Coloring in the lines

The other day I was talking to a friend who frequently spends time with my three and a half year old daughter in a group setting. She remarked that Clara “marches to her own beat,” and that she is a “free spirit.” Now, I know every mother has her own things that make her beam with pride, but hearing these observations was music to this mother’s ears.

Yesterday evening my husband was watching Clara color. He later asked me, “Do you think you should teach her how to color in the lines?”

This is a question I have asked myself more than once. I have even half-heartedly suggested to my Little Spark that maybe she should try staying in the lines. Those words tasted bitter as they escaped my lips, lips with a history of singing their own tunes.

I’m sure throughout her life my girl will be told, in one way or another, to stay in the lines. I know she will receive this message many times from many people. I hope I will never again be one to dissuade her from veering toward the beautifully unexpected.

I hope that what she will find in my guidance is courage to embrace the gifts given to her, hope that her gifts will be recognized and embraced, and patience with her own heart when she is neither recognized nor embraced.

Because why would I want to change something this amazing?

Advertisements
Categories: Art, Excosmopolitan Theme, Family, Motherhood | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Full Circle

I have this theory that as children we are the  closest to our true selves that we will ever be and that the older we get- all  the experiences and trials we have- eventually(or hopefully) bring us back full  circle to the essence of who we were as young children. AND… My theory has  recently been amended to include, Motherhood is the ultimate catalyst for reminding us, for demonstrating to us, and for allowing (OK forcing) us to
embrace what it is to be a child again. God uses the gifts of our children to
RETEACH us how to become like children again!

I remember what I was like as a child. I was creative and thoughtful. I became easily engrossed in creating for hours on end and was singularly focused on my task.  I worked quickly seeking solutions for every obstacle I faced because I loved the process of creating. We had a craft room in my home growing up and I remember a beautiful Victorian trunk I made for one of my dolls out of the cardboard from the back of legal pads, beautiful scrap fabric, ribbon, hot glue, and a bit of hand sewing.

I was light hearted and confident. I sung constantly. I wrote poems and stories. I was silly and laughed. I read and read and read. I talked to God. I appreciated stillness and quiet. I not only didn’t care what people thought, but thoughts of their thoughts didn’t even occur to me- they had not entered the inner sanctum of my self- image. My heart was not easily wounded.

I was loyal to friends and family. I fiercely guarded their reputations. I chose loyalty over popularity many times. Until one fateful day in the freshman lunchroom when I capitalized on an invitation I had had been grooming, had been expecting- I walked away from two amazing friends and joined all life had to offer at the cool table.

Interesting how decisions like these mold us and begin transforming us into something other than what we truly are. How we hear new ideas and try them on. Sometimes after trying on so many new ideas we forget what our original thoughts once were. We forget how to just enjoy life and thank God in the moments He gives us. We second-guess our God-given instincts that would lead us toward embracing who He created us to be and on the path He created for us to walk on (hint it’s straight and narrow, but totally rockin’)!

The child who sang, “Jesus loves me this I know!” at the top her lungs while grinning ear to ear somehow begins singing other songs. Songs that don’t get right to it, you know? Songs about being stuck in traffic, or about your thighs not fitting into your jeans. Songs of fear and defeat and discontent. Songs that are lies and not the truth of God.

When asked by his disciples who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus said children!, “I am telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me.” (Matthew 18 1-5 The Message)

Today I colored with my girls at their little table and we listened to a kiddie CD of Bible songs. Let me share with you how I was blessed:

“Is anything to hard for the Lord?”

“God is SO good, He’s SO good to me.”

“This is the day the Lord has made.”

“The fruit of, the fruit of Spirit is, yes the fruit of the fruit of the Spirit is: love and joy, joy and peace, peace and patience and kindness too, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control and goodness for you! Cha-cha-cha!”

“God will take care of you.”

“God is my strength.”

“Wherever He leads I’ll go.”

