The Quest for Perfection

I was a naive freshman in college, walking around with a load of books on my back and a new, strange world of possibilities in front when someone posed this question to me:

“Do you think it’s possible for us to be perfect and without sin? Even for just one second? Like maybe when you’re in the middle of worshipping God?”

That someone was my small group leader, an outgoing, assertive girl two years older than me. We were sitting in her apartment, along with a couple of other freshman girls, talking about the Bible. The discussion was interesting, if not ordinary, until that question popped up.

There was silence, and something in my brain or heart didn’t feel right about her theory. I had sat through enough sermons and Sunday school lessons to know that the whole point of Jesus dying on the cross was to save us from our sins. If we could be perfect for even a second, why would we need to be saved? Couldn’t we then try a little harder to be perfect until we got good at it? That’s a rhetorical question of course. Even if we did everything we possibly could think of, or didn’t do anything at all, we still wouldn’t get any closer to perfection.

Because perfection is not a feeling or an act or thought or even a state of being. It’s more an essence, something intrinsic, and at the core.

But the thing is, even though we can’t achieve perfection, we’re always on the quest for it. We want the best results at school or work, we want the ideal marriage, we want the healthiest kids. We even want the cleanest and shiniest produce at the grocery store. (Tell me I’m not the only one who inspects a dozen pieces of fruit before picking the “perfect” one. LOL)

Image courtesy of digidreamgrafix/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of digidreamgrafix/freedigitalphotos.net

Why then do we have an obsession with perfection? Maybe because we were made to appreciate beauty. To be drawn to wholeness. To desire goodness.

Perfection isn’t a bad thing. But when we look around at the world, and the people in it, and especially ourselves, we see quite the opposite. There’s a lot of imperfection out there and there’s just as much in us, too.

Sounds pretty hopeless, doesn’t it? But it isn’t.

It’s a good thing we can’t be perfect and without sin. Not even for one millisecond. Because the burden to be perfect would be too great. It would crush us. Instead, it crushed the only Perfect One who took our place on the cross. That’s the perfection of the Gospel. That’s why tomorrow is Good Friday and Easter Sunday is even gooder. πŸ™‚

Perfection isn’t the enemy. But if we’re going to pursue perfection, may we pursue Jesus, the only one who can make us whole.

Take a listen to Tori Kelly’s song, “Hollow”, which she has described (when she was a guest mentor on The Voice) as her prayer to God. I love these lyrics:

“I confess my weakness
Till you pick up the parts that are broken
Pour out your perfection on me now”

What have you been chasing in your quest for perfection?

Appreciating the Value of Art

The family and I went to a nearby mall last weekend to window shop. This is one of the fancier malls around here, and when I say fancy, I mean expensive. πŸ˜‰ You won’t find a Target here, although they do have my other favorite (aka. affordable) store, Old Navy. Walking around this mall is like entering a shopping haven; it’s beautiful, clean and somewhat glamorous (for this part of town at least, hehe). Even the decor is fancy. While we were sipping our Jamba Juices in the food court, my eyes were drawn to these lights hanging from the ceiling. Apologies for the fuzzy picture, but these lights are really cool in person. They are like huge tear drops with cut outs on the lower halves that form an intricate latticework. Hubby said they would look even better at night, and I agree.

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I pointed the lights out to the munchkins and commented on how neat they were. After taking a quick look, E promptly replied, “What a waste.”

WHAT! I picked my jaw off the ground and fired back, “But it’s art!”

He gave a half-hearted shrug and remained unmoved.

Aiya. πŸ˜‰ I think what bothered me the most about E’s lackluster response was how familiar is was to me. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve had the exact same reaction before. Sometimes it’s been in response to what I think are extravagant party decorations or fancy food. For example, why would a chef spend his time, money and effort on making something that will just get gobbled up and “disposed of” a day later? πŸ˜›

Image courtesy of piyato/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of piyato/freedigitalphotos.net

Well, the reason is the one I gave E: it’s for the sake of art. It’s for the purpose of taking an idea and bringing it to life. To see beyond the ordinary and boring and mundane. To express the hopes and dreams that exist in our hearts. To create beauty where there was no beauty before.

