Loving Well

My dad left a lot when he passed away. He left a house, a car, clothes, and his beloved books.   He left co-workers and friends who loved him. He left children and grandchildren who adored him. He left a loving wife who deeply misses him. He left a legacy of life-long learning. He left a legacy of faith. He left a legacy of curiosity and adventure. But I believe one of the best things my dad left, was a legacy of blessing.

My dad was known for his bright, easy smile and quick wit. People liked him and liked to be around him. But beyond the winning smile, keen intellect and great personality, people were drawn to dad because he loved them. I saw my dad love and bless each person he met–literally every person no matter how minor or brief their encounter. His life exuded encouragement and mercy and grace and blessing. I remember one time he and my mom were traveling to Iowa and stopped at a Hardee’s for ice cream. While in the line, dad struck up a conversation with a younger guy. Within minutes, the man told mom and dad of his rough past and new-found faith and his desire to change. There, amid the rushed customers, mom and dad prayed with him, gave him words of encouragement and blessed him. This is one example among many; his life was a life of giving. He took time to listen and bless.

So, my dad’s love for others wasn’t just philanthropic or born out of a general love for humanity. His love and passion to bless people grew from his love and passion for his Savior, Jesus, and out of a deep gratitude. His love and blessing were intentional. Dad struggled with depression. Dad struggled with his past. Dad struggled with self-image and worth. Dad struggled with an addictive personality. Dad struggled with pride. He would readily, easily and quickly share with you that Jesus was his only hope and without Him, he was nothing. The introverted scholar, who could easily have holed up in his man-cave forever, chose to leave the safety and quiet and comfort to bless and love others because of the Love he’d been shown. He loved others well because of the great Love he’d been given.

I’m confident that his legacy of blessing reaches far beyond what we know because of this Love.

Would you do something for me today, in honor of his birthday?

Would you love people wholly and intentionally today?

When an interaction devolves into gossip, will you be the one to bring the grace and love and turn the conversation around?
Will you be the one to show kindness and grace to the person who bugs you (and perhaps everyone else) the most?
Will you greet each person you meet with kindness and openness, expecting the best instead of the worst?
Will you step out of your comfort zone, putting your own fears, busyness, and agenda aside, to bring encouragement to someone else?
Will you pray with someone who needs it today?
Will you put your needs on the back-burner and live self-sacrificially today?
Will you refrain from the snarky comment at someone else’s expense?
Will you show restraint and grace when you don’t agree with someone else’s political or religious beliefs?
If you work in a school, will you look for the kid who tries to hide and try to make a connection?
If you’re a student, will you bless your classmates with kindness, respect, and actual attention–yes, even the weird kid who picks his nose–in fact–especially the weird kid who picks his nose?
Will you be the one at the water cooler who brings words of life instead of criticism?

Will you plant seeds of kindness instead of selfishness?
Will you make today about blessing instead of cursing? Loving instead of ignoring? Boldly sharing grace instead of standing in judgment?

Will you intentionally share a legacy of blessing today?

Imagine the beauty of this day if we choose to live like this!

**reposting from 2015

Diffused Light repost

I wrote this last January, but after reading the following quote by Stasi Eldredge this morning, and praying for some deeply wounded, suffering souls, I thought it was worth reposting. May you find peace and beauty even in the pain.

“Suffering is real and it is a part of every person’s life. We aren’t to be surprised by it or thrown by it but to seek God in it; not blame him for it but reach to him in it. We can let pain be a doorway to deeper intimacy with Christ. May each of us let God use suffering to transform us. This God of ours promises that he works all things together for our GOOD. ALL things. Even the hardest things. Honestly, because of that, there is much hope to be had there.” ~Stasi Eldredge

In 12 hours I’ll be back home again…not the ideal thoughts on the Monday morning after a break, but it gave me the motivation I needed to get up and get going. I like my job. I really do. But each morning I wake up dreading the day for whatever reason. No, it’s not “whatever reason” it’s that when you struggle with chronic depression, mornings are particularly hard. The day ahead feels daunting. I’ve found over the years that once I’m going, it’s fine; it’s the initial thoughts that need to be overcome. Anyway, this morning I got up, got dressed, read my devotions, and chose to put on a smile. I don’t mean a poser-fake sort of smile, I mean the this-is-your-life-you-are-truly-blessed-even-if-you-don’t-feel-it sort of smile. Every morning I have to remind myself that how I live this life and view this day is a choice–depression or not.

