Monday, June 25, 2012

A Message from Him to You

Be kind to My friend today. She needs your encouragement, not your criticism. She's feeling unworthy and unwanted. Be nice to her as only you can. Tell her that I love her. I know you have said it all before... Tell her again anyway.

Love My friend today. Show her how special she is and how I have given her gifts to cheer her and feed her soul. Give her permission right now to use those gifts, even though she has so much to do and lots of places to be. Tell her to spend time on her, just for Me.

Encourage My friend today. Show her my wonders and my works to lift her spirit and allow her heart to breath. Tell her I have all the problems circling her brain already figured out and at the right time I will provide the solutions. Remind her of all the times that I have done that in the past.

Pray with My friend today. Remind her that I am only a whisper away. Tell her again that I am always listening for the sounds of my people. It is My greatest joy to hear her call out to Me so that I may answer. She is no burden to Me but a great delight to My heart. Tell her I sit waiting in the Living Room of her soul to commune with her and comfort her.

Be kind to My friend today. She is loved beyond measure and treasured as My child. Be very kind to My friend, because My friend is you.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Square Pegs and Other Motivators

I got lost. Lost in my own ambition to be accepted and loved and praised and I allowed myself to be restrained by my need to feel worthy. I lost sight of the rocky edge of my desire and I look back now wondering how to get back to the danger zone and away from too much comfort.

When I started this new blog, way back here, I wanted to use it to break out of the mould of other bloggers. I wanted you to come here and be surprised, rejuvenated, shocked and entertained. I wanted you to become inspired. I got lost. I have a wonderful friend who reminded me why I started...

It is time to catch back up to my dreams. It is time to stretch my wings here once again. It is time you saw some of what I have been working on in my glorious studio and it is time to re-motivate my creative spirit to add to these works. It's time to be found...


