Thursday, September 20, 2012

Do you dare greatly? The Merry Rose Reads

 Daring Greatly, How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown
Daring Greatly gives a secular picture, painted with much research, of a truth I'm learning from following Jesus: vulnerability and openness, combined with inner truth, is a strength and not a weakness. The author, Brene Brown, realizes that if we are going to accomplish anything, we must put ourselves out there with the chance that we might succeed or we might fail. To have successful relationships, we must go deeper, and, again, there is the chance that we will be accepted or rejected.

Brown takes as her theme one of my favorite quotes: It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly, who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. Theodore Roosevelt.

Reading this was a good reminder for me. As I grow older and have suffered hurts through daring or being vulnerable, it is tempting to seek self-protection and a comfortable life. This is doubly so because I feel myself growing just a little more physically vulnerable with every passing year. Like many that Brown describes, I react to fear with attempts to control the uncontrollable. Yet, the most important things in life do require that we "get in the arena" so to speak, rather than to stand on the sidelines. If I don't want to fizzle out on the last quarter of life's race, I need to step it up again. For me, that will mean stepping back from selfishness and growing in how I love others. Love casts out fear.

The author describes shame as the basic reason why we try to protect self at the cost of daring to live fully. She cites that we live in a
"never enough" society. We tend to focus on what we or others don't live up to or don't have, rather than validating the good. We all have a sense of shame about ourselves that we don't want others to see. To me, the question is, did we all arrive at this solely through culture? I don't think so, though the things that Brown notes in our culture can help us recognize the problem. Early in the Biblical account of man's history, we find Adam and Eve hiding from God because of true guilt, shame, inadequacy, and broken relationship. For the first time, they are ashamed of their nakedness or vulnerability. Adam tries the first blame-shift in history, "That woman you gave me...", thus trying to pin his shame on Eve and maybe even on God! God seeks them out and restores the relationship, establishes the consequences of their actions, and offers hope to come. My personal opinion is that we all have this sense of shame because we are broken in a sense. We all have some glimmer of what we were meant to be in God, and we have all fallen short of that. Therefore, the strength to become vulnerable comes from admitting our shame and receiving the grace, forgiveness, and wholeness that God offers through Christ. My thought is that if we attempt to fix this shame problem with anything less than God's grace, we will just patch it rather than conquer it. I think that's some of what Paul meant when he felt inadequate because of an illness and Christ said that his grace was sufficient for him.

One thing that fascinated me was the discussion about shame as experienced by men and by women. Speaking as a 57-year old, long-married woman, I was surprised that so many women found it surprising that men also feel shame and are vulnerable. They are especially vulnerable in the area of initiating sex. Is this and the fact that men and women cover for shame differently really news? I think of Paul's words: Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes. Along the way in marriage, every husband and wife is confronted with how important it is to always protect the other, to always trust and hope for the best for the other one. In this way, we learn to be more connected in heart. To me, that adds to the sweetness and richness of a marriage. It takes time, perhaps a lifetime, to get there.

Brene also turns her research and observations toward helping people parent children and to lead adults in a healthy way. Many of her suggestions are practical and helpful. Overall, I am glad I read this book. As with any self-help book, I think it's a prompt to deeper thought and not the last word on the subject. It is, however, a word worth considering.

I received a review copy of this book through the BlogHer Book Club for a paid review, but my opinions are my own.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Have you seen?

Have you seen the darling giveaway at A Gathering of Thoughts?  Check out the lovely cards, tea bags, gift tags, etc. in the Vintage Pink Rose Dress Form design.  Hurry, though.  The contest ends soon.


September decorating...

By all these lovely tokens, September days are here,
With summer's best of weather
And autumn's best of cheer.
Helen Hunt Jackson

This year, the first day of fall is on September 22nd.  Here in Nashville, it still feels like summer and it still looks like summer, which is all right with this spring/summer loving girl. (I love fall, too:))  But, the days are noticeably shorter now, and they are milder, too.   It's only 83 degrees outside right now!

Some years, I like to hang on to every last bit of summer goodness.  Some years, I like to think ahead to the beautiful bounty of autumn. But, I'm always grateful that the seasons change in God's perfect timing! 

