Rebuilding a Nation

images

I have a friend who posted an article from Psychology Today on social media titled Politics and the Catastrophe of Us and Them. I’m giving you the link to the article but that wasn’t what caught my eye. This comment did: This is going to need to start at the top, with our leadership, as the article points out. I hope we can find a leader who sets a tone of unity in 2020.

I agree with the need for unity (or at the very least kindness in our differences). I disagree that it needs to start at the top or that we should have to wait until the next election that is almost two years away. Can you imagine what this nation will be like if everyone waits to see who the next president will be before we treat each other with some manner of dignity? Can you imagine if we all lived our lives based solely on the behavior of those in government? God help us.

So if not from the top, then where?

Got a mirror? Look in it. Right there is where it starts.

Do Your Part

Nehemiah shows us a little about how to rebuild a nation that was in great trouble and disgrace, a nation that was broken down. (Nehemiah 1:3NIV) After weeping, praying and fasting for the city of Jerusalem (there’s a whole lesson just in that) he travels there to help them get back on their feet. In fact, not only did he help them rebuild the entire wall around Jerusalem, he did it in 52 days. (Nehemiah 6:15) What a monumental task to perform and in such a short order!

How did he do it? He had people be responsible to repair the rubble that was immediately in front of them, everyone doing their small part. (Nehemiah 3) While the task of repairing a whole nation in ruins may seem insurmountable, what if we focused on repairing what was in our reach, our scope of vision?

What if we had conversations instead of arguments? Even if we don’t agree. What if we put aside that feud we’ve had with a church member, family member, coworker or friend for the greater good? Even if we think we’re right. What if we truly treated our neighbor as ourselves? Even if our neighbor isn’t like us.

You may not be able to vote on a bill on Capital Hill but you can treat Bill with kindness and respect. Right?

The Blame Game

Finger pointing is the oldest game in the Book, going all the way back to the garden of Eden when God asked Adam if he’d eaten the only tree that was forbidden and his reply was yeah but the woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it. To which Eve responded, yeah but the serpent deceived me and I ate. (Genesis 3).

Yeah but…seems to be our mantra as well.

Maybe we should take a lesson from Rep-elect Dan Crenshaw when he took the high road after being on the butt end of a bad Saturday Night Live joke because of an eye patch he wears due to an injury sustained while in combat. He could have easily started a different kind of war; one no one would win in the end. Yeah but could have been his ammo if questioned about his battle tactic. Instead he accepted an apology from SNL and wants to work towards restoring civility.

I’d say he helped build up what was torn down directly in front of him. He did his part in responding with grace.

What about you? If you find yourself saying yeah but, maybe you are part of the problem.

Worry About Yourself

This leads right into a great story found in John 21:15-23 where Jesus is talking with Peter about the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. (v19). It was going to be a brutal one (v18). Peter, in turn, looks around, spots John and asks, what about him? (v21) Jesus replies, what is that to you? (v22, 23)

In essence, worry ‘bout yo-self!

At the end of the day we are responsible for our own selves. Our actions. Our words. Our responses. Our reparations. Our part in unifying. When we meet our Maker He will not ask us about somebody else’s choices. Only our own.

I don’t know about you but I want to be found on my part of the wall, not in 2020, not waiting for the next election cycle but today, right now, repairing and rebuilding, connecting and correcting, balancing and bettering not just for the good of this nation but for the glory of the God I serve.

Brick by brick.

kw

 

 

Election Hangover Elixir

It’s the day after Election Day. My phone has not blown up with texts and voicemails telling me who to vote for. My mailbox has normal mail in it…I’ve never been so happy to see junk mail that was fliers from stores and not a politician. Anybody else ready to see a couple sitting in bathtubs on a beach talking about ED rather than all the politicians bashing each other?

Some of you went to bed last night with a renewed spirit and some of you woke up this morning thinking Jesus was going to be coming back today because surely this is it.

I spent half the day at the salon doing something new….

fullsizeoutput_369
I am no longer a “foil virgin”…whoa Nellie was this a process!

