Friday, September 30, 2011

Life: It's a Risky Business

"The comfort zone is a behavioral state within which 
a person operates in an anxiety-neutral condition, 
using a limited set of behaviors to deliver
a steady level of performance, usually without a sense of risk

A person's personality can be described 
by his or her comfort zones. 

Highly successful persons may routinely step outside
their comfort zones, to accomplish what they wish. 

A comfort zone is a type of mental conditioning 
that causes a person to create and operate mental boundaries. 

Such boundaries create an unfounded sense of security. 

Safety. Security.
Two words that have nothing to do with feelings.
Two words that take a lot of effort to maintain without a lot of reward for the effort.
Two states of being that are impossible to guarantee.
Ask the person struck by lightning, the one dying of cancer or anyone who drives a vehicle, rides a bike, or walks out their front door on any given day.

We like the feeling of being safe even if that belief is in fact....a myth.
We like feeling comfortable in our straw houses with the blinds drawn against the dangerous unknown.
If all your time is spent maintaining your sense of safety and security, when do you live?

I am here to tell you that from conception on, your life is at risk. 
Living is a risky business.

How much effort and emotion are you putting into maintaining your comfort zones?

We have more than our physical life to lose and that can be gone in a heartbeat.
It is all we know, this breathing and thinking and walking.
We deny the unique value of our life when we give into fear. 
This intrinsic value is what is lost when we live within our carefully constructed comfort zones. 
A light has no value under a bowl. It is still a light but it has no purpose or influence and gives no joy, no direction, no comfort.
The truth is, we lose more joy and more vitality and more peace trying to stay safe and unruffled and "anxiety neutral" than we gain by fortifying our sense of security.

Life is precarious at best. We live on a knifes edge, all of us! Faculties and simple life functions operate independent of our deepest wishes. We walk the planet, with billions of other souls making their own choices, choices that will have some impact on someone somewhere: No permission asked.

It's a risky business Life.

So what do you take comfort in?
How then do you live?

I am middle aged. I am not sure how I got here but it's official.
I am spending quite a bit of time lately examining things. Examining the fabric of my life, chasing down threads of choices and beliefs about my choices. It has become a very cathartic exercise.
I am finding that the tighter my grip the less free I become.
I don't want my life to be driven by fear. I refuse to live in a prison of my own design.

We change the world by being in it.

We change deep within by embracing the risky business of living...with joy!
Life is a lavish gift, a generous offering: not something to be hoarded as minutes and seconds of breathing. That's not living!!!!
Life is meant to be offered, shared, expressed in a technicolor display of personality and love and grace and beauty.

Are you hoarding your minutes? 
Your minutes and seconds count, this is your life!
Has fear immobilized you?
Stare it down and embrace the risky business of living!

Step out of your comfort zones, bottom line: THEY LIE.

The world changes the minute we do.

What have you got to lose?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Cozy Comforts of Autumn

Lochiel Lake, Nova Scotia. Photo :Tracy Auton Stuit

Ok, September is officially over and we can turn on the furnace if we want. It was frosty this morning! Yikes! The sun is breaking through the early morning mist and it looks like it's going to be another gorgeous day!

In our house we have lots of fleece blankets. They are lying over the arms of sofas, folded at the ends of bed, or, like today wrapped around bodies that have just emerged from beneath warm covers.

Today is a day for a list. A list of cozy things. A list that celebrates the season of frosty mornings and warm days. A list that personifies cozy, homey comfort.

Our Autumn Comforts:

1. Porridge for breakfast. (we love)
~with cinnamon and apples and brown sugar

2. Sweaters
~it's like a piece of clothing hugging you!

3. Hats
~especially when a friend crochets a beautiful one 
for your August Birthday 
and you have to wait to wear it!

4. Stew and biscuits
~Simmering on the stove all day long

5. New scented candles
~cinnamon, pumpkin, coffee, ginger, apple

6. Socks
~ After a barefoot summer: I love new socks!

7. Snuggling
~this is the season of sitting close {love}

8. Hot drinks: morning, noon and night
~apple cider w/cinnamon sticks,  hot cranberry, Coffee & Bailey's {wink}

9. Homemade Soups, soups and more soups!
~ minestrone, beef and barley, chicken vegetable {le sigh}

10.  Talking by candlelight, wrapped in fleece blankets,
sipping hot drinks first thing in the morning 
and last thing at night.

