Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Guest Post: "What Makes Life Worthwhile and Meaningful"

Photo Credit: Penelope Vasquez

     After reading this guest post, by Marnie Piuze, you'll most likely be as obsessed with her as I am.

And you should be a bit jealous. I see her and hug her almost every week.

Thank you, Mama Marnie, for sharing your rich, rich wisdom with my readers and I.

For more information on Marnie, you can visit her at: www.marniepiuze.com


1. Relationship

     Jesus said LIFE means to know, perceive, recognize, become acquainted with and understand the only real, true God and His Son (John 17:3) Be hungry for this. Be thankful (perceive His love gifts to you). The Goal is to fully trust Him and stay closely connected to Him. This is key to abundant (worthwhile) Life.


     Intentional priority of time, energy, focus must be 'get to know Him'! From that relationship flows capacity to be in healthy, mutually beneficial relationships with others which can be pursued with same intentionality of getting to know someone and developing true friendship, both giving to them and receiving from them (taking risk of hurt or rejection as part of the price of truly knowing the other--worth it!)

2. Making a Difference (Meaningful Pursuits= Satisfaction)

     This does not come from doing something big or impressive (or what our culture defines as worthwhile). It comes from doing today's job with a positive attitude.We truly make a difference when we respect people and are willing to serve them in love, because we know God.

     The way we do something matters more than what we do...to God, others and to us. We will never experience satisfaction until we recognize that it is the small things that really make a difference. Doing these well = stepping stones to what we see as worthwhile (but in the doing our perspective changes and we see the value in the seemingly little now).

     I think of someone like Mother Theresa whose impact was huge but came from thousands of tiny, seemingly insignificant acts of service...done in love and compassion. We can have the same heart for people and therefore make the same difference to some--Whether anyone else recognizes it or not, it will still be meaningful.

3. Fascination (Being a Life-Long Learner)

     Enjoying life by growing in understanding and/or skill in some area(s) of interest. This brings ongoing daily pleasure which includes an expectation of increase, expansion that is part of hope for our future.


(Below, an addendum that Marnie wrote to her daughter regarding this subject...)

     It seems to me that this is why Uncle Dave was always smiling and laughing-he was interested in so many things, he enjoyed discovering the 'gold' in people, he did everything with zest -- because life in this world was fascinating to him!

     All these things have to be cultivated. We move into these with purposefully chosen attitudes and actions. And we can ask daily for Holy Spirit help to truly love, serve and enjoy --this is the kind of living God wants for us! And will be meaningful in every sense.

To see one of my favorite Marnie Puize paintings, "Town Dock" click here.

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Monday, July 30, 2012

A Table Set Before Me in the Presence of My Enemies

Photo Credit: Kristen Hilyard

     Thank you haters. Thank you frenemies.

     I know what you're thinking. How in the world does Patrice have enemies? Yes, that's what I once thought, and then I kept on living...

     Jealousy, miscommunication, misunderstandings, and many other petty reasons have caused haters and enemies to be in close proximity to you and I. Whether they are the type of enemy that stays semi-close by to simply keep up with what's going on in your world, or the enemy that is close enough to give you death stares of intimidation, spewing from their own fears and insecurity. It doesn't matter. Why?

     Because you and I will flourish and thrive... EVEN in the presence of our enemies.

     Their presence cannot steal what has been placed before you. Set specifically for you.

     And then I look at how the personal lives of my enemeies are flourishing. And 8 times out of 10 they're not-- and they are simply projecting their discouragement onto others.

     The toil and glory in dealing with an enemy has been a lesson I've been gleaning from over the last few years.

     Nevertheless, Good, Good, Good things are being prepared for you and I. A glory that we have not yet seen, and the audience will not just be our fans, but most likely, our enemies as well.

     The good promises in your life will still prevail, in the most impossible of ways.

     You'll smile when it's all said and done. You'll smile when you see different parts of the table being set for you. Especially because it was being set for you. You didn't have to do all of it on your own. God's face is shining on your life. And there goes your enemies huffing and puffing in disapproval. Oh well, they'll simply have to huff and puff.

