cobalt and rising

looking to the hills…and beyond

Bob Ross And Then Some

Know this guy? I’m not so secretly addicted to watching him paint…yes, I do realize this makes me a dork of epic proportions! (Happy little clouds, squirrels, or trees anyone?)

Today I give him a shout out over at Time With God. Believe it! If you need a few minutes to ponder way more than Bob Ross, click on over there both today and tomorrow.

And just for fun today, go grab a paintbrush or two and try your hand at some trees. Happy creating!


The Hard Places And The Heart

On April 18th-19th, you’ll find me at Time With God.  Come on over and ponder the example set for us by the apostle Paul.

But Sunday Comes…


Celebrating the goodness of knowing grace, forgiveness and love today. Happy Easter-ing, friends!


And now I find I have to begin again…

Three months ago I dared myself to be grateful, and there has been much, oh so much, in the numbering of God’s gifts to me.

There was also a stretch of weeks where I felt like a grain of sand, feeling the tide of others’ pain rolling up and over and back down  again and again and again.  Six weeks full of words from friends and family like death, divorce, cancer, abuse.  I listened. I hurt. I carried their stories in my heart. I prayed. And to be honest, I just didn’t feel like saying much.  Thus, the long pause in our adventuring together.

The daily gratitude count is hard when the pain tides roll, no? For those of you who joined me in The Joy Dare, soldier on friends. There is much to be thankful for!

Oh, and yes, just to keep things interesting, I had another friendly little shoulder-of-the-road convo with the Po-Po. (Pretty for sure that didn’t make the daily list of thanksgiving.)  What can I say except that if the Po-Po is a moth, then I am just a big honkin’ flame.  As a matter of fact, the Po-Po is so popular in our house that my daughters now have a fancy little Po-Po song.  Stay tuned because it’s coming soon…

A Dare I Can’t Refuse

“It’s one moment after the other, the small moments that turn a life.                     It’s the small actions that can change a life.”

The Joy Dare.  I’m so in…you joining me?

Prepare To Be Interrupted

It was a week of interruptions, and it began with her loss.  My heart carried her grief-burden, just as the hearts of so many others did, too. (Even if you do not know her, would you think of her, pray for her, send her a kind word as you are prompted?)

My own minor, and significantly less painful, interruption came a few days later.  It was a much-anticipated moment: my oldest daughter and I were finally going to see The Nutcracker Ballet. Less than two hours until showtime, I took a long look at the tickets and saw they were for a performance in a city…four…hours…away. There in my hands, I held the you’ve-got-to-be-flippin’-kidding-me mistake. Then came mascara rivers and gasps for air, overwhelming disappointment, and a little girl’s sad eyes.  And just like that, Christmas Joy was hijacked.

These two events—the one that devastated and changed lives forever, and the other that I’m learning to laugh about—got me thinking about all the interruptions of the last year.  So often as we wrap up a year and look forward to the next one, we make our “best of” lists—our highlights of the year on parade. But what if—and it’s a big what if—we instead took notice of our interruptions?

If I’m truly honest, I’ll have to admit every new year of my adult life has begun with high expectations. Coincidentally, I have ended every year by assessing the disappointments that laid me low. This is not a pattern I’m content to have on repeat.  Not any more.  Not after waking and joy and all the interruptions of the last year.

So to start 2012 off properly, I’m changing things up with this singular charge to myself: prepare to be interrupted.

Don’t get me wrong here.  I’m not saying this in a Chicken Little, “The sky is falling!” kind of way. (Although, let’s be honest, some of the interruptions that are coming down next year’s pike might very well feel like the expanse above has landed squarely upon us.)

But what I’m getting at is this: what would it really look like if you and I anticipated that God would lovingly interpose in a thousand little ways (or perhaps in fewer, weightier doses)? How would we receive those things previously viewed as disappointments if we really believed it was God himself teaching, training, loving, changing, and calling us into something more or out of something less?

Makes me think I should add a second phrase to the charge: and choose gratitude when life feels upended.

Perhaps this time next year, I will mull over 2012 and present to you a list of the interruptions that rearranged me.

Gobsmacked and Grateful. Won’t you join me in this venture?


Christmas Joy (or What Can Happen When You Decide To Un-Decorate Christmas)

And this is where some of you will think that I’ve tiptoed a bit too far out on the limb.  And that’s okay. I’m gonna slide on out anyway.

