Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Category: love (page 1 of 3)

The Magic Penny and the Ebook

I’m not sure how you most effectively avoid doing necessary work. In the midst of most stressful days or weeks, I tend to take on projects that don’t actually need to be completed. But reorganizing the kitchen utensil drawer or listing our favorite recipes in alphabetical order somehow gnaws at me until it’s done.

So, this week, while I moved my parents into a new house, took on a new work project and revisited my Yoga Teacher Training homework, I decided to author an ebook. Fortunately, it was written, just not created.

It’s a compilation of my most popular pieces of 2015. Maybe you’ve read them. Maybe you missed one. Maybe you’re a sucker for the word “free” and hoard books on your kindle (ahem, I’m looking at you Trevor). In any case, it’s available for you, for free. Because when I went to 4-H camp we sang a little song:

Love is something if you give it away,
Give it away, give it away.
Love is something if you give it away,
You end up having more.

(The Magic Penny)

So, there you go. And here you go.  After you can sign up, it will arrive via email.  (No, I will not sell, give or otherwise disperse your email info, especially when I know you keep a special “junk mail” yahoo address for reasons such as this. Well, I might sell it,  if someone offers me One Million Dollars.)

 

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Love in absence

September 11, 2001: Chances are, you remember where you were, who you were with and the feelings that arose that morning. If you’re from Upper Sandusky, there’s a good chance you can also zero in on October 11, 2001 and where you were that evening. Whose house you visited, the person you called, and how you processed. You recall the first time you spoke to Carol in the following weeks, lacking words but with a heart yearning to express the grief. If you’re from Upper Sandusky, you can probably recall your thoughts on the lack of Homecoming that year or the wait at the funeral home.

A group of students from the church gathered in the chapel and when Colleen locked the doors the floor was covered in tissues. Friends of the family arrived the next evening and found Carol washing dishes, the only thing that made sense at the time. At the funeral service, JJ stood stoically in support of Sarah as she spoke.

I know these stories so closely because they’ve become a part of me. They’re a part of my genome so much that you might surmise I was actually there.  Maybe in your mind, you replace the girl who rode in the limo with JJ from the funeral to the cemetery with my face. I often do. I wish it was my hand he held. I pretend I gave Jim and Carol hugs or coffee or Lambrusco in those awful days.

But I didn’t.

Truth be told, I was a junior at OU. I was likely getting ready for the annual Fall Retreat, my biggest challenge of the day being who I would ride with on Friday. I was probably at a Bible study that night, talking about “real” things like the inerrency of scripture. Honestly, I have no clue what I was doing on the day that would change my all my future Octobers.

Is it fair to say you miss someone you never met? To hear these precious stories and long to know the the person behind the pictures? It’s complete bull that I have never heard that laugh or the way she would shriek when JJ would pick on her.

If I’m honest – and perhaps a tad selfish- I’ll tell you: I feel completely cheated. Jipped. Shortchanged. I’ve never had the joy of Christina in my life, only the sorrow of her absence.

So today I’m missing something I never knew I had. After 14 years, the latter 12 of which I have been present, I grieve the hole in my family life, the place where she belongs but does not sit.

Love is like that. Perhaps this is when we know our love has reached a depth indescribable by words alone. You take on the story of those you love and make it your own. You allow your love to grow in the absence when the presence isn’t available.

 

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Why I Quit Math

When my oldest was born, we had a brief (largely unnecessary, IMHO) stay at the NICU. When he was cleared of his most pressing concern, it took us a while to get out of the hospital. The nurses and doctors were measuring every diaper and what filled it. They were weighing him hourly (he was born a healthy weight). While the nurses could tell me that he wasn’t hungry because he was content, sleeping, not fussing, the protocol said to measure, measure, measure. I left convinced that the hospital community would measure anything that could be attached to a number.

I’m not saying all metrics are a bad thing – far from it. My friend E has convinced me that there is a level of accountability available through our number games that must exist for the well-being of all people. But take a quick look at our society and you see us math-ing all the time. Calories burned & consumed. Test scores. Profit margin. Miles logged.

Not long ago a professional athlete posted his disdain for participation trophies. While I also think paying for little trinkets of shiny plastic is a tad silly (another post, another time), his comments revealed the ethos of our culture: We’re addicted to outcomes. We need to know how we measure up. Where do we fall in the bell curve? If I’m not Top Dog, how close am I and did enough people  fall below me that I’m still in the upper tier?

If you’re running a business or a professional sports team, this is perhaps a helpful inquiry. But do you know where it doesn’t compute?

Worthiness.

Let me be clear my friends: in all my study, all my understanding of Scripture, all my time pondering the ways of God, it has never once come up that God takes all of humankind, lines them up according to salary, athletic prowess, months they successfully breastfed, BMI, or GPA. And if He did decide to rank us according to an asinine category, he certainly wouldn’t take only the top third with him to the pearly gates.

God doesn’t parcel out his love to the top performers. He does not hold a draft and there are no tryouts. If you want in, you’re in. If you want a fun little weekend project, read the gospels (or pick your favorite) and start counting the number of times the failures, the not-enoughs make it into Jesus’ roster. This isn’t just Good News that your imperfections don’t count against you – it’s Good News that you can stop comparing your best efforts to everyone else’s.

You don’t have to watch what everyone else is doing to know you’re worthy of love.

If you’d like another fun little reading project, start digging into the New Testament and make tally marks when you come across phrases like “what matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.” (Ephesians 5:6, MSG) or “Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” (I John 4:16).

So just stop. Stop adding. Stop averaging. If you want to become better at something because it makes your life better, than by all means – do it. Live life fully and stop half-assing what is important to you. The girl that keeps a Life Plan with 100 Year Goals will tell you there’s nothing wrong from wanting to extract every opportunity from this one blessed lifetime. But don’t use your improvement metrics as an argument to why you are loved, by others or by God. God doesn’t do a lot of math.

True love is attached to who you are, not what you’ve achieved. If you try to put love on a curve, remember that no one aced the test and we’re all getting a little boost in our performance. You cannot line up love from greatest to smallest, but if you try, remember that God is always partial to the least and last.

So may you stop adding and averaging your accomplishments as a means to feel worthy. May you sink your efforts and energies into loving and living well.

“Since this is the kind of life we have chose, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.”

-Galatians 6:25-26

*This post was strongly influenced by Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly and the chapter on Scarcity. Read it.

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