Monday, May 31, 2010

Gratitude 36--When I Can't Remember

"Friends are the people who, when you forget your heart song, sing it back to you so you can remember."

Or so some say.

My friends are more than that.

They are treasure keepers, and I am blessed to be treasured by them.

They do more than sing a song to me in hopes of jogging my memory when the roller coaster of life leaves me lightheaded. These people are not a bunch of high-heeled tea sippers happy to chat along while I pick up the lunch check. These are people who plaster pictures of me in my heart, mind, and soul when life pain and too big mountains leave me with identity loss. These are people who do not say, "Call me if you need me," but show up at my door and scream, "I know you're in there. Don't make me break this thing down to get to you." And...believe me...they would. They have.

I love them...and I am amazed at how much they love me.

And, "Thank you," will never touch my gratitude.

882. Friend of 20 odd years, unafraid of hard questions, still seeing amazing even when I've forgotten.

883. Understanding instant messages can provide enough cover to slowly be found

884. Patience when the bars keep dropping out down in the Hill Country

885. 4:00 am, "Are you sure you're okay? If not, we can talk some more."

886. A bottle of wine and talking like we were in college

887. Holding on when I can barely even stand up

888. "...wonderful...even now..."

889. The daily dose of laughter because it's good medicine.

890. Dunked Oreos

891. Freshly created songs sung not so on key

892. Calm in the midst of the chaos

893. Not being shocked

894. Follow-up calls the next day..."just to check on you"

895. Believing in the whole picture

896. An hour and a half of looking for Wifi that actually worked because some emails are really important

897. Long hugs

898. Road trip therapy

899. "It's about standing in your hair color."

900. Hummingbirds
Friday, May 28, 2010

Where I am Reading This Week--May 28, 2010

Soul Food being served this week:

Dead Weight--Beautiful picture of the peace of being carried that overcomes the self-conscious idea we need to help the One carrying us.

The Treasure of Thrown Away Food--"The truly thankful person is a truly peaceful person. They have made a habit no matter what to notice, pause and choose." You've got to read the rest. Really. It's convicting, challenging, and OH!, so empowering!

The Lost Art of Friendship--When doing small things makes a big difference.
Thursday, May 27, 2010

Becoming Naked

I make myself small, try to blend in, become one of the shadows. I am drowning in loneliness and hoping to be found…afraid to be found. Knowing too well what people will truly find.

Being naked is hard.

It is easier to hide.

In hiding, I can pick and choose what is seen. Camouflage the unbeautiful spots.

The ugliness of my stretch marks made when my skin grew thin from conceiving and growing life don’t show. I can point to the fruit, and no one sees the pain or the imperfections exposed during the process of life bringing.

A well placed cover hides where my skin does not fit me well. The too tight places where I over extend and perform perfectly take the focus from the sagging parts where I don’t fit into my skin quite right.

Scrapes, bruises, and wounds fade into shadows of the appearance of light and depth.

Perhaps in the hiding, glimpses of truth come forth, but if I keep moving, they quickly return to the shadows and anyone who has seen is unsure of exactly what they saw.

Yes, being naked is hard.

It is easier to hide.

But I hear Him--calling me, seeking me, desiring me.

I stand statue still. What if He sees me? But He has seen me.

Yesterday.

Before I saw me.

Before I knew my imperfections, my ugly spots. Before I became ashamed of what there is to see.

Yesterday, He saw everything, and He did not turn away. He did not snicker. He did not offer suggestions to make that trouble area better. He simply walked with me, spoke with me, shared His heart and let me share mine…

Yesterday. When I was naked.

And unashamed.

Because I did not know what I had to be ashamed of, only that He enjoyed me…that He wanted me.

Yesterday He walked with me, openly. Today I am hiding…But He calls…

I answer. “I am ashamed.”

He replies. “I never told you to be.”

I swallow hard. My heart races. Do I have the courage to be found?

I step from the camouflage where I have tried to be lost, where I have tried to blend in and not be seen.

He is waiting.

