Friday, February 22, 2013

What courage looks like on an ordinary day {talking about abortion}

There is remarkable courage here.  It wears vulnerability with grace and speaks truth over shame.  

This week, my 14yr old daughter, with the help of our good friend from Ukraine (who is a video-making-master) put together some video interviews for a project she's doing at school.  I think the assignment was to make a presentation about a controversial topic, and share an opinion. 

Lia is sharing about LIFE.  In a culture where already-born children being mowed down with gunfire stirs a grief that is palpable but the millions of not-yet-birthed children who die silent deaths in back rooms of abortion clinics are too often validated and sometimes even celebrated by those who want to make their death about someone else's "rights," there are still voices saying that LIFE is precious.  

I sat quietly, blinking back tears on Tuesday, hearing stories from two local women who offered to come alongside Lia and share their stories about abortion and adoption and life and pain and hope.  

These are women who know the secret to courage.  
They do what most of us will not: they dare to be vulnerable.  
They tell their stories. 

Shame loses its power when truth is given words.  
Lia heard from a woman who will now forever be a friend, because she let us into her story.  She spoke of abortions she had and the wounds her heart sustained as a teenager, and instead of tucking that into a dark, shame-filled corner, she shines a bright beam of truth on it and holds it up for us to see, and she uses her truth as power.  She hopes her pain can be formed into a tool that carves away the lies we believe in this fix-it-quick culture.  

She wants women to know that abortion hurts girls' hearts. 
She wants to see girls have real choices.  She doesn't believe that choosing between college-if-you-have-an abortion or welfare-dependency-and-barely-scraping-by-if-you-keep-the-baby is a real choice.  She believes there are bigger "boo-boos" on the hearts of girls, and abortion is at best a tiny bandaid, not a solution.  She knows that living after an abortion feels like having a life that is a rocket crashing high-speed into the ground. She knows suffering silently inside is no way to live. 
She wants women to have hearts that are whole, not aching and all patched-up.  

Then, Lia met with another friend.  She spoke to the one reason that seems to be popping up every time young people (or not-so-young-people) talk about abortion, as the one loophole that "MUST be ok all the time, right?" - rape.  

This friend was raped.  And instead of being a victim of a crime and then on top of it all, a victim of a society that sometimes vilifies women who are victims of sex crimes, she chose to be an example of strength.  She did what many would not have expected or ever dared to do: she carried that baby to term, gave birth to that little girl, and she chose a family to adopt her.  She refused to be a victim twice. A man hurt her once, but she didn't let that be a reason to suffer the pain of abortion.  She took a situation that is horrible, and she made something precious come from it.  
She wrote the ending to her story.  And she lives without regret.  

These women are powerful.  
They are strong, because they refuse to live with their hearts behind walls.   
They model courage in ways that make me want to be braver.  
They dare to tell their stories without any guarantee of how those stories will be received, because they've become resilient to shame.  They know it shrinks in the light.
They are willing to make their own hearts vulnerable, because they care so much about the hearts of other women being whole.  

(I'd like to say a humble thank-you to our friends who shared with Lia, to Kanishko for the wonderful video work, and to Shepherd's Godparent Home as well as First Step Pregnancy Resource Center for your contribution to the project.)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

When pain keeps coming back

Remember how we talked about pain?  I've had a few really good weeks.  It's been awesome!  And then this week some pain came back.  My legs and hips hurt so much, and my thighs are so tight that when they are rubbed, they bruise right up and down.  (It's super-pretty... watch out, swimsuit season!)

As a side note, I have been feeling 100% better mentally, and I believe 100% that it is because of God answering prayer.  I would take physical pain over feeling like my energy and my personality are depleted any day of the week.  And I'm still praying and believing that God can heal my physical pain as well, because He certainly can.

Some kinds of pain come in cycles or waves, I think.  Maybe you have a pain that comes back over and over, too?  I'm glad we can sit together over coffee and talk about this, because it always helps me when I put words to what I feel.  You, too?

