Thursday, December 13, 2018

hurry

The preacher said there are 24 days until Christmas and 24 chapters in Luke. I love a good equation. But I turned around twice, and it was December 12 and I found myself in Luke 2.

How does this happen, this relentless pace of time even with the best intention to slow down and savor the Savior. I moseyed over to verse 16 and found some soul brothers. The shepherds, they “hurried off.”

I do that well. I hurry, here, there, everywhere. Of course, I have never seen a sky full of angels but if I do, and I honestly would love that, I hope I would be in hurry.

For about 20 seconds, I felt a real kinship with these shepherds. I envied them getting to see first hand this miracle; this first Christmas.

Every Christmas depiction of this scene flashed through my weary brain and I realized, the shepherds remained shepherds. Their “hurrying” involved gathering up their sheep and moving to follow a star.

I imagine this scene much like my morning as we attempt to load in the car with children flying in ten different directions and mostly not wanting to move.

I kind of think my children resemble sheep and perhaps against my better judgment I am shepherding them. Perhaps we all hurry, maybe that’s not the bad news. Perhaps it is what we are hurrying towards that needs a bit of light thrown on it.

The shepherds were more than curious; they had to know this was special and that the baby was life changing and this event would be one to tell the grandchildren.

I rarely can put a lens on anything I do. I rarely can pass things, events, urgencies through the lens of the eternal. These guys did just that. They hurried with purpose.

They took their work and hurried.

I realize they had a clarion call; rarely if ever will we see angels fill the sky and speak directly to us, yet, in all reality; they have, He has.

The Word brings us truth, that these shepherds did not possess. We are told the significance of this birth, this life, this death, this resurrection. We are told our purpose and our place. We are to spread the Word; we are to do the work of love and we will one day live with Him.

That is cause for a holy hurry.

A hurry that rushes after the things of Him, the people who do not know Him and the lives that are unlovely in the missing of Him. Perhaps me tearing through the book of Luke was not the right path. Perhaps dwelling for a bit on these shepherds, these wildly obedient hurrying herders was indeed where I was supposed to be even on the twelfth of December.


Perhaps the day without a dozen things to do will never come but perhaps the hurrying towards can become a task of worship and less a task of work. 

Thursday, November 29, 2018

creche

It arrived in a toilet paper roll. I am sure very few things that we adore in life arrive in such simple packaging, but this was mine.

It was in my stocking of all places dozens and dozens of Christmases ago. I remember thinking it was a joke my brother had no doubt played; wrapping up a toilet paper roll to get a laugh on Christmas Eve. But my mother insisted I look inside.

There inside was the tiniest hand carved camel. I knew it well. It was the most perfect little camel that was part of the most beautiful nativity I had ever seen. I had fallen in love with it at the store knowing the price precluded the present. But my mom had convinced the shopkeeper to let her buy one or two pieces at a time. A tradition began. First the baby camel, the next year, the mama. Then the baby Jesus.

All these years later, I take the box out of my closet and I wait. To this day, this little set is so very dear to me. I always get the kids in the mix when putting it out. They have heard a thousand times how I would wait for a piece every Christmas until well into my twenties.

They roll their eyes and unwrap. The tenderness of it all is somehow lost on them.

There is a significance that is hidden away, perhaps lost on my children, how the set didn’t arrive as a set, how I sensed the sacrifice of my mom and dad buying one or maybe two pieces each year, how the passion I felt was shared by them even if it was a frivolity.

The set grew and somehow so did my faith. The trust of a treasure in my stocking every year, the nativity taking center stage in our decorating, mine in my little bedroom, mom’s in her living room.
I wonder today what takes center stage.

We seem to muster up the tree in short order but I am so focused on getting the kids minds and hearts on the little wood Jesus; I wait until the perfect moment, which simply never presents itself.

Perfection was in the manger. Perfection rarely shows up on my watch.We have to find our camels and our calm, you and I, in between toils and toilet paper rolls.

