Mar 20, 2015

Henri on Love... No Words Necessary

Henri Nouwen said,

"We have to trust that our stories deserve to be told. We may discover that the better we tell our stories the better we will want to live them."

There is a little book of Henri's that I read each year. 
In The Name Of Jesus.

When I want need to be reminded why, who and what I am... I open this book, the words leaping across my heart, clinging like a vine, digging into my soul, where I find new breath... reminding me to live a better story. 

Henri reminds me,
"It is Jesus who heals, not I; Jesus who speaks words of Truth, not I; Jesus who is Lord, not I."

"Jesus has a different vision of maturity. It is the ability and willingness to be led where you would rather not go."

Henri strips away pride, replacing it with vulnerability precious to my faith, important if I am to be available for the Kingdom...
 brushing shoulders with another soul, offering a word, a moment, to love another human being.
What could I offer you today more important
Than Love?

Henri hungered after the things of God, never buying into the ways of man.
A Dutch Catholic priest who came to the U.S., taught at Notre Dame, Harvard, Yale. 
He lived among Trappist Monks, the poor of Peru,
yet what he did next...
he traveled to Trosly, France and ministered at L'Arche, 
 a small community of adults with developmental disabilities. 
Later to Canada, serving a similar community.

Twenty years an academic, to a small community...
"Harvard to L'Arche, from the best and brightest, wanting to rule the world, to men and women who had few or no words and were considered at best, marginal to the needs of our society. It was a hard and painful move..."

He goes on.
"The first thing that struck me when I came to live in a house with mentally Handicapped people was their liking or disliking of me had absolutely nothing to do with any of the many useful things I had done until then. Since no one could read my books, the books could not impress anyone...

In his new role Henri says...
"I was suddenly faced with my naked self, open for affirmations and rejections, hugs and punches, smiles and tears, all dependent simply on how I was perceived at the moment."

Henri calls this the most important experience of his life. People, without pretense forced Henri to discover his true self.
He saw the value of these precious souls who would throw no accolades or roses at his feet, who showed him true love in Christ. 
Simple, unadorned, pure.
Henri's life reminds me of all that I desire to accomplish. 

"The question is not: How many people take you seriously? How much are you going to accomplish? Can you show some results? But: Are you in love with Jesus?"

This is All I am here to do.
To be in love with Christ and share the Love that He Is and Does. 
This will be enough.
It has to be.

Mar 10, 2015

A Year... The Winds Of Change And Not Wasting The Opportunity.

March marks one year that my husband and I decided to part ways... well, not in that way.
 In the best of ways, if there ever was one. 
In a way that seemed to call out to us... live differently, daringly, trust Me, I've got plan for you two, and it will prosper us. 
The us being the kingdom of God. 
Kind of how we have trusted God all the days of our marriage. We haven't always done conventional, typical. 
Does God call us to that?
I've never found typical in scripture, more so in man made wisdom... live safely, comfortably. Don't take too many risks. 

This means we live apart more than together. I have no words to describe how hard this can be or the peace that God has given us. Surely, God is good and His plan can be trusted. 

Yet, I remind my husband the day he is over this, decides he wants his wife back 24/7 he needs to let me know. I will trust that if I hear those words, God is in it. 
You see, my husband is a glass half full, or overflowing kind of guy.
He sees the choice we make as one that is honoring to God... even when we are unsure of what exactly it is God is calling us to do.
You may be thinking... then what the heck are you doing? Why? What's the deal?

When you are planning things with God, you wait on Him.
Instead of plowing ahead, you seek wisdom, discernment. If you want to do a work that will last, with excellence and eternal results, you wait for the Master to give directions. 

It took a year for the dust to settle, for the hubs and I to create a new routine, to be ready and steady to go forward. Many times it is better for the game to come to you. Use your giftedness, abilities and wait for the return. This is how you find your sweet spot, that place that God has put you, to serve Him. 

At least for me this is how it is happening.
One of my passions is helping women recognize their God given potential and giftedness, seeing themselves as Christ sees them. Creating a community of women that seek to build one another up, living in freedom from the lies and hurts that some have been sold as truth. 

