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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Love is Not Blind

Recently I had to be away from home on business for two full weeks.  This meant being away from my husband.  With each day that I was gone I became more aware of how much I enjoy having Mike in my everyday life and I just plain missed his presence.  I do love technology and although I haven’t yet mastered Skype, we talked on the phone as often as we could and sent text messages.  Mike writes a love note for me most every day and while I was away that didn’t stop.  In fact he still wrote them with pen on paper.  He then photographed and e-mailed them to me so that I would be able to read them at the end of my work day just like I do when I’m at home.  That was an amazing thing but still I missed his smile, his eyes and his touch.  These are things that cannot be substituted.

Love is blind they say.  “They” also say that my affections for my husband and this incredible desire to share every day with him will pass with time.  It seems that there are those who would believe that because we have been married just over three years that this will fade with time.  I guess as we grow older we are theoretically supposed to stop enjoying each others company and we will look forward to “getting away from each other”.  Someone even suggested that because we are newly weds that I have yet to discover all of my husband’s faults and he mine.

It would seem to some that we are experiencing a blind kind of love.  I have to say that is not it at all.  In fact what I love about Mike is that he is not perfect and he is fully aware of it.  We both have weaknesses and we both have flaws.  We are not blind but merely nearsighted where matters of the heart are concerned.  For someone who is nearsighted they have difficulty seeing things far away.  With assistance though, they find a way to see what they need and want to see.  I for example can’t see more than a few feet in front of me clearly without the help of my glasses.  I can still hear though and I can make out the shapes of things.  I just need to get closer in order to see the details.  When I put my glasses on I see things clearly much quicker and am able to assess my surroundings with ease.  I would like to suggest that our marriage isn’t different than this.  Mike and I are not blind, but there are times when we need help to see things clearly and quickly.  Sometimes one of us needs to hold the hand of the other to lead the way. Sometimes it is a matter of sitting still with blurred vision simply to listen to what the other has to say in order to know better which direction we should move.  I automatically reach for my glasses on the bedside table each morning because I know that I am going to need to see clearly even in the ordinary routine.  It is the same in our marriage.  I approach each day of my life with Mike knowing that I need help sometimes to see clearly the path ahead for us both.  I need to look closely at myself and I need to be willing to let Mike do the same.  Both of us with total awareness that we are flawed; we are human know that there are going to be days when we will not see things clearly.  We are willing to work through those things that trip us up because we were too nearsighted to see them coming. 

To some it would seem that we are carefree newly weds full of unrealistic expectations. The truth is that we are merely two nearsighted people who are willing to help the other see things in life and love yet undiscovered.  We are not foolish enough to think that trials will never come.  We simply love each other enough to walk through those hard times together.  

Our love is not blind. 

Thank you for stopping by.  

Amy Lynn Michael

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Moving On

It has been nearly two full months since I have written a blog post.  In fact I have barely written anything at all with the exception of notes to myself reminding me what I need to accomplish on any given day.  I have been busy with work and with life just like everybody else.  That never stopped me from writing before, so why now? 

In October I lost one of my dearest friends to cancer.  She was not just any friend.  She was the friend who helped me find a way to climb out of the deep dark pit I was in after having lost my first husband to the same disease.  Lynn watched me spiral in and out of emotional ruins, never losing sight of the person I was beneath it all.  She believed in God, she believed in me and sometimes she believed in God “for” me.

Even though I had known for nearly a year that the day may come when she would no longer be with us, somehow I wanted to believe different.  I wanted to cling to the heart to heart conversations, the laughter and her “I Love Lucy” impersonations.  I wanted to attend worship services with her and sing.  I wanted Lynn to show the world that cancer can be beat.  I wanted all of that for her, but selfishly I wanted it for me.  I couldn’t bear the thought of losing her friendship.

I have been in a bit of a fog where my creativity is concerned because I just don’t know what to write about.  I thought maybe it was just my busyness.  But I realized this week how much I looked forward to Lynn’s e-mail which always followed one of my blog posts.  This week as I was reflecting on this something occurred to me.  Lynn encouraged me to always write from my heart and from my experience; that this would speak far more to people’s lives than researched topics.  So that is what I set out to do when I began this blog.  Why should I quit now? You are exactly right!  I shouldn’t.  Maybe, just maybe, someone will read even this simple little post and find hope or encouragement.  I want that for you; for them. 

Thank you for being patient with me during my writing absence.  I hope that you will find something within the confines of this blog to encourage and inspire.

Moving on…..

Amy Lynn Michael

Saturday, October 15, 2011

You're Beautiful, It's True

While making a quick stop at the grocery store one evening, I remained in the car while my husband went in to pick up what we needed.  The windows on the vehicle we were driving are slightly tinted and I had the window opened an inch or so.  As my thoughts began to wander I began to hear someone singing in the car next to me.  The young woman was singing along with James Blunt, “You’re beautiful, you’re beautiful, you’re beautiful it’s true”.  With each line she sang eventually I no longer heard the accompaniment of the radio, but I heard her voice and her voice alone.  She had gone from singing “you’re beautiful” to singing at the top of her voice, “I’m beautiful, I’m beautiful, I’m beautiful, it’s true”.  I chuckled that night because I doubt that she knew of her audience.  Every once in awhile when we stop at the store I remember this moment and laugh all over again to myself.