“Everybody ought to know, everybody ought to know, everybody ought to know who Jesus is!”

I’m telling you THIS IS WHERE IT’S AT!

If it weren’t for God’s amazing plan for my life, which includes, messes and exhaustion, temper tantrums and blow outs, a one year old who stretches out her hand to be held for prayer before meal times and a three year old who loves the Word of God, it may have taken me a lot longer to understand the importance of becoming simple and elemental, like a child.

I praise God for the blessings He has given me:

I’d love to hear from you!

What did you enjoy as a child?

What has your child taught YOU recently?

Categories: Excosmopolitan Theme, Motherhood, So I have this theory...... | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

Excuses

It has been nearly four months since I have written.

I have a list of excuses:

My computer broke. (It really did.)

I have been watching infomercials online searching for the perfect weight loss scheme.

I have purchased said weight loss schemes, realized they were crap, and wasted time emailing computerized customer service reps to get my money back.

I have wholly devoted myself to meal planning for my family. This pursuit has including reading many blogs written by awesome women who I’m sure don’t have it all together, but appear that they do. They can make a mountain of freezer meals in a three hour nap time and have the photos to “prove” it.

I have been cutting letters out of sand paper and gluing them to cardboard, printing pre-writing worksheets, and plastering giant calendars with moveable dates all over my walls!

I have been trying to shut off my computer and lay down to sleep at 10 pm so that I don’t yell at my beautiful children and loathe my amazing husband the next day.

I have been escaping my home in the evenings when the girls are in bed to shop at Banana Republic and eat chocolate mousse at Whole Foods.

I have been cursing the heat and basking in a wide array discontents.

I have been calling 911 when my 14 month old has seizures instigated by dropping a toy drum on her toes, getting her fingers pinched in a drawer, or stepping on a burr that somehow got onto the rug. She cannot cope with the pain it causes her to hold her breath and sends her into seizures. (Praise God she is unharmed by them!)

I have been trying to control EVERY LITTLE DETAIL to try to avoid these events.

I have been exhausted.

I have been in denial.

I have been looking for large freezers on Craig’s List to hold all those ridiculous freezer meals!

I have forgotten my own voice…… and thus have been helpless to write anything true.

But I hear it calling now. It’s still a bit distant and a bit loopy, but it says:

“Screw the freezer meals!”

“Run your ass off (sorry if this offends anyone, but if you only knew the self control I have used on this post=))!”

“Keep up your diligent efforts to organize your days and resources to bless your family.”

” Keep going to sleep at 10, 9 would be better. Embrace your mornings and love you life again!”

“Stop striving.”

“Sit down.”

“Trust people.”

“Trust God with that little seizing angel, after all He created her and His purposes for her life and your life are perfect.”

“Stop procrastinating and plan the flipping date night with your husband- you might actually enjoy it.”

So there’s my honesty in all its glory.

You’re welcome.

And THANK YOU!

For your prayers, your friendship, for reading………

Please keep reading. I’ll be posting weekly from here on out and if you haven’t joined my RSS feed please do! You can get my new posts directly to your inbox and comment on them from there. Super easy=).

Categories: Excosmopolitan Theme, Motherhood | Tags: | 9 Comments

State of Savasana

Tonight I attended my hot yoga class for the first time in almost a month. It was hard to get out of the house. The longer I go without leaving the girls the harder it is for me to leave them.

I set up my mat in the front row and let the 105 degree heat wash over my body.

As class began I set my intention. I pictured Clara’s beautiful smile and her compassionate blue eyes. I saw Ceci laughing and showing her two new front teeth. I created some space in my heart for my husband. And then I didn’t think of them another time for 90 minutes.

It is unnerving what a few weeks away from taking time to push, and sweat, and be can do to my outlook.

It is amazing that after a season of relative neglect that my body can remember how to move, how to breathe, how to remain strong.

In standing deep breathing I could feel the tension that had taken residence in my neck and back.