The timing was unplanned perfection and it gave me time to start reading The Ministry of Ordinary Places by Shannan Martin. Oh man! I was only eleven pages in and she said this one sentence that wrapped up my million thoughts…

The loudest revolutions often begin so quietly, so unassumingly near the ground that most don’t bother to notice. I won’t speak for you, but surrounded by cynics, worrywarts, doomsday prophets, and Facebook apologists with their lofty solutions, I’d rather be a hope-holder with mud on my shoes.

 All day long, you guys. All the dang day long.

I don’t want to be a cynical, worrier who walks around with Eyore as her closest compadre and who thinks she has simple answers to complex issues. Nope. But as a believer I am never without hope. It’s my election hangover elixir.

As I was covered in tin foil and cooking in some new color, I thought about what a holder of hope looks like. I came up with this little acronym…

Heart. As in check it before you wreck it. This election cycle has done much to plant seeds of bitterness and hatred. Make sure your heart hasn’t become fertile ground to grow both. Harvesters of hope start with their own hearts first, tiling the ground, weeding the unwanted and planting seeds of grace and goodness.

Opportunities are everywhere! Don’t hold back doling out doses to everyone you meet! You don’t have to look far to see someone without hope or who is discouraged, down, and distraught. Let’s be known as the cocktail doctor of all things good and kind and patient and loving and…well, you get the picture.

Pray. For those who agree with us. And those who do not. For those who are our friends. And those who are not. For those we voted for. And those we did not.  If for every time we felt the need to put someone down, trash talk or say awful things about people, what if we lifted them in prayer? Instead of searching for a mean meme, what if we bend the knee? Whoa. Game changing stuff right there.

Encourage each other. Our words matter. Both written and verbal. The next time you post something or say something ask yourself: does it lift up or tear down. Does it heal or hurt? Does it mend or maim? Am I posting on social media to simply start a fire or to soothe a soul? Is it helpful to a cause or cause a fight? Am I hearing what you’re saying or preparing my retort?

Holders of hope don’t hoard. They don’t stand with fists clinched. Their hands and hearts are open wide offering optimism in the face of pessimism, faith in the face of fear, love in the face of hate, light in the face of darkness. Because as believers….

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. (Hebrews 6:19)

Maybe it’s the tin foil talking or the heat of the dryer but I want to be a hope-holder with mud on my shoes.

 How about you?

Thank you Shannan Martin for that one little sentence on page eleven and thank you Dawn for my new do…

fullsizeoutput_36c
Back to my original color. 🙂

kw

I Loathe Blanket Statements

thumbnail

When my kiddos were younger we had a rule that we weren’t to use the words never or always. As in you never let me do anything or you always take his side. While it may seem that way sometimes, very rarely are never/always statements true. In fact they can be suffocating, taking the oxygen right out of a conversation.

A close cousin to always and never is “all.” It is precarious to make blanket statements using the word all like an umbrella that neatly fits everyone under one space. Here are a couple I’ve seen floating around…

All Women Should Automatically Be Believed

Before your panties get all wadded up, hear me out. I am an advocate for women. I want to see women succeed. I want to see women heard. I want no woman to be abused or neglected or made to feel unloved, incompetent or undeserving.

But it’s a dangerous thing to say that someone should be believed simply based on her gender alone. As if women are not capable of lying. That’s a slippery slope on a road to no good. Every single one of us (male and female) has within them the ability to lie.

It’s a tale as old as time. Potiphar’s wife lied when Joseph refused to sleep with her. (Genesis 39) Moses’ family did it to keep him alive. (Exodus 2) Corrie Ten Boom hid Jews in her home to keep them from being sent to horrific concentration camps. There have been court cases that have made national news of women who have lied about being assaulted (think Duke lacrosse.) I have seen firsthand the destruction caused by fabricated stories.

Whatever the reason (either for the saving of some or the destruction of others) the point here is that women had and will continue to have the capability to lie. We are broken people living in a fallen world. So to say women are to be believed simply because they are women is unhealthy and unwise.

