Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What To Do With Uncertainty

I went to a vintage clothing party a few weeks ago at the home of my sister’s friend Shawna. 

As a first-time-fashion-partier, I was quite amazed to see that her house had been transformed into a makeshift chic boutique. 

Fashionistas were foraging through clothing racks set up in the living room, their arms full of sweaters with layers of lace swinging from hems, colorful blouses and sassy skirts. 

The house was abuzz as ladies paraded in and out of the living room for opinions on their frocks. Shawna had transformed her office into a fitting room, outfitted with a mirror leaned charmingly on a couch.

I couldn’t wait to meet Shawna {who knew me through my blog} because she professionally paints furniture and I was excited to see her house. 

I fell in love with her decorating style and beautifully painted dressers and tables. I even got to poke around her garage which was a treasure-trove of furniture pieces waiting for paint or repair. 

And I started dreaming about painting. 

I’m a sloppy, slap-dash kind of painter. I never put down a drop-cloth. I paint in the middle of anywhere. And I never ever prime a surface. I’ve paid for this slap-dashery by chipping paint drips off of my floors with my fingernails and hiding all the spots I miss when I paint furniture. 

I recently painted a desk I’d had for years. I figured I could finish it pretty quickly, but three hours later I was still layering on coats of glossy white. 

Painting always brings out my hesitation. I’ve wanted to paint my French couch for years but I get nervous it will look worse afterward than it does now. I even started to paint it once, then messily wiped it all off because I wasn’t sure. 

Can I live with the uncertainty? 

This is the question God has been asking me lately. And it’s not about painting furniture. It’s about how I will approach tomorrow and all the days yet to come. 

Even though I’m not sure about my answer, I know it should be yes. 

I know when I’m feeling settled about things, I tend to think I’m pretty confident and I don’t feel a need for more opinions and input. But when I’m not so sure, I spend more time drawing myself up close to God. 

Uncertainty has become the invitation to God’s holy home. 

It’s the passageway to experiencing all of who he is, that I can only understand in the smallest of slivers.

These God-led experiences have brushed my life with a brilliant polish, but aged it with a patina that has only come through stiff perseverance and a faith that strives for steady when I feel distressed and disturbed. 

All that’s commonplace and safe and ordinary in my life has been chipped away, one fragile layer at a time, and a new hue is emerging. 

Uncertainty seems like a weak and defective companion, but its powerful presence serves a purpose. 

What if I let uncertainty lead me to the place where I know without a doubt that God is the one who loves me always? 

What if I welcomed it to help me understand that when I am stirred up and overwhelmed by worry, God comforts me with his peace? 

What if I let it usher me right to the realization that no matter how gray my circumstances may seem, God is still good -- very good -- to me?

So I follow uncertainty to the only steadfast one who never changes. 

I think this foe-turned-friend could help me paint a fresh coat of perspective on the days ahead of me. 

And those days just might hold some painting projects, thanks to a little inspiration from Shawna. I think I'm ready to tackle my French couch now, along with a half-dozen chair legs too.

At the vintage clothing party, I tried on a long creamy sweater that seemed perfect for cool weather but fit more like a draping scarf than outerwear. 

I wasn’t sure about it so I modeled it for the opinions of the party-goers. My fellow fashionistas told me it looked great but that I should probably plan to wear it for fashion, not for warmth. 

So I bought it. 

I figure if I’m cold I could always put on another coat.

I'm linking up with my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for your Heart. Click the image to join me there!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Camera-Shy with a New Perspective

After two years of owning my camera, I’m still trying to figure it out. I would think that by now I'd be better acquainted with it.

So I asked my friend Tony who is a professional photographer, to give me some pointers. I think this is the third time a friend has offered me some photography instruction and I'm about to lose hope of ever grasping the concepts. 

No matter how many times I hear about shutter speed and light sensitivity, I can’t seem to adjust the camera's settings to take more artful photos. There are numbers to remember and fractions involved, and although I try to pay attention to what Tony is telling me, I’m more of a words-girl than a numbers-girl.  

Photography seems like an art in reverse logic. Maximum is minimum, slow is fast, a narrow opening lets in more light. {Or something like that.}

My eyes glaze over and Tony tries to explain it another way. 

He says to think of a little man inside my camera who quickly glances at the scene I want to capture and says hey, it’s too dark in here, I need more light. He says I should make adjustments according to what the little man inside my camera is saying to me. 

{I'm distracted thinking of this little man inside my camera. I want to meet him. And then I wonder if he'd be willing to help me with some of the other things that baffle me.} 

I think I need to focus and adjust my perspective. And not just with my camera. With my heart too.

When discouragement and uncertainty make their feisty attempts to push and prod their way into my day, I am trying to see things through a different lens.

