Encouragement

Enough

enough

 

perfection:

the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.

 

I ran into the lawn mower in our garage this winter and now it is busted. busted.

I wear clinical strength deodorant. clinical.

I never make my bed. never.

Sometimes I feel totally overwhelmed. totally.

I always leave the laundry until Sunday. always.

Awkward. I feel this way always.

Not good enough. I feel this way always.

 

Perfection. Trying always.

Reading that definition. Why do we do that to ourselves?

It is not happening. Ever.

 

His grace is enough. It really is when I slow down long enough to think about it.

It is sufficient. Everything we need.

 

Love to you this Monday.

Do NOT give up.

Do not give up

One evening this week my whole family had crashed asleep by 8:30. I sat up writing in the dark. I am a quiet girl, but it is funny what happens when we are left to ourselves. The doubt began as a little trickle and by 10:30 I was typing and crying at the same time. It’s the same mix tape that runs through my heart.

Everything I offer is not enough. I am not fully and completely good at anything. I am letting everyone around me down. I keep having dreams about owning multiple houses with countless rooms, so many I can’t keep them all straight. I keep forgetting that I am enough. We are all enough. It is not what we accomplish.

For three years, my one word has been kneel. I keep forgetting to do that. Then it comes quietly, don’t give up. Do Justice. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly. Kneel.

Those things I can do. Again and Again. I know that the tape will play again, it never really ever fully goes away, but it also doesn’t matter.

I won’t give up. I will keep clinging to what I can do, even if imperfectly.

 

Again and Again.

 

Door Four

Door Four(A Guest Post by Brenda Petersen, also known as my Mom. Who has been amazingly brave, peaceful, and full of grace during her treatment for breast cancer. The following is a meditation over her experience thus far.) 

In Holland, Michigan, over on Washington Avenue, the medical buildings have gigantic numbers over their outside doors to identify their departments. As the 2014 Advent season was unfolding, I dutifully went to Door Four, for what was anticipated to be a routine yearly mammogram at the Breast and Bone Health Center. My family’s season of Advent has since blended into the Lenten season, as we navigate the waters of my breast cancer diagnosis.

2002, my husband and I went to spend time with a part of our beloved family in Europe. Together we visited several cathedrals and domes. The artwork depicting the Stations of the Cross leading up to Christ’s crucifixion, were the images that lingered with me. As the rhythm of the liturgical season enters into Lent, the Stations of the Cross came to mind. In an effort to make sense of my present journey, it became clear to me; I was experiencing something akin to Four Stations of Breast Cancer.

In all four stations I am instructed that I will need to BE STILL! That seems to be the overriding directive to me, and there are no exceptions.

  1. MRI: You must put your arms out directly in front of you like you are flying. Once you go into the tunnel there will be loud distracting noises all around you. You may become frightened, if so, tell us and we will talk you through it, otherwise, just fly.

(Directive: Loud world…you can ask for help…but you must fly)

  1. Surgery: On the operating table we need to take your arms and spread them directly out and securely attach them to the sideboards.

(Directive: It’s like the crucifixion you must lay yourself out to gain life)

  1. Chemotherapy: We have picked “your dandelion” and now we must put down weed killer to be sure there are no seeds floating around. We will infuse your body with chemicals via this port directly into your veins. The chemicals will kill off any rouge cancer cells, but at the same time will kill off your good cells as well.

(Directive: Die to everything, and new cells will then reproduce and will be healthy)

  1. Radiation: We will map your chest wall and then proceed to radiate the area; to be sure there are no remaining cancer cells. Your only job is to stand there and hold your arms over your head and no matter what do not lower your arms.

(Directive: Keep your arms raised up to the heavens)

Those are pretty clear directives I hear. Even though this is a turn in my journey I would never have taken on my own, I am beginning to know, it is a path that is going to lead me to a greater understanding of just how magnificent it is to be still and see a little more clearly who God really is. In addition to being still, I am going to be practicing positions of flying, opening my arms wide, and holding my arms up in praise…I am going to need those for eternity!

How are you practicing being still in these present days? I would love to hear your thoughts.

bpBrenda Petersen worked as a Family Advocate with Shelby Public Schools for 22 years. She now resides in Holland, MI with her husband Philip. Four kids call her Grandma B. She shares her faith and experiences in person and with her writing

A Dangerous Way to Live

giver

I watched the movie trailer of The Giver. I was confused.

Then I read the synopsis of the book on wikipedia. (I know, not the best source.) Still confused.

Eventually, I thought maybe I should just read the real actual book.

When in doubt, read the book.

 

Jonas lives in a ‘perfect’ community without war, pain, suffering, differences or choices. At age 12 he is chosen to take the place of The Giver, the memory keeper, who must transfer all the memories of humanity to Jonas.

When he feels love for the first time- “I can see that it was a dangerous way to live.”

Though the memories of suffering, pain, and loss are excruciating they change the course of Jonas life. The story is a beautiful parable of how we need to keep telling stories.

 

If the stories of the past are not in our proximity, we too easily forget.