From: My Grandmother's Pearls, a fictional work
By: S.A. Brown

The screen of her cell phone lit the room eerily in the twilight hours. Tawny had found herself sleeping most of the day amid the pillows and Nana's quilt right there in the bay window. Finally, after her body had stopped the relentless caterwauling and her head was a dull background grumble, she realized she was ravenously hungry. The trek to her bedroom to retrieve her phone was much less painful this time, but the fact that she could conjure up no one to share a quick meal with was not. For the first time in a long time, Tawny Moore was lonely.
She'd been staring at the address entry for her family home. It was shortly after seven o'clock and her mother and father would likely be out at dinner already, if their home wasn't the backdrop for hosting some intimate gathering instead. She could call and talk to Rodney, although she was sure her reception would be cool.
For whatever reason, Tay hesitated. She couldn't take the sound of disappointment right now. She wanted to hear cheer, comfort, understanding... things that until now, she'd scoffed at. Up to now, she had been a dervish of self-sufficiency, a force to be reckoned with. Now she felt rather pathetic. Alone, lonely and rejected by the one thing she had worked so very hard to build into her all or nothing life, Tawny clicked off her phone's backlight and tossed it heavily onto the bed.
"No use being dramatic," She spoke into the growing darkness. She would just put on a pair of jeans with a tee shirt and head to the restaurant down the block from her apartment. She had done that a million times before, no use changing it now. She was oddly looking forward to the interaction this evening. She would order some good old fashioned comfort food, bring it back to the house and get started on her resumé. There was a lot to do to be ready to hit the bricks on Monday, and she'd wasted an entire day with her little pity party.
On second thought, maybe she would eat there. The image of her sitting at a table alone made her smile crookedly. It was something her grandmother would have applauded. She would have told Tay, "It takes solid character to be able to sit with oneself! Not many folks can stand to be alone with their own thoughts." She slid into her favorite pair of jeans and slipped a light camisole over her head. A pair of flip-flops on her feet and she wound her way back to the living room and down the hall to the front door.
Dropped roughly by the doorway, Tay retrieved her wallet from her half turned over purse and stood to check her face in the large mirror. Her eyes showed a bit hollow, but nothing that was terribly alarming and with a quick brush of her fingers her dutch-boy cut bob slipped back into place. "Good enough!" she announced and started out the door.
The air was warm and sticky in Georgia's late April evening and Tay walked a little slower to soak it in. The coolness of standard air-conditioning had always irritated her somewhere beneath the surface. It was drying and harsh and always turned to an infuriating icebox temperature to keep the "suits" happy. Tonight Tawny just relaxed into the warm air, relishing it's contrast to who she was just a scant twenty four hours before. Who she would be again, come Monday morning...
She arrived at the door front to the restaurant and entered. Ceiling fans wound furiously above her head and an old window unit rattled loudly in the back of the house. "'Lo 'der, Missy!" called a grandmotherly looking woman behind the warming hood. Her face was rosy with the heat and her smile was broad. "Be wit cha in a short! I'm all 'der is tonight!"
Tay slid into a stool at the long bar. She glanced around at the small dance floor since converted to dining area. She was alone except for an elderly man at a booth in the corner. The bar she sat at was long devoid of alcohol and bar glasses. There was an old fashioned soda jerk station, a shake machine and a glass top freezer filled with ice cream. Molly's, as the little eatery was known, had a reputation for the best ice-cream in the neighborhood and she planned on ordering a chocolate malted with pralines.
"Wat kin I git cha, Sugar?" Miss Molly herself was wiping her large round hands in a towel and daubing at her rosy forehead with her shirt sleeves as she stood behind the bar. "You look plum ravished!"
Tawny laughed out loud. That was what she said no matter what Tay looked like. "I want a chocolate malted with praline, baked mac 'n cheese, and an order of greens - for here." Molly's eyebrows raised at her last request, but she didn't say a word.
"Comin' right up, Missy!" As she turned to head back to the kitchen she tossed over her shoulder, "Take a sit on da terrace upstairs, shore is beautiful tonight!"
Tay slid off her stool and headed up the creaky shifting stairwell, opened the doors onto the terrace of the old building and took a "sit" as ordered at one of only three cast iron tables. The large wicker chair wrapped around her like a comforting hug. She could smell her food cooking in the kitchen below and she sighed as she closed her eyes. She had no idea she was this hungry and silently hoped Molly would bring something extra when she brought the shake.
It wasn't long before Molly's large frame loomed in the doorway with a glass of water, already showing beads of condensation against the warm evening, and a plate of fried green tomatoes. "Figured ya might like a lil bit before," She smiled warmly, "On da house, a course!"
Tay sighed as she drank deeply of the cool water and motioned with one hand for the large woman to sit with her a moment. They both took a tomato in hand and toasted to the beautiful evening as they looked out over the street below.
"So?" Molly looked straight into Tawny's face with that same expectant expression her mother used to pry information from her. It was a fleeting thought, but Tay wondered if all mothers were imbued with that same ability shortly after giving birth. "Whacha doin'?" Her smile was disarming and suddenly Tay felt a camaraderie she found foreign even to her closest relationships.
"I'm sorry?" she tried halfheartedly to dodge the obvious question this woman who barely knew her was asking. At the tilt of Molly's head, she knew it wouldn't fly. The air left her and she sank back into the confines of the large chair, looking up at Molly who was leaning forward, arms propped on the table. "I lost my job yesterday," she blurted before stuffing another tomato in her mouth, hoping to keep the tears she could feel welling up from falling.
"Mmm-hmm," Molly still watched her expectantly as if she knew there was more to come.
"That's it. Lost my job, don't have a clue why and I'll be fine." She took a drink of water, allowing the cold condensation to run down her wrist and drip on her jeans. She breathed deeply willing the tears to stay put.
