Tuesday, October 10, 2017

All

I have said it and I have heard it perhaps a hundred or more times.
“All we can do.”

It has been said so much regarding prayer, I am now reading authors, Christian authors, critique the thought.
“All we can,” they say, “is not all we can do.”
Perhaps it’s semantics.

Is it the can to which we object.  Prayer is rarely all we can do.  We can send notes, text encouragement, raise money, stand up or sit down.
Perhaps it is not the can but the should.

If we framed every decision, every thought, every action in prayer, what would change?

CS Lewis once said, “It doesn’t change God – it changes me.”
How else are we transformed to the mind of Christ, but through prayer?

When we are consumed in worry, it is prayer that brings peace. When we are defeated in despair, it is prayer that brings hope.

I cannot travel to Syria or Las Vegas and change hearts.  Prayer can.

I think of prayer as existing at my table, the spot in which I pray.  My prayers no more exist there than those I pray for.  Prayer travels, it is the supernatural passport of a healing and halleluiahs.

The only thing that resides where we pray is us.  Our hearts, our minds, our spirits become clay to a God who never tires of remaking and remolding and reconfiguring broken, fractured faith.

Perhaps we change our language from “all we can” to “can we all.”  Let’s start there and see where He takes us.

Should we fight injustice? yes, should we raise money?  probably, should we love?  always, should we pray?    Constantly, fervently, with everything our heart has.

It is prayer that avails, it is prayer that changes, resolves, and reveals.  It is ALL because it points us to the Everything, the Holy, the Change maker, the Healer, the Miracle Worker.





Tuesday, October 3, 2017

This Gift

I can see her.  Every hair in place in a grey French twist.  She was the epitome of elegance.  She was slender, always wearing heals even with the miles we walked through museums.  She had a way of enunciating every single syllable that drifted from her lips.  Her hands seemed to announce every word as if she was directing the syllables to dance to her tune.

The art she described captivated me solely due to her passion.  We travelled through hundreds of years of the French masters together.  I could see things about artists that were not painted.  I could sense their purpose.  We arrived at Impressionism and I felt I had come home.  Although thousands of miles away from my family, I could remember the times standing in front of these masters at our local museum.  It was my mom and I then.  We were ridiculously inept but we knew what we loved.  Now I stood learning why I loved them, why they spoke to my sould.

These men and women, the masters of the movement created something that had never been done before.  They did not paint people or things but how light and shade affected their subjects.  The theme was never the focus, it was the effect, the impression, the elegant interaction of the sun with its partner, its friend or flower.

She would take the French word for “impression” and pronounce every single sound until we could repeat it perfectly.  It seemed essential to her.  It became essential to me.  The impression, the thing that lasts, the thing that rests in the mind and the heart after we see or feel or taste.

I found myself all these years later handling masterpieces but photos.  This room where I now keep my memories.  Frames that tell a story in picture instead of paint.  My youngest daughter now filling our storage box before the painter would arrive in the morning to freshen our walls.    Ava grabbed the tiniest of frames and studied it.

She didn’t ask who it was but her eyes told me she was curious.  I told her that was my mom holding her brother.  I remember this photo.  Mom was not well enough to be at the hospital when my second son was born.  She was not well enough to visit him or welcome him to our home.  She could not help me as I adjusted to two little boys.  I remember how my heart ached for her presence.  Several days into his new life we packed up and went to see her.  She was weak.  Her arms and legs were now failing her.  

Her hair that had been professionally styled for years lay straight on her shoulders.  Her smile though unaffected and brilliant.  Her newest grandson, her delight.

I tried to hand him to her.  Even seven small pounds were too much.  I propped pillows on her lap and prayed this tiny little bundle would stay still enough for her to drink him in.

She looked at him and called him perfect.  His tiny nose and little ears.  She marveled at him.  It was just minutes, long enough for this single photo, the only one I have of the two of them.  She would not see his first birthday.
I began to tell Ava how much she loved us and how much she would have loved her.  “She was wonderful,” I said and before I could think, I whispered, “I wish you would have known her.”

Ava looked at me silently with a sadness that rarely graces her face.  I wanted to somehow make it up to her.  I told her knowing me was a bit like knowing Grandma.  As if she knew she had to break the tension, a tiny smile perked one side of her lips.  She asked in the most hushed of tones, “Mama, was Grandma as goofy as you?”   She roared with laughter.  I did too.  It caught me off guard but served as the perfect balm to my soul. 
“Goofy.”  I let that word roll around in my mind.  The sadness rushed away and the realization wandered in that this is the impression I have made on my daughter.

It seemed ill fit and perfect all at the same time.  I spend so much of my life on serious, hard thoughts.  People hurting so deeply.  Prayers spoken so often.  But somewhere in between the reflections of hard, at least for my littlest girl joy has been built.

This is not something I have done or earned or decided.  It is a gift the Holy Spirit sent that one of my children can see something passed what is present to what is providence.

The working mom that struggles with guilt, the clock that seems to never compromise, the chores that seem to choke, perhaps somewhere in this work worship has been born.

This gift.  This is Jesus at work.  Allowing joy out of sadness, beauty out of ashes, oaks of righteousness out of saplings of doubt and insecurity. 

This is the impression Jesus leaves on the weary soul.   It is light reflecting off the heart that hopes.  It is glory.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Chairs

The chairs, all of fifty years old.  We put fabric that looks old on the actual old, weathered torn fabric.  I cannot let it go.  A half century of memories and meals and joy all in old wooden chairs.  We fix them to look better, yet the memories stay fixed in the brain. 

