Roadtrips

My life has changed.

While our children were little my husband rarely to never took vacations, and we couldn’t afford to travel anywhere, anyway. I centered my life around the home and gardening… then put lots of time into blogging. All those occupations were in sync with my intensive demands of homelife (raising ten children while homeschooling), allowing for creative expression while not requiring lots of money or absence from overseeing the needs of my family.

Now I find I am always on a trip somewhere.

It changed slowly with rare trips to places I never dreamed of seeing… I went to Hungary and Denmark, then to Brazil to attend my son and daughter in love’s wedding. With the advent of grandchildren, there have been increased trips to Georgia, mainly, but Florida and Phoenix were on the list as well.

In the past year we did something -twice- that had been on my husbands wishlist since I met him: a road trip across the nation, visiting the West. He still has the Badlands on his bucket list, but we checked off the others: Highway 1 and Mendocino, Bryce Canyon in Utah, America’s Loneliest Highway Rte 50 through Nevada.

I know some people blog while they travel, but I am an “in the moment experience” type of person. I don’t even like the distraction of taking photographs. I have moderated that and forced myself to take photos for the sake of memories and just because I want to capture some of the beauty that I see, but mostly I drink in the scenery, and let the atmosphere saturate my mind and heart.

The past few years have seen a great increase in travel for me… which may not be comparable to many others, but it is a huge change for me.

I find I like it.

I come back to loads of laundry to do, a marathon of weeding and neglected gardens, but it has been worth the exchange. Time spent by the ocean, seeing vast redwood forests, immense mountains of the Rocky ranges… these are mind opening, soul nourishing events.

So I don’t apologize that this season of my life leaves less room for the type of blogging I once did. My online life evolves and there is no pattern for the shape it will take. But, like all the rest of my life, I have shifted away from letting demands rule my life, and have created space for the simple act of living. Letting the flow of what creates an organic and vibrant participation of relationship and experience to take the forefront, to become my priority.

People figure more predominately in this way of life, and tasks become secondary. I don’t pretend to imply that it leads to being a successful blogger or to create worldly wealth. I do, however, feel richer, and may I say it? Happier. Or maybe happy is not the right word choice, I think the term “joie de vivre” is a more accurate term. The joy of life infuses this pathway.

My garden takes on a wild look, my blogs are temporarily neglected, but I have more to offer when following this roadtrip of life.

A few pictures seem in order here.

Colorado mountain stream by the highway
Dwarfed by the landscape.
lake tahoe
We fell in love with Lake Tahoe
photos
Mountainside Photo Op

Marry Your Actions, Motivations, and Goals

More often than not we leave out an important partner in our planning and dreaming. People write books on this fact, and we often buy those books. But we tend to look at the whole as a project list of bits and pieces. Maybe that is where a vision board comes in, to bring together a visual map of all the components, including the all important motivation for the entire goal we started out with at the year’s beginning.

As I piece together the good advice of many successful people, the challenge is to apply it to a resistant part of my life. For the first time in years I began some art projects, even though I had to change the media to computer graphics rather than hard copy paper and pencil. Although I still would like to manage some of those projects in the coming year.

Motivations

Those are the things we pinpointed in our planning and envisioning as primary reasons we wish to go forward in a particular direction with the life and resources ahead of us. It is a common failing to lose sight of a goal, to let the vision fade, and get distracted by so-called “lef”. “So-called” simply because it is not always the necessary that intervenes, but very often the unnecessary that we are slow to recognize as competition to the real life we want to have. Recording our motivation in some way , providing reminders of the motivation will aid in keeping the eye on the main road we decided to take in the year ahead.

Motivation memory will also keep us from getting stuck in ruts or outmoded schedules, or even to help us to be flexible with the demands that arise. Demands can be an important part of refining our plans, which often are focused on ourselves, when our bigger vision will include our relationship with others. If we remember our initial motivation for a goal, and its plans, we are capable of making the decision needed to address the demand and in what timetable is best. Our basic nature will tend to swing towards our internal compass of needing to please others, or wanting to meet our own wants and needs. It is easy to get in the habit of answering one or the other, when a balance is needed. Plugging back into a motivation will help us rebalance when necessary.

Record your motivation for making goals:
I want to be healthier because I want to be more active and hike ( or play tennis or whatever)
I want to be closer to God (more time for prayer,grow spiritually,etc)
I want to garden ( because it has always calmed and centered me, I love the way being outdoors makes me feel, etc)

Those are personal examples of how my goals, plans and motivations marry to create something bigger than the parts, and propel me to be the person I most would like to be in the coming year.

