OUCH! MESSAGE RECEIVED!

By Lisa Huddleston

First, there was the Instagram post from an amazing fiber-artist friend. She crochets and knits and felts and sews amazing, whimsical things I adore. But this was a short video of her FIRST attempt at spinning. GASP! It looked nearly perfect—to me anyway. She insisted I just couldn’t see the flubs. Ha! I wanted to cry when I considered how long I have been striving to spin that well. I did whisper a few hateful words to myself, but I fought the tears of despair. Some people are just naturally gifted—I thought encouragingly—others have to struggle. But, crud, why do I have to be a struggler?

Second, there was a Facebook post written by a young friend bemoaning some mistakes in his past for which he is still paying the price. I tried to encourage him writing that mistakes make the best teachers. He “liked” my wise-old-woman message, and I hope he took it to heart. Heck. I hope I did, too.

Third, I fought my sleep-deprived way out of the house this morning forcing myself to attend a flow yoga class. It has been quite a while since I’ve practiced vinyasa, and my strength is seriously waning—both physically and emotionally. I was definitely the oldest and the heaviest participant there, and at one point I landed with an ungraceful thud when I just couldn’t balance my bod for even one more unflowing moment. Oh! How embarrassing—what was I thinking coming here in this kind of shape?

Fourth, on the way home from said class, I listened to an interview on NPR with Ryan Holiday, the author of Ego is the Enemy. One premise of his book is that our social media culture mainly shows us the highest highs and the lowest lows of those we follow. The thuds and flubs and mistakes along the learning process are usually carefully staged, filtered, and posted very rarely—if they are ever seen at all. It’s the perfect apple pie or always-happily-smiling family or oiled, rippling abs that we see. And who can compare with that? I mean–why even try? Holiday believes that this culture keeps many from achieving what we could if we were more willing to fall and tangle and struggle and crash. And you know what? So do I.

Okay then. I have gotten at least four communications in less than 24 hours telling me to keep fighting the good fight. Message received already! Write. Knit. Weave. Spin. Twist. Tangle. And balance! You cannot learn to walk, Lisa, if you don’t land on your butt a few times—unless you’re just naturally gifted. Ugh! And there’s a blue bruise on my hip to remind me that that’s not the case. I am a warrior (a bff told me recently), and that’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Be a warrior!

Be a warrior!

 

Go in the strength you have, my friends. And I’ll keep going, too. Namaste!

 

 

SURVIVING THE DOG DAYS

By Lisa Huddleston

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, I’ll bet you could have guessed this post was coming. Yes, I’m writing about our new rescue dog, Rosemary or Rosie for short. To my discredit I fear, I’m way too fond of the sarcastic saying—no good deed goes unpunished—but this time I think I’ve been rewarded. Rosie is an amazing dog!

The stand off

The initial standoff

Now, if you’d asked me how I felt about this “reward” on Thursday evening, the day I picked her up from Country K9 Rescue, I would have moaned, “What was I thinking? How could I have done something so stupid as to get another dog??” Dottie Pigbody was living up to her name in a brand new way. She was being piggishly selfish and attacking poor Rosie every time the startled dog got near to “Dottie’s people.” It was terrible, and I truly expected to see a bloodbath at any moment.

Dottie Pigbody or a.k.a. Dorothy Parker

Dottie Pigbody, a.k.a. Dorothy Parker

But now, over 48 hours into this adventure, I watched as Rosie tried to coax Dottie to play a bit in the yard, and although Dottie didn’t exactly join in—she at least didn’t try to eat Rosie’s face off. I was able to play fetch with both dogs although I still had to make sure they each had their own ball. That’s an enormous improvement in Dottie’s behavior. No attacks so far today, and it is 4:15 p.m. I wouldn’t have thought it possible two days ago!

And naturally, I see a lesson in this experience, a living reminder of one of my life mottos—A long obedience in the same direction. That is an abbreviated quotation, but what it says to me is that nothing worth getting happens without perseverance. Not physical nor educational nor spiritual achievement. Not even a great fur sister for Dottie like Rosie. And I know both Dottie and I will be better for the experience.

Rosie, a.k.a. Rosemary

Rosie, a.k.a. Rosemary

If you’ve ever considered adopting a rescue for your family, let me encourage you to take the plunge. After 4 rescue cats and 4 rescue dogs (2 currently), I can definitely testify that it’s a rewarding experience for both the animals and their people!

