Dec 18, 2014

Life Should Have Gravy And Gold Lame....

This morning I wanted to write about Christmas and merry and jolly and the world falling in love and may all your New Years dreams come true... wait, that's a song I'm listening too.
These past weeks I have witnessed many beautiful things, met amazing people, yet I am struggling to put the words on paper. So, there's this instead...

I should have recognized the direction we were headed Thanksgiving morning, when the lid exploded into the air, crashing down into the gravy, pieces everywhere.
My sister said, "Ya know they'll replace that lid. That's crazy. Since when does a lid burst into the air exploding?!" 
She had me there. Never have I seen that.
I was also thinking, Okay Jill, as soon as we scrape it off the ceiling, scoop the pieces out of the gravy, puzzle them together finding the brand, take a picture... then figure out what to do about gravy today... then I'll worry about the $25.00 lid to the pot.
She was right, but I aint got time for that.
Yet, that was the exact direction we were headed. Things exploding into the air, crashing down into the gravy, daily. Oh, how the holidays do that to us.

The other day I dropped friends at the airport before Obama came to town. Yes, that Obama. I left them a little early to avoid the looming traffic jam. This gave my friends extra time to enjoy all things Nashville airport. Sorry friends, but at least there's live music as they watched Air-Force One land and taxi in. I also had a hair appointment and while there I would make my fourth phone call to the Dermatologist office.

A few days before, I had gone with the son, in between his Finals, to said Derm appointment. When we arrived to the hall of open welcome desks, Dan said, "This is strange, no one is here." My spidey sense had already kicked in as I realized I had not received a text the day before asking me to confirm. Oh shoot, this is not going to go well.
The doors to the inner waiting area opened automatically as we walked towards them. It was empty, but for blaring television. Hmm...
Dan and I looked around. "Hello, hello," I called repeatedly. I opened the interior door to the exam rooms and Doctor offices, all of which were open. I again called through the building "Helloooooo."
This is Weird. I called the Derm number (different building)When I eventually got through, explaining where I was, the gal seemed surprised as she told me they were at their Christmas party. Awesome.
Long story short... I spoke with manager, also shocked. I promised I was squinting out of my eyeballs, not looking at anything as I knew this was a total HIPAA Violation. Papers ALL over... and he promised to call back. He never did. Sad face.

Dan was looking at me shaking his head... in wonder or dismay. Whatever, nino. You are twenty one and your mom is with you at the derm office so... there's that.

Back at the salon....  I'm at the wash basin, my stylist is grooving and moving, slathering stuff on my head, while I'm holding the phone away from my ear trying to finalize some type of appointment for the nino before the end of the year.
I hear splat on the floor. I look at her and she says she has to go mix new stuff... I ask why and she looks down. I ask, "What kind of wood is your floor," She says, "Pine." I say, "Okay, so the stuff now has a pine scent, you should charge extra." She laughs, "Are you sure" I say, "Are you kidding, look at me?" phone in hand.... she laughs.
I love her... besides I'm pretty sure it was my fault.
Exploding floor or ceiling, six of one, half dozen of the other....

Later, I am in a three hour interview where they decide if you are safe to be around children, i.e. mentor them. Lots of hard questions where they try to break you down, make you cry. I aint scured. Questions like.... How much Orange Is The New Black have you watched? But really, tell us have you watched Breaking Bad?
So, the gal interviewing me tells me she got flat out stuck, turn your car off, take a nap on the highway yesterday, because of Obama. It was cold and gray, getting dark time of day.
A car of lady drivers (not sure why this is important, but I think you'll understand) next to her asked if she wanted to join them for games. See? How funny... what did they mean? Did they have monopoly in the trunk or were they talking beer pong set up on the side of the road? Maybe Heads Up on their iPhones?
That's my favorite. You don't need much room, but I'm kind of animated so I might need to stand up for that game or at least have a glass of wine and that might be a problem in the car. Side note... I was once asked if I was the dumbest person in the world while playing that game (I warm up slowly sometimes to new games) but I kicked butt once the gauntlet was thrown and now Watch. It.
Boom. I won that game, by a landslide. Fact.

