Not necessarily with wood, nails, and a hammer, but metaphorically speaking.
Not to worry beloved reader, I haven't suddenly taken up carpentry.
In thinking about building I have realized you need good tools.
One of the tools I was given to build my life early on was the bible.
Many of you know it is a book I love to quote and ponder upon, but many of you might not know that early on in my life the family bible in my childhood home had quite a bit of dust on it and was rarely opened.
Around the time I was 13 years old I realized that my soul needed more than what the words Duran Duran was singing on the radio.
That was almost 30 years ago now (damn I'm OLD)!
As a Catholic Family I was raised to go to church every Sunday and confession on Saturday, and I was taught by very loving awesome nuns about the 10 commandments and other key scriptures, but it was the bullet point version of faith. For some strange reason though we never seemed to read the bible at home. So when the dust was blown off of that big book I wasn't quite sure what had happened.
My sister Jen started reading it first and I thought she had entered a cult of some kind.
Then my mom Ellen began to read it, and I couldn't even ask her for money to go to the movies with out her quoting something from the good book....
I also want you to know that when I first started reading the Bible it confused the Hell out of Me!
Literally I suppose the HELL was coming out of me.. (insert laughing so hard you cry emoticon here)
but for real, it is a confusing book and I get that.
It's also a very large book, in fact it is a book that has several books inside it.
Books upon books upon books.
When I read the bible for the first time, not like in Sunday School but in the comfort of my splash painted teenage room with hand prints and music notes all over the walls I had SO many questions.
I know see what a gift it was to have this incredible tool in my life at such a young age.
However, I realize that many people are still so confused, bewildered and really just not interested at all to open that big book and it makes me sad.
I can't stay sad for long...
"Aint nobody got time for that!"
So I'm happy to report that one of my all time fav
authors/speakers/storytellers/fathers/husbands/brothers from another mother has published a book to come out this month titled ;
I rarely promote books that I haven't even read yet, but I know in my knower this is one that I personally am going to enjoy, and I think you might too.
I want you to know beloved reader "the why" behind all the quotes I often refer to in the bible.
I wonder if anyone out there who is reading this might consider reading this book with me via the inter webs and discussing your thoughts on it with me??
If you have ever been interested in reading the bible even just a tiny bit then this book is for you.
If you have been reading the bible and feel you have a handle on it that no one else does and that Rob Bell is a heretic ... then move along this is NOT the discussion for you.
Again I will say;
"Aint nobody got time for that!"
But if you are among one of many readers I call a beloved reader here and you trust my recommendation for a new book then;
I want YOU beloved reader to take a journey with me and read the Bible in a whole different way.
Or maybe, possibly read it for the very first time?
I'll come back to more thoughts on building after this post, but for now I just want to put this question/challenge/adventure is out there/proposition online for YOU to get this book when it comes out and read it with ME ?
Easter Sunday brings forth hope, and new life for so many who know, that they know, that death no longer hold's it's sting.
“O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?”
1 Corinthians 15:55
For those that know beyond a shadow of a doubt there is life after this short time on this round ball of dirt, they get it.
But what about people who don't quite fully grasp what is so special about this day?
It's not about the season of Spring that we choose to celebrate this day called Easter Sunday.
Although all the cherry blossoms, with beautiful pink flowers and yellow daffodils coming out of the ground that was covered in snow only days ago... do help to add to the feeling of hope and new life.
But this day is pregnant with HOPE because of something that happened 2000 years ago.
For as many people who hold this day as a sacred day, there are just as many if not more, who don't understand why it is wrapped up in a confusing package of bunnies and eggs, and baskets and chocolate.
There was a man.
His name was and still is Jesus.
He lived for 33 years on this earth.
He died and 3 days later, he came back to life.
In the 33 years that he walked this earth only 3 of those years were truly recorded.
We have snip its of the 30 years before he came out in the public eye, but they are like a world without Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snap Chat and Blogs.
They are the years where we wonder...
Did he look different to everyone he met?
Did he have a best friend ?
Did he struggle with acne?
Did he build some bad ass chairs?
For the 3 years that he was in the public eye and we have record of, here is what we know;
He felt pain.
He was betrayed.
He drank and made wine.
He had 12 best friends until one betrayed him.
He loved his mom.
He spoke to women even though he wasn't supposed to.
He hung out with prostitutes.
He was best friends with Zealots.
He got angry and pissed off at people who claimed to know God, but really didn't.
He was called crazy for how he talked about intimacy and eating his flesh.
He said that HE and HE alone was the way, the truth, and the LIFE.
And then after a brutal death on a cross it was all over.
Until 3 days later it wasn't.
While he walked the earth some 2000 years ago he forever changed the world.
He is a mystery only solved by the eyes of faith.