     I'm a firm believer in Forgiveness. And of letting things go. Constantly. And I freely extend forgiveness to those that harbor resentment and unforgiveness towards me. I've purposed in my heart to not allow bitterness to stay for more than 3 seconds. Because that's all it takes. In mere moments bitterness creeps over your heart like a blanket, and then wraps itself around you like a deceptive smothering cocoon. Leaving you utterly restricted. Unable to smile at people...Unable to smile at all...unable to truly feel and cuts you off from the vivid human experience.

     Bitterness never kills its perceived distant target, but instead, self mutilates the carrier of such a drug.

     So in contrast to that bitterness and resentment that so easily perfumes itself around my clever enemies, my favorite thing to do in the presence of my enemies is to be a well-spring of joy, love, and forgiveness.

     A table is being set.

    These haters and enemies force us into a much more mature level of love and wisdom, one that we had not known previously. An impossible victory that is so much sweeter.

     No matter what enemy you are facing now--People or Places. Or the proximity of your enemy to your dreams, calling, identity--There is still a sacred place of blessing waiting just for you, even in the waiting-- that will absolutely perplex your enemies.

     One of the best things you can do in front of you enemy is to smile authentically with love beaming in your eyes directly into theirs, when you see each other.

     Because the table has been set.

Wisdom's Knocking:

"You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup overflows" - Psalm 23:5

Friday, July 27, 2012

"The Last 2 Virgins on Earth"

Photo Credit: Hannah Anderson

Not necessarily science fiction.

That was simply a funny excerpt from a conversation I had yesterday with someone who makes my heart SO SO happy.

And I know you're dying to know...

And if you must...

Wisdom's Knocking:

Reality is often stranger than fiction.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Black Girls. Back in Season.

Photo Credit: Tiffany Johnson

      I feel like my skin color is back in vogue right now. Maybe because it's summer and everyone is trying to get as close to brown as they can without looking like they belong on the Jersey Shore. But I've been delighted to see many of my non-Black guy friends entertain the thought of being with a woman of color.

      Let me paint a little context for you. I'm mostly around two spheres of influence: 1) A Charismatic church culture, which is filled with a beautiful mix of 'ethnic' people...well...a beautiful mix of
ethnic people sprinkled in within the majority of White folks.  And 2) The Entertainment Industry which in many ways looks a lot like sphere of influence #1 in terms of demographic. With both of these spheres of influences, the ideal girl that most of these lovely guys are looking for is a pretty traditional long-blond hair, size 2 girl, with an ample chest and perhaps a bit of depth. Which at times has been a little frustrating, but mostly perplexing.

     I've always been a bit of an adventurer, an explorer. I'm not necessarily interested in doing the 'sure safe thing' or the thing in which everyone else is doing. And at this point of my life, I'm okay with taking risks that I might fail at.

     Now, not all of these guys that I'm around subscribe to the typical standard of beauty. I've made myself intentionally friends with guys and girls that see the beauty in the unconventional and the seemingly poetic. And those that get as much joy as I do seeing beautiful interracial marriages. But the lady friends I have, far outweigh the man friends in this department of sentiment.

     If you've visited me on Pinterest at all, you've most likely already discovered my "The Land of Milk and Honey" board. Take a wild guess as to what kind of couples you'll see on that inspiration board.

     So yes, something is shifting and it seems to be in my favor. I've never felt more beautiful and actually told that I was so, as much as I have this year. (( Don't stop. Get it. Get it.)) And to top it off, these compliments have come from the most surprising guys in both sphere #1 and #2.

     I wrestle still with the Almost. It's almost your time, Patrice.  That man was almost the one. Almost falling in love. Almost picking a new name for this blog (You thought I forgot, didn't you...) Almost breaking out of my nun-like existence, etc. etc.

     But now my attention is not as focused on those almost events, but on the One who sees me through every single one of those almosts. And I get peace.

    Today I feel like I have just as many questions as I did yesterday, if not more...

     But nevertheless,  it feels good to be in season.