I breathed through three weeks of sick babies and sick mommy and sick daddy.

Half moon is a strong posture for me, but I could feel the weakness in my core muscles as I stretched long and didn’t collapse. I relished the stretch up the back of my legs as I stood on my hands and pulled my torso parallel with my legs.

The room felt extra hot and extra wet tonight. I breathed through the postures. I let them twist me and cleanse me and heal me.

I love the balancing postures- their challenge is great, but accessible to me.

Standing Head to Knee, first set-  Standing leg was strong and I was able to completely extend my right leg. Hands webbed around foot, heel pushing forward. I picked my “drishti”(a focal point to help with balance), my forehead touched my knee. I pulled strong of my foot. My forehead rested soundly on my knee, I could feel my biceps engage, my elbows bent. Every fiber and sinew of my body and mind were working together. I was able to repeat on the other side and hold this posture firm for the entire second set.

I gave everything to the balancing series and had to lie in corpse pose for the second set of Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee. This was disappointing for me because I know how amazing this posture is for restoration and stimulation. I listened to my body. I let it go.

I felt the weakness in my core muscles ( two pregnancies will do that) again in Triangle pose. I rooted into both feet and found some extra stability there.

From Tree I took my Toe Stand. I was remarkably stable and centered considering how this class was challenging me and didn’t lose my balance until the last few seconds.

I did not push myself on the floor poses tonight, but did give them all an honest effort.

Fixed Firm was awesome tonight.

I took a Bridge on the first set of Camel, but was able to do Camel on the second set.

Before I knew it we were in our final Savasana.

I think tonight was my second best Savasana ever!

I worked my body so hard that I just let it fade away.  My body was in complete rest and complete peace.

My mind also was at rest and peace.

My heart swelled within me with gratitude, love, hope, and praise.

I prayed for my children, my husband, my marriage.

The Holy Spirit helped me pray my hearts desires to the Father.

Desires for rainbows and peace and love.

The desire to begin each day with purposeful and praiseworthy action.

The desire to “let me be singing when the evening comes.”

The desire for a God that is everywhere and in everything.

The Great I AM is!!!

He really IS.

He is every movement and word and reflection.

He is everything that is beautiful and true.

He is the breath of life.

It is amazing that this union and power in accessible to me to live a victorious life and yet I so seldom access it.

I hope someday, sooner rather than later, that I will be able to have the posture of heart and the discipline of spirit that will allow me to exist in a state of Savasana.

I will always do the 26 poses because I love how they make me feel and what they do to my body, but someday I will not need them to get to that clear place where life makes sense because the only thing worthy of any single breath is giving praise to God!

Categories: Yoga | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bad Match

My husband and I are a bad match.

If we had lived in a culture of arranged marriages, no sage elders would have ever suggested a partnership between us.

Our union would yield not financial gain, nor peaceful conversations over delicately clanking tea cups.

If we had been searching for compatibility on internetmatches.com our queries never would have linked. (I’m making up internet jargon here, which I know little to nothing about, so please forgive the inaccuracies.)

Sorry, no matching Angel’s t-shirts for me or couples yoga for him.

We don’t share a similar sense of humor, a co-dependent addiction to a mini-series, or a pet.

Oh yes! I almost forgot, we do have something in common, we are both first-borns, stubborn and unyielding.

We butt heads- a lot.

On bad days when our polarizing notions and emotions get the best of us, have had their power plays, and leave us depleted and frustrated- this is when I feel the lack neutral activity the most strongly.

“Can I just think of something funny to say- that will make us both laugh?” I can’t.

So here is my choice, to see our incompatibility as a special gift.

You see there are many couples who love to sport their matching Lacoste for a weekend tee-time or dance the night away or who can enjoy each other’s company while completing do-it-yourself projects.

And I imagine that things go just fine most of the time and when they don’t that stinks, but then soon it’s back to golf, salsa dancing, and tiling the bathroom.

