know…what a phone was originally used for. And would you believe I’ve had more face to face conversations in the past ten days then I have in a long time. Porch swinging and problem solving go hand in hand. Conversations with real people tend to make you not think in black and white but in shades of grey (and more than 50!) 

I wonder if anyone misses me…which sounds so asinine to think that a grown woman would wonder this about her cyber-space friends…but I told you I’d be honest! (Cue the Pink Floyd song Is There Anybody Out There?)

I miss sharing my ordinary days because today life is anything but ordinary and I think people appreciate (and need) the simpler things. So, here are a few pics around the farm: 

There are things I don’t miss. Political agendas. Keyboard warriors. Useless bickering. Watching hamsters run on a wheel and get nowhere…but keep running little fella…you’ll win your argument eventually. Sarcasm (ahem). Hatred. Comparison. Just to name a few. 

I found that I’d developed the bad habit of waking up, rolling over and grabbing my phone to check emails, Facebook and Instagram “real quick” before my feet even hit the floor. Now I wake up, stretch and say a quick prayer to start the day. I’ve turned off my notifications (for email) at night and don’t check anything until after I’ve had some coffee and quiet time. What a difference that has made! 

The first couple of days I found myself reaching for my phone for a perfunctory peek through the land of make believe that is social media only to realize the reason was either boredom or comfort. Let’s talk about those two things for a second. 

Bored was a word we NEVER used around my Granny because she would find our behinds something to do if we dared speak the words I’m bored within her earshot and it was NEVER anything fun. So, being a “Granny” myself now, that’s exactly what I do…find myself something to do. I no longer have the excuse: I don’t have time. So much more gets done when you don’t get lost in the roll of the scroll. I read more, write more, swing more, garden more, talk with friends more.

Then there’s the comfort factor. If you read anything at all about technology addiction there is a chemical messenger called dopamine that your brain sends along a reward pathway which makes you feel good. Dopamine is comfort. Comfort (dopamine) comes when you get a like or comment or heart eyes or share or any social media notification, it’s like a validation that you’re okay, because, see how many people “like” you. Geesh. 

Now whenever I need comfort, I reach for the gallon of Chocolate Coconut Almond ice cream…oh wait…that’s a whole other level of issue…

But seriously, I’ve had to remind myself that staying connected to the Vine (John 15) is enough validation for me. I am who God says I am not because He sent a heart emoji to a Facebook post but because He sent His One and Only. We are all made in the image of God not the images we scroll through and sigh because somehow, we don’t measure up. 

Maybe that’s something you need reminded of as well.

I’m ten days in and I’ve already learned a lot about myself. And my friend Lysa? She’s doing beautifully and is surprised how little she misses it and how much she’s gotten done! Lots of good stuff that I’ll share more of after another ten days. 

Now I don’t want to paint a false picture. I love the time it frees up and it’s great to get off the dopamine roller coaster of need for likes, but when you’re a writer whose main readership comes from social media, you do tend to hum along with Pink Floyd quite a bit. IS there anybody out there? 

Breaking up isn’t as hard to do as I thought but I’m a work in progress.  

kw

Cyber-Space: the Behavior, the Bull, the Bully

Once I was let down into a deep well into which chokedamp had settled, and nearly lost my life. The deeper I was immersed in the invisible poison, the less capable I became of willing measures of escape from it. And in just this condition are those who toil or dawdle or dissipate in crowded towns, in the sinks of commerce or pleasure. (John Muir) 

Our use of technology, looking at screens and social media has been around long enough now that study results are beginning to come in, and the results do not bode well for us canaries in the coal mine. Gas is leaking and we are clueless. 

Hours of scrolling through other people’s picture-perfect lives (thank you (?) Pinterest!), being available 24/7(iPhone or iCrazy?), and round the clock news, feeding us images of war, waste and want, leaves us depleted and confused emotionally, physically and spiritually. We hear and see so much information that it’s impossible to process it all. 

And yet, still we try. We don’t shut it off even though the deeper we immerse ourselves the less capable we become of escaping it. Maybe we can’t. Maybe we’re drowning in an invisible poison we can’t see, feel or smell. We have no idea, the damage we’re doing to ourselves, our brains and dare I say, even our souls. 

Perhaps that sounds a bit dramatic but is it really?

