Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tension

I'm realizing that so much of life consists of learning to live in the place of tension.  I'm not talking about tension among people and relationships, but rather the tension between the reality we are now living and the future that is coming.  It's the space between the "today" and the "tomorrow."  The "now" and the "not yet".

And we all have this pull in some form or another.  It's a rare moment in life when we don't feel it.  Our present realities are not what we hope for - we long for something better, different.  There are jobs we long to have, degrees we work to earn, healing that we pray will come, redemption for which we wait, freedom from our bondage.  And the space in-between...the space between the promise and the fulfillment of it can be a desert wasteland where we wrestle with ourselves, struggle to believe, doubt God's goodness, and surrender...again, and again, and again.

I have an old dog named Tucker...a sweet chocolate lab that is 15 years old.  We still go on walks most every day, but they are at a snail's pace.  I might stand while he sniffs the same tree for 5 minutes...and I stand.  And I wait.  And I stand some more.
I am used to this pace now.  I have a neighbor who works at my school.  She laughed about how polar opposite this "dog walking version" of me is compared to what she sees at work.  I am a runner, sprinter, multi-tasker to the extreme at work...I whisk to and fro in order to get my work done at insane speeds....
AND then she sees me walking my dog.  Barely moving.  The paradox of it throws her off...
Tucker is not the young dog he once was....and yet he is still here with me.  I am in the space between.  And I actually have come to enjoy this pace with my sweet buddy as it's become a time where I think and pray and observe and slow down and meander. I'm learning to relish this space and live this space and see it as MY LIFE.

This is the challenge isn't it?  In all of our "in between" moments.  Our moments between the job we don't want and the job we do want....our moments between the longing for a child and the child's arrival...our moments between the diagnosis and the healthy again...and for the love this whole season of singleness that myself and so many girlfriends are in...

Between the "now" and the "not yet"

I'm learning that the space between is where a serious battle is fought.  If we let God work, the space of waiting is where much growth happens, and it is definitely where life happens.  I sometimes have to fight to believe that this IS my life...and that this IS a valuable piece of my story.  What feels like a middle space and time of waiting is critical in ways we may never understand.  But it is critical just the same.
I look at those in the Bible who stood in this place.  Abraham was promised a child and 25 years later...he was STILL WAITING.  Was the promise bad?  What his desire for a lineage wrong.  NO.  It was, in fact, God given. Hannah went to the temple every day to pray about her longing for a child.  She wept.  And she wept often.

It seems that we can go to two extremes in this place.  We can kill our desires out of a sheer need for emotional survival.  In doing this "killing" we deny our hearts and perhaps the very God-given desire that's been placed in us.  I wonder if Abraham went to this place...I wonder if he had moments where he said, "I don't really want a child.  My life is so much easier without a son."
In some ways this path can feel easier.
The other extreme is that we can settle for a pseudo fulfillment that is less than abundant.  We sell out to things that we know are not God's plan, but the sell out can seem better than nothing.
Neither of these extremes is living with an honest heart of trust and faith.

It takes much courage to stay in the tension....to live this moment we are in fully - holding the longing and the barrenness of it side by side with the trust and belief in God's goodness and abundance.  It is faith stretching.

May we be among those who live wherever we are well.  May we live this moment...this EXACT moment with joy and faith and beauty and trust.  I want to pull every shard of growth and rejoicing out of this place - believing what God says in Romans that "every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good."

Where is your tension?  For what are you waiting?  What can you do to see this very moment as your life - as a space to be lived fully?


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

He Accomodates

I was watching the A.D. Bible series on tv, and this evening,

I think of the resurrection of Jesus.  When he revealed himself to the apostles and they were in the room hiding from the Romans, Thomas was the one who said he would not believe - unless his put his hand in the nail holes in Jesus' hand.  He needed to touch him.  He needed proof.  The events were too incredulous and in his human frailty and weakness, he wanted the hard facts in order to believe the truth.

What would we think Jesus would do to that request?  We would think he would expect that Thomas would buck up.  We might think he would insist Thomas believe without evidence...that he consider the past - all that Jesus had done...and would just believe...
but What absolutely amazes me is that in that place of doubt, Jesus meets him right there...in his weakness.  He sees Thomas's desire, his lack of faith and belief, and he acts by showing him the nail scars in his hands.  He gives Thomas the proof that helps his mind conceive truth.

The kindness in this act overwhelms me.  That the Lord of the Universe sees my frailty, sees my struggles, sees the many places where I am not where I should be...and he accommodate me.  He accommodates my needs...even when they are ridiculous.   He reveals himself to me even when he has done it over and over again...because he loves me that much.  He loves me enough to see my human, sinful condition and to meet me right there.  To meet me where I am in order to move me to another place.

