Posted in Lent, pics, Yahweh's fingerprints


Taken at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo by Sassy

If most of life is perceived right-side up, then I am seeing life from the point of view of this rodeo clown these days.  Everything seems out of whack, but in reality, life is moving along as it always has, I’m just feeling the flip.

While this rodeo clown intentionally jumped off this barrel, I feel like the rug was pulled out from under me through no fault or choice of my own.  I’ve been on a magic carpet ride of sorts for the last couple of years and it’s been a refreshing change from what has been the “normal” in my life.  My circumstances have unfolded fairly well – I have a good job, a great place to live, good friends, and a church that keeps me grounded.  My outlook on life has changed.  My goals have changed.  My heart has changed – all, I believe, for the better.  I have learned that all changes aren’t necessarily bad.

It’s not like life is bad right now, it’s just changing.  Again.  Many things I’ve collected around me on this magic carpet are in flux right now.  I know nothing stays the same, I just don’t want my life to get to a place where I don’t recognize it anymore when the dazed and confused phase ends.  When I’m feeling the flip, all my insecurities surge forward until I’m convinced I’m not going to land on my feet again or be able to recover my balance when I try to stand and get my bearings. 

No matter what happens, if I ask myself, “what’s the worst that could happen?” I can testify from experience that no matter what, I survive.  When I’m feeling the flip, I need to remember that what’s for my good doesn’t always look or feel good from my perspective.

One of these days, all of the things in flux will settle into a new pattern and I’ll see the world from a standing position again.  Until then, I’ll keep feeling the flip and the comfort of knowing the flip doesn’t last.

Posted in Lent, random, Yahweh's fingerprints


I’ve been sick for almost two weeks now and have been confined to my couch when I’m not at work (or at prepaid, planned events). I’ve watched quite a bit of basketball (sorry, Baylor, Purdue), edited many photos, slept, and had many thoughts sloshing around in my head.  Unfortunately, most of those thoughts are still sloshing, which has made sleep elusive (that, and the coughing).  I hope to start downloading my brain again, but I apologize if to you, the reader, this all seems a little random.

For some reason this just popped into my head:  How to get rid of weeds without all the chemicals? How about the old fashioned way? PULL THEM.  I think it’s all the Lowe’s commercials I’ve seen the past two days where the couple goes to the Garden Center and gets bags and bottles of chemicals so their flowerbeds will be prettier and more productive that led that thought to pop into my head.  Perhaps it was all the time I spent as a kid helping the older folks in my church plant their gardens and flowers in the spring (without chemicals) that has made me wonder why people reach for the quick, man-made solution that could kill everything that’s healthy around the weed, too, and burn holes in their clothes rather than working up a little sweat and just pulling the weed out down to the root, which is usually more eco-friendly and permanent.

This is my brain on decongestants and no sleep.

So, of course, after all the sloshing around in my brain, I began to think about how I’ve been trying to treat this current sinus infection.  Instead of reaching for a Zpack or other antibiotic, I have struggled an extra week trying to combat this menace with Ricola cough drops, Sudafed, oregano oil, my neti pot and Puffs (with lotion).  Granted, I could have gone to the doctor, gotten the Zpack, and been back to my optimum speed in three or four days, but I’m committed to treating my body with as few chemicals as possible. 

Suffice it to say, I’m feeling better, and I’ve managed not to run to the quick fix again, which is a victory and confirmation that, for me, this method is what works.

I used to be the Quick Fix Queen, but often, the problem/illness/character trait would just spring up again, this time bigger and meaner and more resistant to treatment than before.  The circle of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, so I’ve tried to walk off the beaten path and see how that works.  So far, so good.

Yes, sometimes I still want to run to the quick fix, but experience tells me waiting, working through the problem/illness/whatever to the root/core is what will lead to the most growth.  Pulling weeds takes longer, stains your fingers, and sometimes makes the back ache, but in the long run, the soil remains uncontaminated, ready for something new and healthy to grow in its place.  Spraying chemicals might kill the weed, but often, all that’s left is a hole where nothing can grow, at least for a while.

If I want a change in health/life/everything to last, I have to go about it in the way that will yield that result.  I’m in a season of weeding, of trying to pull out of my life whatever keeps me small, fearful, stuck… by the root.  Once and for all. 

Be patient with me.  Change is difficult, and slow, but if I get to the root of the whatever the current weed in my life is and pull it, I won’t have to go back and repeat this process.  The quickest fix of all is to do something right the first time.

Posted in Bro Onions, Lent, Yahweh's fingerprints


My Transparent Onion has a friend that I’ve only hung out with a couple of times, but he, like my Transparent Onion, asks deep, probing questions disguised as random thoughts.  Of course, his question, awkwardly answered, really did hit me like a ton of bricks – many hours later.  I will get to The Question momentarily.