Hoep these notes to myself are of help in creating a successful year of accomplishing resolution from dreams in the life of others,too ( that is one of my motivations for blogging!)

Goals + Motivations = Actions and might just be a marriage made in heaven.

Homemaking

Through Liz’s Example , I really saw what an influence a homemaker can have. How it’s not about drudgery or thankless martyrdom as you swoon from one unkempt room to another, it’s about setting the whole tone for your family. It’s not about being the family servant, it’s about serving your family by creating a place of peace, a place of warmth, a place of safety through your nurturing efforts. It’s not mindless labor. It’s an artform.

And once I caught on that I had a choice – I could do everything halfway and whine about the fact that I had to feed myself everyday, or I could sack up and do it right – I set about my artistic training. –Reese Dixon

The Gentle Stream of Grace

I used to work so hard at my faith.
That is not a value judgment, just a statement of fact. Not sure that it could be otherwise, given the set of circumstances that made up “me” at the beginning of my personal walk with God. It didn’t need to be quite as hard as I made it, though.

Today, I am aware of how much that has changed, and how I seem to be flowing in an almost effortless stream of Grace. Maybe this is how the accumulation of choices begins to look, like a growing force of a stream that carries us further than our own efforts could manage.

A reverse of the warning in Proverbs:

Proverbs 6:9-11

9 How long will you slumber, O sluggard?
When will you rise from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to sleep—
11 So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler,
And your need like an armed man.

I have experienced that side of it, too, in the power of accumulated choices.

Perhaps, some of the ease comes from having settled, once and for all, some of the questions, and some of the terms of life.

I am realizing the line between what I can hope to change and what I cannot, and it has reduced much of the struggle that made life so hard.

I wonder how much age has to do with it. Age requires that you realize your own limitations, and makes one quicker to let go and “Let God”, which is experienced as ‘Grace’. Until you let go of your own trust in your willpower and ability, you can’t experience the power of something else.

Too often we labor at hand grubbing at life problems, when the power tiller of prayer could do the job in less than a fraction of the time.

I doubt that all of life can be experienced as a gentle ride in a beautiful stream on a lovely day. But this is what I found out: some of it can.

I see why the parable of the Sower was so basic to understanding things about God and how His Kingdom works. He set the understanding within the life of a seed.

  • We are important – in distributing seed, and in helping to create conditions for its germination.
  • We are limited in both those actions.
  • God sends the rain, but we can help to water between times.
  • We watch for weeds, we nurture along.
  • We have no power over the life in the seed.
  • We have no power over the conditions of the weather.
  • We have no power over the growing process, we can only provide supplements and hope for the best.
  • We can give thanks when it completes its cycle.

The stream of Grace is a bit like the well prepared garden bed. It is a good environment for the progression forward.

A state of readiness.

There is a time to rest and a time to work, the balance between the two is one of the pearls of wisdom in this life.

I love pearls. And now appreciate gentle streams.

the bigger life lesson

There are many time times when everything seems so mundane. The every day, every day. But woven in between is “the bigger life lesson”. It is there, if only you have the heart for it, for it is seen with the heart, understood with the heart…. and if you are only taken with life’s details you will miss the bigger lessons.

Don’t do that.

Don’t make life merely about the details.

There is a lot of big stuff going on in your life, a lot of meaning and lasting importance. It is there.

I haven’t thought about Edith Schaeffer for a long time, but with this thought about looking for the bigger lesson in the smaller acts of life… she comes to mind. Serving a meal isn’t just cooking, serving, and cleaning up the dishes…. it is an act, of love and of meaning.

Even something as small as a smile isn’t just a mindless expression or even the kindness of a moment… it is a connection that creates an impact, and all those small impacts add up. Your life is adding up, my life is adding up, and if we take time to think of the summaries we will find those bigger life lessons.

Why is this sense of meaning so important? It gives us direction, it connects us, and it forms the choices we make. It gives us the context of “the other”.

Looking at life with the desire to note “the bigger life lesson” is second nature with me, but it still requires a certain decision and determination, because life can become an avalanche of demands and mundane chores. We can lose sight of the forest for all the trees, but one of the keys to finding those important lessons that define our lives is to slow down and look.