I hear these fearful voices say hey, isn’t it too late for what you’ve been dreaming of? Isn’t it time you gave up hoping? Wouldn’t it be a lot easier to go back to normal and stop praying for God to work his purposes in your life? 

It's hard not to listen to this perspective because I focus on it more than the whisper that says God's ways are sometimes very different from how I would go about things. 

So I could give up or press on.

I could live hopeless or hopeful. 

I could live like I think God is holding out on me or I could live like I know God has so much more for me than I could ever imagine.

If I let doubt get a foothold, then I will think that it’s too late, time is up, and hope has run out.

If I think that I’ve prayed long enough, then there’s no point in asking God what he desires for me. 

If I decide there have been too many detours and side roads to keep pressing on, then I'll believe that I’ll never arrive at my next promised place.

Or instead, even though it doesn't make sense, I can focus on what I cannot see.

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy. I Pet. 1:8

God operates outside of time and space and my life's timeline is in his hands. 

And I trust him.

I’ve already been to more places and gone so much farther than I would have ever dreamed possible. 

And I've found him faithful.

Only God could design this dream as it surged into my life and cascaded to the very depths of my heart. 

And only he can make it happen.

I’ve already seen his powerful presence in the midst of my most perplexing situations and in the heart of my most delicate experiences. 

I know his presence is all I need to fix my focus and adjust my perspective. 

Now if I could only do the same with my camera. 

I'm wishing that Tony would just tell that little man inside my camera {since he already seems to be well acquainted with him} to go ahead and make all the decisions for me so my photos can be a work of art.

Or maybe I could just take photos with my iPhone. {Like the flower and stork photos below.}

P.S. If you've cracked the code for cameras and have any words of wisdom for me, please do let me know.

I'm joining my friends today at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for Your Heart. Click the image to hop on over for some inspiration!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Gifts for Cooking Up Hope

I have acquired quite the collection of cooking gear. 

Since I took a culinary course over the summer, my friends gifted me with all sorts of lovely cooking implements for my birthday a few weeks ago. 

I have a Mediterranean cookbook boasting 150 recipes {which is about 149 more than I could ever cook}. 

I have spices with the glamorous names of Sunny Paris and Tuscan Sunset {to ensure my dishes are the height of fashionable spice-couture}. 

I am now the proud owner of a never-needs-sharpening ceramic chef’s knife, just like the one that so intimidated me in cooking class {you can read about here}. 

I have a chic black and yellow apron with coordinating oven mitts to wear while I cook. {My black high heels look stunning with the apron, by the way.} 

I even have an Eiffel Tower bottle opener and a set of French handpainted plates to serve my guests their eatables on. 

So what’s a gal to do with all this cooking paraphernalia? Why, cook, of course, right?

Well, I have to confess.

I’ve discovered that I like taking cooking classes, but I don’t think I like to cook all that much. 

I had high hopes that since I like to bake, I’d like to cook too. But I realized that although cooking and baking might be related, they’re more like cousins than sisters. 

Getting three or four different dishes ready to serve at the same time requires quite a bit of skill and planning. When I bake, I’m whipping up just one sweet treat with a side of frosting that grants me quite a bit of grace. I can let a cake cool on the counter for a few hours and frost it much later if I want to. 

Cooking is a much wilder adventure. 

But I’m growing a little more daring. On this adventure that is my life. I feel sure that your life is an adventure too?

My bold adventure is reshaping me, where God at first awakened me, pursued me, then beckoned me to come along and join him. 

I’m hungry for more of him, and this is what draws me to the table. His table.

Where he is creating in me a capacity for wild hope, where even amidst delays and longing, hope still surges. I wonder and search and wait, and question what I’ve heard, and debate if I’m doing enough. But I know I can trust him.

I think about how faith and trust are related but different too. Faith is what moves me to put my trust in the one who is drawing me closer. 

While God reframes and writes fresh pages to this story of my life, it’s only by looking backward that I can recognize that the broken pieces are gifts too. 

Gifts that he will use to make his future purposes and plans for me unfold and blossom in his time.

If you’re discouraged because the calendar has turned to fall and you can’t see a sign of a flowering bud through all the leaf-shorn branches, keep hoping. If you are losing heart because winter is approaching again, hold tight to what he promised. 

The seasons will change again soon. They will for me, and they will for you too.

This vision is for a future time.
It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled.
If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently,
for it will surely take place.
It will not be delayed. Hab. 2:3

In the meantime, I’ve been checking the cooking school’s calendar of upcoming classes. I wonder if Pumpkinology would make me a gourd gourmet. 

Or would “What’s Shakin’ Bacon” help me face my fear of fixing bacon?

No, they're not what quite I'm looking for. 

But I think Using Your Noodle might be just what I need to put all my cooking gifts to good use. 

I'm linking up with my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for Your Heart. Join me there?