Back to the interview... well, not...The Interview. My Interview. Geesh, who messes with North Korea...  and that guy? What a bucket of nuts.
My interview went well and I think I made a new friend. We hugged it out at the end. That's always a good sign. This gal is amazing. It's hard work what she does and I have great respect for the people in this office. Yes, one is my girl, but this has nothing to do with it.
I hope I made it through, though I did say we beat our kids, but clearly I was kidding as I was laughing. Come on people...
My daughter warned me you never kid!!! Sorry for the pun. KID.
I started to drive home, debating stopping at the grocery store, which I dislike like Kayne. Sorry. I haven't been to a grocery store since Thanksgiving. Kind of proud. I know it's nothing to be proud of, I know. But I didn't go, I had one yogurt and some cheese and some almonds so...
but I should have gone... because, I hit a dog. Yup.

Lid exploding into the air.
It went like this.
I was watching this lady walk her dog towards me, on the left side of street. Cute little brown dog, lady sure, she was attractive too. Actually, I really liked her coat, it was gold lame and it was early and I was like, wow, lame in the morning hmm... you don't see a lot of gold lame that early.
She smiles as I get closer and then...
she put her hand over her eyes and I hear a thud a second after I see a streak to my right as my foot slams on the break.
A little Beagle mix, who didn't seem to have a brain or anything broken had run back into his yard, shaking, as his human mama came out and scooped him up. She thanked me for stopping, the gold lame lady hugged me and thanked me for stopping. Why wouldn't I stop? Besides, I really needed that hug.

A couple days later I'm standing on a subway platform in the twighlight hours of morning, on the way to the airport, headed back to Nashville. The sound of the train is far off and I hear a man talking loudly to a few women, who I know don't want him taking to them. He begins walking towards us. The husband is sitting, I'm standing a few feet away. I hear a sound no one likes, deep in the throat, then a release.
Eww. The hubs and I share a look.
I look up and the man is in my face. He has a kind face though he seems tired, as he has spent the night imbibing, and now is perhaps looking for a place to lay his head for a sleep.

He says loudly and closely, "You a mama? You a grandmama?" I'm a bit startled and before I can answer, wait, why would I answer ? He says, "You look gooood." As if reassuring me, that if I am in-deed a grandma, it's okay, I look gooood.
I say, "Thank you" and smile. I look at the husband. He is smiling and shaking his head.
I say, "That may be the best compliment I get all day." He smiles and pulls me close.

Friends, eat the gravy, play the game, do the interview, take the compliment, pet the dog, hug the lady, wear gold lame, no matter the time of day, enjoy the ride.... whatever direction you find yourself today. It's all part of your journey and there's only one YOU. Share Yourself. We need YOU.

And no matter what... find the merry and jolly this Christmas. It's all around us, sometimes it's wrapped in lame, sometimes in gravy. Merry Christmas.

Goodwill Toward Men And Women...


                                                                        Two Thousand Years Ago,

The Babe Was Laid In A Manger Of Hay...

When These Words Rang Clear,


May These Same Words Ring Clear Today, As We Rub Shoulders With One Another.
Peace And Goodwill Toward All Men And Women.

Let us love like Jesus this season and unite our hearts to His.

Love Others Like Jesus Today...

Dec 3, 2014

The Surprise Of Advent Every Year...

The calendar is calling me to Advent. My heart is longing for it and I am wishing there was more time, to prepare my heart, to quiet my soul. 
The transition from people dropped at airports, turkey dropped in garbage disposals and sheets stripped from beds. 
Gifts thought and bought, to the reason for it all. 
Sometimes, no, every year, it's too much for me. The moments become cloudy and the noise and visitors take me away from my spiritual journey, from time with Him. 

I imagine I am not alone in this. Vacations do the same if I do not carefully carve out moments to be alone, in the dark... so I can see the light.

I missed the first sunday of Advent. I was in church. I just forgot to take it in. I was volunteering. I was entertaining. I was planning. I was consuming. I was tired. 
I am still tired this morning.

I do not attend a liturgical church. This has been true most of my life... and yet I believe Advent is found in the moments of the season, not a building with a cross.
I find it in the moments of reflection of who Christ is in my life. The people He brings into my life, the gifts of love, mercy, grace. I write these three words often... but they are breath to my lungs. I am nothing without love. Mercy. Grace.

I find it when I open the Word and read in
Isaiah 7:14
"Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.
Scripture points to the coming Messiah in the old and new testament and yet we are taken by surprise each year. The wise men, shepherds, others... found the babe, lying in a manger and bowed down in worship. They traveled far so they could witness this manifestation of God with us.
yet each year
I am surprised by Advent...

