Emerging Butterfly—Beauty of Struggle

butterflyWe live near one of the most beautiful places I know, Frederick Meijer Garden. It’s a world-renown sculpture park and botanical garden.

Every March and April this organization bring in hundreds of butterfly chrysalis and moth cocoons and allow them to hatch within the confines of the tropical garden. The visitors walk inside a dreamland of fluttering color.

Awhile back, I took my daughter early specifically to watch a different display than the flying butterflies. We came to watch the butterflies emerge from their chrysalis.

It’d been a rough not the night before. Emotion overflowed my senses and my girl and I needed the retreat. Continue reading “Emerging Butterfly—Beauty of Struggle”

Beauty Defined

beauty-definedI suppose if we’re going to discuss beauty, it’d be important to be sure we’re all talking about the same thing. Definitions are slippery things…especially when you’re arguing that the thing you’re defining is of life and death importance, which we’ll get to next week.

Let’s start easy. I think most of us can agree on the first aspect. Continue reading “Beauty Defined”

Just Breathe

BreatheThis summer was a little crazy, and left me feeling a little like a 300-pound gorilla was sitting on my chest. Not quite smashed to death, but gasping for air.

Survival included an increasingly large vat of coffee and an embarrassing amount of sugar. All of which left me irritable, twitchy, and still gasping for air. Not a nice look.

When my joints started hurting enough that I had was limping around the block, I realized my body needed a break.

Enter the dreaded detox (cue the evil music—Dah, dah, dah…).

I’m not sure how I decided that detoxing the first week of school is a good idea. Detoxing means I can’t have caffeine (despite the 5 am alarm) or sugar (despite the afternoon lull), and a huge list of other foods.

I found myself saying to a friend, “I can’t have coffee, but I’ll bring my homemade green tea chai.” As if I pretend really, really hard, it’d be the same thing. Continue reading “Just Breathe”

When There Are No Words

No Words

As I writer and editor, my life lives and breathes letters, words, sentences. Pictures, scenes, emotions, flow from my brain, to my fingers, to the page. It’s what I do.

But sometimes…sometimes the river of words runs dry. I’m left without a way to respond to circumstances.

I’ll admit I’m tapped out right now. I have no words. And it’s okay for me. I know I my writing hasn’t been my best, but it’s okay for now. I’m not actively writing a novel…just editing.

My stopped up word-river is even fine for my family for the moment. We’re okay. Really we are (and I’m not just trying to convince myself of that).

My world is surviving without my words, my connection to something bigger…until I got a phone call from a friend who’s always been there for me. Until I didn’t have words for her.

I’m not sure I even followed everything she said through her tears, but I do know this: Her daddy died, and it was hard. She was trudging in the valley of the shadow of death, and I had such paltry words to give. I couldn’t even point her to comfort.

I know that sometimes it’s okay to not say anything. Sometimes it’s better even.

But oh how I long to speak into the dark spot left in her dad’s place.

And so I bring a meal, I pray for her peace, I scour the Internet for funny stories to send, and I might even buy a card with someone else’s words or I might haul out my paints and paint her a picture.

See I may have no words, but she can still hear me…and that’s okay with me. Tweet This

Perhaps it’s here, where our words flee, that we find action. In this wordless place, we set aside our daily tasks, roll up our sleeves, and communicate in a bigger way.

Broken Barn Philosophy

Broken Barn PhilosophyThis last week we traveled up and around a million back roads in Northern Michigan. Gentle turning through hills and miles of meadows tucked between towering evergreens and unblemished white sandy beaches.

As we took time to breathe as a family, thoughts and words tumbled out of me like a fountain. Snatches of beauty took up residence in my heart. The snippets I took hold of might just last me weeks.

But one of my favorite sights were the leaning-sideways barns—the ones that were red, but have slowly slid into grey.

What is it about a broken barn, slowly overcome by wildflowers, that’s so beautiful? Or that one fence post nudged over in tall grass that catches our eyes.