How do we persevere?  How do we push against the hurt that wants to dull our sparkle?  

This is a completely non-exhaustive list of ideas:

* Kiss -  When my hubby kisses me, it makes the whole world sparkle, whether my joints creak and my muscles feel like petrified wood or not.  I highly recommend kissing.  Although you do have to find your own kisser, because my husband (although magical) is already taken.

* Laugh - Sometimes my kids and I get laughing, and our faces are like 2 inches apart, and we can practically see up each other's noses, and I can't even catch my breath.  Who even knows what we laughed at, because the laughing itself became so funny.  Especially when my 4yr old does the "Weezy" laugh from Dragon Tales, where she laughs-then-snorts, which cracks her up and then becomes a crazy cycle of laughing and snorting.  (And she may have inherited this from my mother's side of the family, because I know I have heard this somewhere before.)

*  Spruce Yourself Up - Not even joking.  You know how even on a day you're home sick you feel like ten thousand percent more human when you are dressed in real clothes?  Same basic idea.  When your body (or your heart) hurts, I think it always feels a little bit more hopeful to make time to take care of yourself.

* Create - When there is something crummy you can't change, there is still always something you can change.  When we create - whether words, photos, crafts, decor, jewelry, sewing, organizing, cooking - we become part of a process of making change that feels really restorative and encouraging.  I believe this is because we are made in the image of a God who is a Creator. (This may not be a popular sentiment these days.)

* Reach Out - The temptation is to look inward when we hurt.  And sometimes we need that for a time.  Some hurts are really big.  Some things hit you and knock you down for a while and you just need to curl up and feel everything for a time.  But when you get back up again, a really good place to start finding healing is in looking outward and expressing care for someone else.  My un-scientific theory is that everyone is carrying a little bit of hurt most days.  And sending a note, making a call, taking time to connect with someone personally will probably make your hurt and their hurt feel smaller.

* Don't Flip Out - Ladies, this is for us.  Or maybe for just me.  That's possible, too.  When things are tough, it's easy to get short-fused.  Each of us has our own way of losing our cool when we've had a difficult day, so just DON'T do whatever that flipping-out-thing-you-do is. Ok? Keep perspective.  Things will improve.  You will survive. Breathe.  It will be ok, friend.

* Use Your Words - Another un-scientific theory:  When you give your feelings words, the heavy stuff falls away and sometimes you feel better as soon as you've spoken them.  This theory is best practiced with someone you are really close to and to whom you can say the words, "Ok, can I just vent for a sec?" to prior to spilling all your emotions everywhere.  It's not about any answers.  It's totally just about getting words moving, so that I'm-so-sick-and-tired-of-this-stupid-crap feeling can get unclogged.  Really, truly, just saying it helps!  (I swear this is true, because I feel better right now, sitting on the yellow couch telling you all this than I did a little while ago.  Thanks for helping!)

* Get Your Heart Right - Pain can cause a lot of discouragement.  The only way I've found to keep from being overwhelmed by hard things is God - reading His words in the Bible, prayer, being encouraged by what other authors share about the Lord, being with my peeps who love Jesus.  His grace is very cool.  He is the reason any of us can keep getting back on our feet when circumstances knock us around a little (or a lot). I'm not sure how people who don't know Jesus do it.  I don't have the strength in myself alone to withstand hard things.  I can only get by because of Jesus.  (If you have a hard thing you carry, and you don't know Jesus, but you are curious about maybe getting to know him, you can definitely talk to me, and I will try my best to answer your questions or help you find answers or to pray with you, friend.)

I'm going to pour another cup of coffee.  Would you like one?  It has been so nice to sit together and talk.  Are there ways you get through the hurting places or deal that you can share with us?  You can leave ideas in the comments, and we can get better at this stuff together.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

{decorate} Part 2: Stealing fashion tips for great interiors

This is where I continue to paraphrase from Stacy and Clinton, generally stealing their ideas about the elements of a great outfit and apply them to decorating our houses.