Anyway, I walked out my door and I found a stunning white fur-covered world. Fog caused frost to settle all over the trees, decks, power lines, the antenna on the car and each leaf and twig and blade of grass. Anything and everything that the fog touched, frosted. I was beautiful. Stunningly beautiful. An otherwise dismal, cloudy day transformed into a magical world. Once again, I thought of the beauty in the midst of the dismal. Beauty in pain. Beauty in suffering. Beauty in confusion. Beauty in the fog.

The roads were fine, but the fog hung thick and allowed only limited vision. As I drove through the cloud tunnel, the monochromatic world around me, I saw a small break of diffused light. It wasn’t bright yellow. No round orb was visible. But a brighter light glowed and for that moment, it allowed me to see a little further down the road. Instead of the 100 feet in front of me, I could see a bit more asphalt.

Once again, I was reminded how much depression is like fog. The sun isn’t blocked out completely, but vision is impaired. I often deride myself for struggling to get out of bed in the morning, but driving through the ground-level clouds, I thought how natural it is in the diminished vision to slow down, be careful, and just concentrate on what’s immediately in front of you. As soon as I look beyond the day (or sometimes the hour) I’m overwhelmed because all I see is hazy white. My vision is impaired. But if I simply look at the road in front of me, trusting that the pavement will lead me, I’m ok. Alert. Possibly on edge, but ok.

I have no idea what your fog or struggle is today. It may be finances, a crappy marriage, hurting kids or chronic illness. I have no idea. But I pray that, whatever your situation, you will look to God and take heart. The Light of Christ will never leave you even if His light and presence are diffused by struggle. And believe it or not, there is intense and immense beauty right in the middle of (and sometimes because of) the fog.

Diffused Light

In 12 hours I’ll be back home again…not the ideal thoughts on the Monday morning after a break, but it gave me the motivation I needed to get up and get going. I like my job. I really do. But each morning I wake up dreading the day for whatever reason. No, it’s not “whatever reason” it’s that when you struggle with chronic depression, mornings are particularly hard. The day ahead feels daunting. I’ve found over the years that once I’m going, it’s fine; it’s the initial thoughts that need to be overcome. Anyway, this morning I got up, got dressed, read my devotions, and chose to put on a smile. I don’t mean a poser-fake sort of smile, I mean the this-is-your-life-you-are-truly-blessed-even-if-you-don’t-feel-it sort of smile. Every morning I have to remind myself that how I live this life and view this day is a choice–depression or not.

Anyway, I walked out my door and I found a stunning white fur-covered world. Fog caused frost to settle all over the trees, decks,power lines, the antenna on the car and each leaf and twig and blade of grass. Anything and everything that the fog touched, frosted. I was beautiful. Stunningly beautiful. An otherwise dismal, cloudy day transformed to a magical world. Once again, I thought of the beauty in the midst of the dismal. Beauty in pain. Beauty in suffering. Beauty in confusion. Beauty in the fog.

The roads were fine, but the fog hung thick and allowed only limited vision. As I drove through the cloud tunnel, the monochromatic world around me, I saw a small break of diffused light. It wasn’t bright yellow. No round orb was visible. But a brighter light glowed and for that moment, it allowed me to see a little further down the road. Instead of the 100 feet in front of me, I could see a bit more asphalt.

Once again, I was reminded how much depression is like fog. The sun isn’t blocked out completely, but vision is impaired. I often deride myself for struggling to get out of bed in the morning, but driving through the ground-level clouds, I thought how natural it is in the diminished vision to slow down, be careful, and just concentrate on what’s immediately in front of you. As soon as I look beyond the day (or sometimes the hour) I’m overwhelmed because all I see is hazy white. My vision is impaired. But if I simply look at the road in front of me, trusting that the pavement will lead me, I’m ok. Alert. Possibly on edge, but ok.

