Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Category: why I’m blessed (page 1 of 4)

Balloon Heart

The past two nights I’ve retired to bed with my heart singing with joy. We enjoyed days at the lake with our friends who used to live down the street from us. We played on the boat and went to the beach and enjoyed delicious meals and swam and played cards and drank beer and laughed and told stories. Our biggest worry was if the toddler was too close to the water or if one of the girls had taken the other’s preferred life jacket. Life was easy and good.

Perhaps it’s age, or perhaps it’s my yoga practice, but I remained fully present to this joy the entire time we were together. I noticed in my mind I would say, “this is an amazing weekend” and “I think this will go down on my list of top favorite lake trips.” I was aware of the joy expanding my heart.

Photo Jul 26, 11 06 52 AM And then the dreaded time comes, as it does any time we go to the lake, that we all must go home. I could barely stand the goodbyes. I watched them hug my children and we made promises to see one another soon (and confirmed the date). But as they pulled away it felt like someone had taken my heart and stomped on it, leaving it completely deflated. The sadness I feel is even much greater than when we pulled away in the moving truck.

This probably has a lot to do with our friends being completely fantastic, for sure. And it also is likely related to missing the comforts of our old life amid the transition into a new community. And, it’s Sunday and I get weepy on Sunday.

I’m inclined to believe, however, that it has much more to do with the elasticity of the human heart. Only when it expands does it know how it feels to be empty. And, as it does when pumping blood throughout the body, as it does this more often and with more power, it actually grows stronger. Perhaps we get better at loving people by loving people. The more we do it, the better we get.

The downside to an ever-expanding heart is the process of deflation – the missing people, the sadness, the ache. By not filling your heart, you never realize the weight of its emptiness. Like a real balloon, our hearts become lighter as they expand.

In many ways it would be easier to deal with the rest of this day – the tired toddlers, the cleaning, the return home – if that dull ache of loving people could subside. I can be so much more operational when I’m not feeling all of the feels. But today I have a bit of gratitude for my current deflated state. I’m taking it as a sign that I’m loving well. I’m going to choose not to numb the sad because I want to be able to experience the sense of joy that precedes it.

May we love well. May we feel the sad as and indicator of the joy that led the way.

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Sunday Sermon: Staging Life

It’s been a whirlwind of activity around here for the past month, getting the house ready to sell. I long for the good ol’ days when you simply put a sign in the front yard. Nowadays so much more is involved. (I blame HGTV for 98% of it. Can we all just acknowledge that we’re setting the standards a tad high?) We worked hard on the place, have a wonderful house to offer and found an excellent agent. We have reason to believe this will sell very, very quickly.

Let’s take a moment of appreciation and look at this beautiful piece of property.

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But that is not the point. No one really cares about the details of real estate transactions. Yet this is why you keep coming back to read my silly words, because  I find deeper meaning in real estate. It’s a gift. Ha!  A curse, really.

Folks in these parts are into staging their homes for selling purposes. Apparently this is not just a thing on TV, but it really happens. My realtor actually employs stagers to come into my already-nice home and make it even more inviting. They were here for less than 2 hours pushing couches around and stacking books. JJ and I sat down the night we took pictures and vowed to “stage” our next home when we moved in because it looks so gorgeous right now. With curtains!  And it’s clean! (Thanks again, Marj.) Forget “live like you were dying.” Decorate like you’re moving, I say. 

These ladies helped put on the finishing touches. I was a pretty easy case for them because the real work came a month before, when I invited my friend Abby over to lend her expertise. Ok, actually I may have frantically texted her when I had peeled all the wallpaper off our bathroom and had zero plan for what color to paint it. The next day she arrived, feeling under the weather, but with her color wheel and notebook.

We walked our entire house. Which rooms needed fresh paint. Which hardware needed replaced. For the love of heaven, Michele, go buy some curtains. She didn’t say it that way, but she should have. Take down these pieces, put up those. Art. Oh, the art. I need people in my life that love and find good art. Even Ikea “art”. I’m in total love with what we found for $40 and it’s so us.

