Saturday, September 16, 2017

Turn Your Nevers into Evers

I say two things all the time, and the people who know me tire of it. It's:

1. Never say never.
2. Timing is everything

Think you'd "never" do something based on your likes or dislikes?

This dress. Geez, I love it. Thankfully I started wearing vintage
and liking pink again. Whew. That was close ..
.

Think something will "never" happen because of your situation?

Think again.

I find that whenever I say "never" it's due to pride. My pride.

Either it's because I'm living a "holier than thou" moment and think I'll "never" do something based on what I see others doing or have done. Or I'm saying "never" because I've already been through something and I'll "never" do, deal with, have, go, own, like, etc -- fill in the blank. Whatever it is I'll "never" participate in because I have no faith in a great future or my vision is so narrow, that my "view" is the only view.

It's pride. Plain and simple.


Years ago, I said "never" to dresses (I didn't wear dresses for the longest time) and pink. Hated the color.


Never to dresses? Not sure why. I probably wasn't comfortable in my own skin when I said never to them. Like for twenty years.

Then I got back into them when I started selling vintage and basically have had to backtrack and own up to the fact that I HAVE BEEN MISSING OUT. That's what "never" does, to you. Saying "never" makes you miss out on what the universe is trying to give you. What God is trying to teach you.

And never to pink? Not sure. Maybe I thought it was too girly and I'm really not a girly person.

Except that I am because I love dresses. Okay, I'm really not that girly. Trust me. I'm not. But, no pink? Hello, missing out here. Pink comes in a zillion shades. This dress for example, has two different shades of pink in it and it is gorgeous. I mean, the combination is beautiful.

So, here's your bit of wisdom for today that I learned: never say never and watch amazing things happen. Also, watch how similar we all are when we say never.  


What do I mean?

Okay. So, you think you'd never treat someone a certain way? Find yourself in that situation and see what you'd do. You think you'd never get yourself involved in a less-than-optimal scenario, or never own a minivan, or never drink more than ten cups of coffee in a day?

Hardly. You just haven't been given the opportunity yet.

Humanness, weakness, anger, hunger, depression, loneliness, all of it will make us do things we never thought we'd do. So does pride.

Now, moral convictions about a thing are something else. That's not what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about a blanket statement that I've said, using pride to cover my insecurities.

The thing about pride, the stinking, crazy, amazing, awesome, eye-opening thing about pride, is that the "never say never" opportunity teaches me I am prideful. I need to deal with it when it rears its ugly head, even when I don't think pride is an issue.

When I say "never," I'm taking empathy out of the equation for me. "Never" is becoming intolerant, sad, and just plain ugly. So, I can't understand someone of a different socio-economic background or political background because I"ll "never" vote that way, or live that way? Really? That's absurd.

Empathy puts me into someone else's shoes. It takes my "nevers" and makes them "evers."

I'll "ever" try to love someone like you, I'll "ever" try to understand you, I'll "ever" take what it is God wants to give me, even if I don't think I want, like or need it. I'll also "ever" wait for God's blessings, too.

Never say never, my friends. Enjoy everything. Be thankful for everything. Choose good things. Like pink,and dresses, and pink dresses and live well!

Remember, we create and bring into our lives the very things we dwell on, think about, focus on and wish for. So just make sure you're creating, dwelling, thinking about and focusing on good things. Happy things. Big dreams and secret and not-so-secret desires. 

Never say never and watch you world expand beyond your wildest dreams.

-HJS


(This was originally posted on my vintage blog, hence the vintage dress. )

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Pennies from Heaven

Pennies are everywhere, right? I mean, they're on the ground, at the cash register at Starbucks, they're probably in your sofa cushions.

A few weeks ago, I began to notice random pennies on the ground when I was about town, running errands, and fueling the car. And it wasn't just one day, they started appearing repeatedly -- it became every day, after every errand, to the point that I began to wonder what was going on. I couldn't ignore them. But, "It's just a penny. Why stop to pick it up? What can it do for me?"

Maybe I was going about this all wrong.
This jar will be full very soon.

After a week or two, it began to bother me not picking up that single penny. It's as if God was saying, "I will provide for you but you have to take it," every time I saw one in the dirt, on the street, underneath a counter.

And I was intentionally ignoring it. 

By not picking them up, I was saying, "This blessing is too small. This is insignificant. This is not really taking care of me."

The issue wasn't the smallness of the blessing, but the smallness of my heart. Was my heart losing its capacity to be grateful for not just the small but for that which could give me nothing in return?

I'm a treasure hunter by nature. I've secretly and not-so-secretly told some that if I could have been anything, it would've been an archaeologist (particularly Egyptology). But, that wasn't a career to take care of a family with now, was it. So, I chose writing. Because starving artists is really where it's at. Ha. I digress...

I sell vintage clothing these days, too, which really is just like archaeology. Only instead of unearthing a mummy, it's 1950s dresses or vintage denim. Different and yet the same. Both require slow searching, then excavation, and finally revelation. But, it's still treasure.

The blessing is there. We just have to look for it.  

Pennies, though relatively worthless, are still something.  And they're in plain sight. Every day. Everywhere you go. God is saying, "Hi! I'm right here, even down at your feet, and I'm thinking about you and I will provide for you and give you what your heart desires even if it takes time, and even if you don't think the answer I'm giving you is what you need right now."

I finally said to my kids, "If I picked up a penny every day, how long do you think I could go finding them?" I mean, this is money. Small money, but it's money. And there is something spectacular in valuing something that so few people value.