Bring a group of women together that have an interest, whether young or mature in faith, it will be amazing what will occur. Leaders will rise up, hearts will open, forgiveness and healing will be found. This is community and this is what God has delivered in my lap.
I have a choice... and yet do I?

This is what I am praying wisdom and discernment over... in these moments.
It is what wakes me in my sleep, seeking clarity and a desire to do His work with excellence. 
I look to Hebrews to remind me why...

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus..."
Hebrews 12:1

My desire is to run this race in front of me, with passion, endurance and the eyes of a runner looking to the finish line.
Oh yes...Jesus, let me fix my eyes on You, and Only You.

A year from now I will look back and read this. 
Will I have moved forward in wisdom, doing a work God has delivered to me?
In truth, what I have asked Him for... do I recognize it as answered prayer? 
Or will I have wasted another opportunity?

What is God calling you to this year and will you grab hold of it and honor Him with excellence or look back with regret next year?

Mar 4, 2015

Do You Think The Disciples Had TB?

I wrote this post back in September of 2013... in my other new town. In this new town I have decided I can no longer do anything that involves getting a TB test, as I'm convinced they are watching me... whoever they are.

A few weeks ago I went to one of our local hospitals for training to become a volunteer Chaplain.
I am comfortable around people who are hurting, sick and in need of encouragement. This fills my soul and
I thought perhaps this would be a good fit for me in my new town.
I know I need to stop calling it new... but it still feels that way.

The training was going so well and then I was asked when I had my last Tb test. I felt like I should have an answer for this question but I was dumb struck. 
I mumbled something like, "I don't know, maybe when I was a kid, maybe at birth, wait, um, no, I have no idea."
Brilliant answer.

They sent me to Occupational Health for a blood test. Easy peasy.
Until they called the next day with the results. 
The nurse explained that I tested positive for TB and that I would need a chest xray. 
Wait, what?
I asked her if these tests were ever wrong as I was sure I did not have TB. What is TB anyway? I asked if it was serious. Really.. I said those words.
I said a few other stupid things. 
The nurse joined in as well.

"Well, I've never actually had anyone test positive so I am not sure what is next. You have to register with Public Health and they will counsel you."
Wow, thanks for the reassurance. 

Wait... am I now on a watch list? Do I get a leg bracelet? Can I enter school property? 
What do I need counseling for? 
Is there a detox program included? 
Is there a spa involved? 
My mind was whirling.
WebMD was sure to put my mind at ease, right? 

We set up an appointment the next day for a chest xray.
I texted my hubby and said, "Guess who has TB?"
He replied...."You do not!"
Actually, that is his response to 90% of the stuff, i.e., intelligent words I say to him.

I remember telling him that his 4 yr old son had a hernia. It had popped out in the bathtub and I gently pushed it back in, realizing what it was.
He came home from the hospital that night and replied, "He does not!"
The boy turned 20 last month and hubby is still giving me the same reply. 
Slow learner.

I went for the xray. The tech gave me a CD and told me to take it to my Public Health appointment. The one I did not plan on going to. Come on.
Instead I took it to my hubby and he gave it to his radiologist to read.
It came back clear. This means I have no active TB but possibly had it as a child and my healthy body fought it off. A common occurrence.

Two days later, I receive a phone call from Public Health wanting to set up an appointment with me, while explaining the levels of treatment available. Nine months or as short as four months, while needing to go into the clinic once a week to take the multiple course of heavy antibiotics.
Maybe it's me, but it seems we are getting a little excited before we know the end of the story here.
Slow down sister nurse.

I am driving during this discussion and the hubby is next to me. He is turning red, while saying, "You are not taking those treatments." 
Now I know I'm on a watch list.

Meanwhile, I am still waiting for the call from Occupational Health telling me it was clear. 
It's been two weeks. 
They tell you they will let you know and then nada, zilch.. they leave you in a dark room with no light switch and no exit. 
Not everyone is married to a Doc who can ask his radiologist to look at a film.
It seems some may have fear or concerns and be left waiting, for weeks. 

I mentioned this situation to a friend and her response was priceless.
She said, "Imagine what diseases the disciples had."
I laughed out loud.