Then, after the sweaty work was done*, she came back. Let’s hang these pieces here and those there. She brought boxes – boxes! – of her own stuff to hang on my naked walls. She didn’t haphazardly hang them based on the obnoxiously large screws already in the wall – she placed them because of things like lines, and where your eyes move about the room, and natural light.

Abby presented me a vision for my home. This is what it could be, Michele. She saw the beauty of what we already had and enhanced it with a few changes. Updates. While what we had was good, she gave us something better to consider.

Friends, this is how the prophetic Church could (and perhaps should?) operate. We don’t have to be a life-in-crisis place in the world. People might be quite content with their furniture arranged around the peripheral of the walls, but that’s because they never thought to turn the couch a different way. Perhaps people are content with their going-to-work, baseball-coaching, grocery-getting lives, but perhaps they’ve never thought to arrange their lives in such a way that those very same “couches” suddenly provide more beauty. A teacher once told me, it’s not what you do, it’s what you do with what you do.

May we become people who help others stage their lives, not just for the selling – at the point of crisis or major decision – but for the living. For the enjoyment of it, all of the days. May we help others invite beauty in to their homes and their lives. 

And may we also become people who seek that from others. I cannot imagine what my home would look like had I not asked for Abby’s color wheel (and then admitted that I actually just wanted her to pick out all the colors).  May we surround ourselves with people who live beautifully and share their wisdom. May we allow them into our homes and lives and give them freedom to make suggestions, not because they have it perfectly figured out but because they’re willing to try some rearranging with us.

 

 

 

*Tip of the hat to my father-in-law for the manual labor assistance

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My map of life

Over the past several years, I’ve mapped the course of my life and the many ways in which I’ve changed as a person. Often, I see the biggest alterations of my inner self  follows the movement of my physical self. When I moved, I changed. Each place in this world is unique, even when you move slightly down I-75. The people are different and, quite often, I am a different person as they greet me.

I began to look at my life through the lens of my geography. Noted: I am not a worldwide traveler. I’ve not made my home outside the borders of Ohio. Yet I find as I trace my path, that each move has changed me, notably for the better. This is not to say that people should move more – there is something to be said for roots. But the geography of my life tells my story.

Ancient cultures did a much better job of this. They would put markers – alters – in the places which were significant to them. Jacob woke from a dream and left a large rock to remember it. Peter, James & John walked with Jesus to the top of a mountain and wanted to build a little shanty so they could keep the vision a reality. I’m no geologist and I tend to sell my houses instead of keeping them for souvenirs, but I do have google maps.

ridgewayI was born and raised in Ridgeway, Ohio. Don’t look very hard on a map – you have to do some significant zooming. The population of my entire home county is pretty puny, until we claim students when Ohio Northern is in session and gain some weight. Small town (and I mean small – you people who live in Findlay and Troy, please take note of the McDonald’s within your city limits*) life suited me. It’s what I knew. I feel as if I should put on my resume the fact that I can list my graduating class in alphabetical order. (Jessica Adams, Alan Ashba, Diane Bettinger, Travis Cronley, Anthony Elsasser…**)

athens

When I made numerous trips from Ridgway to Athens, it took at least 2.5 hours, if not 3. The 33 bypass is a big improvement. Also, not stopping at the 20 Minute McDonalds in Lancaster will shave some time off the trip.

My Ridgemont people launched me into life at Ohio University. Oh, those were beautiful days. The world got big. And small. I learned what friendship looked like (and I must say, ladies, you set the bar HIGH). I fell in love with Jesus. I fell in love with good beer. I fell in love with trees that changed color and green springtimes by the water’s edge. I found my legs in Athens. I had to walk (the hills!) everywhere, I began running for fun. I began walking on my own through life.

