Exhale

OK, it’s time for Theology 101–a la YouTube!
I saw this video (below) on Facebook a few months ago. It’s humorous, but it also expresses the deep and sometimes mind-boggling concept of grace.
I’m a perfectionist (surprised?) As a teenager, I struggled furiously with the idea of God’s grace. Me, a fundamentally flawed person? Good enough only because of Jesus? I wanted to work hard enough, perform well enough, prove to God that I deserved His approval–as if God carried around a cosmic clipboard where I could earn His love if I just got enough check marks. I’d rather not be indebted to that guy Jesus. I’ll do it myself, thank you very much. Sometimes I got the puffed-up feeling I was doing pretty well at God’s game. Other times I was crushed beneath the weight of total inadequacy, failure, and self-loathing.
Maybe it was life experience, maybe tiredness, maybe the spirit of God catching up with my stubborn soul. But there came a day, my shoulders scrunched tight from trying to stand tall enough, when I realized I could exhale. Because Jesus paid it all. I read in Romans 8 that God has no condemnation for those who are in Jesus–that He keeps no cosmic clipboard, no record of check marks or failures. His son’s love is the amazing eraser of “good enough.” And that discovery was the relief of my life.

How have you experienced grace? From God? From other people? 

Dance Like No One’s Watching

OK, it’s time for a happier post on here.
Start by watching this video. Trust me, the rest of this post won’t make sense without it. It’s got over 40 million views.
Matt is a guy (from Seattle, actually) who only knows one dance. It’s a dorky dance. But, not caring what other people thought, he first did it in front of a camera in Asia. He put it up on YouTube, and before long his video was so popular that Stride Gum sponsored him to do it again–to travel the world and dance. 
What I like about this video is that it’s a guy doing his dance–his dorky dance, the only dance he knows–wherever he goes, no matter who’s watching, no matter if anybody’s doing it with him. He starts out doing it alone. He dances in marketplaces where everyone’s looking at him funny and on empty beaches full of crabs. He dances in the rain, on a sand dune, on cliff ledges. But he doesn’t stop dancing. 
People are attracted to that courageous spirit–the choice to “dance like no one’s watching.” In the video, people flock to him. And then they start to imitate him. The single dancer is joined by a handful, then by a crowd, then by an entire flash mob. Every person gives it their own spin–Polish teenagers doing disco, kids from the Solomon Islands jumping around–but the original dancer’s dauntless drive, his cheerfulness and confidence, is contagious all around the world. 

I don’t know what it is you do to bless the world around you. It might be the thing you do for a living; it might not. It might just be your unique personality, your attitude. Whether you fix computers, write books, balance accounts, listen to hurting friends, jump rope with kids, or just face your day with a smile, keep doing it. God made you as you are, so being yourself is your best gift to share with the world. Dare to do your own dance, no matter how dorky or insignificant it feels, no matter who’s watching, no matter if anyone at all is watching. That attitude is brave, and it’s contagious. You never know whose life you are touching. 

Poetry with Feet

With the weather back to spring temperatures here in California and more rain predicted for this week, I found a poem I wrote about a month ago. This was about the time I started taking walks every morning. I’ve found that a walk in the morning, even if it’s only fifteen minutes, gives me a chance to take care of myself holistically, focus my thoughts for the day, and get ready to write.

Morning walks are especially fun on those days when rain is blustering on the horizon, like a little boy full of energy, but it hasn’t quite come into itself yet. The air is full of wind and electricity, and in spring, all the flower scents blow everywhere and the green comes out to shine. On one of those days, I went for a long walk, wearing my rain jacket but only occasionally needing it. A poem started to form in my head (and of course I forgot my Moleskine at home) but I repeated it out loud to myself, tinkering with the sounds of the words until the neighbors probably thought I was crazy, to keep it fresh until I got home.

And now I’m going to get brave and share it with you: the first poem I’ve put up on this blog.

Nomad

I walk shadowless under a sunless sky.

Sun’s brightness swallowed in

filmy grey envelopes,

 distant hills erased,

painted out in white.

I am rainchased,

windswept,

a petal blown on a gust,

a wave whipped across a pond.

I drink in the smell of sweet freesias

and sharp spicy rosemary,

I caress fragile budding leaves,

I see silver shreds flapping in the wind.

I walk under rain, but I am not wet;

I wander abroad, but I am not lost.

What interesting thoughts have come to you while walking? 

Raindrops on Roses

Last week, it rained almost all week. 
When I was living in Seattle, the rain frustrated me. It was constant. All I could think about were wet socks, frizzy hair, cold fingers, dirty puddles, indoor mold. 
Now that I’m back in California, where showers are balanced with sunshine, it’s easier for me to be thankful for the rain. Now I go out in my rain boots with my camera, enjoying the beauty that the rain brings, especially to the rose garden. I’ve always loved taking close-ups of dew-studded roses. I hope you enjoy the results!

They’re little miracles, reminders of the beauty brought even by hardship, signs of joy even in the rain. They remind me of the song from The Sound of Music:

“Raindrops on roses, and whiskers on kittens…

 “bright copper kettles, and warm woolen mittens…

“brown paper packages, tied up with string…

“these are a few of my favorite things!”

Happy Monday! What’s beautiful in your world today?

A Piece of Cake

This Monday takes the cake.

Literally.

I planned to start this week out by meeting my friend Ashley at Starbucks. Little did I expect her and her parents to step out of the car and hand me a big white box with a beautiful leather-bound book inside.

An edible book.

Yes, folks, that is a Les Miserables CAKE. I devoured Victor Hugo’s famous work my senior year of high school, and it’s been one of my favorite books ever since, but I never expected to literally be able to EAT it. 
Ashley and her mom Angie are amazing cake artisans (you can check out some of their other jaw-dropping creations here). Look at the incredible details!
Doesn’t the icing really look like leather? How cool is that? 

 And possibly my favorite detail: a big-eyed bookworm creeping around the corner 🙂

It even has my name on the spine! Thank you, Ashley and Angie, for kicking my week off to a great start. 
So, did anybody else find a surprise planted in their Monday? Or want to come over for some cake?