 The Behavior

From Dr. Eva’s File

Fred sat in my office looking for help with stress management. It wasn’t his idea; it was his wife’s. She had threatened to leave him if he didn’t seek help. During the one-hour visit, Fred checked his incoming text messages five times and answered two of the four phone calls, saying first, “Do you mind? This is important.”

Does this sound familiar? Oh, we might think to ourselves, we would never do that in a doctor’s office!  Except for that one lady who had to be asked to put her phone away as she walked down the hall to her room and the gynecologists office. Maybe that’s not you but they are out there. What about when you’re out to dinner with friends or coffee with a girlfriend or at your kids soccer game or at the family dinner table? Are we more worried about getting the perfect picture of our plate than the company we’re with? Has being available to everyone else via text messaging become more important than watching your daughter play basketball or your son’s piano recital? 

Trust me, I’m guilty too. That invisible poison can’t be seen but it can sure show up in our behavior. 

Back to our friend Fred: 

From the history I was able to get, it turned out Fred, who had an “important” job, spent 12 hours a day working, including during his hour-long commute, allowing little time for exercise, self-care or downtime. 

I asked him, “What do you think you would have done if you were in this office 20 years ago when smartphones, e-mail and such did not exist?” He thought for a minute before answering, “Probably pay attention and learn how to relax!”

I then explained to Fred the consequences of an overactivated stress response system that does not have the chance to get a break, rest or relax: depression and anxiety, heart disease and hypertension, inflammatory disorders, musculoskeletal problems, memory loss, immune compromise…”Shall I continue?” I asked. (Your Brain on Nature by Dr. Eva M. Selhub pg 49) 

Bottom line? Don’t be a Fred.  Put down your phone. 

We lose valuable IQ points through the act of texting and email. The ping of notices on our phones destroy creativity, leading us down a dead-end road, blank canvas and blinking cursor. We lose profitable performance at work, treasured time with family and our recall ability is cut by half. 

Fear Fred’s future. Put down your device. 

The Bull

Scroll through any social media medium and it doesn’t take long to get the sense that everyone else’s lives are spot on. You often walk away feeling as if your kids are the only ones who mess up, your husband is the only one who snores, and you are the only one with baby fat from your last pregnancy. Did I mention my youngest is 16? 

Flipping through social media can cause problems you didn’t even know you needed to have. You’re happy with your life until you’re not because of what you think is someone else’s picture perfect. Don’t always believe what you see. 

Take for example Rachel Hollis of Girl, Wash Your Face New York Times best seller fame. She posted this picture of her and her husband on Instagram with the caption: Today on the podcast @mrdavehollis and I are talking about how quarantine has affected our, ahem, “make out sessions.” Yes. We went there. If you’re in a relationship the RISE Together podcast is just for you. 

That was on April 30th

Then, on June 8th, just 39 days later, same pic, much different message: 

Don’t think I’m picking on the Hollis’. It’s very sad that their marriage is ending. I’m not saying to put all your business out on social media for all to see and have an opinion on. But for the love, don’t talk about a “make out sesh” when the reality is your marriage is the Titanic and has been sinking for quite some time. Warning: Iceberg straight ahead!

People’s comments went from sad to mad, grieved to deceived, feeling duped and having wasted their money and time on the books, retreats and podcasts that was meant to show people how to be just like them because they are normal people just like us. 

Do no harm, but you can keep your bull.  (And using the same pic? That’s just weird.)

This is just the one example I happened to notice on Instagram. There are so many more. I’m not sure who is more foolish, the ones who think they can keep all the plates spinning or the ones who are in awe of all the spinning plates. 

And the poison just keeps seeping. 

The Bullying

Have you noticed lately how many more experts we currently have living in the United States? A pandemic happens and suddenly everyone has M.D. after their name. Racial tensions are high and presto, people have a degree in sociology: the study and explanation of society and human interaction. 

Who knew? Social media is filled with doctors, lawyers, PhD’s in sociology and anthropology, and authorities on race relations. All manner of opinions. All opinions are, of course, based on solid facts from Facebook finds. Wait. What? Facebook isn’t the best resource for fact finding?

When really all they have is a Bachelor’s in Bullying. 

Keyboard Warriors who can rip apart a person they don’t even know faster than Superman can fly. That speeding bullet kills relationships, friendships and families; leaving them beaten, bloodied and bruised. All in the name of thinking you’re right about something you may have no idea about. And yet, they click their keys, spew their venom, close their computer and care not the damage they’ve done. 

Warrior indeed. Whimp more like it. 