I am naked. More naked than I’ve ever been.

His love is unchanged. He has seen me naked all along, and He covers me.

Genesis 2:25, “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”
Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Thoughts from my Journal

There are times when God is encouraging, loving, and affirming as He gently moves you forward, and then there are times when He just shoves you out of the nest and expects you to have the sense to recognize the opportunity to fly

Growing Faith

This morning I was thinking about my garden. It looks pretty puny. We've tried gardens before, and they were flops.

This year I felt like the Lord said to plant a garden because we would get a good harvest from it, so we did. We put in tomatoes, peppers, onions, and a variety of seeds...along with a lot of our money. So far...well, I'm really learning to see with faith on this.

This morning I was so frustrated I wanted to quit, just walk away and give it up to the hot Texas summer. Then the Lord spoke to me, "What about my promise? Do you not believe my promise just because you can't see it?"

Ouch.

So once the sun comes up and before it starts to get too warm, I'll be out there watering again, praying over the okra, corn, tomatoes, peppers, and beans. Sowing into His promise...praying as I go...asking Him to remind me of other promises that the desert sun has assaulted and praying for the faith to believe again for what I do not yet see.
Monday, May 24, 2010

Gratitude 35--Friends and Neighbors

I am not going to put up a brave facade today. Last week was a hard week. I spent it in deep pain, with a lot of questions, and on the mental and emotional edge. I never felt abandoned by God, but it is because He made Himself so obvious in people around me, and I am so grateful for those people who let Him speak through them--not only in words but in their lives that they live everyday.

I am grateful for...

862. A neighbor who would run into a burning home to save others.

863. A new friend who opened her home to an elderly couple with no place to go.

864. A small army of neighbors who stepped up to salvage pieces of lives, protect what was left, and rebuild what was lost.

865. the Man of my Dreams who made multiple trips to the grocery store to supply dinner for people who thought of everyone but themselves.

866. My friend Lisa, who cheered when I sent off another article to be considered by a "big publisher"

867. My friend Paula, who worked found submission information and helped me with a query letter to send off another article

868. Those who believe God is blessing others through me, which feels unimaginable at times.

869. Molly, the Heeler/terrier mix, that honored me by bringing me her ball to play a great game of fetch

870. Debra, Molly's "mom", who talked dogs, toys, and training. Camping folks are some of the friendliest anyway, and Debra certainly gives them a great name.

871. Sarah, a friend for a little boy trying to figure out how he fit into camping when "relaxing" does not include sitting around doing nothing

872. Grandma, who helped Anna try to get the fish in, and fought valiantly, until the line snapped. We lost the bait, hook, and bobber, but Anna got a memory and a smile that was worth it.

873. My brother, who is just cool

874. Sharilyn...for being more of a blessing than this writer has words to say.

875. Friends who sit around and hang out for a few hours talking, processing, deccompressing, and laughing. I didn't know how tense I was until I'd been around y'all a few hours, my muscles relaxed, and I ached all over. LOL!!!

876. The two most amazing children in the world.

877. Teenagers that make me excited about what their generation is going to accomplish. Jordan and Oakley, y'all rock!

878. Prayer team captains that bless, listen, and encourage. I have the best!

879. Prayer team members that ask the right questions and say the right things at the perfectly right time to let me know God is hearing, God is working, and God is not looking for a backup plan.

880. Shaleen, who drove over an hour and a half to help adopted "neighbors" when they were in need.

881. Bilal, the Man of my Dreams' trainer, who is not only a positive force during class, but calls to check in when Rob misses classes, is truly concerned for Rob's health, and is available to make help in any way possible to see our family be healthy. I don't know that he'll ever know how much that 15 minute conversation meant to me.

I am sure there are more that just have slipped my mind at this moment, and I might add them throughout the day...or week. Looking back over the last week, these are the people who have been healing balm to my heart, a hand to hold me up, and Jesus in front of my face. They are amazing people, and I thank God for every single one of them. I pray you have people like this in your life, too.

holy experience
Thursday, May 13, 2010

In the Aftermath, Pentecost

My aching muscles drag me from my sleep. The aftermath of yesterday's long walk around the neighborhood drive me from my bed and out to the street again.

