Sunday, September 28, 2014


A difficult week it's been.  The girls and husband Dion each took a turn getting sick, and my allergies have been plotting against me more than the typical allergies plotting against me.  And then there's this story...

Once upon a time we had a house that refused to sell for 3 years.  As a result the savings we had depleted over the time it was on the market.  Running out of options, we rented it a few months back.  Initially it was a fixer-upper.  We lovingly and with much dedication saved up the money and restored it while living there.  Over those 8 years, it transformed into a beautiful little cottage, and other than the overall cost of restoration, saving, tackling a project, saving, tackling a project...there wasn't a problem that we couldn't financially swallow. Until this week.  This week there was an unexpected problem large enough to force our hand to take out another loan.

One day while Dion went to pick the girls up from school, I sat by the window for a few quiet minutes before heading off to work.  As you know, I've been in the  reorganize and move everything to a different place frenzy.  Here I sat looking at my newly formed desk/project area, not quite complete.  Everything else has settled into its organized place for the most part, but this area still needs some work. 

Here's what I was thinking about...
Nothing too awful.  Needs a curtain rod and a curtain, a few more organizers, and cleaned up. There's also a small but growing pile of things that need fixed...hemmed, stitched, or glued back together again.  This area is one of the final pieces of the move it all around tetris puzzle.  The other somewhat perplexing puzzle pieces include the laundry pile-up from a still broken washer, as well as other semi-serious fixes on our home that have been waiting for us to address them.  And a garage completely out of sorts and highly testing my patience.

I also found myself zeroing in again on this annoyance...

To most, those white spindle things are probably not too terribly offensive, but to me they are like an outdated step jail. They need to go and my impulsive self was beginning to think they should go now soon.

So there I sat, dwelling on numerous, uncompleted and lingering projects and the developing financial issue, when I caught myself.  I caught myself in a not helpful frame of mind.  I caught myself becoming a little obsessive with my surrounding life. 

You know there is and always will be, "something"...many times multiple somethings...a pressing heart issue, financial situation, health circumstance, difficult relationship, or an altogether different problem of sorts needing resolution.  

And I know that too.

I thought to myself, "Self.  You need to move beyond yourself.  You need a perspective change. "  

So I turned.

just a little.  A slight adjustment to the right.  This is what I saw...
better right?  This is what beautiful early fall looks like.  My thoughts turned to a few recent posts of dear friends on facebook.  How they are working through life circumstances so complicated, they make my temporary situations seem minnow small.  Some of them are going through the kind of stuff that makes us ask the questions without answers.  

Yes.  In that moment I had a small perspective check. We've all had them.  We need them. It can be a missions trip to an AIDS camp in the Bahamas, or to help a out a widow living in the middle of Nowhere Hills, Kentucky, or a two sentence status update from an elementary school friend, or simply looking out our nearest window.  It's when we are sitting in the exact same spot, but we see a little differently.  What we see or how we see we think of it shifts.  Our view changes. It's the whole "Do you see a vase or two guys talking?" thing.
a vase...
 two guys talking...
you saw it just like that, right?

Now. Don't misunderstand. I'm not a big believer in the underskirting of our pain. It is what it is. Authenticity is far up there on my core values list, possibly the highest.  As a kid, learning there were hungry children in Africa successfully stirred up my empathy and compassion for them. But I still wanted to vomit up the lima beans and turnips.

When we get a paper cut, it hurts.  Pain is painful, no matter how small our injury may appear in comparison with another's. We don't know the pain of another.  Although we may remember some of the more distressful experiences from our past, we only know the ache we feel in the moment. That understanding may help us identify with the pain of others, but we don't really know what someone is going through.  

A similar situation affects any two of us in very different ways.  How arrogantly assumptive of us to judge another person's response to their pain and circumstances, pointing out what we perceive to be their shortcomings.  In a similar way, we must extend grace to ourselves as we deal with our lot.  It's not fair to ourselves to know there are others who have gone through or are currently going through the unthinkable, to only then conclude that we have no right to complain or be struggling in our now perceived, comparatively minuscule situation. 

No. Perspective change creates a healthy shift in our view. But it is not numbing out, disengaging, denying, or minimizing our very real and present emotion.  The most authentic way we can work through grief, anger, disappointment, anxiety or whatever it might be, is to walk through it.  Sometimes slowly. Occasionally at a surprisingly faster pace than we may have expected. Sometimes we feel pulled or pushed through, sometimes held up by another through, and sometimes we're just. barely. making. it. through.  But through nonetheless. Our emotion in itself is neither right or wrong.  It just is.

That said, a perspective check can powerfully challenge and move us beyond ourselves in a moment. To look higher and deeper.  To stand at the top of a skyscraper and watch humans scurrying around like work ants below.  To meet a Haitian refugee with no use of his legs, living in garbage and filth, wearing a larger-than-life smile on his face.  A glance over at a little girl basking in outright laughter, even though she cannot see what's beside her and at the end of the day, her survival is one hundred percent dependent on her caregivers.  To hear a woman singing, left alone with her three year old son, the spreading disease in her body taking her very life from her.  But there she stands, singing out a song that testifies to the faithfulness and of all things, goodness of her God.

These experiences do not diminish our pain.  What they do is give us hope in our circumstances.  In the fight.  In our present battle.  Its the human spirit at it's best.  It makes us ask the question, "How could it ever be possible to be surrounded by that kind of tragedy and then smile? and then laugh? and then sing?!"  Their responses inspire us to smile,  or cry,  or squirm,  as they begin to MOVE our mountains.  It's a shift.  It's not a cover up.  It's not magic fairy dust. Sometimes a window into foreboding possibility is what it takes for our perspective to shift.  And sometimes it takes something so genuinely beautiful, so beyond...higher and deeper than us, to move us beyond ourselves.

And so with my perspective in check, I went outside to spend the rest of my quiet time in nature...knowing I'd be captivated by the beauty of a Creator with an intelligence and paintbrush far beyond my own.

and I was...
There was a moment last week when daughter Sara was in tears.  She felt exasperated in a situation and cried, "You taught me to try my best.  And I try my best and it's not good enough.  Were you lying all that time when you taught me that?"  

So we've been talking about that together.  How there are days when "our best" will not be or at least will not seem to be enough.  But there are days when our best will get us through.  And there are days when our best will seem to be exactly what was needed to win a victory or to help another win theirs.

So we keep giving it our all.  To resolve the issues of the heart, issues we're sure others would misunderstand if we even knew how to begin expressing them out loud.  To resolve the problems that surround us as we live out our lives in an environment where the moth and rust destroy.  To stand up for others in the moments when we're barely keeping our own knees from buckling.

A day or two following my perspective check of a day, we had a family trip to Walmart planned.  I had five free minutes before our agreed upon, scheduled, departing time, so this happened...
I guess for now I'm kinda walking through by adding to my mess...and that's okay...for now...I suppose.

In the meantime, hopefully we'll avoid a falling-down-the-steps-and-then-through, kind of through...

How are you making your today world beautiful?


  1. #1. you are awesome. I love a good perspective check. I need them often.
    #2. You take some really incredible pictures.
    #3. I literally laughed my butt off at the video. Your response, then Dion's face. HA!!! thanks for the laugh.

    1. #1. I feel the same about you!

      #2. Thanks! I particularly like the photos of the bark on this one. some of my favorites ever.

      #3. typical Dion response to me ;)


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