The Freedom Fly

So I was in the bathroom yesterday morning, minding my own business...
changing the toilet paper as is often my job.
As I was putting the new roll on, I decided to open the window right above it. I discovered that a fly had been caught between the glass and the screen all night long.
Thinking that any minute that fly was going to realize that I was his ticket to freedom and fly outta there. I quickly slammed the window down so he couldn't escape. (I know, cruel)
(and yes, I just assume it's a "he"...who really knows anyway)
After feeling trappers remorse, I decided to give him his freedom.
After all, if I was the fly, that's what I would want.
So I opened the window and prepared for him to scramble.
The fly was literally sitting on the edge of the screen frame,
with two front legs up on the screen looking outside.
After not moving for a few minutes I thought he might be dead.
After waving my hand around (yes, I admit I was fascinated),
he started moving slowly- you know- doing the leg over head thing.
I thought by the time I came back from the other room he'd be gone.
He wasn't gone. He went back to his original position, looking outside.
Sure enough, after a bit longer the poor thing was dead.
He died sitting on the edge of freedom. Legs up on the screen. Looking out.
Now, you might think I'm strange (affirmative),
but I see life lessons everywhere I look.
It's a blessing and a curse.
So it got me thinking, how much of ourselves do we let die 
while we sit on the edge of freedom, but refusing to move?
  • We wish for things to be different.
  • We grumble about wanting things to be the way they "used to be."
  • We watch from a distance but refuse to get involved.
  • We harbor resentment and bitterness.
  • We want something different, but resist change.
  • We let our fear hold us back from making a bold move.
  • We want freedom from a behavior, without the work that is required.
  • We want freedom without giving up any control.
We sit there with our hands gripping the screen that's holding us captive,
only to miss the fact that there is an escape route in plain sight.
We don't see the way out because we're only willing to look
at the barrier instead of the solution. 
Don't be like the fly.
See the barrier for what it is.
Then seek out- and embrace- the solution.
Work at it.
Find freedom.

19.8.13 that's a fun word.

We hear that word all the time.
In a T.V. show.
In church.
In our town.
Community groups, community committees, community events...whatever.

But do we really know what that means?
Do we really live our definition of it?

It's a fun word. Community.
It can conjure up positive feelings...and other feelings.

Here are a few things that come to mind when
I think about what real community means to me:
Sticking up for each other.
Being brave enough to protect...yet open enough for difficult conversations.
Being there for each other.
Showing up. Doing life. Remembering that the street goes both ways.
Being authentic.
Allowing others to NOT be like you... and loving them anyway.
I appreciate you, you appreciate me- just the way we are.
Watching our tongues.
Doing away with gossip and malice. Not everything we think has to be said.
Being willing to do our part.
This means sharing the load. While not everyone is comfortable being a leader, 
everyone can do their part to make the load easier on everyone.
Speaking up.
Having the courage to speak up against wrong and promote the right,
while keeping an open mind for honest dialogue with those who may disagree.
Mutual respect.
Everyone must find their own path. And that path is not ours to judge.
Service isn't just for the people with energy, the young or the retired. It's for all.
We don't exist to be served, but to serve together.

Giving props where props are due.
This means allowing others to do what they do well, let them know and support their efforts. This includes trying to open a small business, creative efforts, problem solving skills- reaching for the stars in a new way.
Everyone is created with unique talents...
building others up only builds our community up.

What would you add to the list?


3 AM Lemonade

So I'm up at 3:00 am. to catch the red eye.
This after about 2.5 hours of sleep.
Drive 45 minutes to the airport.
Go through security and plop down in those oh-so-comfy seats.

Flight cancelled.

Oh yes, there's some major part that needs repairing.
I suppose finding that out now is a good thing.

So apparently they have to drive a "part" from Mpls. to Bemidji 
5 hour drive mind you
We are in an airport, can we not fly one up here?
apparently not. that would take a mere 40 minutes

So here I sit waiting six hours for the next available flight outta here. 
Why spend the money on gas when I've already paid for a flight?
I fight fatigue, impatience and sheer frustration.
5th flight in less than a month.

So then I think (yes, it's a bad habit)...

