I Will Love You Louder

 

“Whom you chose to listen to, will determine the outcome of your life.” Daniel Messina, Crossroads Fellowship – Raleigh, NC

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. – Martin Luther King Jr.

 2016 was a tough year. Finally! The election was over, and I could get back to normal. I was so looking to 2017. While I was looking forward, God must have been chuckling. No, there are always still miles to go and tears to cry.  More reasons to seek Him, not my will.

That’s how life always happens. The wave of one crisis finally crests, and you’re treading water, ever so carefully, gratefully , hoping to quietly just float back to shore. And then you see it–the next wave. It’s so much bigger.

Lately the din of the news of the world coupled with the roar of life in my own kitchen has been making my head spin. I feel like it will explode on some days. Anxiety. Depression. Painful situations. Too many people I know are suffering. Is anyone in control up there in the tower? I’ve too many incoming planes and they’re all arriving unscheduled in my backyard from C and C Airways (Crisis and Confusion) and clearly their communication system is down. Help! I don’t know what to do! Hello? Is anyone listening?

So here we are. We’re hours away from a new POTUS and frankly, the world still seems as screwed up as it was before the election. The fault lines of our souls keep on cracking and dividing us further apart. The news media hurls the bad news fly balls faster than we can catch them. Apparently, mean tweets and anger and division swell ratings. Who knew?   Sheesh, if all I ever did was watch the news, and fall victim to every voice with an agenda, I’d swear our cities were burning down, we were in the middle of epic race wars, the planet is heating up to lethal temperatures, and mankind is continuously eliminating one another in the quest to dominate and be right—be it geography or the infinite, ever-expanding digital land mass known as social media.

But a weird thing happens when I walk away. I go outside and I see and breathe in sunshine. Or rain.   Or even snow. Regardless, it is a breath of fresh air. I put geographical distance and measured time between my eyes and the constant tap,tap,tapping of text messages on screens and BREAKING NEWS flashes. You see I’m learning, that if any of us are going to mentally survive going forward, you’re going to have to change the messages you listen to, in order to quiet your mind, to be a better, kinder, gentler person yourself.

Or you could just stay angry all the time. Or sad. Or feel hopeless. Or disgusted. Or whatever negative default state of disrepair you’ve learned is a safe fallback. Because as long as it’s the President’s fault (current, past, or incoming) or Congress or those on the other side of whatever viewpoints or opinions or theologies we currently hold sacrosanct, then guess what? We’re all absolved of any responsibility for fixing our own lives. Well—isn’t that convenient?!

Now before I get mean tweets of disagreement, let me say something. Disagreement does not equal disrespect for personhood or viewpoint. Though lately, many of us from the top to the bottom seem to have forgotten that. But you know what, we don’t have to engage! We don’t have to obsessively watch or listen to those voices which anger us. We don’t have to have angst anymore because others think differently then us.

In a world where uniqueness and diversity is celebrated, it seems like the last place that holds true is in the world of thought. And that’s actually where we most need to celebrate diversity. Without it, we wouldn’t have the great artists who create beauty, the scientists who solve mysteries, the doctors who find new ways to heal, the spiritual leaders who calm and inspire and teach us new ways of being.

Since the right to free speech doesn’t guarantee kind speech, we must choose what we listen to. We can’t regulate others’ tempers or temperament, only ours. I only know that if individually we become the voices of reason, kindness, gentleness and self-control, tolerance of viewpoint, and above all the blessed voice of silence because we choose to listen to others, some of the negative will be forced to retreat, to simmer down, perhaps even end.

Even if others don’t stop speaking ugly, you can still fill your head with pretty. But it’s your choice.   Who are you listening to? What are you listening to? How is it affecting your body, your mind, your soul?   Maybe it’s time to change the channel. Or go outside. Or listen to a symphony. Or read something that allows you to touch the words, feel them come to life as you turn the pages. I know! You could even get something done that you’ve been putting off! Or most of all, perhaps you need to learn how to sit alone with yourself and your thoughts. Surrender that which isn’t yours to fix. Pray for others. Make a plan. Rest. Rejuvenate.   Just be still. And know.

Changes are coming. Some will be great. Some will be terrible. Some will be made by us. Many will be made by others that are simply: out of our control.

So in light of all that? How now will you live? How will you choose?