I have no idea what your fog or struggle is today. It may be finances, a crappy marriage, hurting kids or chronic illness. I have no idea. But I pray that, whatever your situation, you will look to God and take heart. The Light of Christ will never leave you even if His light and presence are diffused by struggle. And believe it or not, there is intense and immense beauty right in the middle of (and sometimes because of) the fog.

Ally, advocate and friend

Most burst into her room full of youthful energy and raging hormones. Some slink in silently, trying to avoid eye-contact, wishing they were invisible. She greets each the same: with a big welcoming smile, hearty hello, and cheerful word of encouragement. She’s there to help them; it’s her mission and they know it. She wants each to succeed. She’s their ally. And when they do succeed, they happily share their joy with her. And when they fail, she offers life-giving words of future hope. She’s there, day after day, reminding them that they are not in this alone.There is help and it comes in the form of a lovely, resourceful, energetic ally who won’t give up on them.

If she’s gone, they ask endlessly when she”ll be back. Playing games around the table, going for walks, during class time, even when tough situations arise, it’s clear she is their first choice.  Daily, someone different comes to her for advice, counsel, and encouragement. She listens and the compassion washes over her face as she hears their words. And that’s why they come: she hears them. She truly listens and hears not only what they speak, but beyond the words, she hears their fears and insecurities. Her tender and passionate heart toward these oft’ times pushed-aside souls proves steadfast. You can see her eyes flash with anger when she learns of injustice and flicker with humor when she jokes with them and rim with tears when she hurts with them.  She is loved and beloved. She serves as mouthpiece for those who can’t always speak for themselves. She’s there, day after day, reminding them that they are not in this alone. There is help and it comes in the form of a caring, funny, passionate advocate who won’t give up on them.

They show up at her door–at all hours– and she invites them in, both with warm words and a sweet smile. They’re mostly young women and they need a wise word and a shoulder to cry on and she’s there. Despite her incredibly busy life as a mom with young kids, she makes time and takes time to listen and nod and pray. Her kind heart draws them out and there’s safety in her presence. She offers herself to them in patient humility. She’s there, day after day, reminding them that they are not in this alone. There is help and it comes in the form of a tender, wise, kind friend who won’t give up on them.

Day after day, I come. Sometimes bursting, sometimes slinking. Some days I come in tears, weary and insecure.  Some days I approach boldly, in confident faith and hope. Day after day I run to him, scared of the future, weary of the past and trying to live in the present. Day after day I question and search.  Day after day, I come with begging bowl in hand, needing grace. And day after day, He hears and listens and offers. His patience and kindness astound and amaze. His infinite resources boggle my mind. His passion for my heart cuts my complaints off at the knees. His tenderness in my hurts move me to tears. He’s there, day after day, reminding me that I’m not in this alone. There is Help and it comes in the form of a Wise, Never-changing, Never-failing, completely trustworthy Ally, Advocate and Friend.

 

My soul finds rest in God alone, my rock and my salvation
A fortress strong against my foes and I will not be shaken
Though lips may bless and hearts may curse
And lies like arrows pierce me
I’ll fix my heart on righteousness, I’ll look to Him who hears me

O praise Him, Hallelujah, my Delight and my Reward
Everlasting, never failing, my Redeemer, my God (Lyrics From Psalm 62 by Aaron Keyes)

last place

This in a private message exchange between my daughter and I*.  It’s been sitting in my “drafts” folder for over a year and as I re-read the exchange today, I am reminded of the great privilege we have of being Jesus’ to others. Servant-hood and sacrifice are our privilege as Christ-followers, not a necessary drudgery or a way to earn favor with an angry God. We *get* to serve and sacrifice and put others first so that Jesus is known!

MB: Got any good books/devos I should read?

Me: it depends on what you want to read

MB: umm dealing with
how to be a servant and exemplify christ?

Me: My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers
always encourages and challenges me but it’s written
in 19th century English slang so not everybody gets a lot
out of it. And I would say focus on loving Jesus and
the servant-hood stuff just comes as a result of the relationship.
Truly, just reading scripture really is the best. When I was
your age I read through the Psalms…slowly…chewing on them.
Just a thought.

I just i don’t know I felt really convicted by Mark 9:35
((He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said,
“Whoever wants to be first must take last place
and be the servant of everyone else.”))

and just thinking about my attitude toward
a lot of things and people, but I just don’t
really know what that looks like lived out, you know?

