Tag Archives: God

Airbrush my heart

One time someone asked me, “What color is your hair, really?”

After my initial cringe, I answered truthfully, “I have no idea”.

My real hair color is buried beneath years and layers of fake color. I went through periods of time where I really believed that you could never be too blond. (Who am I kidding? I still believe this. Of course, it has to be the right blond.) I’ve gone through periods where I’ve decided I wanted to go natural and ended up so dark, people didn’t recognize me. Turns out my natural hair color is dirty dish rag blah. That didn’t last long.

Why am I telling you this?

On some level, I guess it’s a confession.

I have another one.

I airbrushed a photo of myself. Actually, it was fun so I started doing it to a bunch of photos. Here’s an example.

Before

After

After I did this, something interesting happened. My daughter walked into the room and told me the airbrushed photo made me look like a freak. As I was patting myself on the back for being a good mother and teaching my kids about the importance of inner beauty and not to be focused on appearances, my other daughter came in and said, “Cool, you look so pretty! How can I do that to my pictures?”

We all see outer beauty differently. There is no perfect standard of outer beauty. However, I think we can all agree on the things that make someone beautiful on the inside.

We can change ourselves on the outside pretty easily. Whether it’s airbrushing a photo or highlighting our hair.

I wish we could change our insides like that. I wish we could pay someone to transform our hearts. I wish we could make an appointment to become more compassionate or more forgiving.

Instead of changing the way people see us, wouldn’t it be cool if there was a treatment we could undergo that would change the way people felt around us. That they would feel better when they left us, they would feel loved and accepted, lighter and more joyful.

There is no easy fix for inner transformation. Subtle changes occur over time as we become more of who God intends us to be. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. We learn that things that come easily don’t always last. Real change takes time.

The paradox is that our wrinkles, our aging, our “not perfect” outsides are part of our inner transformation. As our outer beauty fades, our inner beauty grows. Acceptance is a big part of growing older. Being able to accept your flaws with humor and grace is tough but when we do, we are accepting our natural evolution. We are saying, “Yes!” to how we are changing. We realize the wrinkles come from many years of laughter and good times in the sun. We acknowledge cellulite and stretch marks are badges of honor from motherhood. You get my point. We look older because we have LIVED. Our living…our really living…laughing, crying, hugging, having babies, surgeries, accidents, sicknesses, training, teaching, loving, learning, partying, cleansing, losing weight, gaining weight, running, sitting, mothering, friending, suffering…all of it adds up to who we are.

Why do we want to erase who we are?

This has me wondering…If we fight so hard to stay perfect on the outside, are we cheating ourselves? Should we be walking through the disappointment and insecurity that growing older can bring up for us? Shouldn’t we work toward acceptance? Isn’t this one of the “sharpening” tools God uses to transform us?

I don’t have the answers. I just know that in the end I want to be beautiful inside. And I want to be grateful for all of my life. Because the tears I cried made me stronger and the laughter I shared filled my heart and soul and the sun nourished me and the food I ate made me full and the relationships I’ve had taught me and the struggles I’ve had made me lean on God. Which is the whole point. Blond hair or not.

As we get older, we can’t lean on our looks but we can lean on God. Less me, more God. That’s the way to inner transformation.

©2012 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™ All Rights Reserved

Shaking My Can on the Corner

I know, it doesn’t sound pretty.

What I mean is that I was “shaking a can” for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) on the corner this morning.  It was amazing.

I saw a lot of volunteers standing in the rain to help!

I witnessed generosity in spades.

There were lots of people saying, “God Bless!” which of course, I loved and immediately responded with “GOD BLESS YOU TOO”.  I think that’s one of the nicest things you can say to someone.  We all need to be blessed.

I saw kids reaching out their hands from the back seat with coins to share.

I met people who shared their stories of loved ones lost to this terrible disease.

There was a woman who came back around in her car after she went home to get more money.

I saw a priest who stopped to contribute and told me a story about a fellow priest who suffered from ALS.

There were Mercedes and beat up cars and Cadillacs and delivery trucks and motorcycles and teenagers learning to drive.  There were people with dogs and families together and babies in back.  There were older couples.  There were people dressed up and people who were sweaty coming straight from a work out.  There were women who just finished running a race for breast cancer.

A hospice nurse stopped to tell me to check out her bumper sticker which said “Stamp out  ALS”.  Her eyes were so kind and I got the feeling she knew this disease intimately.  I thanked her for what she does every day…hospice nurses are angels.

It choked me up.

I got a glimpse today.  I got a glimpse of goodness.  Actually, I feel like I got a gallon of goodness.  What a blessing.

This disease is bad.  Do what you can to help. Give. Pray. Smile at people who are on the corner shaking their can.  Even if you don’t give money, look  up and make eye contact, wave and acknowledge.  There are people in pain.  There is suffering.

But in the midst of suffering, there is grace.

We are in this together.  Thank God.

To all the moms out there – HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY.  Thank you for your love and your healing and your smiles and your warm cozy hugs.  Thank you for dancing in the kitchen and picking us up at 3 am.  Thank you for your prayers.  Thank you for believing in us.  Thank you for advocating for us.  Thank you for running out to Walgreen’s late at night because we forgot we needed posterboard.  Thank you for your wisdom.  Thank you for your understanding.  Thank you for holding our hair back when we puke and for wiping our tears.  Thank you for changing our diapers and feeding us and feeding us and feeding us.  Thank you for listening. Thank you for sweeping and cleaning and shoveling and planting and decorating.  Thank you for sharing your faith and your knowledge and your hope and your dreams.  Thank you for your courage.