Do you have cozy comforts you look forward to every autumn?
I'd love to hear some of your loves!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Autumn's Legacy

Lochiel Lake, Nova Scotia: Photo by  my sister Tracy Auton Stuit

The seasons have changed.
I watch the seat of power shift yet again; 
and I find hope and joy in the inevitability of it all.

 There is an ongoing relay playing out year after year in front of me.
For decades I have watched the effortless transition 
of Spring into Summer and I have wondered 
at the other seasons response to the transfer of power.

Winter is not a team player. 
She does not surrender graciously, she must be forced back inch by painful inch.
She lashes back without warning at the hopeful.
Defying the inevitable, her very intractability and inflexibility is her weakness.
She yields ground unwillingly, fighting all the way.

I know what that feels like.

Autumn is my favorite season. Spring a close second.
It used to be the reverse. 
The shift in loyalty came on slowly 
but was cemented as I reached middle age.

Autumn must hand the baton to winter.
What an unenviable position to be in.
Yet She does it with such beauty, such passion.
She does not go gentle into that good night.
She ignites.
All her colors stage a triumphant parade to deaths door.
She defies the grave.
She knows.
What is it she knows you might ask????
She knows:
Winter is but a long tunnel to Spring.
She is a doorway not an end.

As a woman who has lived half of an average lifespan, 
do you wonder at my passion for this season?
As a young girl I loved summer. 
The earth was so alive. Everything was so active.
As I matured, Spring crept her way into my heart...rebirth..fruitfulness. 
Seeds and sower and rains, birds and babies.
Winter loses. We win! Death defeated!

Now comes Autumn. I know her now. 
I see her. 
Where she was once eclipsed by Summers radiance,
She now stands at the top of the podium.
She's who I want to be.
She takes my breath away.
Courage personified.
Full of grace and passion, full of faith.
Life laid down...blazing the path through.
She lights the way. 
Memories of her passionate ending 
warm the cold, dark days to come.
The grave must be entered to be overcome.
Deep within the belly of the earth, life remains in the roots. 
Deep within the stronghold the heart still beats.
The seeds lie dormant.

I love Autumn.
She embraces the journey: the process.
She knows: The Sun returns.
Her trust is unshaken in spite of her view of the landscape ahead.
A she closes her eyes and succumbs to Winter's blast...
She smiles....This too shall pass.

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies,
it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit."
~~ John 12:24 ESV ~~

What season do you find yourself in today?
Are you struggling to trust?
Does the way ahead seem dark and cold and endless?
Do you have encouragement for others ?
We are all sharing the road...your comments are precious.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Love Actually

He reaches for her as a moan escapes from between her clenched teeth. A whisper penetrates the darkness:
"What do you need?"
Lost in agony she grasps his hand beneath the covers:
"I don't know yet", she replies, body frozen in pain, locked in position with tears creating salty paths from beneath closed lids to hairline: wetting her pillow.

He slides out of their warm bed and makes his way to the window, sliding it shut. Reaching up she locks her arms around his strong neck and he lifts her into a reclining position. Screams stay imprisoned behind locked lips.
One skirmish won on this dark Tuesday morning.

Pain rules the moment, but insidious tendrils of something else, something stronger than the agony, filter through the red hot haze.

Her face is buried in his neck as her feet shuffle with his in a stumbling dance to the washroom. Strong hands, tender hands cradle her as she, unable to carry her own weight: leans heavily on his arms.

Love weaves it's way through and wraps itself around her heart. tears of gratitude mingle with tears of pain.  "I have what I need", she whispers as he falls back asleep beside her, hand stretched out to maintain connection as he steals a few more minutes before beginning his day. 

She waits for the meds to kick in. As the minutes pass she recalls the day she said: "I do."
 Her eyes drift closed as she realizes: This day was encompassed in that moment, like a forest is encased in a single seed. The words of the song: 'What is this thing called Love...' drift through her mind...along with the answer to the question: This is that thing called Love...this is Love Actually!
And she smiles.....and the pain gives an inch.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Birth Pains

We thought we wouldn't have children. I had "complications".
They were wrong thank God!
We were so young when we got married. I was 21, the age my eldest turns today.

