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The Thing You’re Neglecting Might Be the Thing You Need

First Green Strawberry

Today I zoom in on the first little strawberry in the patch.  I take a moment to focus.  The background blurs, and all of a sudden, I see what I have never observed in my whole life:  the white fuzzy covering on a new strawberry’s stem. 

Have you noticed it before?  Not me!  It’s because I value (and pay attention to) final products that I can consume;  the juicy bright red of a strawberry far outshines the immature and stunted green bud.

Not anymore.
 
That’s what living with flair feels like.  It’s a mindset and a focus to notice that one stunning thing (that you haven’t paid attention to before) that ushers in beauty, wonder, and mystery. It’s often not the obvious final product that gives the most delight.  It’s the not-yet and the neglected.  It’s the unripe and the green. 

Look there, and you’ll find flair. 

This white fuzzy stem declares something today. A tiny, beautiful thing is happening here.  Not glamorous or stage-worthy.  Not marketable or consumable.

But beautiful. 

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Journal:  What neglected thing has the most wonder and beauty for us today? 

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Choosing to Appreciate Pollen

A fine dusting of pollen covers the town today.  Everything bloomed at once in Pennsylvania, and it’s as if God shook down yellow fluff from the heavens.   It’s not just car windshields and house shutters; even inside the house, the golden film cloaks the furniture and linens. 

My allergies!  As I dust and vacuum and launder the bedding, I stop to consider what pollen actually is.  All this powder?  It’s the male part of the flower.  It’s the part of the flower that will connect with the female part to then germinate

Millions of microscopic grains await meeting just the right receptor site (on a compatible flower) for growth.   Right now, the air currents as well as insects disperse all this pollen.  Some of it will find the perfect conditions whereby, once matched, some astonishing flower or fruit will eventually burst forth.

I appreciate this widespread covering of pollen today.  It’s a hopeful gesture that maybe–just maybe–conditions will be favorable for germination.  Might I cast my ideas out so broadly?  Might I send out spores of creativity, encouragement, prayers, and love?  What if that particle happened to land at just the right sight where something amazing could grow from it? 

Who knows?  I think about how ideas germinate today.  Living with flair means we sow broadly because we can’t predict where and when pollination might happen. 

Meanwhile, I’ll never look at Spring dusting the same again. 

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Journal:  What can I send out today that could grow into something amazing? 

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What Would You Wish For?

Just a few days after mowing, our backyard transforms into a wonderland of wishes. 

My youngest calls me outside and hands me a dandelion and tells me to make a wish.  She closes her eyes, takes a deep breath, and whispers that little girl wish that sends the seeds flying.

“Now you do it!  Make your wish!”  

I stand there, holding my breath, and just as I begin to exhale, I realize I don’t know what to wish for.

Sometime this past year, my desperate longing for something more became satisfied.  I had all I needed because God was sending the flair right into any circumstance.  It didn’t matter where I was because He was there. 

Even in the weeds of suffering, illness, and disappointment, there was always some flair.
So what’s left to wish for?  I’m holding the weed in my hand and asking God what His wish for my life is.

I remember that God’s name and His renown are the desire of my heart.  What does it mean to wish that your life radiates with the power and presence of God?  What does it mean to wish for a life that brings the most honor and glory to God–that His name would be made great through your life?

These are serious wishes.  These wishes include sacrifice and dying to self.   These wishes invoke a sort of hope and intention that invites God to work in my life no matter what the cost.   It’s a surrender that sends my life flying out into the unknown.

Is this a wish I’m ready to make?  I exhale everything out across the landscape.  I don’t know where these seeds will land, but land they will.  This is my life that I’m scattering out.  It never belonged to me anyway. 

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Journal:  Can I surrender like this? 

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Released from the Snare

All day, I’ve been thinking about a verse from Psalm 25:15.

“My eyes are ever on the Lord,
   for only he will release my feet from the snare.”

A snare means a trap.  It’s a deceptively enticing situation or mindset that captures us.  These past few days, I’ve repeated this verse over and over again.  I’ve applied it to unwise relationships I’ve formed (professional or personal), foolish commitments I’ve made, and ungodly mindsets I adopt.   When I feel ensnared by something, I’m learning to ask God to set me free.

And He does.

Living with flair means I keep my eyes “ever on the Lord.”  He knows exactly how to “release my feet from the snare”–whatever it may be today.
  

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Journal:  Do I feel ensnared by something from which I can ask God to release me?

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Espionage!

Our morning routine includes espionage.  We have to scour the backyard for secret information.  

Even in our bare feet, we tiptoe across the morning dew to snoop on the strawberries.

Then, we plunge inside the winterberry bush to spy on the Northern Cardinal who built a nest there this past week.

It doesn’t stop there.  “We have to check on the beans!  We have to check on the beets!”   And we whisper because this is a garden reconnaissance mission, and I haven’t even poured my coffee yet. 

That’s what we do now.  After school, we’ll investigate to see if the eggs have hatched at the vernal pond. 

I’m right there with them.  Living with flair means I’m spying on Spring.  We quiet ourselves, walk gingerly, and peer into secret processes.  You don’t outgrow this kind of wonder.

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Journal:  How can I find some wonder outside today?

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A Strange Lesson from My Mother’s Day Candle

My mother was the first to teach me that candles have “memory.”  When you light a jar or pillar candle the first time, you must let it burn for a few hours until the wax pools all the way to the edges.

You see, the candle remembers how far the wax pooled that first time, and it will only burn to that boundary every time you light it.  A small wax pool means your candle will tunnel as it burns.  It will waste the majority of the wax.  It can’t break free of that early pattern.  It remembers.

