Jun 4, 2015

Treading Water

 They call from email, text messages, Facebook, sometimes even my phone. 
They are constant, like the prairie wind I found when we moved west years ago.
Over time they erode my perspective and desires,
like dirt that blows off the fields in spring. 

Before I know it I have fallen into the pot of self doubt and comparison.
It's not a far fall really. More like a hop, skip and jump.

It's not that I want to crawl back in that boat I jumped out of years ago.
 I simply forget the direction I am swimming in.
 I trade swimming for treading water.
Treading water is a dangerous place for me. 
Treading water is like drowning.
It's boring, tiring and I'm not going anywhere.
Three things I dislike.

Niggling in the back of my mind or soul is the answer.
I know it's there. I just refuse it... for a moment. 
 A moment can be long.

Then I start taking in water and I grab hold.
I look up. 
I open the pages and I breathe in.

Literally, somedays this is what it feels like.
God does not make this hard. 
He knows who He created.
I am a simple woman.
I am broken and bruised.
I forget the beauty around me and trade it in for distractions that many times include videos of puppies, kittens and monkeys.

But the moment... sometimes the second I dig in, He is there. Like the calm in the storm, He whispers to me, and my hope is renewed and I swear I will never forget again.
But I will.
And He will be there. 

But in this moment, I am never more thankful for His abiding love and mercy on my life.
A simple woman with a simple faith in an amazing God. 

Apr 27, 2015

The Next Big Thing...

God is always preparing you for the next big thing.

Just remember... 

Keep Him in the center of the next big thing.

"Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established." 

Proverbs 16:3

"He must increase, but I must decrease."

 John 3:30

Apr 12, 2015

The Week In Review. The Funny, The Ridiculous and Please Pray for All My Friends...

Canine Papilloma Virus
photo by Peter Sheik

I am sitting on my back deck, the sun wonderful, yet making it hard to type. The temps will hit the low 80's today. Behind my house is a church by a name that is too long to remember and attended by people who's voices sing rich and clear and cannot be contained inside brick and mortar.
Hallelujah, can I get an amen?!
Easter was a week ago, a high point of our first year in Nashville. The hubs and I opened our doors wide and forty people walked in. If you know me, you know I had a smile a mile wide. It was glorious as each person has a story, some I know, others I plan to know. They painted a beautiful picture of Easter for me.

This week offered me the chance to meet two local artists, one who's art work greets you as you enter our house. We drank tea from cups that my grandmother and her friends drank from forty years ago. It was sweet moment. These women, singers, songwriters, painters, teachers, showed me a glimpse of their world and I am richer for it.

The week brought opportunity to meet with young women, struggling with hurts and fears, some trying to take them down for good. Each week I meet someone struggling, believing lies, yet trying to claw their way to freedom. It is one of the main reasons we have chosen to live here, to be a voice of Truth and grace. I am not sure where this will lead, but if I am being obedient, trusting God with the details, then I have no worries.

Life is full of hard moments and caring about others, praying for them is serious, heavy stuff. Yet God is wisdom and love and grace and He allows laughter and joy and even silliness to fill our lives some days. He carries our burdens and brings joy to our souls.
A week is not all one feeling or one opportunity, but a variety of experiences that make us rich.

Yesterday the daughter and I tried a new place for brunch/lunch. The hubs was stuck in Oz on call and I never arrived in Oz because of the week's horrendous weather in those ten hours that separate us.
I reminded him today that he is probably better off not being here as the Monday morning airport commute will be a zoo, with 70,000 NRA folks trying to depart our fine city. This would mostly annoy him as he is not a gun enthusiast, possibly the long years spent in Newark, trying to save peoples lives from gun shot wounds. He might consider embracing the locked and loaded mentality, but I wouldn't put all my ammo in that basket.
He is however married to a woman who carried a pistol permit in N.Y. and an Illinois Foid card and knows where the bullets are. He would go for a golf club no doubt.

Back to brunch. The daughter ordered something that one might put ketchup on.... a burger. She asked for ketchup and the waiter, with a haircut and beard like an amish farmer, kindly stated they didn't carry ketchup. My daughter quickly smiled and said, "Is this a stance you guys are taking?!" He and I burst out laughing. He repeated her line walking away and later brought us some home made barbecue sauce.
Seriously, Nashville farm to table restaurants..... stop taking yourselves so seriously. It's exhausting.  Besides, most of us grew up farm to table with grandparents who grew gardens the size of your city lots. These people knew the value of good food and a buck. Remember the depression? Of course you don't. Me neither... but it happened.
These folk also had the good sense to buy a bottle of Heinz 57.... Instead of making their own out of cooked down, smashed down, labor intensive, tomatoes.

It was all good, he was nice, and the best was him walking away repeating her words. The hubs says she missed her other calling, Alexandria Badass Coleman, Attorney At Law.

I'm learning since our move that my husband cannot be trusted.... with a credit card. He has always been a saver but since he quit cable TV he is out of control. Never did I think I would welcome the $200 monthly cable bill.
Three seasons now he has bought Broadway Series tickets for a city neither of us live in. Yes, I kind of think he is the most romantic guy ever for doing this, but don't tell him.