This week as I was thinking of this, I began to think of it in a different way.  Perhaps she did know I was listening. Maybe she wanted the entire universe to hear her proclaim how beautiful she is.  How wonderfully freeing it is to have that moment when you realize that you are beautiful.  So many of us look to define beauty by the models we see in magazines. We want their skin tone, hair styles and body shape.  We want people to notice us when we walk into a room because of our beauty.  My confession is that I want Tina Turner’s long beautiful legs and wild hair.  While at any given moment my hair can be untamable, my legs no matter how hard I try will never be long and shapely.  Shapely they are; I do have thighs and knees after all.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not”.  Is this not so true?  I believe that resting inside each of us is a beauty that is waiting to be released.  It’s a beauty that only you possess.  It’s the smile you give a stranger.  It’s the warm hello you offer to a coworker in passing.  It’s the acts of kindness that you perform even when you feel anything but kind.  Deep inside you there is something very beautiful. 

When you begin to realize that which makes you beautiful, below the surface you have already begun singing, “I’m beautiful, I'm beautiful, I'm beautiful, it’s true”.  Reach deep and sing it with all you've got because you really and truly are beautiful.  

Thank you for stopping by.  If you found this encouraging please take time to comment and by all means share it with a friend.

Amy Lynn Michael

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

There Must Be More

“She walked out of the house slamming the door in rage.  Behind her the glass shattered and fell from the window of a door that had been opened and closed many times before.  Rage was the only emotion she knew how to express because she had great teachers in her parents.  The sad part is that she was only 10 years old.” And so the story goes in many homes.

Children learn from their first teachers how to respond to life’s circumstances.  Fortunately and unfortunately those first teachers are their parents.  Nearly every day I read an article in our paper about how another child has been hurt, abused and sometimes left to die.  Why?  I can ask this question all day every day and never know the answer.  I dedicate this post to those of us who have battled through our past to find a better way for ourselves.  May we be mindful of the innocence of children and may we; even those without our own, be willing to care for the needs of a child.

There Must Be More

As early as I can remember, perhaps I was four.
I would look out the window
There must be more

Angry voices at night, broken glass on the floor
I look to the skies
There must be more

Tears falling like rain behind this closed door
I wrap up in a blanket
There must be more

Can I at least get rewarded for completing my chore
I wash my hands
There must be more

Maybe if I’m successful with a great test score
What if I miss the mark
There must be more

Who really gives a shit what they think anymore
I will make the most of  my life
There must be more 
There must be more

I was 14 or 15 when I wrote this poem.  Each time I asked this question then and each time I ask it now, I am convinced that there really is more. 

May every child one day know the hope that many of us have found because there really and truly is more.

Thank you for stopping by,

Amy Lynn Michael

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Does it Matter?

“Mom, I have been dating someone who I am crazy about and I am going to marry him.” Mom said, “I sure hope he’s not an atheist or [worse] a democrat!”  And so this is how my beloved Mike would be introduced to my family.  Each time I introduce Mike to someone now I am tempted to say, “I would like to introduce you to my democratic, atheistic, husband whose name really doesn’t matter to a closed minded, conservative, hypocritical Christian, such as your self because you can’t look past the differences.” There would be several things wrong with that.  First of all, it was a run-on sentence with punctuation errors enough to get me arrested by the editing police. Secondly, I don’t believe that everyone views people of different political and religious beliefs as the enemy. 

I enjoyed coffee and conversation with Mike’s sister this week and at one point she asked, “does your mom know you’re a democrat?”  She does and she’s not happy about it.  She IS however happy that I got a chance to love again.  She maintains that Mike is her favorite son-in-law. (the only one too)

There is so much that could be learned from this little example of life and the differences that we each have.  At the core of every person is what makes each of us unique.  My values have been shaped by events and people; good and bad.  My approach to politics and faith has been uniquely shaped by the same.   Does any of this really matter when it comes to caring about others?  I spend time with people who are Re-troub-lican and Demon-crat.  I can be seen with those who are gay and those who are not.  Sometimes I worship with Christians and later share conversation with those who are not.  They are all welcome in my life because they have something in their core that we share in common.  They are people who celebrate the successes of others and are there to pick up the fallen no matter their background.  They are people who really don’t care whether I vote one way or another; or if I vote at all.  This special group of people I call “friends”.  

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Defeat of the Still Small Voice

Today as I was thinking about the people in my life, one person in particular came to mind.  The more I thought about her, the more I began to think that I should tell her how much she is appreciated. The battle in my mind ensued. There was a little voice that said, “ah, she knows she is appreciated, she has a million friends and colleagues that affirm her every day”.  That little voice continued with reasons why my words of encouragement would really be insignificant. I would take time to list all of those reasons for you if I thought it would somehow validate my case. 

After a rather lengthy battle I tossed my thoughts to the wind as if to say, “screw it, it really doesn’t matter much”.  I decided to go grab a sandwich at one of my favorite little Kansas City stops and when I returned home I headed outside with the animals and a good book. I no sooner got set up for comfort outside when the thought returned.  It wasn’t like it was this great spiritual awakening or anything.  It was more like the still small voice had been replaced with a migraine inducing, explosive shout, telling me to sit down and write a note of encouragement.  In my attempt to make it quick and painless I began to write an e-mail.  But each time I hit the back-space key to start over, the nagging monster voice would pound on my head.  So finally I gave in to the fact that this unexpected word of encouragement was going to happen, and that it was going to happen in a personal, tangible way.  I got out my note cards and pen and in my best penmanship wrote a note of encouragement. 