The first time I met him we were watching TV with the Transparent Onion and his lovely bride-to-be after a birthday dinner.  My Transparent Onion is addicted to various things:  Lost, Texas Aggie sports, other various sports featuring teams that do not wear maroon and white, Ultimate Frisbee, really good music, coffee (his Nana recently enabled him with a coffee grinder the size of a garbage compactor), and, among other things, BBC America’s Planet Earth

After we finished a section of Planet Earth, this lanky blonde sits up from where he had unfolded on the floor and asks, “So, what do you do to change the world every day?”

Inside, my reaction was identical to the first time the Transparent Onion asked me one of his deeply probing randomly-disquised questions, “Um…like…do you know me?!”  My answer meandered because one, I was not expecting the question (but I guess I should.  My Transparent Onion rolls with some pretty deep and pondering peeps), and two, if you could sum up what I do for a living it’s making order from chaos, which doesn’t sound very exciting or fulfilling.  If you peel away the layers of any job I’ve had, though, that phrase is the most basic way to describe my work skill set, and it’s easier than trying to describe what I do without people pulling from their file of perceived notions of what my job actually is.

Of course, I went home that night and couldn’t get that question off my mind.  When it comes down to it, what I do (at least for a living) really does nothing to change the world – at least I don’t see it that way. 

There are things I do (writing, photography, friendship and other unquantifiables) that perhaps, at the very least, bring joy or a new view or perspective to the world, but my work revolves around none of these things.  After I was asked The Question, I see how out of balance this is (and I will continue to work on reversing that).

Most of the time I feel like a star-shaped peg trying to find the place I fit while walking through a maze of round and square holes, and that includes my life outside work.  One day, I will find that star-shaped hole and I will fit in it so naturally I will wonder how on earth I kept missing it.

What I’ve finally decided is that it’s not necessarily what I do that changes the world, it’s who I am and Whose I am that is the starting point of whether or not I am a world changer.  That realization is a difficult pill to swallow when I get reminded every once in a while that I’m not always the best advertisement of God.  

I am certain about one thing pertaining to my answer to The Question – it needs to be a different one.  First of all, I need to be in the mindset of changing the world every day, even if the world, for that moment, is as big as a cubicle or a conference room, or perhaps even someone’s living room, car or couch.   Second, I need to empower myself to utilize the skills that really are my world changers. 

I need to be better prepared to answer questions like The Question.  Dang those Bro Onions and their brothers from… different gardens… These young men keep me on my toes, which, I guess, in many ways, changes my world one day at a time. 

I’m working on that different answer now.  Thanks for that world changing question. 

Posted in Lent, Yahweh's fingerprints


Years ago, a counselor looked me in the eye and confirmed that I had absolutely no nurturing skills. As much as that ticked me off at the time, I came to find she was right. Though I was good with kids, though I had friends, I didn’t know how to nurture. At all.

I grew up in something of a nurturing vacuum. It isn’t a surprise, really, then that I struggled with keeping relationships alive. I had nothing to give and didn’t know how to give anything to a relationship to nourish it and make it grow.

So my counselor told me to get a teddy bear. I was dubious, but decided to complete the assignment. I bought a cute little teddy bear with a bow tie named Henry. I held Henry a lot but soon thought Henry might be lonely, so I bought another bear named Sam. Henry and Sam were polar opposites, if teddy bears could be so. Henry had his bow tie, Sam still wears the same hoodie he came with. Henry is a very proper bear, represents the child who always does the right thing, follows the rules, and, if a real boy, would grow up to invent something spectacular from within his wonderful brain. Sam… Sam is represents the child who tends to get into trouble from time to time with grownups because he feels the need to see how far rules will stretch, how creatively he can pursue this stretching, and he makes the grownups face their rigidness with all these rules and patterns that Sam just can’t fit into.

I had to hold these bears a lot. I had to imagine that the nurturing they were receiving was actually making a difference. I had to suspend reality to break out of the box my brain was in that said there was no way I was learning anything from this exercise.

Then one day I realized I was holding the two halves of myself that warred with each other. Henry was who I was as a kid, the people pleasing perfectionist who walked the line set out before me by people who had planned out who I was going to be long before I was born. Sam was who I really wanted to be, but didn’t dare try to become, because a lot of things about what Sam represented didn’t make any sense to me.

I love both Sam and Henry. There are good aspects to each of them and there are bad ones as well. I had to find the combination of all these parts that make me… me. Then I had to find a way to nurture that authentic self.

