Revue: For Love of Misfits…

"Small Yet Significant," © Lynn Abbott Studios
“Small Yet Significant,” © Lynn Abbott Studios. Used with Permission.

© 2018 Lynn Abbott

Rolling hillsides, farms, avocado orchards and Dutch dairies peppered the geography of rural North County.

And after moving from a major metropolitan area and leaving the fast-track of worldly success behind, this city mouse found all things country rather fascinating.

Of course, I wasn’t concerned about city fame or fortune. After all, I was only nine when my parents decided to migrate south.

My parents, however, carried big city values with them. For this reason, they immediately enrolled me in a wonderful, private school with impeccable academic standards.

My first day of classes certainly did open a whole new world for me…although I’m not sure it was quite the introduction my parents had in mind.

The teacher, a retired drill sergeant, introduced the lesson, and assigned in-class, practice work. He then slipped out to run copies of a worksheet in the teachers’ workroom.

In that moment, the well-oiled, mischief machine revved.

One boy scampered to his preordained lookout post near the classroom door, and then, the merriment ensued: students played leap frog over desks and started spit wad fights. Wide-eyed with wonderment, I watched quietly from my back row seat. It was the stuff of children’s books.

I loved my new friends, and they warmly welcomed me. Of course, there was always plenty of good-natured mischief to go around. But there were also birthday parties at Hollandia Dairy, and idyllic horseback rides.

For the area, that actually wasn’t out of the ordinary. The farm marked the town’s southern boundary and the dairy’s iconic windmill served as a beautiful reminder of all things pastoral.

But the thing was… I differed from my classmates in one significant way. I wasn’t Dutch.

Happily, none of us seemed particularly concerned with my family tree deficiencies… Instead, my new friends attempted to correct it by teaching me a variety of Dutch phrases.

And together, we laughed heartily over my blunders. In light of these adventures, my memories of previous city life faded.

Then, my aunt and uncle arrived in town just in time for the school’s commencement and award ceremony.

I’ll never forget my uncle’s stunning post-ceremony observation: “You were the only brunette in that entire crowd, Lynn!”

I differed from my classmates in one significant way…

He was mostly right. I could number on one hand the brunettes in attendance. And that list would include everyone from kindergarten through eighth grade.

Yup. I certainly stood out in the crowd.

With my uncle’s revelation, my point-of-view shifted. I instantly became self-conscious. My new friends were as wonderful as ever, but my uncle’s words couldn’t be denied.

With that one offhand remark, my uncle had unintentionally introduced me to a solitary slough of adolescent-like fears: I was different. And I felt a little like the “ugly duckling.”

Obviously, adolescents haven’t cornered the market of self-conscious fear. Elementary school kids worry about fitting in, too.

And unfortunately, the fact that I wasn’t blond worried me from that evening forward.

In fact, I’d venture to say that growing up as brunette in southern California and listening to the Beach Boys croon, “I wish they all could be California girls” would disturb even the most stalwart of heart. Self-doubt niggled at me.

I worried about my dark locks despite my parents’ loving reassurances. Thankfully, unlike L.M. Montgomery’s Anne, I never attempted to dye my hair.

I suppose that at some time or another all people question their place in the world.

Maybe, like me, you remember a time when you felt out of place and wondered if your “oddities” would prevent you from making your way in the world.

You’re not alone.

Actually, I think the feeling is fairly universal.

Perhaps, that’s why Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer remains an endearing Christmas classic. We cheer for Rudolph and his friends, the misfit toys. They are the unlikely heroes.

I certainly empathize with the underdog, and that’s why I’ve always loved Ehud’s story. Maybe, you’ve heard of him.

For many, however, Ehud is only an obscure and passing “mention” in Judges, chapter 3. Nevertheless, he offers a beacon of hope for all who have ever doubted their abilities or value.

You see, Ehud’s life reveals God’s incredible grace. I used to think that grace was a New Testament anomaly, inaugurated by Christ’s birth.

Make no mistake… Through Christ, God’s love not only dramatically burst into time and space for all of humanity to see, but it also manifested itself in the ultimate sacrifice, a selfless gift of unlimited access to the throne of grace.

Maybe, like me, you remember a time when you felt out of place and wondered if your “oddities” would prevent you from making your way in the world.

