Raw

imageThe last year and a half has been rough on me. I haven’t wanted to fully admit it (even to myself) and I especially haven’t felt like discussing it. I don’t want to go into all the particulars that has caused this. Life is life and it isn’t always pleasant. For someone like myself, there is nothing harder than to watch bad things or bad times fall upon people I care about. I’m not saying this to prove I’m a good person, but I’d much rather have bad things happen to myself than to my peeps. That is the good and bad of the gift of mercy. I presume every gift has a weakness and Satan uses that weakness to try to tear us down.

Sometimes it is all the little instances that build rather than just one thing. A cousin commits suicide, an aunt overdoses and dies, an old friend dies, and the other instances I do not wish to share. My cousin left me hurting due to all the pain he endured and felt he couldn’t endure any longer. My aunt, where do I begin? I have fond memories of her wit and creativity. I also have painful memories of watching someone slowly destroy their life over many years. My old friend left me thinking of what more christians can and should do for those who live differently…those who have been dragged down, beaten, and have made poor choices because of this thing called life. Actually, everything from this past year and a half have left me thinking that.

My life has been rather “easy” compared to most. I know that and I am thankful. Maybe it has made it easier to have the faith I have. My struggles are insignificant compared to some and maybe that has made me “weaker”. I know some whom feel I haven’t truly lived. I must disagree. I believe we live through not just our own experiences, but through others as well. Our lives are connected and our lives have the power to alter the lives of others. Our lives are far from being isolated, that is a fact. Yes, I know no one else truly knows what it is like to live in thine own shoes, but that does not mean it doesn’t give insight and life to those around.

My somewhat easy life has left me raw and has left me stumbling. Last night, Matt and I had a conversation that I was yearning for and didn’t even realize I was. He thanked me for all the sacrifices I have made for our family and others. He told me he notices all I do. He said he doesn’t know how I do all I do. It made me weep uncontrollably. I did not know how much I needed to release. Those cleansing tears have left me feeling lighter today. Crazy what a few words from a loving husband can do for a person.

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?

The Whisper From Within

I pulled my hair back into my usual low messy bun, removed my sunglasses, and peered into the opening of the cave. My hands tightly held my treasured designer sunglasses that hid tired eyes on my busiest days. I remembered the day I bought them and the false sense of accomplishment I felt wearing them. I wanted to rid myself of all of that and so I quickly tossed them into the tall grass behind me.

I stood staring into the never-ending darkness. I took a deep breath and stepped inside. A light sweeping breeze tickled my skin. I heard the whisper, the whisper from within, calling me to continue. It was the same whisper telling me to leave behind my fierce independent ways. It assured me perfection is a weak and fragile state. It reminded me real strength lies in the mess. It lies in being content with your mess and with your limitations.

I was frightened, yet determined. I thought of the steps that led me there. I was in my early twenties. The noise of busyness, the layers of self-made sludge, the wounds of days past had drowned out the whisper. I wanted nothing more than to listen and embrace it once again. I was never meant to live that life. I was meant to live my life. So, one day I stopped. I just stopped, pretty much dropped, and couldn’t move any further into the life I created. A life I worked so hard at maintaining the image of perfection and self-sufficiency. It was then I saw brave was not nonstop trying and doing and living the “good” life. Brave was standing where I was that moment. Brave was stepping inside my own cave.

I took another deep breath and didn’t look back. It felt like the first few moments after jumping into a pool. There was a shocking cold that quickly transformed into a refreshment for my weary soul. My eyes adapted and light appeared. The outside noises soon diminished. I began shoveling through the sludge. I came across my wounds, some I healed and some I simply acknowledged. There was nothing else between me and the whisper from within. It was like a long lost friend I hadn’t seen in years. We embraced and cried and fell right back into the old rhythm of things. I fell back inline and freed myself from the pressures of this world.

There are times, will always be times, I wander outside the bounds of my life. I find my way back to my cave, I do the work all over again. I know that life isn’t real, it isn’t sincere, it isn’t mine. It is built on pressure and duty and pushing past limitations I was never meant to push past. No one is made to do it all, to try it all, to go and go and go until you drown out the voice from within. So just stop and go inside your cave. You won’t regret it. I haven’t.

My Shield and Thorn

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I love to help people.  It is something deeply rooted, so deeply rooted, I believe it takes up the largest part of my personality. I care for people to the point it hurts.  It’s the thing I cannot change.  It’s the thing I look for in others and cannot understand when they could care less about helping others. How can you not want to help?  

