Friday, March 25, 2011

Clammy Clam

Here's what I know about clams:
- On my tongue, clams feel like tongues.
- Clams are known for their happiness.
- That's all I know about clams.

Clams should not be famously happy. They should instead be famously stubborn, closed and taciturn. Years ago, little brother Jonny and I sat on the sun-soaked steps outside our room in Santa Barbara trying to open a clam. We made zero progress after a very, very concerted effort. Jonny even tried to pry it open with a knife (Sorry, PETA, we were curious children). Nothing except a chip out of the shell. The clam and its chip are now somewhere in the bushes outside Casa Del Mar, and may he (she?) rest in peace.

closed clam.

I sometimes share this clam-like quality, because it's easier to lock some parts away in a vault than to let people see. It's more comfortable to look to the side than to look someone in the eye. It can be frightening to think someone might be able to see my insecurities, my fears, my broken dreams. What would they do if they knew?!

Most of us have scars, big and little, left over from living openly in front of someone who made us never want to open up again. My natural reaction is to close up shop, call it a day, settle for "normal". But then we stumble upon Luke 4:18-19 and discover another option. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord." Jesus Christ came to set free.

What response could a person have to incomprehensible love than total freedom? Jesus saw my worst. Dirty, ugly, dead. But He didn't turn away. He wanted me. And that's what His sacrifice on the cross means for all of us. I belong to Him, today, tomorrow and forever! Why would I want to close up and live in fear of being known? He knows everything to know and still loves.

open clam. As you can see, open can also be ugly.
 But that's okay.
Responding to an offer of freedom doesn't come without risk. There is still huge risk of hurt. But think about the risk of never opening up. Ugh. The people I enjoy and admire most in life are open. They're not afraid to let me see their mistakes. I've seen them without makeup on, and we're still friends. Growth happens when we open up. We benefit, others benefit.

When you watch the blossoms open on trees the next few weeks, try to follow their lead and live a life of open beauty. We want to see you.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Blessing and a Curse

The Taurus and I were driving home the other day when it happened. I liked the song playing on the radio, and I actually reached out my hand to hit "Like". Where I thought my hand was going, I'm still not sure. It wasn't until I almost touched the dashboard that I realized my car has no "Like" button. That's only Pandora and Facebook. 

On numerous occasions when I've needed a tool of some sort (a vacuum, hammer, bottle opener, etc.), my first thought is to see if my phone has an app for that. This is embarrassing! Am I dumb? Maybe. But I live in a world of electronics. People almost don't know how to experience life without an electronic device on or near their person at all times. My very first instinct when I encounter something I like, dislike, or need to solve, is to see how my gadgets can help me accomplish what I'm doing. I have a huge world out there. One so big it fits in the palm of my hand.

If I didn't have Yelp mobile, how would I ever decide where to eat?! If Pandora didn't create perfectly customized playlists, I might not even like music, or know half of what I listen to even existed. How would I ever have time to pay bills, get directions, and read the news if I couldn't do it on the go, when and where and how I wanted to?  

This perfectly customizable life is the good life... right? We've arrived?  

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Party of One

I try my darndest to avoid the "relationship" topic on the blog, mostly because I'm single, don't want to be single forever and don't want to talk about my good/bad/mediocre dates here, for all the world to see. A blog is not a diary, or at least this one's not.

Last Saturday, I celebrated an engagement for the 47th time this year. Okay, fifth time. Sixth. And it was the sweetest thing you've ever seen. He wrote a song for her, and in the last line asked her to marry him. A sweet little "yes!" squeaked out between sobs. It was also the first proposal I've ever been invited to eavesdrop on.

After the congratulations and hugs were all given, I plopped down on an oversized chair with my other single friend, looked at her and said, "We're it." We're all that's left of this massive, thriving, singleness that was our huge group of friends. Singleness in group form is fine. Great, even. Singleness in single form is, well... single. At my finest moment of drama later that evening, I felt as though all my friends and I were waiting at the station for the adventurous train of wonder. They all boarded and waved at me through the windows as they pulled away, smiling and cuddly. I sat there on the bench, forlorn, wondering what I'd just missed.

That lasted about a day. Because after I cry, I must laugh. And single ladies have a lot to laugh about. My roommate and I couldn't move the entertainment center. My entire weekly grocery purchase fits in the 15-item Express checkout line. Bridesmaid dresses have their own line in the budget. And then there's navigating the dating maze, which is a book all by itself.

I'm preparing for a bit more difficult and lonely road ahead, and I can smell the desert-like place I was in two years ago. I could never describe that time as fun, but it was perhaps the most meaningful time of my life. If I can say that about whatever lies ahead, I will be thankful for every moment no matter how hard it is. Remember that piece of art I wrote about earlier this month? What that lion symbolizes has taken center stage in my heart, and resting in the warm companionship of his protection and grace is the only place I'd like to be right now.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Windows open for the first time in months, flannel sheets return to the closet, boots and scarves switch places with the shorts and tees under the bed. It is 66 degrees at this moment, and the people love it. Ski dreams are done, and now we start to dream of gardens, concerts in the park, patio dinners, and bicycles.