God gave us our senses. Using them to touch eternity is part of what sets us, as humans, apart from the rest of creation.

Our humanity …now, there is one of the bigger life lessons.

Life is…

“Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass … it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.”

It’s All God Stuff

People love, and need, to compartmentalize their time, interests, and efforts. It is how we make sense of things. But sometimes the compartments disguise reality, or the true nature of things. Take the way we schedule ourselves. I’m the worst when it comes to this… there is homeschool, housework,yard, computer, church…. stuff. Sometimes one gets the lionshare of whatever resource I can throw at it, only to be pushed out of the way by nagging (sometimes screaming) demands to take care of something else. Somewhere in there I try to fit priorities on the God, others, and me levels. I have to confess I don’t believe I’ve done a very good job at parceling out myself with all these compartments and priorities.

But one thing that is finally getting through to me is that it is all “God stuff”. That everything in my life does matter to God, and that I … and everything about me… belongs to God. Because I made that decision some thirty or more years ago. I decided to trade the shamble of my life and personality for the life of God’s choosing. Even though I still managed to make a shamble of much of that! Yet, it isn’t too late to turn the day, and every day over to God for His call on all this stuff of life, first. First, before I take over and filter it and layer it, to ask the Father God what He has in mind for me, today. To stop arguing with Him, stop defining who I am, stop wrestling with what I want and how I am going to get it. And find out what the Father wants today.

That is how Jesus lived.

It both places the trivial in perspective, and lifts up the overlooked important details. In this, size does not matter. Sometimes our big, important goals are trivial in the eternal view, and sometimes our overlooked details are things that make all the difference. so how are we to know? How to discern the important from the waste of time? Let God have all the stuff, it belongs to Him anyway… and let His spirit, His words, and His principles apply to the day, and the schedules… and the goals.

Why should I be so harried about whether something gets done or whether I receive notice, or an number of things that fuel my efforts? Instead my focus on my relationship with the Father God, with the image of Christ in others, and in each task giving glory to God is going to insure proper attention to relationship which is always most important for humankind. And it will give the attempt at excellence to be given to those things of most value.

This type of thought process always returns my memory to a little tome I read so long ago, ‘Practicing the Presence of God‘ by Brother Lawrence. we can find God throughout all of our day, if we will practice looking for Him and recognizing Him.

It is a simple thing really, to recognize that it is all God stuff.

What? Me Worry?

Learn from the mistakes of others because you’ll never live long enough to make them all yourself.

— Alfred E. Neumann

The Many Kinds of Confessions

Confession is simply an acknowledgment or profession of something. We usually associate it with verbalizing our mistakes or sins, but it has its positive side, too. It can verbalize belief, or acknowledge a fact. It can look ahead as well as review the past.

Today I read a prophetic word that said

“I see us moving from a time of hope deferred to a time of desire fulfilled.”

So many times we are lured into trying to make something out of our own wills and “empowerment”. I do believe that we have to see something within to create it in our lives. It isn’t a simple 1-2-3, but it is essentially that process. But I also believe that for most, and in most circumstances there has to be more than one will involved.

But if God is at work, and He is producing a shift in the future, then it is happening, and what we call faith is merely seeing and going with that motion.

I’m not sure if I am asking the impossible at this time. Whether I am insisting on knowing ahead of time what God will make of things before I have confidence that the pieces will fall in place as they should. How much fear is involved in such thinking? More than is good, I’m sure.

In the mountainous regions of Israel, by December the fig trees have all shed their leaves. They remain bare until about the end of March when they begin to bring forth their tender leaf buds. At the same time, in the leaf axils, tiny figs appear. These are the early signs of spring in Israel. -Kathi Pelton

How much would we plant in spring if our thoughts only centered on the hard winter we have weathered? I’m not sure that we would attempt to put anything in the ground if we had no hope of its taking root and growing. Yet, in discouragement that is exactly what I find I do. It takes encouragement and faith to work to full capacity in the springtime.

If considered in those terms I can see that if one has suffered much through a hard winter, it may take time to reawaken to spring’s calling. One may move more slowly and plant more tentatively than if the winter had taken less of a toll.

Maybe that is how to view this season of life. Forward progress and as much hope as can be scraped together, but at a pace in keeping with lost vigor. There is time enough in the season yet ahead to recover and grow. God willing.

Then, there is a greater fruitfulness for all that.