According to Dr. Eva SelhubSocial media was supposed to link us together. Yet, for all the talk of connectivity via gadgets, it does not seem to be translating into a more caring world, at least not in North America. The ability to exhibit an emotional response to someone else’s distress have dropped 49 percent since 1980. Perspective taking, an intellectual understanding of another person’s situational and individual circumstances, has declined by 34 percent. (Your Brain on Nature pg 43) 

In other words, we stop caring about people and care more about our personal perspective, purview, and productivity. 

Compassion be damned. I’ll show them because I know I’m right! Who cares if I don’t know you! You’re an idiot, obviously!!

What a sad existence it must be to be a keyboard warrior, an internet bully, always pushing people around in a pretend world. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

How do I even wrap this up? None of us control the bull or the bullying. But we can control the behavior. It may not be as easy as you think. According the Dr. Eva…

Although not official diagnoses yet, “Internet addiction” and “digital-device addiction” are terms batted around by the medical community. Currently, (this book was published in 2012 so I imagine this number is higher) 42 percent of Americans flat-out agree with the statement that they “cannot live without” their mobile phones and more than half of adults also state that both they and their kids spend too much time online. (Your Brain on Nature pg 48) 

Addicted? I’m not addicted. You’re addicted! 

So, the behavior is to not be like Fred and instead put down my phone. If Facebook makes me furious, why not give myself the freedom to take some time and spend it with real family and friends instead of virtual ones? If Instagram feels more like Image-gram, then why keep scrolling when I can be strolling through nature instead? 

Control the behavior. It’s what I’ll be doing in the month of July as I take a respite from all things social media. I’ll be writing about the experience of the experiment as honestly as I can. No one likes to think they’re addicted to something, especially the pings on a phone from a message or the likes or the comments….they say it’s like a hit of dopamine. Maybe that’s the invisible gas of our day. Sigh…

Finding sacred in the simple. It’s been my mantra for quite some time. That’s where I’ll be if you need me.

And making sure the canary still sings. 

kw

Beauty in Every Part

Life often sings in a four-part harmony with nature as its guide. Each part has its place. Each place has its purpose. Each purpose has its polish.

There is beauty in every part. 

Take the clematis for example. 

Its flower grabs the attention and draws the eye towards its boldness and daring. 

Sometimes life is lived like a full bloom flower that leaves you feeling fantastic and on fire! The sun is out. The sky is blue. Life is great. And so are you! 

The beauty in this season comes from knowing what you want and going for it! Success is your middle name. School is good. Marriage is good. Kids are good. Single life is good. Work? What work! I love what I’m doing. There’s no mountain too high. No challenge too hard. No river too wide. Bring. It. On!  

I wish I could tell you I have it all together all the time. That my flowers are in full bloom forever, but I cannot. Nobody can keep that pace up; that boom of the full bloom. We were never meant to. 

Full bloom is a season and I’ve had seasons like that. But seasons are just that, seasons. They don’t last forever.

We can learn a lot from the way nature sings. (Kim Wright 🙂

I look out my back window and notice the same clematis climbing but with a very different “flower”. What was once bold and beautiful now looks like a Truffula tree from a Dr. Seuss book. 

What were once feelings that left you spunky now leave you feeling funky and a little bit afraid. Mr. Lorax has his ax and is doing his best to take a whack at your back. 

This season takes some stamina because it’s not all glitz and glam. School is over and the real J-O-B begins. Did I choose wisely? Will I like it? Your marriage takes work. You discover your man snores and he realizes you grind your teeth. He chews loud. You chew your nails. And kids? Who had all these kids? Will we ever stop running? Do boys always pee on the bathroom floor? Are girls always this moody? Will we ever go out on a date again that isn’t in a van that smells like stinky knee pads?… The kids are all gone…who are you anyhow? 

The beauty in this season is the world of discovery! No, it may not look like what you thought it would but what if you let go of that idea and grabbed hold of something even better? What if you made a bouquet out of those different looking flowers and decided to go with the flow and put some spunk in the funk?  

Funky is a season and I’ve had seasons like that. But seasons are just that, seasons. They don’t last forever. 

The earth has music for those who will listen. (William Shakespeare) 

Someone picked the funky flower and put it on the patio table. Who would have thought that this: 

was once this:

Sometimes life can look fuzzy and unsure. We may not know what the future looks like, where we’ll be next week, what will happen tomorrow. Fuzzy can feel isolated and lonely. Ignored and left out. 