All Men are Pigs

I get it. I really do. We are bombarded with news of more women coming forward with stories of abuse. It’s horrendous and I hate it. I have my own story that I’ve shared bits and pieces of as well. That’s why I understand how easy it is for the pendulum to swing towards this blanket statement.

It took me many years to not see a white man with a God awful tight perm and assume he was a child molester. For a very long time cigar smoke made me go into fight or flightmode. But not every man who smokes a cigar abuses women.

There are kind men in the world. Decent men, who respect women and who are just as abhorred at the thought of women being abused, neglected and treated unfairly. They just don’t usually make the evening news because kindness doesn’t get ratings.

I’ve seen much name calling on social media feeds. Women who hate being called names but who in turn name call. Doesn’t that make you the very thing you are shouting out against…a name caller?

My grandsons play that game. One calls one a bozo so the other one shouts back that they are not a bozo and proceeds to call the original name caller a poopy-faced bozo. Take that why don’t ya! Things quickly spiral out of control and they both get in trouble while continuing to finger point and name call all the way to time out.

Are we not more mature than four and five year olds?

Sigh…

What are we to do?

First, avoid using blanket statements. Nothing snuffs out a conversation like using the words always, never and all. It will put defenses up and walls built. (We don’t need a president to build the walls, we are doing a great job at building them ourselves and keeping each other out.)

Second, be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. (Matthew 10:16NLT) That is to say be prudent yet straightforward. Jesus prefaced that with, Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning you. You’re going to be like sheep running through the wolf pack…(Matthew 10:16 MSG) Man did he know what he was talking about!

Third, stop with the tit for tat. Choose to rise above the noise and go do something for someone who needs hope in humanity. Show someone love and respect and kindness.

Want to really hurt your (perceived) enemy? Feed him if he’s hungry. Give him a drink if he’s thirsty. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head and the Lord will reward you. (Proverbs 25:21-22)

Today. Do it today.

(Is that the smell of singed hair from burning coals of kindness? Yes and amen!!)

kw

 

 

Not Your Standard Measure

fullsizeoutput_364

When I was just a little bitty girl I would sit at the kitchen table and watch my Granny whip up all kinds of goodies. Cookies, cakes, crust for pies, noodles, potpie, apple turnovers, bread, rolls…you name it, she could bake it.

When I got above knee high she would let me practice by giving me some of the left over pie dough to which I kneaded and balled up and rolled out with the fervor of a young Julia Childs. Add some melted butter with a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar, roll that up, slice into pinwheels and bake it for a delicious treat. (That is if I hadn’t played with the dough too much….Granny still ate it like it was blue-ribbon-at-the-county-fair quality. Bless.)

Fast-forward a couple of decades and I wished I’d paid more attention as a teenager. Instead of dishing out a cup of sass, I should have written a few things down step-by-step. There’s something about having a hankering for one of Granny’s desserts and not remembering exactly how she did it.

Several years ago, on a fall day much like we’re having here in the Midwest, I was in the mood for her sweet potato pie so I called her. She was now in a nursing home, her days of baking long past because arteritis had taken her sight except for seeing some shadows. I wasn’t sure if she’d remember the recipe from decades ago but much to my delight she did!

There was one problem…she didn’t use a standard measuring cup to measure out anything. She used a coffee mug. And even then never filled it past full, never careful to tap the side and get the air out,  didn’t scrape the excess off the top with a butter knife. How did she know how much she used? She measured by “cup and feel”; I needed rocket science precision.

I was afraid if I didn’t use the standard way of measuring, my pie would be a disaster; I would be a failure because I didn’t measure the right way.

Sounds dramatic, doesn’t it?

I’ve been thinking a lot about that conversation lately and Granny using her own method to measure. There’s a deeper lesson to be learned. It’s easy to use the world’s standard of measure to determine whether we are winners or losers, whether we have worth or are worthless, whether we are a favorite or a failure.

Take for instance the scales….groan…I know, I know! The scale is a measurement in pounds of what your body weighs. It is a guideline for health. It is NOT a measure of your value. Do we want to be healthy? Absolutely! But don’t confuse your weight with your worth.