If stories of present challenges are not in our proximity, we too easily ignore.

 

At the conclusion of the book, I read Lois Lowry’s Newberry Award acceptance speech. Best take away: We can’t live only us, only now. 

 

Live dangerously.

Draw up close.

Love.

 

What book has touched you with deeper meaning?

 

 

 

 

Gray Fades

gray

Friday evening, I felt depleted. Oh the gray that builds sometimes, especially this time of year. Laying on the couch, I hit play on A Path Appears. 

The three-part documentary film based on the book of the same name by Nicolas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, shows on PBS. Episode One talked about sex trafficking in the United States. Episode Two covered Breaking the Cycle of Poverty. You can watch Episode 1 and Episode 2 on-line until February 14. The last part will show this evening and takes place at the Kiberia School for Girls.

It was midnight when I finished, and the gray had receded.

Proximity does that to you. You remember who you want to be.

path

Earlier in the month, Nicolas Kristof wrote an article about a high school friend, stuck in a cycle of poverty called Where’s the EmpathyOh, how we need and long for understanding that leads to empathy, that moves us to act.

 

I’m excited about A Path Appears.

The IF Gathering where so many women gathered and dreamed this past weekend.

Voices like Amy Sullivan, who remind us that serving is hard, but glorious.

and progress like the Millennium Development Goals.

SONY DSC

{Mother and their children at a Mother’s group in South Delhi, India}

The Global Team of 200 is reporting this month with Save the Children and MDG4, reducing childhood morality. The number of children dying from preventable causes decreased from 12.6 million in 1990 to 6.6 million in 2012. Progress… but still 

  • Each day an estimated 800 mothers and 18,000 young children die from largely preventable causes.
  • More than 1 million babies die on their first and only day of life across the world, and 2.9 million in their first month.

Newborn mortality rates can only be reduced through

  • fairer distribution of essential health services
  • universal healthcare access; this means making these more available to the poorest and most marginalized families, as well as to communities living in rural areas.

The world produces enough food to feed every man, woman and child yet 1 in 8 go to bed hungry every night. 

???????????????????????????????{Mother and son in a hospital in Lusaka, Zambia}

 

Let’s rise up to meet those suffering with empathy and action.

It is our calling, why we breathe.

and gray fades.

 

A Lot of Slow

slow

This weekend at the library, I randomly picked up a book that helped me let out a long held breath.

slow writing

Good things take time.

Counterintuitive in our reality today.

From A Lazy Thought By: Eve Merriam

It takes a lot/ Of slow/ To Grow

 

I don’t remember this, ever.

I take great comfort in it though.

 

I encourage you today, to remember you are a work in progress.

Let grace cover over you… everything beautiful takes time.

I hope you let that truth sink in. Somehow it is so freeing.

 

Do you struggle with slow in a world of fast? 

Somewhere in America

two bites

Neither boy had traveled a particularly smooth school morning. At lunch time he held a container, tiny in size. “My Mom made this cake.”

With a plastic fork he scooped out half, and placed it in his classmates waiting palm. Left in the container was approximately one bite of that cake. Two bites total and he gave one away. The generosity of children to one another sometimes makes my eyes watery.

 

Brave New Voices is an international youth poetry slam festival.

This week I came across Somewhere in America, spoken by three young ladies in the troupe Get Lit. They recently opened for John Legend in the Hollywood Bowl.

See their electrifying performance here. 

 

Somewhere in America… there are people waiting for our voices.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day many come together for a day of service.

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others? Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

A tiny cake, shared. Two bites total and he gave one away.

 

 

a wide world

little fellowOver break I watched The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

Although much of JRR Tolkien’s works have spiritual undertones, I was particularly struck by the imagery of this movie. Smaug the great dragon has been killed. The people of Laketown gather in need of shelter, food, and clothing. Thorin Oakenshield, once a great leader, inhabits Lonely Mountain unwilling to share even one piece of gold.

Dwalin:  “You sit here, in these vast halls, with a crown upon your head and yet you are lesser now than you have ever been.”

“You cannot see what you have become.” 

Kili: “I will not hide, when others fight our battles for us.”

Of course, he comes around to be the great leader we all knew he was, abandoning wealth and power. Redemption. 

 

And as Gandolf leaves Bilbo with the powerful ring… “You really are just a little fellow, in a wide world.” Perspective.

 

I don’t know if I was all to ready for this new year. Even so, I know who I want to be.

 

I want to be brave and not hide. 

I want to love in close proximity… to do that, I know I must be quieter, stiller, gentler. 

I want to kneel because I know I am just a little fellow in a wide world. I know I need God. 

In this new year, what do you hope for? 

 

 

 

 

 

A Prayer for the New Year

decThe Time People of the Year are those fighting ebola. I love title of the article.

Do Good, Be Brave.

 

Those little white lights of the season always draw me into a quiet spirit. I am ready for a little stillness. About Proximity will be back in the new year. I love your voices. Growing to know you all more deeply makes my days and encourages me so very much.

 

I pray for our new year…

that we would be brave

that we would kneel often

that we would love in close proximity.