Let me help you with the speck in your eye…

A lot of people are familiar with the Biblical parable about removing the moat (or beam) from your own eye before attempting to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

For those of you who aren’t, the moral is pretty simple. Before you get caught up with the desire to point out and remove all the flaws, sins, shortcomings, and imperfections in those around you, take a good long look at yourself. 

If its an honest look, you’ll find enough to keep yourself busy quite handily, with no need to get absorbed in other people’s shortcomings.

Unfortunately, it seems that the people most likely to be digging into other people’s issues are also the least likely to be honest about their own. 

You see, we judge ourselves by the most lenient standards, taking into account all the thought process and intentions (always positive) and understanding that no matter what we did, or what the outcome was, we meant well.

We didn’t mean to hurt anyone. We were doing the best we could.

But other people; the bar is high and the only colors are black and white. We swat away all the minutia of intention or thought process or what they may have been trying to achieve and we just see that they failed. 

Messed up. Blew it. How very, very wrong they were, with no conceivable excuse.

If we’re honest, I don’t think we usually want to know the backstory. Its easier to write people off as lazy, or selfish, or sinful, or whatever else, and to glare them down (righteously, of course), for all their shortcomings.

For ourselves, we want mercy. Understanding. Forgiveness. We need people to see the gray areas, to understand what we were trying to do. To give us space to make some mistakes, to understand that not every choice we make, or thing we do, is the end-all, be-all defining choice or action.

To see that we are human; struggling, hurting, mistake making, second chance needing, humans.

But aren’t we all?

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Jobs – They’re What You Do

Today concluded with a pineapple shake from the local Sonic drive-in and a long talk with my husband about what kind of work, if any, I would or could find meaningful.

I’ve had a lot of different kinds of jobs – direct care, back of the office, physical, mental, rewarding and not so rewarding. 

Its fairly easy to determine what things I have not found to be innately life giving or inspiring to my soul.

More difficult is to locate those things that made me feel alive. So often when we experience the things we love and enjoy it feels so natural we don’t necessarily think to name what it is that we are loving so much. Then the experience slips away, and we know enough to feel dissatisfied with less, but not enough to be able to reclaim what it is, exactly, that we lost.

That’s where I’m stuck now. I can name lots of things I don’t like in a job (I am realistic enough to know that what ever you do in life, there will have to be things that aren’t favorites..), and I know there are things in life that I have done and loved, but I can’t seem to nail down what those “loved” things are in a tangible way that will help me refind them in the form of a career I feel passionate about.

Where are you in the process?

How did you find what you love to do? Did you use trial and error, or did you “just know”?

If you don’t like your job….why do you still have it? What are you doing to change that?

Making Art

Yesterday, I made ART.

For many of you that may seem like no big deal.

To me, it is quite an accomplishment. I love the idea of canvases, and paint, and making something unique and personal. But every time I buy a canvas, I bring it home and it just sits.

It sits and stares at me and dares me to touch it and ruin its perfect blank slate status. So I move it to the closet so it can’t stare quite so hard, and I go on wishing I could create something.

Honestly, its not that I couldn’t make “something”. Its that I’m afraid the “something” I make will be an embarrassment. I tell myself I’m sure to ruin the canvas, to make some half baked, crappy piece of work only a mother could love, and have to bury it in the bottom of my trash so no one will see how pathetic I am. When those are the sort of inspired thoughts that flash through my mind at the thought of creating a painting, its no wonder I never get very far.
Essentially, the thing that holds me back is not necessarily the process of creating – its fear over people’s (even my own) perception of what will be created. Will it be ugly? Juvenile looking? Pathetic? At this particular point in time there is no question about it being a masterpiece – it won’t be. But should I refuse to create simply because I know “my” creation won’t stand a chance at being the best?

And there is the question of subjectivity. As in, art is so darn subjective. Who is to even say what’s good / bad / ugly / terrible?

Once, in an Art History class, the professor placed a whole bunch of items out on a table and asked us to decide which ones were art. Then she picked random people and asked them about a specific object. When she got to me, she happened to ask me about a Pepto Bismol pink lump of clay that I felt could pass for a giant wad of chewed up spitting gum. I ruled it wasn’t art, and when pressed, articulated that something like that could conceivably have been formed by falling off a ceiling and drying in a lump – that makes it “not art” in my book.
Oh what’s that, professor? Your mode of art happens to be in clay sculpture, and this is actually a piece you made?
(Can we just stop now and make a rule that you can’t put your own work out like and make us answer questions about it? That was not fair. And frankly, I think it made you prejudiced against me that whole semester.)

The point being, however, that everyone has a different opinion about good art, and bad art, and everything in between. At the end of the day, a lot of it comes down to expression, and voice, and what is being conveyed by the artist through their piece.

In reality, it could be that that is the very thing that frightens me about art. It forces me to stop, and think about who I am, and what message I’m attempting to communicate, and how to take the words and thoughts and emotions that exist abstractly inside of me and somehow turn them into something concrete, touchable, viewable.

And when the unseen becomes seen, a little, hidden, secret part of who we are may get revealed in the process.