The more I have thought of this today I am reminded of people who have taken time over the years to write me letters of encouragement.  Although it is nice to get text messages, phone calls and e-mail, there is something more personal about receiving a handwritten message from a friend.  It to me feels like having a part of that person with me and it is undeniable that the words are well thought out and meaningful.

So my challenge this week for you, my readers, is that you would sit down and write just one handwritten note to someone who may need encouragement from you in a tangible way.

Thanks for stopping by,

Amy Lynn Michael 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pass It On

“Why does grace hurt so much?”  That question is forever etched in my mind.  I have a friend who over time has helped me to know the answer to this question.  The first time she asked this question I knew very well why it hurt, but couldn’t give words to my pain.  I have been around Christian circles long enough to know that meaning of grace to be “unmerited favor”, so I know it isn’t really something that we can or need to earn.  But people aren’t so kind sometimes and so I could write a whole blog on examples of grace gone bad. (another day)

It had been four years since the death of my first husband and I had crawled in to a deep dark emotional hole.  The deeper I dug, the more I was convinced that I would never love or be loved again.  Over many conversations, Diet Coke’s and coffee, Lynn and I would talk about grace, love, God and the fact that I really was worthy of it all.  Because I knew Lynn’s background, I knew that I could trust in what she was telling me.  But more importantly I trusted in what she “showed” me.  So many of us talk about grace, and the extension of it, that to me, it has lost its beauty and uniqueness. 

Lynn has been fighting a battle for her life because of cancer and I have had many hours of wishing there were something that I could do for her, to take her pain away.  I want so much to find a tangible way to give back to her because of what she has given me over the years.

I had a dream the other night about Lynn that was very profound and really too detailed to describe here.  But when I awoke from this dream I was convinced that I really can’t give her anything that she doesn’t have.  Grace doesn’t hurt so much anymore and so rather than trying to find a way to give back to Lynn, I want to simply share what she so freely gave to me without question, judgment or expectation.  I may be all wrong, but I think that this would honor her more than a bouquet of flowers or some sentimental card. Out of the abundance I have received I want to help others understand they too are worthy of this grace. 

I know this isn't well written or even close to eloquence, but sometimes I think and write and perhaps should do less writing than thinking in times when my heart is heavy.  But somehow I know that there is another person in this world who needs to read these words and so I do what I do.  Maybe it's you and in that case I'm glad you stopped by.  

I hope that somewhere along the road you find this same grace and love.

I welcome your comments and insight so feel free to email me at

Amy Lynn Michael

Monday, August 8, 2011

Back to Middle C

One of the most significant life lessons I have learned was learned in piano lessons.  A couple weeks ago Mike asked if I would teach him how to play the piano.  Because he does play guitar and drums, not at the same time, I know that he has an ear for music and that rhythm is nearly second nature for him.  This is a good foundation for a beginning piano student.  First of all it is good because he can hear when things are going bad, and he knows that playing notes without any sense of meter is just playing notes.  But when you sit down to a piano the first time and you see 88 keys it is overwhelming.  How can a person possibly know when to use which key?  Middle C.  We start with middle C and everything above it and below it begins to make sense, slowly make sense.  If you’ve ever sat down to play and started on the wrong note, you understand how being one key off can quickly humble you.  So you take your hands off the keys and you refocus and go back to the middle to find your foundation.  Eventually you know it, you feel it and your hands just flow to and from, in and around middle C.  It’s like a gravitational pull to keep you centered and ready to play the next piece.

In life we need a center; a person, place or thing that helps to keep us focused.  Every morning Mike goes out for a run.  It doesn’t matter if it is raining, sleeting, snowing or hailing, he runs every day.  Oh that the postal service could be this reliable. (that was a random thought) He runs without music so that he can hear the thoughts that need to be sorted in his mind each morning before he goes to work.  It is this time that brings him back to his center, the part of his soul that makes him who he is.  I am thankful for this because I love who he is and I wouldn’t want to interfere with this process.  My center is different.  When I am feeling lost or overwhelmed, I pray with the piano.  I sit at the piano, close my eyes, and just play.  My emotions create the melody and the intensity varies as I work through whatever it is that has inched me away from my center.  My center is a quiet place; a place where I meet the God of my understanding.  I need that place, I crave that place and sometimes when I sit down to play the tears come.  The distance from the center closes and soon I find myself back at my middle C, and it’s then that I am refueled for the next season.

I hope that as you read this that you too have identified what it is that centers you, that keeps you grounded when life’s hectic pace is bearing down on you.  I hope you have that center. If you feel you’ve lost your way, know that there is a center, a quiet center in the middle of you.  In that center may you find a peace that brings you back so that you too will be ready to face another day.

To those who stopped by to read this entry, may you know that I write because I want to offer hope to the hopeless and to encourage others to go and do likewise.