And the profession becomes one of delight and peace; the confession not of ones sins, but of God’s grace.

Finding Old Barbies in the Closet – why it is a mistake to aspire to Superwoman

Three things comprise the inspiration for this post:

  1. Super women– I mean Barbies
  2. Barbie Gets Ordained
  3. An online podcast conversation reference to “Women Who Want To “Have It All”

First Up: What Does Barbie Mean To YOU?

In the first essay, Alicia Cohn asked this question up front:

Why do women want to be represented by a plastic doll?

Since we are covering at least two generations here, I can’t speak for all of them, or for what the entire Barbie phenomenon might represent for our culture… but I can tell you my own story.

Revealing my age… I had one of the first Barbie dolls. When it first came out I wanted it so badly, and I was so happy when I finally got one. She had black hair tied in a sleek ponytail with that froufrou of bangs up front that look not unlike a poodle after a trip to the doggie salon. She had a black and white striped swimsuit covering a maturity evoking shape, with tiny high heels… another reference to the world of grownup women, and demure pearl earring studs. Her eyes were sophisticated almond shapes with catlike eyeliner. She was like your teen idol, your pets, and your future all rolled up into one little package that you could role play if you just had enough money for all the clothes and accessories. I didn’t, but I liked having Barbie around. I liked that she wasn’t at all like me… not remotely like me.

And perhaps that is telling both of me, and my generation. She was the dream girl; and that is where her role making starts. In packaged, plastic wrapped dreams.

Next: What Does Barbie Mean To US, Collectively?

But like all little girls I eventually grew up. and those old Barbies? They were played with, put in the toy box, and then found their way to my mother’s backyard garage sales. In time they became icons of a plastic and disdained world that women of my generation wanted desperately to throw away. We hippie mamas. Or did we?

Turns out that hippie mamas became infused with Yuppie enthusiams. Even the diehard ones… and as Superwomen and Super moms icons, roles, and images were given birth, along with our own kids… Barbie made more transformations than that icon of icons, Madonna. It was a whole new Age of Barbie for our daughters: Career Barbies and Celebrity Barbies. Barbies without Ken, ever younger Barbies, diversity Barbies… Barbie for the masses.

But still Barbie, and still plastic. Secretly, sometimes ashamedly, sometimes boldly, collected and displayed with renewed adulation.

Barbie and the Big Lie?

When doing some reflecting back in my thirties (I am fifty-something now), I drew a conclusion that each generation of women is given a form of “the Lie”. We see the past generations lie in a vague sort of way, and rebel against it. But that doesn’t inoculate us from our own generation’s “Lie”, and whenever we are given something of a mock up of the “Ideal Woman” as presented by our culture -and not from a historical view where it can be better considered- we might want to investigate how much of a lie is involved there. Hint… whenever a role model has little to do with ones humanity and lots to do with someone’s manufactured representation… you can bet there is some lying going on.

I liked what Alice Cohn had to say, and I laughed at the pictures of Rev. Barbie- the costume was extremely well done even if the theology is not concordant with mine.

Lies I Was Told

So finally we get to the MAIN POINT

The main point is to address the conversation about the marketing possibilities of gearing web content towards “women who want it all”.

It comes down to what you want to feed people. Real food that makes for healthier human beings? Or sugar laden pap that lards their insides and makes them feel all nice and full and “sugared up” while starving their souls and leaving them as prime candidates for debilitating disease later. Oh yeah, pass that mile high pie… and if you are religious you can just pray away the calories.

Like that will work.

Did women learn nothing during my generation? Probably not, because we are human and it is hard to choose the truth when it isn’t all lathered up with that whip cream topping over the plastic food-stylist presentation which is not real food. Much like Barbie never was, and never meant to be a real woman.

Who started the rumor that she was?

I don’t know, but it might be the sames ones who like the Super Mom-Super Women so well, and are cheerleading her comeback.

I can hear the retorts now… well just because you are a loser with sour grapes attitude doesn’t mean it isn’t possible and laudable to encourage women to be all that they can be.

But you know… I’m not saying women should not be all that they can be. They should aspire to that. In fact I applaud, and cheer, and desire to support, a realistic and healthy vision of what that might be. It is the plastic Barbie version that keeps giving me nightmares at night.

So… the main point of all this might be the last question that Ms. Cohn put forward:

so I wonder: How do intangible qualities such as faithfulness and wisdom connect with girlhood dreams of being a grown-up woman?