We have to start asking ourselves is it the Creche or perhaps the crush of Christmas? I drop into bed every single day after Thanksgiving as if I have run a marathon, only I have forgotten the finish line or worse, misplaced its significance.

I long for simple.

I long for little camels in toilet paper rolls that remind me of the simplicity of the birth, of the message, of a Savior that came for one reason - to save. I cannot imagine how He would view Christmas – the complicated, modern Christmas of today.

When I muster the kids together and I get out the manger and the baby and the camel...I pray I can remember the same. There is little doubt the kids will be looking for what comes under the tree... hopefully I, we can focus on the tree. 

The significance of one life, one tree, one death, one Holiness that takes the place of a billion sins and my frivolity and stupidity.

I adore the decorations and the details, but truly, it is He that is our gift.




Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Names

I am absolutely terrible with names. I must repeat a name five or six times in my head to remember it; and even then; I often force myself to create some kind of mental image or it’s lost, often forever.

I take solace in the fact I inherited this inability. My daddy was notorious. He had an entire repertoire of made up names such that he never really had to remember anyone’s name. He had son and buddy and junior, sis and darling and honey. He was a master and people loved him for it. It created a kinship, this renaming of names. I learned from the master.

Yet there are times, rare times, where a name means so much to me, I hang on to it as if the kinship came with the invitation.

I walked into the most beautiful store the other day, literally thousands of square feet of sheer beauty. I had to stand for a bit and just take it all in. I love beauty. I love creativity. I love seeing people and things that display something greater than themselves. The fulfillment of dreams and God just showing off. 

I walked to a small counter. I fingered some beautiful pieces absolutely sure I wanted to live in this little bit of heaven. I had thought my aim was shopping but really it was inhaling. 

The gal behind the counter was warm and friendly. She courteously greeted me, and I noted her superb training. I did retail back in the day and I always appreciate a well-trained sales person. I engaged. She asked if she could help but she seemed to get the fact that I was admiring more than shopping. She then took a left turn. She could have easily left me. I was happy in the silence, but she pursued and asked why I was in town.  I explained I was headed to a teaching; hoping to learn things about God and the Holy Spirit and passion and purpose.

She disarmed me.

She gave me her name as if we were to be friends. Her name, my grandmothers name which roughly translates to “according to Paul.” I had found a kindred spirit; I would not forget this name.

I imagined that she, working amongst beautiful things and beautiful people, she had found her passion. But like me, she journeys. Looking, seeking and listening.  The shepherd reminds us we will know Him by His voice. Yet, so many dozens of voices clamor for our attention daily.

The difference; the differentiator, the thing that separates Him from all the rest, is He has jotted a name, our names in His book.

My friend and I shared that. I could sense the Spirit standing with us as we both battle weary, shared our hopes.

We want to do what He would have us do, see what He would have us see, speak only those things that glorify and honor Him.  Neither of us needed a stage, rather an assurance we are on the path He has paved.

We want to know at the finish line we arrive not only out of breath but also completely out of things to do for Him.

We want to content not with what we see in the mirror, but the image of Christ reflected about us.

We want to put aside what the world says is essential for what is eternal.

We want to know that when He says our names He smiles.


Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Stumes


I watched these little ones run up and down the street. All the ballerinas and the supermen. The pirates and the princesses. I envied them. For more than a month my littlest girl had debated what to be.  There is a magic in hiding behind a mask. For one short moment to be something we are not, something bigger or better or smarter or stronger.

I envied them.

As adults we play a dozen different roles that expose and exhaust. Rarely do we get to hide. Rarely can we pretend we are anything but who and what we are. It defines us. Our titles. We are moms or daddies or volunteers or teachers or students or workers. We are housewives or hostesses all holding a thousand things in two seemingly too small hands. For one day to run and hide or be behind something that isn’t in the spot light.

To be someone else or something else for one day sounds so precious especially on days when our own skin feels tight and burdensome, or wrinkled and old. 

I get it.

We are told we are His workmanship yet far too often; we busy ourselves reworking. Taking what is His, where He lives and hiding or regretting or reliving or redefining. We want a healthy body. He wants a holy life.