Such beautiful love.

Such graciousness.

And what an example for me to follow.  In my God appointed life's mission to love others with the love of Christ, am I meeting people right where they are - in their brokenness, and frailty? Am I this accommodating and accepting?  Or am I judgmental?  May I be as gracious with others, as God is to me.  May I continually realize and recognize that such grace is offered me by my Savior and my brothers and sisters...and give that grace freely to everyone around me.  May I be one who offers love.  Deep love.  Love that expects nothing back.  Love like Jesus.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Inadequate

I woke up this morning to dog poop all over my bedroom carpet.  Awesome.

I hardly even flinch at this as have an old dog, and so I clean up dog poop on a mostly daily basis.
And I will continue to clean it up because I am so thankful to still have my sweet buddy around.  But make no mistake, it is a lot of work.  I sometimes think God must be preparing me for a house full of toddlers b/c I am a poop maestro at this point.   Which is not really something I ever dreamed of being.

This morning my desire for a quiet moment of reading and prayer trumped the desire to steam clean my carpet at 6 a.m., so I got out of the room and drank my coffee while sitting on the couch asking God to meet me...because I need him.  I need him.

And it's not just the poop.  It seems I am often in a place where my needs and my sufficiencies do not line up.  At all.  I need far more than I have.  I am inadequate.  This lack can be in a sorts of categories - emotions,  wisdom,  patience, steadfastness,  trust, faith - I do not have what it takes... and I am regularly faced with this reality.

On these mornings, I sometimes feel like I need to fast, and when I think of what I would pray for during my fast, the prayer that often comes to me is "God HELP ME - God help me because I am desperate for you."  Really?  Is that a specific enough fast?!  And so I head out the door for the day willing to endure some hunger for that prayer.

Does anyone else feel this need?  This lack of resources?  This poverty?  This is, in fact, the definition of poverty - not having enough - and so when I am in poverty of faith or poverty of wisdom or poverty of patience or love or kindness I need to be on my knees before the Father asking him to meet me in my poor state.  I ask him to provide what I am lacking.

It does not feel good.  I like to feel adequate and competent and on top of everything.  But I am actually believing that perhaps these moments, days, and weeks of feeling needy is really when I am more in touch with reality than when I feel sufficient.  I am likely the most delusional when I do have brief moments where I feel like I've got it all together.

Paul speaks of this in II Corinthians:
"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

This verse invites us to transform the our idea of weakness to see it as the avenue for strength.  Weakness as the path to strength...what a beautiful reality.

Weakness is the very place where I am primed and ready to see God's power break through in my life.  I cannot see him without recognizing my need for him, so it would stand to reason that the more I recognize my need, the more I am going to see him.  Because He is faithful.

Where are you in your weakness?  Are you delighting in it?  Fighting it?  Shaming yourself for your inadequacy?  Today let's boast in our weakness, not because we love failure, but because we serve a God who makes up for every bit of incompetence that we have AND even turns it into good!

This thing of walking with Jesus is really such a sweet deal.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Beautiful

I cannot escape the desire to be beautiful.  It is there.  Strong.  It revisits - it always comes back around.  This longing for beauty is deep - deep in the heart of me,
and my guess is it is not just me.

We, as women, long to be beautiful.

The marketing world knows this.  They might know our desires better than we do, I suppose.  The quest for beauty...more beauty...unending beauty that might bring us what we want - at least that's what the world would think.

I do feel this desire for exterior beauty, and I choose to embrace it...but not as the purpose of life, or with the belief that it will make me happy.  I don't seek it with unfair expectations for what this form of beauty will do for me.

Instead... I ENJOY it.  I enjoy making the outside beautiful because God is the creator of beauty.  I relish in clothing that reflects this.  I adore great lipstick that brings out my eyes.  I delight in a fantastic haircut.
I hold it loosely, and I ENJOY that God made us beautiful.

However....my desire to be beautiful does not end there.  It doesn't end with clothing and fun hair and great shoes and color and design.  My desire to be beautiful reaches even to a deeper place of my heart and my soul and to what I would offer the world.  I long to be graceful.  I long to be merciful, kind, forgiving, loving.  I want a pure heart - a heart that delights in the truth - a heart that sees the good and brings out the good and GIVES more of God's kingdom to those around me.  I desire to have a nurturing heart that sees others and cares about their needs.  I long to be light in the darkness, hope in despair, a breath of fresh air on a battlefield where people are weary and scared.  I long to hold fear in my hand and choose trust.  And Joy.  And Hope.  THIS is the beauty that I desire too...THIS is the beauty that my heart aches for.