This year is a special September.  My daughter's due date was yesterday, and our whole family and her husband's are counting down the moments until her baby daughter (my first grandchild!) decides to arrive.  If I don't finish this post, you'll know I got that phone call!  LOL. 

Anyhow, I've always marked the start of fall decorating season by the beginning of the school year, rather than by the weather.  Here's my start to fall decorating this year. (Sorry the photo isn't clearer.)  You can see my "Pinterest" beans in the bowl in the middle, on top of the wooden cake stand.  If I had to do it over again, I would do them in a taller container.  I may end up swapping them out with the rocks in the holder with the scarecrow.

The wooden stand is part of a two stand set that my father brought back from Bermuda.  He was stationed there during WWII, and he brought back several wooden things that local craftsmen made.

I was on my way home from a Dollar Store run today when I thought to myself that I wish I had a bird's nest.  I am crazy about birds, and I like to decorate with bird themes.  I had bought a package of raffia to tie around things.  When I opened it, it plopped out on the table in a nest shape.  Well, there was my "bird's nest"!  I placed in it a ceramic dove?  partridge?  that I've had for quite a while.  

The painting that is reflected in the mirror was done by my talented father-in-law.  The one in the picture below (It hangs by the side of the dresser, as you can see in the photo) was purchased by my mother back in the late 70's or early 80's.  It is of a place in North Georgia, and the artist mixed local clays to use as the paints.  I leave it up all year round, but the literally earthy tones blend in with a fall theme.   It looks warped in the photo, but it's really not. 

What are you doing for fall this year?  I need some ideas so share the wealth. 


Monday, September 10, 2012

Just beginning fall decorating...

So far, I have a glass bowl of what I call my Pinterest beans with a candle in it.  If you're into Pinning, I'm sure you've seen all the hurricane glasses and other containers filled with layers of colored beans used as candle holders. (Some of the cutest are cocoa beans with vanilla candles.) The picture above is just an example.  The various containers of beans and candles all look so lovely in all the Pinterest photos.  I'm wondering, though, if people look at mine and wonder why that crazy woman stuck a candle in a bowl of beans.  :)  The beans do remind me of harvest time, though.  I'm sure as I decorate more the harvest theme will come together.  

Mine are sitting on a marble topped dresser in my entryway.

This year, my chickens will all be returning to the coop for Thanksgiving.  The children alternate Christmas with us and Thanksgiving with their in-laws one year and vice versa for the next, though we usually manage to work in extra holiday visits as well.  My daughter's favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, and neither she nor my son want me to decorate for Christmas early and call Thanksgiving weekend our Christmas time.  They want to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday as Thanksgiving.  It is such a lovely holiday, and it's a shame it so often gets overlooked in favor of Christmas.  So, I'm wanting to do some warm autumn themed decor this year.  Any suggestions?

I'm ready to bust out singing, "Over the river and through the woods," which I always thought was a Thanksgiving song and just found out is actually about Christmas.  I'm expecting the birth of my first grandchild any day now.  This will be the first year that my house will be "Grandma's house", so, of course, I am thrilled.

I'm putting together a fall playlist.  I'm taking a page out of Aunt Ruthie's book and am including some selections from the movie "Little Women" -- the 90's version.  I love that movie but never thought how warm and fall sounding some of the theme music is.
What about you?  How will you be celebrating this fall?



Sunday, September 09, 2012

A Great Romance: The Perfume of Happiness...

Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself...

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Doc Brilliant and I are coming up on 32 years of a happy marriage.  One thing that binds my heart to his is the way he sacrifices for my happiness and welfare.  A great lesson I've learned is that I'm happiest when I'm giving toward him and unhappiest when I'm being selfish.  Happiness really is a perfume that you can't pour on your spouse without getting some on yourself.

I think that's part of what Jesus is teaching us when he says, "Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it." Luke 17:33.  This is so opposite of what our worldly selves think. We think that we must ensure our own happiness by grabbing for it and holding on tight.  This insecure grasping is ingrained in our hearts, and it's subtly interwoven in so many messages that we receive from the world.  It's easy to slip into that mindset when we're not focused on Christ.  Yet, grasping and grasping only leaves us feeling empty.  We can't grasp enough of the world to satisfy the hole in the center of our self.  We can't do, be, or have enough to bridge the chasms our sin has dug between us and God, or between us and other people.  Only the love and grace of God is sufficient to fill us with peace and joy to the point that our joy can overflow into the lives of others.   

