Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Retreat Theme: Be the Change You Seek

Our planning team met on Monday evening to go over our next retreat theme, which is "Be the Change You Seek." The title comes from the quote by Ghandi. We agreed upon the theme after thinking about what's been going on in our own lives. While we each meet up with a lot of external change, we realized that it's often up to each of us to also model the kind of change we want to see in the world around us.

We've got lots of cool stuff planned for our day, including a service I'm still working on. The idea I'm working from on that is a small write up I did today at work, "let me have faith that things are in God's hands, and that instead of focusing on the difficulties of this life, I look expectantly for the gifts of God's work, whether they be apparent now or will be revealed later."

It's funny because there's been so much change in my own work life recently. I know I mentioned that there had been layoffs, and my boss is now gone. On Monday, two of my co-workers resigned; they are going to another firm together. I realize I could feel further defeated, or like there's even more on my own shoulders. Instead, I'm trying really hard to see this as an opportunity.

It's hard because everyday brings new difficulties. It's hard to stay focused and try to dig and make a difference where I can. It's hard not to be pulled in to the rumors and gossip. I hope that by trying to remain positive, by being neutral when others are drawn to the negative, that I can make things a little better. It's hard, but I am trying.

What kinds of change have you tried to bring about in your lives?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Failing to Make Eye Contact

My friend Adam at "Where the Wind" made mention of how at his family dinner table, his dad often picked whoever unsuccessfully failed to make eye contact with him to lead that night's prayer. I think many of us can relate to this idea. Sheepish, probably fidgety, we all try to make ourselves invisible when we're faced with something that pushes us out of our element.

I have to say, I found myself thinking about this idea today. What things have I sensed God calling me to do, and what things have I turned away from, hoping that I might be able to avoid His gaze about? This is a hard topic. Somewhere in my head, I know I want to teach more. I want to lead more retreats. I know I feel at home when talking about the Bible and the themes in that big book.

I love to relate the stories of the Bible to everyday moments. I love losing myself in preparing talks for other people.

So why, oh why, have I been turning away from a recent request to help with another retreat? In August, I can help again with a Young Adult retreat. I can use some of the things I learned last month at Yale. The theme is "Strength for the Journey," and I know that I would love to share on this topic.

So, today I think I met that Gaze straight on. I heard the request, loud and clear, and know what I need to do. I've made that uncomfortable eye contact, but understood what it means. I'll put my hat in the ring and step up to do what I love, what scares me, makes me feel small and strange, what makes me feel alive, and what fills me with purpose. Darn it if it didn't seem so hard some times ...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Casting Out the Demons: Thoughts from Sunday's Sermon

This last Sunday we went to Church with friends; a friend's baby was getting baptized. I have to say, it was one of the most joyous baptisms I've ever been to. The kiddos (there were two that day) were buck naked, and they got three solid dunks, feet first, the the baptismal font. The crowd delighted in seeing their big eyes as their tootsies hit the water for "The Father", we laughed as the babes were raised high in the air when the priest pronounced "The Son", we cheered, whole heartedly, totally inspired when we rested on "and The Holy Ghost" with tiny feet in the water. Joy, pure and simple. It was beautiful.

The reading for Sunday was Mark 3:13
13 And He went up on the mountain and called to Him those He Himself wanted. And they came to Him. 14 Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, 15 and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons.

I heard this reading with new ears on Sunday. The twelve were sent out, the apostles, to cast out demons. What does that mean for us today?

I thought to myself, are each of us called to cast out "demons," just as the twelve were? And it struck me that modern demons can take many forms. There are demons of self doubt, of loathing, of anger. Demons that tell us we are not good enough, that nothing is ever enough. There are demons everywhere, and its hard to ignore them, especially in tough economic times. Fear feeds the demons in society and in each of us.

I realized that maybe each of us can be the light for each other that helps cast aside each other's demons. Is this what we're being called to do? I can do something to try and make one person's day a little better. I can carry a load when a friend can not. I can reach out and say a kind word to someone, or to make a small joke with a stranger.

In that moment, I realized that casting out demons is not a call to move a mountain or to do something other-wordly. It is something we can each do, here, now, in this world. In tiny ways, in tiny miracles, every day.

