65 Ways to Act Like a Fool

I’m reading the book of Proverbs and taking notes on what it means to be a fool.

My list grows long. (This is the shortened version below!) I have many ways to grow in wisdom. (The parts about eating, speaking, and sleeping too much always get me!) 

I start to realize how much I long to be a wise woman, not a foolish one. I make my list and put it by my bedside table. I’m humbled as I think about it:

Foolish people
1. Are greedy for money
2. Hate instruction and don’t enjoy learning
3. Have no fear of God
4. Are lazy and complacent
5. Take pleasure in evil
6. Are disloyal and unkind
7. Depend on their own understanding without seeking counsel
8. Plot harm against their neighbors
9. Pick fights
10. Envy others
11. Mock people
12. Cause others to sin
13. Chase fantasies 
14. Speak with foul language
15. Commit adultery
16. Have no self-control
17. Love to sleep all the time
18. Lie
19. Kill
20. Sow discord between family members
21. Flatter and seduce
22. Cause grief to their parents
23. Talk too much
24. Squander their money
25. Irritate their employers
26. Harm their own city
27. Gossip and share secrets; enjoy listening to gossip
28. Are stingy and don’t like to share
29. Act and feel self-important; they brag and boast
30. Are cruel to animals
31. Always think they are right
32. Trust in their wealth most of all
33. Are quick-tempered, easily angered
34. Waste
35. Use violence
36. Hang out with foolish people
37. Don’t leave an inheritance for their grandchildren
38. Don’t discipline their children
39. Have many unreconciled relationships
40. Believe everything they are told
41. Act recklessly because they love danger; they have no caution
42. Don’t help the poor
43. Speak harsh words
44. Don’t pursue godliness
45. Don’t think before speaking
46. Love rebellion
47. Accept bribes
48. Hold grudges
49. Nag
50. Don’t keep their word
51. Love pleasure
52. Love to drink alcohol
53. Accumulate debt
54. Exploit people
55. Rejoice when others fail
56. Show favoritism
57. Want the highest seat of honor
58. Eat too much
59. Argue with foolish people
60. Conceal their sin
61. Fear people other than God
62. Complain
63. Abandon friends and family
64. Impulsively spend money
65. Act with selfish motives rather than serving

I’m so glad God doesn’t give up on me!

Would you add anything to this list?


Unconditional Positive Regard

I learn from a former nurse about the concept of “unconditional positive regard” for every single patient.  Something about the phrase resonates with me because it’s about believing the best about people and treating them with respect regardless of what the person says or does. It’s about giving equal chances and equal care.

I know this idea has necessary limits in the case of lawbreaking or when being harmed by someone, but generally speaking, it’s about kindness. 

15 minutes before learning this concept, I witness a woman screaming at an employee in a coffee shop because he doesn’t get her order correct. She stomps her feet, pounds the counter, and begins humiliating the employee in a loud voice. I want to run to that tired worker, throw my arms around him, and comfort him. (I actually do intervene and encourage him briefly; he ends up giving me a free coffee!)

I find myself favoring the employee–showing him unconditional positive regard–because it’s easy. But what about the angry woman? What if I had gone to her, put my arms around her, and comforted her?

I’m learning to go beyond my natural, first response judgments and see new perspectives. What if I found the person hardest to love and went to her?

I’m thinking about that angry woman this morning.  I wish I had loved her.

Who do you need to show “unconditional positive regard” for today?


Harvard Research Study Encourages Community Exercise: We’re Walking, We’re Walking

This morning I read the new Harvard research report about the dangers of inactivity. It’s clear: we all need to move more. But what excites me about the report is the praise of community exercise initiatives. Walking to school as a neighborhood, neighborhood fitness nights, and other community interventions actually work.

The work best, the study concludes.

I find myself so motivated for another year of walking a mile to school–and back again–and then again in the afternoon. It takes time, but when the neighbors do it together, it’s so fun.

Just the other day, I walked with my neighbor. I’m not sure I would have done it alone. The social aspects of exercise really do motivate me. I’m beginning to think it’s the only way I’ll move.

Living with flair means we walk together.

Do you have more ideas for community movement?


Can You Guess?

I’m watching this plant every day now. Can you guess what it will bloom into?

Answer: This one will blossom as a glorious sunflower.

I want to harvest the seeds at the end of the summer.

What about these?

These are my absolute favorite (don’t tell the Sunflower).  

Answer: Raspberries!

I will make more raspberry sorbet and deliver it to the Italian Mama.

We have no harvest yet, but we have signs and a whole lot of hope. Living with flair has something to do with tending things. It has much to do with anticipation. I love that particular emotion. Anticipation means we’re beating the odds; this harvest is going to come. It’s happening, folks. We’re just waiting.

Don’t you love anticipation?


Drawn to a Simple Landscape

We run in the field across the street and through the woods as the sun begins to set.

I take a camera because that particular evening light always illuminates something I either haven’t seen before or something I’ve seen before but never in that way. 

