Tuesday, February 22, 2022

The Art of Transformation

 The Everlasting Art of Transformation

Transformation: to alter or change dramatically in form or appearance

The word played out in multiple ways for me this week. 

 

Everyone...even the grands
 are working!
First, my youngest daughter and her husband bought a new house. Actually it is an old house, but new to them. Built when I was in grade school, the house has had many additions and makeovers through the years. We spent several days removing wallpaper from the dining room, bedroom, and hall. There is more to go. 

 


As we work, we talk about ways the space can be further updated. Remodeled. Transformed. 

 

It is a work in progress. Then again, aren’t we all?

 

On Sunday, my mother and I went with my oldest daughter to the theater to see a Broadway production of My Fair Lady. It was a Christmas gift from Allison and well worth the wait. If you don’t remember the premise of the story, Henry Higgins boasts he can transform a lowly girl peddling flowers on the street into a “lady” by changing her Cockney dialect and accent to the King’s English. Eliza Doolittle, the flower girl, likes the idea of working in a proper flower shop. Make no mistake… it is her decision to seek out the promised transformation. Over the course of a few weeks, she learns to speak “properly” and dress for high society.


My Fair Lady

I told my daughter I couldn't remember how the play ended. When the final curtain fell, I realized the end was intentionally ambiguous. That notion hit me when I recognized Eliza, though refined and accepted in high social circles is still a work in progress. Then again, aren’t we all?

 

Finally, our Tuesday morning Bible study group is learning about people named in the New Testament book, Acts of the Apostles. We tend to think or at least I tend to think of those early Christians as heroes of some sort. They have all the answers, right? Wrong. They are all people being transformed. Altered. Changed. They are believers. They are seeking God’s will for their lives. They are muddling through. They are a work in progress. Then again, aren’t we all?

 

We can paint the walls of our house. We can change our looks. We can change the way we speak or act. Those transformations, though dramatic, are from the outside in. The early Christians as well as all of us who continue to grow in our relationship with God? Those transformations are from the inside out.

 

I suppose it comes down to this: D├ęcor changes. The style of clothing changes. What is popular today will likely be out of style in a few years. God never changes. So while a few hours scraping wallpaper off the dining room ceiling or trying to dress appropriately for a given occasion is worthwhile, subtle but dramatic transformations of the heart and mind last forever.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Fun, Full, Fantastic February

 Fun, Full, Fantastic, February

 

I don’t know about you, but typically, I dread February. 

 

It may be the shortest month of the year, but with long dark days, colder weather, and twenty Valentine movies I’ve watched way too many times, February seems to stretch itself out like a long desolate highway to nowhere.

 

The mood swing can become so prevalent it is often given a name. It may be referred to as “the winter blues,” or “February mood swings.” Of course the serious cases are treated as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

 

Mood markers may include low energy, chronic fatigue, or even weight gain. Okay, that could define any number of disorders, but suffice it to say with limited sunshine, I dread February.

 

Usually. But…not so much this year. 

 

We had a crazy, cold, bring-everything-to-a-halt snowfall the first week of the month, but other than those two or three days of cold, the sun is shining and so is my mood.

 

Sun and light are major components of good mental health. But there is more.

 

1) I haven’t had to miss a single Tuesday morning Bible study yet due to the weather. Getting together with that small group is energizing. We’re looking into the lives of people identified in the Book of Acts. It seems they are an ordinary bunch with a strong desire to share what they’ve learned about Jesus with others. Not so different from us.

 

The Groundhog Dance was great!

2) On the fifth of February, a friend took me out for dinner and to a “Groundhog Dance” at his club. The music was provided by a fun band called Mad River. We snacked, and danced, and met a few new people.

 

3) This past week I “traveled” the Baltic Sea with a friend via the Armchair Series sponsored by our community trustees. The presenter took some great photos on his cruise. He threw in a bit of humor and the warm, soft oatmeal cookies were a big hit.

 

4) I belong to a pinochle group and play some euchre at the community center.

 

5) My youngest daughter and I met up one day with my mom for lunch. 

 

I cheered as hard as I could!

6) Of course the highlight of February in my neck of the woods was watching our home team in the Super Bowl. The Cincinnati Bengals may not have won, but they demonstrated to everyone they deserved to be there. It seemed the whole city was painted orange and black. (So much better than the gray of February.)

 

And next week? My mom, daughter, and I are going to the Broadway production of My Fair Lady at the Aronoff Center in Cincinnati. 

 

“The rine in spine lies minely on the pline.” 

 

That’s the inscription on the umbrellas Allison gave us by way of an invitation to the theater.

 

On a side note: All of my daughters understand the value of giving experiences over sweaters at for Christmas! And I’m the beneficiary!

 

What wonderful experiences are you claiming for this month?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

The Kindness Club

THE KINDNESS CLUB

My oldest granddaughter approached the principal of her school with the idea of starting a “Kindness Club.” The idea was to gather a group of students who would commit to writing encouraging words and notes to classmates, tucking them into their desks or lockers randomly. 

