Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Yes, Ma'am?

I stepped out of the hotel lobby, turned and asked a bellboy for directions to a pond I saw when we arrived.  He gave me instructions and said, "have a nice jog, Miss!"

This single word, "Miss", set me lightly upon my jog with a spring in my step. I was a gazelle. If he had chosen to say "Ma'am", I would have been fighting my "ma'amness" the entire laborious run. Dragging my ageing, out-of-shape behind along while I sucked in air to fill my atrophied lungs.

The very word "Miss", when applied to me, makes me want to tip my face up, give my hair a little shake and bask in the word's glorious sunlit drops of goodness.

Yes, this is really how I feel, and this really did happen--minus the sunlit drops.

Maybe it's a thirties thing, why I feel such a visceral reaction to the word. At thirty-four I feel steady in the decade, no, more than steady--I feel empowered in this decade. I feel more motivated than I've been my entire life.

And yet. The word "Ma'am" lands like a thud in my ears and rounds my shoulders. While "Miss" nearly makes me giggle.

In my twenties I was exhaustingly introspective, always searching for "who I am". Now, I'm refreshingly onto "who I love" and "what I do". I feel better in these, happier. No matter where I'm at though, I will always love what stereotypically comes with youth--hope, expectation, energy, passion (even naive passion). Words associated with aging aren't as fancy-free--maturity, wisdom, self-actualization.

I don't care how self-actualized, mature or super-spiritual you are, "youth" always sounds good, "aging"-not so much. The word "Miss" nicely encapsulates all things young and lovely. "Ma'am"; formal, stodgy, critical. (Feel free to leave a comment below and make me aware of my "issues" I might need to seek counseling for!)

Despite all this, I fully intend to embrace aging with gusto. I'm going to wrap my arms around it like a big pillow (or so I say now.) A full-fledged fight against aging can only result in bad wardrobe choices.

One night this summer, for Jon's birthday, we had four generations of women gathered for dinner at Salsa Brava. My daughter, the youngest, Jon's grandmother the most "mature". Our young-man waiter addressed each of us as "Miss". I immediately loved him for this and had to tell him how he would get a bigger tip because of his word-choice.

As much as I am actively seeking maturity, wisdom and self-actualization in my life, I will always feel a little skinnier, prettier and sunnier when called "Miss".

Okay-so I'm dying to know if you disagree with me! Would you be offended if someone called you "Miss" over a certain age? Maybe it would come across as patronizing or disrespectful? Do tell...

I'm a fan of the artist who created the above work. I would love to see her paintings in person because they're mixed media and I'm imagining they have lots of wonderful depth and texture. Her shop on etsy is called Sleep and Her Sisters. Check it out.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Old to New

Jon and I have been reading through the Bible in a year. We'll be done with the Old Testament by the end of October. Eight solid months of nothing but Old Testament. No study with it, just taking in the story. I've read  most of the Old Testament before, but never in such a concentrated dose. (Speed reading it in college for an OT class doesn't count.)

One thing I love about the Bible are some of the more mysterious passages and how if you put two equally brilliant and reverent scholars in a room together they would not see certain things the same way. Like the book of Ezekiel. I'm dying to know about those wheels in the air. But who can really know until we see God face to face?

This mysterious component has also been the frustrating thing about reading the OT straight through without a study. Sometimes I feel so eluded by the greater meaning.

The greatest value I've taken away from this experience, aside from the sheer discipline of sticking with the reading (a big deal for me) is I feel I have a broad-brush-stroke image of the story. To me, it looks like this:

I see the dots in the heart representing God's people. They are sewn together by cords of God's love for them, tied to Him through His covenant, yet hurting and bleeding because of their unfaithfulness.

It's a bloody mess, yet surrounded and hemmed in by love.

That's all I'm going to say about that because I feel if I write anymore I'm going to muck it up. I'll let you look and ponder because I believe in the power of visual art. Ponder away.

I will tell you I'm going to do a happy dance in November when we move into the New Testament. Because to me, the New Testament looks like this:

The artists: Heart & Photograph

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Goodness in the Land

This is what I see from where I sit in life. From the era and country I've been born, the city where I was raised, the heritage of those before me, the parents who carefully raised me, to my own dearly loved family; this is what I see:

I see men working hard to provide for children they adore and wives they love.

I see women who push through fatigue to intentionally build into the lives of little ones they raise.

I see children loved, growing, thriving.

I see friends earnestly seeking time to soak in the presence of a Holy God. Seeking to know Him, Love Him, Trust Him, every day.

I see women leading other women into a life more free of anxiety, self-focus, sadness, trauma, anger; into a life more full of grace, healing, joy.

I see teachers, their eyes shinning with love for students, energetically guiding with wisdom.
I see a couple who made a major lifestyle change start a food pantry to serve the needy in my community. I have seen them labor with their hands till they bleed for people who are struggling to feed their families.

I see pastors leading churches into what it really looks like to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God.

I see organizations filled with compassionate people diligently working (and succeeding) to release children from poverty in Jesus' name in holistic ways--meeting their physical, emotional, social, spiritual and educational needs.

Of course, some days (or seasons) I'm half-blind to the surrounding goodness and instead see minor inconveniences looming bigger than they are. I see the distance between where I am and where I want to be like a gaping chasm. Or I get stuck in my own tiredness, irritability or selfishness. Or I see the news. (Enough said on that one.) 

But right now I am seeing the good in a big way and feel like declaring it and letting my mind stay there for a bit.

I am feeling the weight of goodness surrounding me like a cozy blanket from where I sit in my space and time of life. I see shiny happy people holding hands. Go ahead, sing it... :)

What goodness do you see in your city, time, place? I'd love to hear about it!

**Be sure to check out the artist's page on etsy: Don't  you love her illustrations?!