I’m not sure that’s what my counselor was going for, but it happened nonetheless. I still don’t know what it means that I made both of those bears male. I still don’t know what it means that they were so different or that I felt the need to complicate the assignment with two bears. I may never figure that out, but that assignment was important for me in many ways.

I think I’ve learned to love fairly freely, as much as I’ve learned how anyway. I still have a long way to go, but I have improved greatly. I have had some sustained close relationships. I love more freely, regardless of what comes back to me. Sometimes I get loved back. Sometimes I get hurt.

It was recently that I discovered that though I fear rejection and hurt, I fear being loved in return more. I’ve experienced love in return and it’s a frightening, fearsome thing. It’s difficult for me to receive love, a love that will nourish me and help me grow, but grow I must, or I will not be able to keep raising the standard of how I love people.

Loving people…imperfect beings… is hard. Somehow I have to open the valve and let some of that love that I’m giving back inside if I hope to keep growing in my ability to love.

Guarding my heart so well… has led me to an empty place. I’ve been afraid of my heart breaking, but it gets broken anyway. I can’t protect it, only God can. God surrounds me with his love, so when my heart breaks, he falls into every crack… and heals me. I have experienced God in new ways when my heart shatters into so many pieces that only God can put it together again.

I have learned from the heartbreak, now I must learn from being open to receiving love. A new adventure for the new, authentic me.

A man asks his rabbi, “Why does God write the law on our hearts? Why not in our hearts? It’s the inside of my heart that needs God.” The rabbi answered, “God never forces anything into a human heart. He writes the word on our hearts so that when our hearts break, God falls in.”

Posted in Lent, pics, relationships, Yahweh's fingerprints


Lent is upon us again.

Last night I made pancakes for two friends and we enjoyed each others’ company and enjoyed a tradition of what many do the night before Lent. We celebrated Fat Tuesday, the last night for forty days to indulge before entering a season of reflection, prayer, and fasting.

After my friends left, I pondered what I might learn during this Lenten season… Many things entered my mind, but nothing concrete hit me as I fell asleep.

When I woke up, however, I was overwhelmed by a deep notion that there was more of me left to heal. The heart of a terrified, eight-year old girl that I’ve tried to protect all my life. The age when I recoiled slowly inside myself, when I truly believe I lost the road map to what it truly means to be a woman… losing the desire to be feminine, the “weaker” vessel, when I made myself tough and self-reliant.

Long story short, though the adult me has found healing, I’ve protected the child inside me from having to deal with the abuse. While I’ve known that deep down somewhere… I just never could acknowledge it.

I began to cry and tried to get on with the tasks at hand – getting up, eating breakfast, going to work. I kept crying. I was so overwhelmed.

I’ve done so much soul-searching lately and I blame/credit/acknowledge that’s because I have this new set of little brothers (which is odd to say because they’re both so dang tall) who help me more than they know. Both these guys approach challenges in different ways and both are wise beyond their years. They have each taught me more in such a short time than I could possibly teach them in a lifetime. Fun thing is they really don’t know it and I can picture both faces if I actually said all this to them. Above all, they make me laugh and smile, which are gifts I cherish in friends.

One brother has been a steadfast rudder in my life. He isn’t predictable by any means, but I know exactly what to expect from him. He speaks softly, but the weight of his words often hits me between the eyes with some force. He has such a peaceful soul, and has been so tolerant and understanding and willing to put up with me being all over the map sometimes. He gets excited about my dreams and discoveries. He is a gentle man who weighs his weighty words and finds something good to say about everybody and everything or he won’t say much at all. He’s someone I want to be like when I grow up.

The other brother, whom I only recently connected with, but feel like I’ve known forever… He’s the one who asks me all these soul-searching questions (and I’m like, do you even know me?!) that I’ve actually let myself think about and even dare to answer. When he commits to someone or some thing, he is ALL in. He ponders deeply, and is my complex, but transparent (to me) onion.

Oh, those walls, those shields… I know what they are. I’ve lived with them for 32 years. The extra weight of protection. The sarcasm. The toughness. The “at arm’s length.” The list is long. What I do know is that these walls keep me closed to love and keep me from truly pursuing my womanhood fully.

Yes, I am a woman. Yes, I do many feminine things, but I never have embraced my femininity. To embrace that part of myself, I have to let go of some fears and lies. I have to unfold and let that 8 year old girl, still innocent, who loved flowers and kittens and dolls and dresses grow up outside that room that I’ve protected her in and let her experience life out here, come what may.

The door creaked open and I can’t describe what I feel right now. Just know this is the scariest thing I’ve ever done because it’s from the scariest place I’ve ever been.

