Real Ladies Don’t Have Tattoos

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The Atlanta airport was crowded as people were waiting to board the plane to New Mexico. I scanned the area looking for a seat.

Excuse me, sir. Is this seat taken? I asked with a smile.

The man looked up, smiled back and said, No, help yourself.

After settling in with my Starbucks and Kindle, I noticed the man began to fidget just a bit. He looked over at me and said Real ladies don’t have tattoos.

He then got up and walked off.

This wasn’t my first rodeo with someone who had thoughts about tattoos but it had been awhile so I was taken aback for a minute. My first thought was Real gentlemen don’t act like jackasses either! (Of course this creative comeback was after he left…probably just as well…sigh)

My second one was Dear God, please do not let him be seated next to me on the plane! (In His mercy, God forgave my first thought and granted the second.)

This man had no idea who I was, where I was from, what I did for a living, where I was going. Nothing. Except that I had a tattoo and he had an opinion.

Kind of ticked me off a little.

I wasn’t going to share this story but then I read an interesting passage a few days later in Luke 7 with a line that caught my eye.

Jesus gets a dinner invitation from Simon who was a Pharisee. While there, a woman of apparent scandal comes with her alabaster jar of perfume. She kneels down and washes Jesus’ feet with her tears, wiping them with her hair then proceeds pouring the perfume over them.

Instead of recognizing this intimate act as one of asking for forgiveness or one of worship, the Pharisee was disgusted that a.) she is a sinner and b.) Jesus seems to be oblivious to that fact. Maybe this Jesus guy wasn’t who he said he claimed to be after all. (v39 paraphrased)

Jesus then turns back toward the woman and says to Simon, Do you see this woman?

Funny question. I imagine everyone SAW. But did they really SEE?

Simon looked at this woman and only saw a sinner. Jesus looked past the sin and could see a woman.

How many times have I looked at someone and not been able to really see them because I couldn’t get past the outer appearance or my preconceived opinion or my own arrogance? How many times have you?

In her book Braving the Wilderness Brene Brown talks about how the dehumanization of people starts with calling names and forming opinions based on assumptions. (Everyone should read this book!)

The moment that man in the airport looked at me, saw my tattoo and immediately summed me up as not a real lady…I became less human in his eyes. He didn’t really see me, only my tattoo.

Dehumanizing happens when we jump to judge and no longer lean in to learn.

I can think of several ways that people are being made to feel less than. The following are just a handful, maybe you can share more. It’s when we…

Look at an overweight person and assume they are lazy.

Walk past a person of a different color than us and clutch our purses tighter or assume they think they are high and mighty.

Look at a person whose lifestyle is different than ours and not see them, only their “sin”.

Walk past a homeless person and assume they don’t want to work.

Look at the single Mom paying with food stamps and tsk, tsk.

Look at a person’s political stance and immediately assume you are either a snowflake and stupid or cold hearted and callous.

We form opinions about people as whole groups without ever getting to know any one in particular. We look but do not see, without ever hearing their story.

Why? I really don’t know. Do you?

Maybe it’s easier to judge than to learn. Maybe if we got to know someone we would have to get down off our high horse (everyone has ridden one at some point), change our opinion or, heaven forbid, our way of thinking.

Maybe if we really took the time to see the person and not be so quick to critique we would realize that they are more than their weight or sexual preference or political side or skin color. Maybe there’s a story there that you have no idea about.

Maybe if we took a minute to listen and learn we would understand how the homeless came to be living under a bridge or the addict got to where she was or how that Mom became single.

Maybe if we stopped looking and started really seeing, we would show more kindness, compassion and learn to love people who think different, who look different, who act different, realizing we are ALL human beings needing to be seen, valued and loved.

Since practice makes perfect, let’s practice this…

No more name-calling.

No more jumping to judge…let’s leave that to God.

Stop LOOKING and start SEEING.

Imperfect progress is still progress and sure would make the world a better place.

kw

 

 

Roundabouts, Reason and Realization

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Does anybody else find roundabouts confusing? There’s a new one close to where I live and I was trying to picture in my mind where the exits would lead but simply wasn’t sure. (There is nothing logical about my sense of direction…)

One day when I had a few extra minutes, I took one of the exits to see where it would lead and ended up where I still recognized where I was but it wasn’t where I thought I would be. At least I wasn’t going around in a circle afraid to exit for fear of getting lost anymore.