Indeed, Christ demonstrated love for misfits not only in His death but also through his life. He surprisingly sought the company of misfits: the lost, the left out, the socially unacceptable, and the seemingly insignificant.

His love, however, was nothing new. He has always been a God of grace.

His grace, in fact, saturates past, present and future. God didn’t suddenly change when the new covenant was made. God’s nature has exuded grace from the beginning of time. He has always loved misfits.

And Ehud was no exception. He was left-handed and that proved a serious handicap in early Israeli culture. In a time when swordsmanship and hand-to-hand combat were necessary for the defense and survival of a fledgling nation, being left-handed was definitely a disadvantage.

Ehud probably felt like a failure. Unnecessarily so, as it turned out.

I don’t know why Ehud or even you or I miss this. But we do despite the fact that nature repeatedly demonstrates God’s love of the unique. Abba clearly loves “ugly ducklings.”

Thus, when the Israelites prayed for a deliverer, God chose Ehud.

Ehud, the odd…

Ehud, the lefty.

Yes, Ehud, the unlikely.

God chose Ehud to confront the Moabite oppressor, king Eglon.

So Ehud strapped a double-edged sword to his right hip, covered it with his cloak, and requested a private audience with Eglon. When the Israeli judge mysteriously announced that he had a message from God, Eglon stood eagerly.

At that moment, Ehud reached under the right side of his cloak. His move did not raise suspicion because right-handed men wore their swords on the left. Imagine Eglon’s surprise when he receive a sword rather than a written message!

Abba clearly loves “ugly ducklings.”

Ehud’s “handicap” proved an asset.

Uh, huh…That day, the misfit became agent .007.

An ugly duckling saved a nation.

Truly, no matter how small, insignificant, inadequate or even out of place I may feel, Abba determines the outcome.

He loves to use “the foolish things of this world to confound the wise and the weak things of this world to confound the things which are strong,” (1 Corinthians 1:27).

Abba, in stunning grace, frequently chooses those who don’t appear to fit. He particularly loves the misfits and the broken.

Never mind that my paint is chipped or that I’m not the largest dinghy in the boat yard. The Master promises that His grace is sufficient and His power is revealed spectacularly in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Indeed, you and I may feel out of place, but God whispers again and again: “I choose you. I love you. You’re significant.”

“…’I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with loving kindness,'” ~Jeremiah 31:3

“…the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world…”

~1 Corinthians 1: 25-27a

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89 Replies to “Revue: For Love of Misfits…”

  1. I relate to this so much. I have often felt like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. With all the relocation I’ve done one the last fourteen years, the feeling has only intensified. I am learning to lean more on the Lord and less on people for fulfillment. He is the one in which we find true value and true belonging. I love your writing Lynn! I always feel so uplifted.

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    1. Oh, I can so imagine that moving continually hasn’t helped things much. 😦 But what wonderful wisdom you have as a result! I’m so encouraged by your thoughtful comment here. I’m truly glad if I can encourage you even a little because you and your blog continually buoy me! Thank you for your kindness! You are an amazingly talented writer, and a wonderful friend!

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  2. I love your paintings Lynn–each post I see a new one I think I like better than the first—I need to come to Virginia to see your gallery and or studio—you could give me a tour, I’d bring you a bottle of your own vanilla extract 🙂

    I may have not been the only brunette, but I was a deep feeling child—and at times a gregarious tomboy and at other times very shy…but always feeling that nagging sense of deepness, even in my own family—I still have that nagging deepness, and at times still feel as if I am set apart from the rest of everyone else…but I have always felt it was the link connecting to God—lonely yet oddly filling at the same time.

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    1. Oh, I would be thrilled if you were to come to Virginia! What fun we could have… visiting Washington D.C., touring about, talking and talking about life! And I’ll bet your Vanilla extract is phenomenal! I’d probably have to put it in a locked safe… it’s liquid gold!

