Monday, June 3, 2013

Become a Part of Something Bigger Than You

Become A Part of Something Bigger Than You

5 years ago, in an effort to get better connected at my church, I began volunteering with youth groups (Thank you Sloan and Lauren!).  While it has been a time commitment, there are few things I have done that have been more rewarding.  Parents know what I am talking about – one friend always tells me “parenting is the hardest and most rewarding thing I’ve ever done" and I think working with fantastic kiddos falls in that purview.

The greatest opportunity I’ve gotten with them was the pilgrimage to Belize in 2011.  It was time away from life’s daily distractions and an amazing way in which to get to know such fantastic teenagers in a different setting.  I learned a ton from them and my hope is we all learned from each other.  A fellow group leader reminded them of the following at their recent senior dinner/ college send-off and I believe is helpful advice for us all:  If God is in it, then you’ll have no limit…  to what you can do or where you can go! (Thanks Gene!)  Below is my letter to them at end of our time together this spring.  Gene suggested it might make a great blog so I’m sharing (and appreciate he has read my blogs ;-)!  There just are not words to empahasize what an investment - worth every second - these kiddos are worth.  I am so blessed to have been a part of their lives thus far and can't wait to see how their lives unfold!  Such a gift God has given me!! 

Dear Life Group Seniors,

It’s hard to believe we met when you were in 8th grade – just becoming teenagers.  And now you are becoming adults; about to head out into the world and see what you can learn on your own.  Here are a few things we learned on our pilgrimage in Belize that I hope continue to serve and guide you as they do me.

Namaste was the theme from our journey so that we remember “the divine in me salutes the divine in you”.  Seeing a person for who they really are inside; honoring the light God places in people’s hearts that makes them unique; and acknowledging it within you.  The next few years will be a time for you to explore and challenge your beliefs – what you really think on your own.  Let it grow and change but always be grounded in the love God and your home & church families have for you.

Remember the white feather Ordinary found in the Land of Normal that made him believe the Dream Giver had visited him.  God has a dream for you and has placed it in your heart – it is special and unique to you.  Dare to dream and live your life as God has dreamed for you.  Be bold and try things that scare you.  Only the person that never tries truly fails. I like how Winston Churchill says it: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Community – we all talked about how blessed we were to have such a special group that gives us a safe community to know and experience God’s love for us through so many others.  A “thin place between heaven and earth” is where you feel God’s presence; I learned that it is not geographically based but rather it is where you feel that sense of community.  Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

On the last day, JPA challenged us to think about our relationship with God as a living God.  God is alive, working and growing in us every day.  It is a much more rewarding and fulfilling relationship when you give it life.  It can guide you and give you purpose.  At your age (and to this day), this was one of my favorite verses that helped direct me on how to live God’s plan.  Philippians 2:14-16a “In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing so that no one can speak a word of blame against you. You are to live clean, innocent lives as children of God in a dark world full of people who are crooked and stubborn. Shine out among them like beacon lights, holding out to them the Word of Life.”  Just by being your best you, true to yourself, and the amazing, bright shining, fantastically awesome people I have gotten to know over the last 5 years, you will shine!

Thank you for being part of the foundation for me in building my community with Christ Church – I couldn’t have done it without you and it certainly wouldn’t have been as much fun to establish!  You always have me in your corner and I look forward to seeing how your life continues to unfold.

With much love and affection – Namaste!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Write What You Want

Write What You Want

Most people are familiar with The Law of Attraction these days.  Following The Secret’s tremendous success, it became a fairly well known philosophy.  Have you ever tried it?  Write, draw, paint, sing, pray (yes, I believe that is very much applicable to the Law of Attraction) for something you deeply desire?  It doesn’t have to be deep with all the emotional investment in the world.  It can be fun and light-hearted – an opportunity to fantasize and be silly.  Can’t we all use a little silly these days?

Most know, I write this blog to stay true to myself, keep a light heart engaged and be funny when I can (yes Brendan, girls can be funny)…  So at the beginning of last summer, I wrote a blog about Summer Lovin’.  There were seeds to that desire: who doesn't want to feel loved?  Being raised a Gamecock, hope springs eternal because hope had to spring as the mighty cockbirds never won most of my life ;-)!  So I decided I would write the “Aren't Summer Loves Grand” blog/wish for myself, for my nieces since they are getting to that age where boys are very interesting (sorry Chris), for fellow singles and for marrieds that could use a little romance.

Shortly after, I had one of the most amazing good night kisses.  I keep hearing Lady Antebellum – “just a kiss on your lips in the moonlight” – among some other fun songs that relive that night.  But the point of the story is not about where that went (or didn’t go because, sadly nothing evolved); this blog is about believing.  Being present for something wonderful and letting it happen.  Reaffirming that there are special people out there that see you & make you feel special too.  And knowing that any day, life can bring an amazing gift – letting you know greatness awaits you as long as you LIVE.  So maybe something did evolve; a reaffirmation what can be if we let go and let God.

So #ThisJane Says, write (or your chosen vehicle of expression) what you want to happen.  Let yourself dream and believe.  It is out there and will present itself when you least expect it because you just know it just will.  Oh and here's to 2013 Summer Loves...!   ;-)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Be the Person Your Dog Is…

I love the bumper sticker that says, I try to be the person my dog thinks I am.  While I fully identify with that sentiment, I might subscribe more to trying to be the person my dog is…

What is inspiring about Mia?  Let's be honest, she has had really rough 4 months!  Bad dog bite over Christmas, fractured wrist mid February, and opossum attack mid March that included infected bite wounds requiring 2 antibiotics...!  She spent about a month getting 7 pills twice a day - not to mention, no fetch, or play time for at least 6 weeks!  And this is one active pup.  But she has handled it like a champ - stayed in great spirits and taking things such as the awkward splint, in stride.  The trooper is still "smiling".