As for me, I will resolve to speak less, listen harder.   I absolutely will be more selective on who/what I listen to. I will find ways to fast from those things that frustrate me or don’t help me grow. I will show love to those who think different, or who I disagree with.

 In the silent art of learning how to listen better, I will find I love you more. I will stop trying to change you. Perhaps you will grant me the same kindness?

In the gentle moments where my soul is quiet, I see I am able to love you. Even though we are different.   I will love you—louder.  Because it’s the only voice that makes sense to me.  It’s the only voice that will carry us all home safely.

 

 

 

 

 

STRESSED OUT: The Gift of What Just Might Kill Us

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Clara Bow — Silent Film and Talkies Star –1920s — She was the inspiration for Betty Boop.  She also suffered with mental health issues due to stress.

 

Stress. We all carry it. Like interest on a credit card, it compounds. Quickly.

We are living in extreme days.  Our country is polarized, and some of us, perhaps many of us feel like we are hanging on by a thread.

Our daily responsibilities exceed the available time to accomplish them. I’m talking only about the things on our “MUST DO” list. Forget totally about our “HOPE TO DO” and “WANT TO DO” list.

Then, predictably so, like a promise that arrives early, a CRISIS OF EPIC PROPORTIONS lands in your lap exactly as your energy levels drop below zero. Couple this with your due date for everything urgent was expected yesterday and before, and your list of what you have to post pone due to emergency, is stretched to indefinite, if not infinity and beyond.   Generally, this will happen when you don’t have the following to cope:

  • money to pay for it
  • time to absorb it
  • energy/resources to fix it

Everything from demanding jobs, to family crisis, to health crisis, to a death in the family, or news that feels like a “sentence” feel like they are going to pull us under the waves.  Up to now we were at least managing our overwhelm, however precariously, as we bobbed between the waves of life’s stormy seas.

Here’s the hardest truth of our lives: Sometimes it sucks. I mean that literally. The challenge of just getting to the next day seems near impossible, because TODAY feels like it is vacuuming every last ounce of our energy, time, and resources to simply deal.

We can’t take ONE. MORE. THING. And then…..

BOOM!

The unthinkable. The unimaginable. The unbearable.

Like it or not. It’s here. How now will you get through it?

I’m not a doctor or scientist or even theologian who claims to know. I’m just a girl who’s been around the block a few times. And each successive lap does get harder, but……

it’s true—that which does NOT kill us, really does make us stronger.

My Christian faith has comforted my heart, and my mind knows many of God’s promises. But that never negates the reality of what is, and the pain/frustration/fear one goes through when one is on overload. The feelings are real, even if our analysis of what’s happening doesn’t agree with others’ perspectives. The truth is: We feel what we feel.

So, how to deal?

Something I learned a long time ago at church. Our wise pastor told us:

You are going to suffer in life. That you don’t get to choose.

The only thing you get to choose is HOW YOU SUFFER.

Will you waste your suffering?

Or will it be redemptive?

I have never forgotten that lesson. I mean I have in terms of application sometimes:

  • I get negative ( I whine to others.)
  • I forget to pray. I forget to be still.  (I’m SO busy!)
  • I complain. (As if stating the problem a dozen different ways will somehow change it.)
  • I avoid reality, or at least dream of it. (I think I will hide under my blankets and pet the cats and just listen to music all day. Yeah right.  )

And then: I remember another profound truth:

IT IS WHAT IT IS

 Seriously, reality always wins.

 I pause.

 I remember.

I get to choose my suffering.   I. Me. No one else.   Other people or life situations—they may overwhelm, even slay me. But I CHOOSE how I deal. Or die. Or live. That is my power. And no one and nothing can take THAT away from me! No one can take the power that I believe God has already put in me, unless I give it to them.

There’s a lot of anger out there these days. The election comes to mind. I get the disappointment and anger. I really do. But seriously, how much power are YOU going to allow someone else to have over your lives?   What changes can you make?  More importantly, WHO will you CHOOSE to be?

We don’t get to change our circumstances much of the time. The only thing available for us to change is: OUR PERSPECTIVE

Stress can BE our friend.   We can “reframe” our situation.