I observe the setting sun’s light on the tips of corn plants in a cornfield. I realize that nothing interrupts the sunset when you’re out in a great field. No buildings rise up, and no crowds of people block your view.

Maybe this is why I’m here in this town. Nothing can interrupt what I’m supposed to see when I’m sent to a simple landscape. I’m in a cornfield, wondering how I got here, and suddenly so thankful for everything I see.

Do you find yourself drawn to the country sometimes?


Putting All Your Eggs in One Basket

I ask my oldest daughter why she’s putting all her library raffle tickets in only one prize box. Our public library gives children a raffle ticket for every 100 pages they read, and they can put a ticket in one of dozens of boxes to win prizes. You can choose weekly prizes or put a ticket in a box for a huge grand prize drawing at the end of the summer.

She puts all her tickets in for the one grand prize, a giant stuffed dog.

“Why are you putting all your tickets in that one box?” I ask her. “You realize that you have a chance to win so many other prizes if you spread them out.”

“That’s the one I want,” she says simply. “Why would I put tickets in boxes for things I don’t really want?”

“It’s just called ‘putting all your eggs in one basket’,” I explain.

She’s quiet for a minute, and then she says, “Mom, it’s the same thing we do with Jesus. All our eggs are in one basket with Him, right? Why would we try to go for anything else when we know He’s what we want?” 

Good thing I can drive to the library and be amazed at the same time. 

Don’t you just love the wisdom of children?


The Prayer Before the Prayer

This morning in church, it occurs to me that I ought to ask God to make my heart ask for the right things.

My stubborn heart often refuses to cooperate, and it likes to plan a course and invent dreams that aren’t His. So all my praying in a certain direction is just that: my direction. 

Make me want the things You want. You tell me what to ask for.

That’s first.

Do you have your own “prayer before the prayer?”


Just Something About It

I eat peas fresh from the pod as I stand in our little garden.

There’s just something about doing this that brings me right into joy.

You know my love of pea plants.

I pop open the pod, and I gobble down the sweet peas.

I like keeping track of the simplest of pleasures.

Did you enjoy a simple pleasure today?


By the Time I Finished, I Came Out New

This morning, I read a post by Judy Douglass on going low. It’s about motherhood, but it’s also about choosing the “lowest place” in all things. Judy writes about what it means to “go low”: you go last; you give up your plans to defer to others; you sacrifice sleep; you forfeit your own time.

I need to read it. I need it like I need air. I wake up with the little ones bouncing around me wanting to bake cookies, play dolls, read, and swing on the swing with me. But I want to be alone. I want to sleep. I want to read poetry.

They need hair brushed, sunscreen applied, laundry folded, emotions soothed. All day long.

Once, before children, I slept until noon. I strolled downtown to a coffee shop and drank a leisurely cafe mocha while reading poetry books and composing thoughtful poems of my own.

The whole day belonged to me.

Then I became a mother, and I was depressed for years and years. I wrote this in the midst of one of the hardest days, and by the time I finished it, I came out new on the other side. 

Steadfast in Motherhood
Split-pea soup on the stove;
chicken pot-pie in the refrigerator;
ingredients for morning waffles made ahead;
laundry, folded; bed, made.
I’m here, God, with candles lit
in the middle of the day.
Just me, with a steadfast heart,
like some pebble thrown out across
a pond, settled in generations of silt. 
I still believe and wait for wonder to seize me
in the midst of flour, sugar, and peas.
This morning at 8:00 I drove
to get groceries. The check-out line
was long enough for me to read every headline,
study a hundred other women’s lives,
wrapped in silk and chocolates.
I kept thinking of my soft, warm bed
where once, I slept in
for hours, then sipped cocoa, reading poems
in the middle of the day. Maybe here and there
a light-hearted phone call.
Me, pampered, but with a lost heart
wanting freedom
with only myself to please.
God, you have saved me from myself.
You recreated me in a new recipe.
I’m the pebble that shines because of the
elements that cover and consume it.
You let others dine on me and be satisfied,
and I let myself wash away with the dishwater.
You have come, in the midst of myself,
and saved me.  

Have you learned to take the lowest place? Teach me!


Led, Not Driven

Today I remember to calm down with all my driven tendencies to do more, write more, plan more, build a better platform, etc. etc. etc.

I read twitter, and I feel bad about all the ways I’m not being influential or important.

I start to feel driven again.  

Driven folks feel forced to succeed, produce, and excel. Led people respond to the gentle whisper of God’s spirit. They accept specific, simple instructions and go exactly where they’re led. Everything comes after that–the planning, writing, doing, and building.

Seek first the kingdom and then. . . 

When I’m driven, I’m fearful, frantic, and frenzied.

When I’m led, I’m full of faith, peaceful, and ordered. 

My prayer today: Lord, let me be led and not driven. Your yolk is easy and light. Mine is hard and heavy. When you lead, you bring me to paths of peace and joy. When I’m driven, I find disorder and unrest. I want to be led by you to accomplish the good works you’ve planned for me. No more, no less, at just the right time. Led and not driven. Amen.

Do you find yourself more driven than led?