What happens when things don’t go fine and there is no dusty set of clubs to dig out the closet and no deck to build?

What happens when there is no distraction from an attack on your marriage?And you are first-borns who know how to clench your teeth and dig your heels in?

I’ll tell you what happens.

You choose fight: for and with one another or against one another. (I’ll admit, in the heat of the moment, this boundary isn’t always clear cut.)

You fight together- wide eyed with fear that if you just let it wash over- that fragile seeming union will dissolve.

You fight for your spouse- even when you are down and your vision is blurred and you throw an accidental jab in the wrong direction.

When you are weary and weak you allow your spouse to fight for you and you express your sincere thanks for the victory won on your behalf.

My marriage is not easy, but it is dynamic.

Sometimes…

When we refuse to give up,

When we venture into uncharted territory- and forge a new path together

When we acknowledge that our relationship was built for more than sitting-pretty

When we forgive,

Something extraordinary happens.

We can taste the goodness of the Lord.

We catch a glimpse of His unfolding vision for our lives.

We are unified in our desire to serve the Lord together-sanctification is painful.

We are strengthened.

We are a bad match, but somehow we work.

Like pizza and wine.

Like gravity and leaping from a cliff.

Like Bonnie and Cylde.

Our marriage is not a fragile union.

We have gotten “down and dirty” on its behalf many times.

Its muscle is increasing its strength.

I pray it builds endurance for the long path ahead.

It is a hearty and valuable covenant.

I  would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living. Psalm 27:14

This post is dedicated to my husband and the many wounds he has taken in the fight for me and us.

Categories: Family, Marriage | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Old Letter Two- On Icons

So this letter was written just after the one I shared with you in my last post and also written in response to my friend’s response to it. This one gets “a little out there,” my claim to fame=).

“Yes, you are right mysticism is definitely not the correct word for what we are talking about. I was thinking along the lines of intuition, gut feelings, and dreams. I think God gives you these things and people either don’t trust God or don’t trust themselves to acknowledge these things or they simply don’t hear them because they have their iPod in! I think I meant that the world is so deep, so rich, and that in some ways things are more than they seem. God or His angels are always about waiting, shining, watching, protecting, leading. There is more going on than we notice- like spiritual warfare. And it’s the difference between gasping for a single, predictable, breath, or taking long, deliberate inhales- breathing in richly every blessing and exhaling the demons.

 I’ve gone crazy! Finally! Maybe I’ll become a mad artist after all. Or a farmer. I have a great interest in farming and connecting with the land and purity and authenticity now. So maybe I’ll start with a garden and a brushstroke.

 I started reading a book on icons about two years ago. Never finished it, but what I read was interesting. It was talking about how to approach the icons and speak to them and let their painted eyes bore into your soul, er……..something like that. Orthodox mysticism is beautiful in its own right, the churches, the incense. But there is something trapped inside of those gilded, Greek-cross walls that is less than soothing to the soul. I’m not sure I believe it is evil but more of a great collective sadness. That somehow those mysteriously painted eyes, gold alters, and seductive smoke spirals that waft from swinging brass incense holders all seem like they have been trying to conceal some great secret for so long that the truth they once possibly protected has vaporized and traveled to a less severe environment. The icons want to cry out to the people and tell them that God is no longer there but they cannot shed a single tear because, they are, after all wood and resin and pigment.

 These elemental treasures remain, inanimate, brooding in their own splendor and wishing they could remember the only name that could bring them true redemption. If they could just recall the name of Jesus it would set their golden, jewel-studded cells into flames and bring them back to dust and ash. Maybe then their purged remains could float to Heaven on the breath of God that careens over, under, and through His mighty creation where His Spirit is today, as it has always been, unbound by polished rock and sculpted metal. Wild and essentially free. The Most High God is continually moving throughout time and place in pursuit of liberating His children from certain and eternal death.

