September: A Second Chance for a Fresh Start

I never get a new planner in January. My life has always revolved around schools, so I start getting excited around the last week in August about selecting my new planner for the year. And I never seem to leave the office supply store without some new pens, new folders, new pads, and new notebooks. Any of you share my stationery addiction?

The start of a new school year, traditionally the day after Labor Day, has always carried the promise of a fresh start. New pencils, new notebooks, new school-clothes. A new schedule, a new teacher, a new backpack.

People whose lives aren’t defined by the academic calendar only have one time a year—New Year’s Day— when they get to turn the page for a fresh start.

Students, teachers — and I want to add life-long learners — get a second chance in September for a nice clean sheet on which to write their hopes and dreams and good intentions.

The Day after Labor Day

This is just one reason I am so excited to launch Living CrossWise : Hope and Help for Navigating Transition on the day after Labor Day! Is there a better time than a new semester to start reading and studying a resource that will help you grow in faith?

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The Most Important Step in Writing a Book

My husband is a world-class listener. After meeting and talking with him at a social gathering, you leave with the wonderful feeling that you are both interesting and important. He smiles at you with those kind eyes, making you feel that your concerns are his concerns as he keeps coming up with questions to draw you out. This is one of the ways he won my heart so many decades ago.

He is still listening. And boy, am I putting it out. Processing. Downloading. Emoting. Stressing. Freaking Out. Melting Down. Cry Talking.

He is a patient man.

How to sum up how I’ve been feeling? Let’s just say I needed another go-round of this

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Reasons to Rejoice

It was good news and bad news. When I read Proverbs 17:6 in my NLT and saw that “Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged,” I clicked straight over to Biblos.com in hopes of finding that verse in another translation. Perhaps I could find one with a more flattering rendering of my current stage in life. Aged? Like the stone-deaf Aged P in Great Expectations? Not me?!

Actually, what I found was worse. “The aged” was actually

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The Size of Your Canvas

(First of all, let me say that I prefer dogs to cats by a factor of about fifty, but this watercolor of a blue-eyed cat by my friend Linda Mullen almost makes me want to switch sides. I have no talent in the visual arts, so I am completely dazzled by her ability to use just a little paint and water and paper to recreate a cat that looks like it wants to hop right into your lap and meow. Linda is an artist who deserves a wider audience and so I’m taking this opportunity to share her work, lindamullen.com, and gallery, Ballast Point Gallery, with you. )

The Size of Your Canvas: Reflections on Art and Audience

Some paintings are so big that they are best seen from a great distance.

In Rome I wanted nothing more than for the guards to just go away and leave us alone so that I could lie on my back and gaze up for hours at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Instead, craning my neck in the midst of a hot and sweaty crowd of hundreds of others, I had to grab what I could in the frustratingly short 15 minutes they allowed us to view the frescoes we’d crossed an ocean and waited hours to see.

Other paintings are smaller in size, but no less powerful. At the Louvre in Paris, we were in a similar herd of tourists filing past the Mona Lisa, which turned out to be not a commanding painting at all, if size were the measure. Little more than life size, the drably colored canvas could only be viewed by few people at once. There was an optimal viewing distance, and it was much closer than that of Michaelangelo’s frescoes.

Both are masterpieces.

Last Friday night, Jeff and I happened upon on art show in San Diego featuring a Spanish artist, Royo. His paintings were grand scale expressionistic works of young beauties with downcast eyes, clad in gauzy garments and holding baskets of

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How to Keep Criticism from Crushing You

My skin is sensitive. So said my dermatologist, who—strangely, I thought—pointed out that she could sign her name on my back with just a light touch of her fingernail.

My emotions aren’t much different. If you’ve known for more than a week or two, you’ve probably seen me cry. And most of the times that my eyes are overflowing, I’m fighting it, embarrassed by my own transparent vulnerability. I’ve been rightly called “thin-skinned.”

The only parts of me, inside or out, that are not sensitive are my fingertips. I’ve been playing guitar my whole life— I don’t get have to have those white-tipped fingernails I enviously watch Beth Moore wave about so gracefully when she’s teaching. To me, however, it is a small sacrifice. Making music with stringed instruments has given me immeasurable pleasure. When I was a full-time performer, I could play guitar for 6 hours a day without feeling the strain. My secret? Industrial

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