I am convinced other than the touches He fashioned in the womb, He rarely if ever looks on the outside. He sees this marvelous heart, soul and spirit all wrapped and protected in skin. The skin we cover and paint holds what is His.

What if we turned our focus inward to His beating heart. And what if when we reached outward our first thoughts were of Him and heaven and eternity?

Wouldn’t the glances in the mirror become shorter, the fretting over the bank account be less frequent, the wondering about the kids and careers be shadowed by the light radiating from Him.

I want to live a life exposed to the Gospel and exposing a God who passionately wants His people to live as if every moment was a miracle from Him. 

Our redefining would become rejoicing and our hiding would be replaced by hallelujah. We would find contentment and I am convinced we would define joy. It is the release of what we may not be for the embrace of all He is.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

twitch

After sitting at the airport for a long 6 hours, then another 6 in a hotel room; I was convinced absolutely nothing could bother me. In truth, I was ready to jump on two different planes to get home and reread the book I had started and finished in a chair at the airport.

I grabbed a window seat because group A boarding is one of my favorite things in this life and I waited to see who might sit next to me.  I figured the entire world had been delayed and was ready to share our collective tale of woe.

My seatmates were two ladies, one quite a bit older than me, one considerably younger. I guessed college age, but I am bad at this stuff these days. They were in full blown conversation mode and I was happy to eaves drop. They had story after story about someone who had just been on stage, who they seemed to know very well. They had her outfits down, her songs, her mannerisms, her charity work. 

Since I was flying from a major city to a major city and connecting on to yet another major city, I figured my odds were good that these people knew this celebrity or worked with her or for her. I figured I had hit the jackpot for conversation at least as far as airplanes go.

After we were airborne, and we had the blessing of the crew to fire up our electronics, I saw all the pictures or our mystery celeb on the phone of the college aged gal.  I recognized the celebrity and was fascinated by the level of knowledge belonging to my seat mates. I decided I would be able to snag an autograph probably secreted in her briefcase and be a hero to my kids on my 18-hour late arrival home. 

As the conversation continued, so did my speculation. It appeared every picture was from a chair in an auditorium. There was no backstage, no personal insights, nothing that caused me to believe these ladies were more than fans, albeit uber fans. 

For the next 55 minutes, every second was filled with fandom.  It was entertaining, this pondering and postulating over an entertainer. Until I started reading again, and the thought that I have never spent 55 minutes talking about my Jesus to a complete stranger strangled me.

You see, I don’t watch Jesus on a stage. I know Him. Well. I talk to Him and sing to Him and think of Him mostly all day every day. I could say with absolute truth that He is my best friend and yet; I don’t nearly often enough introduce Him to everyone I meet.

These people were absolutely passionate about this singer/star. I am absolutely passionate about my Jesus. But am I one hundred percent sure that people who know me, know Him?

That is why He put me on this earth. Yes, He asked me to be a wife and a mom and a worker. He has stretched me to lead things and become someone who plans and purposes, but way more than all those things put together, I am to be a reflector of Him. When people see or talk with me, they should see Him. 

It is one fabulous, awesome call and worth all the stages in all the world and then some. But do I?  I have this habit of getting lost in my humanness. I get comfortable with being a mommy and a businessperson and cooking meals and loving my husband, and I forget job number one.

Not necessarily because it is harder, but because God is this wonderfully gentle gentleman. He didn’t call me to be Mrs. John the Baptist, wandering and recounting tales of Jesus. No, He knew I would like pillows and store-bought clothes and food that comes from Trader Joe.

He has allowed me to be a wife, mom, friend, worker and volunteer and framed all around and in and under and above that, I am His daughter.

Like you, I have a sphere of influence. You, me, we may be the only link to Jesus for the person that we meet today, this v e r y day. Not because your or my words are so amazing. But because we love and we give and we hug and we listen. We are His workmanship.

