Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Intrinsic Worth

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. " 
Isaiah 2:22
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." 
Psalm 130:5


There are no other words so powerful as those that are spoken to the soul from it's creator. 
Intrinsic Worth.
 

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Water in The Well

There is a quiet knowing ...
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. 


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Growing Old ... Gracefully



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!

Here's to BEAUTIFUL LIFE!!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Redmond Washington

There is no school today here in the Biggest Little City.
It's not a SNOW day... it's a Rain Day!?%$*&?

It got me thinking about life in Washington and how different it is here now in Reno.

It is a funny thing that even though you would think this dry desert land would soak up the moisture like a marathon runner on a hot day, instead it does the opposite. 
It causes flooding because the soil here is just not prepared for this kind of moisture. 
It can only go so deep is what I've been told.
There are SO many metaphors in this natural occurrence....
It got me thinking about some things I've been re-reading in Broken Open.

Now almost 4 years later since we transported our clan from a wet rainy Redmond WA. to a normally very dry Reno NV I'm once again reminded of that journey to the woods. 
Travel back in time with me beloved reader for a little reflection on this rainy day here in Reno.


We headed into the woods of Redmond Washington having no idea what would come out on the other end. 
The big move was inspired after losing our third owned home through a forced foreclosure and the Bank of America scandal. 
We were tired and weary of the way things were and what the cards of life had dealt us, so we embarked on one of the greatest adventures of our lives. 
A small cabin in the woods of Redmond Washington was our destination, but little did we know we would arrive in Dante's famous Dark Woods.
"In the middle of the journey of our life
I found myself within a dark woods
Where the straight way was lost. "

The woods were indeed dark, and the cabin was indeed ever so small but what came out of those 4 years is still something that all of us still talk about. 
Something beyond what I can describe happened when the MoNoSco clan of 6 set out to live in an 800 square foot cabin with only 1 bathroom, no dishwasher or central heat and not a penny to our names after we spent all what little we had left to make that shit hole livable again. 
I remember the early days there when I kept turning the corner at the end of our driveway too closely and damaging the tires on Beasty Boy, (Our 8 passenger Ford Expedition). 
We had NO money to buy new tires or even really to fix the one I kept busting, yet somehow Moses, the magic man that he is, made them last until we could finally buy new/used ones off of Craigslist. 
They were dark times, and at the same time filled with SO much light because we still had each other.
 
We learned that having a huge house, money in the bank, and brand new designer clothes like ALL of our neighbors(and I do mean ALL of our neighbors had) was not where true life is found.
The time in our cabin forever changed us all.
 
We became among those who The Philosopher William James describes as being Twice Born.
 In Elizabeth Lessers book Broken Open she describes in detail what William James means when he writes about being Twice Born. 

"The Philosopher William James wrote that there are two kinds of people in this world- 
The Once Born and the Twice Born. Once Born people do not stray from the familiar territory of who they think they are and what they think is expected of them. If fate pushes them to the edge of Dante's famous dark woods- where the straight way is lost- they turn back. "

We didn't turn back even when all roads were popping our tires, and telling us to just go home we remained in those dark woods. 
They were literally dark because we were surrounded by trees, but inside when we could get the wet logs lit there was a bright light going on that the rest of the world, except for the 6 of us will never truly understand.
 
I'm grateful beyond measure for the time that we had there and to my husband who despite a deep seasonal depression going on stuck out those almost 4 years for the sake of our happiness.
 
"They don't want to learn something new from life's darker lessons.  
They stay with what seems safe, and what is acceptable to their family and society. They stick to what they already know but don't necessarily want. Once-Born people may go through life and never even know what lies beyond the woods- or that there are woods at all. "

No one would argue that the choice that we made in the mid stream of our families life to move into this tiny cabin in the woods was a safe choice. 
It certainly wasn't acceptable, but somehow that doesn't seem to be the way of this Clan. 
I can never really put into words what happened there but it was magic. 
Pure magic.
I'm still confounded by the fact that now that we are back here in Reno Nevada, living in the largest house we've ever had( an almost 3000 square foot home), my children all say that they would go back to Redmond WA in a heartbeat.
(Insert wide eyed emoticon here)
A few nights ago during a family dinner I sat back and listened to my kids reminisce about those years and it made me a tad bit weepy, and a whole lot grateful. 
Our time there was short but it impacted all of our lives in such a way that we will never forget. 
We became "A Twice Born" people group and we didn't even realize it was happening.
 
"A Twice Born person pays attention when the soul pokes its head through the clouds of of a half-lived life. Whether through choice or calamity, the Twice Born person goes into the woods, loses the straight way, makes mistakes, suffers loss, and confronts that which needs to change within himself in order to live more genuine and radiant life."