LIGHT THROUGH THE TREES

By Lisa Huddleston

I know that no one cares to hear my daily complaints about my struggles with medications or lack of sleep or general sense of anxiety; however, I do think that at least a few of you would like to hear how my journey through the dark woods is going.

I am happy to report that my doctor and I feel that I may finally be on the right track regarding my medications–few side effects and a slowly improving appreciation for life. It has taken many months of starts and restarts, but we are hopeful.

BOOKS!

BOOKS!

And in what may be an even clearer assessment of my improvement, I am happy to report a recent desire to return to some of my former loves. I purchased four new books that I look forward to diving into–in fact the smallest one was consumed last night. I haven’t been able to read due to my lack of concentration so this is a wonderful sign.

Loom room.

Loom room.

Also, I have ordered a new 7-foot adjustable tri-loom and rearranged our former music room to serve as my “loom room.” I am glad to sense the urge to create catching steam and look forward to starting on a new project.

Hallelujah!

Hallelujah!

And, finally–and most surprising to me–I truly experienced some moments of worship in Sunday’s service. I have grown so weary of going through the motions that I was genuinely surprised to feel my hand lift in union with my voice as my heart cried, “Hallelujah!” I was reminded that the joy of the Lord is my strength and that its return represents a true healing of my soul.

No–the journey is not over. Monday was not good as I fought tears and anxiety and felt covered by the dark cloud of death. But Monday is not every day, and new books, new projects, and a new taste of joy give me a hope I have not had for some time.

Therefore, the take-away I seek to give you is that if you are still in the dark, please, do not give up. The odds are in your favor–as is our God. Keep doing what you know to do: see a good psychiatrist and follow his or her advice, continue to talk with a good therapist, exercise if you can, give yourself freedom to rest and to heal, and never give up.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,

But I have promises to keep.

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

SLUBS, NUBS, AND OTHER BEAUTIFUL MISTAKES

By Lisa Huddleston

Beautiful hand-thrown mugs!

Beautiful hand-thrown mugs!

This Christmas was the year of the handmade gift. My mother gave homemade chocolates. My mother-in-law gave homegrown fruit preserves and cucumber, green bean, and okra pickles. My daughter-in-law gave delicious homemade Russian tea cookies. I gave hand-knit wooly hats and scarves. We gave beautiful wooden bowls Chuck’s uncle made. And my daughter and her husband gave hand-thrown mugs. It was simple and unique and special.

Knitting a cowl for Christmas.

Knitting a cowl for Christmas.

And each day as I ate those goodies or every morning as I cup a comfortably off kilter mug in my hands, I think of their makers and celebrate their gifts and their talents and their love.

Homemade gifts are special. They aren’t quite as perfect as those you buy in stores. They have little flaws and quirks–we call them “design elements” to celebrate their specialness. They may not sit exactly flat on the table or they may not be the latest style, but you know that they say “love” with the raspy sometimes irritating voice of truth. And their nubs and imbalances and missed stitches remind us that while we’re not there yet, we are striving to make good things. There is beauty in the trying.

Midway into knitting a cap.

Midway into knitting a cap.

As this New Year begins, I find myself trying. I’m trying to get rid of the extra pounds I’ve collected over the past few weeks. I’m trying to get back into a consistent reading of the Word. I’m trying to spend time with old friends and to even make new ones. And I’m trying to lift my head up from my usual navel gazing in order to focus more on the grace of each moment. Yes, I am trying.

And, of course, my trying is not perfect. Already I see nubs and flaws and design elements weaving themselves into and around my perfect goals. But that is okay. And that is real. And that is good.

Happy New Year to you. May you set your hands to the good works God has placed before you–and may I. And may we all keep on trying to make good things full of design elements we never dreamed of, but that seem to make the whole experience just a little more interesting and lovely.

 

 

PUTTING MY FOOT WHERE MY MOUTH IS

By Lisa Huddleston

This post is a re-run. No, that does not mean that I am reprinting an old post—it does mean that I have to keep learning its message over and over, time after time, ad nauseam even. Sheesh!

This truth is that doing anything, accomplishing almost any goal is more about persistence than it is about anything else. And that is a difficult truth to grasp.