The too moist air settles on me as I check the time on my cell phone, slip my headphones over my ears, and head down the street.

In truth, I had hoped to rest a bit longer. A long night of warring with thoughts, memories, and heart wounds still throbbing left me with little sleep. When I finally closed my eyes and felt sleep slipping over me, I longed to stay in the quiet, to let the headache subside, and let my tight muscles relax. A few hours later, I was on the road again, moving toward a better level of fitness, working off excess pounds, and making strides to the physical life I want.

My muscles stretch with the strides, and the ache loosens. The music in my ear is lost in the songs of the birds around me. They are joyous.

I don't remember joyous. Right now, all I remember are the things I want to escape, and yet, instead of allowing me to lie quiet in my bed, the Lord has chosen to bring me right into the middle of the onslaught. It is just He and I here...in the quiet...amid the screaming voices, and I am silent, except for the screams at Him.

How long? Forever? Does this last forever? What must I do? How can I convince you? When will you hear me? When will You stop this...or am I as alone as I feel I am right now?

And the screaming voices continue their cacaphony, but mine goes quiet.

Is it faith or resignation that quiets me? I am sure I don't want to know.

And in the mind-darkness, a Voice speaks. "Pentecost."

Pentecost.

When the Spirit came. When shaken men received unshakable faith. When uneducated men knew they had not believed in vain. No longer merely followers, they became Fire carriers. The questions about Jesus' dying became the declaration of His resurrection. Hearts that had known their failures now knew the limitless power of Almighty God...in them...through them.

The promised Counselor had come, and nothing would be the same again. Not for those men...not for the world...

My feet turn the last corner toward home. The voices still scream. My heart still aches, but hope has again revealed itself. In the aftermath of all that has happened and all I still hope to see, there remains the promise. Pentecost.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I Wonder...

Why is it that being buried in busy is the considered a perfectly acceptable way to be buried alive? And don't people who are buried alive end up dead from lack of Breath?
Tuesday, May 11, 2010

What Are You Running On?

My car died. It did a herky-jerky sort of death throws dance, let out a hideous grumbling moan, and died. Too late I realized what was wrong. In my frenzy to get where I needed to be, I had put diesel in my gas-powered car, and now it was dead.

I see hauntingly familiar dance moves in my home. Sarcastic comments when someone’s question annoys one’s superiority complex. Bickering barbs thrown at each other over miniscule offenses. One person in this room. Another in that one. Four people spread to the winds...

(Join me at The Christian Pulse to find out how God takes an out of control family and puts them lovingly in order.)
Saturday, May 8, 2010

Knot Exactly What I Wanted

I feel like it's been a long time since I actually sat down to write. It is partly caused by the busyness of life, and partly due to blankness of mind. I have found that blankness of mind has two main causes: too busy and too concerned.

Sometimes my brain is so full of abbreviated to do lists that putting together a full sentence--little less a reasonable paragraph--feels overwhelming. Lately, I've been drowning in abbreviated to do lists. While I am concerned with getting those things done, it is more. I am concerned about saying something worth my readers' time, and I'm concerned about saying it with excellence.

Then I start to think.

I work through first lines, structure, a real meaning, style of presentation, and a memorable ending. It doesn't take very long for everything to get muddled in my brain, and then I start to try to unravel it like a bad knot only to find that the more I work on it, the more it tangles. Finally, having developed an ugly headache and feeling more lost than ever, I walk away.

Today, though, I'm hoping to unravel the knot a bit at a time...and maybe, somehow, it'll help someone else with their knots, too.

When I crocheted a lot, my yarn would sometimes get into knots, and some were worth trying to figure out. Sometimes it was just a matter of figuring out some caught loops, identifying a snag here or there, and straightening the string out. Then I was back on track with my project.

Life isn't so different.

