Sunday, July 17, 2016

A Somewhat Abrupt Change of Direction

"If you want to be a worshiper of God, you've got to do something with what you've been given."

“Worshiping always involves doing. It means getting your hands dirty. It means being vulnerable and open and sometimes hurt by people who break your heart or call you names. It means dancing when you don’t know how. It means telling jokes that fall flat, writing things you’ll later find embarrassing. It means making lots of mistakes. It means living the kind of life where every little thing doesn’t tie up perfectly at the end.

This is the kind of life that makes us a worshiper. It’s the kind of life where we can’t help but end each day with our hands lifted high, thanking God for the ways He graciously accepts even our worst mistakes, the way He uses every experience to teach us, the way He wiggles His way into the story we’re writing.”

I love these quotes. I have been a “doer” all my life. It is hard for me to not do. And I have grown up in a culture of worshiping God. I have looked at and learned about many ways of worship and could never put my finger on how to describe the times when worship actually felt like a meaningful experience to me. There were years when it didn’t.

But I love this approach to worship, because it is so much bigger than a church or a faith. It is a way of thinking about how you live your life. That last sentence captures it all: “It’s the kind of life where we can’t help but end each day with our hands lifted high, thanking God for the ways He graciously accepts even our worst mistakes, the way He uses every experience to teach us, the way He wiggles His way into the story we’re writing.” Being taught through experience. Being grateful for that education and that experience. Being more used to help others and to live a more vibrant life. That is a type of worship I can wrap my brain and my life around.

Which brings me to the purpose of today's post. I am changing the genre of my blog. Ever since I wrote my first “Hopeful Thoughts” post, I have been incapable of writing about design, DIY, or anything non-philosophical. (Other than the barn sale. But that is another thing somehow.) I have started so many posts, about “how to paint an apple basket a broken chevron”, about “how to build a desk out of a door and two filing cabinets”, “what to do when your stuff doesn’t sell”.  They are all started, with pictures and everything, but I can’t seem to finish them. That is not the fate of this blog. That is not what I am best at writing.

My unique competence in this world is seeing the potential in anything, bad or good. It is seeing the hand of God in all things and in making educated guesses as to where all this pain and nonsense we call life might be going. My passion is understanding how the Universe will use me for good, with all of my fears and weaknesses and blunders and power and wisdom and strength. And this is what my blog needs to be about from now on.

For those of you who read for my design advice, bless you for thinking I have any to give. If there is wisdom to be had in the projects I am working on, I will share them, but know they will no longer be the point. For those who read for my stories, hold on to your hats, because I think many stories that I have been too shy to share, may come spilling out of these pages. And for those of you who read because you think I might have something valuable to say or because I make you laugh, or simply because you know me and love me, Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

So here I go, on a journey inspired by a desire to worship through the way I live my daily life. May we all find joy and laughter and strength and gratitude along the way. If you are leaving, thank you so much for being here this long. And if you are staying, thank you for allowing me to change. It takes courage to let our friends become something other than what we thought they were. Bless you all!

Talk to you soon,

CM Shaw

Sunday, July 3, 2016


Hello friends! Happy 4th of July! 

Today I have another Hopeful Thought for you. But in all fairness, I want to warn you up front that this one deals with the coming Presidential election.

How funny! I can actually hear you all groaning! I couldn’t have organized that if I’d tried. 

Seriously though, before you all click away, I promise I am not trying to endorse a specific candidate or particular party or ideology. I would be struck by lightning instantly because the dominant mantra of my life is “Don’t tell me what to do or think.”

No, the reason I wanted to talk about the election is because 
I have already cried about it twice. 

The choice laid before me is impossible.

I am all for a woman in the Oval Office. That would be awesome. And if Hillary Clinton represents your values and the kind of government you want this country to have, you should vote for her. And be very hopeful.

I cannot.

If you are tired of being PC and having to be patient with other countries threatening us, then Trump is your guy. But he does not represent my values or hopes for this country.

I cannot make that choice either.

I feel strongly that it is my duty to vote in all elections, on all issues that concern my community. I am not super involved in politics, local or national, but I value the fact that I have a say in what the Powers That Be choose to do with my community and tax dollars. But what do you do when neither candidate represents the America I want to see? When neither seems to value the policies most important to you? And when there are only two choices. I have wondered and prayed about this for months. I am rarely this confused about what to do.

At some point, something tickled in my head, and I remembered the option of a “write in’ candidate.

My first idea was just to think of someone, anyone who would make a better President than the people I had to choose from. I thought instantly of my dear friend’s husband. (Who shall remain nameless to protect the innocent). He’s a federal judge, has a wicked good sense of humor, and is a walking encyclopedia of legal and political history, both American and foreign. He would hate being President, but he would do a good job and he certainly has the right background for it.

And then I remembered what someone said to me at the Primaries. They told me I was “throwing away my vote” by voting for someone other than the candidate most likely to beat Trump. I was furious, because I had done my homework and had my own good reasons for voting the way I did. And besides, MY vote! Hello?! 

But since then, I have thought about the heart of what he was saying. While there is power in the individual voice, in politics there is greater power in the group. So I started to rethink my write in candidate. 
Sorry, sweet judge. Maybe another time. 
(Hear his sigh of relief?)

I started thinking about who was a viable, electable candidate, with national name recognition. This person might not represent my exact personal values and political priorities, but should come much closer than the current Republican or Democrat Party candidates. Who came close to representing my hopes for the future of this country?

My answer was very clear. There is only one political candidate that I have ever identified with in my entire life. And his is a household name. I am not the only person who would think to vote for him. 

So, on Election Day, for the first time in my life, I will not be checking any boxes that state a Presidential candidate’s name. I will be writing a name in on the line marked “Other.” The Founding Fathers knew this day might come, the day that the two parties failed to reflect the values and wishes of the people they had been sent to represent. They gave us the potential to override popular voting options with a write in candidate. It has happened at a smaller level in the past. The most notable is the 1960 election where JFK won two state Presidential Primaries via write in. There is great power in my vote if I cast it wisely, with an eye to what is possible. 

There is great power in your vote too.

This is an important election, friends. Set aside some time to do your homework. Think hard about what is important to you. Then vote your conscience. Write someone in, if you need to. It’s all a part of the blessing and responsibility of being an American.

And whomever your choice, Please, Please, Please vote.

Talk to you soon,

CM Shaw