A Force

The sun is shining, my dog is sunbathing on our deck, and I am doing what I do best. I’m thinking, of course. I’m thinking about my life, mostly where I came from. From the outside, my life would appear quite ordinary. I grew up in a small midwest town with my parents, my two brothers, and myself. When I look back on it, I see it as anything but ordinary. My parents gave me what many people strive to give their families. Even through their imperfections they gave me hope and a vision of what life, marriage, and family should be.

I’ve been missing them more than usual lately. The other day, Oliver said he wished he could teleport us to Florida. Wouldn’t that be nice? Maybe that is what has sparked all this thinking. They deserve to be recognized and I just don’t do it often enough. So I’ll start off by saying thanks to them, but mostly to God for giving them to me.

Both my mom and dad were hard workers…do-it-yourselfers to the core. If it was broke, they’d fix it. If it was old, they’d make it new again. They used what they had before they went out and bought something new, even though they could have. Unless, it pertained to one of my dad’s hobbies. Then we’d have five. Five snakes, five guitars, five boats. You get the picture. He dove right in and was whatever it was he was passionate about.

In many ways, I am much like my dad in that aspect. I see this in my youngest son as well. We get lost in our worlds, whatever our world is at the moment. It is a strength to ourselves. To some, they see it is a weakness. It is misunderstood. It is something that needs to be changed. To us, though, it is ours. It is the only thing we have that makes our drums beat in rhythm.

I learned from my dad and my mom (in different ways) to be me. To be nothing else. I learned from watching them to love God and to trust God. They showed me to walk the walk He is leading, don’t look back, and definitely don’t look to others for approval.

Our closest friends were always drawn to our home.  I had a friend who practically lived with us when I was ten-eleven years old. There was never even a question whether our not she was welcome to stay the night at our house. Many times after school on Fridays we’d walk to her house, pack her clothes for the weekend, and then go home. Our home was her home while she was there. My oldest brother had a couple friends who actually lived with us at different times. One of them I didn’t get along with. I remember demanding for my parents to tell him that he couldn’t live there. My parents pretty much told me to suck it up because life is bigger than him annoying and picking at me. His life was harder than I’d ever imagine life could be. Boy, they always had a way of humbling me in simple ways. It showed me behaviors were so much deeper than the surface showed.

My parents were a team. They were a couple God would look at and say, “Yep, that’s the way it should be.” They were not perfect, no couple is. But they were one. They made a decision early on in their marriage to put themselves and us kids before others. They did things their way. They never tried to live up to anyone’s expectations. Only their own. It made them a force. A peaceful force. A safe haven for themselves and for me and my brothers. I can see my kids feel the same when they are around them. I have a hard time with that, only because they live so far away from us. I guess that I need to pull a page from their book more often to “read” to my kids. With mine and Matt’s own twist on it, though.

That is where I came from. That force was what I knew I wanted for my life and for my future spouse and kids life. After all these years, they are still all of those things. What a lucky girl I was. What a lucky woman I am. I pray my kids can pull some of these same things from Matt and I when they are older. I really do. I know Luke and Oliver deserve it.

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Something in the Water

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There’s something in the water.

Something that soothes the weariness.

Something that renews the ragged and torn.

Something that pulls me in and pushes all else out.

The tension gone.

The pain forgotten.

Lies wash away.

Only truth remains.

It floats along basking in the warmth.

I know exactly what it is, do you?

It is me in Him and Him in me.

Oh, yes, there’s something in the water.

My Retreat

imageI flourish in the desert when I retreat, when I find refuge under the shade provided. Deep peace reemerges. Underlying joy re-expands. Thoughts decelerate and smoothly travel. Breathing becomes unrestricted. My vision clears and I see the next tree is not so far as my eyes once deceived.

Life has a way of stripping us down at times. It doesn’t matter what or why or how long. It doesn’t matter how strong the person. It can happen to anyone. Last week, a friend mentioned something she saw in a television show that made her think of life in general. It got me thinking. It made me reinforce something that’s been brewing in me. Sometimes all we need is to rest in the arms of the only one who can be steady. God. God is the only steady in our lives.

He is the only steady and he is the only unbreakable we know. Sin prevents us from living a life of perfection. In a sense, it turns all of us into glass. All it takes is one big rock or many smaller rocks to shatter us. We can be put back together, but there is nothing we can do to fully shield rocks from striking again.