He is where HOPE in DEATH is found.
He was wounded for our rebellious acts. He was crushed for our sins. He was punished so that we could have peace, and we received healing from his wounds.
I don't know if you know this, but I get really excited about words.
Words are my muse.
I love to hear them.
I love to sing them.
I love to speak them.
I love to read them.
And I love when they are sweetly spoken to me.
The other day, I read a phrase in the bible that jumped right out at me.
The words intrinsic worth popped off the page this morning with such excitement it almost made a splash in my coffee.
Does that ever happen to you?
Not necessarily words that literally jump into coffee, but you read something or hear something and it just lingers?
Well I read this little portion of scripture a few days ago;
"Stop regarding man, whose breath [of life] is in his nostrils [for so little time];
in what sense can he be counted as having intrinsic worth. "
And the phrase intrinsic worth got me so all kinds of excited that I tweeted it right then and there so I wouldn't forget it.
I immediately checked the googles for what the true meaning of this phrase might be.
I found it hard to understand in a tangible human way, but incredibly worthy of a description for the Creator of this vast universe.
It made me think and ask questions like what do I find worthy in this life?
Someone asked me a long time ago if you really want to know what matters in your life imagine your house is on fire ... what do you grab to get out as fast as you can, and what would you go back in there for?
Of course everyone who has loved ones in their house would of course say them and their pets first, but then what would it be?
When I think long and hard about that there isn't much I'd come running back inside a burning house for, but I do have a binder of all titles, passports, social security cards, birth certificates that is easy accessible and ready to run out with.
The other stuff in comparison has no real worth except maybe some precious pictures and MY BIBLE.
My bible has countless notes and highlights and love letters in it from others that couldn't be replaced but what makes it intrinsically worthy to me has more to do with who wrote it and the conversations we've been having all these years because of that book.
The whole entire bible is one long love letter to all of God's creation.
Yes, it can be hard to understand sometimes.
Yes, it was written by men.
But it was, and is, and always will be breathed upon and made to come alive by God's own Spirit.
Sometimes when I sit with my big bible (It's big because I chose an Amplified Version of the bible because there are MORE WORDS in it) I feel as though.. no I KNOW that God himself if sitting right there with me.
Whispering sweet nothings ... wait sweet every-things and so much more into my ear.
"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope."
There are no other words so powerful as those that are spoken to the soul from it's creator.
a peace that surpasses all understanding that I've been fortunate enough to experience since I was around 13 years old.
Almost 30 years later since this relationship began I have come to wonder why this awesome gift I was given, I often times take for granted.
I decided that for this season of Lent I don't want to take away something, but rather add a new determined purpose to my life.
With my heart full of so many emotions, so many ambitions, so many out pouring actions, I'm reminded once again to fill my cup, to fill my well first.
I'm going back to the basics of watering my well.
When I reconnect to the rapture of life and fully living it, I'm reminded that my well needs watering.
"And if a desire to serve humanity or to find God comes from a rapturous engagement with life , then our service and our search will bear fruit. But if we try to love or lead, or work or pray, from a dry well, then we will serve a bitter cup to those around us and never really live the life we were given. "
Oh that I would never serve from a bitter, and empty cup.
There is something to be said about people who are so full of joy all the time.
It exudes from their being.
You can feel it when they walk into a room.
It changes the temperature of said room.
The same can be said of a person that walks around with a bitter, angry, and sad heart.
You know it isn't their fault.
Some are grieving a loss that they haven't fully processed yet.
Then there are those that have the victim mentality.
They just can't seem to get past the pain that we all endure in the course of a lifetime.
I will never truly understand why the portions of pain and joy are not poured out equally or fairly in this life.
Still, there are those unique souls who have been given a double portion of pain, and they manage to pour forth joy everywhere they go.
They are like the mythical unicorns in this life.
It takes great effort and determination to move past the pains that a lifetime can serve us.
I think there is a lot of therapy involved in that effort too.
There is no wonder why some people decide to take the turtle approach and just retreat from fully living.
More often than not I think I'm more like a turtle than a unicorn.
To truly love and live a life of love you have to experience pain.
I believe the more you love the more pain you might experience.
Those that have the lion hearts are the ones that know this, and still continue to roar with joy.
Ok so maybe they are a lion unicorn type creature. (wink wink)
I wonder sometimes how those that roar with joy, love, and passion for life, how do they fill their cups so that they don't become bitter from the hard times?
The truth is that every single human that has walked this planet has felt the sting of pain.
Life has more stings than a hive of bumble bees on a hot July day!
But how do we heal those wounds and move forward to go back out and enjoy that warm sunshine of life again?
I don't really know the answers for you to those questions beloved reader, but I can say that for me what helps me to be in forward motion is a direct dial up number to the lover of my soul.