From Athens I headed to Upper Sandusky, answering an ad in the local paper for a need for a youth director. I’m not much into signs and God doing everything while you sit back and get a pedicure, but this really was an act of God. With a college degree and no prospective job, I had resorted to thinking I would have to be a secretary somewhere in Kenton for a short time until I got my act together. I’m pretty sure my parents feared the same thing. But then John Stewart (the church, not the comedian) posted their position.

upperI fell in love in Upper Sandusky. First with a group of 13-18 year old students. And their parents. And KLR. And a few gray hairs in the UMW. And book club. And then with a particular 5’8 former kicker who worked at the funeral home. I learned about love when you lose someone as I grieved with a family and then with a church family. I found my heart in Upper Sandusky.

While living in Upper, I stuck my pinky toe in Ashland for seminary. Oh, that drive at 7am due east into the sunrise. Ashland was a delightful little town and one of my regrets is that I wasn’t present while not in class. Seminary was good to me, one of my best decisions. My God got a lot bigger there.

After God got so big and Love got so big, my little heart and head almost couldn’t handle it. I knew it was time to leave my position – mostly because I’ve never done anything for more than 4 years at a time; it’s what young people are trained to do –  and JJ decided to make a change of career and we ended up accidentally-on-purpose buying a house in Findlay. He went to grad school and I got a big girl job.

findlayYou know how at night, deep sleep is important to your brain, so that you soak in all the events of the day and the knowledge acquired gets attached to proper neurons and transmitters and you somehow grow? I found my brain in Findlay.  I recovered from the day in Upper. I slept. (Well, not really, because that’s where we started a family.) I put all the learning and growing up in the right sections of the brain. If Upper Sandusky was shooting me out of a rocket into all the big Love and big God, then Findlay was where I drifted downward in a slow free fall. It was just like the movies, when people freefall in a skydive – slowly at first, delightful as you take in the scene, but as you near the earth the gravity gets stronger and there’s a crash as you hit the water.

That crash was August 1, 2011.

With a two-week-old baby and two toddlers, we were washed upon the shore of Troy, Ohio. I was immobilized. Again, like the movies, it was like arriving on a desert island. With 3 small children. And a husband who ran off to work every day to bring us food. That first year was hard. Nearly awful. I managed to find someone to watch my children so I could work part-time and that dear, precious woman down the street… well, she knew I had no one. She showed me a little more of God when I rattled on about nothingness at pick up and drop off. We went in search of a church home. Three times. I discovered that the primary ways people connect with their community is through work, school and church. I worked remotely, with children too young for school, without a church, so I was largely disconnected.

troyThen we woke up one morning to a few small tribes of people who had stumbled upon our little family washed upon the shore. They made a fire and soup (from homemade broth and locally procured, organic vegetables) and fed us. They sat with us as we warmed and dried. They played with our children. We were invited into the tribes and learned new ways of living.

When Love got bigger and God got bigger and didn’t fit into my heart and head anymore, my people of Troy*** grew my heart and mind. I wasn’t such a strange bird here. I found space for all my big-ness.

In Troy, I have found my voice. My writing and thinking about ALL of the things has became more than mumbling. I have uncovered the things I love to invest in. I have discovered names for the thinks that I thought, like [Jesus]-feminism. I am matching my story, becoming avid proponent of small everything – business, farms, community. Even small people, like when Overfield reinforced my belief that toddlers are people, too. I live as if small changes matter.

Who knew along this path where I would discover my legs, heart, brain and voice? When I started the journey, I didn’t even know I missed them. It makes me wonder when and how I will stumble across the functionality of my hands, liver, and knees. What group of people, in what place will show me how to use those pieces?

According to Google maps, my trip from Ridgeway to the present can be driven in 6 hours and 30 minutes, but it’s taken me 34.5 years to travel it. Perhaps I’m a tad slow. Or maybe I’m just stopping to admire the view along the way of life’s journey. In any case, to those who have walked beside me, thank you.

 

*Ha! “City” limits. Ridgeway is technically a village and I technically lived outside of it.

**My apologies for adding another listing on Google to whomever just searched these names. They are delightful people. Hire them.

***Trojans, yes?

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