 Sorry, you know I get caught up in expressing things sometimes. What I meant by the tangent was that maybe at sometime in history orthodoxy held some semblance of purity. But, knowing what I know about God, I don’t see Him abiding in a place of such secrecy or just plain confusion. I see Him as man-Jesus_ walking through fields and gardens-speaking to men-loving people. I see Him today in the world as an all- powerful force and being that is timeless enough and pertinent enough to reach you wherever you are. Whether he woos you into conversation with Him as you smell fresh cut grass on a morning jog or comforts you as you silently sing Him praises under fluorescent supermarket lights.

Okay- Have no idea what I as talking about or if it will still ring true tomorrow. Fun though.

Love.”

 I love finding this stuff! So, the reason I became interested in icons in the first place and even attempted reading a book on them was because of the brief experiences I had in Belarus seeing real people interact with these beautiful, strange, often solemn little paintings of Christ and various saints. I was fascinated by the familiarity I saw people approach these icons with and also saddened by the needful fervor with which they were addressed.  Add in the art history classes/interest and there’s your explanation.

Would love to hear some creative and inspired feedback on this one or the previous=)

Cheers.

Categories: Art, Excosmopolitan Theme | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Old Letter

I am so amazed by the things God hides in my heart that I don’t let go of. Here is a letter written to a friend about four years ago mentioning “excosmopolitan!”  I was stoked (that one’s for you babe) to find it today! This letter also shows some of the struggles I had living in Mexico- don’t let it fool you- I loved the place, must have been having a rough time of it when this was written though.

“ So when we stay close to home I can imagine it’s exotic and beautiful, however go to where the cobblestone ends and the madness begins and Mexico is less than ideal. This is a huge city. We take busses to get everywhere and they are annoying, crowded, and smelly. The city is incredibly polluted, so Aaron struggles with his allergies especially now during the dry season when it is so dusty. In fact, it’s SO dusty that you must wear sunglasses all the time, even when it isn’t sunny (it’s almost always sunny though, which is something I really like) so the dust doesn’t blow into your eyes! The rainy season will begin in June and then it’s thunderstorms and torrential downpours every night. The streets flood when it rains and the water pools- sometimes to cross the street you have to walk way out of your way or through quite deep and yuck-o water.

 I struggle here because teaching is not my heart. Being a wife, a mom, an artist, and physical activity is what I love. So sometimes I feel like I am not doing my real purpose, but I do know that this is where God wants me now.

 I don’t paint much………… I wish I did. I am at a new point where for the first time in my life I am not confident in my artistic abilities at all. I feel a little lost. I don’t want to just paint pretty pictures. I want to create something real and meaningful.Sometimes I think the whole concept of being an artist is so egotistical and I need to get over myself and let it go and just work hard and enjoy the little things in life (Ecclesiastes on the mind). On the surface I want to be an artist to make at least some money so I can be “free” of a normal job, the have recognition, to be great, to be remembered. None of these are good reasons. The REAL reason I create is because I AM an artist whether I like it or not. I can chose not to paint but it will make me miserable. God created me to create for His glory and I want to do that, but fleshing that out is an enigma right now.

 I have moments of great inspiration frequently. Ideas are not the issue, it’s the manifestation of them. The look, the paint, the reality.  What will this “excosmopolitan” appear as? How can this idea appear in a show in Baghdad  or Jerusalem? Can it promote peace? Can it show human frailty and divine redemption? Can it ring true as a teacher in this modern age? What color? What symbol? What style? And the scariest question of all, Can I DO it?

 No. But God can. I feel I am not yet strong enough in Him for Him to trust me with such a thing………

N E ways. That’s where I am now. Tormented by my mind many waking hours and soothed by the shadows the sun casts as it trickles through bugambilia flowers. Comforted by warm, though dusty, breezes. Inspired by whispers I think I imagine riding into Las Fuentes on the colors of the evening sunset.

 So dear friend! Thank you for asking and for listening. Life really is to great and beautiful to bear on your own, is it not?