I imagine they had more aches, pains and diseases without cure than I could count.
We know Paul asked three times to have the thorn in his side removed. We don't know what his health concern was, but if Paul asked three times it had to be considerable.
That guy was a stud. 

They probably had some Hyssop oil as well as wine and myrrh for pain. 
Hmm... sounds similar to today.
Let's face it, some days there isn't anything better than two Advil and a diet coke.

Makes me wonder if I would have said to Jesus, "My head really hurts today, I'm gonna lay here with my wine and myrrh compress till I feel better"... like the next century.
What a wimp. 

How do we keep from becoming so pampered and spoiled that we are useless in sharing the Gospel of Christ?
We fill our bodies with comfort and ease, but our souls are empty without Truth. 
We have lost our saltiness.

The disciples, though far from perfect, should give us hope. 
They were common men accompanied by common women... but they were shining lights to those in need of a Savior.

They fought about stupid things, like who should be first and where they should sit.. and according to the above picture, nicknames were an issue.

They were just like us... and yet so different. 
They did not put their needs first.
They gave up their lives, for a Savior they didn't quite understand.

They did not have the comfort of an extra tunic, or a bed to lay their head.
They were at the mercy of others. 
We would do well to lean on one another instead of our compresses and medications.

We are who He calls us to be, the common man and woman... created in His image and purposed for His glory. 
Christ sees us as shining stars and precious jewels.
He asks us to be obedient and purposeful for Him... even in distress and uncomfortableness.

I am grateful for modern medicine and advil.
I'll always be a wimp compared to the early disciples, but I recognize God does not compare me to them.. or you.
He expects me to do what He puts in front of me, regardless of headaches or TB.
And thank goodness for WebMd. That cleared up a whole lot of questions. Yikes!

What is holding you back today? 

Feb 27, 2015

The Silver Lining in... Baking Cookies. Breaking Windows. East Nash Thugs. Growing Community.

Yesterday I was baking cookies for the hubs and nino, actually, seventy of ninos best friends. His track team, heading to Indoor Track Finals this weekend.
I was also preparing for my IF dinner, a monthly gathering of ladies who share a meal, talk Tinder to terrible two's to terminal things. Gosh if Tinder isn't terminal... Lord help us. 

I was listening to music that made my heart sing, talking to God, thanking Him for His provision. He is so good, my life so rich. In March it will be a year that we pulled up roots and hauled our worldly possessions and hearts to Nashville. I don't have to look far, literally across the street, to see people God has brought to my life that I care deeply about. 

Everyday I thank God for a husband who is spiritually, emotionally and physically strong, which allows me to fly free. He pushes me to find my sweet spot in God's kingdom and that is where I find contentment and purpose. He is watching me blossom here and he is my biggest fan. Without him, I could not do this. We are a team, though our teams play in different states most days. 

As I pondered this yesterday I was overcome with the joy in recognizing that sometimes it takes years to find your sweet spot. I thought my purpose was one thing and actually it was another. By letting God lead, instead of pushing through, I learn and prosper for Him. 

So, I am pondering these things in my heart and praising God when my phone goes off. 
It's the daughter.
Can I check her house? Alarm is going off.
Probably dogs she says.
Hmm.... it's not dogs, my spidey sense says.
Her house is 3 blocks away. I'm gone!
I fly over. 
I'm a detective. Checking the alley on my way. 
Open the door to house... slowly.
Tazer in hand.
Walk in sideways to alarm. 
Look around. See window. Broken.
Call 911.
Officer asks where I am.
He orders me out.
I tell him, It's fine, I'm fine. Start to give him a run down and tell him I have touched nothing.
Should I dust for prints?
He is now screaming in phone at me.
I tell him I have testified against a mob boss. As in, The Mob. He went bye bye for life. I'm still standing. I aint scared of no piece of crap thug. We are gonna have a chat about Jesus.
Okay... I did not say all of that to him, but it's all true. 

