cultivate (kuhl - tuh - veyt)
v. 1) develop 2) nurture

graft (grahft)
n. 1) transplant 2) bud 3) union

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

An Old Backpack Of Words, And A Shiny New Folder

Anyone remember the end of the school year, when your teacher would hand you the precious folder? There was your name, emblazoned across the top, right-hand corner. The penmanship, with precisely formed curves and points, looked perfect to your young eyes. This long-awaited folder held the culmination of a year's worth of projects and papers. You had slaved over crayon drawings, agonized over book reports, and meticulously glued popcorn kernels to construction paper.* This was, indeed, your magnum opus. 

For the third grade. 

So, here I stand, dented Muppets lunchbox in one hand and treasured folder in the other. My folder is bulging with words. Words I am honored to have shared with you. Your time is precious, and to know you choose this lil' ol' blog to fill moments in your day is humbling. Below is my folder. These are the Cultivated Graftings blog posts YOU made most popular for the year of 2013. 

Thank you.

10. Cornball Quotes

  9. Sanity is for the weak.

  8. My Mama's guest post, because you showed her so much love!

  7. An open letter to families who disrupt an adoption

  6. The one where I subjected you to bathroom mirror selfies and duck lips

  5. Redecorating the closet

  4. Heretical Christianese

  3. Hogwash

  2. The Easter conundrum

  1. Let them give




Sharpening New Pencils For A New Year,

Cynthia




*OR you were that kid who completely filled the paper with black crayon, and emptied an entire bottle of glue onto the paper, effectively drowning all three kernels.

Friday, December 27, 2013

If It Quacks Like A Duck

Basically, it's like this: I'm sick of hearing about it. It is all over Facebook, Twitter and probably even MySpace. The blogosphere has been ranting and raving about it. And I. Am. Done. D-O-N-E-stick-a-fork-in-me-I'll-be-in-my-happy-place-until-the-interwebs-chill-out done.

So, I promise you this is NOT another post about it. I know, I know. All the *sniff* world-changing bloggers are throwing their verbal weight around on this issue. But not this great mediocre blogger. No siree.

sipping coffee, strumming fingers on the table, staring into space while the children run amok with crumpled wrapping paper (squealing something about wrapping the baby up, and would she need airholes)...



OK, but here's the thing...

There's so much more to all of it. There's the stuff that truly concerns me. It's the stuff no one seems to be noticing. It's the same thing that happens every single time a strong opinion passes through the lips of a celebrity; Everyone begins jumping. And I'm not talking a friendly neighborhood game of hopscotch. We tend to fall into one or more categories: 1) Jumping ship, 2) Jumping the gun, and/or 3) Jumping on the bandwagon.

Early bird responders are notorious for jumping the gun. They are first on the scene and the first to roll the story off the press. The problem? Not nearly enough time has elapsed for all the facts to be on the table. So we'll just fill in the missing pieces. We call that...artistic license. Problem solved.* I call this fancy gossip. The truth is muddied by impressive embellishment.

Then come the ship-jumpers. In an effort to avoid associating with "A", they bail at the first sign of confrontation. The problem? They jump to "B" with very little forethought to potential consequences. From the frying pan to the fire they go, looking pleased as punch to have avoided that lil' landmine. The problem with perpetual ship-jumpers is this: Eventually your circle of safe ships will wane, becoming a "sink or swim" dilemma.

Lastly, we have our disturbingly ignorant bandwagon jumpers. Their information rests solely on the latest memes to grace social network sites. But this doesn't stop them from spewing strong opinions, parroting what so-and-so put as their latest Facebook status. It reminds me of 7 year-olds who shoot off at the mouth about the economy. Gee, I wonder where they got their sound-bytes. The problem? This comprises too great of a percentage of the population. Less thinking for themselves and more relying on someone, anyone to spoon-feed them their informational porridge. 

We all have found ourselves in each of these categories. It happens. Don't believe me? Show me a timeline of your reactions to the Trayvon Martin tragedy. Quite a spectrum, I suspect. I rest my case. Sadly, hot-headed remarks and regrettably immature behavior are benchmarks of jumpers in every category.** If we want to be known as level-headed, discerning people, we've got to walk the walk. We cannot disingenuously dress the part. After all, if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck...it's a duck. 