I happen to love being a shield to others. I try to catch the rocks of life from shattering people. I cannot help but to help build people back up when they are shattered. I am that person to many. I feel blessed to be that person. I was made to be that person. I thank God for the gift of mercy and cannot imagine my life without it.

I am introverted, though. Not the kind who doesn’t like being around people. I love being around people. The thing is, I need time to recharge. I need time to retreat and rebuild my shield so I can care for others as I so long to do.

I’ve learned along the way that I can only shield so much at a time. I’ve struggled with this all my life. I know I don’t have the strength to do it any other way. It just so happens that recently I needed to be a shield for myself. More, I needed to allow God to hold me and be my shield. I needed to stop…completely stop and just exist for a bit. I felt vulnerable, more vulnerable than I have ever felt.

It somehow strengthened me. It strengthened my family as well. Through my stopping I felt led to do less living as the world draws you to. I actually began doing more living the way I feel led to. I broke my attachment to my phone and social media. I mean, to the point I keep forgetting my phone at home. I have never loved the idea of having a smartphone and all that goes with it. It is funny when you take a step back and see how much it becomes a part of your everyday life. It is funny how less distracted I feel. I am learning more and more that social norms are not always for me. I need never hesitate to stop and choose to do what I feel led to do and be.

The end.

 

 

The Judgement Files-Bird Of A Feather

There are times when I pray and pray. I follow the pull to do something and then things happen that are too inline to be a coincidence. This little series of mine has been another example of this. All I can do is shake my head at the timing of things.

I guess the best place to begin is with a poem I jotted down the other day to clear my mind:

I remember the you you once were.

That was the real you, the beautiful you.

The you who told me I was pretty when I didn’t feel so.

The you who was brilliant, funny, smart, and ambitious.

I don’t want to remember the you who slipped away.

The you trapped by the pains of this world.

The you that felt like a stranger the last we met.

The you that makes me hate this world.

The you that shows me my judgmental ways.

It was easier to walk away from someone like you.

They told me it was the smart choice.

Who needs that sort of trouble in their life?

I was “too good” to hang around that sort of trouble.

I wish I could have seen what I see now.

You didn’t ask for any of that.

No one does, no one would.

Still, I cannot push it all out of me.

The judgement is still there.

I would tell my kids to walk away too.

I know it is wrong.

We need to walk alongside those like you.

We need to fight the world together.

But, that would be too hard.

Wouldn’t it?

I wrote this about someone I was once very close to. I would run into her from time to time and we would hug, catch up, and exchange numbers. I would throw out an empty promise to keep in touch. In the back of my mind I would think of all the trouble she was. Trouble as in the real kind of trouble you try to steer your kids way from. Birds of a feather flock together and that would have been like trying to put hawk feathers with a cardinal. They just don’t flock together, you know?

I know Jesus chose to fly with all birds. That’s what made people turn their heads. It made many upset and furious and probably confused too. Jesus saw the larger picture, though. He saw the pain they never asked for. He saw the sin…but more…He saw beyond the sin. He saw the person, the real person, not the person this world has turned them into.

Can I ever be brave enough to do the same? Is there enough strength to keep standing each time I am knocked over? Am I able to hold my head high when I myself feel wrongly judged?

So, something happened to the person I wrote about that has me reevaluating. Something, the same something, happened to three people I was close to this last year that has me reevaluating what this world tells you is the smart thing to do.

Since this same thing happened to that many people in my life in such a short time, I feel I have a duty to dig deeper for the solution. Especially when it has caused so much grief that I haven’t been able to get past. I’ve seen the ripple effect it has caused since the others…and I now I know what is to come in the lives closest to this most recent oneimage.

I don’t have the answers. I wish I had all the answers. The one thing I know is no one ever really chooses pain (sin) in life. We need to stop asking why people make the choices they make. Instead, we need to start asking why people feel they have no other choice than to do what they do. That’s where the answers lie. That is how we can see past their trouble and seek solutions. That is how we truly love our neighbors.

This has been a tough series because it very much slaps me in the face as well. It needs to be said, though. We all need to hear it. If we honestly evaluate the state of things that are coming to a head all at once, it tells us we need to step out of our safe little nests and fly against the wind of this world as Jesus did.

The Judgement Files-Exposed

Picture yourself standing in front of a crowd of people. They are your friends, family, and acquaintances. The lights dim and a spotlight begins to shine on you. A screen behind you begins to list every bad deed you have ever committed. It lists every bad thought and every bad word you have ever said about anyone. You are exposed.