You’d think a writer would understand the value of art. I do, but there’s also the cheap, square, not to mention, Asian(!) side of me that is a little too practical for my own good (and has obviously been passed down to E!). But this is a good reminder for myself to appreciate all forms of art. The ones that I may squint at and scratch my head over to the ones that resonate more naturally in my heart. The amazing thing is that there is so much art in this world. That’s one of the things I really thank God forβ€”the ability to create and the ability to appreciate creativity. Plus, the ability to inspire creativity in others, which is something I obviously need to do more of with my munchkins.

Because …

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Don’t you agree? πŸ™‚

Take a listen to this absolutely beautiful “Disney Love Medley”, featuring Kirstin Maldonado and Jeremy Michael Lewis, with Voctave.

What kind of art do you appreciate the most? What kind do you enjoy creating?

_______ is Proof that God Exists

There’s nothing I like more than hearing a new song on the radio that makes me turn up the volume. Recently, a song by Adele did just that. I’ve been listening to the song non-stop and even got my frugal self to buy the whole album because it’s just that good. So good that people watching her YouTube videos have left comments like these:

“My arms are covered in goosebumps.”

“Tears. Literally tears are falling down my face.”

(My favorite) “Adele has me missing a boyfriend who doesn’t even exist.”

These comments are proof that people can’t get enough of a 20 something year old singing songs with the longing and life experiences of a 50 year old. πŸ˜‰

But the best comment I’ve read about her is this:

“Adele is proof that God exists.”

Whoa.

I think it’s safe to assume (theological arguments aside) that this person recognized something so extraordinary about this artist and her music that he knows there must be Someone extraordinary who gave her this gift.

I feel this way too when I see the vibrant colors of a sunset, the intricate design of a snowflake, and the unique personalities of my munchkins.beach-164288_1280

When I pause to consider how these extraordinary things came to be, I literally shake my head in wonder. I also felt this way recently when I came across an article on Yahoo about a doctor’s battle with cancer.

The story of Dr. Paul Kalanithi could be considered a tragedy; he was a 37 year old successful neurosurgeon at Stanford when he passed away from stage 4 lung cancer (with no history of smoking), leaving a wife and a baby daughter behind. But what struck me about his story was not his professional success or his longing to help people, but his attitude toward life. Such as these quotes from his memoir:

β€œShouldn’t terminal illness, then, be the perfect gift to that young man who had wanted to understand death?”

“Life isn’t about avoiding suffering, it’s also about creating meaning.”

You see, this doctor had made it his aim in life to make life meaningful for his patients, his family and himself. And for him to find meaning in his cancer diagnosis as well was – in one simple word – extraordinary.

I couldn’t read the article or listen to his wife’s interview without tearing up. I shared this story with hubby, but could hardly get the words out. The one question on my mind was, “Where do you find people like this?” I was blown away by the fact that someone facing so much pain and hopelessness could be in such a state of acceptance. I’m sure as a doctor (and a Christian), he had already dealt with a lot of life and death issues and struggled with tough questions. But, somehow, out of the struggling came an almost effortless sense of peace and trust.

To a bystander, his attitude doesn’t make sense. But that’s the beautiful part of it. It’s like seeing the impossible and the incomprehensible and knowing that they are true. Like knowing our universe is so incredibly huge, but that it is just a speck compared to the whole expanse of the sky. Or trying to understand the amazingly complicated and intricate ways in which the human body works to keep us alive. And celebrating the fact that goodness can overcome evil.

There really is so much “extraordinary” in and around us that points to Someone extraordinary. I love how God leaves His fingerprints everywhere – in the powerful notes of a song to the profound words of a cancer patient. I’m so thankful for these reminders that beauty, hope and love exist because God exists. We just have to open up our eyes, hearts and minds to recognize it.

Here’s that song by Adele, “When We Were Young”.

How would you fill in the blank: “_________ is proof that God exists.”?

Life is Like Waiting for Water to Boil

The kids and I stopped by a friend’s house last week, and she marveled at how tall they had gotten. I replied in an uncertain voice, “Oh yeah? I guess so.”

Considering we hadn’t seen each other for over six months, I figured she was probably right. Definitely right, however, was more like it. E’s pants which I had recently hemmed now looked unseasonably short as they skimmed his ankle bones. And C just mentioned that a shirt she had worn a few months ago no longer covered her tummy well. Even with this evidence of growth though, I had a hard time recognizing it.

