Messy Me

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I haven’t been writing lately. Not because the desire has left me but because I knew what came out would be messy. Quite honestly, lately, life has been messy. All of the broken and jagged pieces I’d thought time had smoothed, surfaced with force, cutting through my clay heart and thin skin. What remained was a tattered, worn, version of me. I guess it’s true when the scripture says to be careful when you think you stand because you will fall. I am, once again, a living example of this principle. You’re welcome.

Maybe there’s extra grace there, somewhere in the rubble. There’s this extra measure of assurance that if we can get through so many ups and downs and He hasn’t failed us yet, maybe it’s true that He won’t fail. Maybe we will fail, as we so often do, but in the end, there’s a beauty in the mess if we can only take the risk of embracing it.

 You see, I don’t have to prove myself. I don’t have to be clean to come to the one who washes me. I don’t have to have it all together before I come to the one who knit me together in my mother’s womb. I don’t have to have it all figured out to lean in close and hear His wisdom. I don’t have to play all the right notes before I listen to the song He sings over me. And there again is the beauty…that in the midst of the mess, He’s still singing. He never stopped singing. So maybe I should sing too.

So with reckless abandon, I choose today, to sing wildly. I jump to my feet, dodging the obstacles, and dance.  The mess probably won’t go away anytime today or maybe even tomorrow, but piece by piece, I know He will rebuild me. I am more than the messes. I am a victor. My messy heart will sing in wonder, not because of who I am, but because of who He is and how vast His love is for me. What more could anyone ask for?

Refocusing

  
Blurs are often ended with the bluntness of a break. A single straw that interrupts the momentum long enough for sanity to creep in and remind me that I am more than this. 

In the quest for perfection, I lost sight of the adventure. In the race towards better, I steadily slipped into worse. In the pursuit of holiness, I forgot to trust in grace. Somewhere in between it all, I stopped breathing. I lost myself when I quit looking. 

Today, I’m thankful for the straw. Small fractals of light that shine through offense, wake me from my hypnotism. Freedom often comes when I least expect it. Thank you straw man! Lord, please block my path when I get stuck on auto-pilot. 

Missing Myself

It’s all been a whirlwind. I’m sure you’ve been there, when life creeps in and steals…well, the life right out of you. Then suddenly I realize in the midst of the grind, the day to day, the chaos, that I don’t have to allow it all to get the best of me. I can choose to stop even when the madness doesn’t. I get the privilege of deciding what warrants immediate attention and what can wait. I get to decide that I’m important too.

I think mothers are so easily susceptible to what I’ll call the squishing. The systematic pressing down of oneself in favor of those you love and/or those who scream the loudest. Then suddenly, the music stops, the writing ceases in lieu of more pressing priorities. All that was placed in you by the creator is shelved for another time…a seemingly mythic day when there’s quiet, though you know the heart will cry when quiet comes because they have grown and you may have missed something.

I think at the end of the day, we can have it all. We can treasure the moments of motherhood, maintain some measure of order and cleanliness, actually shower, and still be us. I know, I know, sounds too good to be true. I still believe that God placed treasure in earthen vessels and that He never gives us a load too difficult for us to bear. We may need to exercise our faith muscles. We may need to work diligently to find balance. We may need to learn to say no or ask for help but it may be worth it.

Today, I’m making a resolution that I will make myself make time. I will read. I will write. I will sing. I will play. Yes, I’ll still clean and nurse and nurture and teach but I will make the time to be me. The world will be a better place and I will be a better version of myself. Today, I’m determined.

Though I’ve been missing in action for a while, I’m coming back to life, one decision at a time and I shouldn’t have to miss me much longer.

Give me some Sweetness!

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Proverbs 16:24 “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

Words are powerful! They bring sweetness or mayhem, joy or pain. Our words can uplift and encourage or knock down and well, discourage. (Deep huh?)

I was thinking about this scripture today. A bee wanders around from flower to flower, collecting from beauty, working diligently to find sweet nectar and, at the same time, serving to pollinate the area. Then it brings what’s was gathered back to the hive and uses it to make honey. I’ve oversimplified the process of course, but I couldn’t help but think about what that looks like for us.

We encounter words everywhere. Some from our own mouths, some from media, some from the lips of others. I think it’s our responsibility to dig through them for nectar. We don’t have to internalize or accept everything we hear. We can choose the Philippians 4:8 route and think on things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely and of good report. We can find the virtue, the things worthy of praise, the good reports. This isn’t the ostrich mentality where we choose to stick our heads in the sand and ignore the bad. It is living intentionally and making a decision to change our perspective.

Years ago, a single word became my mantra in the faith. “Focus!” I realized that I had the power to take my thoughts captive and focus on The Lord in all things. I would have to remind myself throughout the day by repeating it to myself, “focus, focus, focus”. At times it can be hard to see Him or hear Him over the noise. The ever-constant barrage of busy can steal from the things that matter. Suddenly, the to-do list pushes our quiet moments off into the abyss and we are left reeling by the time our heads hit the pillow.

Even there at the end of the day, our minds can go a mile a minute planning for tomorrow or beating us up for whatever we messed up or didn’t finish today. Therein is the moment of decision. We can dig deep in those moments for the nectar. We can find the good. We can cast off the things that bring us down and remember who we are and how we are loved. Then when tomorrow comes, as we dig deep for the marrow of life, we can’t help but spread that joy to others. It’s a side-effect of the intentional life. We pollinate the world with the light of truth and the goodness of God’s love. We speak life and peace to the tormented. We bring hope to those who struggle. Never diminishing the severity of sorrows, but offering comfort and healing in the midst of them.

We’ve been taught a lie. So often the contemporary, American church teaches that we shouldn’t suffer, that life should be lived wearing rose-colored glasses and never admitted that things are tough. This is totally contrary to scripture and, quite frankly, insulting to those who are suffering. We’ve believed if we only had more faith, if we were better, things would be okay. It’s just not true. The Bible says that we WILL suffer for Christ’s name sake.

Try telling Paul, who was beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, and (my personal favorite) bitten by a viper (AAGHHH!), that Christians shouldn’t ever suffer. The difference is that Paul made a decision to glory in his sufferings that the power of Christ might rest upon him. (2 Corinthians 12:9). Paul was a diligent bee. He found the nectar and made honey despite circumstances few can imagine enduring.

I think what the world needs to see in us is perspective. We are deeper than our situations. We serve a God who is always faithful no matter what it may look like or feel like at the time. We have the power to choose to believe it or be overtaken. Dig deep and find the good. It’s in there, like a hidden treasure waiting to be recovered. And in it, we find our sustenance.

Give me Back my Keys!

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I woke up this morning and realized I’d given someone else my keys. Carsick and reeling, I’d been riding shotgun through my life, driven there by my own complacency. Like Dante, I was lost in a dark wood. A spectator barely gazing at the circumstances that brought me to this place, suddenly awake to the fact that I was so far from the path I’d started upon.

The first step on the journey back is waking up, then begins the regaining, the takeover of myself in that moment when the fog has lifted and so have my eyes. Happiness comes from the deliberate life in which I take the wheel and follow truth, peace within allowed freedom from the choking vines of fear. I had no one to blame but myself for allowing them to overtake me.

Hope springs from accepting where I’ve been and deciding to move forward. Hope flows from deep within, the place where the glory dwells. Today I choose to embrace it and fight. Tomorrow I’ll be a little closer to home. In the end, I will win.

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.

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.