What Matters Most

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This year has been a whirlwind.  Michele Perry Design went live January 3 and a few months later my stationery brand WWhimsy Paper Co launched. Both are still baby businesses in many regards.  But they are growing each day and I could not be more excited to see what 2018 holds.  To be very, very honest, 2018 is the first year I have been deep down to my toes excited about since leaving Africa.

My health is getting stronger each day as long as I make wise decisions and guard it well. I still run off and on fevers a few days a week but that is all they are at this point, random fevers.  And they are lessening.

2017 has brought so many precious friends and clients into my world and I am honored to get to walk with them.  My parents have had a very, very hard medical year and are dealing with life-altering conditions that require detailed medical care but they are here.  We are here together. THAT is what matters.  We are enjoying every moment and cherishing every memory we make.  Because, y’all (This year I have somewhere picked up Southern roots I never had – hah!), that is how to really live.

Really live each day with expectation and joy and a heart spread wide with gratitude.

Again and again I am reminded that it is who is around your tree, not what’s under it that matters most this (and every) Christmas. I lettered the sentiment back in November and I have it posted on my wall, because it is so, so, so easy to get swept away by the rip currents of sales & consumerism. I’m just not going there this year, or next year, or the next year after that.

Peace and presence, not presents, make a Christmas.

For me this week is a sacred season to enjoy all the lights and carols. It is time to reflect, regather, restore, and renew. It is a time to giggle at Hallmark Christmas movies with Mom snuggled under a comforter because it’s 80ºF outside so we have cranked the AC up full blast, a time to eat homemade spice cake and drink eggnog that might have a little something-something in it.  I’m so not telling.

Holy moments are not reserved for “holy places”.  Holy moments happen every time we see and receive all the ways He comes in and through one another.  Holy moments happen when we recognize sacred space is all around us, God is always coming in the places we least expect.

Whether you celebrate by lighting a candle in a church service or by lighting a candle on your dinner table (or maybe both),  it’s the welcoming of Him that matters.  I could not be more grateful tonight for all the gifts of His grace.  And you are one of them.

Wishing you the merriest of Christmases.

Towards Christmas

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Everything has changed, and nothing has.  Everything is the same and nothing is.  I rummaged in a drawer today and caught myself thinking, “Now where did I put the short sleeved winter shirts?”  The short-sleeved winter shirts.  Hmm.  #FloridaProblems

The days are slipping towards the time we celebrate a star and a stable and a savior born in unlikely places we’d least likely look.  God’s like that.  He shows up in places we’d least expect.  He chooses the impossible and the imperfect and the ones we’d never even consider eligible.  He whispers his goodness a million ways if we will slow enough to see, to still, to receive.  To be and breathe in the place we find ourselves, whether it is at the doctor’s office or in a crowded check out line with the two year old next to us flailing wildly in our space.

And not unlike 2 thousand years ago, the world teeters on a precipice and the days slip  into night where power trumps other-centered love.  Or does it?

The darkness let the star shine brighter for those with eyes to see.  And today perhaps the darkness we see will be the invitation we need to not simply hang lights on trees, but in our hearts.  Love was born powerless.  And there is no greater threat to power than a love that does not fear relinquishing it.

My tree is trimmed, only because I never took it down.  I simply had to “dust” it off.  My world has been a crazy jumble of hurricanes and hospital hallways, parents with serious medical conditions and me with pneumonia that knocked me down for weeks.  In the middle of grad school and the joys of running my own business and client work and projects and plans and errands and a spinning world, I love this time, this quiet December space to breathe and be and see and make space for stars and stables.

Y’all.  {I’ve gone southern this year somehow.}  But y’all are loved.  Deeply cherished. And I am grateful for you being here.  May the lights we hang be reminders in a dark world that all the Light has to do to win is show up.  And we are.  We will.  And Him with us.

Don’t Let Tomorrow’s Storm Steal Today’s Sunshine

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There are words that suck all the air out of the room, and make your lungs scream defiant, terrified all at once.  Words like “stage 4 cancer” spoken over someone you love.  Reports like a change in treatment protocol needed because the old combination of medicine is no longer working the way it should.  Gratefully, there are lots of options left.  And we choose to be hopeful and prayerful that the changes will work powerfully with minimal to no side effects.

But the fact that rogue cells gained any traction at all in the body of someone I love so much makes me hate these twisted imposter cells all the more.

My years in a war zone trained my brain to default to worst case scenarios.  There worst case scenarios could be buffered by contingency plans and strategic interventions.  Now worst case scenarios just lay like lead lined blankets that make getting out of bed in the morning a feat close to scaling Mt Everest some days.  Worst case scenarios are entirely unhelpful in this new war zone. 

Right now it is not just a battle about disease, it is battle about time.  About what we will do with the days and months and years we are given.

Because truthfully no one knows the time that remains.  Not one of us.  Some of us are simply in life situations that make us more aware of that fact than others.

What if the weather forecast called for 100% chance of storms next Tuesday?  Would that forecast stop us from enjoying today’s sunshine?  Of course not.  We would not let tomorrow’s storm steal today’s sunshine.

But so often we let fear of loss, of failure, of a million things that may never happen steal the only thing any of us ever truly has: the moment we are in right now.

Then there are the things that though they likely will happen eventually, focusing on them ahead of their time steals today right from under our feet.

Focusing on what ifs steals what is.  Focusing too hard on the future empowers a reality we have not yet been given the grace to walk through. That friend is where my fight comes in. 

My fight is won and lost by what I choose to focus on.

There are some things you just have to set your face like flint towards and refuse to be moved. I may not be able to change certain circumstances, but I sure can change the way I relate to them.  And I REFUSE to let tomorrow’s grief steal today’s joy.

Utterly refuse.   Today is too precious.  I refuse to let a future grief steal the present moment to build memories and love well.  Today by grace I will live and love well. I will cherish the present and receive it as the gift it is.  I will choose to let tomorrow worry about itself and trust the One Who holds me and the futures of all the ones I love in His hands.