Masterpiece

There’s a canvas where purpose meets potential and I find myself painting there.
Blank before me the beginning of yet another chapter…one I didn’t ask for.
I sit on the edge of now, waiting, breathing in, breathing out, feeling the quiet as substance filling the caverns of fear.
I take in my hand and my heart what you give and set to work. There has to be beauty here.
Every stroke with the brush reminding me that you see me.
You paint me lovely even when my eyes cease to see the wonder.
All I am is yours.

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Why I Still Hang with the Crazies

If you’ve spent any time on social media recently, you’ve probably noticed a few quotes such as these:

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Those were just two such statements I ran across this morning, but everyday I see a new version of the same basic statement. It sounds great on the surface right. Maybe I would have, at one time, completely agreed and gave an enthusiastic “like” or “amen”, but lately, something has seemed unsettling about that idea. The ideology is simply that our own health and happiness is the ultimate priority. Therefore, we shouldn’t tolerate anyone of anything that stands in the way of our own inner peace.

There are two flaws in this logic. The first is that anyone else has the power to take our peace in the first place. True peace doesn’t come from anything in this world. People, possessions and wealth are all trivial. True peace comes from knowing who we are and from the author of peace and our relationship with him. True peace is a gift that no one should ever have the right to snatch away. Sure we all struggle to hang on to it from time to time when life bears down hard and pushes every button we have. Still, the decision to let it go is totally ours. Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Secondly, our ultimate aim should not be our own happiness. I know, I know, not a lot of people will agree with me here, but let me explain what I mean. If we are believers, our aim is to become more Christ-like. “He must increase, I must decrease” John 3:30. You’ll never see Jesus cutting off the crazies. Instead we see him embracing the broken. We see him lay down his life for others time after time. He was never shaken by those who criticized him because he knew his purpose. Even in the face of Judas’ betrayal he ate dinner with him and didn’t cast him aside.

We are called to do the same. We should be so sure in ourselves that the drama around us can’t shake us. No one enjoys criticism or being gossiped about and lied to but that doesn’t mean it should knock us over. I for one, refuse to allow anyone that kind of power over me. Our lives are not our own. They are given to others. We do this naturally to a point. We give of ourselves to our friends, children, spouses, and families daily. We give until it hurts but that doesn’t mean we stop giving. We give as unto the Lord because we love him and we love others. “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Matthew 12:30-31

Let me clarify, that I don’t believe we should put up with abuse. God may call us to be martyrs for sake of the gospel, but I believe there are situations where lines are crossed and healthy boundaries exist. I don’t spend hours on the phone with my ex husband allowing him to treat me the way he did when we were married. I am a firm believer in balance. Any extreme situation is unhealthy. Pray for wisdom there. I’m more talking about “drama light” if that makes sense. Being loving to others even when they are annoying. Reaching out in love to the person who talks about you behind your back. Being a friend to that person who always has something going on and bearing with them in love even when you want to shake them or slap them upside the head.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function,  so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.” Romans 12:1-5

It is our reasonable service to lay our lives down for the un-loveable. Our mind may tell us to take care of us first but the gospel tells us to crawl on an altar and serve. Dead men don’t have rights.

So maybe I’m crazy but I will not “un-friend” the crazies in my life. I will take time out of my day to answer the phone and love someone through a crisis. I will not waiver in the face of disrespect or cower when attacked. I won’t be swayed by gossip but rather, I’ll refuse to listen to it even when it’s about me. As Eleanor Roosevelt said,  “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” My security comes from a higher purpose and my peace will not falter. So to all my crazy peeps, I’m not going anywhere.

Mother of the Bride

Sunlight in her hair, the girl in the long white dress walks slowly

Away from me

Toward her future

Where destiny and maturity culminate in a moment

Where dreams begin

Starry eyes look upon her love

She takes his hand and makes a vow

Little girl I carried in arms

Twinkle, twinkle light above

Carry her on

To where she’s held by you

Make them one

As I pray daily

Grateful always for being her mother

Killing Bad Music

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There are so many words in the world trapped in ice, (the icy chill of the frozen heart…not to quote Disney or anything). The past changes us like a bad song trapped in the brain – an earworm playing the tired melody so long it takes over songs of grace. In tragedy, I forget to clear it. I just keep adding new dissident chords to the same melody and unconsciously sing along. But I’m growing tired of auto-repeat and ready to start again.

 I’ll pick up my guitar and write a new progression. A “C” to open my eyes to truth, a 2minor to build the tension of something to come, the “F” chord to forget the failures as I rise to find the “G”, the savior God who lifts me higher away from the noise of the diminished chords that used to haunt with their oddities. It’s time to find a new tune for the foundation of my heart.