Thanks for stopping by,

Amy Lynn Michael

Sunday, July 31, 2011

On Friendship

“I guess God alone deciphers when we need each other most. Who will be the blest receiver, who will be the gracious host.” ~Wayne Watson~ 

We meet people throughout our lives that we think will be with us forever and then life takes its course and we find ourselves walking different directions.  In an effort to find out why we drifted apart, we look for fault.  If you’re like me, you look at yourself first and wonder what you could have done differently eventually reaching the conclusion that it just happened.  As time goes by we look back and we wonder where they are, how they are and with gratitude we whisper their names to the heavens for what they added to our lives.

I recently posted some questions to my friends on facebook about friendship and what it means to them. I learned that qualities such as respect, common interests and kindness, were important to all age groups.  But one of the statements that caught my attention was this, “friends don’t interfere with the journey”.  That struck me to the core for many reasons.  I have friends who watched me rise to popularity in the churches with my music and my gregarious personality.  They are the same friends who saw me spiral into the blackest hole I could have imagined.  None of them judged me while living the fa├žade of super Christian, nor did they judge me when I had fallen with my face to the ground.  They instead, extended their hands of friendship, opened their homes to me and let me walk out my failings.  They watched me grow through it all while offering a safe place for me to find protection, mostly from myself.  But more importantly, they didn’t interfere with my journey.  If they had, I may not have grown. They are those who have known me for a long, long time.

But what about the friends I have met on the internet?  You can tell by the way I have begun this paragraph that I believe friendships can formed by way of technology.  While most of my friends agreed that authentic friendships can be found in social network settings, they also felt that they can be harmful when not kept in balance.  In other words, while it is possible to connect with someone whom you have never met in person, it is important that we don’t allow our face to face friendships to lose their importance.  Having a new friend is exciting and fun and it can be easy to get lost in those early stages of friendship, neglecting those who have helped us become who we are.  So while it is possible to find great friends on the internet, it is also important to keep a healthy balance.  Most of all it was the common thought that social networking has been more of a benefit in connecting former classmates, distant relatives and other friends. 

In the past several months, I have become more involved in social networking than I imagined I would be and I have to say that I have met some wonderful people, some who I consider friends.  Although they have not known me long, they still have a special place in my life.  Twenty years from now, they may only be names that I whisper to the heavens when giving thanks for my journey.  Whatever the case, I am richer for each and every friendship, near or far, present or past.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

I Am From Desire

I am from bean fields and corn and from Iowa
from a house that was large and full.
I am from hollyhocks whose flowers
were made into dolls

I am from a town whose boundaries 
seemed endless though so small.
I am from dreaming and imagining; 
from playmates, pets and playgrounds

I am from conversations with Pat and Rose, 
with Carol Johns and Mrs. Delambert; Gertrude was her name.
From piano lessons and the prairie song
I am from black cherry soda at the baseball park in summer

I am from a small school whose teachers taught more 
than academics; about life and caring and fun.
I am from the wrong side of town 
where I was often looked down upon;
from hand sewn clothes and hand-me-downs.

I am from homemade bread and milk fresh from the cow
Because it was cheaper than the store brands.
From garden grown vegetables and oatmeal with currents
I am from homemade stew.

I am from a small school where everybody knew my name;
where teachers knew the sins of my family.
Some judged me for them while some
 had pity on me because of them.
I am from the ones who believed in me

I am from a fatherless teen-hood from a mother 
who worked long hours to provide for those yet to leave home.
I am from learning to work on my own 
from self discipline to succeed
and from resilience to exceed expectations

I am from independence learned to survive
from those who said I could not then proving them wrong.
I am from those who refused to believe in 
the strength of self-reliance
from my own willingness 
to get back up and try again.

I am from prayer, from the prayers of many 
and from the prayers of my own making.
I am from the voice in the wind 
on the high hills and the lowest valleys;
from the One who called me away from the chaos
I am from a refuge and a soft place to lie down.

I am from fighter instincts; 
instincts that tell me what is worth fighting for.
From the anger of an abused woman I stand strong;
powerful within but not so strong I can’t be broken
I am from the power of being free.

I am from friendship with women;
women whose lives speak without the use of words
I am from those who showed me far more than they told me;
and from their laughter when I couldn’t find 
a reason to laugh on my own.

I am from the friendship of my husband;
a man who sees so much potential that I believe it myself.
I am from a love that won’t let go knowing all of my imperfections.
I am from unconditional love.

I am from all these things but ultimately…
I am from an intricate design that won’t be understood
I am from faith that believes I was created for a purpose

I am from a desire to find that purpose
and to do with it as much as I can
Until one day I become too tired to carry on.

I am from desire!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Single Again

Being 19 or 20 and still single is hard.  The awkwardness of dating and dead end relationships is frustrating at best. That and watching your friends get married leaving you in the dust of wishes and dreams, is a cruel reality.  You wish for that special someone to come along and you dream of family and dinner at the table each night.  I remember those days. Then one day it happens.  We find the person we dreamed of being married to, or maybe we settled for someone who had at least one of the traits we hoped to find.  No matter the case our lives seemed to have been made complete according to the unwritten rules of society.  Man + woman = happily ever after. Right?  Away we go to every event, every family gathering with our spouse.  Somehow in our wedded bliss we forget about the ones who until the day we found Prince Charming, celebrated our joys and held us in our sadness; those who believed in us when we doubted ourselves.  Maybe it’s not intentional, but to the one left behind it hurts.  It hurts deeply.