I wondered why, and realized it’s because my perspective is so limited.

I see the munchkins day in and day out – that’s 365 days out of 365 days! And as any parent knows, every one of those days can feel long (though the years are short!). Trying to capture the kids’ daily growth is like waiting for water to boil. You stare and stare at the pot on the stove, even lifting the lid every ten seconds to look inside, but it still feels like it’s taking f-o-r-e-v-e-r for anything to happen. It’s hard to notice the tiny bubbles forming on the side of the pot as the water heats up. It’s also easy to discount the role of those bubbles because they appear so insignificant. But it’s that slow and easy simmering action that eventually produces bigger and bigger bubbles, ones so powerful that they “cannot be disturbed or disrupted by stirring or by dropping ingredients into the water” (thank you, www.wisegeek.org!).

That’s what it’s like for me waiting for my kids to “boil” (aka. mature). I witness their daily sibling wars, hangry meltdowns and homework struggles. I make them the same cheese quesadillas for lunch and the same pasta or fried rice dish for dinner. It’s like I’m running in a hamster wheel trying to keep up with them, and I see the same view of them every day. But the view is a lot bigger from outside the “cage”, and even bigger over the course of time.

Thinking about the kids’ growth shed some light for me when a good friend asked me the other day, “Do you feel like you accomplished what you wanted to this year?”

My immediate reaction was to answer, “No, not at all!” If I could have, I would have wanted to write more and publish more books. And, of course, to sell more. It’s easy for me to list all the “mores” that I wish I had accomplished this year. But when I proceeded to tell this to my friend, she shook her head and exclaimed, “You did a lot!”

Hmm?! Her words made me step back for a moment. Maybe, similar to the situation with the kids, my being too close to the action makes it hard to recognize and remember the progress.

With today being the last day of 2015, it’s natural to want to reflect on the past year. What did you accomplish? What did you wish you had accomplished? Are you closer to, or farther from, doing or getting or becoming _____?

What about regrets? I’ve been seeing a lot of posts and memes about forgetting the past and starting over. I’m sure these were written to encourage and motivate us to do better and more in the new year, but reading them just leaves a bitter taste of disappointment in my mouth.

What if when we reflect on 2015, we reevaluate the year through a wider and deeper lens? How about celebrating the baby steps of faith you took to do something out of your comfort zone (even if you were pushed out of it)? Or being thankful for the challenges you faced, and even those you failed at miserably, because you learned more about yourself through them?

And how about looking at the past year through someone else’s lens? Like that of a gracious and kind friend who doesn’t hold the same set of high expectations that you hold for yourself. Or that of a spouse who witnesses all your ups and downs, and still has faith in you. Or a parent who supports you in doing what you love and encourages you to keep going.

The great thing about a new year is the fresh start it offers. But let’s not forget or dismiss the days and years that brought us to today. All the life lessons God so patiently taught us in order to help us grow up. Those are the small bubbles simmering in us that will someday soon produce a rolling boil.

Image courtesy of khunaspix/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of khunaspix/freedigitalphotos.net

And if there’s more that we want for this new year, let’s make that “more” count. Let’s strive for more faith, more hope and more love. πŸ™‚

Cheers to a wonderful 2015! Thank YOU for walking along with me in this strange and amazing journey called life. πŸ˜‰ I look forward to more blogging fun in 2016.

Take a listen to this cool song by Pentatonix, appropriately called, “New Year’s Day”.

What did you learn in 2015? What do you want more of in 2016?

Christmas: Bringing Dignity and Joy to People

This past Saturday I had the great privilege of witnessing some makeovers of the heart and mind. After debating whether I was willing to wake up early (I am so not a morning person! :P), I signed up to help with our church’s first ever Christmas pop-up shop. In a nutshell, the church set up a store at a local middle school with toys marked down by 80-90% so that parents who weren’t able to afford to buy their kids presents could do so.

In previous years, our church had asked these families for their wish lists, then bought and delivered the gifts to them. But in doing so, we had inadvertently taken away the parents’ dignity and joy in being able to provide for their children. So this year, as in the words of our fearless leader Christine S., we took something good and made it better.

And boy, was it better! Take a look for yourself. πŸ™‚

Here's one half of the store!

Here’s one part of the store!