 New life begins the moment we make a choice to let it spring forth from the ashes. Maybe the old remains to make us who we are but we can choose where we land. The decision is ours to move forward or wallow.

 Sure, yesterday may repeat itself in subtle ways as circumstance we can’t control creeps near attempting to draw us back in to the rhythm of the madness, but we are the hands that ultimately control the strings. Will we choose to create something new or continue to settle for the old?

Why remain stuck in the old when each string holds within it, the potential for more…the promise of greatness undiscovered. Lord, give me your ears and let me hear the songs you sing over me. Help me to keep pressing forward guided by the beauty promised in your love.

I’m ready for freedom. I’m ready to embrace what you have for me. I know change is hard but nothing is worse than standing still. I promise to embrace new life as long as you keep singing…A pen in the hand of a ready writer. Move with skill and dance as I follow.

Strength

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One thing I’ve learned about myself over the years is that fear grows in dark places deep within when I’m not paying attention.  I particularly find this in the context of relationships. The husband and I have a rough day and I turn suddenly I’m on the bridge of the Enterprise yelling “Shields up! Prepare for battle! I’ll take the conn!” A small offense turns into an insurmountable obstacle and I fight hard to control every detail and make it all work out the way I see fit. I’m sure you can see that there are obvious flaws in this strategy. I do this out of fear. I’ve been hurt before and rather and than take the risk of being hurt again, I grab the guns and dig in.

Thankfully, there is grace that comes along and shines a little light on it, revealing to me the reality of this monstrous thing that’s been choking me slowly. I read a quote from Francis Frangipane this week that explains it perfectly. “We pray, “Lord, change me.” To answer that prayer, He will often allow circumstances or people to offend us. Our fleshly reaction illuminates the specific area where we need to grow. Thus, the Lord initiates change by offending the area of our soul He seeks to transform. He does not expect us to merely survive this adversity but become Christlike in it.”

The truth is that fear and self-preservation rarely lead to positive outcomes. True strength is being able to stand in spite of fear and love anyway. True strength is in moving beyond the things that paralyze us and give of ourselves even when it hurts. Meg Cabot said, “Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear; The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all.”

Today I encourage you to live! Take the risk and do that thing that makes you afraid. Go all in! If something offends you, let it go. If you’re hurting, pray. There is a Comforter who is more than able to turn ashes into beauty and He wants to fight that battle for you. He wants you to overcome. March on into the fray armed with His strength and you will find your freedom.

“Oh my soul, march on with strength!” Judges 5:21

Giant on a fluff of dust

I feel like the world has shrunk beneath me. I’m sitting on top of it, this little fluff of dust and I’m so big.

The air becomes my only solace and I focus on breathing in and breathing out. I’m lost, suspended atop the tiny surface by nothing more than grace.

Holding me, the intangible taking on substance in this moment because He always knows exactly what I need and brings that…nothing more…nothing less. Just enough to sustain me when my eyes are dry and my heart can’t quite muster the strength to feel.

The numb is pushing hard against me with it’s eerie nimble fingers clawing merciless at my soul. I want to run but the ground is hiding.

So I sit here on the lonely ball of earth beneath me and wonder how I’ll make it. Knowing in my head that there’s a plan…wishing my heart would get with the program. Tomorrow we begin again.

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Ripples

I wonder what ripples my life will leave after my drop in time has passed. Will they grow to be a wave strong and forceful, or will they fade slowly into the others unnoticed? Such is the nature of life, a drop in the bucket of eternity and it’s gone in an instant.

You welcome a new one into the world, crying tears of wonder and amazement and then you turn around and they’re off and running. You’re suddenly planning a wedding and watching them fly away.

You write a song and sing it timidly only to hear that another is singing it wildly, holding onto it as if it held their hope and you are humbled. You wonder when your words cross paper and find the eyes of a reader if they will mean anything. You wonder if you’ve done enough. You wonder if you can do more. You wonder if you’ve been wasteful.

Then you realize that your wondering is a gift, an opportunity to live tomorrow free. Wondering what was should propel you to create tomorrow. Craft each moment with deliberate hands. Decide to embrace the seconds, the good and hard and sorrowful. Decide to live your “now” with everything you’ve got. Decide to leave a legacy. Decide to live with purpose. Then at the end of the journey you can look back and see the tide that swelled with one touch of the finger of God into the river of life you allowed to flow through you. As you cross the shore, you can smile as you listen to the crash of the waves that began miles away with a ripple.