Friday, November 30, 2012

Beautifully flawed

"So soon you will be in that part of the book where you are holding the bulk of the pages in your left hand, and only a thin wisp of the story in your right. You will know by the page count, not by the narrative that the Author is wrapping things up. You begin to mourn its ending, and want to pace yourself slowly toward its closure, knowing the last lines will speak of something beautiful, of the end of something long and earned, and you hope the thing closes out like last breaths, like whispers about how much and who the characters have come to love, and how authentic the sentiments feel when they have earned a hundred pages of qualification.

And so my prayer is that your story will have involved some leaving and some coming home, some summer and some winter, some roses blooming out like children in a play. My hope is your story will be about changing, about getting something beautiful born inside of you, about learning to love a woman or a man, about learning to love a child, about moving yourself around water, around mountains, around friends, about learning to love others more than we love ourselves, about learning oneness as a way of understanding God. We get one story, you and I, and one story alone." --Donald Miller

One story. At times, that is such a frightening thought to me. One chance. To do it all right. This week in particular feels like a harsh reminder of how much of my story I have already done wrong. The face in the mirror has reflected memories of failure, as a friend, a daughter, a sister, a girlfriend . . . there are so many pages in my story, I want to tear out and have replaced with lines that speak of something beautiful-something beautiful that people can read and see that my life wasn't about me, but about loving others more than myself, about forgiveness and compassion, sacrifice and kindness.

I know that a good story, one worth reading has to include obstacles and weaknesses that have to be overcome, tension between good and evil, right and wrong, and a hero who offers grace and salvation and saves the day. I know that a good story embraces that "to be human is to be beautifully flawed." But it is easy to fall into the trap of wishing for a life of no conflict, of no doubts that you are loved and cared for and wanted, of no tension between doing the right thing and doing what is easy, and of being your own super hero who saves the day.

I can often take my eyes off the dwindling sand in my hour glass and forget to embrace the people around me, to hold dear the time I have left. To be intentional about loving and giving of myself and to not live in the pages of wasted moments.

I know that embracing our brokenness is key to having an incredible story, because a story about an unbroken Mel would be dull, forgettable and meaningless. But a story that divulges and embraces my short comings, the seasons of droughts, and fears, and the struggles I daily face, make room for the only character that makes this life--our stories rememorable, powerful and unforgettable to enter.  It's in our brokenness that His beauty is seen. It is in that brokenness that He takes the pages that read of our mistakes, of our bad attitudes, of our evil thoughts, of our selfish living and follows them with chapters upon chapters of growth and change and learning to love and serve better---He adds in the beauty.

Beautifully flawed.

I believe that's how God wants our stories to read. Not running from our weaknesses and creating a glamorized fictitious tale of perfection, but to embrace our own story of unworthiness, to continually strive time and time and time and time again to become better today, tomorrow and the next day and the day after with His help, love and grace. To offer up our broken spirits and our contrite hearts, to admit our wrongs and our selfish desire for our stories to read only of us, and instead shining the light on The Hero and accepting His offer to make the most flawed story, breathtaking and remarkable.

Donald Miller goes on to say. "God has established the elements, the setting and the climax and the resolution" of each of our stories, and no matter what, I have to believe that whatever truths I see in my own reflection, whatever fires I see loved ones facing, or however many irreparable bridges I seem to collect along the way, that God's is using them to make the final words of my one story something beautiful . . .even if it is just one page at a time.
Psalms 51:17 “My sacrifice O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart . . .”

Monday, November 26, 2012

Dear Santa, thank you for my momma and daddyo!

"Our hearts grew tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmastime."   -Laura Ingalls Wilder
My parents did not do everything right, and they would be the first to tell you so. Things were not always perfect in our house, but despite the imperfections I am still enamored with my childhood. My parents had the uncanny ability of cultivating this magic that every child should be familiar with. And it's around the holiday season, that this childlike magic becomes life to me again. (Even though I am well beyond the years of listening for Santa's bells as I drift asleep.)

Christmas as a family, is very different for us these days. The kids have grown up, some have moved away and we have all have begun creating new traditions for our own families. The challenge of clearing calendars and making the time to all gather around the same Christmas tree seems to grow harder with each passing year. Even though I am sure there is some element of disappointment when we all can't be together Christmas morning, I hope my parents can see that the magic they generously gave us as little ankle bitters carries on to this day in our own unique ways.

From little green goodies on St. Patrick Day to Robin Egg stuffed Easter Baskets to hidden bikes from Santa Claus to Pumpkin patch visits and homemade roasted pumpkin seeds to James Center Christmas lights and Chevy Chase's Christmas vacation . . . Momma and Daddyo, thank you for letting us be kids, and filling our lives and memories with a magic that many children miss out on. Thank you for a childhood that I can look back on, and despite moments I wish were not there, overall, I get bombarded with the memories where I felt loved and known and special.

And it carries on . . .

Just seeing a box labeled "Xmas Lites" excited my brother so much he could resist throwing them up mid-summer:

Halloween just isn't the same without carved pumpkins and roasted seeds!

And easter needs ears and a basket!  

The little bro's 2012 Holiday decor:
A simple affair at my abode this year:

And just a few MUSTs:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I'm already writing about Christmas!

I am excited about the upcoming holiday season this year. And for those of you who join in that excitement, but have a loved one who is less than thrilled about the approaching jingle bells and tacky Santa sweaters, take note.
Sometime, you just have to grab the one you love and yell:
"Hi. You're really nice and funny, so I want to spend the whole entire holiday season with you. Let's crank up Bing Crosby, throw the stove on low and heat up some homemade holiday potpourri, pull down the Christmas decor, fill up a glass of Eggnog, switch on the fire place and change our humble abode into a winter wonderland filled with joy, peace, hope and laughter.
Let's pile into the car one frigid night all bundled up with hats and scarves and some dear friends and search the James Center lawn for the red nosed reindeer. We can even take a brief hiatus from thinking about the million and one things that need to be done, and splurge on a candy apple or a piping hot Carmel Macchiato from our favorite coffee spot.
We can unbundle slightly and walk into the warm lobby of Richmond's finest luxury accommodation and take a peek at The Jefferson Hotel's Christmas tree and ginormous ginger bread house, where of course I will ask you strike a silly pose and insist on taking a picture to capture that slight glimpse of holiday cheer that is starting to leak from the corners of your smile. And just maybe, the Spirit of Christmas will overtake you enough that you start to hum "Feliz Navidad" all the way back to the car.
One the way home, let's share our favorite Christmas traditions or worst Christmas gift ever received with all those who accompanied us on this funtastic evening, and admire the tacky Christmas lights that adorn many homes surrounding good 'ole Richmond, VA.
We'll smile and laugh, and maybe even shed a tear or two, but most of all our hearts will be full of thankfulness, for dear friends, for one another, for new holiday memories and traditions, and for taking the time to stop and joyfully celebrate the coming of baby Jesus and the hope and promise His birth has brought into all of our lives."

Friday, November 16, 2012

Hey YOU!! Here's a little Friday fun!

Hey YOU!

Remember those choose your own adventure books, mad libs and those cute little "check yes or no" love notes you would pass around in elementary school?!?!!!?!! Well, I am thinking what the heck . . .let's have a little fun!!!!! :)

Hope you have a super duper Friday!!!