Simply put, the ability to love unselfishly comes from God.  

I John 4:10  says "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."

He lost his life for us, pouring his life into us, and now we love.

I John 4:10.  We love because he first loved us.

The losing of Christ's life was followed by his resurrection, and, thus, his resurrection gives us eternal life, as well.  Daily, we live a crucified life -- a life of dying to sin and selfishness -- and, daily, we live a resurrected life -- becoming more like Jesus.  

In the 32 years Doc Brilliant and I have been married, the reflection in my mirror has changed quite a bit.  Sometimes, a glance surprises me.  How did that old lady get into my mirror?  Slowly, day by day.  I'm so grateful for this promise in 2 Corinthians:  "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day."  

Maybe, you are young, and you don't have a clue what I'm talking about.  Maybe, you are my peer, and you smile with me.  Maybe, you are ahead of me in life and think I don't yet have a clue. No matter.

There is an everlasting perfume sitting on all of our spiritual dressing tables: the fragrance of Christ.  We can't drink in Christ's love and lavish it on others, especially on our spouse, without receiving back a harvest of joy.

I love the accounts of when Jesus was anointed by Mary.  Out of love for Christ and out of gratitude for his mercy, she broken open her vial of costly perfume.  The book of John tells us that the fragrance filled the whole house.  I want to have the kind of heart she had.  Don't you?  And, I want to love my husband in a way that demonstrates my gratitude for the Lord.

Happy love which concerns itself with our husbands' welfare becomes a fragrance that fills our hearts and our homes.  Let us love lavishly, because we are lavishly loved.  



Friday, September 07, 2012

Day 14 -- 14 Days to a Sneeze Free Home...

Hi Y'all...

How's it going in keeping your homes sneeze free -- or at least cleaning in a way that helps any allergy sufferers in your home?  In my area, pollen levels are high today, especially for ragweed and grasses.  We'll get a break tomorrow, though, when cooler weather moves in for a day.

Let's close out this series by reviewing a few facts about allergies:

1)  Allergies are produced when your immune system over reacts to harmless substances.
2)  Breastfeeding a baby for at least 4 to 6 months will reduce the chance that the baby will go on to suffer allergies later on.  The mother's diet while breastfeeding doesn't seem to factor one way or the other in whether a child will have allergies.
3)  Changing formulas or changing a young child's diet does not seem to have much effect on a child's allergies, unless they are directly food allergies.  It doesn't hurt to try changes, however, to see if anything might work for you or your child. 
4)Very few people have allergic reactions to bouquets of flowers form the florist's or in groceries or other shops, though some do.  There's usually not much pollen on such flowers, at least not in one bunch.  If working in the garden has you sneezing, try enjoying flowers inside by arranging bought bouquets.  
5)    Computers, printers, and other home office machines collect dust.  Keep these clean, both for the sake of allergy relief and to extend the working life of the equipment.
6)  Eating well, sleeping well, and relieving stress might lessen the severity of allergic reactions and also allow you to deal with allergy symptoms.
7)  If your allergy symptoms do not quickly clear up with over the counter medications, visit your doctor to have them evaluated.  There are conditions, such as thyroid issues and being exposed to irritating fumes, that can mimic allergies, but are not allergic reactions per se. These are treated somewhat differently than allergies.  You may also need help in identifying your specific allergies.  Additionally, you may have developed chronic sinusitis and you may need help for that.
8)  Don't overlook the role that treating allergic symptoms plays in your overall health.  If you experience only a week or so of sneezing in the spring or fall, you likely recover quickly.  However, chronic allergies can take a big toll on your well-being.  Sometimes, people live with a run-down feeling and other allergy-related issues without realizing just how much their allergies are dragging them down.  The proper treatment, however, can make huge improvements in a person's well-being.
9)  Remember that antibiotics don't cure allergy related problems unless a secondary infection has resulted. Don't be surprised if a trip to the doctor doesn't result in a prescription for antibiotics.  It's best that we all not over-use these medicines so that bacteria don't grow use to them and so that the medicines will remain effective in cases where they are really needed.
10)  If you are working with garden mulch and are sensitive to molds, use precautions such as a mask, gloves, and washing up afterwards.