I got stuck on a roundabout in my brain recently that had me sucked into the circle, confused as to which exit to take for fear of taking the wrong one. For a couple of days I felt as if I were on a ride where the gravity of spinning keeps your back against the wall. It does keep you from falling but also from going anywhere but around in a perpetual circle.

I could choose the road marked Picture Perfect for People. I have taken this exit before. It leads to a subdivision called Show Well Way. And even lived on Legalism Lane for a short stint.

In this neighborhood, you go to church every time the doors are open and work at every event offered, otherwise you will a.) “miss the blessing of God” or b.) get ostracized the next time you go. The verse to not give up meeting together (Hebrews 10:25) gets layer upon layer of rules added to it.

Condemnation is king. I once heard a lady say as she was walking out the door, I love to hear him preach. I feel so condemned when I leave. I thought she was joking at first but sadly she was not. (The Holy Spirit convicts not condemns…there is a difference.)

Perfection is preferred. Fight with your husband, spank your kids in the car, be depressed and deal with your junk on the way to church but when you walk through those doors…coiffe your hair, smooth your skirt and put a smile on your face. When someone asks you how you’re doing simply say, fine. You don’t want to be the one who puts the scratch on the vinyl of perfection.

All the while, people are hurting. People are struggling. People are wondering if they are the only one.

No. That’s not the exit I want to take nor the subdivision I want to live in. I sold that house long ago.

So I go back around the circle. I can choose the exit marked God’s Grace is Good.

When I first met people who were grace extenders…those who don’t purse their church lady lips and tell your daughter that it takes one sip of alcohol to be on the road to an AA meeting…it took awhile to let my guard down, to let them in, to simply be me.

But I’m so glad I did.

I am not perfect. My family is not perfect. We struggle. We fight. We have had renegades and seasons where depression almost won. I have a tattoo, (read more about my experiences with that here:     ) drink wine on occasion and call the deer flies a bad name when I’m mowing and they’re biting.

And I love the Lord more now than ever.

Some will say, this is blasphemy, tear their clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes. They will say that I’m taking advantage of God’s grace. I don’t think so. Which is worse…

Giving the false persona that I am a perfect Christian woman who has her act completely together. Or admitting where I’m flawed but always pointing the way to the One who is not.

When I was living on Legalistic Lane, I was worried about what people thought of me, but not necessarily what God thought of me. Perception was everything no matter how I was actually living. I tried to be good for the sake of show. Now I’m just me. I’m not afraid to admit where I fall short knowing his grace is enough for me in this moment. If I’m struggling in an area, I ask for help.

But aren’t you abusing grace? some may ask. God’s grace isn’t a ticket to sin. In fact its affect has just the opposite. It’s this grace, not people and their doctrines, that now drives me to continue to grow…in my faith, in my love for him and the people he puts in my path and yes, strive to be more obedient to what His Truth says to do. (And ask for forgiveness when I mow!)

I am a work in progress. And will continue to be until the day I meet the Lord face to face.

And so, for a hot second, I thought about taking the exit of picture perfect and moving back to the old ‘hood. But then said, nah, there’s no reason to be afraid to take the exit of the goodness and grace God has for simply being me.

The funny thing is whether you resonate with the first exit or the second; both are in need of Grace. So…

Just be you and I’ll just be me. And together we’ll be ever thankful for Grace.

kw

 

Aquanet, Cicadas and Fear

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Glamour Shots Circa 1980’s

We were traveling down the flat stretch of Highway 22&3, cornfields on the left, the outskirts of my small hometown on the right. The water tower stood tall in the center and was painted with school color pride, orange with Home of the Aces written in black. It was the 1980’s version of GPS guiding folks home.

I was with my then boyfriend turned husband in his ’67 VW bug. She was a real beauty, several colors of oxidized red with a lone blue fender. It was a four speed on the floor with lots of pep despite the rusted out floorboards that were hidden by galvanized plates. (My man would like me to mention here that she was undefeated in races….whether this was his skilled driving or her verve is still talked about today.)

We had not a care in the world that summer day. With the windows rolled down (God’s air conditioning) and blue skies ahead, life was good! I don’t remember where we were going or from where we came when it happened.