Being single doesn’t mean you aren’t seen. Marriage doesn’t make you greater. Divorce doesn’t mean you’re less than.  All three can be or are hard. None of them makes us any more or less worthy of love and acceptance.

I’ve been both a working and a stay-at-home Mom. Both have pros and cons. Both are hard in different ways. Neither should be my plumb line for purpose. Nor yours. Why? Jobs/careers can change on a dime. Pink slips can be given without warning. Kids grow up, become adults, and venture out into the world on their own (as they should!) If the measure of who I am is based on the above then my value is one fifth of what it once was because I’m down to one kid living at home and I haven’t worked a paying job for 15 years. No. My value isn’t based on my career outside or inside the home.

Speaking of kids, we should never measure the quota of our competency based solely on their successes or failures. I know kids who come from terrible situations but are determined to beat the odds and succeed. Others who come from beautiful families that do everything they can to be great parents, but have kids who choose to take a destructive path.  If the measure of who I am is based off of my own kids’ wins and losses then there would be times when my value was through the roof and others when it was in the tank.

Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram and a host of other social media outlets are not benchmarks for our own beauty, brains or bravery. Scroll through on any given day and see picture perfect, then look around and see how it makes you feel. I have many Pinterest attempts that were a bust. Others that were helpful. Some days/seasons I’m fine, others I watch how much screen time I allow myself because it is very easy to compare my movie reel to someone’s snapshot. Our “real” to someone’s carefully construed contortion can often leave us feeling lonely, left out and lacking.

The measure of who I am and who you are is not based on the world’s standard of measure. No. We are each created in the image of the One who sees us, hears us and loves us right where we are. Today. No matter the number on the scale. In your successes and failures. No matter if you have Miss, Mrs. or Ms. in front of your name. No matter if your kids are angels, prodigals or in juvenile detention. Whether your movie is a mess or picture perfect. You are his beloved and he delights in you!

My Granny may have been on to something. Grab a mug and offer the world a better standard.

kw

Sticky Notes of Goodness

thumbnail

You are good and the source of good; train me in your goodness. (Psalm 119:68MSG)

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as I walked into the home of a couple that had been given dire news. He had recently been diagnosed with a brain tumor and given a poor prognosis. We were all reeling from the shock of it ourselves as just a few weeks prior he was teaching our Sunday school class with the depth of a scholar and the passion of one who knew what it was to be forgiven.

His study desk had been replaced with a hospital bed, an IV pole stood where his lampstand once did, medicine bottles lined a side table and there he lay. She told me he wanted to be in the same room where he met the Lord each morning to read, pray and study, knowing he would soon meet him face to face.

As I was walking from the study, down the hall, through the living room to the kitchen to put away the food I had brought, I noticed something…sticky notes….on the walls, the furniture, the countertops, the cabinets, in the bathroom…they were everywhere. Some had just a word or two; others were completely filled.

She and I sat down to have some coffee and conversation and I asked her about the sticky notes. She shared with me that this had been the hardest thing she had ever had to face and yet God was showing his goodness in all sorts of ways. She started writing them down on sticky notes as reminders when she was feeling extra sad or overwhelmed.

I walked out of there having learned something that would remain with me through some of my own difficulties and disasters, headaches and heartbreaks, faults and fears, turbulence and tears.

The goodness of God is immutable which is a fancy pants word meaning unchanging over time.

God is good even when…

I am not. I used to think God was only good to me when I was good. That somehow my behavior determined his goodness towards me. And yet, while I was still a sinner, Christ died for me. (Romans 5:8)

God is good even when…

Others are not. People can be mean. We can feel unwelcome, uninvited and unseen. God doesn’t pick sides. In his goodness, he welcomes, invites and sees each one of us. Look for the goodness. It’s there. He’s there.

God is good even when…

Our prayers aren’t answered the way we think they should be or in the time frame we wish they were. God is good. And God is good at being God. I am a work in progress but I’m learning to sticky note his goodness along the way of waiting.