What place do you think mysticism has in Christianity? That’s a thinker. I was asked this recently and am thinking about it. I don’t think they meant “mysticism” as we think with the strong new-age connotations of the word. I think they just meant listening for God’s voice and seeing Him and His signs that are all around us. Not taking anything for granted, but as having come directly from the hand of God.

You know, His still small voice…………. At least it could make for an interesting writing topic.

 With Love.”

 So cool right??? I love to see, even better get a firm piece of evidence- for remembrance- that reminds me of how deliberately I have been led by the hand of God all along and that yes- He is working all things together for the good. Amen!

Categories: Art, Excosmopolitan Theme, Travel Writing | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Yoga and Me

I began my journey with Bikram yoga about five years ago. I had casually done a bit of yoga here and there, mostly of the home dvd variety, before beginning hot yoga. My husband and I were living in Mexico at the time and would be visiting family in the states for Christmas, so I decided I would take some hot yoga classes while in Cali to learn the proper way to do this style of yoga in hopes that I would continue once returning to Guadalajara.

Before my first class at a Bikram studio in Costa Mesa I purchased and completely read, Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class. I highly recommend this book. The in depth knowledge and advice it gives on each posture made a huge impact on my practice right from the beginning.

During our week-long stay I participated in 5 hot yoga classes. I loved this no non-sense style of yoga! No self-actualization speeches or inner-light mumbo jumbo- just me, my mat, 105 degress, 90 awesome minutes, and 26 rejuvenating postures.

I did continue hot yoga in our little casita in Las Fuentes. We had a little spare room and a space heater- so early when the morning was still quiet I went into my little room heated it up and worked in front of a mirror with my Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class.

I continued this for about 9 months until I was 3 month pregnant with my first child and then switched to Jennifer Wolf’s Prenatal Vinyasa Yoga for the duration of my pregnancy. I think my yoga practice was the primary factor in both my first and second all-natural labor and deliveries.

I love to write about yoga because it is relatively new to me and besides my painting I don’t believe I have internalized something so deeply as I have it. That being said, I must  always be working through and evaluating its role in my life and how it affects my beliefs and actions-making sure I am taking each thought captive for Christ and not allowing false truths to inadvertently become apart of my mantra, so to speak=).

I have found the practice of yoga to be a great gateway for worshiping my Creative God! I am so amazed by our bodies he created and the “unreal” things they are quite capable of. I love the quiet surrender at the end of an intense practice where I can let go of my thoughts and stresses and just let my heart, soul, and mind praise God with no obstructions. I receive wonderful blessings and pictures of beauty and hope in these moments that strengthen my devotion to the Creator of all things.

Categories: Yoga | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Easter Means No Fear

I didn’t used to be afraid of flying on airplanes.

I didn’t used to fear the demands a day might hold or that I might not have enough.

I didn’t used to fear loss- the loss of things I hold too dear.

The presence of fear in my life robs me. It steals laughter and smiles from my dealings with my children. It undermines my efforts to build up my husband. It buries my desires to be truly honest with people I love.

I don’t want to live a life dictated by fear. A full and fearless life has already been purchased for me by Jesus Christ and His work on the cross. It’s already there, all I need to do is wear it!

“Because He Lives” was one of my Mamaw’s favorite songs:

God sent His son, They called Him Jesus. He came to love, heal and forgive. He lived and died, to buy my pardon. An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives.

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, all fear is gone.
Because I know, I know, I know He holds the future.
And life is worth the living just because He lives.

How sweet to hold a new born baby, and feel the pride and joy he gives. But greater still is that assurance the child can face uncertain days because He lives.

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, all fear is gone.
Because I know, I know, I know He hold the future.
And life is worth the living just because He lives.

And then one day, I’ll cross that river. I’ll fight life’s final war with pain. And then as death gives way to victory. I’ll see the light of glory and I’ll know that He lives.