 

I don’t know about you, but I think a year of receiving encouraging notes without cause is better than one fancy Valentine card in February.

 


The timing for me was interesting. My Bible study group is studying people in the book of Acts—Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament. This week we examined Barnabas. We don’t often look at what some consider the minor characters in the Bible. 

 

When Barnabas learned of Jesus he gave himself over fully to the cause of Christianity. He was, in our modern thinking, completely “sold out.” We know from the book of Acts he supported the growing church financially. That alone is major, but if you read the text carefully, you see he was a person who simply did what was needed when and where it was needed.

 

Barnabas trains other believers. He travels as a missionary. And when Paul, a new convert, begins to take center stage, Barnabas supports him. Barnabas is an encourager. He doesn’t have to be in the limelight. That is powerful.

 

Without those to encourage… babies would play with sounds but never speak words…. A six-year-old would give up riding a two-wheeler after the first fall... Leaders would fail… Man would never have walked on the moon.

 

You think I’m exaggerating? Nope. Not at all.

 

Affirming words are the love language of success.

 

You may still want to give someone a Valentine card or a box of chocolates, but trust me… offering sincere words of encouragement will last longer and mean more.

 

I have been blessed to have had a bevy of encouragers throughout my life. My grandparents and parents encouraged me to do my best in school. When I wanted to pursue an advanced degree, my husband signed me up for a class. When I decided to become an author, he didn’t question my decision. He merely said, “You can do that! What are you going to write?”

 

In turn, I try to encourage my own children and grandchildren. 

 

Along the way, I’ve learned it isn’t about succeeding. It’s about trying.

 

To try, we often need someone on the sidelines cheering us on. We all need a Barnabas in our lives. And…we would do well to be a Barnabas to others.


So here is your challenge today…this week: Speak encouraging words to someone or write an encouraging note for someone. 

 

You can do this. I know you can! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

The Groundhog Day Movie Challenge

The Groundhog Day Movie Challenge: 

Making the Most of February


 

My youngest grandson called me as February approached. He was taking a survey. “Do you think the groundhog will see his shadow or won’t see his shadow?” he asked. I told him I hope he doesn’t see his shadow. “Me, too,” he said. “If he doesn’t see his shadow, spring will come and I can go barefoot outside!”

 

We talked a few minutes about how animals know more about the weather than we think. He’s five. And smart. Then he was off, tallying the marks on his survey. Everyone on his list, it seems, wants an early spring. And summer.

 

I don’t actually trust the predictions of a rodent but for some reason Groundhog Day shows up in my writing. The first time was in Breathing on Her Own. 


Here is the excerpt: 

 

The radio alarm clock, set for 6:00am, sounded with I’ve Got You Babe. It reminded Molly of Groundhog Day. What would happen if Laney had the chance to relive that horrible Friday over and over until she changed her life? Molly lay in bed pondering the possibilities, as Travis got ready for work.


If I could change the events of todaywhat would I do?

“Interesting,” she said out loud.

 

“What’s interesting?” Travis buttoned his shirt.

 

“I was thinking about that movie Groundhog Day. Do you remember it?”

 

“Yeah, I think so. The guy kept waking up to the same day, right? And then he started using that to his advantage. What made you think of that?”

 

Molly sat up in the bed, watching her husband select a pair of socks from the drawer. “A song. But what I was thinking was how every decision we make from the minute we get out of bed shapes our day.”

“Profound.”

“That sounded sarcastic.”

 

Travis leaned in to kiss his wife. “Sorry, I guess I didn’t watch the movie with your philosophical eye. My first decision today is to go to work. I have a breakfast meeting with our staff.”


Travis headed downstairs as Molly fell back on her pillow.  

 

As I was thinking about this post, I considered Molly’s comment on how every decision we make each morning shapes our whole day. I thought how the movie Groundhog Day fits with my word for the year…RESET. 

 

In the movie, the character Bill Murray plays has no choice but to hit the reset button every morning. 

 

I have a choice. I can choose each day to “change,” “adapt,” “redesign,” “adjust, “recast,” or “revise” who I am and what I’m doing. Or, as Bill Murray did in the movie, learn something new. 

 

So instead of that New Year’s resolution you already discarded, how about joining me in a February challenge? Choose to read a new book, learn to play a song on the piano, paint or draw a picture, study a new language (or try to relearn the one you studied in high school), create something new, or maybe try a new recipe each week. 

 

You get the idea. February is your chance for a do-over. No long-term commitment. No money invested. You can spend five minutes a day or five hours a week. You figure out how much time you want to spend in February. Me? I have a song I want to learn to play on the piano. I want to know it so well I could sit down anytime anywhere and play it from memory. I’ll let you know how it goes. 

 

But first, I think I’ll see if I can find that movie. A little light-hearted entertainment on a wintry day? I’m in!

 

What challenge will you take on for February? Leave your idea in the comments or shoot me an email at rebecca@waterswords.com and I’ll cheer you on secretly…shhh!


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