Fuzzy often happens when we remove ourselves from the Vine and distance ourselves on a patio table. We lose our sense of purpose and forget who we are at the very root of our existence. 

Fuzzy often happens when we walk away from community and connection to strike out on our own because we think we know best. 

Fuzzy often happens when we tell ourselves no one will understand, no one knows how I feel, no one cares so we don’t reach out, we sit alone on the back patio.

The beauty in this season is you can reach up and reconnect to the Vine. Be still and know that you are known. You can reach in and reconnect with the vulnerable parts of what make you you. You can reach out and reconnect with others who feel fuzzy too. 

Fuzzy is a season and I’ve had seasons like that. But seasons are just that, seasons. They don’t last forever. 

The last part of nature’s harmony is a period of dormancy, silence, rest and one that we often leave out, leaving the four parts lacking, off key, out of tune. 

Because sometimes you just need some down time. Time to breathe. Time to think or not think. Time to settle. Time to do nothing. Time to nap. Time to disconnect so you reconnect. Time.  

If you think you don’t and can go on forever being full bloom or funky or fuzzy, well, at some point rest will be required because Mr. Lorax is lurking, ax in hand! 

We are stubborn creatures, aren’t we? God had to make rest a command (Exodus 20:8).  He makes us lie down in green pastures and He leads us beside quiet waters (Psalm 23:2) because we don’t have the sense to do it on our own. But it’s the very thing that restores our souls. Go figure why we sing out of tune, eh. 

For everything that happens in life—there is a season, a right time for everything under heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1 The Voice) 

Seasons don’t last forever but there is beauty in every part if you look hard enough. 

kw 

I Love a Good Syllabus!

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I walked into room 204, the smell of fresh paint and newly waxed floors lingered from the hard work of the janitors over summer break. Mixed with it was the sense of excitement, a pinch of dread and a tinge of nervous sweat. Some students looked bored. Some apprehensive. Some sat as close to the teacher as they possibly could. Others sat as close to the exit for a quick get-away. 

With my new books, a new backpack, fresh hair and the perfect first-day-of-school outfit, I was the nerd in the front row, ready to absorb all the professor had for me that day. I still am that person. I love to learn! 

It had been a long time since I’d sat at a desk in a classroom ready to learn. Five years to be exact. In those years, I’d graduated from high school, gotten married, moved hundreds of miles from home and back again and had a baby who was now in kindergarten experiencing his own classroom for the first time. 

My brain felt rusty and I wondered how in the world I would keep my 18-credit hour load figured out. Would I be able to keep up? Would I remember what was due when? Would I miss assignments? It was all a bit overwhelming. 

Enter the syllabus. 

Each professor handed one out. On it were things like professor information, course description, goals and objectives, required materials, grade breakdown, course policies, helpful resources and the mother of it all: the daily schedule. I knew exactly what was due and when it was due. There was no mistaking the expectations of what was required of us for the entire semester. It was all laid out in a neat and tidy word document. Thank you, Ms. Professor!

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone would hand us a syllabus for the semester of life we’re in? 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I’ve been reading a Psalm each morning and ran across this one that says, I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go…(32:8NKJV)

I’ve already told you I love to learn so I say YES! instruct and teach away! I’m also a planner and would love it if God would lay out the syllabus, listing the course description, goals and objectives, grade breakdown, and of course, the daily schedule. Line by line, look ahead, get ahead, know the precise way I should go because it’s all laid out in a neat word document. 

But God doesn’t use a word document with tidy dates, rows and columns spotlighting what you need to do next. He uses His Word which is more like lamplight than spotlight. (Psalm 119:105) He likes to give us just enough light to see the step we’re on. Anybody else out there wishing He would ditch the lamp and shine a spotlight down the way you should go so you would know how to plan your life? (Should I take a parka or a bathing suit? Right?) Heck, I would even settle for the next semester! 

That’s not how this Teacher conducts class. Sigh…

Psalm 32:8 goes on to say, I will guide you with My eye. (NKJV) 

His eye. It sees from a different angle, through a different lens. He can see ahead and know exactly how and when to answer my prayers. Like a blind person I have to learn to trust the Guide, hanging on to His arm as He leads me step by step down the path He has for me. 

That’s not easy for a syllabus loving, learner like me. I want to know what’s ahead, what’s expected, what to expect, every step of the way. Bottom line is, do I trust Him to teach me, to instruct me, to guide me, to show me the next step and not the entire year? Using a dang lamp for a light. 