Because it's really all the same.  Color. Texture. Pattern. Shine.
(We are almost professionals now.)

We talked COLOR the other day and I gave you some cool links to use to get your color creativity going. Today let's chat about texture while we have our second cups of coffee.

I'm really still trying to incorporate intentional use of texture into my interior, because I notice that I keep buying things that are velvet, and Stacy and Clinton probably wouldn't approve of this.  For example, I have the famous YELLOW COUCH, which is velvet.  And across from it sit two lovely silver slipper chairs (also velvet).  I think that's probably not cool.  I was more color-focused, and I really am troubled now about this texture infraction: 

(yellow couch with silver slipper chairs.  both velvet. clearly not thinking about mixing texture. oops.)

I made you a nifty "Texture" board on Pinterest!  Wanna see?  

What about you?  Do you love to mix textures, or is it kind of intimidating?  Do you have certain textures you really love to use together?

I'd love to see a space you're working on if you want to share one on the Facebook wall!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Some COLOR links for you to play with

Happy Sunday morning, friends!  I've put together some links I think you might enjoy using to help you get started visualizing and imaging some different color options for your home interior, since we were just talking COLOR yesterday.

Some of these sites are super-interactive, which is cool, and some are just like eye candy!  If you make your own Pinterest color board, tag me, so I can check out the things you're loving.

My Pinterest "Color" board

Better Homes and Gardens "Paint a Room" 

HGTV Color Splash

"Traditional Home" Color Design Ideas

"House Beautiful" Paint Color Tool

Sherwin Williams Color Visualizer

Benjamin Moore Personal Color Viewer

Have a super-blessed day, friend!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Part 1: How to use elements of great fashion to decorate great interiors

Are you looking for some ways to update your interior decorating but maybe not sure where to start or what to add that will have a really big impact (and for not necessarily big money)?

I just redecorated my master bedroom as a Valentine's Day project, and all my inspiration for that came from things I am really loving right now in fashion!  The elements that make a wonderful outfit will also work together to make a really snazzy (word from my mother) room.

There are several ingredients I try to keep in mind when I'm putting together an outfit or a room.  I thank Stacy and Clinton for drilling these things into my head during morning coffee on the yellow couch over the years, while watching DVR'd episodes of "What Not to Wear." 
(I really should be given a part of their advertising budget. Honestly!) 

We'll break down this whole elements of great fashion-slash-decorating over a few days, ok?

Day 1: Color 

  - Do you have a very favorite color?  That is a perfect place to start.

   - Do you want a quiet, soothing atmosphere or an energetic and playful atmosphere?

   - Do you enjoy soft colors or bold shades?

   - Is there a basic color palette running through your home?  Remember that you usually can look from one space into another, and there should be something "unifying" (something that carries over to make the spaces feel connected).  Being unified doesn't mean everything in all the rooms have to match exactly, but they have to "go."

   - Walls:  Warm colors visually move forward, and cool colors recede.  This means that you can make a space feel larger if you use a somewhat cool tone on the walls or more intimate and cozy if you choose a warm shade.  Also, different rooms will have different natural light, some warm light, some cool (depending on which side of the house they are on), so you need to look at paint swatches in the actual room and see how the light affects the color.

  - If you are sort of neurotic about redecorating (like I can be), it might make sense to choose the larger, more expensive pieces in a neutral shade, so you can change up your accent colors any time and not have much money tied up.  On the other hand, you might fall in love with something as illogical as a 100-year old yellow couch that doesn't go with anything you own and which necessitates repainting your entire downstairs. And that's ok, too. 

   - Want to get your color wheels (no pun intended) turning?  Surf Pinterest (mine is here - we can "follow" each other, if you like!) for tons of great inspiring rooms, and you can make a new board just for your color-love!

Do you have some thoughts on color or on fashion?  Where do you find your design inspiration?  Leave a comment if you'd like!  I would love to hear from you, friend!  