I can't help but be excited for the new season, and confess that I will lose sleep due to anticipation. It's bad. But this is true of every season. I have the same thoughts four times a year, so forgive me if this post is a repeat.

There is a tinge of sadness as we say goodbye to winter for another year, but buds on trees and the warm breeze on my face make me smile. A new season is a delight for the senses. It brings a sense that this change is just how things should be. This is how the world works.

I can't deny the underlying surge of comfort and peace that come with this change, because my soul knows it's a sign of faithfulness. This may be why we find such pleasure in watching the sun rise or set. It's not because we fear we'll never see it again, but because we know we will, and comfort is in the beauty and the steadiness. In this God tangibly shows His presence, His steadfastness and His attention to detail. When a bud turns into a blossom, we know He lives, and that He's worthy of trust.

I hope you see peace and joy in this change, wherever you're enjoying Spring.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Chateau de Peveto

Tucked back in the evergreens, around the bend in the road and across the creek is a little place I like to call Chateau de Peveto. I packed my overnight bag, grabbed my hat and drove an hour and a half northwest last Friday to visit my friends, Travis and Heidi. They left sidewalks and front lawns behind about six months ago to start a new life in the wild, with the pine trees, the animals and the mountain folk.

This is Chateau de Peveto.

This is Mr. and Mrs. Peveto, and this creek is in their front yard.

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What does one do in a place like this?

First, you breathe. Literally. The air is as clean and fresh as it gets. You might even feel that you as a person are cleaner and smell nicer, unless you sit too long at the soup bar and smell like cafeteria for the rest of the day. 

Second, you breathe. Figuratively. This life is the simple life, and it causes you to breathe slowly and deeply and to notice your surroundings. Most evenings are spent in front of a wood-burning fire with a good book, hot tea, two big dogs putting their noses in your ear (or maybe that was just my ear), and the peaceful company of the one you love. Saturday mornings are slow, with a delicious breakfast made in a sun-soaked kitchen. After the scrambled eggs, bacon and pastry, you could stroll around the property and discuss whether or not you should raise goats, what to do about the fence you want to remove or where to put the ziplines for when the mountain children come along. 

Third, you wake up with the sun no matter how late you fell asleep. But you're excited because you know if you put your feet on the cold floor and walk to the window, the view will be worth it.  You realize that silence is good for you, and that when you're hanging your legs over the barn loft door, everything in life is carefree and happy.

The whole place sings. 

If you want the insider's perspective, read Heidi's thoughts on mountain life here


Friday, March 11, 2011

Ignorance does not equal Bliss

This morning was spent in a small room with older, wiser people who have spent years on their knees before God. They know Him well and they know His Word, and it was from that perspective that they talked about the current state of world affairs. It's a frightening thing and can be overwhelming if I lose sight of God's promises and stop talking with Him. I need to wake up. Life requires more than enjoying its beauty. It seems like a storm is coming, and according to Scripture, this is correct. I don't want to be blown over because of a weak faith.

*Travelfwd blog*

John 15
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

We are safe and fruitful only when we abide there. Nowhere else. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

On Compliments

 EeeBee etsy shop
The girl behind the counter at the Post Office today was a natural beauty, the kind that looks photo-ready when she rolls out of bed after being sick for two days. She didn't believe this. I know because she did all sorts of things to herself that people do when they feel they wouldn't otherwise be noticed. My first thought was, "I should tell her she's pretty." Then my social filter kicked in, so I didn't. But the people who have eleven piercings on and around their face are often the very ones who need to hear a sincere compliment. I commented on her slender hands {this is a lot more awkward to type than I imagined} and got a hurried, flustered thank you. No eye contact. Not another word until good-bye, when I walked out wondering about compliments.

Was it my delivery? Or her acceptance?

Compliments come in every package imaginable. Insincere, sincere, inappropriate, the sort that make you blush, and then the ones you remember always. I've received some of each, and I've no doubt given some of each.

I've also had the privilege of meeting Chuck, whose compliment was the sort you remember always. Only this one was a compliment to himself. Gentlemen, watch and learn. I met Chuck in the parking lot at college. He was there for the baseball game, probably to watch his grandson. He roped me in with a question and then started talking about his bear-like physique. He held out his forearms and said, "Go 'head, give 'em a feel." Um. He also wanted to show me the scar on his chest and gave me his number on a napkin.