We are not needed dear ones. We are WANTED. We are the ones that He has called, He has ordained, He has pursued, and He has purposed. Our work, HIS. Our lives, HIS. Our breath, HIS. Our voices and arms and hearts, HIS. Our stories told for and about Him.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Mining Joy

Mining Joy, that’s how she phrased it. Brilliant.
My grandad was a coal miner. I have dozens of pictures of black faced men whose image is visible only by the light on their forehead. 

Grandpa lived and worked under the ground looking for the blackest of coal to bring the warmest of heat and brightest of lights.

Isn’t that the perfect image of mining joy.

God defined as the joy of our salvation. We memorize that as little children in Sunday School, but sometimes, perhaps most days that joy must be sought and dug and desired.

We content to easily with happiness.
We stop or at least I do with the newest curtains or the stellar report card or the cleanest of counter. He sees so much higher and wider that we must refocus to even catch a glimpse of joy.

It is deep below the truest heart and high above the most gorgeous sky. It is everything to the believer yet so elusive to our exhausting days.

It is not just the end, it is the middle and the beginning. It is the treasure that is revealed to the heart that seeks. It is the gift of faith and the hope of every single moment as well as tomorrow.

It is what makes us His, if we choose it. It is what draws us to Him and what draws others to us. It is the extraordinary magnet of a magnificent God that asks us to rise out of the dark to see, feel and hear His warmth and light. The lens of joy causes us to see His hand over us, in us and working through us.


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Lanes

I read a few years ago the words “stay in your lane,” and I thought a little bird of heaven had just perched on my shoulder. To me it was permission. Permission to be who I was and permission to not try to be who I wasn’t.

It still is.

There are lanes God created us for and lanes where He never meant us to go. For example, I am not in the singing or dancing lane, nor am I in the painting or wallpapering lane. I am not meant to design skyscrapers or determine the strength of bridges. Nor am I built for rollercoasters or hang gliding. It has come to my realization that the list of things I am decent at is a wee bit shorter than the list of things at which I stink or will never, ever try. And until the other day, I was completely okay with that.

I am a huge, huge fan of art. I cannot draw but I am wildly in love with seeing people display their God given talent to paint or take photos or sculpt or sew. I LOVE it.

In my lifetime I have toured my children through dozens of museums, many dozens of times. I have poured into them about artists I love and why I love them. 

If an art show is near our neighborhood, we are there, and if there is anything hands on, we get our hands dirty. My little girl gets this. She tells me all the time she is going to teach art, that she is going to open a museum in our garage and one day people will pay for her art.

So far, I have not seen a boatload of talent, but we can dream. She scurried up to what looked like a giant canvas the other day. The curator of this little display gave her eye droppers and she went to work. I admired how as we walked up there were varying shades of rose. I like rose. I like my lane to be rosy. One could say I would be content with rose colored glasses.

But my little girl didn’t grab rose, or red or even pink. She set to work with blue and yellow effectively changing the landscape of my rose garden. And she completely loved it.

I let her know the canvas was not coming home. It was there for dozens of children to do heaven knows what with color. So as soon as she got home, she found her eye dropper. I was having none of it. I gave her a cup of water and let her paint the shower door.

And that’s when the Holy Spirit got hold of me and my lane. I think He and I are huge fans of knowing our gifting.  I think He appreciated the fact that I know better than going to Six Flags and vomit on rides. But I think in my solidarity in lane usage, I have missed places and spaces where He is taking me.

I am not so fond of pain and change and stretching passed where my own talents will take me. I recoil and I resign and I resist. And I forget. I forget that this life is not measured by success; it’s measured by stretching. It is going where only He can take us and seeing what only He can make and allowing Him to break us.

It is mixing what we know with what we can learn and what we don’t know with His wisdom. It is taking the values we hold dear and seeking to understand why we possess them and the privileges we take for granted and sharing them with others in new and more profound ways.

It is being vulnerable and transparent and realizing our shortcomings are His long suit and our frailties are His strengths. It is partnering and positioning not to be in front but to listen and learn and grow and become something and someone that resembles more of Him.

It is walking on ice with the knowledge we will slide and fall and bruise and bleed, but the healing will be all worth it.