I lay here in my bed waiting for meds to kick in, a pinched nerve and other random issues are limiting my movement very effectively.

I remember the pain of my first labor and delivery. It is amazing how that pain was so productive; how the contractions and spasms worked to bring my beautiful son into the world.

Deep inside throughout the whole birth I KNEW there was purpose in the pain and I had peace, and joy: such joy! Life from agony. A miracle. An eternal soul.  A priceless gift. Three more followed hard on our first borns heels. We ended up having four sons in five years.
Miracles, all of them.

I bear marks on my body today, tattoos of love etched on my belly and a body softened and widened with the journey. They are reminders to me that weeping endures for the night: but Joy comes in the morning! Love bears fruit. Suffering....transforms.

I hurt today. It is a different kind of pain that seems to have no purpose. My back screams at me and I wonder if any good will come of this. There were warning signs over the last few days to be sure but there is this sort of helplessness that creeps in as the cycle spirals down again.

The questions come hard and fast. I have no answers. Limitations frustrate me. They could incapacitate as much as the pain does if I let them. But, I am discovering that this pain has the power of transformation. This pain is a birthing of sorts. It is a place unique. When giving birth, my body decided. Instincts took over and I had very little control over the events.

It is different now. I choose. I choose peace. I choose joy and thankfulness. I choose to bless and not curse. I choose trust. Something is being forged in me again. Something is being sown. I am being shaped and fashioned.  I am being remade, transformed. I know beauty will come from the ashes.

We have four birthdays to celebrate in the next 18 days. Four sons, four precious lives walking this planet: We have changed the world!

It is a new day: each moment a gift, each second a choice.
I choose joy....I choose gratitude...
 It is well with my soul.

Are you hurting today?
Is there pain in your life that seems without purpose?
Leave a comment and I will pray with you and for you....
I am sharing from the trenches today...the battle is on.

Juanita Recommends: Social Media Resources

So yesterday in this blog I listed several resources for my ongoing Social Media education. Two small-ish books were misplaced, overlooked and subsequently found late last night in an obscure place under a pile of  important papers on the floor near my desk.
{I use the word important in the very loosest sense}
Sigh...I fantasize about being an organized person, I really do!
But I digress.
These two small books, each approx. 8.5cm wide by 5 cm tall are sitting in front of me as I type.
Honestly, the size belies the content.Gems. Both of them. Packed full of information, wisdom, images and tips, these two books taught me more in one evening than days spent reading online and researching individual topics. I took notes: lots of notes, as they are borrowed from my local library.  These books are now officially on a wish list. Christmas is coming and my stocking is empty.

Pick them up if you can, pass them on if you will :

1. the social media marketing book by Dan Zarella
2. The Twitter Book by Tim O'Reilly and Sarah Milstein

For any of you out there pursuing a Social Media education like I am or if you are wanting just a basic understanding of what all the fuss is about, check them out and let me know what you think.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Social Media School

Juanita Rose is going to school. She has her trusty notebook, her stash of pens, sharpies, post-its and highlighters. She has her library card and a stack of text books a mile high. She is soooooo excited.

Considering the year she graduated {1985} her rural Highschool purchased a room full of Comodore 64's, she is AOK with her desktop computer and her oldish laptop.
{ Upgrades coming soon! Woot!}

Her teachers/tutors are:

#SMGirlgriends, #likeablemedia,@cindyrushton, @DIYministeries, her Twitter followers: bloggers extraordinaire & her trusty sidekick @_shawntele of Rambling with Grace fame.
{The list is growing and expanding at an alarming rate!}

Her print resources so far are:

likeable social media by Dave Kerpen
The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging
Power Friending by Amber Mac
Unmarketing:Stop Marketing Start Engaging by Scott Stratten
Everyone Communicates: Few Connect by John Maxwell (not an SM book but so great)

Her inspirations are almost that a word? 
Her dreams are huge!
{World Domination is a viable option}

This little online journal where she impulsively shares her heart is going to become more focused and intentional, more interactive and  hopefully, engaging!

It's almost make-over time!

I hope as I learn, absorb and grow, that those of you who visit will become a larger part of the conversation. I pray that we will relate in a deeper and more meaningful way. That relationships will develop that are intentional and encouraging for all of us.