My hope is that now that we are almost 4 years out of the woods that we were in for only almost 4 years we all would remember how and why we became Twice Born. 
I pray we never forget what really made that time in that space so very special. 
It had nothing to do with the close courters that we found ourselves in or that we tried to eventually share those courters with 6 more people (insert wide eyed emoticon here... TWICE!!)
I'm not completely sure why that time forever changed us, but I think it has something to do with the fact that despite the fact that we were the Hippy VW bus driving house on the Hill we had love in our hearts. We treasured the time we had together. We enjoyed every acre of that property.  We laughed at the rain and met each new day with creativity and adventure in our hearts. 
And when the next adventure arose to move back to Reno Nevada to help open another Tattoo place, we once again embarked on the journey of being re-born again...again.
I pray that the soil of our hearts never becomes one so dry that we can't contain the overflowing goodness of what a life looks like that can be re-born again and again.
Here's to a beautiful life where we get to be twice born...or thrice born, 
and 
Here's to all of YOU who despite the dark woods you may have entered you refuse to turn back!
Happy Rainy Day!

Sunday, February 05, 2017

K.I.S.S.

(PC-Natalie Rose)
KISS- is the acronym for the well known phrase; " Keep it Simple Sweetheart"  or how I have more commonly heard it said;  "Keep it Simple Stupid."
In trying to find the origins of this well known phrase I read on Wiki that it may have started with the Navy. 
(things that make you go hmmm...)
Either way it's a phrase most have heard in their lifetime, and one that is so very applicable to me right now. 

I've also heard it said that when you don't know what to do go back to the basics.
Basic training for the human soul is complex and we never truly graduate and move on from this state of learning and growing to be our true selves, our best selves.
I find myself going back to the basics of what this life is all about. 
As I pause, and look at what is going on in the world around me I have had many moments when I don't know what to do, say, or even think.

It is in this state of unknown that I travel back to what I know to be true.
In my travels back to the basics I wrote this list of reminders for my soul.
For the sake of the conversation we might have here because of these reminders, I included you in my travels. 
So Let's Travel well together beloved reader and do some basic training for our souls.

Here's my list of basic soul training reminders;

Let's work on growing our "acceptance muscles." 
Let's commit to silencing our "attacking ones."
Let's remember we are all "Bozos on The Bus."

"Keep it simple stupid!"

Let's not soon forget that we were all once immigrants in need of a home land.
Let's remember this is only a pause in all of eternity and not our final destination.
We are all still foreigners here.
For those that feel they are the settlers remember not to settle for cruelty.
For those that feel more and more foreign every day remember that 
you are not alone here, and we desperately want to embrace you, but for some embracing seems foreign.

"Keep it simple sweetheart!"

Let's have patience with one another as we work on agreeing to disagree agreeably.
Let's not choose sides of this race, but rather remember we are all part of the human race.
Let's be diligent to teach our children that; "Perfect love casts out all fear"

"Keep it simple stupid!"


Turn off the TV, Computer, Phone, and engage in this beautiful life we get to live.
Breathe in deep.
Breathe out deep. 
Sigh and moan if necessary.
Hold a baby and smell them.
Really smell them.
Smell their smile.
Smell their fuzzy head.
Smell their sense of wonder.
Smell their stinky diaper and then change it.

"Keep it simple sweetheart!"

Let's remember that we all started there.
Let's go back(metaphorically speaking) to when we were a foreigner in our mother's womb.
Let's be born again to that place of wonder.
Let's try to imagine the world we all want.
Let's remember we only get to borrow it for a bit.
Let's recognize that it looks quite similar and actually even almost the same if we look with a magnifying glass.
 Let's ask the questions and truly listen to the answer.
Let's have enough creativity, and courage to embrace this beautiful life with all the colors, and sounds, and smells.
 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Love. Acceptance. Forgiveness.

I have so many thoughts running through my head regarding the Women's March that happened on Saturday. Millions of women, men, and children came out to be a voice for LOVE and ACCEPTANCE. I wanted to jump up and down with excitement when I heard of the numbers of people that got out there and spoke up for equality and respect for ALL human life.
It reminded me of the ah-ha moment I had when I read this book many moons ago that forever changed my life. 
It moved me in a different direction and how I now choose to walk out my faith.
It was a worldview changer for me for sure.
The message is as simple as the title of the book, and the author was as authentic and legit as any man could be. In his time here on earth he made an impact. The impact was similar to many great leaders, but maybe not as polarized because he led a quiet life in Gresham Oregon.
His name was Jerry Cook and the book is called Love, Acceptance, and Forgiveness. 
The title is packed with big words that comes with all kinds of emotional baggage, and at the same time those three words have the capacity, and power for true healing and restoration.
 Love.

I understand that not everyone has had unconditional love in their life.
  In fact, I know I am in the minority of those who have shared a relationship with several people where their love has caused them to flourish instead of whither and die.
That's not to say that I haven't ever experienced a relationship with someone that I love where they have had destructive behavior toward me and toward others. I've been lied to in the name of love, and friendship. I've been rejected because I spoke truth in the name of love and it hurts.
 
"Our love for others must never be confused as a license for their destructive behavior toward us, toward others or toward themselves. Love commits itself to their "highest good" and stands stubbornly and relentlessly against their destruction from any quarter."
It's helpful for me to know that I don't have to continue to subject myself to that kind of behavior in the name of "love" but that I can continue to pray for those people who have hurt me and hold them at arms length until God says otherwise. 
If he ever does.
But there is a love offered to everyone that brings life and hope, and never fails. 
John 3:16

It's this love that gives me the ability to truly love everyone and wish no ill will on my fellow man or woman.

