Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Walking Into The Arena

Inspired by the words below written a long time ago by President Teddy, I wrote some prose today.

"It is not the critic who counts; 
not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles,
 or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, 
whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; 
who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again.
because there is no effort without error and shortcoming;
 but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, 
the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;
who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and
who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly....."
~Theodore Roosevelt 
I want to be the one in the arena.
I have no time for critics or the callous skin of a judger.
I feel excitement rising as I build with tools of failure, some success,  and vulnerability.
Too many great enthusiasms, and not enough hours in the day, but that won't stop me.
I can't let it stop me. 
As I step up to the arena's in life I hear the great cloud of witnesses who have gone before me.
Chanting fight the good fight win the race. 
Don't get weary in doing good. 
I also hear the whispers of the critic, the one who would come only to rob, kill, and destroy what new vision has been birthed in me. 
To silence the voice of the enemy we have to listen to the friend.
The one who comes along side not even saying a word.
A hand reached out to walk beside me.
Putting one foot in front of the other we walk into the arena and we dare greatly....
Believing tomorrow will be better.
It has to be.
If only made better by one small choice at a time.
One time of laying down ego to pick up humility, and ask for help.
Help me to grow.
Help me to learn.
Help me to trust.
Help me to love again, and again, and again.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Good News... God is With Us and For Us




"So be truly glad!

 There is wonderful joy ahead, even though the going is rough for a while down here...

YOU LOVE HIM even though you have never seen Him;

though not seeing HIM, you trust Him;

and even now you are happy with the inexpressible joy that comes from heaven itself. "
1 Peter 1:6, 8
 
The past few weeks have been really hard for me. 
I have felt the overwhelmed-ness of life around every corner, and the indescribable blessings of just being alive all at the same time. 
For a moment I went deep down into a rabbit hole of sadness and overwhelmed-ness. 
I know overwhelmed-ness is not a word but it is here today on this blog.
 (It's my blog therefore I can make up words among other things when I want to.)
Just try to stop me. 
You can't so don't even try!
Wait... I just told you to try.
When I go places like down the overwhelmed-ness rabbit hole island I get quiet.
*(It's a hole and an island, I can make up imaginary places here too)
I read, I write, and I'm not ashamed to say, I watch a lot of Netflix.
This morning I realized that it's time to come out of that rabbit hole. 
 Easter Sunday has come and gone and its message of hope has once again left it's residue on my heart.
Although the rough things in life and the lives around me are still going on there is hope in the midst of it all. 
The unshakeable knowledge of life after death is GOOD NEWS!!
And all the sadness and overwhelmed-ness that this life can throw my way
pales in comparison to the bright light of Jesus being alive!!
He conquered death, and I'm pretty sure he knows how to pull people out of overwhelmed-ness rabbit holes. 
The song of life is faintly playing and getting louder with every passing moment. 
"When death was arrested and my life began"
This good news of Jesus being alive is not something that is new to me. 
He opened my eyes to see Him and all His glory and love many years ago, but sometimes I let the worries of this world choke out this "inexpressible joy that come from heaven itself"

I know after all these years that it's ok to go down rabbit holes of overwhelmed-ness. 
I'm thankful that Jesus knows where to find me because he never left me. 
He goes down those holes with me.
He sails to the island that is me.
He binge watches Netflix right beside me. 
He is not a Savior who doesn't know how to speak our language or meet us right where we are at.
So today "even though the going is rough for a while down here" I'm going to get up out of this hole by listening to the songs of life and reading the words of truth.
"I look behind me and you're there, then
up ahead and you're there too- your 
reassuring presence, coming and going. 
This is too much, too wonderful- 
I can't take it all in!"
Psalm 139:5-6
Turning our mourning into dancing 
Our weeping into laughing
Our sadness into JOY
Inexpressible JOY!!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Hope in Death

Can you find Hope in Death?
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 cried. 
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 cussed. 
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.
Isaiah 53:5

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!

Blog design ©2012 Design by Alyx