Category: Hearts and Lives

I’m taking a mulligan on January… a.k.a. fresh start, take two

I’m taking a mulligan on January… a.k.a. fresh start, take two

It’s been a quiet month here. I didn’t start the year intending to take pretty much all of January off. But, to be honest, it began a little bumpy and instead of persevering, I crawled back under the proverbial covers. Have you had a hide-under-the-covers kind of month? Maybe you need to follow my lead and take a mulligan on the month? New mercies, fresh starts… these are ours for the taking every moment of every day. Read on…

Happy New Year! And now for something completely different…

Happy New Year! And now for something completely different…

In a few hours, people in my little corner of the world will be bidding 2017 adieu and ringing in the new year with hope and optimism. I will always remember 2017 as the year I shrank my life. Contrary to society’s norms and expectations, I walked away from almost everything I used to define my identity for the past decade and came away with some surprising insights about myself in the process. If you’re thinking you need to re-evaluate your priorities and make some sustainable changes in 2018, there might be something here for you. Read on…

Merry Christmas: preparing our hearts for the gift that remains all year long

Merry Christmas: preparing our hearts for the gift that remains all year long

Christmas Eve is finally here. The long, slow wait of Advent has led us to the big event. But, sometimes, the reality doesn’t always match the anticipation. Today, in whatever way you celebrate Christmas, simply remember that although we fuss in preparation for the event, we don’t prepare our hearts just for one day; the gift remains all year long.

Monday Morning Musings: On reclaiming the Joy of Advent

Monday Morning Musings: On reclaiming the Joy of Advent

“Consider the things that bring you joy; then do those things.” It’s great advice until you realize that it doesn’t take into account the whole picture. The good news is that joy is an inside job; it’s still ours for the taking regardless of what Christmas looks like on the outside.

Monday Morning Musings: On holding the reins loosely

Monday Morning Musings: On holding the reins loosely

My inner control freak learned a few Advent lessons this past week. It turns out that one key to managing expectations during the holiday season is “holding the reins loosely.” Do you feel like you’re hanging on as tight as you can, letting the season drag you along at warp speed? Maybe there’s something in here for you today?

In search of contentment: moving towards good. and enough.

In search of contentment: moving towards good. and enough.

Blaise Pascal wrote, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which can’t be filled by any created thing, but only by God the Creator.” A recent trip to Target shone a glaring spotlight on my heart, and I didn’t like what I saw. Do you struggle with discontent? Read on…

Monday Morning Musings: An unconventional beauty

Monday Morning Musings: An unconventional beauty

I visited an exhibition of some works of the Dutch and Flemish Masters a few years ago, during a short visit to Amsterdam. There were works by Van Gogh, Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Rubens, to name a few. These are considered priceless pieces of art, held under lock and key, deemed museum-worthy by someone’s standard.

Crowds line up to see these masterpieces, and though some of these meticulously painted canvases are breathtaking in their detail and portrayal of subject, occasionally, I fail to see what all the fuss is about.

I am the beholder and I don’t see beauty. My eyes see crude brushstrokes and muddy colour, lack of depth, distorted faces and shapes.

I guess that’s why I’m not curating any museum collections.

One of the pieces I had the pleasure of viewing was a little known work by Dutch artist Egon Schiele, called Portrait of Edith. Edith is the artist’s wife.

By earthly standards, as Schiele depicts her, she could hardly be described as beautiful. Her hair is a little askew, she is oddly shaped, her pale face is mottled and she holds only the faintest hint of a smile. Her husband has painted her on an empty background, in which she almost appears to be hanging. Her hands dangle uselessly.

portrait-of-edith-schiele-in-a-striped-dress

But her eyes tell a different story. They are warm and inviting. Her dress is vivid, stripes of exuberant colour that jump off the neutral canvas.

All I could think as I looked at this woman was her husband’s love for her. The adoration that is so evident in this painting of a plain-looking, flawed, ordinary woman, elevated to radiance through the eyes of her husband.

It causes me to consider God’s role in art. After all, He is the original master artist, creator of everything in and of this earth. Including me.

Including you.

Have you ever stopped for a moment and considered that? You are a masterpiece.

But, whose eyes do you see yourself through? Are you a reflection of the artist who made you? Or are you looking through a different lens?

The media tells us how we should look, how we should dress, how we should act, and that age is simply a thing to defy. Do you measure up to society’s standard?

So many women are dissatisfied with themselves. Their bodies. Their hair. Their clothes. And the only people that benefit are the industries that feed our dissatisfaction. Those marketing gurus that tell us if we wear this makeup, or those clothes, or lose that weight, then everything will be better. Our life will be brighter.

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not advocating that all women just start letting themselves go. I’m all for mascara, lip gloss and cover up; heaven knows that sometimes the dark circles beneath my eyes need a little help!

And despite my general disdain for exercise, I know the importance of being healthy and fit.

I certainly don’t want to be defined by how I look–because by society’s standard, my grey hair and plain face already miss the mark. Edith and I have that in common.

Instead, I want to embrace all the wonderful things that age brings with it: wisdom, perspective, authenticity, security, contentment. These things are true beauty.

Look at Psalm 139:13- 18

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!”

What a picture of how God, the master artist, sees the author!

We live in a world filled with plain-looking, flawed and broken people. We are all brushed with different strokes; our colours are muddy and our faces and shapes distorted. This is who we are.

And God thinks you are beautiful!

By His standard you are museum-worthy.