Compliments are gifts we can give without ever knowing their effect, but that's all the more reason to give them freely and happily. We never know how our words will affect someone. But you can probably still remember the day someone paid you a compliment that came at the perfect time and in the perfect way. You probably remember the shirt you were wearing. Maybe it was part of a radical change in you. And that person has no idea.

The two compliments I've received that I will never forget both came from older men I respect. The first was from my college writing professor, who was impossible on the outside but soft as cotton on the inside. He gave me a book for graduation and wrote on the inside cover, "You have all the hope in the world." If I ever write a book it will be dedicated to him. The second was from my old boss, and on my last day at work before moving to Colorado, he told me that if he had ever had a daughter, he'd want her to be just like me. I melt.

They don't have any idea what those words meant to me. They may never know. But I've learned that when you think someone is grand, it's always better when you say so.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

All because of Stickers

After a morning of sticking 500 labels on 500 envelopes, I wish I'd taken the day off and was instead paddling through piranha- and croc-infested waters to deliver a gallon of clean water to a remote tribe. Mundane repetition makes me imagine and wonder all sorts of things.

Like whether or not I will write a memoir of my happy childhood, and what I should title it.
Or why there is an urge inside me to create, why I'm afraid of it and what I'm going to do about it.
Or laugh at my idea to leave the car at home and take a pogo stick instead.
Or how to get over myself and make someone else's life beautiful.
Or Yikes!! Do I have a victim mentality?
Or what, exactly, is so wonderful about toast? Is it the endless possibilities? The texture? The perfect size?

Enough of that. One of these days, an imagination will come in handy. In the meantime, I'll do my darndest to be productive where I am.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Lady and the Lion

Here's a surprise for you: Colorado Springs has its own little First Friday Art Walk! It's charming and intimate, just like the west side itself. Last Friday, Roommate Andrea and I started downtown at the Modbo to see Shannon Dunn's Lady and the Lion exhibit. More on that later. From there, we went to Old Colorado City to find the treasure trove of artist's studios -- Second Floor Studios. I would be an artist just so I could have a studio there. I'd overlook the main street of historic Old Colorado City, become friends with all the other artists, and skip down the stairs for a steaming cuppa joe and live music at Jives. All the inspiration you need on one street corner.

We met several accomplished artists who travel the world in search of fascinating subject matter. We also met the painter of nudes who happens to offer lessons. We passed.

*Modbo postcard*

Back to the Lady and the Lion exhibit. It was because of this show I decided I must do the Art Walk, even if I had to go alone. The Modbo described the series like this, "...Dunn explores the characteristics of both God and humans in a body of work that is at once deeply personal and entirely accessible for the viewer." I admire and appreciate art, but rarely does it mean anything to me personally. This series, particularly her painting titled "Shelter", spoke to my soul. I stared at it, walked around the gallery and stared at it again. That painting was home.

This image is one of such rest, security and peace. God describes himself as the Lion of Judah throughout Scripture, mighty and powerful, gentle and graceful. The original painting is on a huge canvas, and the woman's face looks as though she knows something dangerous and frightening is out there, but she is calm, knowing she's safe as long as she stays there. The lion's look is confident, steadfast, sure. He is not rattled by what he sees, and he's aware of the girl sitting at his side. He will protect her. Nothing will get past him to harm her. I can't express how much this quiets my heart. you think she'd let me do her dishes for a year? Sweep her floors? Tell everyone I meet about her artwork? I could start eating Ramen Noodles and put everything else in a piggy bank. Even if it's never hanging on my wall, I will always remember the image and its meaning -- and that is priceless to me.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Difficult conversations, heavy news and puzzling circumstances created a sluggish step and a grumpy frown on my face this week. It was pretty. Bottom line, I remembered what it felt like to have a broken spirit that dries up the bones.

According to Proverbs, the cure is a joyful heart. Translated: laughter. Today I found that when my heart is heavy, laughter is more contagious than a yawn. Discussing family matters over lunch with my parents, somebody made a joke and a week's worth of laughter burst out. The amazing thing about laughter is its cycle. Happiness produces laughter, producing happiness, producing laughter. It's a happy tornado that sucks in innocent bystanders, and soon everyone's laughing. 

Laughter hijacks our control, perhaps the very source of our unhappiness. When you laugh, you can't even control your face. Some people throw their heads back and cackle with their mouths wide open. Some people hiss through their teeth. Others laugh silently, but their shoulders bob. Some snort. Some "ha!!" and are done, while others giggle on and on. Some look pained, or laugh until they cry. Some wet their pants. Some scrunch their noses. Some buckle over, slap their knees, or fall out of their chairs. 

A good laugh brings a smile to your face for the rest of the day. I know it's old news, but if you feel grumpy, smile! Or call your funniest friend. The reason for your sadness may still be there, but it will suddenly feel bearable. 

If you have a few minutes, watch this. It's impossible to watch without laughing.