That in itself is a lesson to be learned. It takes a lifetime of practice because like the real classroom, each semester is different. 

In the meantime…

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

What can I do? What can I do while I wait for the next step to be revealed? For my prayer to be answered? While I wait for instructions? 

During a time of persecution and facing the unknown, Paul tells what the will of God is (the syllabus, if you will) for the people of Thessalonica. It’s found in 1Thessalonians 5:16-18…

Be joyful always; 

Pray continually;

Give thanks in all circumstances, 

For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 

Really? I know what you’re thinking, I want to know what direction I’m headed, what my future is. I need to know what I’m supposed to be doing and you tell be to smile, pray and be grateful. Are you serious? 

Yes. Yes I am. 

Be joyful always. We aren’t talking about plaster-a-smile-while-I’m-hanging-on-for-dear-life but rather a deep sense of peace knowing my Father’s got this and He will show me the next step, open the next door, light the path brighter when it’s time. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. If I can be joyful always, maybe it will ripen the fruit and will help in the maturity of my faith. It’s not joy in my circumstance but in the Lord that gives me the strength to carry on. (Nehemiah 8:10)

Be prayerful continually. Keep talking to God, even when. Be persistent like the woman in Luke 18 who drove the judge crazy until he answered her. Let your voice be heard then listen. Trust that He hears you and is working things out on your behalf. But keep having conversations. I’ve prayed for things that have happened almost immediately and I have things that I’ve prayed and am still praying about for years. Don’t stop. 

Be grateful. Gratitude is the thing that allows me to receive the gift of God’s blessings every single day. Even when. It’s what opens my eyes to see through a God lens and not my own. It’s what lets me know He’s here. He’s in the sunrise each morning and the flowers that are blooming. He’s in the shadows that are cast by the sunlight coming in the back windows. He’s in the smell of jasmine as I swing on the front porch. I’m with you. I’ve got this. Do you trust me? 

It’s not always easy. Sometimes the last thing you want to do is be joyful, prayerful and grateful in the midst of being lost and not knowing what to do. But if those three things put you in the middle of God’s will, then you’re not really lost at all, are you?

It’s a simple syllabus. Perhaps too simple and I’ve filed it away as silly. But what if it works? What if it helps light up the next step. Are you willing to try?  

This was a great reminder for me. I hope it was for you too. 

kw 

I’m tired, boss.

I’m tired, boss. Mostly I’m tired of people being ugly to each other. I’m tired of all the pain I feel and hear in the world every day. There’s too much of it. It’s like pieces of glass in my head all the time. (John Coffey…like the drink but not spelled the same. From The Green Mile movie.) 

Ditto John.

I’ve been doing a lot of conversing with my Boss too. It looks something like this: 

What in the world is going on, Lord? First the pandemic had everyone in a panic, knocking each other over to get that last roll of toilet paper. Loving our neighbor looked like “hey, can you spare a square in case of an emergency?” We’ve been in isolation for weeks now. I miss faces. I miss real hugs. I miss connection outside of a Zoom screen. When will this be over? 

Everyone has an opinion. Open back up. No, stay closed. It’s a conspiracy. It’s dangerous out there. Wear masks. I’m not wearing a mask and you can’t make me! Churches should stay open. Where’s your faith? How dare churches stay open! Don’t you care about people? It’s political. It’s those darn Democrats. It’s the rude Republicans. I love how our governor is handling things. Are you kidding me? He’s an idiot. Speaking of idiots, did you see Trump on the news? MAGA all day long. 

People post article after article and meme after meme, supporting their side, their cause, their opinion. Suddenly everyone’s an expert. Sound bites and snake bites spew the same venom.

Going places is strange. People are afraid. I get weird looks when I have my mask on and horrified looks if I don’t. What is going on? What are you up to Lord? 

I’m already tired from it all, my thumb calloused from scrolling past the thoughts and theories. What happened to pictures of grandbabies and gourmet meals? 

I had no idea that was only the beginning. 

George Floyd. God help us. Why? Just why? 

There are big feelings. Help me to understand. Help me to reach out. I’m a middle-aged white woman. What can I do? Show me, Lord.

Everyone has opinions…again. Black lives matter. All lives matter. Blue lives matter. All black men are suspect. All black men are not bad. All cops are pigs. Not all cops are bad. Riots are happening because people need to be heard. What happened to social distancing? Peaceful protests are what it’s all about. Destruction of property is about making a statement. I’m a black man, your brother, why are you destroying my business that I’ve worked so hard to build? 