To be more like God, we can help each other see the divine spark that resides inside every other person. To acknowledge that someone is special, loved, perfect, and wanted, needed, that they are enough, that is to cast those demons aside and to show love for each other. This is what we're called to do.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Challenge: 30 Days to a Better You

This idea is certainly not original to me, but I'm gonna kick it off here with you, my blogging friends. There's reason to believe that humans can make something a habit if they can do it everyday for three weeks. I take a little longer to catch on sometimes, so I'm gonna say its 30 days.

I'll admit that the first person that bestowed this wisdom on me was the FlyLady. Do you know her? Oh my goodness, if you don't, you need to go over and visit her right now. I'll be right here when you get back. Her site and philosophy is life changing.

In the spirit of FlyLady, I'd like to kick off a 30 day challenge. And it's really simple, I just ask that you do something that will make you feel better for 30 days. This might be drinking more water, wearing cute shoes, smiling at a stranger, reading a book that's been on your list, flossing your teeth, or making your bed. It doesn't have to be a big thing, just something that will make you feel better.

I've been feeling a little sluggish recently. I think it's because I just do what I can to get through work, get home, feel worn out, watch TV and eat dinner, and sleep. Blech. You know the routine, if I'm keeping to the bare minimum, I probably walk less than three football fields a day if needed. I want to get beyond that.

So, in an effort to feel a little more lively, I am going to vow here to walk 15 minutes a day for the next thirty days. If you want to join me, here's all you need to do. Take your flip flops in to the office. At your lunch or break I want you to - get this - change into your flip flops and walk 7.5 minutes one direction, turn around, and walk 7.5 minutes back to your office. Easy, right!?!

Who's in? You pick what you're doing. You do it for 30 days. If you're joining me, post a little entry on your own blog and add it here on Mr. Linky. And grab the banner, post it with pride! We're gonna do something good for ourselves. I can't wait to hear what you pick :)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Bulletin Board and Other Bedroom Updates

Life got a bit nutso there for a bit. I got sick, then there were some layoffs at my company, and then I got sent off to Dallas. I was not let go, but my boss, and my dear friend Katey were. It hit me very hard; these are people I love dearly and had a big impact on my day to day life. I miss them.

In the midst of this, I've been working on the bedroom! So many of you posted many nice comments, and many of you asked about the bulletin board. Funny thing is, I started with that part of the room first.

Here's the old bulletin board. Why I didn't take other "before" pictures, I can't say, but I got this one:

It's fine, but it's dated. So here's what I did. I realized that I could probably purchase a frame on the cheap and re-vamp it to be a more stylish and grown up bulletin board.

After trying a couple of Goodwills, I landed at HomeGoods, which is owned by TJ Maxx. I rummaged through their clearance artwork, and happened upon this beauty. The glass was missing, and the frame itself is dinged and yucky. The art is OK, but not my style. And, the kicker? This guy cost $7. Seven bucks. Done!


The bones were there. I planned on gutting this thing and putting in a cork board behind it. I knew that you could get a snazzy pack of cork pieces from Target, and those ran about $6.

I got the "art" home and started working. First, I pulled the art out of the frame, which was backed by cardboard. Everything had been held in place by some small nails, so I pulled those out. After I saw what I had, I decided I'd keep the cardboard (as well as the frame)to use as the backing for the cork.

I put the cork from Target on the cardboard, piece by piece, and trimmed the extra cork away from the back. After all that was done, I decided to cover the cork with some white wrapping paper from Ikea, to hide the cork. I knew I was painting my frame white, so I wanted everything thing to blend in.
With the backing underway, it was time to get painting the frame itself. I picked white (Rust-oleum American Accents Blossom White) because I also had plans for the bedspread, and I wanted to even out the colors in the room.


Two coats later, the frame looked like this out on the patio:
We're almost there! Once the frame was almost dry, I took my fingernail to it, and scratched away some of the white paint to give it a more "rustic" finish. Thanks to Layla at the Lettered Cottage for that tip. She did that on a bed frame, and the results were fantastic. (And its so easy!)

To attach the cork board portion, I slid it in to place, with the white paper facing out, and used duct tape to hold it into place. Last thing, I put on some hanging mounts (the old "art" had been portrait/horizontal, but this would be hanging landscape/vertical.)

Today I glued some shells I found at the beach to the frame, I thought it was a nice nod to how my guy and I love walking the beach together and try to do it at least once a week.

And, here's the finished product:


Details with the shells:


I'm pretty pleased. The grand total came to around $15, including the spray paint. Not bad!

So, what have all of you been up to? Any cool projects recently?