"Dats what my Mama called 'stock takin' time'. Time ta make sure you gocha ducks in a row, ya know?" she checked the delicate watch on her large wrist as if making the point further. "I better git down to ya food, but ya need to think 'bout dat. Take stock, Girlie - Make shore ya doin' what da Good Lawd is asking'," and with that the mountainous woman stood and disappeared into the old shop. Tay could hear the stairs groan under her weight and shook her head in disbelief.
"Bizarre," slipped from her mouth in a whisper. She didn't know Molly. Molly didn't know her. It was a relationship built on take out orders and friendly weather chatter. Why on earth would this woman stop her and ask such a prying question? And what's more, why did Tay feel compelled to answer her? Normally their interaction was over in a matter of minutes, a shared smile, a few kind words and Molly always telling her she looked famished. Maybe tonight she looked particularly desperate, maybe it was a mistake to ask the large woman to have a "sit" with her, maybe it was all just a bizarre coincidence. Tay shrugged it off as she peered through the wrought iron railing of the tiny terrace.
Momentarily Molly returned with a tray steaming invitingly with a huge portion of baked Macaroni and cheese, a bowl of steaming greens with bacon slices on top and a shake glass with the metal shake cup more than half full. It was a ton of food and Tay's eyes were bulging in surprise.
"I tole ya ya looked half starved!" The big woman grinned wide as she set the food in front of Tawny. "Eat what ya kin, I'll bring ya some containers ta take da rest." Molly didn't linger. From the sounds of it, the dining room downstairs had started to pick up and she had customers to see to. Tawny could hear her jovial laughter ringing through the night and it brought her a smile, despite her unease at the earlier interaction.
She ate until she was sure she would have to unbutton her jeans if she ate another bite. A bag with the voluminous remains of the meal packed neatly in containers stood mockingly on the seat next to her as if she hand't eaten a thing. The malted had melted in the evening heat and she spooned the pralines from the bottom of the glass, savoring each crispy, sweet, nutty bite. She could hear someone coming up the stairs and wondered if it was time to head out.
Through the terrace door stepped a tall young blonde and an athletic dark man, both laughing and holding hands. It was obvious they were a couple in search of some privacy and their faces belied hints of disappointment when they realized they were not alone. Tay reached for the bag of left overs, very aware that her presence was an intrusion.
"My land!" The woman's southern drawl rang out across the terrace, making Tawny look up suddenly. "Tawny? Tawny Moore, is that you I see?" In just a few steps the lithe blonde was standing in front of her, blocking a quick get away with perfect makeup, perfect hair and matching handbag and shoes. Very 'southern lady,' thought Tay wryly. Her escort stood behind her patiently waiting to be introduced, but obviously uninterested in the reunion.
"Um..." Tay fumbled with the bag as the contents shifted inside. "I'm sorry, do I know you?" She was careful to smile and look inquisitively at the woman's face for any sign of recognizable features. There was a vague familiarity, but her muddled brain was not locking in fast enough. She really should remember this moment the next time she was tempted to drown her sorrows...
"Well, I should think so! We were only best friends all through grade school," she was disappointed but hid it immediately as any well-cultured, well-bred southern belle would. It would be improper to make another person feel uncomfortable and this woman was nothing if she wasn't proper. "Jenny Byrnes, silly!" She immediately swallowed Tay up in a suffocating hug, kissing her on the cheek as if they had just seen each other yesterday and were still the best of friends. "How on earth are you?"
"Uh, great... Just great!" Byrnes? Tawny's mind raced to make the connection. Ah yes, friends in school, although far from 'besties' as her recollection went. But then that was the deep south, wasn't it? Everyone knew everyone and everyone was your 'bestest' friend.
"The last time I saw you we were all at the Hall for Lexa's debut. Must've been at least ten years ago..." She smiled widely again, showing perfect teeth through perfectly applied lipstick. Tay was suddenly very aware that she was in a pair of jeans and a camisole, her unpolished toes naked in her flip flops. Her mother would have been horrified.
"OH, yeah... That's right." Tawny shifted in place desperately trying to recall an appointment she needed to get to.
"Shame on me!" Jenny clasped her perfectly manicured hand to her heart. "I should be shot! This is my fiancé, Henry - Henry, this is Tawny Moore, one of my best friends from way back." Henry stepped slightly forward behind Jenny on the narrow terrace and thrust his hand at Tawny.
"Nice to meet you," his voice was deep and throaty and his accent was definitively southern. He smiled with eyes that barely veiled his irritation at the interruption. "Jen, darling, shouldn't we let Miss Tawny get back to her plans? You are holding her up, dear." Tawny could have kissed him, even if his suggestion was self serving and obvious.
"Of course, Love." Jenny's tone was syrup sweet. She rolled her eyes ever so slightly as she turned back to Tay. "Do ring me up when you get a chance, Tay. I'd love to get lunch with you sometime."
"Sure thing!" Tawny called over her shoulder as she turned to leave the cramped quarters. So relieved to be released from the glaring spotlight of southern perfection, she didn't notice she'd forgotten her wallet on the table until she was at the base of the rickety stairs. "Ugh..." she muttered to herself as she turned to creep back up, hopefully unnoticed. As she topped the stairway, Tay heard the lilting voice of Jenny, carried clearly on the evening air.
"...shame really. Such a nice family, and she can't be bothered. She works all the time, never at a function, like her life depended on it. With money like that, you'd think she would give back some. Not spend all her days working and neglecting her lovely mother. Some folks just don't get it..."
Sheepishly, Tay turned back down the stairs. Molly would clear the table soon enough. She could get her wallet later, she was definitely not going to risk being seen after that! As she burst onto the street below the terrace she hustled down the street toward her apartment, keeping close to the shop fronts so she wouldn't be seen by the couple above.
How dare she! Jenny Byrnes didn't know her now, she barely knew her then... How dare she make a judgement on her life so scathing and hurtful. But was it hurtful because it was untrue, or was it hurtful because it was too true? Molly's bizarre advice came ringing back to her. Take stock... What exactly did that mean? This had been a mistake, this coming out into the night. She should have just gotten her food to go and headed back to her chair and her solitude to work on her resume.
"Bizarre," she muttered once more as she opened the door to her building and stepped inside.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Dangers of Someday