Off we go into our married lives.  We have “couples” who we befriend whether or not all four spouses are compatible.  We plan dinners and nights out with our married friends.  We share the things we once enjoyed with our single friends with other couples and we develop what we believe are bonds that will last a lifetime.  But then that fateful day comes, someone finds themselves in the midst of divorce and two by two we drop out of their lives because it is far less complicated than to learn and grow with them. Maybe we are afraid it is contagious.  Or there is the partnership that ends because of the death of a spouse.  Granted when a spouse passes, the friends stick around a bit longer. But still, eventually left behind are those who suddenly are single again. Those of us who remain married go on with our lives and that person is left alone in the dust once again to deal with their grief.  We continue to plan outings that we once enjoyed with our friend, but we stop including them because they are single.  We make excuses and eventually we stop communicating with them except to the extent of trying to play match maker; because if they were “coupled” we would again have something in common.

It’s awkward to be on either side of this relationship battle, I know because I have been on both sides.  I have friends who are single and single again.  I heard someone say last week that their wish for a mutual friend was that she would find “a man”.  I cringed a bit inside because after having been “single again” for 10 years I had become quite happy with my life.  It was a struggle for a long time to really learn who I was separate from my former spouse.  But once I found the person inside, I realized that I didn’t need a man or woman for that matter to complete me. I desired a relationship, though, with someone who would simply embrace who I had become and would accept the love I had inside that I still desired to share with someone special.  But in all of this, I wanted to remember what it felt like to be single among a marriage-minded society and I wanted to always be mindful that my single friends may be single by choice. 

I’m not single anymore, but I hope that I will always care for those who are still, and those who have found their way back to single-hood whether by tragedy or choice. 

Having friends over for dinner this week? Invite your single friends too.

Amy Lynn 

Monday, July 4, 2011

He Cried

Softly she climbs up the stairs
hoping to escape the glares

Another day another fight
she slips away in to the night

Years go by she runs a race
trying to forget that place

She carries all her guilt and shame
and thinks that God forgot her name

She cries
for her freedom

Out of the blue
he came to her rescue
lifted her up from her shame

He knew her name
he felt her pain
he held each tear that she cried

he cried for her freedom

Painfully he walked that road
carrying my heavy load

And on that day he saw my face
He knew my shame would need His grace

He cried for my freedom

Along with the celebration of our Nation's independence, I'm celebrating another kind of freedom today.  To those who have been hurt and abused and have found freedom, I celebrate with you.  To those who are still waiting in line for that moment, I pray for you and hope that you will find your freedom soon.

Blessings this day,

Amy Lynn

Friday, June 24, 2011

Strip Bar Malls

Courtship or dating if you prefer is at best an awkward time of getting to know a person who may become your life companion.  Communication is vital during this time and especially if you are dating from a distance as Mike and I did.  We talked on the phone for nearly four hours one evening, we found reason to have unlimited text message plans and we sent a lot of e-mail.  Communication to the max!  We needed this because we had both been in lengthy relationships prior.  One day I received an e-mail that for a second derailed this love story.  Mike was describing his social life when I read, or rather thought I read, "tonight I'm going to tour the strip bar malls of Overland Park". STRIP BAR malls?!  He is going to a strip bar mall?!!  I was horrified.  What had I gotten myself into?  I thought I had better re-read that sentence just to make sure what I had read before I dumped the chump.  I am so glad I did!  Because what he had written was strip mall bars. Strip. Mall. Bars. He was referring to the one or two places that he frequented in pursuit of a good BLT and a beer at the end of a busy day.  I have chuckled about this many times over the past three years and I marvel at the difference one dyslexic slip can make.  

Yesterday morning while viewing our bank accounts, our checking account balance was a bit lower than I'm comfortable with and so I thought I should transfer some money from savings to checking.  Mike is usually the one to fuss about this but he had sense enough to know that in less than 24 hours we were both going to be paid.  I persisted and my stubbornness won.  I proudly announced, "there I transferred money to our checking account."  I hopped out the door to work with confidence that if money needed to be spent it could be.  Before I tell you what happened next, I swear to you that I was not trying to find some kind of sick revenge on my husband for the mis-communication or rather, the mis-read incident from three years prior.  While I was at work, Mike sat down at a local Greek restaurant to enjoy a gyro when on his phone came a notification from the bank informing him that our checking account balance had gone below our designated comfort zone.  In fact, it was almost zero!  The proud transfer I had made earlier in the day was destined to be a dyslexic disaster.  I had actually transferred our entire checking account to the savings account. 

Communication builds relationships and it can tear them down in a flash.  E-mail is a wonderful tool and regretfully I have clicked send way too fast in some instances.  I have hurt the feelings of others and I have caused many humorous blunders with the careless click of a button.  I have mis-read and almost missed out on a lifetime of love and companionship with my favorite and yes, only husband Mike. 

I really love technology for its instant way of communicating but today I wonder if slowing down to write everything longhand would save a whole lot of trouble!

Thanks for stopping by!