I have The Book Of Wisdom to read throughout the year, to be ready, to make my heart still and prepared and yet I fail...
because of a 
and people,
 I claim to love.

The arrival of a notable person, thing, event.
A person, an event, like never before or ever again.
Were they ready for Him?
Are we?
Every year we watch the calendar, and yet we are surprised.

When will I stop being surprised by the Messiah? 
When will I be ready for His appearance, His birth, where He exchanged darkness for light?
I pray today we will stop and soak our dear Shepherd in. May we find Him right where we sit, walk, work and play... may we find Him nearer our soul and let Him in, where He longs to dwell.

Let us find Advent each day this month and may our only surprise be in the Glory of Who He is and that He loves us SO...
That is my heart prayer for you and me.

~ O Come, Let Us Adore Him ~

Nov 25, 2014

Grateful.... yada, yada.

Yes, I know it's the week we share what we are grateful for.... yada, yada.
No grumbling this week, or at least through dinner... maybe.
But I must share what I am grateful for...
because my heart may burst if I don't. 

The weekends away my husband plans, for us to reconnect, and enjoy the fruits of our labor. 
Well, mainly his.
Sometimes I complain, telling him I can't do these things and host Thanksgiving two days later for our crew of crazies. He just smiles because he knows I'll pull it off. 
I dearly love this man... with all my heart.

The new friends in my life... how they encourage me, mainly because they will hang out with me. 
The level of depth and devotion to one another and their faith, kind of blows me away.
The tables were we come together, one on one, sharing our concerns and encouragement and the times we sit long tabled, laughing, holding tightly to these sacred moments.
The moments I reconnect with someone through email, learn what God is doing in their life, receive an encouragement from a new friend... just when I was doubting everything about myself.

When a friend asks me to help them.... I know we are connected now because you trust me enough to get deep in your life. I promise I will honor this and not forget your trust.
Surely, this is from God.

My church... yes, my church full of thousands of beard bearing, hipster wearing lovers of Jesus.... or those just wondering what this is all about. The idea that I get to be a part of this... this crazy thing called faith, in a way that allows questions, concerns, disagreements, where we can still love one another. 
I am one of the older attenders... yes, this stops me sometimes, but then I remember I am called here. No idea why, but I remind myself (again), It's not about understanding why, it's about being faithful.... not perfect, but showing up. 
that this year God has reinforced the idea of showing up.
I've had to reach far this year. 
So many new things and many of them
When I show up... I find God there.

Friends who don't forget me, from my youth in New York to the years in Champaign, to the moments in Wichita... the relationships that grow deep roots and catch my breath sometimes. 
The memories and moments when we reconnect. 
My heart loves these people...
even as I type this, the page blurs and I stop and breath deep.

The two people I call my mine. A girl and a boy, who I hold close to my heart. The paths they have traveled, the way they have honored their parents and their God. I opened my arms to God when they were young, recognizing whom they belonged to and God has honored me as their mother.
I am surely blessed all my days because of them.
Page blurs....

My neighbors I call friends...
my community, so diverse and so ready to lend a helping hand
or steal your lawn mower.

My family who will arrive today.
We will welcome them for a Tennessee Thanksgiving and my heart will overflow in gratitude.
Not because everything will be perfect,
but because we can share laughter, love and gratitude for the gifts we each possess.

I am grateful for God and all His mercy, grace, love and care in the details of my life.
There is nothing I have done to deserve it... but I raise my hands to Him and bow in His presence. 
Grateful, grateful, grateful... am I. 

I wish you a grateful Thanksgiving... one where we count our gifts, raising them up to Him, no matter the details of our difficulties. 
His grace covers it all.

Make sure you show up this Thanksgiving friends. 
Leave the details to Him.

Happy Thanksgiving... gobble, gobble. 

Nov 5, 2014

I Woke Up Like This...

I woke up like this. Fifty Three on Monday. Not quite like Beyonce puts it... some of her words spot  on, while others fall far from the mark. But the name... I woke up like this. Today, the day after... we're gonna wake up. Like This. You get to chose what THIS is.

For me... This will be a year, to let go, give up my ideas, my desires, my ways.

THIS will be hard.
But I feel I'm moving in the right direction.

I spent the day at a conference, surrounded by mostly thirty something women. Ideas, work, words  shared, with the desire to encourage women and the process of finding their voice. I think. At least that would have been my goal for the conference.

