Change your words. Change your world.

One of the church communications people I follow, Tim Schraeder, tweeted this video. Its message is immensely powerful to me, both in my role as a church communications chick, and a writer.

Perhaps, even more simply, as a human being.


Good Words {#191-206}

Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. —Proverbs 12:25
I love how this verse perfectly explains the power that one person's well-placed words can have on a heavy heart.

I can think back to times when my own heart was heavy and anxiety-ridden, and a few simple words from a friend, or even a stranger, made what was seemingly impossible to carry a bit easier, a bit lighter.

Too often, only the negative gets expressed in our culture. There seems to be no shortage of people and words designed to correct us, chastise us, or tell us what someone else thinks we are doing wrong...

...or nothing gets said. When something positive comes to mind that I could say, too often I choose not to, thinking that the other person probably doesn't need to hear what I have to say, or will think that I am a creeper, or just weird.

But as I sit here over my bowl of Cheerios, to my recollection, no kind, heart-lightening words ever spoken to me—by friend or stranger—was ever unneeded, ever unwanted.

Not one.

And if I could use some good words in my life, then chances are, so do those around me.
"In life you can never be too kind or too fair; everyone you meet is carrying a heavy load." —Brian Tracy
* * * * *

I am thankful for...

191:: the end of fireworks and the beginning of sleep!

192:: the first read of what has become a new favorite book, full of love, wonder and hope.

193:: a few days of quiet and rest to regain what I had lost.

194:: having both cotton puffs and ear drop to fight off an ear infection.

195:: the fact that wisdom isn't hidden, but still must be sought after.

196:: finally booking our flight to Paris!

197:: getting a room at my very favorite hotel in the world—the only place in Paris I have ever stayed.
198:: getting to now actually plan the trip. {130 days!}

199:: D & L getting some great news about Jayden, and the fact that he doesn't need to have radiation.

200:: a raspberry white chocolate scone from Kate's Bakery.201:: two words of life: Cafe Americano.

202:: time spent with a good friend, sharing our lives.

203:: making pie crust for the first time, and the fact that it actually worked! {no more fear!}

204:: that my parents are living a dream and are going to Ireland.

205:: for a job that I love, and the excitement to get back to it this morning.

206:: for all the kind words ever spoken to me—in person, electronically, on paper—and how they lifted my heart when I needed it.


favorite things: 133

Happy Friday, my friends!

If you've spent much time in these parts, it would be no surprise to you that my favorite place, favorite city, the place I always want to be, is Paris, France. Old news.

So, why is 133 one of my favorite things?

Because as of last night, in only 133 days, my friend Barbara and I ARE GOING TO PARIS!

That is right! After months of talking and pre-planning and getting our hopes up, only to have them dashed by rising fuel costs and their way of ballooning air costs, last night, we booked not only our flight, but also {and I just got the confirmation email} my home away from home, the Familia Hotel. {11 rue des Ecoles, Paris, FR 75005—just in case you were wondering!}

We will see this...

And climb this...

And drink this...
And walk on bridges over this...

Only 133 more sleeps!

But Wait...There's More!

As if yesterday wasn't fantastical enough, with Paris finally being a go, not to mention So You Think You Can Dance is back on television, but D & L {brother & sister-in-law} got some good news about Jayden!

I'll let Doug tell you in his own words...


As Each Day Requires {#178-190}

"Christ... is always there at the door of our souls, wanting to enter in, though he does not force our consent. If we agree to his entry, he enters; directly we cease to want him, he is gone. We cannot bind our will today for tomorrow; we cannot make a pact with him that tomorrow he will be with us, even in spite of ourselves. Our consent to his presence is the same as his presence. Consent is an act. It can only be actual, that is to say in the present. We have not been given a will that can be applied to the future." —Simone Weil
You know those times when it seems like God is trying to get you to pay attention to something, and in your humanness, you either write it off to coincidence, ignore it for the diversion of whatever is in front of you, or you just simply don't get it?

Yeah, I'm having one of those times.