      I completely understand what you say about being a “gregarious tomboy” as well as an introvert. Same experience here. 🙂 But of course. We are kindred spirits. And I totally love and relate to what you say about the connection to God and feeling “lonely yet oddly filling at the same time.” Wow! Is that ever a powerfully accurate way to describe it. Yes, indeed… you are a deep thinking and feeling person. And I love you for it! ❤

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      1. yeah, that would be great. I’ve not been to DC since I was in the 7th grade.
        I would love to go again now as an adult—tumultous or not—I like the history of these people 🙂 despite many now complaining to the opposite….

        just hanging out would be the best part Lynn—but I would feel woefully inferior in your studio—or atleast way out of parctice and removed from that ship—and it would call me to get back on board… 🙂

        I did order about 15 vanilla beans—about 40 bucks. They come shrink wrapped to keep them fresh so they won’t dry out—as this is the time of year I tend to use them whole the most…most recipes come spring and summer I tend to rely on the extract more so…

        I’m feel very fortunate to have found you Lynn 🙂

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      2. Oh, I don’t think you’d be in the least uncomfortable in my studio when you saw what a “mess” I am! 😉 Perhaps, you and I could do a little painting together to nudge you back into your studio 😉 You are such an exceptional artist… your paints must be missing you! And what fun we would have!! I hope you do have a chance to get up here. I’d absolutely love it! I’ll prepare the guest room in joyful anticipation of your visit whenever it works for you. And yes, history is kinda a beloved subject around my house. We all love it… in fact, my son plans to get his Ph.D. in history… so I think you’d find that you and I would have some grand adventures tracking down “history.” And maybe, you can teach me about making vanilla. I’m a vanilla kinda gal! 😉 I am all the more fortunate for having found you, dear Julie! ❤ and hugs!

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      3. Oh I would be right at home in the mess—remember this coming from the woman who’d have her water bottle on the table by her water for the brushes and was known to accidentally pick up the wrong water in order to take a sip—whoever said a little diluted watercolor could kill a person…no one, that’s who 🙂

        Great for your son Lynn—a PhD….wow—more discipline than I had with school.
        What is his area of interest?

        I thought of you today when I made a trip to Hobby Lobby in order to buy some styrofoam and fake greenery in order to doctor up the two planters I have by our front door—in winters past, I was able to maintain the ferns that ‘summer’ there as I’d bring them in for a few day’s at a time when temps would dip below freezing—well since this has been the winter from hello dolly, I opted for two faux (aka fake) boxwood topiaries that needed to be spruced up with a full looking pot complete with moss, ferns and draping foilage—it should tide me over until things warm up and I can ditch the faux for the real…so I applied a little artistic eye and voila—faux pots that look killer in the freezing cold 🙂
        So my creativity is not totally hibernating—but there are days I do wish to finish the triptych I’d started before I left the classroom…

        But the beautifully prepared hen now roasting in the oven will have to be enough of creativity for now—that and a faux pot here and there 🙂

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      4. Ha, ha! I love it. So, okay…It’s settled– you are coming and will step over the oodles of canvases, paintbrushes as well as the sunbathing doggie in my studio! Ha! 😉 Said son is a historian… Aiming for the Ph.D. in history. His particular interests are classical Greek and Roman history. He will be the brunt of my next post, I believe 😉 I love that you are not allowing your creativity to lay dormant. But I will gently push you back to paint… you can be sure of that! 😉 You have too much talent to let it go. But oh, dearie… you are making me so hungry! I can almost smell the delicious roast in your oven …Huge hugs!! ❤ ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I identify with this on many levels. It was a particular encouragement to me today where the Lord was using me kind of like Ehud, only with a different kind of sword. So, thank you!

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  4. Hi Lynn, you’re right about God selecting for His purposes, those whom most would not pick for such a important purpose, if they knew what the purpose was. Moses, David, Peter, Paul (Saul) to name but a few. And that pattern of God doing things differently from the way that we would logically do them doesn’t stop there. How often have we seen God answer prayer in a way that we would never have even considered? I think that’s kind of neat, it makes me realize that God sees what I don’t see and that most importantly, just like His Word says, He looks at the heart, not at general appearances. Short story is we can trust His wisdom over our own. Loved the painting by the way! Grace and blessings!

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  5. I loved this. So glad we recognize God’s enduring grace and mercy from the OT past through today’s saving grace through our loving savior. Excellent read.

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  6. I love this, Lynn. God is always using the unique individuals to further his kingdom. This should be great encouragement for those who think they don’t serve a purpose. We need to know that God values all of his creatures and will use us according to his will. We all have purpose especially because of His great love for us. I love the painting as well.