The ping ping-ing of the VW engine was met with another, different sounding ping. A bug had hit the side mirror. No big deal. Except that our windows were down. All the way. Still, no big deal, right? Until…

It started singing the song of the summer cicada in my ear because that thing landed in my hair! And not just any hair. It was mile-high, permed with thick curls, Aqu-netted to get you through a storm, ‘80’s hair. (See photo above…oh wait…how could you not…that’s some big hair!)

I flapped my hands, shook my head and jumped (hurdled?) into the back seat of that ’67 VW faster than drive-in movie date night. My screaming turned to whimpering as I curled up in a fetal position and cried. Why?

FEAR.

I loathe cicadas. Of all the bugs in all the world, it had to be a cicada to stick its landing  with a perfect ten in my hair. My brave boyfriend is driving and weaving all over the place to try and find this vile creature that I had shook (or scared) out of my hair. Not until it was found and flung outside did I come up to the front seat. He was my hero that day and probably the main reason I married him.

We laugh about this now. But fear is no laughing matter. We have ample opportunity daily to be afraid. In a recent Facebook post I posed the question: Friends, especially of the female persuasion…I am curious to know…what do you struggle with or fear? In other words, what keeps you up at night?

Nearly 50 of my girlfriends commented. That’s a lot of angst. The reasons were wide in range… Kids was the number one reason whether young or old we parents worry about them…their safety, their health, have we done more harm than good in the way we raised them? Have we ruined them beyond repair? Then there’s our health and the health of our families…mental, physical and spiritual. Feeling out of control and not liking that one bit. Fear of failure and not meeting the needs of everyone. Finances. Future. And those dreadful iffy’s.

Yes. Opportunity to fear knocks quite rapidly.

I was at a conference recently where we sang a song that said, I’m no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God.

 So why do we? I stood there singing these words knowing I do fear. Sometimes it’s a fraidy cat fear, other times it’s paralyzing.

Notice it doesn’t say, I no longer fear. But rather that I’m no longer a slave to fear.

We live in a fallen world where the sky is blue one minute and a cicada is in your hair the next. How I react is key.

I can allow the enemy a victory (because we know, according to 2Timothy 1:7 fear is not from God so guess who it’s from) and be enslaved by it. (Who wants to let the devil win? He’s just dumb.) Or I can be like King David, admitting when I am afraid and run to the arms of my Father.

When I am afraid, I will trust in you. (Psalm 56:3)

Fear not appears many times all throughout scripture, not as a command so much as it is an encouragement that WHEN you feel fear, admit it, confront it, control it. Often times it’s followed by a for I am with you (our Father has our back.) Don’t let it win.

Being set free from something (anything) doesn’t mean the disappearance of it. It means we can face it head on, trusting God will give us the strength we need WHEN we need it.

I have a Father that could crush cicadas with a mere thought. Shoot, he’s even bigger than my ‘80’s hair and stronger than Aqua-net in a tornado. I’ll bet he’s bigger than anything that you fear too.

We’ll keep talking this through some more. Because that’s what we do…encourage, empower, engage…in the meantime, I’m watching out for cicadas because ‘tis the season and I’m a work in progress.

kw

Gifts, Rifts and Solace

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It’s hard to believe I’m six months in to this year of Solace theme. The older I get, the faster time goes. It’s been good with lessons learned…some fun, some hard, some in progress.

We celebrated my man on Father’s Day. He got the most diverse gifts from the kiddos this year…. a speedboat for the pond, two sassafras trees and a pedicure. (He kept asking all of us girls about what it was like to get one so…) He will be the fastest boat racer with the best looking feet in Warren County, standing between his sassafras trees and alongside his sassy wife.

(On a side note: If you read about me traveling with my man, aka Mr. Diamond, in the Speaking My Language post I must confess…he DID offer me his seat in first class when they bumped him up. My internal dialogue went straight to the not good enough. I don’t fit in with first class people because I am not a first class act. I wouldn’t even know what to do to be “proper.”  Sigh. I still have work to do on me.)

For Mother’s Day I got a kit from Ancestry.com. You can learn a lot from a little spit. I am 58% Great Britain (with a wee bit of Ireland/Scotland/Wales thrown in for good measure) and 23% Scandinavian (my love for burning things as therapy makes total sense now…Viking pyre anyone?)