Sometimes I end up going around in loops due to a snag. My priorities are sometimes wrong. I'm not always as disciplined as I need to be. Sometimes I am reluctant to try something new because the old way is too comfortable. In cases like that, I need to identify the loops where I am stuck, undo the snags, and move on to the way things work.

Sometimes the knots simply became too tangled to fix. There was simply too much to figure out and sort through. Sometimes I simply had to cut the knot out, tie the ends, and move on. Yes, there was a bump sometimes, but in the end, I created what I wanted and was happy with the result.

Life works that way, too.

Sometimes some thing happens that I can't work out. There have been things that hurt more than I could sort through. Events happened that couldn't be undone. Relationships went in directions that still make no sense. Untangling the knot was impossible. I couldn't undo a person's actions, words said, or unwanted events. And frankly, no matter how much I rolled them over, talked about them, or put them in writing, they were still crazy and "making it better" was impossible.

While I do not believe denial is an answer, I also do not believe the knotted areas of life have to be salvaged and become a significant part of the larger project. For instance, the young man who crushed my feelings by telling me he had started dating someone else because "I forgot I was dating you" never apologized. He never had an explanation. He just shrugged and walked away.

That was a pretty big knot, and no matter what I did I couldn't undo it. Ultimately, I had two choices. I could either live in the pain and the idea that I am so insignificant that I could be forgotten despite wearing some one's expensive ring, or I could simply acknowledge broken people do broken things, and the situation was more about his heart than my identity. I am not insignificant. I am not easily forgotten. I am not a throw-away person. And, there are people who think that young man was totally wrong. There are people who believe I am a gift, an answer to prayer, and an amazing person. I choose to keep them. They are part of my bigger picture, the bigger project that is me.

Yes, there is a bump--an imperfection--where that young man's hurtful actions messed up my thinking. It's a bump that reminds me others have been told they are invaluable and dispensable, and I can be the one to help undo their knot. I can be the one who tells them they are a gift, an answer to prayer, and an amazing person. I can be part of the bigger picture of who they truly are.

Maybe in talking about my knots--the ones that did not determine the outcome of who I am or what I do--I enable others to work through their knots, unravel what needs to be unravelled, and cut out what doesn't need to be there. Maybe by dealing with my knots people can get untangled and become the person God wants them to be, not the person someone else says they are or the victim circumstances try to make them. And maybe--hopefully--they can look at the big picture--the big project God is doing in and with their lives--and see something beautiful and amazing.
Friday, May 7, 2010

Where I am REading This Week--May 7, 2010

How A Child Shows the Way to Do Hard Things--Warning: This is not a place of easy faith. Don't go here unless you want to be laid low, to look hard in a mirror hoping to see a child and humbled deeply by all that is not.

Wounded Spirits: How to Stop the Bullying--Spirit wounds are not acceptable--not on the playground, not in the locker room, not in the home. Understanding what we are doing and Who we are doing it to is powerful healing for those with spirit wounds...and those who inflict them.
Thursday, May 6, 2010

The National Day of Prayer--May 6th

May 6th

National Day of Prayer


"Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."--Mark 11:24


Have the courage to ask.


Have the faith to expect.


See God do above and beyond what you can imagine.
Monday, May 3, 2010

Prayer for You Today

Father God, Lord above all things, all powerful, merciful, loving, and generous God,

I lift up my family, friends, and readers to you this morning.

You know all their needs. You know the mountains in front of them.

I ask you to give them a gift of faith and assurance that there is no mountain bigger than you.

Reveal to them in new and thought-altering ways how much you love them. Give them courage to live in the reality of Your HUGENESS and Your commitment to them so they can see mountains moved, lives healed, and lineages blessed.

Thank you for your faithfulness, Lord. I love you!

Relevant

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Quotables

"It's not the wind in our hair that makes us free. It's the movement of the Spirit, the growth of our invisible side." --Amber Haines

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My simple life plan: To live the kind of life that when asked, "If you could be anybody, who would you be?", I'd choose me.

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