Someone you’ve known your entire life stands up and says, “I can no longer be your friend.” She leaves. Others stand and leave with her.

Someone else says, “I will be your friend, but I will never look at you the same.” He sits back down.

The next person says, “You will have to prove your worth to me before I can forgive you.” He leaves. Others stand and leave with him.

One more person stands. She begins to walk down the aisle toward you. Once she is near, she reaches out for your hand. She yells out to the remaining people, “I have done just as many wrong things in my life. The only difference is that my sins…your sins have not been exposed. They are not on display for all to see.” She looks at you and says, “I love you. I forgive you. Now let’s go grab a bite to eat.”  You two leave and a few others follow.

THE END.

P.S. Which person do you want to be like?

What exactly is the good?

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As I sat waiting for Luke’s game to begin, I played with blades of grass at my feet. My mind was as calm as a glassy lake; there was not a wave nor a ripple in sight. But then my phone rang. It was my dad. He never calls me on the weekend, I thought as I answered my phone.

In one second my frame of mind shifted. The pain of this world, oh the pain. I wasn’t surprised by the news, yet each word stung. Sometimes it is the unsurprising news that hurts the most. I always hope people will respond or do differently than what I see coming. I much rather the stories of people overcoming life. The bad in life, that is. I love when people prevail.

It is a strength and a weakness that I strive to find the good in all things. The problem arises when the pain of this world is deeper than the seemingly good it can bring. I hate to see people give up on life. They throw in the towel and don’t look back, and they don’t look forward either. They remain stuck unable to move. Maybe that is why I need Romans 8:28, we all need Romans 8:28.

Wait.

What exactly does that even mean? I just talked about pain and giving up on life. Now I am encouraging a bible verse that talks about “in all things God works for the good”? Yes, I just said that and that.

Yesterday, after I wrote my blog post about this verse, I walked into my kitchen and there on my table were mason jars full of carnations. They’ve been sitting there for almost a week, but I saw them as if they just magically appeared.image I focused in on the pink ones. Romans 8:28 reminds me of my grandparents, it reminds me of my grandma’s death. Since the verse keeps popping up I have been thinking of her. Pink carnations were her favorite. They’ve been here in my house and yet it slipped my mind until that moment. As if that were not enough, I went to sit on my couch. My phone was in my hand because I was getting ready to clean and was going to put music on. (Who likes to clean without music?) I sat, thought about my grandma, pulled myself together, and then put Pandora on. I began to stand up when the song Homesick came on. It was the song they played at her funeral.

The tears flowed, I pictured my grandma’s face, and then peace came. My grandma was touched by the pain of this world, just like us all. Her pain is no more, though. She’s home. It got me thinking. That’s it, I’m homesick. We are all homesick. That is why it hurts so bad. We know we don’t belong here.

We are touched by our bad choices, other people’s bad choices, unexpected news, disease, death, and etc. We must remember our hope and truth lie in the fact that sin or anything that happens as a result cannot ruin God’s plan. His mind is set on our eternal salvation. His mind is set on bringing us home. That is why He sent His son Jesus to die for our sins. Stop and brew on that for a minute. That is powerful stuff. Nothing can stop His plan and nothing can stop His purpose of eternity.

The challenge lies not in my knowing this. It lies in my sharing this. It lies in you sharing this. How can we show people the good in God’s purpose? How can we show them that the light shines in the darkness and the darkness will not prevail?

For the Good

Romans 8:28 has been popping up everywhere lately. It is a verse, the verse, that reminds me of my grandparents the most. My grandpa got interviewed by his church after my grandma passed away. I remember the change in his voice and the pain in his eyes when he mentioned this was one of their favorites. He struggled and questioned God after my grandma passed away. He said he couldn’t find any good in her passing away. I’m sure he will never see this verse in the same light. Although I know the meaning is much deeper than thinking nothing bad will ever happen, neither will I.

My grandma was an amazing lady. When she said she was proud of me, it meant something. I still cry sometimes when I think of her. It is crazy, I never thought I was anything like her. The older I get, the more I see her in me. Maybe because the older I get the more I am comfortable with myself. I never saw her in me because I never saw me in myself.

So here I am reflecting on this verse and what I really need is to spend time in prayer. I need to read the surrounding verses. This is a hard one for me. When I think of this verse, I think the pain in my grandpa’s eyes. I think of my grandma and cry.

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