Why is it that we tend to complain about not having the time to relax,
but then when things happen to grant us the time expectantly,
we complain.

I'm saying "we" because then I don't feel alone in this!

So here I am with this unexpected time to enjoy a book, a good cup of coffee...maybe even a manicure.  And the best part is that I'm not alone this time- a friend is with me to help pass the time.

So then I think...

Why is it that this unexpected time is frustrating?
Well, because it wasn't in my plan, on my time schedule 
and is out of my control.

I guess I like to be in control of my free time! lol

So here I sit, talking to you.
Good cup of joe in my hand.
Chillin' with my friend until go time.

Thank you, Lord.

I guess I'll nap on the plane.


Make-Up Remover Moment

Just the other day, I had one of those "ah-ha" moments. You know what I mean right- one of those "oh man, yes Lord, I get it"- then you just shake your head- moments.

So here I was at the bathroom sink, trying to open my make-up remover container. This is one of those re-fill containers that holds the individual remover cloths. I'm trying and trying to open this thing and to no avail. I was besides myself, as they say. In exasperation, I walked away and said "FINE. I'll just go to bed with this junk on my face!" Two minutes later I walk back and try again... yes, glutton for punishment. As I'm fighting with this thing again, I realize that my thumb is over the little latch that allows the lid to lift up. DUH. 
Here I am, fighting and growling at this container and all the while, I was hindering my own progress by holding my thumb over the release latch. Pulling with one hand- holding down with the other.  Then comes my husband wondering why I'm laughing out loud all by myself in the bathroom!

That was my "ah-ha" moment for the week. I could just hear God saying to me "Oh Michelle... how often have you been your worst enemy? Trying to move forward, but holding yourself back...trying to open the door, but holding it shut at the same time? My precious girl, just let go and let Me help you."

Have there been times in your life like this? I love how the Lord takes the simplest things and speaks life lessons through them don't you? They may not always be fun to hear and rather frustrating (I did eventually get the make-up off!), but always true and full of wisdom. 

I hope you can allow God to move you forward in His perfect will and not hold back.


I think, therefore I am.

What one thinks, one becomes.
Be careful what thoughts you entertain, for it may just become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
We often don't realize how much our everyday thoughts effect who we are- or become.
Even those small fleeting thoughts- the ones we end up entertaining more with time- can become our reality if we're not careful.
What thoughts do you entertain?
                         Do they look like this?
No one cares.
I'm ugly.
I'll never succeed at anything worthwhile.
I mess up everything I touch.
This is not the life I wanted.
I'm a loser. The world is out to get me.
There is no way I'm going to survive this.
I'm too old...or too young...or too busy to make a difference.
                         Or do they look like this?
I am loved by God.
I can do this.
I'm not perfect, but I was made for a purpose.
I am special because of who God made me to be.
I might mess things up, but there is still hope for me.
I can be an overcomer. I will survive.
I can make a difference.
I can embrace joy. I can choose to believe the Truth.
We can choose faith and truth, or we an choose a lie. Whichever one we choose to dwell on will become the center of our thinking, which results in actions towards ourselves and others.
That's why the Bible talks about guarding our hearts, for they are the wellspring of life.
What thoughts are you dwelling on?
Do they bring life to your soul?


American Idol Dreams

Every time I see another season of American Idol, I'm reminded of some important nuggets of truth. I suppose in that way, it's not all bad, despite who the judges are. 

Here are some concepts that stand out to me- as I watch AI- that actually reflect real life:

It's not bad to have big dreams. Dreams motivate us to work harder, smarter and reach for something bigger. But do our dreams line up with God's ultimate dream for us? Or are they based on what we want people to think of us? Or that we want attention, fame or riches? Big dreams can be good...or even evil...depending on our motivations.

Being honest with ourselves is a gift. So often we watch AI and wonder who in the world told some of these people they could sing! Maybe they were a bad judge of talent, or maybe they're just too scared to tell the truth. Either way, we give ourselves a gift when we are truly honest within ourselves about our gifts/talents and where we are in the growth process of using them. 

No one ever "arrives." No matter how long we've done something, excelled at a certain skill or even have others call us an "guru", we do well to recognize that there is always more learning to do- then actually pursue it. It's possible (and highly attractive) to be a actively humble, continually growing "expert."