At one end of the large room were tables full of legos, princess-y stuff, superhero stuff, clothes, arts and crafts, and the latest fad, kendamas. At the other end was the cashier, followed by several tables with rolls and rolls of wrapping paper and ribbons. Once the parents had purchased their toys, they were able to wrap them up and take them home. Oh, and I forgot to mention they were able to shop in peace because their kids were in another room being fed and entertained. πŸ˜‰

The best part of the event was seeing the looks on the faces of the parents after they were done shopping. One mom’s beaming smile said it all. She walked out with her arms full of wrapped presents and her head held high. I can still see her in my mind, and the image touches me so much. It was one bit of confirmation that the shop had offered these parents dignity and joy.

A quote on a friend’s Facebook page affirms this:

“When you are referring to serving a community, the words To vs. With, coupled with action, make a huge difference in the impact. ‘To’ creates a lack of the ability for ownership, although intentions may be accepted and received by the community initially. ‘With’ joins forces with community, and impact happens in both the interaction and reaction.” (Kristen B.)

Sure, it might be easier and more convenient to engage the parents from a distance – go out and buy the toys, wrap them and drop them off at their homes – instead of taking the time and effort to set up a store and offering childcare on a Saturday, but coming alongside people and interacting with them is where the magic happens.

The word “with” is what Christmas is all about. God coming to earth and taking the form of a human, a baby no less, in order to engage with mankind. No other belief system has a deity who humbled and inconvenienced himself – out of Love – to make himself more accessible to people. To bring dignity and joy to us through His life, death and resurrection. But Jesus did. That’s why His name is Emmanuel – God with us. And what a beautiful name it is.

On this Christmas Eve, I pray you may experience the wonder of Christmas and remember that, truly, God is with us.

Enjoy this beautiful song, “God with Us”, by All Sons & Daughters and have a Merry Christmas! πŸ™‚

How have you experienced God’s presence in your life?

Getting Christmas Off My Mind (and Into My Heart)

It’s 8 days till Christmas, and I’ve officially gotten into the holiday spirit! In other words, I finally started shopping for gifts and making lists and checking them twice (or thrice – isn’t that a funny word?). I tend to be an organized person and can usually find whatever thing hubby or C misplaced (E’s anal like me, haha), but I don’t normally make to-do lists. Which is why it was very odd for me to actually write one this week. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I turned 40 last month, and the ‘ole brain cells aren’t workin’ as well these days. Or maybe it’s just the result of having too many things to do and too many places to go in such a short amount of time.

Anyone else feel like a chicken about to lose its head? πŸ˜›

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Image courtesy of bandrat/freedigitalphotos.net

I was at Target earlier when I heard Christmas music playing overhead, and I had to remind myself, Yes, this is the most wonderful time of the year! But with the way I was rushing around and stressing about all the things I still needed to buy and all the places I still needed to go, I was so not feeling the wonder.

Maybe you’re having a hard time, too.

It might not be the busyness of the season that’s locked up your Christmas spirit; it could be a struggle with finances or loneliness. Maybe it’s a battle with sickness or a broken relationship. It could be the loss of someone you love. Whatever the situation may be, it’s time to remember the Hope of this season. The Hope given to this dark world when God chose to limit Himself to become one of us in order to show us His limitless love.

That’s what I’m going to focus on in the next 8 days. Presents, good food and gatherings are nice and fun. But even after the gifts are unwrapped, the meals are digested and the company is gone, we have the Hope of Jesus to hold on to. And ultimately, it’s this Hope that makes life worth living and celebrating.

Take a listen to the new winner of the Voice, Jordan Smith’s rendition of “Mary, Did You Know” – it’s sure to get Christmas off your mind and into your heart. πŸ™‚

How do you get into the Christmas spirit?

Giving Thanks with a Grumbling and Grateful Heart

Back in college, my roomie/best bud had a cool idea to write down one thing we were thankful for each day. Keep in mind, this was in the dark ages of the mid-90s, so there were no online articles touting the health benefits of gratitude or gratitude apps (I randomly did a Google search and actually found one!) to inspire her. Nope, she thought of it all on her own. πŸ™‚

I wish I had kept the journal I used for the exercise so I could remember what I had recorded, but I’m guessing it was pretty ordinary stuff.