Amy Lynn

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Time Will Tell

Time Will Tell
Amy Lynn Michael

Out of the shadows into the light
A battle each day for my soul I will fight
One step forward two steps back
Some things will fall between the cracks

I will press on with Christ by my side
Humbly I’ll walk relinquish my pride
Only striving to finish this day
Tomorrow’s not here won’t wish it away

I can’t walk back and fix what’s behind
The path before me is where I will find
Trials and pain, joy in the race
Shame washed away shattered by grace

I don’t understand why God chose me
To fight this battle where others can see
There must be a reason for a heart laid bare
Before the skeptics and those unaware

I wish I could know how my life will end
I can’t see down the road around the bend
Only God knows the time and the hour
When in my life He will release His power

I only know in my human frailty
That God will be strongest when I bow my knee
I will fight this fight I will fight it well
And one day I will win, only time will tell.

I found this poem from 2006 in my e-journal and thought I would share with my readers.  That time in my life was surrounded with much uncertainty and there were plenty of folks looking down at me because of where I had been and the things I had done.  I am thankful today for a resilience that helped me fight to be more than the skeptics believed I could be.

If you are that one under the looking glass of the skeptics, know that one day soon you too will find strength to move beyond their limited vision for you.  Time will tell.

Thanks for reading,

Amy Lynn

Friday, June 3, 2011

God Told Me

These days when I hear someone say, “God told me…” I have a tendency to cringe; and most of the time it is noticeable.  I have however, managed in some situations to be respectful of the person delivering the divine revelation.  It’s not that I don’t believe people still hear the voice of God as they did in Moses’ days.  I just think that more often than not our opinion is burning hotter than the bush that Moses encountered.  In an effort to be taken seriously we think it necessary to preface our words with, God told me.  Somehow this little phrase will make everything ok if the person on the receiving end doesn’t like what we have said, or is hurt by it.  Have you ever been the person on the receiving end of a “divine revelation”?  I have been both blessed by this and hurt.  I have been blessed when someone called because while they were reading scripture or praying, I was on their mind and they prayed for me.  They called to share the verse that they were reading when I was brought to their mind or they wrote me a note of encouragement at just the right time.  I believe that God does place people on our hearts at just the right time.  I have had some instances recently where certain individuals have come to mind in the night and I have prayed for them as soon as I was coherent enough to pray, later to find out that it was just what they needed at that time.  This will always amaze me and humble me at the same time.  Why was I chosen to pray for those needs?  How could my prayers possibly eloquent enough or holy enough to make a difference?  Prayers and encouragement from others in the name of Jesus are undeniably welcomed and cherished. 

But the other side of “God told me” is where I begin with my skepticism.  Once a friend told me that God showed her something about my life that needed to be dealt with and that I should pray and ask Him to show me too.  I was instantly angry and not because I was feeling some kind of guilt or fear of what might have been revealed.  I was angry because the person delivering this word had a history of using this phrase when she was about to offer her opinion on some aspect of my life.  She said I should pray about it for a few days and that she would call me later in the week to arrange a meeting.  Several days and weeks went by and I heard not another word.  Apparently the burning message from God had lost its urgency.  Because I have put little trust in people like this, I wasn’t hurt that she didn’t follow up on this message from God.  In fact, I found it amusing and incredibly predictable, given her history.  It wasn’t God’s message at all, it was an opinion and the person delivering it either found it less important to share as time went on and perhaps God protected me from yet another hurtful, discouraging opinion. 

Should my opinion ever burn brighter than the bush did to Moses, may I find the courage to admit that it is my own, and further may I be wise enough to know when to speak and when to simply be quiet.

Have a wonderful weekend, my friends and thanks for stopping by.

Amy Lynn

Monday, May 30, 2011

"Clown White"

Clown White makeup
A painted smile

Cover your misery
Just for awhile

Spotlight turns
It's all your show

Fear inside
Nobody will know

They laugh as your carry on your routine
Night after night same old scene

The crowd is now gone as they dim the last light
You turn away and walk into the night

Wash your face take a bow
Look in the mirror, dear.

Who are you now?

It's a weird little poem that won't win any awards but it describes the person I was several years ago.  I came to place in life realizing that keeping up an image is so much more work than just being who I am.

Are you ready to wash your face?  When you are I pray that there will be those who believe in you close at hand.  I don't even have to know your name to know that your "image" is not near as beautiful as what lies beneath.

Thanks for stopping by....

Amy Lynn

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I Don't Want To Care When... earthquake across the ocean takes the lives of many
...I read about a car accident that took the life of a young man
...a stranger is diagnosed with cancer
...I see a man holding a sign that says "will work for food"
...the person who drives me crazy is hurting
...a woman is selling her body on a street corner
...I read about the casualties of war
...the front page of the paper is filled with images 
of death and destruction from storms
...I read about the senseless murder of a child 
whose face and name I never  knew

But I do care.  I care because I know that if it were... country shaken life taken in an accident diagnosed with a terminal illness holding the sign for food hurting selling my body fighting for my country home destroyed by storms child murdered

that someone, somewhere, who doesn't even know my name would pray for me and hold out hope for me.

It hurts deeply to care sometimes because it takes patience, unconditional love and vulnerability.  But I have to believe that regret hurts more and so I will go on caring for those whose faces I may never see and whose names I may never know.

It's a simple post this week, but the storms around me and the tragedies I read about in the paper are troublesome.

