Hope

So I…

This week was a heavy one. I’ve been thinking  about grief, and loss, and recovery, as these things seem to be themes in my life right now. I feel I make progress, then wham, terror on the national news breaks and I can’t help but think hundreds of others have now been pushed under the deep waves of grief. I’m enjoying community in my small group when a young teacher shares that her student lost her mom to suicide this week. I get pushed back under. I can’t watch CNN anymore, and I’m kinda nervous about my access to birth control, let alone how we would afford to have a baby on our perpetual IN 5 YEARS plan. GAH! Things can seem bleak. So I write.

Every single time I click the blue Publish button on WordPress my stomach lurches. Will people judge this process I’ve chosen to be so public about? Will people care? Do I turn others off because I should just be done already?

I dwell in that black space for a minute or two, and then I say screw it. I’ve got things to say, and I think there are people to read and hear those thoughts on this imperfect, beautiful mess we live in called life.

So I keep going.

I came across this image yesterday from Brian Andreas. I didn’t know he had a story called Beautiful Things. Just like me.

beautiful things.jpg

The small print brought me to tears, right there in the tiny art gallery. “This is my purpose”, a little heart voice whispered, “and it may never be my 9-5 job, or make me very much money, but it matters, this pursuit of beautiful things.”

This is how worlds change.

So I whisper into the internet. I share my voice. Although, I’m starting to yell a bit more too.

Here are a few of my recent guest posts that kind, caring, hopeful people have chosen to allow me to share.

Cara Meredith’s Author Tuesday Post

www.52beautifulthings.com

This Glorious Life The Photo I’m Thankful For

Katie-52-beautiful-things-photo-thankful-for

These beautiful things matter more now than they did a week ago, a month, or even five years.

So I wait. And connect with other people who think things could possibly, maybe get better, are better if we look for the good.

I also watch these videos, and listen, and find healing things to laugh about. I make pumpkin bread from a box, and I hug my husband tight.

What do you do?

 

 

ps. I have a VERY exciting announcement that goes live on Tuesday. Stay tuned.

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Light a Candle

Horrific. The only way to describe what happened in Las Vegas last night.

People will say there are no words.

Wrong.

There are lots of words.

Words of Anger. Of Sadness. Of Loss. Of Grief.

Words of magnitudes.

Yet, we feel helpless. So we say “there are no words.”

Wrong.

There are words of hope. And of comfort. And of light.

Of a saying “hi” to our neighbor, or “Hey, let’s go give blood.”

Or “Here, have a sandwich,” or make a call to a senator to say “How dare you stay silent on gun control again and again.”

These acts CAN NOT be silenced.

Yes. If you feel grief, take time, stay quiet, ponder with loved ones and protect yourself.

But, please, oh please, stop saying there are no words. Try this list if you’re stuck.

Take a moment.

Light a candle instead.

Whisper, sing, shout or wail a prayer.

For the mothers and daughters, sons, and brothers and fathers who are hurting and have lost ones most dear. For the co-workers who won’t have a project mate, the child now parentless, the countless kids across the country afraid to go to school, or the movies, or the football stadium.

Light a candle for all the conversations this incident should spark.

Light a candle for you. A person with words, who can use them for good.

Light a candle for hope and for healing.

Spread the light.

 

I do not want to take away from the heaviness of tragedies aftermath. Yet, I do believe dwelling in good brings peace. Share in the comments a few things you found to be beautiful in the slurry of mixed emotions following today.

Hope Floats on Whispers

Each time I log onto Facebook these days my stomach lurches a little bit. I know I have a choice in entering my password and scrolling through feeds that are slightly biased towards the left – most of my friends agree with my stance on political things.

It seems to be getting bleaker, more complicated, more hurtful out there .

My heart is aching for those who are facing the very real, life changing consequences of political actions that have taken place this week. And I realize too, just how risky it is to put my thoughts and reactions out on the internet.

I could and maybe should log on to CNN or The New York Times, or Slate, or spend time evaluating these infographics that are circling around that tell me just how ‘Alternative’ my new sources could be. But honestly, I don’t.

I know this ability to tune out the news is a reflection of my privilege and I hesitate with every sentence I write down here. So much potential for offending all across the board. I don’t really think the internet is a safe space to launch such flames of disagreement.

And here I am, nervous again, to write about the good, when things out there seem so very bad. So this is my disclaimer for the year – I see, I hear, and I do not ignore the very real confusion and pain caused by our political climate here in America. I do not dismiss it and I want to be an ally.

i-believe-that-i-can-influence-the-world-with-whispers-of-beautiful-things

I also believe that hope floats on whispers, on promises of good, on lists of gratitude. My efforts may not be loud, or in crowds of hundreds of thousands – heck I’m lucky if each post I write gets more than 17 views. However, if I choose to stop writing the beautiful, it’s another example of where fear will win.