These things I’ve learned for sure, especially in crisis mode:

We can only solve one problem at a time. Tackle your tasks and finish them one by one. It may mean going off-line, off-grid, turning your phone off. That’s okay.   People will live without you for a few days. But you won’t live without you.

If other people can’t understand your limitations sometimes, that is their problem, not yours. Is it good to care what other’s think of us?  Sure.  But our health, our life comes first.

“No” is a complete sentence. This is a biggie, especially for women. We want to give and help so much, we can give ourselves away sometimes. But say no sometimes. Even if it’s just to practice for a real emergency. It’s so freeing. The relief that comes from knowing you don’t have to be responsible for everything just because someone thought you were the most capable to do it.

Get enough rest. No matter what. No good decision is ever decided when running on fumes.   Which brings me to: Delay big decisions until you have had at least one good night’s sleep.

Ask for help. And then don’t be ashamed. Be it tasks or an understanding ear, reach out to others. Please. Other friends don’t always know when we struggle. They are stressed too.

Daily Quiet Time. (DQT) Prayer. Meditation.   Simple solitude where you simply empty your mind of all thoughts, if only for ten minutes. This is absolutely essential if you are on overload. Practice this now. Make this your habit, so you won’t forget in emergencies.

Breathe. Just breathe. Slowly. Take it all in, understanding you don’t have all the answers. Remember? You can’t control it all.

Consciously choose to accept with grace, to the extent that you are able, what is happening now. I recently read a wonderful quote by Corrie Ten Boom:

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow
It only empties today of it’s strength.

For those of you suffering severe stress right now, I encourage you to watch this amazing TED talk by Kelly McGonigal: How to make stress your friend. I found just taking the time, all precious 15 minutes or so, recharged me. It reminded me why we are gifted with our present. We have this beautiful opportunity to be brave as we rise to the occasion of our challenges.

You WILL suffer.

You WILL have to make a choice (even not choosing is still a choice).

Be brave.  And may you choose well.

 

 

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Close your eyes. Just listen to some pop pscyhology. There. Did your demons float away if only for a few minutes?

Things I Experienced While Running Away

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“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”  ― Søren Kierkegaard

(Morning view where Liz and Marley like to run…okay, walk usually)

    It had to happen. I had to do it.

I’m talking about running. It’s been too long. You know when it’s time? When the earth’s gravitational force suddenly doubles.

You look in the mirror and see the pudge you’ve been avoiding. Tired eyes. A face that could use a lift.   An attitude that often hovers between exhaustion and who cares? Shabby clothes accessorized with a heavy dose of apathy.

I was just about to take a nap. After all, I’d earned it. Moments earlier I had daftly slid dinner out of a box and into the oven and had just plopped onto the couch after another repetitious day of exhaustion battling the minute by minute necessary chores and emergencies called life. You know what I’m talking about. You have those days too.

But instead, a rare divine moment of alchemy overtake me. That inner whisper that says, “GET UP (you sloth)!” That and the soft sadness of my dog’s whimpering. Oh, the not-so-subtle guilt of my lab’s droopy eyes and hopeful but pouty mouth.

     Fine then! I exerted a small amount of supernatural strength and laced up my running shoes. These suck. They hurt my feet and need replacing. Anyway.

Grab the poopy bags. In my case, it’s a minimum of a dozen; running with labs requires a bit of extra preparation.   Collar. Leash. Quick sips of water. Tunes. Keys. Lock door. Check. Slam door. Go!

Put something on with 4/4 beat and start pounding. It hurts. I don’t seem to have a regular rhythm or routine to running these days. It was the 2nd time in a week, but also in about six months as well.

So consistency is not my strong suit. What can I say? Keep going Liz I tell myself.

A few houses later I drift past my neighbor’s house. Her daughter will marry this weekend. Bless them I think. So busy I bet. Time to keep going. A few seconds later I float past another neighbor’s home with two dogs who speak in the language that only dogs know. They announce loudly, “HEY! IT’S MARLEY AND LIZ! DOES ANYONE IN THE HOUSE HEAR ME? IT’S MARLEY AND LIZ!”   I’m tempted to stop and go pet them. Better not. That’d be the end of tonight’s workout.

Huffing and puffing, I make it to the end of block one. YES! The next ten houses is straight down hill. I’m cruising to a little John Reuben singing Bobble Head.

     “Let me see your neck neck bobbing with the vertical fist. You put the two together and it goes like this.”