My friend Brian says this ↑. He's right, you know.
It's been a few weeks. Some days I find a penny, some days five cents or a quarter (jackpot!) Other days, I find nothing. But so far, I've averaged a penny a day. Like manna to the Israelites, whether or not they appreciated it or realized how miraculous it truly was to get fresh manna everyday, their job was to perceive the miracle and take the blessing.

God gave it, but they had to take it.

I know it's silly. Pennies are small change. But, when you put them together, little by little, they become something much greater. " ... whoever gathers little by little makes it grow (Prov 13:1, NIV).

Timing is everything, my friends. And over time, small because large. Less becomes more. Lack becomes abundance.

I'm choosing to tell myself (literally, saying it out loud) with every penny I pick up that I'm blessed beyond belief, that I have more than I need, more than enough -- food, time, talent, gifts, love -- to give myself and everyone around me. It's just up to me to take it.

So, I am blessed. Everyday. With a penny in my pocket or not, the point is I have so much.

Did I wake up this morning? Blessing.
Did I swallow my coffee? Blessing
Did my car start? Blessing
Did I have a job or work to do? Blessing.
Did I have food to eat? Blessing.

These are pennies from heaven. These are our daily manna. Out of the overflow of our hearts, our mouth speaks. I want to speak into my life that all in it is beautiful and intentional, regardless of it's magnitude.

If I am grateful with little, I am grateful with much. 

And isn't that a place we all want to be?


-HJS


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Morning Through the Shadows

I came across a quote written by J.R.R. Tolkien the other day. He said:

"You can only come to the morning
 through the shadows."

Now, I've read Tolkien's Lord of the Rings Trilogy a few decades ago. So, I don't recall who said these words (they may not even be from a work, but spoken by himself, though I think not) but they ring true.

Similar to "it's always darkest before the dawn" and "...though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil" (Psalm 23), they essentially say the same thing.

Tolkien's phrase caught my attention because of the word "shadows." These are the things we think we see, or presuppose, or assume, or pretend are there, or any innumerable things we can substitute for the words shadows. Shadows imply something that is there, but the very thing is unclear. Do we see what we actually think we see?

After going to bed thinking about these words, and how they apply to us -- all of us in all circumstances and walks of life -- I woke up in the middle of the night bewildered and half asleep.

I tend to wake up like this, startled, half-awake and bleary-eyed, only a handful of times a year. But, they almost always occur after my husband has been home with us (or on vacation) for an extended amount of time and then goes back to work, for 48-72 hours at a time. He had been home for days and last night was the first time I was alone again in nearly two weeks.

Well, sure enough, I woke up with a start, wide awake in the middle of the night. And my head was cloudy. The room was dark, but there was just enough light from our digital clocks for me to see the pile of pillows on the bed where my husband would have been.

Now, I knew my husband was gone. But, the way the pillows were situated and the way the blankets lay, it looked like someone was next to me! And again, I wasn't really awake, so I was a little bonkers.

I sneaked a peak at the shape next to me, scared out of my mind. My heart raced, "Who was with me?"

It took me minutes to convince my brain that no one was there, that it was only the "shape" of a person, the shadows of a person. And after finally reaching out to touch the pillows, I realized it was just me seeing things through the shadows, that weren't really there.

Then, I woke up.

I think often we fear what exists in the shadows, because in the shadows things aren't what they seem. Most of the time, our fears never materialize.  They're based on judging what we can see with our physical and often imperfect eyes without looking at it from an objective, neurological point of view.

It takes temerity to actually think that we know what we're seeing, half- awake and bleary-eyed, when the shadows engulf us and dawn hasn't yet emerged. It's foolishness, really. Because, by morning we see things for what they truly are and disparage ourselves for being idiots in the shadows.

It takes light to shed truth onto the dark. It takes boldness to hang on to faith when everything around us seems as shifting as the shadows that loom before us.

Coincidentally, my oldest son is reading the trilogy right now as some summer reading, before his junior year begins of high school. To even think about my son being a junior scares me because it means college in two short years. The shadows of uncertainty and the unreal "what -ifs" appear throughout my mind daily: Where will he go? What will he learn? Can I even handle the fact that he will no longer be my little boy that I can keep track of?

It's the morning we need to zero in on, not the shadows. Ground yourself in the light. The lamp that guides our path. I must dwell on this and ignore the pile of pillows and blankets that seem like an evil lurking, because it's all a false image of reality.

Shadows create misguided trust. Don't focus on the shadows.

Instead, remember that all light -- even the smallest amount-- destroys darkness at its core.

-HJS

Friday, May 19, 2017

Mighty like an Oak

A wonderful and very long-time friend passed away a week ago.
She was one of the most dynamic and charismatic persons I had ever met. She was contagious.
Her Spirit was as righteous as it was true.

It's impossible to replace people like this. Impossible.
They fill a void in you that no one else can,
that no one else is capable of doing,
because they are so beyond the norm.

While we are trapped in time, here on earth,
slave to the ticking clock, heaven isn't slave to anything.
Nor is eternity, nor is her spirit.
She is still here, in our hearts, and around us.
She exists. And she is free.

Free from cancer, free from pain and suffering.
Free to be herself, her now fully Glorified self, again.

Like an oak tree and its' acorns, she dropped acorns incessantly. Her care, her words, her utter devotion
and love to those around her, lives on.
She left acorns everywhere she went; dropping love,
dropping time, dropping kindness, dropping encouragement.

She lives on and the parts of her she left for us, are now in us.
Like an oak tree, whose arms hover over those they watch, she too
did this and continues to now.

Hug your people. Tell them you love them.
Appreciate those in your life who are everywhere with you
and especially those who aren't, or can't be.
They need to hear it. They need to know.

Thank you, Robin...