Friday, June 29, 2012

Tassles of Inspiration

     They came from every walk of life, each with their own reason for the pursuit. With incredible determination they cleared the hurdles that lie before them -- language barriers, age, environmental factors, drug abuse, illness, and child rearing--all things that led to dropping out of high school.


     Perhaps the most damaging hurdle to overcome was their own self doubt. They labeled themselves. Society labeled them. But tonight, they conquered. Each of them had returned to school to earn a GED, most with plans to continue with a college education, all with a resolve to better themselves. They were here to prove something.

     Rewarded with a strong sense of accomplishment, confidence, and self-worth, this unlikely mix of graduates is ready to tackle their future. New opportunities spread before them like a red carpet ready to welcome movie stars. Already it has been easier for them to find employment and apply for higher education.

     Cheering them on from the sidelines, their families burst with pride. Tears flowed and cheers whooped. You knew that those loved ones walked that tough road with their graduate, and now enjoyed the celebration of completion and redemption. 

     Sometimes all people need is a shot of hope and someone who will walk with them toward their dream.

Friday, June 8, 2012

What's Your Perspective?


      I can have a pretty shallow understanding of the world around me. I don't get why certain people behave in ways that cause grief and tension for those around them.

     I question (in my mind) why? Why aren't they.....? What are they.....? Don't they know......? I can't believe she...... The problem is that I don't always leave room in my own heart and mind for others to fall short of my own expectations. It's hard to slow down long enough to recognize the deeper need begging to be filled, and placed right in front of my face by a God wanting me to express His love to a hurting soul. No one wants to be in a desperate state of need. Most are just trying to get through their inner turmoil, leading them to perform at a lower standard than they normally would.

     It seems that anytime I fall into the judgment trap, I get knocked upside the head with the answers to my questions or I find myself in a similar predicament as the one I'm critical of. Then I feel sheepish and ashamed of my critical thoughts and lack of compassion. You would think it would eventually sink in, but no, it keeps happening. Apparently I am a slow learner.

     All around us are burned out, dried up, withered souls fighting to survive circumstances beyond their control. When I open my eyes and heart just a little bit, I see the bigger picture of suffering. The inner critic gives way to compassion. What I have been considering lately is this: "Who else but us? Who will be there to catch them when they fall? Who can they count on when they are hurting? Who will Love them? Who can they go to? Will it be us? Or will we stand there wondering why they can't get it together?

     The pace of life often doesn't allow for inconvenient interruptions, or for people to (gasp!) need me for any length of time. But when I stop and look around at what I CAN do, it is a huge blessing for me to carry it out.

Galations 6:2 "Carry each other's burdens,and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Stand Out in a Crowd

     I have a very small comfort zone. It usually consists of some earth tone clothing paired with very normal denim. Though I am getting better about stepping out into bold color, it is something unfamiliar and thus not my favorite thing to do. Blending in is more my forte.

When everyone is doing something, I have no trouble participating. Like when we all got dressed up in poodle skirts and pony tails for a 50s party in my mom's honor. My grandmother made all of the costumes with my mom's help, and the party was a blast, complete with 50s party music and glass soda bottles. My husband and I were the carhops serving food and drinks out of the "diner".

Last weekend for "Turn Back the Clock Night", the Seattle Mariners held a costume contest for best 50s attire. I figured it was more than a coincidence that we had tickets for that exact night and I just happened to have a carhop costume. I imagined we might forget the year, with all the fans dressed in fifties fashion.

We walked to the game from our hotel, so I toted my costume in a bag. Arriving at the gates to the stadium, my nerves rattled as I looked around at the fans dressed in Jerseys, Jeans, and baseball caps. No one was dressed up and I was fitting right in. Should I change my mind? My grandmother was so excited....of course she was sure I would do well in the contest, but I didn't even know what the prizes were.

We found our seats, and I made the decision to run change and be back in my seat before too many arrived at the stadium. Perfect! No one would see me. But then there's drinks to buy and bathroom breaks to take. People saw me. To deal with that, I mostly avoided eye contact, but some really sweet people stopped me to say they enjoyed my costume.

Though I didn't place in the contest, putting myself out there as the only car hop in the ballpark was an amazing experience. I learned, at least temporarily, to suppress my fear of people's thoughts and opinions. Maybe they thought I was crazy, but so what? A couple wearing a poodle skirt and a letter sweater won two round trip airline tickets. They looked great! Uncomfortable and hot, I ran and changed after making it all the way to the eighth inning.

Do you ever worry about what people think and shrink from putting your true self on display? The willingness and strength to stand alone is one ability that should be practiced and mastered. Is it okay to practice it by being silly? I think so. I am convinced that those who master the skill of being themselves without running over others become truly comfortable with who they are.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Treasures in the Trash

     Today I combed through several bags of garbage, desperately searching for the diamond solitaire that fell out of my wedding ring. As I shook out each piece of trash, my heart sunk and my head ached. I prayed I would find the diamond, and retraced every step. The amazing security people at Target even took apart shelves to look for my tiny treasure.

     Sitting on the sidewalk in a pile of daycare trash, I considered the  parallels to life. Lots of trash happens in our lives. It's up to us to pick through and find the treasures among the half eaten sandwiches and dirty diapers. Sometimes the garbage can be overwhelming, causing us to lose focus and forget that there is any good to find.

     Though I have yet to find my diamond, there is something good in the trash and I will not stop looking for it. Have you ever found something important in your trash?

     "Suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?" Luke 15:8