It's people that matter. You matter.

Keep checking back....the journey is about to get exciting!

{Pssst #1: If you know of any resources that would be great additions to the mile-high pile please leave a comment.}
{Psssst #2: If you want to pass on some extra encouragement and love...leave a comment too!!}

Friday, September 23, 2011

She Chooses

First thing this morning she's up, wandering downstairs to the coffee maker. As she climbs the stairs to return to her cozy bed and start her daily reading she collapses at the top stair. She can't move. She calls out from her knees to her husband. Tears threaten but don't spill.

Her lover comes. Swiftly. He stands behind and lifts her dead weight and carries her, placing her gently and surrounding her with love.
Her son comes and places support at her back.
Another brings her first coffee of the day and places it in her hand.

The sun  peeks over the horizon.
Everyone pauses...the light touches the landscape...the darkness flees before it. The clouds enhance the beauty...but it's the light....
Sheer wonder grips us all. We are compelled. We are captivated.
And WE worship.

Everything else finds it's proper place. Love wins. Her eyes close, her mind shifts and her focus is sharpened. Another day. Another chance to love. To share. To give everything she has...everything that comes from her maker...this is her offering. She is rich beyond measure. It is JOY unspeakable: full of glory.

This is her choice today.

What have you chosen today?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I {Heart} Back Home in the Autumn

It's that time of year again. Sigh. The time when a picture can make my heart seize in my chest.
When a simple photo can cause my breath to catch and tears to well up. And gratitude spills over.

And I worship.

The place I grew up is just that beautiful.
It is beautiful in all it's seasons and moods... but's pure magic.

I'm a Nova Scotia girl, born and raised, blessed and grateful.
Being transplanted west I now have the Rocky Mountains on my doorstep...and gratitude builds again.
What a wonderful world!

What views are out your window this September?
What were the landscapes of your youth?
There's beauty everywhere....what a gift when we share.

(These photos were taken by my sister last autumn...the colours are just beginning to turn. We are all eagerly awaiting this years display!)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Confessions of the Undisciplined

You wouldn't know to look at her would you? She doesn't look undisciplined.
She would call herself spontaneous...
even impulsive....
She was a young girl once. Not so long ago.
She was so eager to please. So deeply insecure.
Desperately needing approval.

Can you relate at all?

She excelled academically.She excelled in sports.
She was valedictorian in Bible School.
Confidence she learned to trust more deeply in the God she was raised to believe in. The God of the Bible. Jehovah. YHWH. Jesus.
She recalls walking through the forests, fields and dusty country roads of her youth, reaching out to her maker...believing....

Did you walk those dusty paths too? 
Reaching for something you knew was there...
...someone...who knew the heart of you?

The minutes and the hours and the days rush by in a blur.
Where has that girl gone ?
Is she lost to age and experience?
Has she been totally taken over by the woman who regards the Word, prayer and discipleship, communion and intimate fellowship with God as OPTIONAL?

Is it optional for you?

Life is but a vapour...
This body will fall is failing..aging...dying.
My family, precious gifts that they are, cannot compare to the One who gave them to me for a season. 

Can their needs outweigh my need of God..
my need to spend time with him? Do they?

There is no more precious future ahead of or behind me.
There is NOW.God is here NOW.  
That truth takes my breath away.

Do you see him? Can you hear him?

Grab your bible. Fall to your knees. 

Are you aware that you have always been His? 
That His sole aim is to reconcile you to Himself 
for His glory and His name's sake?

This is my confession today:
I have been an undisciplined child.
I know where my soul longs to be. I know what will satisfy. I am without excuse.
My knees shake as I bow. My hands tremble as they rise...lifted to the only One worthy of everything I have.
He will NOT be relegated.
He knows HE is what I need.
He is what you need.

And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, 
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
~~ Matthew 18:3 ~~

Are you struggling today?
Have you relegated time with God and His word to the optional column?
Is the battle raging ?
God has placed eternity in your heart...and HE alone can satisfy...
You are not alone...remember: He makes all things beautiful, He does all things well.

Will you come with me..will you worship and bow down?
Will you  become like a little child...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Love Trumps

I slowly stretch as I awaken on this beautiful sunny simply gorgeous September morning. My bedroom door is shut, courtesy of my middle son who is busy down the hall in our den. He hears me stirring, knocks on my door and asks if there is anything he can get me.Before he heads down the stairs to get me a V8 with cracked pepper, he turns on my computer for me.