I’m still not certain what any of this means for the next forty days. Lest you think I will start wearing lace and hot pink… you would be mistaken. I don’t know that this is what that is about. What I do know is that as these walls fall down, I will know myself more intimately than I ever have before.

What I have discovered by re-examining the past few weeks, though, is that I find myself discovering more what it means to be a woman by being book-ended by two people who know how to treat someone who is vulnerable and in the midst of change.

As the walls fall down, the more I am able to freely give of myself in creative ways, and I look forward to that over the next forty days as well.

I go to sleep tonight so grateful, so encouraged and hopeful.

Buckle up, y’all. It’s going to be an interesting ride.

Posted in Lent, Yahweh's fingerprints


The last time I got up at 5 AM was… well, it was… I think it was… a Thanksgiving a long time ago when we got up and drove with droopy eyes in hopes of arriving in San Angelo in time for the Thanksgiving feast. We drove in darkness for quite some time and then the sun rose, I’m almost certain of it… but the rest of the trip was shrouded in a dense fog, so I could barely tell the sun had made an appearance.

This morning, I got up at 5 AM to go to a sunrise service at my church. The service was not a big production – in fact, it was what one might call Ecclesia Unplugged. Robbie played an acoustic guitar and led worship and all voices that were heard were lifted up sans microphone. There was an absence of Power Point and the pomp and circumstance that an Easter service might have elsewhere (and not that there’s anything wrong with that). The service was simple and beautiful, and is one of the many reasons I have gone home to Ecclesia.

The service began in the darkness at 6:30 AM in the courtyard (last year it began at 5:30 AM and when they emerged an hour later, it was still dark). We lit candles and sang a song, then processed inside where selections from the word of God were read aloud, telling the story of the risen Saviour from the creation of the world to his ressurrection. After more singing and communion, we processed back to the courtyard, where the sun had broken the horizon and disappeared behind the clouds. We sang again and were dismissed into the dim light of the day.

Those that know me, know I’m not lucid most days before 9 AM. I was back home with a cup of Starbuck’s in my hand and partaking of some oatmeal by 8:15. I fully remember and enjoyed this morning’s service and am thankful I made it to experience sunrise with the community I’m making my journey with.

As Lent closes, I’m reminded that if it takes 21 days to create a habit, then in 40 days, I’d like to think I’ve created a new attitude for myself, one of hope and not fear, and now I look forward and pray I can keep feeding that new attitude and face my next leap of faith at a dead run.

Posted in about shae, friends, Lent, Yahweh's fingerprints


I was sitting at a table at Collina’s last Saturday with a friend of mine. Our conversations are usually deep and fast paced and I tread water in the ocean of his intelligence as best I can. Just when I think I’m keeping up, he almost always switches gears on me and there’s a trainwreck in my head, and this time was no different.

I don’t even remember exactly what we were talking about at that juncture of the conversation, but while I was trying to process what he’d been saying, he suddenly asked, “what motivates you?”

Most of you that know me, know I am a ponderer. I weigh my words carefully and choose them with purpose… and if I don’t, I often don’t make sense or unwittingly contradict myself because I haven’t thought things through. Sometimes this weighing of words is a quick process, other times, depending on the subject matter, it takes a couple of days.

I don’t get the luxury of pondering with this friend most of the time. His brain runs at full speed unless he’s sleeping. When he asks a question, his brain has already moved beyond my answer, because nearly every question he’s ever asked me is a bridge to a point that pops into his head at any given moment.

My brain zips along at a pretty good clip most of the time, but I still would rather think about what I’m going to say before I say it. Still,I try to keep up with him as best I can so he threw the question out there and I responded with the first thing that popped into my head.

“What motivates you?”

“Health. Health motivates me. I don’t care what I look like or if I’m thin… I just want to be healthy.” (and for me, that’s in all areas of my life, not just weight)

I could tell by looking at him that I’d hit the tip of the iceberg of what he intended that question to grow into. He let me finish, then he firmly pushed one of my buttons and said that I needed to do whatever I could to succeed, not just to prove the naysayers in my life wrong (you know, the people who said, “you’re not a writer,” “dreams are for other people,” etc), but to make sure that my father “doesn’t win,” and that if I don’t succeed, if I let life pass me by, my father most definitely wins.

I sat there and let his words wash over me. Very few people understand what I’ve been though let alone verbalize that they not only understand, but they know I can use that pain and turn it into purpose… that I need to use my past to motivate me as I build my future. My friend has done this to me before – pushed a button and taken me off guard and forced my brain to churn out one word or a phrase that can’t possibly encompass all I want to say. He’s really good at it, in fact (and I’m sure he knows it).