We take pictures of the not quite right. But when it comes to our lives, we hide the things that are not what has been deemed good by . . . well, by whom? Continue reading “Broken Barn Philosophy”

Not the Best

Best

We were becoming desperate for rain, and the hot weeks have sucked the flowers dry. But along the highway, a sneaky beauty grew. The grasses glowed golden, backlit by the horizontal sun peeking out from the storm clouds.

Who would have thought that mere dry grass could be beautiful?

And yet it is so. The moment the world is dry and hard, it isn’t the flashy obvious flowers that persevere. It’s the overlooked, underappreciated beauty.

Catching snatched looks at that hidden beauty as I drove, I thought, Good for you…

You don’t have to be THE best to be beautiful.

And my fingers tightened down on the steering wheel as if doing so could lock down my heart and fight back the tears.

As a writer, mom…as a woman, I’ve compared myself to everyone around me. It’s a dangerous pastime where I ALWAYS lose. Either by looking down my nose at someone else, or realizing I don’t measure up.

I’m beautiful in my own right….except when I’m not.

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See the grasses were dry and brown, rather like I am right now. I’m not only not THE best, I’m not even MY best right now. I’m as brittle as the grasses, feeling boring, tired, and taking it out on everyone. I’m up against some physical issues . . . again, which have me channeling a rabbit in both what I put into my body and what’s coming out. And I don’t even care if that’s TMI.

There in the car on the way to the next doctor’s appointment, the light trickled across me, falling on the grasses. Highlighting failures and at the same time beauty.

Not only do I not have to be the best, I don’t even have to be MY best, to be beautiful.

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And neither do you.

Decimate the Divide

Divide“Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Over the last week, these words have been echoing in my head, and I couldn’t help but reflect on the prophetic thoughts in my blog last week . . . Freedom is a powerful thing.

I honestly fought this post. I wrote a different one. A funny one which I’ll post next week. But I found I couldn’t not post this one because I see how the events of this week could change the lives of my children.

So I ask you:

We have freedom guaranteed by our laws, but how are we using it? We have the freedom to carry weapons, the right to free speech. Continue reading “Decimate the Divide”

A Call to True Freedom

Freedom

I’m sitting at my kitchen table, the slider open to the summer night sounds. It’s warm and the air is heavy with expected rain, and the sky is slowly overcome with thunderheads climbing and tumbling forward.

The coming storm is a beautiful and dreadful thing. Pulsing electric and alive. Capable of bringing life . . . and destruction in equal measure.

Two hundred and forty years ago, a group of men signed a document declaring their independence from a separate nation. In doing so they launched a grand experiment. One where there are self-evident truths: “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

But our freedom is a beautiful and dreadful thing.

Continue reading “A Call to True Freedom”

There’s Something About Rain

rain
It’s been hot. Stifling even, and summer hasn’t even started in earnest yet. The sun over head glaring down, burning away at this crust of earth. The moisture in the ground giving in, and rising up in choking humidity.

But today, today, we awoke to the grey of coming rain. The air heavy in anticipation.

When the drops come, they come heavy, wrapped in a symphony for the senses.

The constant shushing against leaves, pinging on the Continue reading “There’s Something About Rain”

There’s Something About Thursday–Shadows

It’s time for one of the two Thursdays of every month where I give a nod to the things that make us stop and say, “There’s something about . . .”

Shadows

This is something I wrote awhile ago and it fits perfectly with one of the characters I’m working on . . . and to be honest with me sometimes.

There is something about shadows —that absence of light— that kids instinctively fear. Adults have a more educated view that thinks the dark patches really can’t hurt us. That there isn’t anything hiding inside trying to get out.

But if I’m honest with myself, there’s still something about the dark.

Perhaps the kids have it right.

But if there are shadows, Continue reading “There’s Something About Thursday–Shadows”