My sister (who has her own dad drama to tell) asked if I doubted that Dad was really my dad (which she found out in college was not her Dad…you guys…visions of a Super Soul Sunday outside, with a backdrop of fall foliage and peaceful sky while sipping hot cider turns into a Jerry Springer beer brawl real quick with our upbringing.)

And though this wasn’t that kind of kit, I told her yes. He had often “teased” through the years that he wasn’t sure I was his. My sister and I both agreed that at this point in our existence it really wouldn’t do either of us any good to find out for sure who’s your daddy. We had step-dads but they sounded more like the beginning of a bad joke…a gambler, an old man and a drunk were sitting at a bar…

She made the comment that she has been pretty much fatherless her whole life and didn’t need one now. But then again, have we ever truly been without a Father? Earthly? Perhaps. Heavenly? Never. We just didn’t always recognize (or allow) him to be at times.

God has shown himself faithful during these six months of solace. But why am surprised? It’s who he is.

So much to learn.

I also discovered if you write enough words for people to read, you will (eventually) offend someone. I got a message from a friend who wrote As a dear friend please take this critique knowing it comes from my heart. I started to read your blog this morning but you lost me at the word “bejesus.” She goes on to tell me why and then asks this question: how do we as Christians become all things to all people in order to save some and at the same time not be conformed to this world?

I replied Thank you for caring enough to share your thoughts. I guess I don’t think of that word as offensive or a bad word. I certainly don’t mean it as such but could maybe find a different way of expressing that idea. I do try to be the real me when I write though so balancing all that is a delicate dance for sure. I do have more thoughts but am heading out for a walk…

The word bejesus is an exclamation attributed to the Irish, used to express surprise or for emphasis. It has nothing to do with Jesus, the One I love. But that’s not the point I suppose. Where is the balance of being me yet not offending? Of being a work in progress and yet not making that be an excuse? My friend admitted to being legalistic at times and asked Am I being too rigid?

All good questions that I hope to write about next month so we can have some discussions around it.

I also learned that we (my girlfriends and me) live in fear of many things. Way too many! So along with the above topic to discuss, I am writing a series titled Freedom From…

How appropriate for the month of July!!

Here’s to six more months of Solace, writing and the adventures of faith!

kw

 

 

Now We Wait…

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This is me in the early years of garden training. I still love my wheelbarrow!

We won’t be “knee high by the fourth of July” (that’s garden talk for how tall your corn should be by then) but we did get the whole garden planted a couple weeks ago. It’s a little late going in but with the weather and work schedule…well, we may be harvesting during Christmas break but at least there will be more people here to help. (Smile)

In the meantime, we do something many struggle doing. We wait. We aren’t a very patient people when it comes to waiting well. The garden is a classroom full of learning….patience, grace, sweat, trust, hard work. It’s good for the soul and cheaper than therapy. (And you get tomatoes… 🙂

There are things we can control….which seeds to plant, where we plant them, garden design, soil amendment, fencing the area and the amount of work we put in weeding, tending and nurturing.

There are things we can’t control…the weather and whether the seeds will germinate. Then there’s the animals…birds eat the seeds, bunnies eat the young shoots (green bean leaves are apparently a favorite), raccoons eat the corn…you can’t “relocate” them all 😉

One thing gardening has taught me…trust the process. We’ve gone out everyday to watch for any changes. It started with noticing bumps of soil where we planted seeds. A couple days later we began to notice pods that had busted open or tender shoots that had broken through. How it knows to do what it does is amazing!

We worked the process and the process worked. Mostly.

Some areas aren’t thriving like other areas. Some seeds didn’t bust open. They didn’t even break through the soil. That happens doesn’t it? The same care. The same environment. Different outcomes.

Sometimes you have to start an area over and reseed.

The waiting is hard. The results can be frustrating. You can do everything right then a big storm comes and washes away all your work. You end up growing corn in the next county.

And reseed again.

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We planted 21 boxes, an heirloom tomato patch, several rows of corn and more. We added chicken wire fence to the fence to keep the bunnies out…hopefully.

What about in life?

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow. (Audrey Hepburn)

When we care for something (someone), we want to see it grow, mature and change. But we have to trust the process here as well.

There are things we can control like the seeds we plant…love, kindness, generosity, hope, joy. The words we speak into someone…affirmations, honesty, wisdom. The environment we provide….safety, warmth, discussions.  We can weed and protect to the best of our ability. Dirty knees are the sign of a warrior of weeds and a person of prayer.

