“Who she was wasn’t defined by doing at all.”

Who she was wasn’t about doing at all.
Bird by Bird, Ann Lamott

Recently, I had a conversation with an old friend in which I was asked, “Why do you even WANT to be my friend?!”

This person IS my friend and has been for quite some time. We’ve had a lot of fun together and we’ve seen each other’s crappiest crap. There have been mistakes and fights and hurt feelings. There have also been many times of forgiveness and understanding and love. Our friendship status is really rather defined at this point. It’s who we are to each other: Friend, even Family.

I questioned the question and discovered that my friend had believed the lie that there is some performance evaluation that every friend must go through to maintain their status. If Friend-A is not performing at the same level as Friend-B, then Friend-B is likely to cut Friend-A loose, cut their losses, and move on with life.

Maybe that’s how it works in the world’s friendship system. But in Christ, there’s a whole other story.

Who my friend is to me, isn’t about performance at all. We have a relationship. This relationship exists IN and because of Christ. It is a relationship of friend and of Family. It’s unbreakable, under any circumstances. Sure, there may be periods of time that one or the other of us choose to DISAPPEAR and be unreachable – and there may even be seasons when that is needed for some reason, but we will still be friends and we will still be Family.

There is Freedom in that truth. We are free to be. We are free to do, but not defined by our doing, or measured by our performance. We are free of needing to fix each other. We are Friends. We are Family. We are reminders to one another of an Identity given to us in Christ. Unchanging, even when unseen.

So, dear Friend. I want to be your friend, because I am your friend and because you are mine. I want to be your friend because Christ has made us Family. What other reason do we need? 

like it’s my job

Yesterday, I sat down to write but was distracted with memories of a day at the beach. Naturally, I then wished I was there. I pictured myself sitting on a wall by the ocean, digging my feet into the sand, drinking coffee, and watching the sunset, while chatting with one of my dearest friends.

Before I knew it, I was switching mediums from print to paint…

I grabbed a little canvas and a paint brush, and an ocean sunset spilled out. I didn’t know what it looked like until it was on the canvas in front of me. At first, I thought the waters of my ocean were still, so I painted them that way, but then I watched my hand wiggle the paint brush around to create waves. And then, I could almost smell the ocean breeze and hear the sound of the crashing waves.

ocean susnet 2

I’ve decided to be creative like it’s my job – writing, painting, and whatever else flows out.  I’d certainly not mind if someday one or both of those things became “my job” {a source of income}. For the time being though, the point is to be who I am, to express and release what’s inside of me, and to learn to do it well.

So, Monday through Friday (with occasional exceptions), you’ll find me writing and painting and creating in various forms. I’ll share some of it along the way.

I’m grateful and humbled that I’m able to spend time doing things I love! {Thank you Jesus and husband!} We’ll see what adventures come out of it.

Do it everyday for a while… Do it as you would do scales on the piano. Do it by pre-arrangment with yourself. Do it as a debt of honor. And make a commitment to finishing things.

– Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott

as I learn to recognize the Lord

My temporomandibular joint has a lot of issues. [A.K.A. I have TMD or what most people call TMJ, problems with my jaw and the surrounding facial muscles.] For many years now, it’s caused me various types of pain and discomfort. It ebbs and flows in intensity, but it is always there.

I’m used to it, but I’d rather not beya know?

So, I have an awesome husband who encouraged me to go to an awesome friend who is a very experienced and skilled massage therapist. So I did. Her name is Jill. She’s our sister (you know, in Christ). She also has the same TMD problems. She knows the pain and it’s repercussions first hand. She also knows how helpful certain massage techniques can be and she knows how to use those techniques. I now go see her now every 2 or 3 weeks for a massage. I know that sounds all luxurious and relaxing, and there is a bit of that involved sometimes… but, mostly, I lay there and she inflicts intense pain on my face. But it helps. 

Recently, she tried the most intense treatment she’s done on me so far. I laid on her massage table thinking…

This. HURTS!!!!

If Jill was some random stranger who I came to for help, I’d peace out of here real quick saying… 
“Sorry but this is not helping. This is hurting! Thanks, but no thanks!”

But because I know that Jill understands my pain and has been in this position herself,
and because I know that she cares about me and is doing this to help me,
and because I know that she does actually know what she’s doing…

I can rest in this pain, knowing it’s a good and helpful pain that will make it better later. 

Does that sound familiar? It reminds me of the Lord. He is good and He is the Giver of Good Gifts. He knows our pain. He’s felt it Himself. He doesn’t enjoy seeing us in pain but there are times that, because of His desire to heal and free us, He walks us through some painful things, knowing they are essential in taking us to the better/BEST He desires for us.

The pain I feel during massages is “good pain.” I easily recognize that now. It is not always as easy to recognize growing pains in walking with the Lord, or living in the Body, as “good pain” but it is getting easier more natural to see it as such as I learn to recognize the Lord.