Christian rap. It’s the only kind I can tolerate. I feel kind of like a bada** listening to it.   When I was running, I knew I would have to write about it later. I knew right then and there I would at some point use the substitute word bada** because I don’t have the literary courage to say well…you know the real word.

I’ve now gone straight down the vertical hill bobbing with my horizontal fist pulling my dog who also doubles as my resistance trainer.  Ok, now I’m getting into it a tiny bit. Just keep going I tell myself. Like the wise Clownfish sage Dory who is forever embedded into our collective subconscience with her exuberant message:

     Just Keep Swimming

     Because that’s what I’m doing, metaphorically speaking. I’m swimming against the tides of life most days it seems.

Technology that overwhelms us with it’s incessant “reply ASAP” feeling. Or more frustratingly frequent: websites that give me the FREEZE OUT. Passwords that I know by heart suddenly don’t work. Pages don’t load.   Email I don’t have time for or read.  People I should but don’t reply to.  News doesn’t ring true. Trolls say mean things. Things disappear. And then fall apart.     Yeah, and that’s just my digital life.

So I keep going. Running. I’m playing a mental game I played in my early twenties when my first son had incredible colic. I used to run with a Walkman CD player on my hand like a pizza delivery man so it wouldn’t skip.

I’d run away. I’d run away from the noise.

I’d run from the responsibilities I didn’t think I could handle for one more day.

I’d run far, far away from the stress and go to the imaginary place in my head where everything is copacetic and cool. In this place in my head, people agree and life isn’t determined by income, time constraints, or other people’s desires. In fact there aren’t even voices, just faces. And music. And animals. And just this peacefulness.   I admit, it’s kind of a selfish utopia.   And though I always knew it didn’t really exist, it always felt so good to be running towards it, striving, endlessly striving to find it.

I’m about ¾ of a mile now. Not that far, but I’ve already thought more thoughts then steps travelled. This much I know is true.

I’m running away again. I’m running away from Hillary. I’m running away from Donald. I’m running away from ALL THAT because I’m so tired of hearing about it, thinking about it, and in shreds as what to do about it.

       I run thinking if I just run far enough and hard enough I might possibly be able to run out of this spare tire that is causing serious bladder inconvenience. I mean really. You throw a tire on a water balloon and see which object survives.

       I’m running away from my bullet-point two-page To Do List that I still haven’t gotten through from Monday. I’m running from all the responsibilities and future things I don’t know if I can handle. I’m trying not to run while amoritizing the remainder of my mortgage while simultaneously figuring out our emergency equity thanks to rising home values.   Still, worry thoughts creep in. I shoo these thoughts away with my hand while flying down hill again. My dog is so lucky. He thinks of none of this. He just breathes the cool air and keeps running.

A weird thing happens next. As I literally swat away my pesky thoughts, a small missile hits me in the forehead. At least that’s what it feels like. It’s a bug; who knows what kind? Clearly an armor-shelled kind like a beetle or something. I silently thank God for not allowing him to fly into my open mouth. That would’ve scarred me for life.

Still stepping out. Next stop. A teenage girl is melded into her boyfriend against a car under the street light in an intimate embrace. Oh yeah. I remember. I was young once. Slow down sweetheart I think.   It only gets harder from here. Then harder still. Enjoy. Don’t rush. You’ll be grown sooner than you think.

Soon, I’m by the house that always dries their clothes at night. My goodness! They use the best dryer sheets! It pours out of their dryer vent and perfumes at least three yards. It smells so clean and pure. At this moment I’m listening to U2’s “Lady With The Spinning Head” at top volume, an absolute running favorite of mine. I smell this and close my eyes and suddenly I’m six years old again. I’m running through sheets in a clothes line in a little dress with my wavy hair blowing and shoeless feet. I’m not really here I imagine. We are all just whispers in someone else’s dream. I’m breathing better. I feel the rope of anxiety releasing a bit from my neck.   It’s all going to be okay I think. At least I hope it will be.

It’s totally dark now. I always run at night since my first free moment from responsibility rarely falls before sunset. Anyway, I hit a dark patch for a while, and then I find myself under a tree arched over the sidewalk. A man with a jet black dog has suddenly appeared. I yank out my earphones as I realize he’s been talking to me for a while. I catch the end of his sentence: “We’ve been waiting for a while for you.”