But. (Always a but!)

There are things we cannot control. Like the time it takes for those seeds to take root. The world around those we love. The environment that those we care for choose to surround themselves with. Sickness, cancer, divorce. Weeds…what’s with the weeds?! One day there are none and the next you can’t find your tender shoot anywhere!

Trust the process!

Keep nurturing. Keep sowing love and kindness. Keep showering in prayer. Keep having conversations. (Nagging, arguing and judging are not the same as conversing.)

Everyone’s germination period looks different. Some take time to break open because they themselves have been busted up. (Read more about being broken here…  )

And just when you think you’re lined up in neat rows, a storm hits, sending your hard work all over the place. Dang it. But keep going…

Reseed but never recede.

I know questions come in the darkness of night when the house is still but your mind is anything but. The what ifs. The whens. The hows. The doubts hang on you like an x-ray apron, making it hard to breathe let alone hope.

But remember this…

Just because we don’t see anything going on doesn’t mean there’s not. A lot of changes are happening deep down. Cultivation comes about underground, out of eye sight. We can add the Miracle Grow but only God grows the miracle.

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Green beans and limas are up as well as winter and summer squash and zucchini for “bikini bread” according to my grandson. Cucumbers and peas are loving the trellis. 🙂

Be patient. Change will happen. Your garden will grow. Hope abounds. For now, we wait.

kw

Speaking My Language

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My man and I  were on a flight coming home from visiting our daughter in New Mexico with a layover in Utah. My man has a fancy diamond traveling status and was greeted like royalty everywhere we went. Me? I got the pat down (or feel up) and treated like my mascara wand could give McGyver a run for his money on creative ways to land the plane.

“We” were Mr. Wright’ed at every turn. How was your flight Mr. Wright? Anything we can get you Mr. Wright? Would you like to bump up to first class Mr. Wright? (And he DID! But that’s a story for another day! He did meander to the back of the plane to offer me his dessert…) No wonder he likes to travel…

All of that would have been super annoying except that his status got me a welcome to the Sky Club Lounge any friend of Mr. Diamond is a friend of mine greeting from the woman behind the lounge counter.

I found us seats with the best view to people watch while my man got us plates of bread and cheese and me a glass of wine. (Mr. Diamond ain’t so bad after all.)

All settled in, I casually sipped my wine, nibbled on my snacks and critiqued the unsuspecting travelers. There was the lady beside me talking on her phone to someone who was obviously VERY hard of hearing. We ALL heard about her family member who was in the ICU and how she hated leaving her there etc. etc.

The lady in front of me, who’s back was towards me, was getting peeved at loud lady. Every time loud lady answered hard of hearing lady, peeved lady jerked her head around so fast I thought for sure it was going to snap off and land at my feet. Peeved lady would dramatically turn back around and aggressively pet her Shitzu who was failing its one job of being any emotional support to its master.

There I sat casually sipping and nibbling. Would you like another glass of wine Mr. Diamond’s friend? Don’t mind if I do.

Meanwhile a group of five women came in, sat down, took two sips of their drinks then decided they were late to their gate and left. Leaving behind full plates of food, bottles of beer and glasses of wine. Such a shame. Especially when the entertainment was so good!

That’s when I spotted him.

His nametag said Jean. He was a table busser and had come over to clean up late-to-the-gate-party-of-five’s-mess. This twenty something’s demeanor was quiet. I tried to make eye contact…not in a cougar-ish way but in a sucks to clean up after people kind of way. I’ve bussed tables….it’s a thankless job.

He finally did glance my way. I smiled. He politely nodded. (Maybe he had heard that I wielded a mean mascara wand and didn’t want to engage. Or maybe he knew I was a couple of glasses of wine in…anyhoo…)

He made his way around the lounge, cleaning tables, being polite and quiet. Loud lady and peeved lady had left. So I sat there watching Jean work. Something intrigued me about him. (As I’m typing this out, I realize how utterly creepy I sound…)

He never engaged in a conversation. He never interacted with the travelers. He simply went about doing his job. Until…

I heard, more than saw, a couple come in who were conversing with each other in French. Jean’s eyes LIT UP. His body language and whole countenance changed as he made his way toward the French speaking couple. He was grinning from ear to ear as the three of them conversed. There was energy in his step the rest of the time we were there.