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, all fear is gone.
Because I know, I know, I know He hold the future.
And life is worth the living just because He lives.

What are your fears?

What do your fears steal from you?

Your full and fearless life is waiting for you!

As you read the following verses taken from The Message thank God for the beautiful and victorious life He has fashioned just for you. Ask Him to show you a fear you have. Release that fear to God and ask Him to show you new ways to replace that fear with faith and praise.

If you are reading this and you have not given your heart and soul to Jesus. If you cannot shout out, “God has set everything right between him and me!”  Please read the verses and understand this amazing gift being offered to you.

The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ. Romans 3:23

But now that you’ve found you don’t have to listen to sin tell you what to do, and have discovered the delight of listening to God telling you, what a surprise! A whole, healed, put-together life right now, with more and more of life on the way! Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God’s gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master. Romans 6:22-23

6-8Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him. Romans 5:8

Scripture reassures us, “No one who trusts God like this—heart and soul—will ever regret it.” It’s exactly the same no matter what a person’s religious background may be: the same God for all of us, acting the same incredibly generous way to everyone who calls out for help. “Everyone who calls, ‘Help, God!’ gets help.” Romans 10:13

The word that saves is right here,
as near as the tongue in your mouth,
as close as the heart in your chest.
It’s the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God—”Jesus is my Master”—embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not “doing” anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: “God has set everything right between him and me!” Romans 10:9-10

This is the testimony in essence: God gave us eternal life; the life is in his Son. So, whoever has the Son, has life; whoever rejects the Son, rejects life.

1 John 5:11-12

You don’t have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

 

3-5What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole.  1 Peter 1:3-4

May peace guard your heart this Easter.

Categories: Excosmopolitan Theme, Motherhood | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Perfume

A few months back we bought a book about perfume for my father-in-law for his birthday. He loves perfumes and colognes (this is an interest of his that I enjoy bonding with him on) and we found the book on the bargain rack. Before sending him the book I perused it a bit and was inspired to write about some of my own experiences with perfume.

The very first perfume I ever had was a gift from a Christmas gift exchange when I was in kindergarten.  I remember being a little bit disappointed when I opened my package- the other children where playing with dolls, stuffed animals, and coloring sets while I sat at my desk starring at and questioning the value of a small glass bottle with purple plastic lid. I remember my teacher approaching me and asking me what gift I had received. I silently motioned to the bottle.

“Oohhh, perfume!” she softly exclaimed, trying to hold back her delight as she asked me if she could smell it. I slowly scooted the bottle across my desk. She carefully lifted the bottle, smiled, and unscrewed the round cap.  She gracefully raised the open bottle toward her nose, and inhaled deeply. “Aahhh” she smiled differently than I had seen her smile before. It wasn’t her teacher smile. It was a smile of beauty and womanhood and pleasure. “This is a very special gift.” She closed the bottle and placed it softly back on my desk. Before moving on she whispered to me, “you got the best present.”

I took the cool bottle into my pudgy hands and observed the sticker on the front of the square vessle. It was an illustration of a little girl in a pretty purple dress and a straw hat picking flowers from a lilac bush. I tilted the bottle and watched the pale purple liquid move mysteriously. I clumsily unscrewed the purple lid and with two hands brought the perfume to my nose. I smiled; it was beautiful. I inhaled more deeply, it smelled so happy. It reminded me of a real place. I wasn’t sure where or if I’d ever been there, but it smelled like a real place. The scent in that small bottle spoke many things to me- about possibility and hoping and accepting. I had received a very special gift.

I remember showing this gift to some of the women in my life- my mother, an aunt, my grandmother- I loved to watch their reactions. The reactions were all beautifully similar but also unique. The smells in the bottle made each woman’s eyes twinkle as they connected with some special memory. I kept that little bottle long after the perfume was gone. Each time I unscrewed the lid the scent remained and it never failed to bring a smile to my face and to remind me of unexpected wonder waiting to be discovered. I think I finally threw it away before I was married when I was going through old things and consolidating for a cross-country move. I wish I still had that bottle and all the sweetness it contained.