I’m not alarmed. It’s not the way it sounds, but I had to quickly transition from the music-lined utopia in my head to absorb and comprehend what he meant.   Then I got it. His dog was as excited to meet my dog and I, as much as my dog was jazzed about meeting the two of them.

Anytime I come to a complete HALT after running hard, I sort of feel like my heart might explode, but mostly I was trying to just be cool as I didn’t want this neighbor I’ve not met yet to have to call 911 and deal with two rambunctious dogs.

We chat and laugh a bit over the crazy antics of excited dogs. Now I’m glad it’s nearly pitch dark. Like I said earlier, spare tire issues are seriously annoying me here! I need to get home to make the round-the-block bathroom trip again.

Home again and quick pit stop then it’s out the door to make another neighborhood orbit. It’s easier this time. Every house left behind is another step towards victory, another step in the right direction. I’m about to complete my second lap. I’m looking down focused on breathing mesmerized by my tall shadows under the streetlights. I’m skinnier when I’m fifteen feet tall. I like it like this and…..

     JESUS! I look up. Just standing there is a skeleton in a hoodie with a scythe in his hand. Seriously, I said JESUS when I saw this because that is the quickest best prayer you can ever pray when you have your wits scared out of you.

It was only a few feet from the sidewalk.   Out of the corner of one eye, I saw a glimpse of something as I was chasing after my own shadow. So I looked up. As I approached the darkened house with porch lights turned off, the dark shadowy figure seemed to come out of nowhere. Don’t panic! It’s just a skelly with a scythe–but it’s not real! The not real part took a nanosecond or two to click in. It was just a life-size Halloween decoration a few feet away from their front porch..a few days early.

See, Liz? I told you it was a good idea that you learn to run faster. Besides it was just a decoration. I did a double take. It hadn’t moved…. yet. But we live in a weird world these days. I double checked with my dog. He wasn’t alarmed. He was still pacing himself one dog’s length ahead of me, so it must be okay.

Life and death. Love and loss. Alone, yet not.  Cool breeze mixed with hot sweat.   Fear and hope and faith. Reality and dreamland.  Our only true constant we navigate by is change. Time passed and time still to go.   Miles still to run and words still to write, I press on. Ever onward.

 

 

 

Scrolling Past It All: Intentionally Choosing To Be Missing Out

It’s 2016 and time to make those resolutions. Hmmm….which ones should I commit to this year? Which ones will I realistically keep? Don’t think too hard about the ones I might just fail miserably at.   Or just maybe—I may succeed?

I made a list of a few things I hope to accomplish this year, but all of them can be summed up by one desire:

To better live each day and moment with intentionality, purpose, and organization.

I’ve been a bit overwhelmed in 2015 and have been dealing with some anxieties. The problem with anxiety is this; it’s like interest -– it compounds. The more you think about all that makes you anxious, the more your anxiety exponentially increases. Meanwhile, the law of entropy continues to thrive: Things fall apart—continually.  Everything decays as time passes.   Anxiety plus entropy is hard enough, but if you add procrastination to the mix?

Aye yi-yi. The triple threat of the unproductive life has arrived.

Because with each passing moment, our internal time clock knows we have one less minute to sort thru the complexities of life than we had a minute ago.

Are you stressed yet? If you’re still reading this, you’ve already lost one minute of your busy day.   You could’ve plowed thru an email or two, perhaps deleted 8 or 10 junk ones, but for whatever reason you’re still here. So I’ll try to cut to the chase.

I like to write. I’m also kinda-sorta trying to grow a photography business—I think. Or put it this way, my hobby is trying to stretch me in new directions that I’m trying to decide if I wish to pursue. While still homeschooling full-time. And working part-time, minimally, but responsibilities still beckon. Oh, and be available for a mom who is getting older. There’s also time allotted for church, scouts, sports, clubs, groups, and time invested still with grown children by attempting to know their busy schedules and still have time to hear their plans and dreams for the future.   There are chores, emails, voicemails, texts, bills, and requests. Then there are gadgets galore with menus, parts, batteries, and well….issues. It’s all too much.

I’ve been feeling this epiphany brewing in me for some time now:

I actually already know what I need to do. You probably know too.