God is good even when…

Life is not. There have been so many things that have happened since that day in Shirl’s living room 20 some years ago. Hard things. Long periods of time where I wasn’t sure what the outcome would be. Loss, sickness, devastation, marriage stuff, kid stuff, family stuff, health scares, you name it.

God’s goodness remains steadfast through it all. We can experience peace and joy no matter what, not because life is always good but because God is.

I’m not sure what made me think about this time with Shirl and Bud. Maybe I need to get my sticky notes back out. Maybe you’re going through some stuff right now and need to get some sticky notes of your own.

God is good.

Always.

kw

 

When Life Throws You Zingers

I had to chuck a chicken this morning. My man warned me one wasn’t doing well so I wasn’t surprised when I went out to feed them today and she was laying face first in the mud. But I hate it, nonetheless. I grabbed my shovel, scooped her up and walked out as far into the field as I could and hurled her with all my might. Sigh.

I walked back around the corner by the beehives and noticed minimal to no activity. They were just buzzing beautifully last week. I opened up the side window to see what was going on….silence…that’s what was going on…absolutely nothing.

My garden is experiencing what I call summer time sadness. Weeds have taken over, the green bean plants are half bunny eaten, the cucumbers are drying up, the zucchinis are pitiful, the corn stalks look ready for fall décor, the lima plants need pulled. Winter is coming.

My neck of the woods is feeling a little decapitated this morning. Maybe you know the feeling.

Then I noticed something as I was turning around to head towards the garden gate, a spot of hope, a ray of light…

The Zinnias are still blooming. 

I had a choice. I could focus on all the things that have gone wrong today (already). Or I could look for the zinnias. I could let a million things get me down. Or I could see the beauty before me in the midst of the million.

Interestingly, I had to look up to see it. The zinnias were standing head and shoulders above the sad surroundings of the rest of the garden.

I know, I know. I’m not trying to be a perky Pollyanna who’s blowing heart shaped happy out of her hookah pipe. Life can be hard. Way harder than a dead chicken, bees and plants.

When life zaps you with zingers, look for the zinnias. They are everywhere if we would only look up, beyond our circumstance, above the noise, shining bright and offering a hand.

As a woman of faith, sometimes my Zinnias look like…

Prayer. Because God knows I enter that closet not because I’m super spiritual and strong but because I’m just the opposite.

Scripture. His word is powerful. Don’t discount it. Read it. Do it. Memorize it. Meditate on it.

Meditation. Stilling the mind is a practice that must be perfected so when life sends a colony of stinger zingers, I can quiet the buzzing. (Don’t give this away as some Eastern voodoo kind of thing.)

Zinnias can also look like… 

Coffee with a friend who is safe for you. There is something about being heard and validated that gives you the strength to keep going.

Being a friend. Sometimes when we ourselves are struggling it helps to help someone else. It gets us out of our own funk.

A counselor or pastor. It’s okay to say you’re not okay. It’s okay to seek professional help because sometimes the venom from stings just gets in too deep.

A note given or a note received. Ever gotten a letter, text, card, shout out, word, encouragement (whatever form of communication you choose) at the exact moment you needed one? Ever sent one having no idea how badly the recipient needed to hear it?

A meal, a visit, a smile, a hug, a pat, an understanding, a reassurance, a laugh, a cry, a kindness.

These are all Zinnias.

Then there’s this little thing called gratitude. It sure sounds lame as you’re looking at that stinger pulsating its venom. But there’s something about having an attitude of gratitude.

Renowned cognitive neuroscientist and brain expert, Dr. Caroline Leaf says, when you are thankful your brain releases nerve growth factors that help change the brain (neuroplasticity.)

 Thankfulness is like plastic surgery for your attitude and it’s free!

 Research expert and author, Dr. Brene’ Brown says, There is no joy without gratitude and joy collected over time fuels resilience.

 While your circumstances may not change right away, your way of thinking can. Who doesn’t want to build resilience (that bounce back ability) to zingers? One of the ways we do this is by finding something (anything) to be grateful for in whatever our circumstance.

