Reflections from A to Z

Wow….

I’m sitting on my balcony, enjoying a super nice breeze and reflecting on how I made it through my very first A to Z blog challenge.  The experience taught me a bit about myself as a writer.  First of all, I still love to write on the other side of it, so I figure that is a definite plus.  Some posts were easier to come by than others, and I completed the entire challenge missing only one letter – M.  Now isn’t it ironic that I would miss the letter that graces the beginning of my name.  I could have easily re-published a post about me written before, but I decided not to.  It just didn’t feel like what I was supposed to use for the letter M, so I ended up skipping it altogether.

That decision taught me a little something about my character as a writer.  If it doesn’t feel right to me, I don’t want it out there.  It, also, taught me that timing is everything, and it’s okay to wait for the appropriate message, story, etc and to trust that it will reveal itself at just the right time.  Case in point, my Y post – The Yellow Dress.  If you didn’t get a chance to read it, click on the title to take a peak.  That post seemed to come “out of nowhere”, but it probably flowed easier than any of the 23 others (23, not 24 since I missed M) that paved the way for it.  It was time for that message, that story.

For the writers who donated their time and efforts to host this challenge, if I were wearing a hat I’d certainly tip it to you.  I noticed you perused the blogosphere trying to take a peak at what everyone was doing, and that was quite a task.  Suggestions?  Well, since this was my first one I don’t have anything to compare it to.  I would certainly say it went off without a hitch for me.  The initial instruction was clear, and some of the benefits I experienced were just as you suggested they may be.

Personally, the daily posts certainly helped dig me out of a writing rut strengthen my overall writing habit.  It helped exercise my ability to write on command, an ability I’m guessing will be quite useful to me in the future.  It pulled back the curtain for me and tempted me to toy with transparency – a great necessity for the author I intend to be.  Ultimately, I guess my one suggestion is to do it again….but not anytime soon!  This writer has other projects to work on, but at this moment, I just need a little break!

For those of you who have been following my progress, thank you a million times over.  Your comments were certainly my fuel.  It’s always good to have a little company when you set out into unfamiliar territory, you know.  I hope you will continue to join me here.  I’m still working on a blog home that will be completely new, completely me, and I am completely giving you hints that you probably still won’t figure out.  🙂  That’s ok.  Just say you’ll keep hanging out with me, ok. 🙂

Ok, I’m going to go wash my face now.  The balcony breeze was beautiful, but the pesky pollen was the pits!

See you soon!

Wise, Virtuous, Valuable,

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Z End

The letter Z comes at the end of the alphabet,

And this is the end of the A to Z Blog Challenge.

I’m a day late, but I made it.  🙂

And at the end of this great challenge,

Z is all I could muster up for Z.

Although this is the end of the challenge, my pen is just finding its groove.

I hope you will continue to stop by for a visit.

Z END

The Yellow Dress

When I was a young girl, my favorite color was yellow.  I remember a favorite Easter dress my mother made by her own hands.  It was yellow and white.  I always said that yellow could brighten up any day.  It was reinforcement on a sunny day and became my happy sunshine stand-in whenever the sky’s big light decided to take a break.  I enjoyed wearing yellow mostly on cloudy days.

When I was in college I had a yellow outfit that I absolutely adored!  It was a solid yellow coordinate set – a button down, short-sleeved blouse with full length, wide-legged pants – made of the comfortable, soft rayon fabric that was popular back then.  Girls, it was bright yellow, and I loved it.  For some reason I felt my best and had an extra dose of happy when I wore that outfit.  It complemented my slim college girl figure well and just seemed to add a touch of lemon zest, if you will!

Sometime during the latter days of this year’s winter season (the time when clothing stores are debuting the must have fashions for spring), I strolled into a local T.J. Maxx store with one of my girlfriends.  Almost as soon as I landed on the inside of the automatic doors, there it was.  A BEAUTIFUL yellow, Calvin Klein dress, welcomed me into the store with a great BIG lemony grin!  Ladies, I tell you, my heart skipped not one but a few beats as I walked over to run my fingers across the fabric, check the price of course, and soak up some its sun shiny goodness.

“I have to try this on,” I told my friend.  I searched for my size.  YES!  It was there.  I grabbed it and raced to the fitting room.  I wrestled my way out of my warm winter clothing, exchanged them for this vision of spring loveliness, and turned to face the finished product in the mirror.

“Ahhhhh,” I sighed.

The sight added small puddles to my eyes as immediately my mind flashed back to a vision of me in my favorite yellow outfit, standing outside my college residence hall.  A picture of purity and innocence, there I stood, talking to a young man.  That young man would later receive that innocence and virtue without hesitation.  I offered out of ignorance, not understanding that at that moment I was giving the essence of who I was created to be, a “me” I had barely come to know to a “him” who knew just as little or less of himself.