We have to do less, in order to do more, or at least do better.

       But what to give up?

For me, I know that I know that I know: I absolutely am going to have to get off social media a lot more in 2016. I know people don’t really want, need or care to know my every whimsical thought, opinion about, or plans for “x”.   And though I love sharing so many photos, or even my writing, I have to brace myself with this fact:

       I’m overwhelmed with all that’s out there, you probably are too.

       So here we are. Three minutes gone for you, thirty for me. We have some decisions to make this year don’t we?   How now, do we spend this moment, this day that we’ve been given?

Sometimes we have to just scroll on by it all.   So much information is out there. But we have to just turn away and keep going, if we’re going to get anything done at all.   We have to not look sometimes, and do it fast.

A little less Facebook, Instagram, and Tweets? Oh well.

It’s okay if we don’t know it all. It’s not like we can fix it all anyway. It’s okay if we don’t respond to what all seems urgent. No comment does not equate to doesn’t care. It’s okay if we choose to “miss out” on the people’s news sometimes. The world isn’t going anywhere. And honestly, on some days I’d rather not know the news, be it world news or social news. I just want to live in the solitude of my cocoon for a day or so.

Call it weird. Call it antisocial. Call it worrisome. Call it intelligent. Call it rebellious.   I just call it the Liberation of Liz.

May 2016 find you at peace. Be well as you navigate your life this year and all its complex priorities.

Living in Today

Living in Today      I have a daughter who lives on the other side of the world right now.  It’s weird, because wherever she is, she is nineteen hours ahead of me thanks to daylight savings time and 8000 miles of ocean and continents.   Whenever we talk, she is always living in tomorrow, but I am still stuck right here: IN TODAY.   When we Skype, I usually start with, “So tell me, what can you tell me about MY tomorrow that I don’t know will happen yet?”

      I find it interesting that my Monday is always her Tuesday and so on.  So in an attempt to avoid Murphy’s law and various other pitfalls, I jokingly request she give me tomorrow’s headlines for my life as soon as she knows them.

Okay, not really, but it almost seems plausible.

          I find myself having this same beef with God lately.  Could you please let me know what’s coming down the pike tomorrow?

     You see it’s been a challenging year here.  Life situations  (aka “crisis events”) have been too many and too close together.

It’s too much!  I’d say while shaking my fists, as if God had suddenly decided that Job needed a twin sister!  I can’t bear another bit.  Silence.  Other than the sometimes discouraging and fear-inciting voices inside my head .

How many times have I looked at today’s headlines or story line in my life, and then logically predetermined tomorrow’s outcome?

Then like Ty Pennington giving some lucky family a spanking brand new home on Extreme Home Makeover, God who is merciful gave me a Big Reveal moment inside the quirky head that is home to what can only be described as Liz Logic.

Yes, the same brain that is home base to creative pursuits such as writing and photography and imagination of every dimension is also the executive studio of worry, FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real as Joyce Meyer adequately acronymed it!) and as a triple treat: anxiety.

It’s indeed hard to live fully present, in the present.  I haven’t perfected it.  But I have started attempting it more.  It’s a process of mindful letting goPrayer helps.  As does focusing on the positive moments of the day and small victories achieved.

Also essential?  A network of like-minded friends.  Negativity breeds in times of uncertainty.  So does positivity.  Pick one.

But the most important thing is living for today is simply LIVE TODAYNot tomorrow, today.   The bible tells us not to worry about tomorrow because apparently we were designed to have only enough mental storage capacity for worries for ONE DAY ONLY.   That is all the room for worry the human brain can comfortably hold.   We are told God’s grace is always sufficient for the day.  He even knows the number of exact number of hairs on our head (which for some unfortunate souls have diminished to the “less than 100” range as evidenced by comb-over fashion futility).  Yes, God dresses the lilies of the fields finer than kings and cares for the sparrow, how much more does he care about me?

If God’s promises are true for eternity, they are certainly true for today.  But it takes FAITH, an earnest attempt at, not just reading or memorizes promises, but believing them to be true.

Having a crystal ball or magic time machine that could tell me what tomorrow will bring wouldn’t ultimately fix the circumstances that will invariably arise.  But having faith in the God who holds tomorrow will at least help us get through.