This morning my family comes into my bedroom with presents for Mother’s Day. Two scented jar candles, wrapped in tissue, roll out on the bedspread. My oldest daughter has breakfast on a tray for me, and as I look at this little family around me and light my candles, I think about candle memory

Will I ever break free from old patterns?  Am I doomed to candle memory in my own soul?  

Sometimes life feels so limited by our destructive patterns–set deep in stone–that we cannot change.  But I don’t want a narrow life!  I don’t want to tunnel down–bringing my children with me–because of old patterns set by the world, the flesh, and the devil (as Scripture teaches).  All morning in church, I think of the hopelessness of that candle memory and of a life that cannot ever break free from a set pattern or false belief.

I need to recover from the patterns of thought–lies I believe–about where my hope and security originate.  
 
In church, I look and see rows and rows of folks in recovery from drugs and alcohol.  A few minutes before, I shake hands with a woman who tells me (in the same breath) her name and her reality:  I’m in recovery.  She’s been clean two weeks. 

What can break the old pattern?  Who can erase the narrow boundaries and set us free?  That new friend knows her name and her reality.  She’s in recovery.  Day by day, she embraces a new reality, a new pattern.  It’s Jesus in her–the only One who can set us free from the prison of ourselves.  

That’s what I think about when I light this Mother’s Day candle.  Candle memory may seem final, but there’s a Light that knows no boundaries and can expose any false pattern.   I invite Jesus in–all the way to the far edges–and let my heart melt and pool deep and wide. 

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Journal:  Do you ever feel trapped by an old pattern?  

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Mothers are Beanstalks

This afternoon, the children run outside and design a bean garden for themselves.  They want a beanstalk.  

I discover that we need a structure in that bean garden around which the bean plants can twine.

I love that verb, first of all.  To twine means to interlock tightly, twisting up and coiling about.

Beans are twining plants, and this means they cannot support their own weight.  For vertical growth, they circle around a support in order to grow.  They exert continuous pressure against this support so they can rise tall and strong.

They will not survive without interlocking tightly, twisting up and coiling about a supporting structure.   

I needed that truth today as I think about motherhood and this life of faith.  I cannot do this on my own.  I lean hard against the Lord as that internal structure around which I cling.  I interlock.  Every tendril of thought and action encircles one singular support. 

If I’m exhausted, shriveled on the vine, and incapable of doing this alone, I remember I wasn’t meant to.  I’m supposed to twine

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Journal:  What does interlocking with God mean when I’m exhausted?

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Darkness Turned to Light

I don’t know much about photography.  I’ve never taken a class, and I don’t use a fancy camera.  All I know is that taking pictures has become a source of joy and flair.  Just yesterday, I realize that what photographers do best is capture the light.   We have a whole day to observe the light. 

Morning Sky and Cherry Blossoms

When I look at the light all day, I see the world differently. 

Purple Flowers in Afternoon

Tiny Spider Web at 3:00 PM

Hello, Late Afternoon Little Bug

Cherry Blossoms as Sun Sets

Twilight

There’s a gift to receive because the light shines.  Even when dim and hard to discern, there’s a gift.  As I think about the radiance of God today, I remember that a life of faith means I’m a photographer setting out to capture the light.  I open my eyes and see His radiance.  That light reveals truth and guides us to beauty, to hope, and to salvation.   The prophet Isaiah writes: 

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known,
   along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;
I will turn the darkness into light before them
   and make the rough places smooth.
These are the things I will do;
   I will not forsake them. 

With camera in hand, living with flair means I set out in faith that God can turn any darkness into light.  I look through that lens and see it today.  We are not forsaken, and any rough places will be smoothed.  The result?  Radiance!  Beauty!  We are not forsaken. 


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Journal:  Is there a darkness today that God will turn to light? 

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What My Daughter Brought to Show and Tell

This morning, my daughter puts a copy of How to Write with Flair in her backpack.  It’s her show-and-tell day. 

I want to cry.  

I think that motherhood is all about celebrating children, but sometimes, they celebrate us.  

“I’m proud of you, Mom.”   

I’m going to go cry now.  

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Journal:  I want to do things that make my children proud.  I haven’t thought of it this way before.  Am I living a life that my children will continue to celebrate?

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Why Not? (The Story of the Green Apple Cupcakes)

This year, I’ve learned to be a little gourmet.  My children taught me that with the hamburger cupcakes.  I’m learning to try things that fall way outside of my natural gifts and abilities.

Take green apple cupcakes, for example.  My youngest can’t wait to bring in cupcakes to kindergarten this week for her birthday.  She wants gourmet cupcakes, just like her sister’s hamburgers.  We search the internet together and find a lovely cupcake blog that features green apple cupcakes. 

I’m nervous about this.  We get the ingredients for cupcakes, and then I’m told I just need green sprinkles, a pretzel stick stem, a mint leaf, and some brown sprinkles to resemble apple seeds.  I’m supposed to take a little spoonful of sprinkles away to make it look like somebody took a bite out of the apple!  I have to admit that, in theory, this whole thing has the potential to be adorable. 

Slow and steady.  I follow the directions, and voila! 

I’m so happy I could burst.  It’s the same way I felt when I followed the directions to thread my old sewing machine.  I sewed doll pillows with my daughter just by following directions.

Slow and steady.


Living with flair means we do things we wouldn’t normally do.  We enter unusual worlds (like sewing and baking) and find pleasure when we simply follow directions.

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Journal:  Is there a project I should try?

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