Next, we'll chat about TEXTURE!  Come back for some coffee on the yellow couch soon....

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Project Marriage Sparkle: Getting playful in the bedroom (aka my bedroom decorating frenzy)

Ok, here's the backstory:  My handsome hubby and I are in a small group at church (if you don't know what that means, it's when there is literally a "small group" of people who get together regularly outside regular church time, and it's way-cool for building friendships and growing spiritually and for laughing a lot), and our small group is currently reading "The Good and Beautiful Life."

And we have homework.  Which is cool, because I'm sort of a nerd about stuff like that.  I underline and dog-ear all the pages and make this whole thing quite serious. 

Which is a little ironic.  Because our homework this past time was to PLAY more.  

Wow.  Really?  That's not deeply spiritual or anything, is it?  How on earth is that going to make me more like Jesus? I don't get it...

But on I read. Some things hit me.  Stuff I've been missing out on, because for a while I've made being a Christian too "serious" all the time (and I think it's important to be serious about our faith, don't get me wrong, but I was all "work, work, work," you know?).  I was sucky in the "fun and spontaneous and playful" department.  (Perhaps you clued in on that with my startling confession of "clear liquids in the den" being how my man and I decided to really cut loose and live more laid back lives - haha!)

So, being the superstar student that I am, I decided to tackle this playful business for real.

"Spontaneity is one of the spiritual benefits of play... We relax... We play because our God is good. Grace is sufficient for us. God wants us to be full of joy, and play is a way to experience the goodness of God and the richness of life."

"Play" is the perfect way to find sparkle.  And you know I've been all about us living really vibrantly and fully engaged lives, which I'm dubbing as SPARKLE. 

And what better time than Valentine's week to PLAY!? 

Tuesday, while I had the day child-free, I went where all smart women go to play: HomeGoods.  We've been wanting to redo our master bedroom, because we haven't since we first were married eight fantabulous years ago!!!  Here's the "before" photo:

We are beyond tired of having red walls. Been there, done that.  Over it. 

I had this whole sooooothing monochromatic whites and soft metallics color palette in my mind... with beads and pearls and all sorts of things that would cause our Type-A personalities to feel stressed when the 4yr old climbs up on the bed with a sippie cup or snack, because it's all so high maintenance. 

And then HomeGoods happiness happened to me. 
I found some goodies that totally rocked my world. So I texted some pics to hubby (who picked the same exact wild and crazy humongous neon yellow lamps I loved - we were SO meant to be married) and he sent me back the most romantic words known to womankind: "Buy what makes you sparkle." 

He gets me.  He is the greatest, most romantic and awesome man ever born on earth, and I love that he wants me to sparkle inside! 
Side note: He also knows I am the most frugal and budget-conscious woman alive, so he could speak these words without terror striking his heart.  Credit card debt and over-spending do not sparkle make.  Can I get an 'amen'? 

Anyway. I digress.

I have pics for you of some of the elements in the new bedroom, but I won't show the pics of it put together til we paint the red walls a new color, because they just irritate me in photos now.  Sorry. 

But please know that in a fit of super-woman strength I somehow hoisted the ends of our gigunda bed up to very awkwardly yank the area rug out, only cutting my hands in 3 places and not even giving myself a hernia! Then, in a 30-minute stretch, I pulled every single decor-item out of the room and replaced it with the new stuff so my hubby could walk in and be surprised after work!  

I think this was worth 3000 Weight Watchers exercise points.  This is a claim not supported by the Weight Watchers organization but for which I offer the proof being that I lost one whole pound by the next morning... Could decorating be slenderizing?  