SOME PERSPECTIVE ABOUT LIVING FOR TODAY:

Yesterday is but today’s memory, and tomorrow is today’s dream.  Khalil Gibran

When Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow meet, only Today gets to shake hands twice. That makes Today twice as important as the other two. But it also means that Today must be careful, because who knows whether Yesterday or Tomorrow washed their hands after going to the bathroom.”    Jarod Kintz

Diving into an Empty Pool

PHOTO CREDIT:  JOSEPH HANCOCK

       There’s a lot of talk these days that at the end of next month America is going to go off the end of the fiscal cliff. Yeah?  So what.   As for me and my household:  I’m tired of fearing:

  • The beginning of the end
  • Calamity and destruction
  • Everything is beyond our control
  • There is no solution here
  • We’re not going to make it

At least that’s how I am feeling about things these days.

The thing is this:  What percentage of your life do you think you actually have control?  The longer I live, the more I realize the decisions of others greatly affect my own from political to professional to personal.  But I am learning the gift of unplugging.

Unplugging doesn’t mean checking out.  It means you unplug from the source of stress that frequently drives you. 

It’s really a challenge to unplug.  It requires some heavy lifting, sometimes more arduous than turning OFF the power to the remote.   It takes more strength than to be able to single-handedly not check your email, Facebook status and comments, and news of the world via your smart device every hour.

I’m not advocating an “ignorance is bliss” attitude, but more of an ignorance is blessed attitude.  Another words, if you are unable to control much of what is going on around you, then perhaps it’s time to dive into a different pool.

We can’t continue to wade in the waters of a cesspool and expect that we will be able to swim capably, much less see clearly.   When we look at our circumstances or even the choices of others that certainly affect us, it’s easier to drown in a pool of pity or the sea of sorrow than it is to look past the horizon of hell that seemingly threatens to consume us.

There’s only way to survive that which you cannot control.   You have to release the limitations of your human understanding.  You have to embrace the sovereignty of a higher power.  You have to trust God.

Simultaneously letting go while hanging on—it’s hard sometimes.

It can be done.

But only if you dive into a different well.   Dive into a wellspring of life by trusting God when you don’t have the answers to why and are tired of trying to find them. 

We see the experiences of our lives and state of our world and usually look to friends or other people or the knowledge of the various media to explain it to us and make sense of it.   Often there is an element of truth to what we learn.  But much of it is agenda, even propaganda.

In the end, it feels like we are diving into an empty pool:   Unsafe.  Fear.  Vast emptiness.  You’re rapidly about to hit bottom!   Knowledge and news can’t answer questions such as:

Why?

What now?

What is my role, if any, in this?

Before diving off the cliff of sanity, change pools.  Dive into a pool of water where your spirit is nourished and your spirit is refreshed.    Dive into a pool where trust is your life preserver in a world of tribulation.    Dive deep in faith and know that God is good and in control and can give you the necessary healing, wisdom, clarity, or compassion called for any confusion or circumstance you have.   Don’t delay.  Dive today!

 VERSES TO HELP YOU UNPLUG FROM CIRCUMSTANCES AND DIVE A BIT DEEPER INTO FAITH:

I waited patiently for God to help me; then He listened and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out from the bog and the mire, and set my feet on a hard, firm path and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, of praises to our God. Now many will hear of the glorious things He did for me, and stand in awe before the Lord, and put their trust in Him. Psalms 40:1-3 (The Living Bible)

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank Him for His answers. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ. Philippians 4:6-7 (The Living Bible)

You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal. Isaiah 26:3-4

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Be strong! Be courageous! Do not be afraid of them! For the Lord your God will be with you. He will neither fail you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6

 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. John 14:18

The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters,
but one who has insight draws them out.  Proverbs 20:5

 

String Theory

“A World Without String is Chaos”

The framed motto on the wall of the recently deceased father, Randolph Smuntz
“Mouse Hunt” (The Movie)

Liz – Circa 1987 – At (that time) The World’s Biggest Ball of Twine in Cawker City, Kansas

Barefoot, pregnant, pink plaid maternity top, black Hawaii print shorts

I am living proof that chaos exists on a single thread!

I’m convinced the physical laws that order our universe, are also the same laws set in motion in our own little universe– our puny little lives on this big green and blue marble we call home.  Scientists with brains bigger than cantaloupes have made some astonishing findings regarding string theory:  Allow me to be so bold as to compare myself with the universe:

The universe has quarks; I have quirks.