So, here's what I have to say to jumpers everywhere: Let's jump in with both feet. You read that correctly. Let's propel ourselves forward like nobody's business and land with firm footing on solid ground. Ground that is paved in cobblestones of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. If we shod our soles with Gospel-truth and our souls with Holy Spirit fruit, the jump is bound to have better results-perhaps indiscernible this side of Heaven, but better nonetheless.



Aaaaaand now I need to unwrap a baby,

Cynthia




*Dare I mention that artistic license has no place in news reports? Nah. I probably shouldn't go there.
**Jumping down your throat...too many "jumping" clich├ęs? Mmmm?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Not Another Christmas Blog Post



I don't know about you, but I'm kinda tapped out from all the Christmas blog posts smacking us in the face. According to blogs I've read this week, I'm supposed to be participating in ornament exchanges. Or not. It depends on whether it contributes to building community or reinforces sin in my materialistic, greedy heart. 

I did not know this.

We also find Santa and his impish sidekick in the verbal cross hairs of bloggers everywhere. "Their gig is up!" cry the diehards. At the very least they should be posed in the nativity, worshiping baby Jesus and bringing him toys and doughnuts.* Also, is it sacrilegious to have nondescript tree toppers? Am I spiritually mature enough to have a Jesse tree? In addition to deep, theological discussions on greed and Santa, there were roughly a bazillion "How To" posts flooding my blog feed. This week I've learned how to cultivate gratitude in the hearts of my children, fashion Christmas tree shaped cornrows, and perfect my sugar cookies. I've been told how to make godly elf on the shelf equivalents, simplify the season and even what not to do in preparation for Christmas. 

And when December multiplies to 86 days I'll tackle the long list of crafty Christmas "How To" amazingness. Until then you'll find me three days behind on our advent activities. 

Why? 

Because I refuse to rush holiness. I will not impatiently tap my toes at the Prince of Peace, whose entirety was compressed into the delicate skin of a downy newborn. I refuse to shimmy my grocery cart alongside crowded aisles, huff my way through heavy traffic and distractedly count change without so much as a moment's glance into the souls milling about within arm's reach. 

What we do not need this season is another ugly sweater party, cookie exchange or children's play. What we desperately need is space for The Sacred. Oddly enough, what we crave is both. After all, we voluntarily fill those thirty-one squares on the calendar with...stuff.** Everything and nothing. Busyness is a temporary high to dull our senses toward The Manger. I am guilty as charged. 

Stillness.

Let this be the season we purpose to inhale the precious aroma of swaddling cloths and sacrifice. May our hearts be seared by The One born lowly and exalted on high. With souls of clay in the hands of Babe and King, may we recognize a light in each others' eyes. You've been there too. Let's raise a banner o're the unmarred and sacred space. We'll each grab a stack of invitations and take to the streets! There's always room for one more. One more frazzled mama battered with questions regarding mysterious packages from the mailman, one more delivery man working well past his son's bedtime, one more retail employee who despises their own dread of the holidays, one more pastor who fields more grief, sermons and party invitations this month than most, one more missionary fighting heartsick loneliness, one more school teacher who faces a classroom of hyper, spring-loaded children. One more...

Our presence does not detract from the hallowed. Rather, we are as glowing embers, that when huddled together become an unquenchable flame. A beacon. Peace that passes understanding is our party frock, love is our language and a surrendered heart is our currency. This is a Market that cannot fail. The welcome mat is out, and our Host insists the door remain ajar. This season, warm your spirit in the space for The Sacred. 


And if December 25th's advent craft is completed by January 1st, consider it a success.



Inviting YOU,
Cynthia





*Why don't we invite The Easter bunny, the tooth fairy and La Llorona just for cultural kicks. And while it's neither here nor there, for the record our family eschews the mythological trifecta.
**It's OK to decline some invitations and move a few parties to January. Really.