Between this maiden perfume and my current perfume there have been many others: Sunflowers, Ici, Channel Chance, Emporio Armani, Aqua Di’Gio……….. some smelled nice, some didn’t, but none of them meant much until my Eclat d’ Arpege………

I was 21 and on a study abroad in Italy. I was living in Florence, but it was Easter weekend and a friend and I decided to get way off the beaten track. We bought overnight train tickets and traveled to Sicily for our Easter break. Sicily or Sicilia was magnificent and very different than Florence or any of the cities of central and northern Italy. Sicilia was wild and immediate and a bit outside my comfort zone. How I wish my time there had not been so brief.

One of these precious numbered days in this intricate and bold land, Jenny and I spent in a small seaside village called Cefalu. Cefalu was non-pretentious elegance. After an hour attempting to sunbathe on an overcast day we packed up our towels and wandered from the beach and surf into the little town that jutted into the sea creating a mini peninsula of bell towers and terra cotta rooftops. We popped in and out of shops and eateries that afternoon, but one shop remains clear in my mind- it was a little perfume shop.

It had dark wooden floors and dark paneled wood walls. A long heavy wooden apothecary counter ran the entire length of the left hand wall and was densely populated with shiny bottles of sparking liquids and large glass jars of dried herbs. The remaining floor space was scattered by round tables draped in fresh white linens- each table held pyramids, boxes, concoctions of scented wonder- the whole scene was overwhelming. By the time we realized we needed to exit this shop we were lost in a maze of perfume. We maneuvered through the lyric configuration of tables toward the exit where a sales lady had positioned herself. Poised with spray bottle in hand she asked, ”Do you want to try?” Jenny jumped out the door and before I could say no thank you she spritzed me twice. She looked quite satisfied with herself……all I could say was “Grazie” as I descended into the street and the door jingled closed behind me.

“She got me.” I laughed. I pulled my wrist to my nose and inhaled. For the second time in my life I was surprised by a perfume. I lifted my eyes to the shop window, the sales lady was watching me knowingly- she held the small round bottle gently up to her cheek and smiled. As we walked away from the shop I kept looking back over my shoulder I had the feeling I was walking away from an experience I could never again recapture. I lifted my wrist to my nose again, simple passion,  and again, childhood, and again,  possibility in creativity. I stopped walking, “Jenny, I have to go back and buy this perfume right now.”

“Seriously”

“Smell this”, I shoved my wrist to her nose.

“It’s nice, but…….. let’s just go get a bite to eat and catch our train.  As we continued walking further from the shop I continued smelling my wrist and looking over my shoulder. I thought of that beautiful and wise scent fading and not knowing what it was and never having the chance to know its secrets and my heart sunk.

“I cant live without that perfume. I’m going back.”

I remember my friend being slightly annoyed as we agreed on a meeting spot, but I didn’t care.

I turned and nearly ran back to that shop! My heart soared with expectation. I reached the door and stepped up through the stone threshold. I scanned the floor for the sales woman. She was waiting for me behind the massive counter. The perfume bottle sat glistening next to her calmly folded hands-she smiled victoriously as I gladly handed her a purse-full of crumpled euros.

I emerged from the shop somehow changed. Somehow my response to that perfume in that moment had made me brave, certain, and sure of infinite possibility. I still wear this perfume today. I listen to it like an old friend. Some days it tells me to take a risk. Some days it tells me to be still, but always it reminds me that each moment is a precious gift.

A little more- I think it is quite interesting that both perfumes that have made an impression on me are the same color- which lavender isn’t really that common of a perfume color. If I were rich I’d hire a private scientist to “disect” each one and make a report of their similarities- I bet there are quite a few- even though they smell quite different.

Categories: Travel Writing | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.