If you’ve been tracking with me for any amount of time now, then you’ve probably ascertained a few things.  I’m in the midst of an interesting period in life–an unexpected season of truly waking.  Today I told a friend it is a “hard cool”.  Hard because, well, some days it is.  Cool, because the gaskets of my heart get blown off day after day and in the greatest of ways.  I’ve started saying things–completely nuts kind of things–like “I wish everyone had the opportunity to go through a time like this.”

And this has been all very well and good until Christmas came along. Christmas, meaning my favorite time of the year.  Christmas, when I love all things to be red and green and sparkly and lovely.  Christmas.  (But my life is in storage and my decorations are in storage and I’m not even sure I feel like Christmas-ing this year…)

One of my favorite bloggers talks about “doing less and being more” during the holiday season.  I love this idea because for the last year or so we’ve been having less and learning how to be more.  The hard cool.

So, for a number of reasons, my husband and I made the command decision to do a 180 from the Christmas routine.  Instead of pulling all the Christmas decorations out the day after Thanksgiving, we…just…well…didn’t.  We talked about what’s really important to our family, and in doing so, we decided to un-decorate Christmas.

There’s not a Christmas tree…unless you count the 12-inch-tall foam tree that we helped our daughters put ornament stickers on during a rollicking after-dinner Christmas caroling party.  There’s not a garland on the mantle…unless you believe that red and green construction paper links constitutes such a thing.  There are no twinkling lights to be found…unless of course, you see them in the eyes of two sisters as they make glitter glue snowmen while laughing and singing Frosty and Rudolph.  Joy.

Some things were deemed too important to stay away…music, books, the stockings of children, the Little People Nativity Set, the essentials of celebrating Advent.  Other things haven’t even been missed.  Not a single bit.

I could tell you that this Christmas will go down as one of the most memorable of my life.  I could tell you that our daughters haven’t even skipped a beat.  I could tell you that I’ve never noticed how peaceful I feel, this, the week before Christmas Day.  I could tell you all of these things and much more, and then invite you to join me out on the limb of less and more.

But for some, that might mean un-decorating a lot more than just Christmas. And un-decorating your life, your heart, is so very hard to do.  This, I know.

So here’s an easier challenge instead.  This week, think about where Christmas Joy is hidden.  And un-decorate whatever you need to in order to find it.

Don’t Hit The Po-Po

Let me first say that I love law enforcement.  I’m related to both a police detective and a FBI agent, and I have a super healthy respect for anyone who packs heat and carries a badge.  I’m also a law-abiding citizen with no plans to land myself in the pokey anytime soon. This being said, I can now relate the history leading up to that bright and shiny moment a few days ago when my almost-3-year-old served up some great advice from the backseat of our car.

I’m gonna shoot you straight: it’s all my Mee Maw’s fault.  I was maybe 4 or 5, riding in the backseat of her orange/tan Ford.  We were on the main drag running through our small town, and as we topped the hill she yelled, “Look out, it’s THE FUZZ!”  Of course, I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about.  But then she pointed to the cruiser, semi-hidden, waiting for someone to breach the 20mph speed limit.  THE FUZZ.  The police and I were now on a first-name basis.

Years of watching for The Fuzz from Mee Maw’s backseat gave me quite an awareness of the police, so much so that I would spot them for her and yell, “Look out, Mee Maw, it’s The Fuzz!”  I did not want to meet The Fuzz, of course.  Just wanted to always have them in my sights.

But a few more years passed, and on another day while riding in a car with my mother, we indeed met a policeman.  He was very nice; my mother, however, might have very near had a nervous breakdown.  Lesson learned from our moment of being pulled over by the police in a very busy intersection of our not-so-big town: The Fuzz are nice and my mother is peeherpants scared of them.

And then came those years of really being acquainted with the police.  First, there was my step-brother-in-law, the funny cop who made me laugh…and who also handcuffed and put me into his cruiser on my 16th birthday. (Nothin’ like a visit from The Fuzz on your birthday–even if it’s your family!) A few months later, I met his colleague.  I was the one sitting behind the wheel, crying my eyes out and blubbering that my dad would kill me if I got a ticket; the very nice officer was the one who took a good 20 minutes to assure me that if I simply calmed down there would be no ticket and no killing.