My favorite Moleskine journal happens to be my very first one. Christmas 2006, my friend Ang gave me a Moleskine Plain Reporter's Notebook, and with that fantastic gift, my love of all things Moleskine was born. In this notebook, over the years, I have a collection of words—not only mine, but quotes of others, sermon notes, song lyrics, meeting notes—and even the occasional illustration or doodle. This journal contains my very favorite of things that I never want to leave home without.

When I was wandering through the journal last week, I once again was taken by the above Simone Weil quote... and this idea that we only have today.

This is something I struggle with. When I begin something, I want to know that I have the ability/resources/will power/ whatever to be able to continue doing something for the rest of my life. In my mind, if it is worth doing right now, it is worth doing forever... and conversely, if I cannot do it forever, then why should I bother doing it right now?

I also like to live in the future, to dream of the good things to come. A visit with my family, a new book, wandering the streets of Paris... somehow these things become much more delightful to dream about than whatever I am supposed to be focused on right now.

Ridiculous, right?!

Then in yesterday's Life Journal readings, I read Solomon's speech as the temple was completed, and noticed this in 1 Kings...
"Let these words of mine, which I have pleaded before the Lord, be near to the Lord our God day and night, that he may maintain the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel, as each day requires, the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no other. Let your heart therefore be wholly true to the Lord our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day." {vs. 59-61, italics mine}
As each day requires. Solomon, in all his wisdom, understood what Simone Weil also got, that all we have is today.

Each day must be lived on its own. I cannot change the past, I cannot manipulate the future, the only thing I have in my hands is today, this moment. This is the place, the arena, the playground where I can make the good choices, make a difference, make my mark, make my stand, make a life.

Here—today—is where I live.

The gifts I count today...

178:: homemade strawberry scones baking in the oven.

179:: the smell of freshly cut grass.

180:: waking in the gently falling rain.

181:: poetry. all poetry.

182:: seeing an opportunity to help a stranger, taking it, and seeing the gratitude in eyes I will never see again.

183:: super fun paper clips!

184:: holiday weekends, the chance to slow down.

185:: a steaming cup of tea on a cool, rainy evening.

186:: attempting a new slow cooker recipe, and having it be a success.

187:: hearing Jayden sing in the background while I talked to his dad on the phone.

188:: a telephone conversation with Nicky, the birthday boy, hearing how grown up he sounds, and simultaneously how funny he is.

189:: getting a chance to talk to Loralie.

190:: for today...for all that today will hold, all that it won't hold, and the grace to live it to the full.


Favorite words...

It's been a while since I've done a Favorites Fridays post, but this week, when I read this poem, I knew that it was time for another one.

I've made no secret that Rainer Maria Rilke is my favorite poet. The more of his writing-both poetry and letters- I read, the more I love them. The first time I walked into the Rodin garden in Paris, France and saw his name on the plaque on the museum wall, it was like running into a friend in a place where never would have expected to find one.

Like G.K. Chesterton, I feel like Rainer and I would have been friends, had history and geography been kinder.

This poem is from 'A Year with Rilke: Daily Readings from the Best of Rainer Maria Rilke', one that I am reading this year. I could gush and tell you how wonderful it is...but I think that is what this whole post is anyway!

Here is the poem...

A hunger drives us.
We want to contain it all in our naked hands,
our brimming senses, our speechless hearts.
We want to become it, or offer it—but to whom?
We could hold it forever—but, after all,
what can we keep? Not the beholding,
so slow to learn. Not anything that has happened here.
Nothing. There are the hurts. And, always, the hardships.
And there's the long knowing of love—all of it
unsayable. Later, amidst the stars, we will see:
these are better unsaid.

—Rainer Maria Rilke, from the Ninth Duino Elegy


What I'm Reading...

Visit my Page Addict blog to find out...


my prayer for today...