His questions or phrases hit me – zip! and those are the times I nod numbly, wishing I could pause him for a few minutes while I come up with a response. Instead, we usually forge on, and he gets an email hours or days later when I’ve thought over his question and the things I wished I could have said in the midst of the conversation.

The phrase, “what motivates you?” stayed with me a few days. More words poured into my head – a woman spoke at our church and talked about how she once was motivated by fear… I read or heard how money or power or security motivates others. I pondered it all for a few days, but what I really wanted to let him know, besides being right, was that I was grateful for his encouragement… because encouragement also motivates me.

I’ve been blessed over the years to have a core group of cheerleaders who have spurred me on, who at times, when I wanted to let go and give up on everything, have grabbed the cross with one hand, and clung to me with the other. These friends have lifted me up, cheered me on, filled up my tank and kept me going when so many walked away and gave up on me. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them… my persistent, loving, encouraging posse.

I don’t know why I’m surprised then when my wheels start spinning again or when I feel like I’m never going to turn that corner or be able to leave that hurt or hinderance behind, that one of the posse steps up. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, either, when the source of that encouragement comes from a most unexpected place.

Why is it unexpected? It’s unexpected because, for most of my life, my posse has been made up of women for many reasons. If I continue to only let women speak into my life, I know my father wins. I’ve long known that, but in the past I’ve opened myself up to the wrong people, including men, and have been broken and ripped apart because of it. The old me had horrendous friend choosing skills and I paid for it dearly.

Fast forward to the new me, the me motivated by being healthy and a healthy person, and times have changed. In the past five months, I’ve taken leaps of faith that have drastically altered the course of my life. And, in the past two weeks, I’ve opened myself up to a new group of people…men included… and I’ve tried so hard not to hold the men at arm’s length. Though I’m still scared to death of even a close friendship with a man… I know that distance is motivated by fear. And isn’t fear… the black cloud that follows me… isn’t that what I’ve purposed to put behind me during this Lent?

I’ve gone against every impulse of self preservation in the last few months and not to say it’s been painless, but I’ve emerged on the other side a more courageous person… who still has a long way to go… but a person who is reaping the rewards of leaving fear in my rearview mirror.

My friend has told me more than once that strong hearts always make a comeback even after they get ripped to shreds. If I keep telling him he’s right, he’s going to get a big head, but he is again correct in his assessment. I’ve risked a lot for this friendship and have gone against my very nature to take baby steps with him and I think it’s paid off in ways I haven’t even began to ponder yet. I can ask him anything, and I’ve returned that sentiment, which is why I’m still pondering motivation a week later.

I’m no longer fearful of building on the new relationships that have formed the past few months, and I’ve gotten there one tiny, deliberate, purposeful step at a time. I’ve discovered my heart is a lot stronger than I’ve ever given it credit for and I’m motivated to keep walking down this path to find out where it leads.

I am motivated by health and by encouragement (among other things). What motivates you?

Posted in Lent, Yahweh's fingerprints


A few years back I gave up my negative attitude for Lent. I made myself look for the silver lining in every cloud, made myself not say anything if I couldn’t think of something positive to say, and I gave hope a fighting chance. To say that experience was life-altering would be an understatement of epic proportions. If it takes 21 days to create a habit, then in 40 days, I’d created a new attitude for myself.

Not that there aren’t days when the black cloud doesn’t follow me around. I still spend too much time waiting for it to rain on my parade and when my life is going well, I wait for the other shoe to drop. Something is going to come along and ruin this perfect (thing), I just know it. I can’t help myself. A little bit of the negative still remains.

So a dear friend of mine (who suffers from this same perspective affliction) and I decided that it was time for the black cloud and his silly little shoe to take a hike and Lent was the perfect time to do it. We agreed to feel our way through Lent, good or bad, and live each day as if the black cloud had disappeared… and if she rained on us, then we’d feel through the rain, too.

Within 24 hours after making this choice, I was blind sighted left, right, sideways, upright and upside down. By the end of the week, I felt like a battered rag doll in a thunderstorm. Still, I managed to keep the black cloud at bay, but not before I’d shed many tears and wondered aloud when the storm would stop.

When I was a kid, after it would rain, I would go run and jump in the puddles barefooted and that’s what I’m trying to do now. Whatever comes my way, I’ll work my way through it and enjoy it or endure it for what it is. It’s all about how I choose to look at the situation and how I deal with it.

If it takes 21 days to create a habit, then in 40 days, I hope to create another point of view for myself. When the black cloud comes for a visit, or I begin to look for falling shoes, I’ll go barefoot puddle jumping and feel the wonder of it all.