My inspiration for the pieces (please forgive the poor light quality, because the red walls bounce weird light back... it will be good to take pics after we paint) is the variety of ethnic influences and bold colors in fashion and home decor right now.  I am enjoying playing with different patterns and textures and looking for pieces that "go" more than "match" (thank you, Stacy and Clinton & "What Not to Wear"). 

small area rugs - on on either side of the bed, which leaves more of the room's 100yr old painted pine floor exposed, which I love

grommeted drapery panels pick up the neutral shade that runs through the fabrics and has a simple, graphic quality that is both modern and a nice compliment to the more busy designs on the bedding and rugs

one of two beautiful paintings - the other is like this but in whites.  they bring some unity to the space because they are a contemporary interpretation of a floral but the color pallet and round shape of the flower is picked up in the bedding

wild and crazy textile from India for the bed quilt - I love the international flavor in design right now and the mixing of elements that are global and look collected rather than pre-packaged. it's more playful. and the colors here make me smile and inject energy into the room. and marriages deserve  bedrooms that inspires playfulness and joy!

some of the pillows - ikat, sequins, embroidery, pleated silk with organic embellishments like wooden buttons - so pretty (only not so photogenic today with the weird red-wall-lighting - you'll see)

We have beautiful ikat fabric-framed photos from our wedding in the room and some pretty Turkish glass with shimmery oranges and gold to hold perfumes and even some lovely plants (which I now know how not to kill - thank you, Tessa!) to make the space come alive.  

And wait til you see the lamps that are my new favorite color: neon yellow!  It's the new black, I swear. It goes with everything.  I may write a whole post about neon yellow, because I'm head-over-heels in love with it.  The lamp is TALL and gourd-shaped and fantabulous!  

Valentine's Day is the perfect day to do a special something for your spouse to add some SPARKLE to your marriage.  
To play.  
To create.  
To be inspired.  

And if you don't have a spouse, Valentine's Day is the perfect day for you to do something beautiful for yourself or to give some sparkle to a bff!  

How will you invest in play and in sparkle today?  What influences your design choices? Let me know!  It's inspiring to hear from friends. 

And the answer is "Yes, you can hire me to redecorate your home, if you want your space to be filled with things that are unexpected, joyful and reflect your unique sense of sparkle."  

Friday, February 8, 2013

Instant energy (without exercising, spending money, consuming caffeine or leaving the house)

Right now, I'm sitting on the yellow couch listening to my 4yr old blow a whistle (repeatedly) approximately 2 feet from my face.  I am using the time honored tuning-out-mind-numbing-sounds-made-by-your-offspring technique perfected by humans since the creation of man in the Garden of Eden.  (I am assuming this. I realize there is not any specific textual support for this in the Bible.  I hope that doesn't offend you.)

And I'm feeling energized. 

"How?" you ask.  "How, if you have not left the house all day, had a shopping spree, done any sort of commendable exercise or interacted with any human beings over the age of 4 in the past 5 hours, are you feeling so energized?"

I'm so glad you asked.

There is a secret that all of us mamas need to know.
It's free.
It's legal.
It's not fattening.
It does not require going anywhere or doing any cardio (although technically it could, should you wish to introduce such elements).

It will up your emotional sparkle quotient for the day. 
And you can even do it while someone whistles in your face (that is not ideal, but I digress).

For INSTANT energy, try this:

1. Think briefly of a few of the nagging "to do's" you have not done inside your home. 

2. Pick ONE little task you've been avoiding for absolutely no good reason.

3. Do it. 

4. Feel the surge of energy.

5. Reward yourself with watching an episode of What Not to Wear on the DVR. (Oh, did I just say that out loud? I meant to just think it.) 

* Give yourself bonus points if the project you picked will make your husband smile when he gets home from work. He deserves it!

Too simple?  I know, right!???!!!!
AND the extra bonus you receive is that you get to not only have more energy and mind-sparkle (sorry if that sounds creepily like alien-abduction-type vocabulary I just made up.  My 8th grader has been assigned a research project on alien species - I know... I said the same thing.... you are right... and yes, you're right, she won't forget to include ALF - so I may have been subliminally influenced) but you get to enjoy your home more! For at least 10 minutes until your 4yr old gets bored of whistling and starts make believing in the space you just tackled.

