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.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Gray Hair

There is something profoundly beautiful about listening to people of vastly different generations than oneself. 

At first, I noticed all the silly things. I noted I had less grey hair than virtually anyone in the room. I noticed their pace. The way not one of them seemed in a hurry. I noticed how they stopped and took in the table of photos as if each one had a story about the image in the frame.

I realized as they sat to dine they came with the agenda to celebrate and not move on from this place. This was the place to be and not a place to go.

I envied them. I envied how comfortable they seemed in their own skin. I listened carefully not about careers and conquering but about life and character and faith. 

I learned that somewhere ahead of where I am now and behind where most of these darling 80 and 90 somethings are there is a beautiful shift from striving to reflecting.

I want to be more like them.

I spend far too much of every single day thinking ahead. I plan and program and postulate how to do things faster; how to create more time to do more things and do them better. I am rarely in the moment because half my heart has skipped to the next beat.

When do we grow up?

When do we realize that the important stuff is not ahead but right exactly now; living in the moment and squeezing the juice out of the gift of life. 

I am in a constant state of re do. Tomorrow I will read more, eat better, exercise harder, talk less, listen more and love deeper.

Perhaps when tomorrows are less than yesterdays we hold onto them by the second instead of measuring their successes.

Maybe we will stop wondering what life will bring and hold tighter to what He has penned. We will look into eyes instead of looking for more. We will listen with wonder instead of wondering what else. 

We will not just settle, but rather we will settle in. There is so much more to grasp if we sit still long enough to actually feel it with our hearts.

There is a great deception.

Remember the garden and the apple? Now it’s the internet or the living room or the office and the relentless, breathless striving for the sweeter life; the one that is easier or prettier or instagrammable.

I sat with people who have been there; they have “done that” and they have come to know the seeking ends and the dust settles when heaven becomes both the lens and the goal.

The beloveds told stories of losing their home countries, their spouses, their families all to find lasting, eternal, incredible value and purpose.

I want to grow up and be just like them. I want to stroll instead of struggle and weave wonder instead of worry. I want to consider legacy instead of leisure and relationships over routine.

These beauties; so wonderfully comfortable in their weathered skin; so wildly honest with everything in their hearts; so full of passion for what is on the inside and pressing in and pressing on for Jesus and all He means. Knowing the good He promises comes with both pain and suffering and believing it is all worth it.

Believing the time it takes to heal is its own bit of heaven. 

Perhaps these greys on my head are the spark of hope that He is not finished. His work to remodel and refinish my stubborn heart I believe is the goings on of a loving, pursuer of peace. 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

No Rain


My daughters and I huddled close.  We were walking down the road on a beautiful summer night when a gentle rain began to fall.  We were closely knit together under our one umbrella.  We had to move in unison if we were going to move at all.  

My youngest daughter reached out her hand to touch the drops and then she stared straight up.  She said, “Mama, there is no rain under here.”  

I thought this was obvious and unimportant and the very significance of using an umbrella.  And yet the matter of this simple fact caused me to see something I had been missing for far too long.  

For just over a year, my life has felt random, uncontrolled and unpredictable.  I traced back in my mind, my daddy died thirteen months ago.  I have now traveled every holiday without him.  I navigate a company in which he mentored me for twenty-five years without him.  Two of my children graduated this year, without him and now one will move across the country and he won’t be there to tell me this is exactly how it should be.  

And although I know God is faithful and true.  And although I feel Him loving me fiercely and showing up in my loneliness and occasional despair, I have chosen to focus on the rain outside the umbrella instead of the cool, dry place underneath.

You see we cannot predict the rain.  The weatherman will tell us almost to the minute when it will start and when it will stop, but he doesn’t know the size of the drops nor how many puddles will form on my porch.

But God does.  

He also knows underneath the umbrella, rain cannot fall.  It cannot dampen my clothes or fill my shoes.  So it is with God.

If I truly give Him control.  If I truly believe in His goodness and His uncanny ability to show up then rain in the form of hope draining despair cannot descend.
It is where we choose to look.

Outside we stare at the random, frantic pattern of life.  Inside, underneath,  we find the precise nature of a peace giving God.