I get frustrated when I see people who refuse to help when it is needed. Those are the times I bite my tongue, those are the times I pray for understanding. Most times, I see the reason why. Sometimes all I see is a hardened (selfish) heart. Then I pray to understand the pain that caused their heart to harden. I pray and even when the understanding doesn’t follow, I tend to let go. It does eat away at me when I cannot see the cause. But, it eats away at me more when I have harsh feelings toward a person.

Does the inability to stay frustrated–the wanting to always see the why behind the negative make me weak?  Maybe it does.  Maybe I am too kind and too sensitive.  I may be one who gets walked over my entire life. The thing is, I accept this “weakness” God has given to me.  I know it is better than holding hate in my heart.  It’s better than always being disappointed in people.

It is a struggle to stand firm in my kindness, knowing it as both a strength and weakness. I will always pray for understanding within myself and within others as well.  I will always hold some doubt and over-think this part of me. Satan will continue to use this against me.  He’s mean like that.

It isn’t always easy and I fail at times to place my trust in God. Despite my stubborn ways, He never fails to bring me back to the truth. My kindness is my shield and my thorn. It is more a beautiful shield, though, in this sometimes ugly world.

What is your shield and thorn?

Caution: Road Block Ahead

imageMy normal twenty-minute trip of taking Oliver to school took me about 45 minutes this morning. Even my alternative route was closed.  So I had to go another way, then another, and another. I got home and made myself a cup of coffee before I took off again to go shopping…by myself. Any parent knows the joy it brings to shop alone. I cannot tell you the frustration I felt when I looked out my window and saw my road was blocked. Yep, I live on the corner of a court with no other way out. I felt trapped and completely ticked.

All I could think of was how the construction is messing with my life and plans.  

I took a few deep breaths and then sat in my favorite chair. My 72 pound lap dog jumped up on my lap and nestled in. Ranger’s drowsy eyes looked up at me before his big wrinkly head landed on my hand. He loudly exhaled and then closed his eyes.  Within a minute he was snoring.

Apparently my dog was quite pleased with the construction that led to my being trapped. I rubbed his head with my free hand and began to relax. I realized I probably needed my dog and favorite chair more than I needed shopping. I began to sip my coffee and my thoughts carried me away.  I wish I could say they carried me away from construction, but it was not so.

It dawned on me how easily we become frustrated with road blocks. Sometimes it is all we think about.  Sometimes it trickles down into every aspect of our lives.

I’m not speaking the literal sense of a road block. I’m sure you’ve already picked up on that, though. You may even be nodding you head and are thinking of a situation in your own life. You are ready to move on. You want to go where you think/know you want/need to go, but you just can’t get there for because of the stinking road block.

Presently, I do not have any major road blocks. At least none I am aware of. But I can recall the ones I’ve had in the past. I remember the frustration. I remember the only if’s. Only if…then my life would be better. I could accomplish more. I could be a better mom, spouse, friend, or whatever. I could be more faithful.  I could be more…

What we fail to see is the significance of the road block. God needs for us to stop so He can do the construction needed within us and around us. He is the one who knows the best path. We need to trust Him when He takes us on unexpected or inconvenient ways.

Amazing how with just a twist of perspective, the meaning of trapped and inconvenienced transforms into our ever-loving God fixing and beautifying us and our path called life.

Season of Change

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The once green leaves darkened and dried.

I never thought to just let them go.

I prayed for strength to keep and bear them.

 

Still, the crisp air came and began to rip them away.

Some twirled, some plummeted, some fast, some slow.

But all landed on the ground around me.

 

I didn’t believe they would wander far.

Give me the strength Lord, please.

They may still come back to me.

 

Slowly the wind picked them up.

One by one they flew further and further.

I tried reaching down to grab them.

 

God simply told me no.  

 

I realized a season of change had come.

New leaves would surely emerge.

But only after the release of all the old.

 

To Live Like Geese

As I looked up through the fog I saw it.  The geese were flying in a perfect v-formation. I wish I could have snapped a picture. I don’t know, there was something about the fog that made it more beautiful. Don’t laugh, but it kind of felt like a scene from a movie. I know, I know, my imagination gets the best of me.

I always have so much running through my mind and it is in those moments that it all comes together for me.  I should clarify.  I don’t always have movie scene moments. I promise my life is not that enchanting.

Anyway, I was sitting in my chair and thinking of the v-formation and the significance of it. When geese fly together each goose is just as important as the next. They all matter. The lead goose moves to the back to rest and another takes over. No one goose is expected to expend the most energy all the time.

It is together they reduce air resistance. They fly further and with less energy than they can alone.

Like the v-formation, the church (the body of believers) is there to reduce resistance of this world. We are called to. When we fall out of formation, we are not as strong. We can’t fly as far alone. We just can’t.

So yeah, we have a thing or two to learn from the life of geese. Who would have thought?