This morning he asked me if I wanted to go see a Preds/Blackhawk Hockey game. What?! No. I'd rather have liposuction or a new road bike or well, anything but a hockey game. That's nuts buddy... and expensive.
An hour later he sends me confirmation of ticket purchase and something about... A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. He was headed to his closet to look for his Blackhawk Jersey. I think I got rid of it during our last move. I mean come on, those things are weird, right? Don't mention this to him if you see him.
So if you see me Friday night, I'll be the one with the cow bell... not, and something slightly more attractive than an oversized sports jersey with an unbendable logo on the front. Speaking of bullets, I swear they must be bullet proof. And what's up with hockey season anyway... it never ends!

The week would not have been complete without the birthday parade that occurred down the street yesterday. It was a combination Mardi gras, birthday, drag queen, best three minute parade I've ever seen, all in honor of someones 60th birthday.
Beads were thrown, cheering occurred and I imagine much imbibing and revelry was had as they paraded on to the Lipstick Lounge, a local joint.
For the record, I want a parade for my 60th birthday! Many, many, many moons from now. Geesh.

The weird person highlight of my week was last night. We took the two young weimeraners to the dog park as the sun was setting.  At one point I glanced over to the doggie water fountain and saw this dude stooping down, cupping his hands in the communal water bowl. He lifted hands to his mouth and drank up... then repeated, saying with much bravado to those staring at his crazy #$%, "Hey, it's not gonna hurt you."

Minutes later I watched him bypass the entry gate and jump the fence. He then reached over and pulled his dog up by the arm/leg pits. Hmm. Perhaps a phobia to fence gates or latches or.... other dogs. He did state to someone, "My dogs not real good with other dogs, so watch your dog." Dude, why are you here? It's a dog park. Friends, your voting public.

The best, the belly laugh of my day was when another dog walked by the water bowl and lifted his leg, while other dogs happily continued to drink. I wanted to shout,"Hey buddy, come back, I have a treat for you." I'm sure he would have scooped it up stating, 'It's sterile you know. "Speaking of hoping things are sterile...

I hope you had a week full of joys and blessings and celebration. Keep looking up and remember to fill yourself with Truth, so when you meet those who are hurting, fearful and afraid, you can share out of the overflow of your life. Make good choices and don't always feel you have to drink out of the water bowl.

Apr 1, 2015

And Then I Remember... The Wonder Of Him.

My written words come slowly. Seeking His face each morning, asking to see Him new, filling me with His Spirit, so I will understand. That words will find themselves on paper. I plead with Him to keep me from my foolish ways, remaining silent, I wait. There has been a long silence. I am okay with this. 
My thoughts are full, but there is a place inside me, that recognizes when I ask to write His truth, it is like asking to understand the night sky or the intricacies of a baby growing in her mother's womb. 
My words are inadequate to Whom I speak of.

Asking to speak the truth of the God of the universe, I am humbled, bowed low to think how dare I. We speak so easily of the One who made all, knows the hairs on my head, the breaths I will take, the One Who gave His body up for us. In return we throw around  His name as a cast off sweater, taking it on and off as the need arises, always our need... no thought to the cost.

Many mornings I have started to write of the wonders He has shown me this year. Wonders in the way of people. The way I count wonders.
The wonders who nurture me, fill me with hope. The names grow and I am every time... every single time... changed. My joy is increased. He has shown me His steadfast love through those He brings my way. My joy, hope and resolve for this life is increased when a new wonder enters my world.

Yet, I hold back because words are inadequate to explain who He is and what He has done for me. The season of Easter brings Him so close, the pain, the gift, the joy. All because of me and also for me.  This morning I read...

Isaiah 53:4-6
"Yet, He himself bore our sickness, and He carried our pains; but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. 
But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities, punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds. 
We all went astray like sheep; we have all turned to our own way; and the Lord has punished Him for the iniquity of all of us." 

Then I read...

Luke 23: 33-38
"Then Jesus said, "Father forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing. And they divided His clothes and cast lots. The people stood watching and even the leaders kept scoffing: "He saved others, let Him save himself if this is God's Messiah, the Chosen One! The soldiers also mocked Him. They came offering Him sour wine and said, "If you are King of the Jews, save yourself!"
An inscription was above Him:
This Is The King Of The Jews."

I am speechless my friend. How do I begin to write what He has done for me, saved me, protected me, provided for me, in this life, this day?
In this year... when all things were new and scary?
When my needs and hopes were met by Him, because He cares for His daughter. 
He died for my sins and I still turn my back on Him in my selfishness more times than I will ever admit. 

The King Of The Jews loves me... His daughter. He hears every word I cry out to Him and each morning I have new hope and joy because of the Truth that He is who He says He is... and that horrible cross that held His mangled body was real. 

And then I read Matthew 25:40 where Jesus talks of taking care of one another.
"Truly I tell you what you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."

And I remember...
why He gives us voice. 
To love, encourage, nurture, set free,
those He brings along our path. 
Friends, we are free to live in Him. 
Free from death, anguish and uncertainty. 
And then... I remember,
I must live these words He left us.
Or I do not truly believe in Him or His ways.
Oh... dear God,
how I have failed You,
when you have never once failed me, turned away from me, only.... always giving me more.
More hope, more joy, more of You.

As I think of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, may I bow down in humble gratitude for what my Savior has done for me.
May I think on the words He shared with us, calling us to be changed because of His sacrifice. 
Sacrifice demands change. His sacrifice changed the world and conquered death.
His sacrifice deserves a change in me.
May I think on the Wonder of Jesus each morning and remember why.

The King Of The Jews Loves Me... and You.
Celebrate Him. 

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.