I’ve now had at least three roadside chats with the police–all very pleasant events–and managed to squeeze in two other conversations with officers while viewing my crunched up car.  Alas, I’ve also had a “you’re getting a citation” chat, and a courtroom visit concerning said citation in which I was surrounded by The Fuzz (“Look out Mee Maw!!!”).

Sometime in my twenties, however, I began referring to The Fuzz as the Po-Po.  I must admit that I feel a bit like a traitor to Mee Maw.  I mean, how am I supposed to tell her that my daughters don’t shout from the backseat to point out The Fuzz???

Instead, after the police cruiser pulls into the lane ahead of us, we have this conversation:

(Mommy) “Hey, there’s the Po-Po!”

(Elder Sweet Pea) “Where???  Ooooohhhh, there’s the Po-Po!”

(Elder Sweet Pea to Younger Sweet Pea)“Look!  Do you see the Po-Po?”

(Younger Sweet Pea) “I do!  I do see da Po-Po!”

(A two-minute pause…)

(Younger Sweet Pea) “Don’t hit da Po-Po, mommy!”


Then again, perhaps Mee Maw would be proud…

I Am Not A Homeschooler

(The final confession for November!!!)

If you had asked me to define “homeschooler” ten years ago, I probably would have looked at you as though you were the bird who finally broke free of the looney bin.  Even five years ago if you had repeated the question, I might have said a little more along the lines of having very dear (and perfectly sane and normal) friends who were on the journey with their kids.

But friends, it is 2011, and in my time today I have covered math, handwriting, phonics, art, and, oh, yes, pledged my allegiance to the flag and had play time at the park.  Somehow it seems, I have joined the ranks of what, at one time in the not-so-distant past, I couldn’t even have defined.

In my mind, there’s absolutely no way I’m a homeschooler.  But in reality I am…and I’m loving every single minute of the homeschooling adventure.

Just for good measure, I’ll tell you I’m neither anti-public school nor uber-conservative.  I’m not claiming to have a holier, higher calling.  I am simply a mom who wanted to be with her 5-year-old rather than spending the better part of the day apart. A mom who craved time outside of a classroom for her child to discover the world, and who wanted to watch sisters at play creating art at the kitchen table.

Our family had a choice to make, and this is simply what we chose.

(By the way, just in case you missed it, I am not a homeschooler…but I am…and I’m loving it.)

I mean, seriously, this is ME we’re talking about.  The one who can’t plan ahead for squat, the one who barely survived math herself, the introvert who longs for alone time, and the one who would never, ever, in a million years voluntarily be an elementary school teacher.  God bless ’em every one, but I just ain’t got the skills,or patience, or any of what it takes to be in charge of teaching that many little people!

But if I’ve learned anything from being the homeschooler I don’t think I am, it’s that some risks are just worth taking. Last night, after a week-long Thanksgiving break from curriculum, she threw her arms around my neck to say goodnight.  She held tight and whisper yelled into my ear, “I’m so excited we get to homeschool tomorrow!”

Music to my not a homeschooler ears…

Thanks And Giving

Thanksgiving is for…cooking in the kitchen with Mimi…watching the Cowboys after the feast…pumpkin pie (or pecan?) for breakfast the next day…taking it easy…and giving thanks to the Giver of all things.

Might I also ask something of you this Thanksgiving week?  Take some time and read this blogger’s post about Jonathan.  A couple of weeks ago, a team of normal, everyday people like you and I traveled to Ecuador on a trip for Compassion International.  They saw, served, blogged and changed the hearts of all those following their journey from afar.

Instead of rushing out to shop in an early morning hour this Black Friday, would you reconsider?  Would you pray about where your finances could be better used?  Perhaps dedicate your Black Friday spending spree to children in need instead?

The “Jonathans” of the world would be so blessed if you did.

Giver of all good things, we thank you:
for health and vigour,
for the air that gives the breath of life,
the sun that warms us,
and the good food that makes us strong;
for happy homes and for the friends we love,
for all that makes it good to live.

Make us thankful and eager to repay,
by cheerfulness and kindliness,
and by a readiness to help others.

Freely we have received; let us freely give,
in the name of him who gave his life for us,
Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

— Thomas Ken (1637-1711),
the author of the traditional doxology, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”