I am not special. I have gifts and talents that God has chosen to use in many ways, but those talents are not necessarily unique to only me. My voice can be, but the talent of writing is given to many. I am not unique in my structure. I have two arms, two legs, all the standard equipment of every other woman on the planet. I think, I cry, I hate, I love, I am an emotional wreck, just like you. I am not special.

What is special about me is the fact that God gave me free will. I have the ability to choose. I can choose wisely and well or I can choose recklessly and poorly. But the fact remains, I have the gift of choice.

There is very little in this life that truly, to the core of who I am, frightens me. I like to think that I am a pretty solid individual in that I have faith God will care for me as He has promised and that I am never in a situation without Him at my side. What I do fear, deep down inside where the dark things slither and sulk, is "someday." I fear in my right-now-obligations I will lose out on the blessings of God because I put it off 'til "Someday."

Someday is a time stealer. She is a nasty witch with a hateful heart. She is a good deed that needs done right now that distracts me from what I know is the better thing to do for God. She is a procrastinator that fills my heart with fear of rejection, fear of inadequacy, fear of success. She is a nasty little wench clothed in good timing and another-day-ness. Someday is not my friend. Someday is a thief and a liar.

Again, this dude made me think... He always does. I apologize now for the shock of what that post is about, but really, I get it. Conquering the Someday lie is admitting I need to grow a set... It means stepping out of my fears and taking responsibility for what I want. It means that I may will fail. It means that I may will hurt. It also means that unless I step away from Someday and start living now, I will be at that place in my life where I no longer have the ability to do those things I put off 'til "someday."

No more excuses, no more "someday" - time to shrug off the cloak of fears that have weighted me down and kept me comfortably dry and warm. Time to step into TODAY.

Photo used with permission. (Thank you Aubrey!)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Meaning of...

I have a question for you. Yeah, I know, you never seem to answer these, but I will give it a go anyway. See, I do all sorts of things in my life. Most of them I do because I have to, not because I chose them or I am particularly good at them, but because I have to do them. I married into one obligation, I stumbled into another to support that one and I am stuck. (Not stuck in the marriage, love that part, just stuck in the job of business ownership.)

I have this on my wall:

Well, sort of. The other day, I came into the studio and it had fallen off said wall and was laying in the floor. Do you think that means something here? Is that some sort of omen or just a chance of the wind vibrating my not so permanent, not so sturdy velcro and tape set up? Yeah, me too.

So my question, because I haven't actually asked it yet... What thing in your life do you do because you have to? If you aren't sure what I mean, it's that something that someone may have told you once you really shouldn't do, it doesn't fit your personality. It is that thing you dread and put off and wait until it reaches critical mass before you do it. I could also be something that you do very well. It may come naturally to you and you may not have to work hard at it, but it sucks your soul dry. That is the thing I am talking about.

How do you mesh the person you really are deep down inside with all the crap you have to do in a day? How do you stay productive and getting the menial crap done without totally losing the true part of yourselves? That is my question for the day... And lest you think I am being rhetorical here, I would like an answer. Siri hasn't got a clue on this one!