I love watching our family grow! // Ben and Erica

Baby Benny

When I was 3 1/2 years old, I became a big sister to a little brother. I’d hoped for a little sister and upon finding out that he was a brother I said, “I’ll love him, but I’m not gonna like him.” I quickly realized that I did actually both love AND like the little guy! But then he got older and more mean, and that statement became true sometimes. Apparently though, I wasn’t always nice to him either – or so he claims. But, whether we liked each other at the time or not, I was always attempting to take care of him (whether he wanted me to or not). It was my job as a big sister!

At some point – probably about the time I left for college, I’d say we became friends! (He would not say that, as both my brothers have informed me countless times that sisters are sisters and NOT friends. I, however, disagree.)

Eventually, I’m pretty sure he forgot that he was my LITTLE brother and started acting more like an OLDER brother. I think for a while he was afraid he’d have to take care of me forever, as he figured I would NEVER get married. But then I DID get married! And he (along with the littlest brother we share), walked me down the aisle.

Brothers walk

In four days, he’ll be waiting at the end of another aisle for his bride. She’s delightful! And perfect for him! I’ll finally, officially, get that sister I wanted. Thanks, Ben! ;)

Ben and Erica

Ben and Erica have been together for several years now, and she’s already a part of our family! But, I’m excited that it will now be “official!” And I know that they are too!

Jon and I are flying to CA tomorrow to celebrate these two! I love seeing my not-so-little brother happy, and so grown up! And I love watching our family grow! 

put that sucker down // street art

 

 

Art is awesome. I love to look at it, just as much as I love to make it. When I grow up, I want to be a street artist with my littlest (but much taller than me) brother. I’ll probably be HIS sidekick. And it will be a BLAST. (It’s always good to start a conversation with a tangent… )

Recently, while perusing the interwebs, I came across this lovely specimen of street art and was immediately filled with delight.
(It’s in Svartlamoen, Trondheim. $5 to anyone who knows where that is without looking it up!) 

I found myself reflecting on this question: Am I the man with the umbrella, anxiously hiding from the colorful drips surrounding him OR the child with arms lifted in joyful surrender to the circumstances, allowing refreshment to soak in?

Sometimes, I choose the ways of the umbrella… but oh the joy that comes when I put that sucker down, throw up my arms, lift my face to the sky, and bask in the glory of whatever is pouring down.

Click here for a closer look and a glimpse at the process of creating this piece.

Thanks, Skurktur.

How much longer? // rest

I love when Christ reveals Himself through everyday stories. So, here’s one for you…

— — —

I have pink-eye. More accurately, I have bacterial conjunctivitis.
It’s awesome.
So awesome, I tell you, that I woke up EARLY in the morning and said in a semi-panicky voice, “I can’t open my eyes!!!” My husband said, “It’s okay. We’ll take care of it later. But right now, you don’t need to open your eyes. Just sleep.” I said, “BUT, it hurts!” And he said, “It won’t hurt if you just sleep.” I said, “okaaay…” and rolled over. He reached over and rubbed my back for a moment and soon, we both dozed back to sleep.
When the alarm to get up went off, still pretty early in the morning, he went and got me a wet cloth so that I could clean my eyes, open them, and see.

— — —

I’ve been thinking about this early morning incident all day and I see such a picture of Christ in Jon’s response to my panic…

When I wake up in the middle of the night, I like to be able to look at a clock so I can  know how much longer I have to sleep. I don’t know why I find that so important. It doesn’t actually matter. It’s time to sleep, not time to worry about or dwell on how much longer I have to sleep.

I’ve been reminded today of the many times I am like this with the Lord about life, plans, or spiritual understanding. I’ve definitely asked the Lord in a panicky way “How much longer until ___________?” once or twice (or a lot more than that) before because I was wanting to see something I could not see. 

I think we probably all spend time wondering the answers to questions like: How much longer will I struggle with this issue? How much longer will I feel this disappointment or shame? How much longer will things keep going well? How much longer will it take for me to learn that you’ve got this? How much longer am I going to be single? How much longer until I’ll have children? How much longer until I’ll be able to have a job that I really love? How much longer will the Lord have me stay where I am? How much longer until I can retire? How much longer? How much longer?!?!?!

In those moments of wondering “How much longer?” the Lord is often gently telling us, “It’s not time. You don’t need to see. Just rest.” (Like Jon did for me this morning.) And our response is often something like my,”BUT it hurts,” But, as Jon told me… “It won’t hurt if you just sleep.” He was right. It only hurt because I was trying to open my eyes and see. When I chose to rest, I was fine. And when it was time to get up, Jon brought me what I needed to help me see.

When we REST in the Lord, there is no need to dwell on the “How much longer” questionsWhen it is time to see, the Lord will provide what we need to open our eyes.

It’s Monday. I think we all need a pep talk.

It’s Monday. I think we all need a pep talk.

You’re welcome…

Recap:

“The world needs you to stop being boring.”

“Life is not a game, people.”

“I wanna be on the one (road) that leads to awesome.”

“It’s like that dude Journey said, ‘Don’t stop believing… unless your dream is stupid. Then you should get a better dream.'”

“What will be your Space Jam?”

“We can make everyday better for each other.”

“We can cry about it, or we can dance about it.”