When life throws you zingers, look up! There’s a zinnia close by.

kw

 

 

What We Have Here…

fullsizeoutput_355

It’s Monday morning and I just read the Sunday paper. It’s not something I typically do. We get the paper for the coupons and I like to do the crossword puzzles. Keeps the mind active. As I was looking for the section that always has the puzzles, a headline caught my eye, so I read it, which led me to the second one.

The first, titled Life Becomes Tabloid Nightmare for Family was about a high school senior who gave birth two days after her prom and proceeded to bury the newborn in her backyard, spring of 2017. There are speculations and the investigation is still going on. Some say the baby was alive. Some say it was stillborn. Some say she buried the infant to protect her reputation. The parents deny knowing she was pregnant. Reports say the body was dismembered. The whole thing is disturbing.

What kind of person does this?

The second article was 4:28 of Terror and Heroism, which gave a play-by-play account of a shooting that happened in downtown Cincinnati just last week. It was just a regular workday until a random guy decides to walk into a lobby and start shooting. One woman was hit as she was walking into work, already on a conference call, clueless to what was going on. The shooter kept firing at her. She was shot twelve times in all. She survived but three others did not.

What kind of person does that?

God help us.

I went about the rest of the day with these stories laying heavy on my heart and images that cannot be unseen in my mind. Both stories are vexing. Why didn’t I stick with coupons and crosswords?

How have we come to care so little about the sanctity and sacredness of human life, no matter the age, race or gender? How have we come to a place where our reputations become more important than the life we carry inside us? How can we be so angry and harbor such hate that we can walk into a lobby (or gay bar or anywhere for that matter) and gun people down? How do you look into the face of another person and shoot them twelve times total?

The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out. (Jeremiah 17:9 MSG)

I know there are complex answers to the why. There’s all manner of details we won’t (and may never) know. Background, history, evidence, truth. I don’t begin to understand it all or know the right answer. People will argue every angle. Then argue some more.

Politicians and lawmakers will carpe diem(!)and make you believe they are fighting for you. But if we think they, who ooze corruption, hold the answers, we are sorely mistaken. I’m on your side, said the spider to the fly.

I’m not here to argue gun control and freedom of rights. I’m not here to have a row about Roe v. Wade. Though I think we should be able to have commonsense conversations about these things….

What if what we have here is an issue of the heart?

A lobbyist could not change the dark heart of the man in the lobby that day. Only God could. A lawmaker cannot change the heart of a deceived young woman who hid, had then buried her newborn. Only God can.

What about you and me? We, too, have hearts that are easily deceived, capable of all manner of things. Oh, we may not shoot someone in the literal sense but we shoot people down if their opinions differ from us. We use words as weapons and the argument about who’s right keeps the pot stirred and anger brewing.

And Satan has an absolute cackle over it.

What if I asked the Lord to  help me care more about sharing the good news of the gospel then to lobby for my leanings? What if you did too?

What if I asked the Lord to spotlight any darkness in my own heart? What if you did too?

What if I asked the Lord to see others as He sees them? What if you did too?

What if I asked the Lord to create in me a clean heart and steadfast Spirit (Psalm 51:10)? What if you did too?

God help us, he will. As only God can.

kw

Shout out to the law enforcement officers who were there in Cincinnati. You’re bravery and quick action saved many people that day.

You Are Not Forgotten

istock_22932839_large_938x528

Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many? (Andrew the disciple in John 6:9)

Being a Mom is no joke. (And all of God’s Momma’s said…) I am down to my last of five being at home. I still pack his lunch every morning, not because he can’t do it but because I want to and because he’s the baby so his older siblings will tell you I love him the most…

Anyhoo…I sat down one morning to figure out just how many lunches I have packed through the years. If I packed lunch 100 days out of the school year for an average of 8 years for 5 kiddos that’s an estimated 3,830 lunches! Holy Jif! That’s a lot of peanut butter and jelly! (Don’t get me started on the loads of laundry. With mustard seed faith I’ve moved mountains…of dirty clothes…)

I’m surprised I’ve never thought of this before but sometimes reading something familiar causes us to simply skim through a story. Maybe you’ve heard of the time when Jesus feeds 5000 men (not including the women and children which would put the estimate at about 15,000 people) with a little boy’s lunch of five loaves of barley bread and two small fish? Truly miraculous!