My energy-injection-free-at-home projects today:
*Setting up a new makeup case (Target has bunches on clearance!), tossing old makeup I never even wear because
a) it looks hideous on me  or  
b) it is not any good anymore.
My daughter is a makeup fanatic, and she has inspired me to greater organization of all makeup items, so thank you, Lia.

(Warning: Completing one small project may cause an unexpected burst of organizational frenzy.) 

* Clearning out the top shelf (I said start small, ok? There's nothing wrong with one measly shelf, people) of the bathroom armoire.
(bonus: my husband is the most amazing and tidy guy ever, and I know he'll smile about this, since we share the space)

* Pinned 7 pairs of totes-adorbs trousers (Lia, I will never say that again, I promise - I know I'm way too old and that it was "so last year," and yes, my peeps, I said "trousers," and not pants, because that's what Stacy and Clinton say on What Not to Wear - guilty as charged.  And it sounds more chic.)

I MAY attempt to hem today, and I may not.
It depends on if my now-naked-but-at-least-not-whistling 4yr old wants to chill out for a little bit after we play puzzles together.

I'm off to construct a 24-piece puzzle of Jonah being ejected from the mouth of the great sea creature up onto the shores of Ninevah (after helping Sage get dressed again), so I must go, but it was so great to catch up for a few minutes.

Go, tackle one small thing!
I think you'll be surprised how great you feel.
And please do be sure to let me know what you decide to do, ok?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

These kids grow up so fast (plus Starbucks buy-1-get-1 for you!)

Because you are my coffee loving friends, I thought you'd want to know that Starbucks has a fun coffee deal going on til Valentine's Day!
Who doesn't love an afternoon coffee with a friend?
Or with your favorite teenager after school!?

The only thing better than a coffee date is a coffee date where one of the drinks is FREE, right?


So, today is gymnastics day for my 4yr old.
Last week was Parent Participation Day which, I will tell you, was a hoot.
Somehow most of the children were satisfied with having their mother or father run through the obstacle course a couple times and then mingle and visit with the other parents.

Not mine.

She and I ran through that obstacle course for what felt like hours (the class is 45 minutes long, so this is a testament to how infrequently I exercise.  Thank God for Weight Watchers so I can stay the same size I was when I got married - woot!!!).

I even had a solo turn jumping on the trampoline.
This Parent Participation Day stuff is not for the proud. 

We sure did have fun, though!

Now that I have two teens and a pre-schooler, I am painfully aware how quickly every moment passes by.  It seems like the only way to hang on to some of the pieces is to really be IN those moments.

My oldest is signing up for high school classes soon.
I am ancient.

I can't even imagine how fast those for years are going to zip by me.
The four years my little one has been alive have felt like a blink, and now I have only that long until my oldest steps out on her own.

It's a weird feeling. This having to let go and also wanting to hang on.
I wonder so often how my friends who've had kids leave for college really handle it.
Especially when you're fortunate enough to really like your kids so darn much!

So, friends, what are your secrets for slowing down time?  
And how have you managed to let go in all the million ways you need to while you're raising up and sending out your sweet, grown kiddos?

(leave some ideas for me in the comments, then print off your Starbucks coupon and take someone special out for coffee, and have a slow moment together, because it all goes too quickly.)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

In case you, also, are not a morning person.

I used to be a morning person. I think
At 5am, I would wake for a run.

That is a lie. It was a slow jog. 

I remember having energy in the morning.
When I was 24 I went back to college and relished early morning, getting ready, having coffee and then heading out the door by 7am, listening to rap music to feel young (at that time I didn't realize that 24 is young with or without accompanying rap music).

Now, I'm like, "Who was that person?!"

Having fibromyalgia (that's what I'm told is causing the pain and other annoyances) has caused me to no longer feel like a morning person but more of a couple-hours-midday person. And that's sucky.
So I'm undertaking a Get My Morning Groove Back project. 

It's very unscientific. 