Wisdom's Knocking:

After Winter must come Spring.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

I Was Moved Today By...

The Velveteen Rabbit” by Margery Williams
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

Photo Credit: Daniella Hovsepian

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sports Talk and The Backstreet Boys

Photo Credit: Daniella Hovsepian

     Before I get into it, I wanted to share with you, that I saw one of the "Dance Moms" at a local "99 Cent Store" yesterday. It's little moments like that that make my life worth living. It was just one of those things that made me giggle. In the midst of frustration and angst, it does feel ever so good to giggle. You may be thinking, "What angst are you talking about?" You can visit my last post to get hip.

     Today I was reflecting. Or rather, I was busy stalking people on Facebook. A good friend of mine is trying to hook me up with some guy in another state. She forwarded me his Facebook page and I immediately got my stalk on.

     I couldn't really see much on this guy's page, but I did see his list of friends and my "research trail" led me to a whole slew of attractive single guys that appeared to have purpose and passion and a deep love for God without appearing completely socially awkward and weird online.  I love how I just wrote that last sentence and here I am stalking people on Facebook. I know. Horrible.

     But back to the guy my friend is trying to hook me up with. He's definitely into sports. And I love that.

     Do I keep up on sports? Barely. Ok. I'm lying. Mostly not ever. Except for the occasional Olympics...

     But I do love guys that are into sports. And I'm going to be honest,  I'm a little suspicious of guys that aren't into at least one sport. Maybe it's because I grew up with a dad that played baseball and football in his younger years and later coached in both sports while I was growing up. The presence of sports talk in my home was, and still is a constant among both the men and women in my family. And I find the presence of sports talk somehow comforting. It simply reminds me of my childhood. And never mind that my first job was working at a minor league baseball stadium, of which I still visit to this day.

     But I know what your wanting to know right now. Have I fully reconciled my feelings regarding the "Dream Guy"?

     No. I haven't.

     But I've purposed to keep my heart open.  I don't want to be so busy looking backwards that I can't recognize a blessing right in front of my eyes.

     I honestly don't know how this will all play out. But I trust. I trust God and I trust that He is good. Beyond good. Even when I don't understand it all. Especially when I don't understand it all.

     I mean, I once thought I was going to marry Kevin Richardson from the Backstreet Boys. And we all know how that played out. But do I still have love for Kevin? All day. I simply appreciate him for the good times...."Quit Playing Games with My Heart", "As Long As You Love Me", "I'll Never Break Your Heart", and "Everybody". Oh, and did you hear there's about to be a new Backstreet Boys album...I know--you just can't wait. We'll have a slumber party to celebrate. But more on that later.

     Adventures are still yet to be had and there are new things waiting around the corner for you and I. Things that we could have never imagined for ourselves. Good things are in store for you and I. Not just because I said the words or believe the words, but because those words are simply true.

     So today, choose to stand next to those things that are true. Not your fears and the "what if's" and the "whens"...but the "will be's" and the good and true of today.

Wisdom's Knocking:

"When you think the world has turned it's back on you, take another look."-Unknown

Friday, July 13, 2012

"Everything Sad...Is Coming Untrue"

Photo Credit: Zo Renteria

     I caught myself today. I almost fell into depression. It's amazing how fast it can happen.
Tragedy or disappointment strikes--real or imagined. And you feel like you've played all your cards and there's no possible way to win. You just feel like giving up.

     My day started with an awful recap of a Zombie dream that I had last night, of which the dream ended in absolute devastation. Truly, it was one of the top 3 worst dreams I have ever had. And as a side note, when I dream, it's vivid, it's real. I can feel, smell, touch, and live every moment of it. Grief is amplified, joy is amplified, fear is amplified, touch is amplified, as well as as the feeling of love.

     Needless to say, this particular Zombie dream was not full of love. It was full of the victory of Darkness completely winning. It was the stealing and raping of the innocent with no justice prevailing in the end. Lurking in the distance was just a sense of staged sympathy of distant bystanders and observers.

     I had so many questions when I woke up this morning.

     A few were about the dream.