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    1. Hi, dear Kathy! I combined your comments for you 🙂 I absolutely agree with all that you have so wisely observed and noted here! Amen and amen. And thank you for your kind and encouraging words regarding my painting. You are such a wonderful and encouraging friend! I thank God for you! ❤ ❤

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      1. I’m right there with you, Kathy! Sometimes, though, we all get short on time and simply wish to make sure that we comment on special friends’ blogs even when we really don’t have much time or when we have to comment from a teeny tiny phone! That’s totally my problem! :’-(

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      2. Me too. I don’t want to miss anyone and my fingers are bigger than my brain most of the time. Thanks for understanding!

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    1. Thank you so much, Tom! I truly appreciate your kind words since I think you are truly an excellent writer, thinker… in fact, you are a power-hitter. You often knock it out of the park 😉 Thank you for stopping by. I know you must be an extremely busy person and so it means a great deal to me that you would take the time to read here. God bless you big time!

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      1. Hi Lynn,

        My mother was Dutch, although both she and her parents have passed away now. I do have an uncle, an aunt, and some other family in the Netherlands though. I have never lived in Holland (and speak very little Dutch unfortunately!) though I have visited frequently. Yes, the Dutch do have some interesting food and traditions!

        God bless and have a wonderful day!

        Steven

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      2. Oh, how absolutely wonderful! I have such good memories of my Dutch friends and their culture! What a privilege for you to be so familiar with it! There used to be a salty kind of licorice that my friends loved…they brought it in their lunch bags all the time. I can’t remember the name of it, but I think it started with the letter “z” Are you familiar with it? And the spices added in their foods were very different than English or American fare. Loved it. They were extremely fun loving, and generous… all of them. Some of my fondest memories are of my close Dutch friends. How fantastic that you still have family in the Netherlands! God bless you big time, Steven! 🙂

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  7. Lynn, this greatly spoke to my heart. ❤ Sometimes, I feel like I don't meet expectations of society. But it doesn't matter what society thinks. It matters what God thinks, and if I am doing what He wants me to do, He will provide for me.

    All the more reason to be unconventional. God provides the testimony ❤

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  8. I’m so sorry you felt like a misfit, Lynn. I so identify with it. I often in my life have felt like the “ugly duckling” or the oddball. But what hope you give here in your reflections and God’s Truth. I need to remind myself more often of God’s whispers – “I choose you. I love you. You’re significant.” 🙂 Love and hugs to you!

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    1. Oh, no worries, dear Trudy. It was many, many years ago. And God has taught me to think differently about myself since. 🙂 But even so, I do think we all feel this way at times. The feeling comes and goes, doesn’t it? Perhaps, that’s because we were meant for a better place? I dunno for sure, but I suspect that might just be it. Thank you for your encouragement, dear Trudy! It means the world to me. You are a wonderful friend! Love and huge hugs!

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  9. Truly an amazing post!
    The photography is also Captivating!

    I recently started my blog how I’m battling chronic Lyme disease and my story. I’d love for you to take a peek at my blog and leave some feedback!

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    1. Hello, Sarah! Thank you so much for visiting my blog! I’m glad to meet you. One of my dear friends has been battling Lyme disease for ten years. I will definitely visit your site. Thank you for your kind words about my post. And for the highest compliment… mistaking my painting for a photograph! I’m so honored that you would find my painting to be so real that it appeared to you to be a photo. Thank you with all my heart. You made my day! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am glad that you were happy.
        I’d really appreciate it if you would follow my blog, if you enjoy it’s contents of course;)
        The support gives me strength to continue!

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  10. This post was wonderful…….oh how often we all feel this way, especially in a new group. I recently felt this due to changing to a new Church. But just recently, the Pastor said that we are ALL united as Christians, in the body of CHRIST. Even though I don’t really know you Lynn, you are my Christian sister and that unites us. Because of the BODY OF CHRIST we are never alone, but yes we are all loved and blessed by a good GOD who has grace upon grace for us! And in turn, we extend to one another that mercy that is needed no matter how different you are or how different you look. Because of GOD’S love for me, I tend to gravitate towards those who are somehow different! Don’t you?
    WE are HIS beloved, HIS daughters and sons whom HE loves with an everlasting love!