This is it in a nutshell:

*Wake up before the kids (crucial piece for the quiet relaxation desired)
*Turn on Scensy warmer with a yummy-smelling Yankee Candle tart (is that terribly unloyal?)
*Go to the yellow couch
*Drink at least 2 cups of coffee in a pre-heated mug
*Read my Bible without feeling like it's something to check off a list, but slowly enough to absorb a cool truth for my day
*Have another cup of coffee with YOU, you wonderful person
*Have breakfast and vitamins (I'm trying to add some good B vitamins into my day)

Please note that there is no exercise listed.  This is not an oversight.  I truly dislike exercise, so at this early phase in the plan, I fear it would be counterproductive.

We shall consider the introduction of a non-hideous form of exercise in Phase Two.
Although I did participate in Mommy and Me Day at my 4-year old's gymnastics class this week, which must count for something. 

For mamas who need to get out the door for work, you already do the next thing.
For mamas like myself who are home full-time wrangling little ones, this can be a challenge:

Having real, actual clothes on (and makeup, if you want to really take it to the edge) is instant energy.

How 'bout YOU?
Are you a morning person?
What is your morning routine like?  Any favorite parts of the morning that keep you feeling inspired to get up and take on your day?  I'd love to hear!

Friday, February 1, 2013

What if God actually cares about you living a creative and beautiful life?

Welcome, friend!  It's good to spend this time together again.  I'm so glad you stopped by.

It's been really great talking together about adding beauty to our lives.
Finding little and big ways to live
with sparkle. 
Some of the things that make me smile are silly, I know.
I will never apologize for how much thinner I feel when spray-tanned.
(I hope we can still be friends!)

But I'm curious to know what you think about this:
Do you think it's possible that God loves you so much that He actually cares about you living a creative and beautiful life

I know we come from all sorts of backgrounds, and I love you and am glad for your friendship and for our morning coffee on the yellow couch even if you vehemently disagree with me on things.
We don't have to agree on everything in life to agree that our friendship is way-cool. 

But because I love you, I could never hold out on some good sparkle-stuff. 
Check out what I read this morning, ok?
This guy Paul, who used to hate and try to kill Christians professionally, became a Christian himself.  He wrote a bazillion letters that are part of the Bible.
He says stuff that made "religious" folk and leaders in his time throw rocks at him and try to kill him, or sometimes they'd throw him in jail, and the guy is just so darn nuts about Jesus that he keeps on coming back for more.
(Who said Christian guys are wimpy?!  They're totally fierce.)

But anyway, I digress.
The stuff I was reading this morning is super-cool.
Paul wrote to some churches he really cared about, and he wanted the people there to live these full, free, productive, exuberant lives.
(Sounds like sparkle to me.)

Paul is pointing out all the crummy stuff he is noticing that leaves people feeling empty inside. 
He gets people.  This guy is no fool.
I think all of us can relate to some aspect of the not-so-satisfying life he's hoping these people he loves won't get stuck living.
He wants more for them.  

"It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on." (Galatians 5: 19- 21 Message)

Alrighty then.
Yeah, who wants that life?! (And anyone think this sounds a lot like how people feel now, in 2013?!)

So, Paul, he has these great things he wants to see his friends enjoy.
They certainly are things I want to enjoy.
And I want all this for you, too! 

"But what happens when we live God's way?" Paul asks them in verse 22.
(Real quick: What would YOU say to that question right now....?)

Now check out Paul's answer:
"He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard - things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people.  We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely."  (Galatians 5:22-23 Message - emphasis mine)

That stuff sounds like soul-sparkle.

"Live creatively, friends....Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that.  Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life." (Galatians 6:1 & 4-5, Message - emphasis mine)

My heart is smiling today. 
I am so thankful for our time together, and I really want your life to be amazing.  

Would you dare to consider that God cares about your life being amazing and creative and beautiful?? 

I'd really like to hear what you think about this.
Can I pour you another cup of coffee?