I lay in the stillness beside my husband of 22 years and tears leak from beneath my lids.
I breathe a prayer of thanksgiving and blessing.

My second born enters on the heels of his brother.
"Mom, we are out of coffee, I am heading out to get some and will get some milk too."

My heart skips a beat.

I lean over and grab my bible. 
I am behind in my reading...the week  went by so quickly and I battled...I fought..I raged...
I feared and I hid.

And God was with me.

As I write today I sip a steaming mug full of Three Sisters Coffee ( Kicking Horse) {My fav !!!}
It was delivered to my hands minutes ago by a son born almost 20 years ago. I recall this same son saying to me years ago, back when he still fit on my lap and snuggled under my arm:

" Mom, I am most myself 
when I am serving others."

There is no higher call. None.

My week was full.
Not of huge activity visible to the naked eye, but inside where no one can see : I fought.
I laid down at night, day after day and cried out.I closed my eyes, left with nothing but a bedrock trust.
My foundations held.
I ran  into the arms of the Only One who truly knows me. I was safe.

Needs pile up.
Confidence falters.
Desperation builds.
Questions batter.
Perceptions distort.

LOVE trumps all of it.

In the face of battles and wounds, lack and wanting...failure and fear...

My hands empty..
I throw it all down so I can grasp hold of God.
I know I am loved.
I know he is good.

Love remains...opinions, perceptions..they are dust in the wind.

My head bows, thankfulness arises...gratefulness builds again.


Monday, September 5, 2011

B90Days: Why I Read

I read because there is no better place to discover the fullness of the nature of God.There is no better place where I can begin to comprehend the majesty of his Holy Name.

His Word. His Character. His Name.

Whom have I but you Lord ?
The more I read the more I cry out !
There is none beside you LORD !
You are the LORD...there is NO other.

Do you wonder who it is you serve?
Who it is who saved you?
Is there anything He cannot do?

He is sufficient.

I pray that this challenge is more than a checking off of a list..
...more than a desire for an : "I did it!" T-shirt at the end.
I pray that there will be nothing left at the end of this challenge except a burning hunger for more.
More of Him.
More desire for his word to be planted deep within your heart.
More desire for his nature, his character, to be revealed around you, in you and through you.
More of an understanding of whose you are. 
More of an understanding of who He is. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Through Broken Lenses

It's been a painful year. Both physically and emotionally.
I have said it before and I will say it again with deeper knowledge and experience:

Pain has a power more than anything else in life
to strip away everything of in-consequence and leave foundations bare.

Pain stops you in your tracks and speaks of things.
It tells a story.
It makes us stop.
Did you know that only 6% of your nerves communicate pain?
The rest keep you alive.
So if you are getting messages of pain, it is more than likely that other life processes you can't feel are also affected!
There is a whole lot going on in my life right now in my extended family that I am not able to share.
As a result of some seriously painful situations and circumstances...groan..I have come to realize that we all view life through broken lenses.
Our filters are clouded and distorted.
all we can do is cry out in our distress. Cry out loudly and trust  God.
Trust the One who made us and who calls us to himself.
Our relationships surround us and we are so woven intricately involved..and yet...we walk alone.
We answer for no one but ourselves.
We stand and account for our beliefs, our behaviors.
We see NO ONE clearly.
We ourselves are viewed through broken lenses.

"But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height,
for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. 
People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”  
~ 1 Samuel 6:7 ~

We only see the outward.It's all we see, even when we peer deeply.
We interpret as through a glass dimly:

"Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."
~ 1 Corinthians 13:12~

It's blurred.
We are making decisions every day.... limited.
We're fractured to the core and yet..He is making all things new.
The heart is what concerns God.
The heart is what should concern us.
People are precious even if their behavior isn't.
I need to intentionally love.
I need to not rely on my glasses.
My heart has broken this last while.
My mind is wrestling every thought, every emotion into captivity:

I will not rely on my own understanding...

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,and he will make your paths straight."
~Proverbs 3:5-6 ~
The pain hurts...something is wrong...
I am in only hope is in God.
Holding tight.

Fixing my eyes....on Him alone.