Care and love deeply while you can and as often as you can.  Life really is fragile

Amy Lynn

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Women are Liars

Saturday was coming and the new Olive Garden had opened in Sioux City, Iowa a few weeks prior.  A group of ladies decided this would be a good day to have lunch and go shopping.  I’m not a fan of shopping, but I do enjoy sharing conversation and a meal with friends, so I accepted the invitation.  Being absolutely crazy for Italian cuisine, I was already aware that the Olive Garden’s offerings would not compare fully to the wonderful restaurants owned by any Caniglia family in Omaha.  But, none-the-less it was the best we had available to us in rural Iowa, so I would make the most of it.  I have two rules when I eat at a good Italian restaurant; creamy alfredo sauce on anything, bread and tiramisu. Um, make that three.  Italian food is rich, tasty and meant to be enjoyed to the point of exhaustion.  The pasta, bread and sauces are why we seek out these wonderful eateries, after all.

The excitement of the day was building.  I didn’t eat my typical breakfast that day because I wanted to be hungry for lunch and a delightful serving of tiramisu.  I finished my morning routine of cleaning, reading and entertaining my dog.  I jumped in the shower to get cleaned up and ready for this outing.  Now typically on a day off work, I would be found wearing jeans, t-shirt and a baseball cap.  This day was different though, I would be in the presence of “church ladies”, so I decided to clean up my raggedy mug and present myself as feminine as possible, while remaining true to myself.  I left the baseball cap at home and wore a “blouse” with my jeans.  I even put make-up on my face that day. 

I arrived at the restaurant anticipating the lively conversation with my friends and of course, a hearty lunch.  I was starving!  One by one the ladies began to arrive and eventually we were all seated.  With the pleasantries all said, it was time to get serious about the menu.  Everybody had commented on how hungry they were and how amazing the menu appeared.  “Oh, the lasagna looks wonderful”, our party organizer exclaimed, while another was salivating to the thought of chicken parmigiana.  I pretty much knew what I was having, when I heard the biggest lie of the century.  “This all looks wonderful but I think I’m going to stick with a side salad and a cup of soup”.  I was in shock!  The lady who made this claim was after all, the one who gathered us together in the first place.  I knew she didn’t really want a salad.  She wanted the biggest, richest, fattest plate of pasta in the place!  Seriously, who goes to an Italian restaurant and orders a salad, a side salad even?!  Well as is typical in a group of women, nearly everyone at the table began to lay aside their appetites, and suddenly all eyes were focused on the salad menu.  I almost surrendered too, but no!  I was in a pseudo-Italian restaurant and I have standards that I live by.  When the waitress came to our table, I listened carefully as the other five women ordered their salads with some lousy light dressing, (on the side).  When the waitress came to me, I proudly and hungrily ordered pasta with chicken to be smothered in alfredo sauce with extra parmesan cheese, not on the side.  We visited and shared the complimentary bread that was given us to enjoy while we waited for our meals.  Finally our food was brought to us.  Each of the salads delicately placed before the others and then came my meal to which the others said, “I wish I had ordered that, it looks wonderful.”  When I asked the lady who invited us there and whose mind was set on the lasagna why she didn’t order it, she simply responded, “because I need to watch what I eat”.  I couldn't help but think to myself, now you can watch what I eat too. 

This experience and many like it have convinced me that women are liars.  Nobody really goes to an Italian restaurant because of their salad menu.  I enjoy a good salad and if I want to eat healthy and according to a “diet” I cook for myself and stay at home.

The next time I’m asked to join a group of ladies at an Italian restaurant, I’m going to order for everyone at the table and ask for extra cheese on everything.  And…I’m going to wear my baseball cap!  Anybody want to join me?

Thanks for humoring me.

Amy Lynn

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Where Christians Divide

“Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is.”  Mahatma Gandhi

When I think of Christians I want to think of a group of people who care for the needs of other people out of love and concern for their “brothers and sisters”.  I want to believe that if I fall down someone will be there to pick me up physically and spiritually.  I want to believe that the unconditional love modeled for those who identify themselves with Christ, would be offered to me no matter the circumstance.  I want to believe this, but frankly I’ve seen and experienced too much of the opposite.

Each time an election year approaches I brace myself for dissention among the ranks.  There are expected ads pitting Democrats against Republicans, this community leader against the other one.  This is expected as candidates jockey for position and to get our votes.  The media battle is frustrating and the battle between politicians is certainly annoying at best.  But the dissention that I am most concerned with is the war that rages among Christians during times of major political decisions. 

Time and people have taught me two things.  There are Christians who wouldn’t cross the street to help our Nation’s president if he were in harms way simply because they disagree with his politics. In fact this group of people would later post on social networks prideful statements of how they were unwilling to compromise their convictions by aiding such a “liberal”.  But there is another kind of Christian.

There is the Christian who no matter where you’ve come from, no matter how you may have gone against their ideals would stand beside you in your pain.  I want to be this kind of Christian.  I want my Republican and Democratic friends alike to know without hesitation that I will be at their side to pick them up should they fall.  I want to be the kind of person who no matter who our President is, I would support him or her in prayer.  I want to be the kind of Christian that no matter who you are and where you have come from, I will simply listen to understand your view so not to offend you when we differ.  I want to do these things, but I fear I too fall short at times.

Today I want to take a deep look inside myself and ask the question: Is there anyone in my life who I have pushed away simply because of political differences?  If there is then I want to find the humility and courage to make right the damage I may have already done.