America the Beautiful

Yes I know – this is the video from the wildly controversial Coke commercial (played at Superbowl ’14).
If you have a problem hearing America extolled by someone not speaking English, then just don’t watch it.
I personally find it beautiful, an audio and visual celebration of what makes America so wonderful. And like it or not, it is this America that our troops so selflessly defend, all to often giving their lives so we can continue living in land that celebrates profound diversity in a way very few (if any) other countries can.

Peace & a Pope

The Pope is inviting the leaders of Israel and Palestine to the Vatican for a “peace initiative” to discuss solutions to the conflict in the Middle East. Not so much a political discussion; more of a prayer retreat. His expressed desire is to join together in “heartfelt prayer to God for the gift of peace”.

Both leaders have reportedly accepted the invitation.

Oh to be a fly on the wall of that prayer encounter.

Pope Francis, who will be hosting, is Catholic of course. I don’t know the religious affiliations of the other two leaders, but I wouldn’t be shocked to learn that one is Jewish and one is Muslim. Each of them have a very personal view of who God is, and even of what prayer is. Most people do – those things are personal to many of us. There are those who may be surprised that the Pope thought to invite either them to a prayer meeting at his house at all; but he did. And the people invited – who may be just as surprised as the rest of us – accepted. 

As a Pope, Francis is often the first to reach out, extending a hand of grace to those around him. And how many of us will turn away from an extended hand of grace, as long as it is offered genuinely?

On his trip today, he approached a separation barrier (erected by Israel), and reached out to touch it, with head bowed. Mustafa Barghouti observed, “The Pope did not only put his hand on a concrete wall. He put his hand on occupation. He put his hand on (an) apartheid system, on a system of separation, and discrimination, and oppression.”

I believe that the way he is the first to extend a hand – to offer help, hope and encouragement – is Christlike in its openness, its inclusiveness, and its genuine desire to help a fellow brother. 

May we each be willing to extend a hand today.

Solar Roadways

So the beginning of the video is kind of…juvenile. Not my fave.

BUT.
Watch the whole thing. Think about it. Its really an amazing idea.
They’ve built in channels that would allow wiring to be all underground, plus channels to route melted snow / rain / excess water into water treatment facilities to decrease the amount of polluted water reentering the eco-system.
AND they use tons of recycled materials to create them.
AND its estimated that if every highway in the USA was converted to this system, it would generate enough electricity to fill our power needs 3x over.
And think about how many jobs would be created. Nothing like a little boost for the economy.

Somehow green initiatives have turned so political and controversial that we don’t always look at them rationally. This isn’t about a political party, and nots even a drama filled way to save the world.

Its innovative. Its practical. It would create new jobs and potentially make us more sustainable as a nation. And who wouldn’t be a fan of that?

Editorial Calendar

Today I made an editorial calendar!

Its just a basic monthly calendar, printed out onto white printer paper, with the dates written in blue permanent marker.

Nothing too impressive. 

But it got me excited, to think beyond just stream of consciousness type meanderings and into a future with much more structure and intentionality. Right now I’m still in my “getting into the habit” phase, and I feel great about just getting posts out, high quality or not! But that’s no way to grow, so I look forward to kicking off a bit more structure in the upcoming months.

Setting goals and making plans inspires me to think big and dream big!

 

A little extra insight into my day…..I fantasized about my dream job. Here it is.

I would work for a wealthy person who has a huge library, with a fireplace and all leather-bound books. They would hire me to come to their home and read the books (because no one wants a library filled with unread books). There is also a bit about fresh flowers, smoothies, and the occasional venture to the bookstore to peruse more books to take home to the library. But mainly I would just read.

Heavenly.

Now accepting all reasonable offers.

40 Hours

40 hours a week, I am at my place of employment.

Its a solid job, with decent pay, good benefits, and advancement opportunities down the road.

It was a huge answer to prayer, as I didn’t have work when we first moved to Texas, and it took me almost 5 months to get this job.

Before this job…well, I had to take what I could get, and it was a terrible job, with terrible management, and was a constant source of stress and tension. 

So now I have this good thing. I should be happy, right? 

But I’m really not. I’m not stressed out. I know I can work this job for awhile without any real issues.

And as I posted earlier, one can always find meaning in the small things, the every day pieces of life that we so often pass by. But does that mean we can’t aim for 40 hours a week of greater meaning? Is it too much to ask for a profession – a career – a job – that might mean something behind 40 hours a week and my paycheck. 

Doing my job well – that is meaningful. But it does not imbue the work itself into something of meaning. 

Choosing to live intentionally and make my own choices and actions be something of value…can that compensate for a job that does not have very much value and/or meaning in and of itself?

Take, for instance, parenting. There are a lot of not so glamorous parts of parenting, and the day in and day out can seem pretty monotonous. You can choose to be intentional and make those moments special…and at the end of the day (or year, or 18 years) you are also doing something with a wider, greater, meaning that adds to the small, little moments of value and meaning.

But what if your job is such that no matter how meaningfully you live the small moments, there is no greater good at the finish line?

That’s the struggle, my friends.

What then?