I remember feeling this desire intensely shortly after being widowed.  I had experienced the freedom of being Beauty standing beside a man offering Strength.  Beauty and strength - what an amazing design and what fruitful results can come when these two things are in harmony together.  I felt the absence of beauty in myself through sorrow and aloneness and in being an individual instead of a team.  One day during this time my mother-in-law gave me a bracelet that had a little prayer box attached to it....and the simple prayer that I wrote and placed in that box was, "God, please make me beautiful."  And today, even though I am not in that particular broken place any longer, I still find myself saying that same exact prayer.  "Please, God, make me beautiful."

Because the reality is that I am human.  Fallen.  Sinful.  I sometimes don't give grace, but instead heap up judgment.  I am NOT always kind, and have plenty of moments of mean.  I sometimes struggle to forgive.  And I seek my own good.  I probably feel this longing for beauty of heart and soul MOST when I'm overwhelmed by my sin...or my sorrow...or my fear.   I see who I am apart from the Grace of God and I want HIS redemption.  I want beauty for ashes.  I want the oil of gladness for a spirit of despair.  I want to be a "tree planted by streams of water" giving life, life, and more life.  Isn't that what we as women uniquely were made for...to give life, to birth life, to bring forth life?  We are by design "Life Givers."

The beauty bestowed upon a woman's heart by the Lord
...has great power that He uses to change the world around her.
God - give me more and more and more of this thing called beauty.  For YOU are a God of beauty and I long to reflect you in my womanhood...bringing LIFE to those around me.

Do you see the beauty that God has placed in you?  Are you comfortable with your beauty?  How can you let God use you even more to offer HIS beauty to the world through you?

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Rose Bowl and New Years in Pasedena

I am 38......
And last year I started getting emails from singleseniorsmeet.com.

Really. I'm not kidding.

And it's all because I spent New Years of 2013 in Los Angeles, California riding around on a tour bus with older folks...and it honestly was pretty awesome.

My grandma Beryl has always had a dream to go to the Rose Bowl New Years Parade in Pasadena, California.  So this past year my mother decided she was going to take her... And I ended up on the trip too.

Here's some pictures of my mom, Grandma Beryl, Mom, and me.

At the Airport



We were organized into tour busses to see various attractions for a couple days before the actual parade.  On the very first day we were supposed to be on the bus at 8:15 a.m.  While my mom and grandma went on to board the bus, I ran back to the hotel room to grab a couple things.  I made it back out to the bus at 8:13.  Which for those of you who know me, is pretty stinkin awesome...2 whole minutes early!?
Once I arrived at the bus, however, I realized that I was the very LAST one to get on, and they had been wondering where I was?!

At this point I made a little "Note to self":  When the old folk say 8:15, what they're really saying is 8:00 Sharp.  Who knew?

For those of you who don't know about the Rose Bowl, what makes it so amazing is that the floats are made ENTIRELY of organic material - top to bottom - every inch.  AND not only that, but the colors are all the natural organic colors from the substance.  There is no dying of any materials.  So if you want a yellow eye on a frog, you might use the spice Tumeric.  Even the signs that look like they are printed material are actually substances such as rice, onion seed, and winterberries.  And they're not thrown on by a machine or in mass quantities - they are placed on by hand.  The process is amazing and the results are stunning.   After going "backstage" to see a window into the making of these floats...I will never watch The Rose Bowl Parade the same again.  It was incredible.  Here are some of the pictures from the preview we got in a warehouse where floats were being made.










While on the tour, we also went to Lawry's steak house.  Fantastic Food.  Historic Restaurant.  Loved it.


In addition to that was the Ronald Reagan Museum.  We waited to get off the bus for what seemed like forever.  Two crabby old ladies were behind me.  At one point one of the ladies was checking her voicemail on speakerphone.  I wanted to jab my eye out with a stick.  But eventually we got off and started through the museum.  We got to walk through Air Force 1, which was pretty cool.  However the rest of the museum was so crowded, I opted to not even go through the whole thing.  But if you're in the area, it might be worth a trip.

Outside of the Ronald Reagan Museum

We also went to Warner Brothers and got to sit on the retired "Friends" T.V. show couch!


New Years Eve was spent with the Seniors in a banquet hall.  Dinner and Dancing.  Although it was certain I would not be meeting any handsome, single men at the event due to the fact that I was one of the few people there under 55...I'm quite certain I will never experience a New Years quite like it again :)










And the next day was The Rose Bowl Parade.







All in all, this trip was a one of a kind.  I treasure the time that I got to spend with my grandma and my mom. So despite the fact that I'm now getting marketing from singleseniors.com now...it was a beautiful experience to get to be a part of one of grandma's dreams coming true.

(And let's be honest...there may come a day when I actually open those marketing emails instead of deleting them.  I wonder how young they accept gals on that dating site?)