 
Acceptance.

I realize that as a white, suburban wife and mom in most circles I'm generally accepted. 
(Unless of course you find tattoos offensive)
I've never really known what it's like to not be accepted because of how I was born.
In my lifetime I have been so fortunate to live in a country where I have the freedom as a woman to wear what I want and have a voice.
I don't have to fear that if I burn my husbands dinner I will be chained outside and treated like a dog.
I have a family who loves me and a husband who is still my best friend 23 years later. 
I also have been so incredibly blessed in this life to be
friends and even family with those who aren't generally accepted in most circles of life. 
Some of my closest friends are people that when they walk into a room people automatically make preconceived judgements about them.
They are rejected simply for the color of their skin or clothing they wear or who they choose to hold hands with.
Their rejection has strangely become my own and I feel a strong urge to speak up and out for them, on behalf of them. 


"Unreserved acceptance of people should be a habit with us."

The "us" Jerry is referring to there is Christ followers or Christians. 
Why is it that a people group that should be the most loving, the most accepting is often times the most judgmental and unforgiving? 
It saddens my heart beyond belief that Jesus is represented by a people group that often times come across as THE MOST judgmental and therefore hypocritical than any other on planet earth!
I want to shake people sometimes and say, don't you know Jesus hung out with prostitutes and thieves  and without a doubt if he was here in body today would be among those that marched this past weekend and he might have hung out at a gay bar afterward!
(Insert wide eyed emoticon here)

But I digress. 
It is the acceptance that I feel on a daily basis from the lover of my soul that has given me the capacity to accept others even if they challenge my way of life to the core. 
When I read about Jesus in the book of John I see one who loved without reservation or judgement. 
You can't stop this kind of love and it scares people. 
It's a force that has to be reckoned with and is the very reason He was crucified. 
His love scared the people who thought love and acceptance should only be shown to an elite people group. 
If Jesus taught us nothing else in his short 33 years here it is that love and acceptance for ALL people is what the heart of God is all about. 


Forgiveness.

I am only given the capacity to forgive those who have wounded and damaged me because of this great love and acceptance I have felt from the very young age of 13. This kind of forgiveness is a learned way of life. 
"I'm learning to live without you now, 

But I miss you sometimes.

The more I know, the less I understand, 

All the things I thought I knew, I'm learning again.

I've been tryin' to get down 

To the heart of the matter

But my will gets weak 
And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it's about forgiveness, 
Forgiveness
Even if, even if you don't love me anymore."



The longer I live the more I want to live in such a way that truly reflects HIS LOVE, HIS ACCEPTANCE, and HIS FORGIVENESS. 
 When you spend time with the great lover of your soul, your creator, it
then becomes habit to forgive those that hurt you.
This comes only after many years of realizing that to not forgive them only hurts you more.
A hardened, unforgiving stubborn state of mind closes you off to a world of true
 freedom.

After seeing millions of families come out and march this past Saturday I am filled with hope that there are more people out there whose voices won't be silenced. 
The love, acceptance, and forgiveness that we are able to cultivate to the best of our ability will be in the end what lasts thru the test of time.
When we look into another persons eyes and see them, and accept them for who they are with no agenda, when we recognize we bleed the same color red, and feel the same about much more than we think we do, then we get to experience a little heaven on earth!

Sign me up for that.   
 


Monday, January 16, 2017

No Greater Love


Today is the day we recognize this one man.
 
A great leader. 
A Christ follower.
A Son.
A Brother. 
 

"I still believe that love is the most durable power in the world. Over the centuries men have sought to discover the highest good. This has been the chief quest of ethical philosophy. This has been one of the big questions of Greek philosophy. The Epicureans and the Stoics sought to answer it; Plato and Aristotle sought to answer it. What is the summum bonum of life? I think I have discovered the highest good. It is love. This principle stands at the center of the cosmos. As John says, “God is love.” He who loves is a participant in the being of God. He who hates does not know God."


A Father. 
A Husband.
A Preacher.
A Servant to all of Humanity.

"Always be sure that you struggle with Christian methods and Christian weapons. Never succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter. As you press on for justice, be sure to move with dignity and discipline, using only the weapon of love. Let no man pull you so low as to hate him. Always avoid violence. If you succumb to the temptation of using violence in your struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and your chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos."

A Poet.
A Philosopher. 
A Teacher.
A Student. 

A man whose only mission was to promote LOVE.

“There is no greater love than this: that a person would lay down his life for the sake of his friends.” John 15:13

Because of Hate and Fear 
He never got to see his grandchildren.
He didn't get to witness the first Black President.
He never even saw his 40's. 

Despite his short time here, he was A world changer.
His words carry weight because he backed them with the actions that eventually killed him.
His voice is still heard today.
And hopefully will be heard for many more years to come. 

I'm beyond thankful that I live in a country that recognizes men just like Martin Luther King jr.
It is my hope and prayer on this day that we won't silence the voice of love. 
That all of us will work together to be love promoters and in doing so become world changers in our own right. 






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