My therapy is found at the feet of a great counselor.
One that never judges me for the times that I retreat to my turtle shell.
In this relationship I find a soothing balm that helps the stings of life fade away.
I recently read that if you break down the word COMFORT it looks like;
Come and Fort.
That's what I do to get built back up again.
I come and fort at the source of living water.
He fills this well to overflowing every time and brings a comfort to my weary soul.
" You can serve your God without being so uptight about it. You can feel the simple rapture of being alive and let that rapture be your North Star. "
My hearts desire is that I would serve from a cup that overflows with joy.
That even in the hard times I would have a song in my heart and an encouraging word for my fellow travelers here.
What is it about getting older that scares the shit out of people?
Ask any hair stylist who their biggest money maker clients are, and they will tell you it is those who try to cover up their age with a different color of hair.
Why is this?
Anyone who has known me for a minute will tell you that this is not a custom I embrace.
In fact, quite the opposite.
I've been begging my friend/hair stylist for years to dye my hair grey because it's not coming in naturally as fast as I would like it to.
Call me crazy... but I think grey hair is a crown of glory and should be embraced with honor, not chemicals to cover it up.
Now of course, I know I am in the minority here, and I don't judge the mass population that feels otherwise, I just wonder sometimes what is it that we are SO afraid of?
To me growing old is an honor and a privilege that many people don't get the luxury of doing.
Those of us that are given years beyond our 60s, 70s, and even 80s should be so blessed because it is extended time here on this beautiful planet that provides more learning and is full of one adventure after another.
There are of course parts of getting older that aren't so fun, but if we would only shift our perspective to see how lucky we are to have the time we have here... we might see things in a whole other light.
"I am learning to hold health and sickness, weakness and strength, and even life and death side by side- two sides of one coin. In fact, it is the acceptance of death that has finally allowed me to choose life. I am learning that it is never either-or but both, and more. Not life or death, but life and death, health and sickness, good and bad. Both, and something more. I am learning to love the human condition, to say a full and rousing yes to it all, to work with it, to choose it, just as it is, every day."
Recently I attended a gathering of artists that came together to talk about the topic of aging.
To me the "growing old gracefully" topic has always fascinated me.
It's possible that it has always held my interest because I'm an old soul.
I truly appreciated the conversation at this gathering.
It was about not only the young learning from the old, but vice versa.
There were many elements of truth to what was talked about, but what I took away that really resonated is how we have lost this conversation between the young and old.
The gap seems so wide.
The divide too big to bring together.
And somehow when we attempt to cross that great divide the words get lost in translation.
The OLD says- "I'm older and wiser SO therefore you should listen to me."
The YOUNG says- "I'm young and full of life let me live it and don't tell me what to do"
When really the reality is that we both need each other so desperately.
We need the wisdom that can only come from age, and we need the hope and inspiration and new knowledge that can only come from the young.
I'm extremely grateful for my close friends and family members who are older than I am and who are living life to the fullest.
I look at them and glean so much from their life experiences.
They give me hope and inspire me to be that person for someone else who is younger than I am, and might a need a voice of encouragement.
The picture below captured some of these older people who give me hope in my life.
These are my people and they make me proud.
My Uncle Mal passed away last week and left behind his now widow my Aunt Joan. Only days after her husband died she was choosing life and love and bringing joy to the older friends she had made in an assisted living place she had been residing.
You can find her in the picture in the blue shirt with swollen eyes from tears and a smile on her face. This moment was taken only 5 days after her beloved had passed away and she is there with her two brothers, and my mom and her grand niece Savanah. They are all bringing joy to those around them, because my Aunt would say, as her mother said before her, and her sister(my mom) has said to me;
"Life is for the living!"
I am also beyond giddy for the young life that surrounds me because they continue to challenge me to see life through different lenses.
It may seem uncomfortable at first, much like getting used to a new pair of glasses can be, but in the end the outcome of pushing through the awkward learning phase there is beauty and laughter, and life.
WE are in this thing called life together.
When we don't isolate and are honest with each other about all the challenges as well as the highlights of life we gain a wealth that cannot be measured.
I feel as though, when we pause and think about what we do with the hours that we are given here, that is where wisdom is found.
That's all this blog post is about.
A moment to pause and thank God that YOU are alive and no matter what age you are you have a voice unlike anyone else's.
I pray you will take the time to pause and listen from the older and the younger voices in your life.
I pray that I would always have a voice of encouragement as long as I am blessed to be here.
I don't have the recipe for growing old gracefully, nor do I think that if you suddenly stop dying the grey out of your hair that you will have it either.
I just think that somehow it is wrapped up in not being afraid of what is to come and receiving all of life and even death as a teacher.
Here's to being life long students and to growing old with grace!