I listened hard to a few speakers as they drew me into their lives.
One spoke her life long desire. To be married. That is what she has dreamed of... husband, white picket fence, sweet babies at her feet. When this happened, her life would be perfect. Complete.
This has not happened yet.
She wakes up like This each morning. Single.
Yet, she is a gifted writer, funny, inspiring speaker.... I want to be her.
She shares with thousands of women the wisdom she has learned, to be content in the life you have been given. To be Brave.

I introduced myself to her. I said, "I want your life, and you want mine." She smiled... I clarified that I love my life, my husband and family. But, there is a deep place in me that desires to share with women. The passion, purpose, plan that leads to freedom. To have a voice at the table.

It's hard to be honest. She made it easy for me because of her transparency.

A new friend, many years younger recently said, "You seem to live in freedom."
Mind blown. Freedom was the word I chose in January and stated that I would chose to live in this place. She will never fully understand what her words meant when she spoke them to me. It was confirmation from God.

If my heart truly desires to share freedom, that is what I should do, instead of looking around corners
for a platform, a plan, a way. Hungrily investing in the person who comes into my life. I am never more content than when I sit in the presence of someone who desires truth and freedom in Christ.
When someone is willing to let you invest in them, get in their life... a responsibility and an honor. It makes me shudder sometimes in fear... it is that big. Then I remember, I am Free.

I started thinking.. I am fifty three today. What is the call I am answering. What is the message I send to these twenty and thirty something women I meet?

There was an absence of my age group at the conference. I was surprised by this and I think of how these young women need to hear the voices from those who have made the journey, who embrace the skin you take on, scarred from the battles you fight for others and sometimes with others. The wrinkles you learn to respect knowing many were caused by smiles and joy so big.

We recognize the path is hard and embrace these younger women, to look ahead to the goal, not being caught in the small details, that quickly drag you down under tumultuous waters.
Dance, sing, play. It goes quickly. Embrace the freedom in the moments of This. 
This is where you are today young woman.

I thought of the women in my life who I looked to for direction. My mom, my grand mom. Women who lived well, worked hard and I doubt... sat around thinking about their calling, the next move, how to build a platform... "what the heck is a platform anyway", they would have said.

These women had platforms, they just didn't know it. They were platforms of hospitality, generosity, warmth, laughter. I have learned much from them and I am grateful.

I'm not suggesting we live in deference of finding our calling, our role, recognizing that He has given each of us gifts, significant and unique to each other. No one can play your role. I see lives wasted in the trivial matters of life. Lives lived without concern for the eternal, never investing in another person, staying in their lane, not getting involved. Surely we are not called to this kind of life.

But the opposite is true also. We easily become self absorbed when overly concerned about our platform. We don't have to dig far to find pride lurking on the surface. It's like sand we can never quite rid ourselves of after a day at the beach. A piece here, another there, gritty and rough. It reminds us of our true selves. A good reminder, keeping us uncomfortable.

I desire a platform, one that looks deeper and reaches farther than my own flesh and blood. I can build on what my mentors gave me and pass it on, finding women who want to live in freedom. This is how I want to wake up...  a platform rooted in love, generosity, hospitality and warmth. It may be a simple platform but it will be real.

Yesterday I went to see a friend. She is twenty three, a beautiful young woman. She was having chemo for stage four Hodgkin's. She is trying to get healthy, eat well, rest...  and she is now faced with the possibility of losing her job, which also means health insurance.
She is a social worker who helps people with disabilities.
She is exhausted and exhausting her sick days...
Yes, she is awesome and inspiring and she wakes up like This right now.
This is part of her platform.

Sunday I listened to a girl who is beautiful and sings like Carrie Underwood. She belted out Carrie's song... Must have been something in the water. She sang as seventy people chose to be changed by the waters of baptism. My body was dry but my eyes were wet... tears of emotion, hope, and trust in a Savior who loves us enough to die for us. He knows the waters she walks through. He is there with her, with you, with me.
On Monday she walked in to the hospital to begin chemo for stage four colon cancer. She is 30 yrs old. She wakes up Like This each morning. This is part of her platform.

I will wake up like This each day this year, if I am allowed. Fifty Three. I will find my platform where my feet fall each morning. I will minister, encourage, find freedom, and be loved by those who walk into my life. I will accept God's ideas, desires, His ways for my life.
I will wake up like This each day... Grateful.
I will wake up like This each day... because this IS where Freedom lives.

We all have a platform... what is your platform and what does This look like each morning for you?