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    1. Amen! You said it so beautifully. Thank you, thank you! And yes, I may not have met you in person, but I already love you as a dear sister in Christ!! Isn’t it wonderful the way Christ unites us and allows us to connect with our brothers and sisters? I’m So thankful for you and your blog! God bless you greatly!! ❤ ❤

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      1. Bless you too Lynn……may we continue each in our own way to write for the LORD. So thankful I found your beautiful blog and all you say here. May we continue to be HIS hands and feet!

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    1. Yeah… I totally agree. I think as we age, we not only have a better sense of who we are but also have so many “bigger” issues to worry about than what an office-mate, etc., might think of us. 🙂 I think your attitude is just perfect, Denise! 🙂 Hugs! ❤

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      1. Ah, yes… the self-conscious teen. 🙂 When I taught 12th grade English, goofy me attempted to embarrass all of my students. All in good fun, of course. Ha, ha! Someday, she’ll fully appreciate how fun you are! 🙂 ❤ ❤

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  11. This is a treasure Lynn. I have always felt like a misfit and you have packed this post full of scriptures I love and often return to. Here they are in one place! And now I know who Ehud was! 😊 You are such a wonderful teacher! ❤️ Love you, Deb

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    1. Thank you with all my heart, dear Deb! Your kind encouragement means the world to me! Yes, I have often felt like a misfit myself! But isn’t it wonderful that God loves us, and loves what makes us stand out as unique… or might label us as “misfit”? I am truly grateful and relieved. He is such a good Father! And I’m grateful to Him especially for leading me to your blog and for your wonderful friendship! ❤ and huge hugs!

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  12. Thank you for sharing your Story Lynn, do you think it was Brunettes that wrote all the dumb Blonde jokes, perhaps they were jealous – Lol

    The Scripture you shared Lyn is very True for me, I would like to share with you now my own Story in regards to my Shortcomings, it’s long so I hope you don’t mind.

    Apart from being Left handed, I was born with a Genetic defect and also a learning Disability, one eventuality would lead me to be a Paraplegic or so it was diagnosed after many tests at the age of 40, the other with my being Dyslectic, it has caused me to have great difficulty in reading, writing and coordination, I was unable to dance or play Sports.

    My mother was an Alcoholic which can cause Birth defects but whatever the reason I’m now disabled. but I have had Miraculous healings and God has intervened and saved my life more than once and now I’m not going to be a Paraplegic as Medically diagnosed, He has taken the crippling Arthritis from my Spine, although I still have it in my legs and feet and from dieting when I was young I also have pain in my shoulders and arms as the bones did not form properly but God has given me a Balm for the pain I still suffer.

    But what is so wonderful is that He also gave me gifts that compensated for my shortcomings, no He did not take them away but He helps me with these. I can’t write fluently more then a few sentences without His leading, yes I’m still a cracked vessel and make spelling and punctuation mistakes etc but He is the Super glue and He leads me in writing His Truth as confirmed in the Scriptures when I need to write in detail, as I seek to share His Love and Hope and Joy with others.

    I also create Power Points and Special e-mails and have written many poems also with God’s leading, some have been published, with these gifts I bring God’s Truth to life and as I do my Spirit soars and I often feel His presence greatly and there are tears of Joy and Thankfulness.

    I have also experienced Signs and Wonders, none of this could have been done by Man so they are not counterfeit and they were witnessed and documented. All things work together for good when we Love The Lord and what is so wonderful is He Loved us first … He is Love and can do no evil.

    But something that I have had to accept is that I will never make No1 in writing a Blog because of being Dyslectic, I will leave you a link below so you will have more understanding, it also has a link to my Teenage years and how I was able to overcome some of the problems that are connected to my Disability.

    Childhood – http://freedomborn.wordpress.com/2011/09/27/the-early-years-a-little-lost-girl/

    Christian Love Dear Lynn and God’s Blessings,
    Anne ( Grannie Annie)

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    1. Wow, dear Anne! What a beautiful testimony to God and His work through you! Thank you, thank you, my wonderful friend for sharing your story with me! You encourage me so much and I’m sure that whoever reads your story here will also be encouraged! God bless you greatly in all that you do for Him!! ❤ ❤

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