Monday – Good friends

Tuesday – Passed a test/finished a paper

Wednesday – Good church

Thursday – Food (even dorm food)

Friday/Saturday/Sunday – repeat, repeat, repeat

As a college kid I had a pretty easy life; my parents paid for all my expenses and my only “job” was to study and pass my classes (and have some fun in between). I don’t remember it being too hard for me to be thankful on a daily basis.

Now enter real life (AKA adulthood). My life two decades later is pretty different from my college days. There are a lot more responsibilities to handle, more challenges to face, and let’s be honest, more complaints to list. Those days of jotting down a reason to be thankful every day are long gone, along with my youthful optimism and energy. Instead, I often find myself giving thanks out of guilt and through gritted teeth, like when I saw this image on Facebook this week:

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Now I’m sure the mom who put this list together truly is grateful for her life. When I read the list, I was even encouraged to be thankful for all those things. But I’ll admit, I groaned a little, too (okay, a lot). πŸ˜‰

It’s not that I’m not thankful. I’m constantly in awe of how gracious God is to me and my family. But maybe once in a while, I want to acknowledge the struggles of life, even – and especially – the small ones, instead of glossing over them. I want to admit I have a hard time keeping the house clean. I don’t like doing the mundane tasks of changing the sheets or vacuuming or cooking. I struggle every day with being patient and loving toward the kids. I feel and look tired when I go to bed and often times when I wake up in the morning. And I suspect life only gets busier and more challenging the older I get.

Groan, groan, groan. Mutter, mutter, mutter.

Ahh… okay, now that I’m done acknowledging all the hard stuff, I feel more authentic and a lot less like I’m lying to myself. πŸ˜‰ Ironically enough, I can understand the image above better. When I first saw the equal signs in the phrases, I read them as “but …” in an effort to keep a glass half-full mentality, however, now I see them as “and …” in an effort to be real. And I suppose that’s what the mom who wrote them meant, too.

I’m learning it’s a matter of embracing that life is full of hard stuff and good stuff … all at the same time. It’s not an either/or thing; it’s all-inclusive. It’s about doing the hard work of being responsible and patient, and knowing that your heart and character are being shaped and molded during the process. It’s about persevering through the hard moments, and believing that the more you do, the more mature you’ll become and the fewer complaints you’ll have. Because sometimes a lot of the time, the hard stuff makes us appreciate the good stuff even more than if we only had the good stuff by itself.

So here’s to celebrating Thanksgiving with a grumbling and grateful heart, and thanking God for all the hard and the good stuff.

Here is a beautiful song by Pam Thum, “Life is Hard (God is Good)”. I love the truth of these lyrics: “Sometimes living takes the life out of you, and sometimes living is all you can do.” May this song bring encouragement and comfort to your heart through whatever hard stuff you’re facing today.

What hard stuff do you give thanks for, or hope to give thanks for one day?

Lessons Learned from Letting Go (of Things)

I shared this photo on my Facebook page this week, and got a lot of virtual amens. πŸ˜‰

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Can we add a #truth?! I cracked up at the “Watch YouTube videos” slice of the pie chart because I had just stayed up past midnight cleaning out a closet … all because of a YouTube video. (Okay, maybe 3 or 5 videos.) But they were some of the most helpful videos I have watched to date, and I actually didn’t feel too bad about procrastinating taking a break from writing. πŸ˜‰

I had stumbled onto an article while I was surfing the net (aka. research for writing) that described a life-changing way to clean. Life-changing, really? A few more articles later, and I had started to buy into Marie Kondo’s “KonMari method”. Instead of buying her book for more information though, I decided to go the el-cheapo route and turned to YouTube.

Jackpot!

If you search for “konmari” on YouTube, you’ll find about 15,200 videos(!) on how to clean your home, KonMari style. There are some amazing vloggers on there who opened up their homes to share their before and after room makeovers. These people seriously inspired me. But what inspired me more was the KonMari method and its simple and refreshingly different perspective on things. We’re talking about clothes, books, paperwork, electronics – any non-living thing that is taking up space in your home. When you’re cleaning up your things, Marie Kondo’s advice is to not ask yourself, “Will I ever use it again?” or “Is it worth keeping?” Instead, all you need to ask is this: “Does it spark joy?

Hm? Hm!