From there, the days of my life began to unravel.  I spent 7 years on a tumultuous roller coaster of verbal, mental, and property abuse that was escalating to dangerous new heights by the moment.  The relationship exploited my lack of wisdom, mocked my royal standing, ballooned my college figure and whittled me down to no more than a sad existence of secret shame.

Now, many years later, there I stood in a three-way mirror with a vision of yellow beauty staring back at me.  Her figure was the closest to her college days than it’s ever been, yet just far enough away to carry the curves of the wisdom, virtue, and value she never knew was her inheritance back in those days.  On this day, my friends, she was wearing a yellow dress.  No pants!  This dress was reminiscent of the girl she was before and celebration of the girl she is today!

Yes, I bought the yellow dress!

Wise, Virtuous, Valuable,

How eXcellent

His eXistence on earth eXemplified eXcellence.

That is no eXaggeration.

Still they took eXtreme measures to eXecute Him.

He bore the stripes while I, the guilty one, was eXculpated.

My record was eXpunged.

His beautiful Love eXeeds my eXpectations.

“I will eXtol You, my God, O King, And I will bless Your name forever and ever.” ~ Psalm 145:1 NASB

Waiting for a Storm

Waiting is woven tightly into the fabric of our human existence.  We spend a great portion of our lives waiting for people, things, or events.

We wait to be teens so we can drive and date.

We wait to go off to college so we can be free from our parents’ rules.

We can’t wait to get a job so we can live on our own and play by our own rules (or so we think).

We wait to marry so we can have children.  Then, often, we must wait longer still to conceive a child.

I’ve heard that once you have children, you then can’t wait for them to grow up and move out on their own.  I know that’s what my mom always said!  But, of course, you still have to wait for that glorious day to arrive.

From there, we begin waiting for our grown children to now repeat all of the waiting we’ve already done.

The other night, I waited for a storm.  Throughout the day, as I worked from home, I didn’t want to leave my place, because a storm was coming.  I watched with jealousy as the tree outside my window swirled and swayed in the wind.  Its leaves gently tapped the panes, inviting me to come out and dance in the wind, too.  But I said no.  I was waiting for a storm.  As evening fell, I was anchored to the center of my bed, my eyes and ears glued to the continuous news coverage of the ominous threat, and I waited.  Though the sweet peace of slumber beckoned me, I didn’t want to go to bed, because I was waiting for a storm.  I spent an entire day consumed with waiting for a disturbance.

The storm never came, at least not to my small spot on the map.

My storm watch blew open a window exposing a potentially crippling fear lurking in the deep places of my soul.  You see, I’ve lived through my fair share of relational tornadoes that ravaged my heart and left behind a path of destruction.  Because of my history, when it comes to close encounters with the male kind, it seems I always find myself somewhere, hovering behind makeshift walls of protection, waiting for a storm.

I realized that while focusing so much of my energy waiting for a storm, I am missing the sweet calm and peace of the present moments in a present and promising relationship.  So what I’ve decided is simple.  I’ve decided to go to sleep and trust the Lord has given His angels charge over me.  I’ve decided to go outside and dance in the pre-storm winds.  Just like the storm from a few days ago never reached me, I’ve decided that not every disturbance will have my name on it.

I’ve decided to stop waiting for a storm and enjoy the blessings of the life in front of me.

Wisdom, Virtue & Rubies

Below are the words of my very first blog post.  It was the one that started it all, almost two years ago.  Sometimes it’s hard to believe I’m still writing, but by the grace of God I am.  As my precious blog baby prepares to be transformed, I thought there’s no time like the present to pay tribute to her by re-sharing her very first post.  It doesn’t hurt that I can cover the next two letters of the A to Z Blog Challenge by doing so, either.

V is for virtue and value (which the ruby symbolizes).

W is for wisdom.

I hope you enjoy, and I’ll see you with the letter X.

Woman…. I see her as a priceless work of art birthed from God’s unimaginable imagination.  Her form is of incomparable beauty, carefully hand-crafted with exquisite detail and filled with strength, intellect, courage, and creativity.

Wisdom, Virtue, & Rubies…..Proverbs 31:10 asks, “Who can find a virtuous woman?  For her price is far above rubies.”  A woman was created to be wise, to be virtuous, and to be of value far greater than the rare ruby stone.

Today, we as women are highly educated, skillfully trained, and boastfully independent.  Yet, lately, I find myself frequently asking the following questions:

–         What was God’s original design and plan for me as a woman?

–         Are my plans in line with His?

–         What’s really on the heart of God, and in what way did He design me to bring delight to His heart?

–         Am I a wise woman?