Pieces of glass indeed, John Coffey. 

Do black lives matter? Absolutely and wholeheartedly YES!! To some it’s a statement of truth and to others it’s an organization that causes trouble. To some you can’t be a person of faith and believe in the BLM’s cause and to others you aren’t a person of faith if you don’t.

God help us!

Lord, I have friends who are Mommas of black young men who are scared for their boys. I have friends who are Mommas of men (and women) that are police officers who are scared for their loved ones. Wives and husbands who fear for their spouses because of the color of their skin or the career path they took. 

I’m not for one or the other but both. Is that even allowed? 

It’s been said that to be silent is to be an oppressor. I don’t want to oppress anyone nor offend…therein lies the problem. We’ve created a world that is so politically correct that I simply can’t keep up; a world so easily offended that if I use a word that was okay last week but not this week, I’m obviously a racist. 

It’s exhausting. 

A few years ago, I could use the term black and it wasn’t offensive, until it was. Then African American was used to embrace the heritage from which people came, until it wasn’t because all black people are not from Africa. People of color is now offensive because it includes those who are not black but simply a different color. 

I mean no disrespect but fear saying the wrong thing. In the silence of me trying not to offend, I offend. I don’t want to simply black out my screen on social media and change nothing. I want to listen to learn. But I can’t hear anything if all everyone’s doing is screaming at each other. I want to listen to hear and not be heard. I want to listen, not mentally preparing my rebuttal because I know I’m right but to simply try to understand a different viewpoint, a different perspective. What if we listened and then said, “That’s interesting, tell me more.”  

God help me! I just want to love You and love people! 

I’m tired, Boss. 

But none of this surprises You does it? 

You told us that “many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another….. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.” (Matthew 24:10-12NKJV)

Has our love grown cold? Do we look at each other and see enemies instead of human beings made in the image of You?

We are broken Lord. Bind up our wounds like You say You will in Psalm 147:3. 

Be close to those who are brokenhearted and save those whose spirts are crushed like You promise in Psalm 34:18. 

Help heal our hearts. 

Help us to see others as you see them. 

Help us, Lord, I pray. Amen.

kw

A Simple Principle

Peas. Luffa. Corn

I sat a small jar of various types of seeds in the middle of each table. None were labeled. Some were obvious. Others, not so much. The ladies began to arrive, laughter and catching up filled the air as they grabbed their coffee and snacks and sat down. 

If I were to ask you what type of seed is in the jar on your table what would you say? 

This is definitely corn. One table replied. 

Peas. Said another. 

I think these are lima beans, but they have purple stripes on them! 

So, what do you think your harvest will be when you plant them? If you plant corn what do you expect to get in return? 

Ummm, corn?, someone answered as if the teacher were trying to trick the student. 

And the peas. What about the peas? 

Peas of course! 

Exactly! In farming or gardening this is an absolute principle. Whatever seed you sow, is exactly what’ll you’ll grow. It doesn’t surprise us when we sow or plant a lima bean seed and get lima beans. Or a piece of corn and get an ear of corn. 

Tim Keller says, whatever you sow, you will reap. Though the seed may lie in the ground to no apparent effect for a long time, it will come up. It is not the reaping that determines the harvest, but the sowing. (Galatians for You p.175)

It’s a simple principle for the farmer but it’s not just for the agricultural community. You don’t have to get your hands in the dirt to understand this is a how-to-live-life lesson as well. But what is simple for the farmer seems to be more complex when it comes to applying it to our daily lives. Or so it seems.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

In chapter six of Galatians, Paul uses this simple principle of sowing and reaping in the spiritual realm as well. It’s just as absolute, just as unstoppable. 

Earlier in his letter Paul addresses the sarx or sinful heart and lists those things we do to satisfy the darker side of ourselves. Things like repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfying wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. (Galatians 5:21 MSG)

Paul warns the Galatian people to not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. He cannot be treated lightly. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature from that nature will reap destruction…(Galatians 6:7-8 NIV)

Notice that the “acts of the sinful nature” aren’t all actions; attitudes are just as much over-desires of our sarx.

Before we despair, there is another seed we can sow and grow; that being the fruit of the spirit. Things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. 

