S-E-E – One Word 2012

S-e-e. Three simple letters. And although I haven’t quite sorted it all out in my head just yet, I think part of the key to fully living lies in those three letters…learning how to really see. To see God’s goodness, to see others, & to see myself…all honestly – the good & bad.

Seeing inspires gratitude. It fuels courage. Fosters growth. Builds trust. And banishes fear.
Seeing strengthens community. It encourages others.
Seeing gives birth to dreams. And it leads to action.

Seeing requires slowing down. It means choosing to be vulnerable.

To see is to surrender assumptions & “the way it’s always been” in order to discover what really is. 

Seeing is risky. But I believe it’s a risk that is life-giving. So for 2012, my one word, my goal, is to see. To really truly sincerely see. To discover how the eyes of the soul see.

Do you have a word for 2012? I’d love to hear it!

On the Other Side of Surrender – One Word 2011 Recap

Little did I know when I chose “surrender” as my one word for 2011 what the year would look like. One thing I did know for certain was that surrender wouldn’t come without pain. And I was right about that. But it was the most “good pain” I think I’ve ever experienced. Pain that comes from pruning. From the Gardener cutting away more of me to make room for more of Him. On the other side of that pain…on the other side of surrender…is life – a fuller life.

It’s been a beautiful discovery to see how the Father, in His grace, tenderly loves me to surrender. Surrender that can only come from a position of humility which is perhaps the best perspective from which to view this wonderful gift of life. The beautiful paradox is that on the other side of surrender is freedom.

Standing at the end of 2011 looking back, I know now that perhaps the greatest gift which lies on the other side of surrender is peace. Before I even realized it, I was walking by faith in spite of fear…taking each step as I choose daily to trust. And as a result, even in the midst of the storm & the pain & the suffering & the questions & the doubt there is peace. Peace because I am surrendered to His plan. The plan of the one who created the universe & holds it together.

Surrendering means letting go. Opening your heart to healing. Doing the work of forgiveness. Living honestly. Risking love. And accepting, with open hands & a grateful heart, whatever the Giver has in store. It isn’t easy. But I happen to think it’s worth the life, freedom, & peace that is waiting on the other side.

 Did you have a word for 2011? What lessons did you learn from it?





In the Peripherals

Beauty often resides in the peripherals of our lives. We walk past such humble miracles, such as the babe in the manger, in a little village of Bethlehem, all the time. In the frantic pace of life, we need to slow down & simply observe natural forces around us & create out of that experience. What makes us truly human may not be how fast we are able to accomplish a task but what we experience fully, carefully, and quietly in the process. 

Artists are often found at the margins of society, but they are, like the shepherds, often the first to notice the miracles taking place right in front of us. Since sensationalism, power, & wealth dominate our cultural imaginations, we may not be willing to journey to the ephemeral, as the Japanese poets of old have, to see beauty in the disappearing lines or to see poetry in the drying puddle of water. The world seems to demand of us artist-types that we be able to explain & justify our actions, but often the power & mystery of art & life cannot be explained by normative words. 

My art reaches for the heavenly reality via earthly materials. The intuitive core of my creativity, like the shepherds’ hearts drawn to the birth of a Savior, simply desires to pay homage to the mystery of the moment. Lest we miss the birth of a Savior. Lest we fail to glimpse the glory of heaven hidden beneath the earth.”

Mako Fujimura “Refractions” pg. 27-28

Beauty in the peripherals.

That is what it seems Christmas is all about in the end. The beauty of paradox. Of mystery. The beauty of a heavenly King submitting, as a Son, to the authority of His Father & being born a baby…a baby who was The Word, the Light. A baby through whom the world…the universe…was created. A baby with that much power & glory born a human birth in a messy stable. From the beginning it seems He was demonstrating that His presence won’t erase the mess, but it will help to illuminate the beauty to be found in the middle of the mess. 

I don’t know about you, but for me it never seems to fail. I stop for a day or two to celebrate Christmas but as soon as December 26th hits it’s back to the races. Soon I find myself caught up in the “frantic pace of life” & walking past the humble miracles. The artist in me longs to slow & ponder the miracles. Longs to really truly see. To find, everyday, the beauty of heaven in the mess of life. 

This Christmas season, I’m resolving to slow a little bit longer…to look a little bit harder…to ponder the miracles…to find the beauty in the peripheral messes of life.

Will you join me? 

Shaped by Pain

Pain. Physical, aching, nagging pain. The kind that radiates from deep in your bones to every square inch of your body.

Today, I know that pain well. Too well. I’ve been summoned to a wrestling match. The question isn’t whether or not to enter the ring, it’s will I fight or wave the white flag of surrender? 

I woke up this morning feeling great. Relatively low pain. Lots of energy. It was looking good for a productive Saturday. But, as the day grew longer so did the pain. And the stiffness. And the swelling. I wince in pain as I make a late lunch & take a deep breath. Right now, my knuckles are two sizes too big & the movement to type this post is straining my fingers.

I force one hand into a closed fist with the other & I see my knuckles, mis-shaped & gnarled by the pain, protruding like jagged mountain peaks from my skin. And I choose to fight. I choose to remember that this pain is shaping me in other ways too. It’s shaping my heart, slowly chipping away at my pride, providing opportunity to choose vulnerability. It’s stripping away a little more of me to make room for a little more of Him. And that, I want. So for this moment, I’ll choose to fight.

What fight is shaping you today?