The strings of the universe have p-branes (among other membranes) and I’ve been known to have a pea-brain sometimes.

The strings of the universe contain flavor; I have a unique personality, understood not even by me on most days.   I guess the flavor of me could be described as a rich oak-like taste, with suggestions of almond, and strong hints of dark chocolate.

The universe’s strings contain charge.  I too charge bravely into the wide unknown most days with an energy that seems boundless when I’m tapping into the creative side; likewise, I feel depleted when I’m doing things I’d rather not.

The universe’s strings contain mass.  No kidding!  My mass is heavier than an ideal BMI chart suggests, but as long as I have particles, I can rest assured my mass is here to stay, and despite increased motion, growing stealthily I might add.

My favorite property regarding string theory?  The universe has spin!  Me too!  I spin my wheels everyday like a squirrel zippering around the yard on a frantic nut hunt.  I randomly flit from Facebook to mothering to cleaning to email purging to working a part time job to cooking to errand running to bill paying to writing when I really should be sleeping.  Whatever task I’m doing currently seems to rob from the other essential task that ought to be tended to, especially mothering.  Oh, there’s string theory in my world alright, but it’s more like a tangled ball of twine on most days.

String dynamics are governed by two things:  Tension and Kinetic Energy. Both of which I have an abundance of.  When I don’t know how to relieve my tension, I build up more kinetic energy and can’t sit still, focus, follow through, or proceed in an orderly fashion.  No, it’s not ADHD, it’s just Liz Logic at work.  Or as my dear friend Jana says, “Follow the bouncing ball!”  It all makes sense in the end–sort of.

There’s a bunch more information about string theory under said topic in Wikipedia…..yada, yada, yada, lots of science words, blah, blah, blah, and then this nugget:

“Einstein’s equations for general relativity mean that string theory is a quantum theory of gravity.    Since string theory is widely believed, to be mathematically consistent, many hope that it describes our universe, thus making it a Theory of Everything.

And there you have it folks!  We are all strings.  Pull us too tight—that is to say when too many hardships, or complex situations, or too much information to process, or too many feelings to deal with happen, our cosmological constant is thrown off.  It’s hard to put things in perspective (i.e. general relativity) when you can’t remember which way to plant your feet to find gravity.

Our internal universe can be as unstable and ever-changing as the universe around us.  Just like we can’t see it changing before us, sometimes others can’t see us changing right in front of them.  That’s because they’re lost too!  Why they’re busy  tripping the light fantastic in their “own little universe!”

So when life can be overwhelming with all we must process, what to do, you ask?

Start an on-line relationship with an astrophysicist?  Read your horoscope and then decide?  Buy a lottery ticket?   Increase your knowledge?

Perhaps.  Maybe it’s easier than that.  Try prayer!  Faith steps in when science quits explaining, is unable to explain, or is just too complex.   Prayer does something else:

  • It makes us get quiet.
  • It takes the focus off our self, the problems we have, and those of the world.
  • We can temporarily become unsuspended in time.
  • It helps us to unthink and unfeel.  It’s a chance to unwind and unload.

We can simply be.  We can rest all our quarks, concerns, atoms, shortcomings, electrons, anxieties, photons, problems, dualities, and thoughts.  We can lay it ALL down.    We are but a blip—a small micro-dot on a string in time and space.     But unlike theories, we are not merely relative, we are relevant.  We aren’t just matter; we matter.

And now you know Liz’s Theory of Everything!

Art on Display in American Tobacco Building – August 2012 – Durham, NC

Art Credit TBA (My Apologies—I didn’t write it down, but isn’t this amazing?)

A Prayer for the Strung Out, The Stretched-Too Thin, or in some other way Gravitationally-Impaired:

Thank you God for creating each one of us and for creating the universe, and for attending to all the problems each of us contains.  At any given moment, the world’s problems and our problems compete for first chair in our mind.   That’s because we live life under the physical law known as The Uncertainty Principle.  Since we have no choice but to trust that our immediate universe won’t fall out of orbit anytime soon, then maybe we can have faith just big enough to trust that you won’t let us fall completely out of orbit either.  May we find our stability and peace in you.   Amen.