Me: It looks like the Haitian mom baking dirt pies
when that’s all she has to give…it looks like your dad
when he takes out the garbage or shovels the walk or works
on jobs he hates so we can have what we need…
it looks like Aunt Sara doing a chapel on Joy even
though she hates speaking in public…it looks like Uncle Scott
going to care for grandma every day for several years because
he knew it comforted her…it looks like Grandma knitting hats
for tiny babies she’ll never meet…it looks like smiling at the
grocery clerk or giving a compliment to the complete stranger
or listening to your friends troubles when you have your own hurts…
it looks like Pastor Ken faithfully serving in a dinky church with
no recognition and very little pay because he knows God wants him there…
it looks like Mike and Megan leaving their own country to use their gifts
far from family and familiarity…it looks like the woman married to the jerk
that she keeps loving  for Christ’s sake…it looks like a  (mom) not
giving up on her wayward daughter…it looks like the husband
who forgives his wife…it looks like Nate and Catherine adopting
and loving their 3 children…it looks like M releasing her first
child for adoption…

You have been and are now surrounded by genuine, authentic Christ-followers
living out their faiths. It looks different in everyone. No one knows
what someone else is asked to sacrifice to be a servant because
its different for each person. What is a sacrifice for you may be easy
for me and vice versa. I know you didn’t ask for such a long response,
but truly, being a servant–being last—has to do with listening
and loving Jesus more than anything else.

It looks like Listening and loving Jesus more than anything else.

*I left it as is–no edits–gramatical errors, abbreviations and all.

Seasons

Hoisting the big black plastic parcel over his back, he begins his trek. He moves, at a slow but purposeful pace, through the hallways, smiling and greeting fellow students as he goes. Daily, we take this journey back beyond the maintenance room doors and out through the garages to the bins to deposit the 45 gallon sack. Usually, we talk of the task and whether his bundle is heavy or light, but this day in February, as we look beyond the dumpster and see the frozen white fields stretching before us, we have no words.  He smiles as he breaks the silence, “Spring is coming.”  Gazing out at the stark, monochromatic view and feeling the bone-chilling cold of a northwest wind, absolutely nothing about the scene indicates that Spring is coming. Nothing. Yet, my young charge knows that the days will lengthen and the sun’s power will strengthen and the snow will melt and the ground thaw and Spring will come. He knows because the calendar says it will come. He knows because his mom and dad have promised him a turkey-hunting trip in the spring. He knows because in his seventeen years of life, it always comes. So, against all outward evidence, he knows and believes that the seasons will change.

I remember looking out that day at the same unforgiving landscape and squinting, trying hard to imagine the white ground carpeted in green and the solid earth, soft and warm and black. I, too, knew spring would come. It was just hard to believe.

That was February.

Last week, making our way along the familiar path, black bag over his shoulder, we saw it, both of us. The same view only now covered in growing grass and newly turned black dirt and blue skies and the sweet smell of a warm wind. Spring was here. After months of snow and cold and grey and dark, new life emerges: clean, fresh, filled with hope and promise.

Some of you reading this are in desperate need of Spring. You’ve lived in a season of frozen earth for so long, you’ve forgotten the smell of lilacs and fresh mown grass and southerly winds in your heart. Hope is distant. Belief difficult to muster. You look around and see bleek mid-winter. Will your season ever change? Will Spring ever come?

Take a deep breath.

Exhale.

Right now is not forever.

Whatever season you’re in?

will change.

Spring will come.

to be continued…

 

Intrinsic Value

“I am somebody cause God don’t make no junk.” ~Ethel Waters

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.” ~God to Jeremiah

“Love God.  Love your neighbor.”  ~Jesus

Human life has intrinsic value.  Life in Uganda.  Life in Iowa.  Life in Washington DC and Detroit and Watertown and Kampala.  Where there is life, there is value.  Whether it’s life in perfect health or life with abnormalities, life has value.  Life with family and support and love love love or life with nothing and nobody–it has value.  

People have worth and value simply because they are.

I’m pleased to welcome Tiffany today as a guest blogger.  Tiffany and her husband, Jander, are currently living and serving in Uganda, showing God’s love to each person they encounter.  I was so touched and moved by her latest post, that I wanted to share it with all of you.