...as echoed from my favorite poet's words.
Put out my eyes, and I can see you still,
Slam my ears to, and I can hear you yet;
And without any feet can go to you;
And tongueless, I can conjure you at will.
Break off my arms, I shall take hold of you
And grasp you with my heart as with a hand;
Arrest my heart, my brain will beat as true;
And if you set this brain of mine afire,
Then on my blood-stream I yet will carry you.
—Rainer Maria Rilke


doubt + faith {#159-177}

Dubito ergo cogito; cogito ergo sum.

(I doubt, therefore I think; I think, therefore I am.)

—Rene Descartes
I've known the second half of this quote forever. I think, therefore I am. Even quoted it in some of my more 'existential' moments. But only last week, when I was working on collecting quotes about doubt for work, did I discover that it was only half of the equation. That I was missing the first part.

The part about doubt.

Doubt isn't something I tend to think a lot about, until it is staring me in the face. It's one of those things that creeps up on you. If you're anything like me, you might even be able to convince yourself for a period of time that what you're feeling really isn't doubt, but something more a bit prettier... skepticism, perhaps.

But then comes the moment when you wake up in the middle of the night, and the thing sitting on the edge of your bed is none other than doubt himself, and he has no plans to let you go back to sleep.

Recently, I told my small group that my favorite person in the Bible is the father in Mark chapter 9 who brought his son to be healed of an unclean spirit by the disciples. But the disciples were unable to cast the spirit out. Jesus, after the father explained the situation to him, tells the father that anything is possible for the person who believes.

The father's response is one I have echoed in my heart so very many times, especially in the last six months:
I believe; help my unbelief! {vs. 24}
Too often, I forget that we humans are bundles of paradoxes. That we are capable of multiple and contrary things simultaneously. This father's desperate words on behalf of his son reminds me that the mixture of emotions that runs through me is perfectly normal. And this prayer has become one of my most frequent.

Sometimes I get lost in the intersection of knowing that my omnipotent God can do everything and anything, but just because He can doesn't mean that He will. Just because He is limitless, it doesn't mean that my desired, preferred, suzi-approved solution will be the one that God in His infinite and perfect wisdom will choose... especially given that my wisdom tends to be more of the selfish and human variety.

Is this doubt? Sometimes I think so, sometimes not. Most days, I think it is just the oh-so-slippery surface of faith.
“We're not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us;
we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.”
—C.S. Lewis
But even in the midst of all that is, and all that could be, there are bright spots. Gifts from God that shine through all the stuff that I would rather forget, illuminating them in a way that I don't believe I would have ever seen them.

It is these gifts that I continue to count today...

159:: a new hair color & the absence of gray!

160:: a quiet, restful day on the sofa to nurse a cold.

161:: that even after days of not writing down the gifts, they are still there, waiting for me to notice them.

162:: a plane ticket to Calgary, and a chance to hang out with my favorite little people for a whole week in June!

163:: closing my office door behind me at the end of a long week, knowing I worked well, and everything is ready for Sunday.

164:: that no matter what happens—or doesn't happen—God is love.

165:: that I was born in a free country, into a family that loved and protected me.

166:: for my mom.

167:: the fact that you don't have to be a biological parent to make spiritual investments into the next generation.

168:: laughter at work.

169:: a quiet, peaceful morning.

170:: for a niece and nephews that I couldn't love more if I had given birth to them myself.

171:: that doubts are not fatal.

172:: friends who seek me out to pray with me when my heart is breaking.

173:: the perfect cafe Americano.

174:: that after the tickle-torture part of the pedicure, the massage part comes.

175:: khaki-colored toe nails.

176:: the knowledge of eternity, and how things here are hardly the end.

177:: that doubt and faith can co-exist, and that faith can win.



I don't think there is anything in life that actually prepares you for one of the children in your life to be sick. That being said, I think my brother and sister-in-law are handling Jayden's illness, and the roller coaster of emotion and information as well as anyone ever could.

The waiting, however, is the part I could do without.

Loralie, my sister-in-law wrote a great post on Jayden's CaringBridge website about patience. She sums the virtue up brilliantly.