Creepy lady (that’s me) realized something that day; we all need someone who speaks our language. We all need people who hear us, understand us, who get us. How foreign do we feel when we think we’re the only one struggling with something? How isolating is it when we think we’re the only ones who fight with our spouse or who have prodigal kids or feel less than sometimes? How alienating is it to think that other Mom’s never get tired or heat up a frozen pizza for dinner or hide ice cream bars to eat late at night after bedtime?

We need each other! It’s why I share real life on here. The thing I hear the most from women I counsel? It’s nice to feel like I’m heard. Not judged. Not fixed. Not shamed. Simply listened to.

To have someone speak your language, to walk beside you and get it, is the best gift we can give.

Au revoir Jean! Thanks for the life lesson! (And the wine!)

kw

 

 

 

In Light of This Weeks News

We’ve got to do a better job talking about this. The suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdaine prove once again that you can’t judge a book by its cover; you can’t simply look at someone and know what’s truly going on.

Money and fame doesn’t scare depression away. Status doesn’t give you immunity to mental illness. I’m not talking about just rich and famous status here either. The church (in general) often makes those who struggle feel less faith filled, less Christian. (Read more about that in an article I wrote last year… http://lookoutmag.com/offering-light-and-hope/ )

We’ve got to stop assuming we know someone’s story. If we truly got to know most people, we would be pretty surprised at the things they’ve gone through, the things they struggle with or the things they think about themselves.

We live in an age that has more ways of being connected than ever before. And yet we are the loneliest, most disconnected generation that’s ever been. We post what we want people to see. We’ve stopped talking (especially to those who think differently than we do.) We opt to show our lives in picture perfect posts instead of having real, live conversations.

I wonder if we really want to?

Would we rather just go about our own lives and not get involved? It’s easier, I suppose. To walk a rough road with someone is hard. To reach out and help someone who struggles with mental illness is sometimes awkward, as we don’t usually know what to say or do. Reaching out is a great first step. Telling the person you don’t know what to say but want to help is a start. Simply listening helps.

We’ve got to put down our phones (or the million other distracting devices) and start having conversations again, in person, around the table, on a porch swing, in a coffee shop, at a park…somewhere face to face. Put away your opinions and shock face and listen, really listen to each other.

Lord, give us the want-to. Amen

 

A Hallway of Doors Galore!

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Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened for you. (Matthew 7:7NLT)

I’m not a very adventurous person. (My family is grinning at that understatement.) I (over) analyze the sweet bejesus out of everything so by the time I make a decision about something, having written out the pros and cons and what if’ed every possible scenario, I’m almost 100% sure I’m making the right one. Whatever it may be.

I’ve been praying for direction for quite some time now. Asking for doors to open or doors to shut. What I’m finding is it’s not quite as simple as that.

Sometimes the door shuts. The answer is no. You didn’t get the job. You received a rejection letter. Divorce papers are signed. The stick is negative. The prodigal is still prodigal-ing. The promotion went to someone else.

There is no mistaking the shut door. Even when you pound on it, shove it with your shoulder, beg the owner, it will not open.

Sometimes the door opens. The answer is yes, please, come right in and have a seat. Opportunity will be with you shortly. May I get you something to drink or eat? I trust the journey here was not too taxing.

 All is well. Life is good. You are at peace. You know THIS is what you are meant to do.

Black and white. Yes or no. Clear and concise. Plain and simple. Those are my kind of doors. No figuring out. No paralysis of analysis. No second guesses.

But what I learned is there may be a third option. What if…

You knock (ask), the door opens (answer is yes), you walk through (in obedience) only to find it feels foreign. You double-check the address. Yep. You wrote it down right. After all, you prayed for this open door for months now.

This was me recently. It was so confusing.

Did I hear wrong? Take a wrong turn somewhere? Go down the wrong hallway? Get off on the wrong floor? I can’t quit. I PRAYED for this door to open. And. It. Did.

But from the very first day of walking through the door, I had doubts. Not before mind you. Maybe it was just me getting used to new house sounds, the creeks and pops of the floorboards. Maybe if I gave it some time, the new surroundings would become familiar.

Deep down I knew. This wasn’t for me.

So I prayed AGAIN…

 Lord, I am confused. I thought you opened this door for me to walk through. Why am I feeling like this isn’t for me? Help me to understand.