Difficult Places
by Tiffany Talen
Every Tuesday morning I go with a couple of my closest friends here to a local babies home. This routine used to be one of my favourite times of the week. We would go, hang out with the kids, help the workers in whatever ways we could, help in the garden and a few hours later we would continue on with the business of our week.
 
But the past few Tuesdays have been extremely difficult for me. We are no longer just popping in to play… we have become a part of that place and a part of these children’s lives. When we walk in we aren’t just seeing a bunch of orphaned and abandoned kids, we see children that we know and love, children who recognize us and long for our familiar attention, children who we’ve been watching grow up over the past six months. It’s easier to spend time with suffering children when you don’t really know them that well. But it’s hard to walk in and see children you’ve fallen in love with sitting there in their own poop, hungry with runny noses, crying for someone to care.
 
We’ve not only gotten to know the kids, we’ve also been able to get to know many of the workers along with their own personal struggles and pains. When we walk in, we no longer see mammas who are caring poorly for children we see beautiful women, most of whom are really trying. We’ve learned that many of these ladies actually grew up as orphans. Some have shared their stories and it’s no wonder they struggle to show love to these kids… they don’t even know what it feels like to be loved themselves.
 
We have also been exposed to some of the ugliness that goes on in that place beyond what you might see on the surface. Ugliness like sexual abuse, neglect, and unfair, unjust decision made for childrens’ futures. And it’s hard knowing that these things are happening to such precious, innocent kids. 
 
There was one point today when I felt completely overwhelmed. Usually there are a few mammas there caring for the kids but today almost all the workers had left for a funeral. When we arrived there was only one mamma to care for all of the children.  The place was a zoo. At one point I went over to the giant sand-box to break up a fight between two of the kids. I got to the edge of the box and I felt like I hit a wall.
 
Before me were 12 toddlers sitting in the sandbox filled with garbage and broken, dirty toys. Some of the kids had no pants on, some had dried poop on their legs, some had snot smeared across their faces, some were boys in ratty girls clothes, some had fungal infections on their scalp, some had giant alligator tears streaming down their faces, some were hungry. All were longing for love. 
 
That’s when it hit me. I froze as I pictured my baby Brian sitting amongst these children. If he wasn’t with us, that’s where he would be. The image overwhelmed me. It’s hard enough to see these kids suffering, but to picture your own child amongst them tore my heart out. Ok, I know Brian is not ours, but he has been in our care now for almost two months. We are the only thing close to a loving family that he has. 
 
The suffering in this place has risen to a personal level for me and today my heart is filled with sorrow. I am sad for every child who has no one to call them their special little someone and no one to hold them when they cry. I’m sad for every child who has never known what it feels like to be loved.
  
Should I stop going to the babies home simply because it causes me this heavy pain in my heart? Should I stop going because it’s hard? I believe that in order to follow Jesus we have to go to the hard places. We have to get acquainted with sorrow. Going to the hard places in this world is difficult and it’s scary, but we must go there because that’s where Jesus went. We must enter into the sorrow because He entered into it first. Think of the scares in Jesus’ hands. Living like Him means we also will leave this world with scares. But remember, because of Jesus’ scares we can know that redemption is on the other side.
 
God, help us to show your love to this world even when it’s difficult. Guide us to and through the hard places and be with us as we enter into the sorrow we encounter along the way. Most of all, we thank-you for going there first. Help us to trust and follow you as our loving guide. Amen
   
“I believe that in order to follow Jesus we have to go to the hard places. We have to get acquainted with sorrow.” ~Tiffany
If you’d like to read more of the Tiffany’s blog, click here: Talens’ Treks

Cool Water

Jesus said to her, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again.  But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”  John 4

She was so surprised that he talked to her, she almost missed it.  He spoke of living water–water that would quench thirst once and for all–and she didn’t get it.  I always imagine her as someone who looked older than her years.  Divorced 5 times, she’d had a hard life.  Who knows what kind of abuse she’d received and possibly even infflicted.  I’m sure she was talked about and ridiculed and judged.  Good,  decent, law-abiding people most likely avoided her–guilt by association and all that.  We can speculate at her life and the extent to which others shunned her, but we have written record of how Jesus  treated her.  He spoke to her.  Acting against every convention of his society, he spoke to her.  He asked her for water.  He engaged her in a conversation.  He invited her into a relationship with God.  And as the barriers between them fell, she understood what Jesus’ offer of living water was and she eventually accepted it.  She drank deep of the cool clear water of Life that Jesus’ offered her hurting soul.