–         What does it really mean to be virtuous?

–         And what’s so special about a darn ruby; aren’t diamonds supposed to be a girl’s best friend?  LOL!

–         How do I return to the original form and character given to me by my Father?

Wisdom, Virtue, & Rubies….Is it vastly unreasonable to think that, in all of our remarkable accomplishments as women, we’ve fallen short of God’s original plan and design for His daughters?  It saddens me to see that we’re high on degrees but low on wisdom, high on vision but low on virtue, valuable in the marketplace but not in our own hearts.

Wisdom, Virtue, and Rubies speaks of the character and value of God’s original design for women.  Personally, there’s no woman I’d rather be than the woman of God’s original intent and design.  Is that your desire, as well?  I caution you to think carefully before you answer.  You may find, as I did at the start of my journey, your answer and your current life story, sadly, do not agree.  Let’s journey together, shall we.

My Ultimate Easter Story

In the Christian Church, Easter Sunday is arguably one of the busiest Sundays of the year.  I serve on the Host Team at my church, and Easter Sunday just happened to be my Sunday to serve our members and visitors.  It was my special pleasure to greet them, answer their questions and direct them with a smile on my face and the joy of Christ’s Resurrection in my heart. I tell you, me and that joy must have walked 50 women to the “nearest ladies room” this morning, and I enjoyed every minute of it.   🙂

Seriously, though, I absolutely LOVE watching the faces of visitors light up at the sound of a simple “good morning” and welcome….  You never know when a heartfelt “hello” with a great big smile is the first of its kind a person has had all week.  Even fellow members often reciprocate the greeting with a hearty “good morning, Monica” (as they read my name tag) or an appreciative “thank you for serving this morning”.  I love it!  At the end of  service, we bid the worshipers farewell and blessings for the upcoming week, remaining at our posts until the worship auditorium is nearly empty and most people have spilled through the exits and back into their cars.

On Easter Sunday, as this process unfolded, I noticed an older gentleman hovering behind me with quite a disoriented look on his face.  I turned to him and asked him if I could assist him in some way.  It turns out he was lost.  He recounted his ordeal of getting into the church (which is fairly sizable) and not being able to locate his friend, who was supposed to meet him when he arrived.  Now that it was all over, he simply couldn’t remember from whence he’d come.  Our church has quite a few options for parking, and since he couldn’t really recall which door he entered it was challenging for me to determine in which parking lot he may left his car.

After gathering some information from him, I grabbed one of the leaders on our team and explained to her the situation.  She, then, radioed to the members of our parking lot team and basically put out an APB on this man’s vehicle.  Within minutes, someone on the team had located the vehicle.  Praise the Lord!!  The next order of business was to find a way to help this gentleman to his vehicle.  You see he was a bit older, and he had already walked quite a distance on a cane to get inside to hear the message of the risen Savior.  He was sweating profusely when he reached me (probably from sheer stress), and he simply did not have the strength to walk back to wherever his car was parked.  As our team leader was searching for a solution to part B of his challenge, she left me to keep our guest company until she returned.  Let me tell you….Those few minutes I spent with Mr. Mark (that’s his name) were the most rewarding of the almost 3 hours I’d spent in the building.

I chatted it up with Mr. Mark – learned where he’s from, how long he’s been here, and what brought him to my church.  He said that he was glad he stopped over where I was, because he didn’t want to ask for help.  He even admitted that men often don’t like to ask for help, because to them it appears to be a sign of weakness.  I promise, he said this, I didn’t!  I know the Spirit of the Lord led Mr. Mark my way.  It was wonderful, because I was blessed with the opportunity to just encourage him and tell him how happy I was that he did stop in my area and that there isn’t a single thing weak about asking for help when you need it.

A few moments passed, and we continued to chat.  I wanted to do everything possible to make his transition from this Resurrection Day service and back to his home as smooth as possible.  Our leader returned with a wheelchair, and by now, this gentleman had definitely left pride at the altar.  He was delighted to oblige her offer to whisk him out to an area where someone could get him safely to his car.

As they prepared to leave, we shook hands and said our farewells.  He thanked me for my help, and I told him it was truly my pleasure.  Indeed it was.  For I felt like I was blessed with an opportunity to personally display the heart of the risen Savior to this first-time visitor who had momentarily lost his way.  After all, isn’t that what Christ has done for me.

Finally, as I contemplated the letter U and the events of Resurrection Day, the word ultimate came to mind and lingered for a spell.  One definition of the word “ultimate” is “the best or most extreme of its kind:utmost”.  Hmmmm…. It sure was my utmost pleasure to serve this kind man on Easter Sunday, so maybe I will call this my ultimate Easter story. 🙂

Wise, Virtuous, Valuable,

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