 Here is what he showed me…

A closed door doesn’t mean it will stay closed forever. Sometimes it will. Sometimes it won’t. If it does, will you trust me? If it doesn’t, will you try?

An open door doesn’t always mean you back your U-Haul up to it and move in for good. Sometimes I open a door for you to walk through so you can see that is not the place I have for you. But because you are stubborn (the nerve!) and keep praying the same way, I opened this door so you would recognize the one I have for you.

Never underestimate what you are already called to do. Don’t run from it.

Will you trust me?

I had felt like such a quitter before he showed me this. This door wasn’t the wrong one. He had something to teach me at that particular address. Had I not walked through, I would not have learned the lesson. NOT trying at all because of fear of failing would have been the failure. I never want to be afraid to turn the knob, walk through the door and try what the Lord puts in front of me. I want to trust that my Father will show me if this door is the right one for me, if I am moving in or just staying for dinner.

NOT trying at all because of fear of failing would have been the failure. 

And then I ran across this from Paul in his letter to Corinth…

Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said good-by to them and went on to Macedonia. (2Corinthians 2:12-13NIV bold is mine)

Even a saint like Paul walked through a God ordained open door only to discover his journey was to be elsewhere. Whew…

How about you? Have you tried something you just knew you were suppose to do and then knew it wasn’t? Was it confusing? Maybe God was showing you more through that open door!

Fiercely for YOU!

kw

Always a Way

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There I stood. Pinned between the mower and fence. A little stunned and a whole lot taken by surprise. What just happened?

I’ve mowed that hill a hundred times so I didn’t think a thing about it as I was maneuvering our new (bigger) walk behind mower…the kind you squeeze one handle to lower the blade and the other to put it into gear. It took a bit to get used to at first and on occasion I wasn’t sure who was controlling whom but I had gotten pretty comfortable with it.

Therein lies the problem.

As I was hunkering down to come up the hill, my sweaty hand slipped off the handle just enough to send the mower into neutral. Neutral+hill=bad news. Suddenly I was wanning (not quite walking but not quite running) backwards down the hill and quick as that, I was pinned against the fence.

After the initial shock, I felt panic set in. My man was on the other side of our three acre lot mowing so there was no way he would hear me yell for him. Then it dawned on me, squeeze the handle. It was that simple.

Handle squeezed, gear engaged, I was no longer trapped.

God is no stranger to using parables as teaching tools. So what life lessons did I learn from this mowing mayhem?

1. Don’t get too full of yourself.

The moment I got comfortable, I got complacent. I stopped paying close attention to what I was doing and didn’t respect the power of the machine I was driving.

Sometimes in life, we think we’ve got a handle on things and let down our guard.

Maybe we got trapped doing a particular thing so we are uber careful to not let ourselves get trapped like that again. We pay so much attention there that we’re not looking here.

Or maybe we see someone we know doing stuff they shouldn’t be doing and we think to ourselves, I would never…

 Those are dangerous hills to climb.

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18 NIV)

2. It can happen fast.

All it took was a simple slip of a sweaty hand off the handle and seconds later, I was wondering how I had gotten where I was.

Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1Peter 5:8 NIV)

Interestingly enough a lion roars after it has caught its prey. Before the roar he watches and waits. Ready to pounce. Just like that.

That poor unsuspecting gazelle was enjoying her morning breakfast, not paying attention and suddenly she’s being served up on a platter as Leo’s lunch.

Peter tells us in this same chapter how to avoid the trap of the enemy…

Humble yourselves (v6) (see previous notes on not getting full of ourselves)

 ~ Be self-controlled (v8)  (worry about yourself…not what others are or are not doing)

~ Be alert (8) (pay attention to your surroundings, using all your senses)

~ Resist the devil (v9) (walk, run or cartwheel out of there but do what you must to resist!)

Don’t be a gazelle! (That one’s mine…not Peter’s. :))

3. Know there’s always a way out.

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (1Corinthians 10:13 NIV)

 Notice it says when you are tempted. Not if. When.

We live in a fallen world. A broken down, busted up group of people are we. Temptation goes back to the beginning of time, in a gorgeous garden where there was nary a want to be had. And yet they were tempted. How much more susceptible are we?

But God tells us he provides a way for us. A way out. A way to not succumb. A way to not buckle under the pressure of a world gone wonky.  I don’t always know how he does it, I just trust he makes it available because he says so.