Heck, I literally have this message tattooed on my right foot—truly—so you’d think I might be able to remember it. A long obedience in the same direction … is what gets us wherever it is we hope to arrive.

get-attachment.aspxBut this week I faced a difficult situation at “work.” I use quotation marks to set off this designation, because I am not a “real” employee at the Adult Learning Center. I am just a “volunteer” meaning I can come and go as I please and no one can really can expect too much of my abilities as a teacher.

Now, that doesn’t mean that is how I treat my “job.” I actually take it very seriously, show up on time, watch the clock during breaks, do my best with any task I’m given, and so on—as long as I am not paid to deliver I am less worried about my perceived inadequacies as a teacher and I can assist spontaneously without panic or too much fear.

However, this week was different. The regular teacher was taking a well-deserved vacation, and, because she is a true force to be reckoned with and would not take no for an answer, I was to teach in her place! What what?!

Oh, don’t think I didn’t try my best to squirm out of it! One thing I did was decide to spend my volunteer hours this whole year on one day instead of splitting them between two days as I had in the past. I told them it was a more efficient use of my time (and it probably truly is), but it was really because I hoped they’d get someone else to substitute for these two weeks! They did not.

But after teaching on Tuesday, I realized how difficult it was going to be for the “real” workers to cover “my” classes, and I felt guilty putting work I could do onto others so I caved. I actually offered to do it all! And as soon as I did, I knew it was the right step to take.

The truth is, God made me to be a teacher in one capacity or another, and when I walk in obedience to that I honestly find a great deal of joy. My family, friends, and other teachers have all told me so–but fear is a difficult obstacle to overcome. Thankfully, the classes this week went very well, the students seemed happy and engaged in learning, and I felt useful if not actually confident in the role.

So it’s one step at a time as the opportunities arise—for at least another week and hopefully for a long time after that. No, I don’t plan to apply for a “real job” as a teacher, but I’m trying not to rule anything out. God knows the work he has for me to do and as long as I can keep my eyes off of me and focus on the needs I can meet then all will be well. I pray … if I can just keep walking … and maybe position myself from time to time to see that crazy tattoo on the outside of my foot!

What goals or needs or opportunities are you allowing to go unmet because of fear or lack of discipline or insecurity or self-indulgence? Do you secretly know of something you feel drawn to do but aren’t willing to face up to the obstacles that stand in your way? What can you do today to set your eyes and your feet back on the path of long obedience? May these words encourage us all—just do it and then keep on doing it!

 

 

THE LONG OBEDIENCE STUFF

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Paper research. Fun? Nope.

By Lisa Huddleston

Probably like many of you, I have a great deal of difficulty finishing long-term projects. Oh, I start out with gusto, raring to go and looking forward to the challenge, but after a few days, or weeks, or months, or in some cases even years, I want to throw in the towel.

And that’s where I sit today–towel in hand and just about to let it fly! I’m struggling with my exercise regimen, my healthy eating program, and I have yet another paper to write for a class that will not be completed until the first week of May and still has several projects left to conquer. I just don’t wanna do anything that I know I should do today. Ugh.

That said, I did do one thing already on my list of “supposed tos.” I read today’s #LentChallenge selection. How does God always know? Really, how does He always arrange it so that I am forced to look at the truth that hits me right where I sit? (Remember where? In my corner of the ring about to throw in the towel.)

“But there is another urgency before me now. I feel compelled to go to Jerusalem. I’m completely in the dark about what will happen when I get there. I do know that it won’t be any picnic, for the Holy Spirit has let me know repeatedly and clearly that there are hard times and imprisonment ahead. But that matters little. What matters most to me is to finish what God started: the job the Master Jesus gave me of letting everyone I meet know all about this incredibly extravagant generosity of God.” (Paul, Acts 20:22-24)

Man (said with a long, drawn out, annoying Midwestern aaaaaa sound, please) … I really want to quit. You name it, I want to quit it. But no, God has to go and make me read these very words today–and I actually have to hear and heed them.

Okay, I get it. For some reason, I felt compelled to begin these classes in order to renew my teaching license–maybe to continue my work at the Adult Learning Center, maybe to face what would feel like “imprisonment” by taking a real, paying job rather than continuing to work for free and in freedom. Who knows? (Yes, God does. I know.) But whatever the outcome, I need to finish what He started in me. Keep walking on that long obedience trail in every way that He has placed before me.

Obedience is tough even for the short-term, but this long obedience stuff just may be the end of me. I guess I can hope so anyway–all the way to the end.