Tuesday, December 9, 2014

W.A.R.

The first time I really heard about the realities of sex trafficking was in Dayton, Ohio while listening to a woman named Becky McDonald speak.  Becky is the president of Women at Risk, International.  She is engaging, knowledgable, brilliant, and a follower of Christ.  She speaks with passion and resolution about the cause of women and children in our world...the atrocities that they face, the horrors of their world, the injustice that is reality for so so many.

She grew up in Bangladesh, and I will never forget this quote she spoke that evening.
She said, "The day I saw acid poured down a woman's throat to silence her, was the day I became about the cause of women and children."

I sat and listened to her.   I had heard the reality.  And I couldn't un-know it.  My eyes were opened to a nightmare - one that I had been largely unaware of...so when I heard of the option to host a home party selling products that both rescued women and women in poverty had made, it seemed like a no brainer.  I had hosted Christmas parties in the past - and they were a lot of work...and so I decided that if I was going to have people over and do a lot of work, well then it might as well be for a really good reason and benefit someone in this world....

THUS, the annual Women at Risk Open House was born...

This year marks the 6th year I've thrown open the doors here at the Presley Casa and sold their products.

Each year, it is hard.
..and lot of work.
Each year I fight insecurities and fears.

BUT...
Each year, people show up.
Each year I eat cookies and look at beautiful products with friends and family.

Each year, I decide it is worth it.

The beautiful thing about the progression of it, is that it is feeling more and more like a TEAM event.  It's not just me anymore.  And I love that.  Heather takes orders and pictures.  Karen came over and helped me clean up (rather she cleaned up while I sat for 10 minutes and ate dinner).  My sister, my mom, and Karen made cookies.  My mom and our friend Kristie helped me set up for the event.
And not to mention I'm on a team with about 60 people that came to the event to shop!

It feels good to be on a team.  A team that fights for freedom through a little event at my house.  This year we had about $2,900 in sales.  Every 250 dollars supports a woman in a safe house for a month.  So all in all, our Open House will support a gal for nearly a year.  Think of that!?  It's amazing...an honor...a JOY.

What a privilege to be a part of bringing freedom to people!  What an honor to stand with a cause of Justice.

If you get a moment...you might want to check out the website.  It will be worth it.  And maybe...just maybe you'll want to host a party of your own? :)

 www.warinternational.org










Sunday, November 2, 2014

Isaiah

I am reading a study with some gals that I've done before about the story Ruth in the Bible by Kelly Minter.  We're going through this book and studying her actions and her words, as well as those of Naomi and Boaz...and the insightfulness is astounding.  And Beautiful.

Today I was prompted to Read Isaiah 54:1-5.  To be truthful, I almost didn't read it because I've read that section of scripture a bunch of times, and I know just what it says.  However, I decided to go back and read it again today.

____________________________________________________________________
Isaiah 54:1-5
"Sing, O barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband." says the Lord.

Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes.  For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities.

Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame.  Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.  You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.  For you Maker is your husband - the Lords Almighty is his name - the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth."

_____________________________________________________________________

I read this and am astounded by it.  The hope it exudes just blows my mind.  I wonder as the tears fall over these words if I am the only one who weeps over this scripture?  Do other people sit and cry over this verse...there must be others...

This God we serve is a God of redemption - beautiful, extravagant, abundant redemption.  That's the piece that gets me...the "more"quality of his fulfillment.  More, More and More.  He calls the people of brokenness to hope in the place of empty.  To SING, and burst into song even in that place...because of what he IS going to do!  He is not going to leave any of us broken.  He is not going to leave any of us with nothing.  He is not going to leave us in our shame.
Instead, God is going to fill us up to the brim in a manner of massive fullness!

This resonates with me as I am one who loves fullness.  I love more.  One step into my house will quickly show you this.  I am not a minimalist...I thrive on color and fabric and uniqueness.
I love when my house is full.  I enjoy stepping over children, pushing past chairs, weaving through chaos with the sound of life, laughter and peace all around me.  This is my happy place.  This brings me life.

So sometimes when I look at my current life of single childlessness I cannot help but ask God some questions.  Often they revolve around "when."  And sometimes these questions even revolve around "why."

But this verse calls me to hope in a fullness that I do not yet know or even see.  And there is not just an abstract hope that I'm supposed to cling to...I am even to prepare for fullness.

"Enlarge the place of your tent."
"Stretch your tent curtains wide."
"Strengthen your stakes."
.....because they are going to need to be STRONG for what is coming....for the beautiful, redemptive, jam-packed fullness that is coming...

So wherever we are -
whoever you are -
whatever our "barrenness" entails -
hope and prepare, hope and prepare...

Because God is going to do something amazing.  Redemption is coming.