This is big.  Because when you got into this thing called motherhood, maybe you didn’t know what it was.  Nobody told you because nobody could.  It’s different for all of us.  It’s joy and it’s laughter and it’s pain and it’s worry and it’s fear.  Deep down fear.  Fear of failure and fear of our babies not being safe.  But it’s faith too.  It’s faith in something bigger and something better and something really real.  It’s faith in LOVE.  It’s faith that when we share our love, we create something beautiful.  We share, then our kids share and then the world shares and we are all so much brighter.

Thank you to all the moms.  Mine, yours, you, me, everyone.  Here’s a poem I received when I was awaiting the arrival of my first baby.  Oh man…it kills me.

BABY ASKS GOD, “THEY TELL ME YOU ARE SENDING ME TO EARTH TOMMORROW,  BUT HOW AM I GOING TO LIVE THERE BEING SO SMALL AND HELPLESS?”
GOD SAID, “YOUR ANGEL WILL BE WAITING FOR YOU AND WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU.”
THE CHILD FURTHER INQUIRED, “BUT TELL ME, HERE IN HEAVEN I DON’T HAVE TO DO ANYTHING BUT SING AND SMILE TO BE HAPPY.”
GOD SAID, “YOUR ANGEL WILL SING FOR YOU AND WILL ALSO SMILE FOR YOU.” AND YOU WILL FEEL YOUR ANGEL’S LOVE AND BE VERY HAPPY.”
AGAIN THE CHILD ASKED, “AND HOW AM I GOING TO BE ABLE TO UNDERSTAND WHEN PEOPLE TALK TO ME IF I DON’T KNOW THE LANGUAGE?”
GOD SAID, “YOUR ANGEL WILL TELL YOU THE MOST BEAUTIFUL AND SWEET WORDS YOU WILL EVER HEAR, AND WITH MUCH PATIENCE AND CARE, YOUR ANGEL WILL TEACH YOU HOW TO SPEAK.”
“AND WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WHEN I WANT TO TALK TO YOU?”
GOD SAID, “YOUR ANGEL WILL PLACE YOUR HANDS TOGETHER AND TEACH YOU HOW TO PRAY.”
“WHO WILL PROTECT ME?”
GOD SAID, “YOUR ANGEL WILL PROTECT YOU EVEN IF IT MEANS RISKING HER LIFE.”
“BUT I WILL ALWAYS BE SAD BECAUSE I WILL NOT SEE YOU ANYMORE.”
GOD SAID, “YOUR ANGEL WILL ALWAYS TALK TO YOU ABOUT ME AND WILL TEACH YOU THE WAY TO COME BACK TO ME, EVEN THOUGH I WILL ALWAYS BE NEXT TO YOU.”
 AT THAT MOMENT THERE WAS MUCH PEACE IN HEAVEN, BUT VOICES FROM EARTH COULD BE HEARD AND THE CHILD HURRIEDLY ASKED, “GOD, IF I AM TO LEAVE NOW, PLEASE TELL ME MY ANGELS NAME.”
 GOD SAID, YOU WILL SIMPLY CALL HER, “MOM.”

Angels indeed.   Enjoy your day Moms!

©2012 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™ All Rights Reserved

Wander

I have been told I have “thought islands”.  My mind wanders.

When it comes to faith, my mind wanders too.  Sometimes it wanders to The Bible and books and blogs.  Sometimes to conversations I have with people about faith.  Sometimes to examples of people I know who have shown great faith in their lives.  Sometimes it wanders to the why? the who? the when? the what the heck? –  to all the questions.  Sometimes it settles on the truth and the promise.

Sometimes I wander into the Catholic church, sometimes I wander into the Evangelical church.  Sometimes I pray alone, sometimes I pray with my family or in my community.

Sometimes I choose a long walk over going to church.  Sometimes I meet God in Bible study and other days I decide to meet him in yoga.  Sometimes I’m in the mood for meditation and sometimes for raucous conversation.

I’ve been known to meet God on a beach with a beer.  I also like to meet him in the mountains in the silence.

I’ve found Him in neighbors offering help, offering food, offering understanding.  I’ve met Him in tragedy.  I’ve found Him in the forgiveness of friends.  I’ve found Him in the quiet acceptance of others.  I’ve met Him in the smiles and tears of my children.

I’ve encountered Him on vacation and then, as always, I have been greeted by Him on my safe arrival home.

He was there in my youth and my teens and my college years and my 20’s.  I wandered.  But was I lost?

I heard a preacher speak about the Prodigal Son again today on the radio.  He talked about the son who stayed home, who was mad when the prodigal son was welcomed home with embraces and kisses and a party.  He was jealous.  The preacher said something profound.  It really hit me.  He said, “The older brother was just as lost as the prodigal son.  He was just lost at home.”

Sometimes we are lost at home.  We are lost in our minds and we can’t get out.  Sometimes we are lost in our habits and our “need to be right” and our learned limitations.  Just because we are home, doing as we are told, following all the rules does not mean that we are on the right path.

Sometimes we need to wander.

©2012 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™ All Rights Reserved