I reflected on a couple of things as I was rereading this account in John 6…

First, does anybody else find it incredible that this little guy and his meager meal was somehow found among 15,000 people? Not that this matters in the scheme of things, it just adds to the mystery of how God moves.

Second, in all my years of hearing messages and reading through this story I’ve not once thought of the one who packed the lunch. There was a Momma on the backside of this story.

And I wonder…

Was she there in the crowd? Did she send him to hear the words of the One who was healing the sick? Or was she tired of his boy energy and gave him something to do, somewhere to go for a moment’s peace and quiet? Can you relate? (Hello Awanas my old friend. It’s good of you to kid sit for me again…)

Did she have to check the bread for mold and give the fish a sniff to see if it was still good? (Ever sent your kid to school with questionable bread and turkey past the expiration date? No? Then we can’t be friends.)

Was it bread and fish because payday was coming, they were down to their last little bit and it was all she could put together? (Two ends of the bread can still make a mean PB&J right?)

I’m not trying to takeaway from the miracle of feeding the masses from a meager meal. Or glorify the Mom instead of God.

Not at all.

It’s to encourage you who are doing the mundane, the everyday, the simple acts that nobody sees or seems to care about. It’s to cheer for those who wonder if what they do day to day really matters. You’ve wiped noses and butts and feel stuck in a rut. Picked up toys and are tired of noise. You can’t answer another why or hear another cry.

God sees you.

God used a lunch packed with love, an ordinary, everyday task to feed hungry souls for His kingdom work. The same God that made a miracle from the meager will use you too!

In the middle of messy.

In the middle of mundane.

He makes miracles happen.

You are not forgotten.

Keep packin’!

kw

 

 

Whispers in a World That Roars

07092011-1545

For who has despised the day of small things? (Zechariah 4:10) 

I’ve been feeling a bit…hmmm…how should I describe it?…not bored exactly because there is ALWAYS plenty to do. (And when I was little if you said you were bored around my Granny she would find you something to do. So, nope, not bored.)

Maybe restless would do. Like a horse standing in the starting gate stall, hyped up on energy, knowing something is about to happen, a race that’s about to start but the gate hasn’t quite swung open. Yeah. Maybe that would be it.

I’ve been in a perpetual state of being still, of watching, waiting, knowing, learning, leaning, listening, for several months now and I feel like I’m getting bed sores. I guess it’s in this restless state, this time right before the gate swings wide, that my being still is the hardest and will be put to the test. Take off too soon? False start. Lag when the gate opens? Get left eating dust. Or worse, stepping in someones poo.

Do I trust God’s timing? Or will I ram the gate open and do my own thing (again)? Will I listen to the world’s roar for more? Or will I wait for the whisper of what to do next?

Being still can be a lonely place when everywhere you look is a fast paced race. It’s easy to get caught up in the rush of big and loud and forget that God sometimes speaks to us in a whisper…

In 1Kings 19 Elijah’s feeling pretty alone too. God tells him to go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.

So he does and a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks…(it’s probably the rush of wind as everyone else’s stall doors open and they take off for their race…I’m just kidding.)

…but the Lord was not in the wind.

 After the wind there was an earthquake…(horses hooves perhaps? Again kidding.)

but the Lord was not in the earthquake.

 After the earthquake came a fire…(I knew it! All the trailblazers went ahead of me!)

but the Lord was not in the fire.

 And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

 Sometimes God speaks in big and mighty ways like busting people out of jail, tearing down the temple curtain from top to bottom, or you know, raising people from the dead. He makes blind men see, lame men walk, deaf people hear and mute people talk. He makes a crippled back straight, changes water into wine and possessed women fine.