Many of you may have seen my post on Facebook this week about the barista at Starbucks who gave me a free drink even though my birthday coupon had expired. Ugh – you can groan – at the example of white girl privilege – symbols of excess funds and the caffeine raddled habit that oozes corporate coffee. What I saw though, was a twenty something millennial, working his butt off in the early morning, reflecting kindness with the choice to just give me a free coffee anyways. There is still good in the world.

As I drove to work I had to smile because a 40 year old woman with two kids in the car was blasting music and encouraging her two kiddos in the backseat to dance along. Ugh – you can groan – at the example of oil dependent individuals  in foreign cars on busy roads. What I saw though, was the influence of music and artists who have created catchy beats that inspire smiles and laughter while getting from here to there.

We live in the challenging dichotomy of good and bad. Of catastrophe and regrowth. Of pain and beauty.

I just want to keep honoring the mystery that God allows both to exist.

So here are some other things I found to be beautiful this week.

  • Home Brew – we made a match of beer with our friends a month ago and the bottles are finally ready to drink – magical chemistry made a tasty drink in our very own kitchen.
  • Flannel Thermals – my husband got a new thermal top for Christmas and I really just love the ability to snuggle up next to him as he wears it to sleep.
  • Reflections of my puppy in the mirror – our downstairs bathroom is torn apart because we are painting so the large mirror that typically hangs on the wall is sitting on the floor. As we sit on the couch, Olive keeps staring at herself in the reflection. It makes me laugh, and then thing, heck I do the same thing too with window reflections at work. We love a chance to look at ourselves.
  • Gifts from the fruits of your friend’s talents – I asked my long-time friend Jenny Stoecker to take some updated headshots for me. In about 5 minutes she captured my uniqueness in some photos and I’m really thrilled to start using them more. If you need some photography, keep her in mind.

 

I invite you to join me in using the hashtag #stillgoodintheworld . This won’t discount the bad, it can’t erase our pain, but it can gather us together to think about how our efforts and our choices to see the beautiful remind us to keep hoping.

Start whispering guys. Or for all I care, yell! My little heart just isn’t ready for that quite yet.

They Took that Bumblebee Off Stage

Let’s start with a little story. When I was 4 years old, I took a ballet class. I’m not sure if I was drawn to the idea of being a ballerina, or if my mom felt pressure to put me in activities like the rest of her friends and their daughters at our church. I took the classes, learned to point my toes, and got the bumblebee costume for the recital. I do not remember many of the details of the classes, except for one everlasting memory. Come the night of the dress rehearsal, I got pulled off stage by my teacher because I was hitting another little girl in my class. Mind you, she was in my spot! I had the yellow “X” and this little lady was in my way! So I stood up for myself, and well, was removed from the stage.

I danced on-and-off again until awkward puberty hit, and my height and my love handles didn’t quite fit in with the girls taking 4-10 classes a week, those lining up for point shoes, and neat costumes and weekend competitions. I turned my attention to Science Olympiad – eesh – and to tennis and getting A’s.  Yet, I kept my dance bag with my name embroidered in red, and three pairs of dance shoes – jazz, ballet, and tap. Maybe my 13 year old self knew I would once again return.

FullSizeRender (1)Time passed, I graduated from high school, and started college, and somehow came across my first pair of ballet slippers hiding in a closet, or a drawer at my parent’s house. I took them out and put them on my dresser, as a reminder of the little girl that still lives inside me. The worn pink leather, my name scrawled in Sharpie in my mom’s handwriting, the delicate nature of small slippers used by young children – all of these things make me cherish my first pair of dancing shoes.

I used to make so much fun of my dad for keeping everything – our VHS movies, our toys, our art, our shoes. These shoes. Quite honestly, I’m not sure if it was Mom or Dad who saved these treasures, but in his absence, these shoes mean so much more to me. We need to remember our inner child, and the joy that comes from dancing. These slippers greet me each morning as I pick out my clothes, and serve as a reminder to remember the little girl who once used them.

FullSizeRender (2)As part of my healing process, and an effort to keep moving forward in life, I signed up for a dance class for adults this year. I got out my old dance bag, and my ballet slippers from age 13 still fit. They are not nearly as adorable, but they hold much potential for healing, movement, and joy.

When I went to my first dance class last week I was absolutely stunned at the beautiful atmosphere that was cultivated in the studio. Women ranging in ages from 18-62 joined together, all types of bodies, all different levels of experience, and we were given the freedom to move.

Much to my surprise, the week’s prompt and meditation focus was moving from sorrow to joy. Never have I felt so called by God to be in a space. The bible verse shared that night was Isaiah 43:2. It was like God was speaking directly to me, saying I see you, I’m with you, you will make it through this. My heart still is overwhelmed by the powerful essence of healing and hope Lighthouse Dance created on an ordinary weeknight.

There is beauty to be found in a grown woman’s old ballet slippers, in returning to a space of dance and joy, and in experiencing God’s presence in the most unexpected of places. Beauty in the gifts of graceful reminders that come from people who do not know your struggles, truth that provides hope, community that allows acceptance of diversity and challenge. Beauty in moving forward, and in remembering that with each point of the toe we build on who we once were and can dance our way into who we are meant to be.