Yup, it’s as simple as an emotion. Joy.

I’d been going about it all wrong. In the past when I’ve attempted to clean the house, I would get caught up in my head. More specifically, the cheap part of my brain that would be afraid to let go of something. Even if that something was old or broken or worn. But more often than not, that something was still functional but hiding under a layer of dust waiting for the “someday” when it might be used again. And the longer these things sat around, the more cluttered and messy the house became.

We had gone over to my parents’ place last weekend and when we got home, hubby commented, “Their house is so clean.” Of course I immediately replied, “They don’t have two kids living there. And you didn’t look in the closets or under the beds (my dad’s favorite hiding spot, haha).” But in the next breath, I thought to myself, Those are just excuses. If I really wanted to tidy up our home, I needed to change my attitude and get my behind movin’!

So I did. I went through the closets and took all the clothes that no longer sparked joy when I looked at them. It was a good reminder that I need to cut down on my impulse purchases (ie. do not buy a tank top that is too big for you even though it is only $0.25!). I came away with several bags of clothes (one for recycling at H&M – you get a 15% coupon for every bag you bring in!; and two bags of gently worn ones for donation), roomier closets and a happier attitude.

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Next, I tackled two boxes of papers that I had kept hidden in C’s closet for years. I’m talking about report cards from elementary school, homework assignments, college acceptance letters, prom pictures, and letters from friends since childhood. Part of me couldn’t believe I had kept all those things; the other part of me understood why. Those boxes held the identity I had developed for myself, someone who based her self-worth on academic achievements and social status. Once upon a time I had looked at those papers with a certain amount of pride and happiness, but that night as I went through them, I felt a sense of wistfulness. Those papers didn’t possess the same value to me as before. Or maybe, I didn’t need them to define myself anymore. I ruffled through them and set the majority in a to-be-recycled pile (which eventually filled a large garbage bag) and kept some of the letters and other mementos that made me smile. Best of all, I breathed a little easier when I was done because there were now two empty shelves in the closet, something I had never seen before in our house.

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That’s another thing Marie Kondo advocates – empty spaces! Don’t feel like you need to fill up every single shelf or cabinet to the max. Open spaces give you room to breathe and move around and feel free. Ahh, just the picture of this empty shelf makes me happy. πŸ˜‰ It also inspired me to rethink how I fill up my time. If you could see the rest of this closet (a sight I will gladly spare you from), you would probably feel your shoulders tense up. That is also a good analogy to how our bodies react when we fill up our lives with activity after activity and leave no empty “shelves” for rest and relaxation. Cleaning out this closet made me see how my “Martha nature” keeps me wanting to be on the go and overly-productive. I’m learning to make some room in my life just to be and to feel.

I hope this post inspires you to not only tidy up your home, but more importantly, to make time and space for joy in your life. Here’s one more picture I’ll leave you with – the muchkins’ homework table – that totally makes me happy every time I look at it. (I wish I had taken a before picture of it, as well as the shelf behind it, but you’ll have to trust me that it was scary!).

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Just one more note about tidying up: Be patient, especially if you have little ones and also big ones in the house who may not be fully on board with the process. While I was cleaning up the bathroom, I told E, “I’m throwing out your old toothbrush, okay?” He answered, “But it’s for my collection!” Aiya. Before I would have said, “But it’s old and you’re never going to use it again!” This time, I replied, “Does it make you happy?” πŸ™‚ I got silence for an answer, and promptly tossed the toothbrush in the trash. (If he had said, “Yes” though I may have had to respect his answer, haha.)

Here’s the perfect song for this post,” I’m Free”, which I totally remembered when I found my old Jon Secada CD while cleaning out the CD/DVD/VCD cabinet. I love the lyrics: “Things are only as important as I want them to be.”

What things are you holding onto that bring you joy? What things do you need to let go of to experience joy?

Thoughts of an Almost 40 Year Old Gal

I clearly remember the night before I turned 20 like it was yesterday (but it was, wasn’t it?? LOL). My roommates and I were studying in our college apartment, and as soon as the clock struck midnight, I freaked out. I stood up on our lumpy, faded brown couch and began jumping … up and down and up and down.