“Fix your thoughts,” Paul tells us.  We cannot eliminate the dark that is there, the hard, the frustrating, the loss or the doubt.  We cannot erase it so we must follow where Paul leads…. to the things that are true, the things that are right, pure, lovely.  It is they that cover.

The hurt, the hang up, still there but covered, not by fabric but by grace.  Not to repair but to reconcile.  Reconciled to the thought that although we are not enough, He is abundant.  Transparency is the window through which others see Him and know Him and learn we are indeed fallible.   He is unfailing. 

That is the goal is it not?  To display Him, to glorify Him, to reveal Him in the darkness of life as the light within, the light that surrounds, the light the extinguishes evil. 

We fix our thoughts, we repair our outlook, we do not replace. It is the deep knowledge of the hard that leads us to the Holy.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Ballet

Every once in a while, this little girl cozies up to me and whispers, “you are the best mama in the world.” This is so far from true, but for some wonderful reason, there are moments in time this little girl believes in me and my ability.

There is something I am learning from her, something that I can take and apply to every relationship I have and every stranger I meet.

What if I think the very best of them.  The person that seems to disagree with me, the person that looks different from me, the person that ascribes to different beliefs, the person that can squash my feelings by standing firm.

What if I look at them and value them solely because God created their souls.  God saw fit to allow their paths to cross mine not be accident but for some purpose. 

Seeing people through His eyes is not seeing through them but into them.  Picking up their stories and holding them sacred.   Learning and loving, instead of winning and losing.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Rogue

Packing up old…  creates new memories, or perhaps they are brushed off, relived memories framed with an older mind, a more tender heart and hopefully a more compassionate, reflective soul.

From a shelf falls an old tattered piece of paper.  On the top written the word BABY.   Underneath my schedule.  Little boxes checked for diapering and feeding and reading.  Not for my babies, but for my dolls.  It is as clear to me as my own name.  I wrote this when I was 6-years old.  The paper shows the wear.

At age 6, perhaps at 60, I continue to seek boxes.  Boxes to check.  Boxes to contain.  Boxes where I live and boxes where I find my comfort. Coloring out of the lines is not in my vocabulary, neither is mixing play dough colors or going rogue.

I love control.  I love a plan.  I live for lists. I find purpose in completion.  I am seeing God finds purpose in commitment. Committing to Him is a whole lot like going rogue.

It is living life without the promise of success.  It is invisible return of the intangible reward. It is seeing what is unseen not with the eyes but with the heart. It is seeking what pleases the Father, the acceptance of joy over happiness It is the release of control for the embrace of extraordinary. 

What should gives way to what can be. What has been gives way to redemption.  What comes invites beauty. It is living life not for accomplishment or acknowledgment. 

It is the seeking to find.  To truly see the Father work in the unlikeliest of circumstance.  Suddenly what was perceived as failure reveals peace and what was surely suffering is rimmed in joy.

Sunday, August 27, 2017


The will of God.
Seeking it?   Yes, me too.
I think we tend to complicate and placate it, thinking it has the same mystery as the parables or pinterest.
But what of this is one of the 384 thousandth things in my life, I have muddied, but He has made clear.

I am finding His will is something to be sought daily.  Something that exists in the living not only in its study.  Something to be refreshed and renewed as we live and breathe.  Like mercy, it is close.

It is the daily dedication to Him instead of me.  It is looking for ways to bless instead of waiting for blessings.  It is acknowledging He is found in the unlikeliest places.

He is in the healing and in the suffering.
He is in the prayer and the unsaid thought.
He is in the worship and even in the worry.
He is in the chores and in the chorus.
He is in the child and the aged.  He is in the touch of the hand and the whisper of encouragement.
His will…………. to reflect Him.

To be transparent that all can see our flaws and His grace.
To be honest that all can see His truth.
To be thoughtful that all can see His wisdom.
To be forgiving that all can see His mercy.
To be quiet that all can hear His voice.
To be gentle that all can feel His touch.
To be giving that all can sense His abundance.

For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
The LORD gives grace and glory. No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. Psalm 84:11

Sunday, August 20, 2017

There is a lot going on.
Every eyeball I see has a tear in the corner.
It is  h a r d.

I like to be the preachy prayee one;  the one that says it’s all going to be okay, just trust and believe. And believe me, I believe that.  Trusting, surrendering, believing has gotten me through every dark and scary corner I have ever known.

But sometimes, before you can trust or believe, even sometimes before you can pray.  You have to cry.

You have to walk in someone else’s deep pain.
You have to wipe tears and hold hands.  You have to feel shaking shoulders and breaking hearts. When the word says to bear each other’s burdens;  I believe this is the real actual call to hurt with the hurting.

A preacher once told me one must bleed when her beloved is cut. I forget this sometimes. You see I am a solver and a fixer and a planner and a doer.  I whip out band aids and scripture and checkbooks and hammers. 

Sometimes, almost every time, my response should be tissues, soft words and warm hugs. I don’t do this part well.  I like to see God move in the rear-view mirror,  waiting for Him and seeking Him feels distant and daunting.

It is not of matter of when He will show up.  Face it, He is always near.  It is when we will sense His presence, His peace, His wisdom pushing us in the direction of healing.

Healing is odd too.  Sometimes it is physical, sometimes emotional.  Sometimes it is heaven.  Often times it is surrender.

It is the white-fisted full release of everything we hold onto.  It is the complete sacrifice of control and the full inhale of God.  It is freedom.

It is the freedom to let Him choose.  It is the opening of our hearts to what He finds good, instead of what we have decided is best.

It is the extraordinary acceptance of grace.