In 5 minutes I am surrounded by the most amazing police officers I've ever met. Nashville's finest, really are the finest, especially the East Precinct, mostly women. Amazing women. I recognize the lead officer. She says,"Hey we have to stop meeting like this." 
They dust for prints, we talk, I text the woman I mentioned earlier who lives across the street. It seems before I hit send, she has responded,"That's horrible, I'll send my guys over to board the window." I look at the officer and tell her how much I love this gal. Fabulous neighbors, friends who I can count on. God, you have blessed us so... silver lining moment. 

And my day was going so well...
but you know what?
It was still a good day.
Nothing terrible happened. We have things in place to scare off intruders. 
Life is risky.
If you don't want to take risks, don't get out of bed.
Side note... I did go home and make sure my bullets were where I thought they were. 

I'm so proud of these women that live in this home. They are strong and will be stronger for this. They will be wiser for this. 
I thank God for His provision. We had just installed an alarm two weeks ago that protected this event.  
God expects us to be diligent and have discernment. 
We do not live in fear. We live in knowledge and peace of the One who created us and loves us. 
I can only thank and praise Jesus for His provision yesterday and His peace this morning!

Thank you Jesus, our Provider and Protector. 

Feb 12, 2015

Fifty Bales Of Hay...

We baled a lot of hay.

Early in our marriage my husband and I had two horses and a pony in the hundred acre woods where we lived. A log cabin with stone fireplaces, built from the slate of the land was nestled at the top of a lake that sat between the horse pasture and cabin. The wood we burned was cut by my husband from trees that had fallen along the forest floor. 

In the winter the husband would haul bale after bale of hay to his horses. Twice a day he would make sure they had water, hay, oats, shelter. 
Our barn was stacked full of the fresh smelling life. 

I remember crisp, cold winter mornings, the sun so bright and snow so deep, the husband would be frozen from shoveling, cutting a wide path to the horses. One winter it seemed to snow every Tuesday and Thursday. It was beautiful but I started to think we were living a real life, Little House In The Big Woods, that we read with our daughter each night. 
It was hard work. He would lace his LL Bean boots, heavy coat and gloves and be gone early in the morning, before his 8 am O.R. schedule.

In the spring the horses would be restless and the pony would start the gallop through the field searching until she found a broken fence post. The horses would follow her out into mischief.  The husband would get in his truck, searching the country roads, sometimes a phone call would come in, letting us know the three amigos had been spotted. He would lead them back to safe pastures, mend the broken fence. 

It's been more than a few years since we lived on that land, but I remember clearly. Hard work and green earth leaves impression upon us. 
Fifty bales of hay popped into my head as I was hearing commotion about Fifty Shades Of Grey, just in time for Valentine's day.... That was the plan I'm sure. A romantic movie for your valentine. Nice. Fifty bales, fifty shades, couldn't be more different, but they rhymed. A little.

When I think of what my husband does that makes me love him, desire him, feel proud of him, hug him hard when he comes home to me...
I think of bales of hay, working hard, day and night, being available to me, never quitting on us. Affirming me, pushing me, believing in me, loving me well. He never made me wonder if he loved me, or still loves me. 

So how should we, I, feel about Fifty Shades Of Grey? I have heard enough to understand the premise of the book and movie. I'm a reader. No, I did not read this book.
I can read a variety of books and have a take away from most. 
I chose not to read this book. 

Here are the questions I ask myself.
1)  Is this movie a picture of how God intended my relationship with my husband to be? Is it healthy? 
2)  Is it explicit and is that something that I should/will be comfortable with? Okay, cut to the chase. Is it porn? Is porn good for us, really? Really? 
                                        Then you can ask what moms ask their kids... 
3)  How would you feel if God was sitting with you in that movie theater... Because He is you know. You know that, right? Duh. He's God.

So, if you believe it to be edifying, will help your marriage, increase your love and respect for one another, and be an enjoyable night together... because you must go as a couple, right? Oh, men don't really want to see this movie ?! Gasp. No kidding.

I think number 3 is the question we should ask ourselves most days, in most situations. It cuts through  the crap we tell ourselves, the lies we believe, making us comfortable. 
If God lives in you, He goes where you go, as part of your soul. 
Think about where you want to take Him. 
Pretty simple.