You could probably guess I was not thrilled to be growing older. Back when I was a kid, I remember thinking that 20 sounded ancient and so far away. There was no way I could ever be that old. But as someone wise once said, time waits for no one. In fact, it seems to pick up speed once you reach your early 30’s. And before you know it you’re 39 and seeing someone you don’t totally recognize in the mirror, except that she kind of reminds you of your mother (and Facebook keeps wanting to tag you in photos as her! #truestory). πŸ˜‰

That’s where I am today. About a month away from turning 40 – but NOT freaking out this time. Why not? Because I know …

1. It’s a privilege to age. The truth is not everyone makes it this far. I count every day that God gives me on this earth (good and bad) a blessing and an opportunity.

2. The older I get, the more ______  I am. There are so many words I could put in that blank space. Thankful, empathic and wise are a few that come to mind. Confident is another (which is a major one for me!). The changes happening inside me far outweigh the changes taking place on the outside. You can buy smooth skin, hair dye and a new hip, but you can’t buy internal growth.

3. Age is but a number. I may not have the face or body of a 20 year old, but I can still do a lot of cool things. Some of those things I can actually do better now that I’m older. I listen better. I write better. I even dream better because I have let go of some of the fears that once held me back.

Just because I’m reaching mid-life doesn’t mean the fun is over. God willing, things are just getting good. I’m ready to tackle my 40’s with purpose and passion. I hope to publish more books. I want to meet new people, such as authors or readers (preferably online since I’m an introvert, haha). I want to grow old with hubby and be able to reminisce about the good ‘ole days with him. I may even want to experience what it’s like to live with teenagers.

There really is a lot to look forward to as I turn 40. Just not the couch jumping. I’ll leave that part to my little monkeys. πŸ™‚

Image courtesy of http://www.amazon.com/MIP-Does-This-Shirt-T-Shirt/dp/B00NUG7CUW (this is not an affiliate link)

This shirt comes in pink! (Image courtesy of http://www.amazon.com/MIP-Does-This-Shirt-T-Shirt/dp/B00NUG7CUW – this is not an affiliate link)

This is a new song by Meghan Trainor (featuring John Legend) called “Like I’m Gonna Lose You”. The lyrics are a beautiful reminder to not take anything, especially the people in our lives, for granted.

What have you learned from growing older? What do you look forward to in the years to come?

More Beautiful for Having Been Broken

Hubby has over a dozen scars and a story to go with each one. Recently at dinner, C pointed to a puckered line on his wrist and asked, “How did you get this?” The answer for that was ice skating. The scar on the other wrist? Roller blading. Then there’s the quarter-sized indentation on his knee left by a sharp metal pipe he ran into as a kid. And the perpendicular line across his eyebrow from when his sisters played catch with him (and he was the ball).

I, on the other hand, can count all the scars I have on half a hand, and would be more than happy to forget the reasons why I got them. Falling down a hillside while hiking just doesn’t sound cool or adventurous. Neither does getting burned from falling into a large pot of hot curry chicken (though it does explain why I didn’t like the taste of curry for the longest time).

Even with my tendency to fall, you can probably guess who is the more careful person between hubby and me.

But regardless of how careful we are, it’s likely that we all have gotten scarred in our lives. Sometimes these scars leave visible marks on our bodies, other times they are invisible marks on our hearts.

The truth is that life is hard and we all get hurt sometimes. In the crazy, imperfect world we live in, brokenness is inevitable. The challenge is to know what to do with your broken pieces.

I was really moved when I saw this picture on Facebook this week:

Kintsukuroi-Collage

 

Did you know the Japanese have an art of repairing pottery with gold or silver? The reason they do this stems from the belief that the bowl or plate is more beautiful for having been broken. Instead of throwing out the cracked pottery, they find worth in it. They even add precious elements to it to create something new. What was once considered useless and of little value now has purpose and a cool story to tell.

What if we could take our broken pieces and see them as worth saving? What if we viewed our scars as evidences of courage, strength and resilience? I think we would be able to see the beauty in ourselves (and other people) so much clearer.

The interesting thing about scars is that they are a natural part of the healing process. It’s the body’s way of taking what was injured and making it whole again. I believe the same can be done with our hearts. With the love of Jesus and the people in our lives, we can find healing for our hearts, too.

Take a listen to Rachel Platten’s song, “Stand By You”.

What scars do you have? What stories do your scars tell?

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