     But the majority of my questions were directed towards the recent events that unfolded in the last few days.

     My choice this morning was to either go numb regarding the whole issue or wrestle it out with God. I decided to listen to my own teachings. I once shared with the teenagers of the youth group that I lead, that wrestling with God is a brave thing, and also a sign of intimacy with God.

     God is not intimidated by us or our questions or our wrestling. In fact, in order to wrestle with someone, you have to be in close proximity. And in wrestling our heart's frustrations out with God we are choosing to be connected to Him instead of running away.

     Oh, how badly I wanted to run away.

     But I knew that I wouldn't find peace or my answers by doing so.

     In these last few weeks, I had a dream come true. Literally. A person that I had dreamed about almost a year ago, but had never met in real life, suddenly appeared.

     I was pretty much thrown off my swag game to say the least.

     As I prayed and asked God for wisdom concerning this person, I heard no definite answer in my spirit. But my heart was already becoming vulnerable towards this person.

     Long and short of it:

     It was only my heart and not his that was becoming vulnerable.

     And it was in that realization, that I began to feel the walls of disappointment rising up around me.

     A dream like the one I had of this person, doesn't just come to me every day, or even every year. This particular dream was highly unique and special.

     And here I was, just days ago, writing about how meeting this person was somehow a "Prelude" of sorts. And clearly I had defined in my heart what type of prelude it was to be.

      Now I understand that the story is not fully played out and fully written regarding this person. But there are moments in the journey of being expectant for good things that you somehow get weary, a bit tired and perhaps even cynical.

      Today, I felt, if I heard one more well meaning person tell me, "It's almost time--almost here." I would without hesitation and any guilt, punch them in the face. Probably twice.

     Therefore, my point of wrestling today mostly centered around, when will it stop being almost.

      Excerpt of my prayer time with God:

     If this isn't suppose to be a cruel joke, then just stop it. And give me clarity and wisdom. Amen.

     I know that may sound a little bit raw, but I didn't bother cleaning myself up before I prayed. I just jumped in, and let Him clean me up. He's better at it than I am anyway.

      So what were God's closing words to me today, after I yelled, cried, spewed sarcasm, and my best cynicism at Him?

     He simply said: "Everything Sad... Is Coming Untrue..."

Wisdom's Knocking:

Sometimes the outcome of wrestling with God is simply peace and not a direct answer. Peace that surpasses understanding--quite literally.  
Peace. It may actually be the answer you need first, before anything else.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Prelude to a Funeral & a Wedding

Photo Credit: Tiffany Johnson

     What happens when the person of your dreams steps right out in front of you? You can touch them, study them intensely, and ask yourself over and over again, how is this even possible?

     Let's get right to it. I had a major freak out this past week.


     October 2011, I have this cray cray love dream. More specifically I had one of thee most intense dreams about some 'mystery guy' that I was ready to profess my love to. Upon awaking, I list all the key players and the seemingly metaphorical and mysterious clues that had been dropped in the dream. The details of this span over six pages. I take a moment to savor the sweetness of the dream; and I tuck the dream away. Completely forgetting about it.

     Until last week.

     Yes, you guessed it.

     Someone has appeared.

     Now, perhaps their appearance is simply to remind me of the dream and to instill hope. Or perhaps they hold some clue or key that I need on my life's journey. All to say, the verdict is still out. But while the verdict was out last week, I was a hot mess. A couple of hot flashes and heart palpitations, fumbling over my words, and hosting butterflies like crazy. Which is a nice translation for, I was gassie.

     I kept thinking of that "Double Rainbow" guy..."What does this meeeeeeean???"

     What I'm sure of, is that this is all a Prelude.


     Already my weekend has been interesting. I've attended a wake (A prelude of sorts to a funeral) and I'm now preparing for a wedding tomorrow. The juxtaposition and timing of these two events are astounding.

    But as I process one event and face the other with anticipation, it all oddly feels right.

    Much like the man I dreamed of and who has now somehow appeared, it all feels oddly right...

Wisdom's Knocking:

Don't mistake the Prelude for the full story.