Notice all of these are one fruit, not multiple fruits. John says: “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar.” (1John 4:20 NIV) Notice that he does not say: If a man loves God but doesn’t love his brother, he is unbalanced. No, he says he is a liar. True love to God (love) is always accompanied by love to others (kindness). If they are not both there, neither are there at all. (Galatians to You by Tim Keller p153)

We can sow the seeds of the sarx and reap the ravage. Or we can sow the fruit of the Spirit and reap the reward. But we can’t do both. At least not at the same time. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

We’ve been planting the garden the past few days. It’s reassuring to know that an okra seed will become okra that I will roll in cornmeal and fry on both sides, a lima seed will become a lima bean. Tomato plants will produce, you guessed it, tomatoes.  Green bean seeds in the dirt, green beans off the plants and in my quart jars for winter feasting. 

Such a simple principle this sowing and reaping. 

So why are we surprised when we…

Sow seeds of hatred and receive hostility. 

Sow seeds of blindness and not be able to see. 

Sow seeds of deafness and not be able to hear. 

Sow seeds of silence and end up with no voice. 

Sow seeds of ignorance and refuse to learn. 

Sow seeds of hurt and end up with blood on our own hands.

Sow seeds of word spewing and end up with no friends. 

Like Paul, I could go on. 

Why do we make it so hard? 

I find it interesting that the first fruit of the Spirit is love and the opposite of love is not hate as one might expect but rather fear. 

But what are we afraid of? Each other? Of getting hurt? Our different skin tones? Our different cultures? Our different opinions? Of being wrong? Of being right? Of having to say we’re sorry? Of getting sick? 

The Bible tells us that there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear. (1John 4:18 NIV)

Martin Luther King Jr. said it this way, Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Maybe perfect love looks like driving different seeds in the ground. What if we…

Sow seeds of kindness and reap kinship. 

Sow seeds of eyes that see and witness the world in high definition color. 

Sow seeds of ears that listen and learn that every single one of us has a story. 

Sow seeds of conversations and begin to understand.

Sow seeds of wisdom and cultivate knowledge. 

Sow seeds of healing and reap reconciliation. 

Sow seeds of encouragement and watch people grow. 

It’s a simple principle, an absolute principle. I realize it sure seems more complex than this. But we have to start somewhere, right? Casting out fear so we can love begins with casting the right seeds. We are all farmers in this. Whatever seed you sow is exactly what you’ll grow. 

Open the eyes of our hearts, Lord and let the light of Your Truth flood in. Shine Your light on the hope You are calling us to embrace. (Ephesians 1:18 The Voice)

kw

A Parable of the Peony

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. (Albert Einstein)

If this German born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of relativity and the world’s most famous equation of E=mccan understand everything better by looking at nature, then this simple girl can surely learn from her as well, right? 

There is Someone else who used nature to help us understand everything better using stories. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Jesus told many parables, short allegorical stories designed to illustrate or teach some truth, religious principle, or moral lesson and often used simple things like sowing seeds, sheep herding, coins, fish, harvesting as subjects to some of life’s greatest instructions. 

Consider the parable of the sower found in Matthew 13. His stories could be taken at surface level, I mean… 

What farmer doesn’t know the soil you plant your seed in matters? You could walk away with a simple garden lesson and go plant some literal seeds, hoping for a better harvest because of the agricultural lessons you learned: Stay away from rocky pathways, keep the weeds to a minimum, amend the soil for the best harvest. We’re gonna eat like kings and queens come harvest time, baby!! Thanks Jesus! 

Then there are those who wondered…is He talking about actual seeds and soil or is there a deeper meaning here? Who is the sower? Does that even matter? Do the rocks mean something? And what about those pesky weeds?  They walked away pondering profound truths that would give them a lifetime of learning.  

He still uses nature to teach, as long as we have ears to hear and eyes to notice. Because beyond the surface of the simple is a sacred something to see. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Enter the peony. Their spring season is short so every day I walk out to check their progress. They go from this: 

To this: 

In a matter of only a couple of days.

Small buds that bust a move with blooms as big as my entire hand. Gorgeous colors. Petals so soft you can barely feel them. Each one intricate, unique. Layer upon layer of lovely. 

As my daughter and I were inspecting the peony progress I said to her, it’s hard to believe that just a couple days ago this tightly wound bud went from this (pointing to a bud), to this (pointing to one half open), to this gorgeousness! (pointing to full bloom) Who would’ve thought there was so much beauty inside such a small bud?  