Bedside vigils are tiring.  Waiting with someone while they slowly die is a strange, sad, painful privilege.  Brad and I have walked that road now three times, most recently with my dad. My sisters and mom and I cried a lot during those long days and nights at Dad’s bedside.  We held his hand and whispered I love you’s and stroked his brow.  We offered food until he could no longer eat.  Then we offered water.  Sustaining, refreshing water.  His gulps from a cup became sips from a straw and finally, just days before he passed away, the straw became syringes of precious water. I’ll never forget the scene.  My oldest sister lovingly giving him 5 ml dropper’s full of water.  His lips dry and his mouth parched, he took in all he was able.   Something sparked her memory and my sweet sister started singing the old Son’s of Pioneers song: Cool Water.  Dad, who hadn’t spoken, for lack of strength, in more than a day, opened his eyes as much as he could.  He recognized the tune and mouthed the words.  We found it on youtube and played the cowboy song for Dad.  He mustered up a weak smile–a mere shadow of his former dashing grin–and tried to sing along.

The shadows sway and seem to say tonight we pray for water,

Cool water.

And way up there He’ll hear our prayer and show us where there’s water,

Cool Water.

Who knew a dusty old country song whispered by a beautiful dying man could become a prayer?  Dad knew the soul-quenching, Life-giving water and his life was, indeed, a testament to the power of Jesus healing.  Dad was a fresh, bubbling spring touching each person he met with God’s kindness in him.

Who knew a broken, used, abused woman, minding her own business, could drink deep from an everlasting well and not only receive eternal life, but a healed life?  John goes on to say that “Many Samaritans believed because of what the woman said…”.  This hurting, bruised outcast found her voice and people listened.

We are broken.  Each one of us carry burdens.  Some are tired and weary today.  Some suffer physically and others suffer hurts no one sees or notices.  Whatever the pain, however deep the wound, Jesus offers the same, life-giving, life-sustaining, healing spiritual water.  His invitation is clear.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. ~Matthew 11:28-29

It’s the little things

it’s the bright early-morning moon greeting me as I wake

it’s hot coffee on a cold day

it’s a warm house in the middle of a blizzard

it’s the quickly scrawled thank-you note from my daughter before she rushed out the door

it’s the two minute conversation in the hallway that builds a bridge

it’s the darling red-headed three-year-old singing “Annie” songs in her kitchen

it’s the unexpected snow day

it’s seeing the boy who struggles interact well with peers

it’s a little text in the middle of a long day from a good friend

it’s shared laughter with my kids

it’s knowing the warmth, love and grace from the same man for over a quarter of a century

it’s hearing the Star-Spangled Banner sung in the middle of the day in the middle of math

it’s getting glimpses of wonderful things to come

it’s little scraps of paper falling from jam-packed notebooks testifying to a well-fought faith and extraordinary life

it’s the myriad of reminders that we’re not alone…

and there is a God…

and He does love us…

it’s grace in the little things and as well as the big

More or Less

John’s disciples came to him and said, “Rabbi, the man you met on the other side of the Jordan River, the one you identified as the Messiah, is also baptizing people. And everybody is going to him instead of coming to us.”

John replied, “No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven. You yourselves know how plainly I told you, ‘I am not the Messiah. I am only here to prepare the way for him.’  It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the best man is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success.  He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.  John 3: 26-30

We live in a society of more.  The funny AT&T commercials with all the sweet little kids sitting around and the straight-faced guy in the suit asking questions like:  “What’s better faster or slower?”,  is a prime example.  The tag line for every commercial is “It’s not complicated.  Bigger is better.”

We want more.
We crave more.
We’re told again and again and again that we need, no, deserve more…
more money
more time
more stuff
more attention
more food
more entertainment
more praise
more space
more beauty
more information
more more more
me me me
consume consume consume

Today– this year, and hopefully the rest of my life– I choose less.