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Changing of the Seasons

Ask most people in the upper mid-west how they feel about winter and they will say they hate it.  When you ask them why they don't move south the response is usually because they enjoy the changing of the seasons.  In the north the changing of seasons can often be dramatic.  One day you are adjusting the air conditioning and the next the fireplace must be lit. One day you are wearing short sleeves and the next a sweatshirt.  In fact sometimes this can happen all in a days time.  Heater by morning and air conditioning by night.  That is how it is in the mid-west and that is what I love about it.  I love dramatic weather changes.  I love thunderstorms in summer and blizzards in winter.  I love a warm spring rain and I love the fragrance of autumn and the crunching of leaves under foot.  I love the change of seasons as they pertain to nature. There is only one season I don't really enjoy and that is the middle of summer when the heat and humidity are on.  As my husband puts it, we are all entitled to complain about one season.  And since nobody really complains about spring or fall, he has chosen winter to be his nemesis and I, summer.  

Nature's seasons come and go every year and with some predictability.  We complain as much as we celebrate their passing.  If we didn't have the changing of seasons, I'm convinced that many awkward silences would never be broken.  But what about the seasons of friendship?

I left Iowa three years ago, which for me was as dramatic as going from summer directly into winter without the transition of fall.  I had lived there for over forty years.  I have friends and family and the entire history of my livelihood in Iowa.  But I also knew much sorrow and pain associated with my life in Iowa.  When I moved to Kansas City with my husband Mike, I was scared and if you can imagine me as timid, I was a little bit of that too.  I didn't know anyone here and it seemed that every time I left home alone I would get lost in the city and have to turn around.  I was fired from my first job here just a few months after I started simply because they didn't like me.  With my confidence and cheerful spirit shaken, I knew that it would all be brought back in perspective when Mike would return home each day.  He was and is what I needed to keep things in perspective.  This season in my life felt like the bitterness of winter and the heat of summer colliding, with potential to shatter what resilience still remained inside. As difficult as that time in my life was, it was only a season; a season for which I am thankful.  

If I had not moved, I may have never crossed paths with some very dear people who I can proudly call friends today.  I may have always wondered what it would be like to live somewhere else. This change in seasons has been a wonderful opportunity for growth.  After all, isn't it true that much of nature couldn't grow without the changing of seasons?  

I needed a change in seasons to grow beyond what I could see as my potential, and there are people in my life who are experiencing the same thing today.  I hope that in the same way that Mike and my new friends and family in Kansas City have helped me to grow, that I will be supportive of changing seasons in the life of my friends.

            I'm not sure that this made much sense today and maybe it was written for myself, perhaps belonging in my journal.  But, somewhere out there is a person whose life is changing course and maybe you can be encouraged knowing that this is just a season and on the other side is a beautiful new tomorrow.

Blessings as you go,


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Gospel According to Janis Ian

At Seventeen
Janis Ian

"To those of us who know the pain 
of valentines that never came.  
And those whose names were never called 
when choosing sides at basketball.  
It was long ago and far away, 
the world was younger than today.  
And dreams were all they gave for free 
to ugly duckling girls like me."  

Several weeks ago on a road trip back home, I listened to a compilation CD that had this song on it.  Either I had never heard the song before or I had never really listened to the words.  But I found myself lost in the lyrics.  Because I was driving back to the place where I grew up, suddenly these words came to life.  This is exactly how I felt at seventeen!  I felt ugly, awkward and most of all I felt insignificant.  I don't think this is uncommon in teenage girls, but when you are that girl it feels horrible.  

We are entering into Holy week and my mind was taken to the book of Isaiah where the prophet was describing the coming Messiah.  And it seems that this Jesus would not have been the handsome olive skinned, curly haired man that we portray in pictures and movies.  Chapter 53 verses 2 - 6 in the Message say this: The servant grew up before God - a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field.  There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look.  He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.  One look at him and people turned away.  We looked down on him, thought he was scum.  But the fact is, it was our pains he carried - our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.  We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures.  But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him - our sins!  Through his bruises we get healed.  We're all like sheep who've wandered off and gotten lost.  We've all done our own thing, gone our own way.  And God has piled all our sins, everything we've done wrong, on him, on him.

What do you suppose Jesus teen years would have been like if he had lived in America today?  From what I've read, I'm guessing he would have spent a lot of time alone.  I'm also guessing it would have been alright with him.  I get sickened sometimes when I see the display that we put on in the name of Jesus to produce a church service; wardrobe...lights... camera... action!  Let's do this service!  At least that's how it feels sometimes. 

Would we have chosen the Jesus described in this passage to pastor any of our churches?  Would we have even embraced him as he walked through the doors of our building?  Maybe I'm thinking of myself here, but I am doubting that I would give a second glance unless simply to judge this ugly man. 

Janis sings "those of us with ravaged faces, lacking in the social graces. Desp'rately remained at home, inventing lovers on the phone, who called to say come dance with me and murmured vague obscenities.  It isn't all it seems At Seventeen".  When I see the picture perfect Jesus portrayed in movies and paintings I know that it isn't all it seems either.  Jesus wasn't beautiful, but what he represents is beautiful.  He lived a short life and walked a long road for me even though I wasn't perfect.  In fact he did this because I'm not perfect.  

As we enter into Holy week I hope that we are reminded as we plan our services that there are those who will come to services broken and alone.  They will feel dirty and ugly.  I hope that I am able to have the eyes to see beyond what may turn me away from embracing the one who feels insignificant.  

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