Our human nature wants to be a Diva. We all naturally want to be loved, appreciated and needed. But deep down our more base human nature wouldn't mind being a spoiled diva. The problem with divas is that they don't typically ooze the finer fruits- such as gentleness, humility and selflessness... to name a few.

When someone says "no", do we throw a royal fit or accept it gracefully? Or better yet, when God says "no", what do we do? Do we seek to understand or fight tooth and nail for the "yes?" Do we automatically throw ourselves into the negative because we didn't get our way, or pursue the positive in the situation?

Time and energy is wasted trying to be someone else. One of the best gifts we can give ourselves is permission to just be who we are. We find freedom when we stop striving to be someone we're not, and truly embrace who we are created to be. There is only one you. Life's too short to sing like someone else, talk like someone else, act like someone else or copy whatever someone else is doing. No amount of fame, attention or money is worth being someone else. 

Just like the long lines to audition for AI, sometimes we wait and wait, only to discover an outcome we didn't desire. This is life- and life doesn't always give us what we expect. Patience doesn't necessarily dictate the outcome. Sometimes we try and do the best we can only to have life deliver something different, maybe even painful. It's at these times that our foundations- either firm or shaky- show our character and can determine our future.  

So I guess watching AI isn't a total waste of time after all! 


Evil Cold

If there's one thing I've learned since I've moved to Northern MN, 
it's that the term "cold" is a matter of perspective.

The whole past week here has been so cold that I've decided to dub it 
"evil cold."

It's been so cold that:

The snow crunches and squeaks so loudly under my boots 
that it's like nails on a chalkboard. No lie. It's not music to my ears.

When I walk outside, the hairs in my nose completely freeze.

Trying to get my car doors open is like a game of tug-of-war...
only I don't win unless I brutally beat the door frame first.

Walking from my office to my car, I have a coughing fit due to the wind 
flooding my innocent lungs with "evil cold" air.

Accuweather calls it "chilly." I bet no one from accuweather actually lives here.

I look out at the thermometer outside my kitchen window in the morning.
Instead of the temperature, it says "minus, you don't want to know."

I have to plug in my car every night before bed. This is just strange. 
If I don't plug it in, no amount of pleading will make it start.

Snow has decided not to snow. It's just too cold.

I turn on the Los Angeles weather just to get a good laugh.

"Cold snap" means when I walk out without a good blow-dry to my hair, 
it just snaps in half.

School may or may not be cancelled. Except in Fosston, 
where there would have to be a nuclear explosion to cancel school.

No scraper in the history of mankind is sharp enough to get the ice off my car windshield.
Rule number 1: always warm up the car.
rule number 2: you won't get anywhere quickly, so get that 2nd cup of coffee.

One might venture out to go ice fishing, but only if they have the deluxe model shanty.

Some say with the cold comes less sickness because it kills the germs. 
I work in a hospital. I can tell you that this is wishful thinking.

In this kind of weather, you can't get away with throwing on a hoodie and heading out the door. Not if you want to stay warm...or live.

So yes, it's been an adjustment. I mean, I grew up in the Midwest (Wisconsin) and know what cold is. Or at least I thought I did. 

I miss my shorts and flip flops.
I miss the impromptu walk or sitting on the deck reading my favorite novel.

Did I mention that the Bahamas sound really good about now?


Our oxymoron.

Our hearts are an oxymoron.  
(don't you love that word?)

They can be extremely fragile at times.
They can be extremely strong at times.

They can be softened by a simple image.
Or hardened by a simple word.

They can be swayed by emotion.
Or stubborn as a mule.
Or steadfast...or torn.

Our hearts can be snow on a -20 degree day.
Or snow on a 50 degree day.
(can you tell I live in Northern MN?)

Sometimes we don't know how strong our hearts can be, 
until we have to be strong. 

It's no wonder that God looks on our heart, instead of outward appearances. It's the heart that tells the true story.

And knowing how fickle our hearts can be, it's a wonder that He loves us so deeply and unconditionally in spite of them.

Isn't it great that He gets us? 

I'm so glad he holds our hearts in His hands.