Friday, September 16, 2016

The Gift of Child's Play

In a child's world, each day is occupied with play.  Their world is filled with possibility; a gift hidden within the gift of play.  Each new day brings the opportunity to explore, imagine and create.  Old clothes from a vintage storage trunk become Paris's latest fashions; teddy bears at tea become trusted confidantes; and make-believe butter, sugar and flour become the most delicious Italian Creme cake you've ever tasted.

I love the art of play - approaching each new day with awe and wonder, much like a child! Approaching life this way is akin to being given a blank canvas on which to paint, or a fresh sheet of paper on which to write or draw.  Like being given a new seed to plant in the garden, or discovering a sandbox just begging for a castle to be built.

The power of play is such a gift!  It awakens us to the possibilities that reside all around us.  It allows us to discover the joy and beauty of creating and to do so in a way that is an authentic expression of who we are.  It gives us the freedom to try (without fear of failure) and it gives us the opportunity to uncover what truly makes us come alive!

It is in play that we truly learn to celebrate the moment and to celebrate life each and every day!

Starting today, why not challenge yourself to begin to see and experience life through child's play?

Ask yourself these questions:

Can you remember when you last lay on your back and watched clouds morph from cats into old ladies?  How long has it been since you said "hello" to the man in the moon or quietly waited on your front porch for "star light, star bright, the first star I see tonight?"

When was the last time you went out and played in the rain and stopped to enjoy a raindrop gently caressing your cheek?  The last time you skimmed a rock over the top of a creek just so you could count the ripples it made?  How long has it been since you listened to the secret conversations hidden deep within the recesses of a sea shell you discovered at the oceans edge, as the tide changed from high to low?

If you could approach life as child's play, seeing each moment through creative eyes, looking for treasure in the ordinary, what wonderful possibilities might await you? What might you create?

I encourage you to discover the gift of play.  For, I truly believe that it is by observing and emulating a child at play, that we begin to get a taste of what celebration and creativity amid an otherwise ordinary life can look like.

*This post was originally published as an article in Belle Inspiration Magazine. You can follow the lovely Mimi Bleu's daily photos of life in Paris on Instagram at belleinspirationparis.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Gift of Surrendering

Right now it is storming here.  The rain is pouring from the clouds outside, and inside, the tears are pouring from my eyes.

Today is one of those days, when I just want to go back to bed, pull the covers over my head and forget about everything.  It comes on the heels of a particularly bad couple of weeks.  I have been battling the Shingles for the third time; I have had another painful gall bladder attack over the weekend; and this morning I had to rush Pork Chop (our little doggie) to the vet because he his throat and nose were swelling up and he couldn't breathe (a reaction to a vaccine he had received).

And today marks one year since my since my husband and I pulled up roots.  Roots that ran wide.  Roots that ran deep. A year since we relocated, in order for us to follow what The Lord is calling us to do, in this season of life, in the place he is calling us to do it.

But here's the thing.  It has not been an easy transition.  I am missing my friends.  I am missing our home that my husband and I built and the memories that we created there as a family.  I am missing the life we knew for the last 20 years.

My husband works long hours and I am finding myself alone and isolated from others far too much of the time. Current health challenges keep me from getting out and about as much as I would like in order to meet and make new friends. The health care modalities that could ease (if not possibly eliminate) the chronic pain I suffer with are readily available here, yet not accessible, since our insurance won't cover their cost. Our house still hasn't sold.

At this point, I am wondering what in the world are we doing here??

But here's the other thing  - even on my worst day, I have so much to be grateful for.
I serve a God who lavishes his Grace on me each and every day. A God whose Mercies are new every morning. A God who walks with me, lovingly leading me to a renewed sense of His Presence, Mercy and Love. I have a family and friends who love me. I have a beautiful home (well heck - right now I have two) and my husband has a good job.

And here's the third thing - What if the very things I need are the very things I fight the most? What if this solitude is exactly what I need at this time to draw me closer to my Lord? Exactly what I need to become more serious about my prayer life? Exactly what I need to step more deeply into my callings as writer and life coach? What if this season of transition is actually a gift wrapped in suffering?

So what if it's not really about the transition after all?  What if this transition is really about transformation?  My transformation?  A stripping away of the old, and ushering in of the new? Excruciating growing pains.  My loving Father inviting me yet again to follow Him in FAITH?
Me, kicking and screaming like a toddler who doesn't yet want to leave the ice cream shoppe.  He, like the good Father that He is, reaching down, picking me up and carrying me, until exhausted I stop kicking, I stop screaming, and at last, I are ready to let go of my will and surrender to His.
Hard Surrender. A Long Time in Coming Surrender. Not a One Time and It's Done Surrender. But Sweet Surrender.

Perhaps, it is in these moments -  these moments of Surrender - that He sets me down, takes my hand in His, and once again invites me to follow Him in the calling and places He has chosen and equipped me for long before I ever arrived here; perhaps it is in these moments  - when Surrender finally comes - that I get to participate in the great exchange - exchanging my Temporal wants and needs for His
Eternal Purposes.  Perhaps it is in these moments - the Not a One Time and It's Done Moment - but these times of Sweet Surrender -  that I get to partner with Christ in the plan He has set out for me, using the gifts he has given me, in the timing He has ordained for me, to actually make a difference in the world.

I certainly hope so.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Breathe, Just Breathe

Life begins and ends with a breath.  In between, there are literally millions of breaths that we will take.  Most of them ordinary, most unconscious and unnoticed and the great majority of them are unfortunately somewhat shallow.

But then there are moments in life that take our breath away - The joy of a bridegroom as he watches his bride walking down the isle, each step taken a step closer to their life together; hearing the long awaited cry of your firstborn, and your second and your third; watching a wild cottontail bunny scamper across your garden, his white tail flashing in the sunlight; the first sight of the robin's red breast appearing after a long hard winter, the sound of waves lapping the shore as seagulls fly overhead........

And then there are moments which knock the breath out of us - the call in the middle of the night that our son or daughter was just killed in a car accident; sitting across from the doctor trying to comprehend the news that we are infertile and cannot ever bear children; the sudden loss of our husband of 35 years to a heart attack, leaving us in the unexpected, unwanted place of widowhood. Hearing the words that all women dread to hear - "you have breast cancer"; or learning that we will have to live from an incurable chronic illness; or that we are dying from a terminal one; feeling that all too familiar feeling of helplessness as we draw in a series of breaths each time our child has to have another IV put in for another round of chemo as they bravely battle the big C; Or being engulfed with despair as we watch our home and all our worldly possessions going up in flames in the middle of the night, or being swept away by the tide in the aftermath of a hurricane.

This blog posts and the ones that follow are about learning to breathe again, whether you have been in the habit of unconsciously taking in a serious of shallow breaths, or you have had the breath knocked out of you.

It is about learning to deeply inhale the extraordinary gifts of God, through his Grace, admidst the otherwise ordinary days.

It is a lesson I am learning to  practice in my own life, in response to battles that I am personally fighting with moments that take my breath away.

It is a lesson I HAVE to learn - just to survive on some days - and in order to thrive on others.
I am ever so grateful for the whispers of the Holy Spirit comforting me each day with the reminder to "Breathe, Just Breathe."

I pray that these writings will open up to you the  "Gift of Breath" and that by so doing you will begin to experience anew the grace and mercy of God in Christ and the extraordinary gifts He has waiting for you to breathe in on ordinary days as you begin to learn to "Breathe, Just Breathe".