We have to have the want-to to choose the way he’s given. The better way. The way out.

Sometimes it’s complicated. I get that. But sometimes it’s as easy as squeezing the handle. Whatever the temptation, there is a way out. Always.

Fiercely for you!

kw

 

 

One Letter Shy

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Meet Cohen. He’s learning how to write his letters and by stringing them together make words. He worked so hard on the “word of the day”…T-shirt…but came up one letter short, as you can see.

His teachers didn’t have the heart to tell him otherwise so he stood proud for his picture and a new “word of the day” was shared. T-shit became a much repeated word through the hallways and around dinner tables. It made people LOL and get tickled to no end.

There’s another word that we hold up proud, smiling for the camera, acting like we’ve got it all together…

thumbnailWe boast of our busyness. The vibration of our vernacular becomes this when asked the question How are you?

 Busy.

 I’ve been so busy.

 Crazy busy!

 Work is busy. Home is busy. Life is insane.

 Sigh…

We wonder why we can’t get it all done. We wonder if there’s something more to this life than this pace we’re keeping.

Don’t get me wrong, with five kids who all played sports and who, at one time, were at four different school campuses, I get a fast pace. There are seasons of busy, but when spring turns to summer, turns to fall, turns to winter, year after busy year, something’s gotta give. That something is usually you.

Keeping up an insane pace and never slowing down will eventually affect the health of our marriages, the health of our families, the health of our households and our own mental and physical well being.

We are available 24/7. We are always connected via some type of screen…smart(?)phones, iPads, computers, TV, video games….all of which keep our fear of missing out at bay. Or does it keep the fear factor at an all time high as we are able to watch the news all day and all night, if we choose?

Did you know that we are struggling more and more to read and comprehend books? We are fast becoming skimmers of articles and get bored quicker now more than ever before. We can “ok google” something and get instant answers rather than spend (waste?) time researching it. Because we’re just too darn busy to do it any other way.

Being “on” all the time isn’t good for anyone. I realize different personalities thrive off of different paces…some faster than others…but we ALL need rest.

by the seventh day God had finished his work. On the seventh day he rested from all his work. (Genesis 2:3 MSG)

Rest is a gift that was given not a burden to bear.

Our bodies need rest. Our brains need rest. Our souls need rest.

So what do we do?

How do we slow down the PACE?

Like Cohen, we are one letter shy. A simple “e” inserted between the first two letters of pace gives us the word that is most desired….

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That’s great but what does that even look like?

#1. Turn off all things screen related (once you finish reading this of course…) for a designated time each day. Or give yourselves an allotted amount of time to check emails, social media etc. If your job requires screen time for goodness sakes stay off it when you get home. Don’t allow screens in your bedroom. That’s an area designated for sleep or…well you get the picture.

And the world won’t stop turning. 😉

#2. Meditate/be still just a few minutes a day. It’s a great way to clear your mind and retrain your brain to think more clearly. There are some great apps if you need someone to guide you…I use Headspace.

#3. Walk outside, put your feet in the grass, look up at the stars, put your line in the water or your hands in the dirt, get connected with nature, which also connects you with the Creator. Breathe in deeply; enjoy the simplicity of just being.

Nature itself is the best physician. (Hippocrates)

 Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. (Lao Tzu)

#4. Read a book. A real one. According to an article in Scientific American: evidence from laboratory experiments, polls and consumer reports indicates that modern screens and e-readers fail to adequately recreate certain tactile experiences of reading on paper that many people miss and, more importantly, prevent people from navigating long texts in an intuitive and satisfying way. In turn, such navigational difficulties may subtly inhibit reading comprehension. Compared with paper, screens may also drain more of our mental resources while we are reading and make it a little harder to remember what we read when we are done.

I love my kindle but sometimes a paper and ink book is just what my senses need.

#5. Have a real conversation with a real person. We’ve lost the art of conversing “the old fashioned way”…face to face. We’ve stopped the practice of sharing and listening, watching for body language and tone of voice, of seeing emotion on a face and the touch on an arm. Get a coffee or lunch date on your calendar and enjoy some time with a friend.

T-shit and I will be waiting to hear how you string together creative ways of inserting the “e” into your pace so you can experience peace.

Fiercely for YOU!

kw