When Mia is bored with my head in the computer or a book, she finds her own entertainment – which truly cracks me up.  Mia gets her bone and tosses it in the air, jumps away from it, then on to it, away again, then pauses and studies it – as if it may make some sudden movement.  The hunter in her never sleeps.  Then she takes to tossing it around again – eventually letting it slide under a sofa or the TV cabinet.  This, of course, requires my involvement in this game…  Accidents happen, I suppose.  But how can I not admire someone making their own fun?

On days I work from home and leave the back door open - she'll wander out and just sit in the sun.  One ear is focused on my sneak escape that I never do but she always expects – but she (mostly) relaxes and enjoys a beautiful day.  I love that!  It always reminds me that I should "stop and smell the roses" and enjoy the precious present.  If a dog intuitively knows that, #ThisJane Says it must be true.

Where do I see Mia most happy?  Without a doubt, it is playing fetch.  Good gracious that dog would fetch until her body literally could not move after the ball anymore.  Our record was over 2 1/2 hours on the Hughes’s back porch with several beers and rotating human throwers.  We all tuckered out at that point - not Mia.  #ThisJane says, when you find something you love, never give up on it.

Do I want to be the person my dog thinks I am, you bet!  But #ThisJane Says I’ll also try to be a little like the crazy pup too: Keep on smiling, make my own fun, be present and never quit.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Burn Baby Burn

Burn Baby, Burn

Biloxi Blues by Neil Simon– that is the movie that made me more seriously consider my written words.  Matthew Broderick’s character, Eugene, always journaled his own observations of life.  At one point, he wrote about his best friend, Epstein and not being sure of his best friend’s sexuality.  As this movie was set in the 1940s and within the military, this was an especially big deal.  Not so much to Matthew’s character, or people I know today; but due to the implications for his friend, Eugene (Broderick) wanted to rip out those pages of his journal.  His friend Epstein – the subject of speculation - told him not to destroy his writing and to never to compromise himself; “Once you start compromising your thoughts, you're a candidate for mediocrity.”
That has resonated with me for 25+ years.  I have been journaling since I can remember and am pretty sure I have never thrown away thoughts.  And while I fully agree with Epstein’s character and am not okay with mediocrity, I do believe some thoughts and feelings are intended for moments in time.  Just like friendships come for “reason, season, lifetime” categories; emotions do as well. 

Whether with family feuds, changing friendships, hurt feelings and – of course – broken hearts; no matter the person or relationship, life evolves to present different paths, lessons and challenges.  All we can do is make the best choice for our lives at that time and embrace the blessings each experience provides.  Darn it – don’t we often learn the most from the most painful of situations…?
So #ThisJane Says, it’s okay to burn certain pages from your proverbial journal (or real journal in my case :-); to let go of a way you know you feel or felt at a certain time because you no longer can, do or should feel that way.  Heck, write the journal entries you NEED to burn for the cathartic experience.  Where mediocrity can be met when compromising your beliefs, it can also be lived by not allowing yourself to grow beyond you at one point in time.  Burn baby burn…

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Jump for Something

Sometimes, okay oftentimes, I don’t have the original words; but those words that come before us are just right for our lives in any given moment.  Yes, I am still writing about music (aren’t I always?); but we see this in novels, poems and movies that never go out of style ("Dear George: Remember no man is a failure who has friends.”  You got that right, Clarence!  It’s a Wonderful Life)

Here we are in January – a New Year, a new launch, (a birthday :-) - a time where people feel emboldened and compelled to make changes, to live the life they have always wanted, to dare to dream.  Most people I know set intentions or resolutions for the New Year; or make lists of all the things they want to do – practical or not - just to try to accomplish more, live fuller, bigger, better.  

Heck - in essence, I started blogging because I have always wanted to write but was so afraid to share (it was my 2012 Leap of Faith/Lenten commitment). And I have loved what I have gained from this risk - I only wish I had more time to write.  So what’s your 2013 dream?  What are you going to dare to do?  I’m not saying I buy into resolutions… we all let those slide.  But being brave and taking a risk, I am buying into that since every day is a new chance to take your life out for a spin. 

This past summer, I took some other chances/stances that I would not have taken a year ago (writing must have been my gateway ;-).  My girlfriends decided I was charting out a Year of Bold.  In all honesty, it wasn’t so much intentional as my just getting more brave and living more presently; but it apparently inspired.  And not just my gal pals but inspired me because of their support and the “why not live” perspectives.  I like bold Jane-O!  Even though I have not escaped unscathed..., I have been present and lived and I cherish that immensely.  

My college roommate, Ann used to say “Jane, its okay to make mistakes - as long as they are your mistakes.”  That was always a hard one for me - I don't like making mistakes.  But she was so right; and what I regret most thus far are the things I didn't try because I was afraid.  I'm pretty confident fear (often analysis paralysis in my case) is the bigger regret than simply screwing up.  Everybody Makes Mistakes (Hannah Montana sang about it, Miley Cyrus lives it ;-)

When thinking about living the Year of Bold and in the precious present, these lyrics by Anne Heaton are especially inspiring; but mostly, I just LOVE the beauty of this song! 

Oh forget what you know
And draw me with crayons
Spin around the room
With paint on your hands
See who gets covered
And when you fall down

Cause you’re going to crash anyway
Even if you’re stuck not moving
You can be lulled by insults
Or sharpened by love

You may as well jump
You might as well jump
       for something

#ThisJane Says, live your own Year of Bold and just jump…  I know it will pay off and you will be glad – I will too!