I live a very good life and I am not trying to complain about that. I am wealthier than the majority in this world just by the fact that I am working to own a home. So please don't get me wrong, I am just wondering if there is something I have missed. Some part of the life equation that I snoozed through in class that would help me figure out how to get back to that person I found not too long ago. I like her. She's nice to hang out with. I don't like this chick, she's crabby and sullen, a real downer. And if there is no answer (I won't be surprised, that Siri chick knows everything and even she remains silent!), then let this be a rant post that you can safely ignore.

Just us chickens out here in the coop...

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Partly cloudy with a chance of scattered thunder storms...

Photo courtesy of my friend Mark Beach

There's a storm moving in this afternoon. It looks like it is going to get dark and gloomy and things may get loud and shake a bit in my glorious digs. I have coffee brewing in my little pod-pot and I will soon have myself a cup of joe to keep this post company. I am in love with my life right now. Even with the storm, I am not afraid. I am comfortable and secure, my dogs at my feet and the movement of air on my neck. Life is good. We could use the moisture, and all that goes with it.

While I am reveling in the coming storm now, I am not always this calm. Especially when things get unpredictable. The storms that come in late summer always hold more fear for me. More tornados, more uncertainty, more volume to the build up. My life mirrors this.

There are times I see storms coming at me and I am able to sit back, make a cup of coffee and cuddle up on the couch to listen and watch as it passes. The darkness doesn't scare me and the sounds are oddly comforting instead of frightening. Then there are other times... Times when I am caught unawares as the storm sneaks up on me like a thief snatching at my purse. It is loud and raucous, dark and scary. It robs me of my peace and leaves me shivering in the bathtub with the mattress drug over my head. Those times I would do anything to shut out the noise and make the storm take another path.

So what is the difference? Why do I sometimes weather the storm with calm and other times cower in fear? It is my perspective that makes or breaks my attitude. If I am assured that the coming storm is just another storm, God is still in control and I am in communion with Him, then I can allow it to pass without drama on my part. If I have been mired in my own selfishness, my own sorrows, my own sufficiency then I am much more likely to be caught by surprise and I am fearful. When I allow myself to look elsewhere for comfort: in man, in money, in status, I am distracted from concentrating on God, my anchor in the fray. It is then that I am not sure God is in control and it is then that I am reminded, I am never in control!

Look around you. Do you know someone who is going through a storm right now and they just never seem to be shaken by it? They have a peace about them no matter what happens and something maddeningly encouraging to say in response to your questions... Yet you are not hit as hard, your problems seem small in comparison and you cannot say anything that doesn't sound like whining or ungrateful complaining. We have all done it, we all still do it, we will all do it again. It is part of the human condition. My only encouragement is this: Don't stay there! Be sad, be afraid... And then turn to the One who can make it all subside and the storm seem so small in His presence. It reminds me of Peter and his stepping out of the boat on the Sea of Galilee to walk to Christ. When he took his eyes off Jesus and realized he was out there on his own, he began to sink. That's exactly what happens to me when I think I have it all under control and I can look away from God for just a second. I sink in my own sufficiency. I cannot do it on my own!

The storm outside is coming in undulating waves, alternating quiet periods with blustery, buffeting winds. That is how our lives go as well: Moments of calm before another raucous wave of the storm. While it seems like you can't catch a break, God has promised never to leave you in the midst of the trial. He provides those moments of calm for us to take another breath and prepare for the next wave. Remember that God will not give you more than you can handle and that He sees you as waaaay more buff than you thought you were! You know what? He's right! Take His word for it and be proud that God is trusting you to weather this one with Him at your side.

The really cool thing about a good old fashioned frog-strangler is once it passes, everything is washed clean and seems brand new. The air is crisper, brighter and clearer, the grass is greener and we arrive at a new appreciation of our surroundings once the sun is shining again. Without the storms, it is terribly difficult not to take for granted the good times. I know, you think you would appreciate it just fine, but you don't. The storms grow us, provide the fodder for us to move out of our comfort zones and become what God truly wants us to be. Without them we would be stagnant, dry and fruitless.

Just like the actual weather that comes and goes with every season, there is nothing you can do about the God-granted storms in your life. So, sit back, listen for His voice among the thunder and relax. It is a storm. It will pass, you will survive. You may even have an opportunity to dance in the rain if you are lucky!