But sometimes in the midst of the roar he whispers.

I see you…

He’s cares about one lost coin, one runaway sheep and one prodigal kid. He praises the mere giving of a widow woman, meets people one on one, and applauds mustard seed faith. He sees the single Mom trying to make ends meet, the nursing Mom during the middle of the night, the person trying to be caretaker to littles and parents, the man working a second job to provide for his family, the foster parents making a difference, the social workers, the counselors, the sacrifices, the laundry, the monotony…

He is in the sacred places of the everyday. He sees the small things, the ordinary things. Don’t discount that. He’s been merciful to show me that, as I’m standing at the gate full of nervous energy about what’s to come, ready to go, I’ve actually already started….

We’ll keep talking about those sacred places of the everyday this month.

Until then, here’s a prayer from me to you:

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give thine angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for the thy love’s sake. Amen

(The Book of Common Prayer page 71)

kw

 

A New Wildflower

I found a new wildflower. It’s strange that I’d not seen her before. She’s where I walk every single day to feed the chickens. She almost looks like she’s smiling at me wooing me to take notice. Things have a way of popping in your path just when you need them to.

fullsizeoutput_350
Meet Prunella…she really wants to be your friend 🙂

Her common name is self-heal. Her botanical name is prunella vulgaris. The first part sounds an awful lot like pruning; the second like vulgar. Interesting.

If you’ve ever been through a season of pruning, you know it can be painful. Vulgar if you will. Not in the lewd sense but in the crude, raw sense. It hurts when you feel like all your blooms have been cut off, while every other flower looks lovely and beautiful. You stand there hanging on to your one stem barren and broken.  You wonder if you’ll grow again, if you’ll ever begin to bust out a bloom.

So how in the world is vulgar pruning self-healing?

Pruning the Suckers

 Many plants will develop what are called suckers…those low lying shoots that suck the energy from the main part of the plant. The plants growth is stumped (not completely stopped) until the suckers are cut away.

thumbnail
Suckers on a Korean Dogwood that needs my snipper attention.

Ask anyone today how they are doing and they will inevitably answer with some manner of Busy. We’ve filled our work calendars, our social calendars, our kids calendars to the overflowing brim and wonder where our energy went. We’ve grown suckers without realizing it and for the sake of healing need to cut some things away to free up time for self-care.

Pruning the Dead

Last spring I got ahold of some sand cherry trees that were in desperate need of having the dead cut out of them. It’s growth and beauty was being overshadowed by the unsightly cadaverous branches. The pruning was harsh but the result was rewarding.

Have you ever done something simply because it’s what you’ve always done? I’m guilty as charged. Sometimes it’s healthy to take a step back and evaluate the things we’re involved in or people we’re involved with, things we volunteer for, things we simply do on repeat to see if there’s any areas that have died a slow death and you’ve yet to notice it’s covering up your reach for the sky. There’s something therapeutic about pruning away all the dead to see what beauty lies beneath.

Pruning the Buds

Way back before my thumb was the least shade of green my father-in-law was down for a visit. As we were walking around the yard, I was showing him all the perennials I had planted and was shocked when he told me to pinch back the newly forming buds on the geraniums.

Say what?

He went on to tell me that doing so would increase the amount of flowers they produced. It made no sense whatsoever but I listened to his sage advice and he was indeed right. (Never mind that I planted part of my perennials in mulch instead of soil but that’s proof that anyone can become a green(er) thumb.)

Of all the life pruning this one makes the least sense and can be the most painful. Sometimes we are asked to cut out, snip off areas that sure look like they have promise. Areas that would bloom if left alone.

Here’s the thing, many times we settle for good enough when God wants to give us great. Is it because we’re afraid to prune the bloom? We can’t see the bouquet because we’re hanging on to a single stem.

Take heart my Wildflower Warriors…

Prunella Vulgaris, common self-heal can sure feel like anything but soothing.  It takes time to rest and reset, to recover and reveal the purpose. But when we trust the process we can be sure healing will happen.

kw