And while I wholeheartedly agree, there are times in life when I wish the road of faith wasn't so darn slippery, shifting, unpredictable and unknown. But, I suppose, that would like wanting water to not be wet.

Apparently wishes do not need to be rooted in reality.

I read this poem/prayer from Walter Brueggemann's brilliant book, Prayers For A Privileged People last week, and knew that there would be a time when I would need it. Today is that day.

Waiting and Longing
—Walter Brueggemann, Prayers For A Privileged People

God of the seasons,
God of the years,
God of the eons,
    Alpha and Omega,
    before us and after us.

You promise and we wait:
                          We wait with eager longing,
                          we wait amid doubt and anxiety,
                          we wait with patience thin
                                                and then doubt,
                                                and then we take life into our
                                                                            own hands.

We wait because you are the one and the only one.
We wait for your peace and your mercy,
    for your justice and your good rule.

Give us your spirit that we may wait
    obediently and with discernment,
    caringly and without passivity,
    trustingly and without cynicism,
    honestly and without utopianism.

Grant that our wait may be appropriate to your coming
        soon and very soon,
        soon and not late,
        late but not too late.

We wait while the world groans in eager longing.


Guardians of the Soul {#158}

Confession: I set my alarm clock, got up early, and watched the royal wedding on Friday.

The way I saw it, having 'attended' Prince William's mother's wedding in the same manor 30 years ago, I felt it only right that this sparse, although long-standing tradition be continued.

The one thing that most struck me, in the deluge of information that came at the world through the lens of the media, was a photo released on Wednesday, of Kate and her sister/main of honor Pippa leaving their home, and driving to London for the big day. Photos captured them smiling, looking comfortable in each other's company, as they headed towards all that lay ahead.

When I saw those photos, I started to feel sad for the late Princess Diana. Thirty years ago, the hours preceding her wedding weren't filled with laughter with a friend. She had no equal in age as her maid of honor, just a bunch of children as bridesmaids. A friend, who is an avid royal watcher, told me that in the 24 hours before the 1981 wedding, Diana was alone at Clarence House, her last meal as a single woman was served to her on a tray by a maid. She didn't even receive a phone call from her soon-to-be groom.

You can think all you want—or don't want—about Britain's royal family, but no matter how you feel about them, I cannot imagine anyone thinking that this was a good way to begin what was supposed to be a happy, fairytale-ish, new life.

All these thoughts came the same day as Life Journal reflections about David and Jonathan's friendship. It all started with these words of David in a Psalm...
Look to the right and see:
there is no one who takes notice of me;
no refuge remains to me;
no one cares for my soul.
—Psalm 142:4
You can feel the pain in David's words. While I am not sure of the timing, either David would be missing his friend Jonathan because of Saul's madness, or Jonathan's own death. Either way, how David's heart must have ached for the friend of whom he said in 2 Samuel 1:28b (ESV), "your love to me was extraordinary". It was clear that even among all the mighty men that David was surrounded by, he did not find Jonathan's equal.

It is easy to find others with things in common. It is also easy to believe that an actual friendship can be had with someone, even if you only ever see their face on a monitor. But a friend who 'cares for your soul'? This is a much more rare and beautiful gift.

The poet Rilke wrote,
I hold this to be the highest task for a bond between two people: that each protects the solitude of the other. —Rainer Maria
Basically, to care for each other's soul.

I am so blessed to have friends who care for my soul. From the friendship that celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, to those the have come into my life more recently, but are no less vital. Beautiful women of God who not only care for my soul, but allow me the privilege of caring for theirs as well.

Without a doubt, I know that the night before I marry my own prince—should that day ever arrive—I will not be alone, but will be surrounded by my beautiful friends and family, caring for my soul as always.

And if one of them wants to serve me dinner on a tray, I don't think I will object too strongly!

* * * * *

Although there is only one thing on today's list, it is a big one, and should encompass many more than one...

I am grateful for...

158:: the friends, the guardians of my soul, who so enrich my life, laugh with me, hold me together when life falls apart, and make my world a much better place.


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