With arms loaded, we brought some of them inside to enjoy. Later that night that still small voice whispered, there’s also beauty in you that’s dying to bloom big blooms. You have no idea the possibilities that are waiting to bust out. What keeps you from doing so?  

Yeah. What does?

I came up with some possibilities. Maybe you can relate?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

I’m going to start out here with the FACT that we all, Every. Single. One. Of. Us have God given gifts and talents. Don’t say you don’t, or we will have to have a group intervention for your clarification! Nobody wants that. Just ask my kids. 

So, what keeps us from bringing out the beauty and blooming big? 

We Compare. 

It’s the thief of joy, according to President Theodore Roosevelt. And this quote from Brene’ Brown: The comparison mandate becomes this crushing paradox of ‘fit in and stand out!’ It’s not cultivate self-acceptance, belonging, and authenticity, it’s be just like everyone else, but better. – from The Gifts of Imperfections 

What would happen if we stopped trying to be just like everyone else and started bringing our own uniqueness to the table? Can you imagine the beauty that bouquet would bring? 

You are wanted. You. Not you being like your best friend. You. 

We Downplay. 

How many times have I started the answer to the question: What do you do? with, Oh, I’m just a… or I’m only a…

It didn’t matter if I was talking about being a stay-at-home Mom or when I was working a job for a paycheck. It didn’t matter if I got paid to write an article or was simply writing to share on my blog with you, I downplay myself. I’m just a writer…not like an important writer…not famous or anything…just, you know, someone who likes to write…sometimes…

Do you do that too? Can I hear you saying, YES! OH MY GOSH! YES!!

Why? Just why, do we do this to ourselves? 

We have to stop the insanity and be proud of the gifts and talents we have and the jobs we do! We need to encourage each other to bring the full bloomed flower to the group! Can you imagine how different our culture would be, our homes would be, our workplaces would be, our churches would be, if we stopped devaluing and underestimating the importance of our God given gifts and talents? 

You are needed. You. Not the just a… or only a… But-full-booming-bloom-here’s-what-I-bring-to-the-table-in-all-your-lovely-YOU.

The Dreadful Iffy’s.

Oh, how these can dance in my head! Maybe you’ve had this same conversation with the what if’s as well. I’ll throw out a handful with the antithetical answer in the parenthesis: 

What if I can’t? (But what if you can?)

What if I fail? (But what if you succeed?)

What if they don’t like me? (But what if they do?)

What if I’m too much/not enough? (But what if you’re just right?)

What if it’s not worth the risk? (But what if it is?) 

What if I fall? (But what if you fly?) 

Anybody else have this conversation in their own head? Dreadful iffy’s be damned! Let’s, each one of us, live in the Oh but what if and not be afraid try. Let’s be courageous enough to take hold of our thoughts, be the boss of our internal voice and walk into our calling. 

You are brave. You. Even with knees knocking. You. 

We’re Blind to Ourselves

What you see as ordinary, I may see as extraordinary. What you consider to be just who I am, may be the exact thing that is much needed at your job, in your home, your church, your ministry. We don’t often see ourselves as others see us. As activist and educator, Marion Wright Edelman said, you can’t be what you can’t see. 

Often, when I’m leading a Bible study, we’ll have opportunities to point out a quality or gift or something one likes about another and it is such a JOY to watch as the one who is getting the compliment actually receives it as such! We have no idea how our “normal selves” can be used for God’s glory.  

We need to compliment and encourage each other so we CAN see what we CAN be! 

We were having an after-dinner conversation a couple weeks ago about “inspired versus inspirational.” Are we one or the other? Should we be both? I made the comment about how we should be inspired by others so we can in turn be inspirational. To which my man asked if I thought I was inspirational. To which I replied, no not really. I’m just a stay-at-home Mom. (Take my own advice much?!) 

My teenage son was surprised. Are you serious?  Then proceeded to list every reason why I inspired him and others. I had no idea he noticed such things. Who was truly surprised then? 

If we were having coffee, I would sit across from you and make a list of the blooming qualities that you can’t see. Those gifts and talents that you downplay would become the aroma others enjoy long after you’ve left the shop. 

You matter. You. You have something to give. You. 

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I may not have a Nobel prize for my contribution to quantum physics like Albert but we do have something in common, we both love to look at nature for a deeper understanding. 

The parable of the peonies sure made me think beyond how gorgeous they are. Maybe the story helped you too? Don’t be afraid to bloom to full capacity. This world needs the beauty and fragrance of YOU! 

kw