You Are Not Forgotten

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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

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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

 

Be Kind Not a Behind

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The Spotted Forget-Me-Not looks like it’s barely hanging on…like many people we come across.

“Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.” -Lucius Annaeus Seneca

I kept peeking over the shoulder of the woman in front of me. Why do I always pick the slowest line? I don’t have time for this.

Finally it was my turn. I put my items on the conveyor belt and was mapping out the next stop in my head. When I got up to the cashier I threw out a Hey, how are you doing? Not REALLY wanting to know but just trying to be a friendly I wasn’t feeling. I expected a Good, how are you? That’s what your supposed to do, right? But no…

I don’t want to be here today, came her reply.

Whoa now. I didn’t want a real answer. Isn’t that the way of it? We politely ask hoping you’ll politely answer with fine

I’m thinking but not saying something like this: Are you serious? YOU are here to wait on ME not tell me you don’t want to be here. An ‘I’m fine. How are you?’ would have been the RIGHT thing to say. Pffftt, why am I not surprised. Why do I always pick the wrong line?

Nice, huh?

Fortunately for her (and me as you will see) I did not say what I was thinking. Instead, I made some joke about not wanting to be running around like a crazy woman but we do what we have to. Secretly wishing she would scan a little faster. I was, after all, in a tremendous hurry with a full schedule….did I mention this already?

She went on to tell me she got a call from Hospice a few minutes ago and her dad was in the active stages of dying. She was stuck here because she needs the job to pay the bills. She probably wouldn’t make it in time to tell him goodbye.

Thank you Jesus that what I was thinking before did not go from my brain to my mouth!(Oh but for the GRACE of God!)

I hadn’t noticed her lower than life countenance because I was watching her slower than snails scanning.

Why?

My day was overbooked. I was in such a hurry to get to the next thing, I wasn’t in the here and now. Sound familiar?

We live in such a fast paced, uptight, severely (over) scheduled world that noticing isn’t even an option. We can’t see the people we leave in the flurry of our hurry.

Our schedules are so full that there is no room for care, consideration or concern. Just watch people at the grocery store some time…sorry old lady trying to reach an item on the top shelf, I would help you but, you know, gotta go! Then we zip right around her thinking she should be glad we didn’t run her slow bum over.

I also thought MY day, MY schedule, MY to do list was way more important than that of a lowly cashier. Talk about arrogant. I may not have said anything this time but it was just a matter of time for pompous pride to make its way from mind to mouth.

What you say flows from what is in your heart. (Luke 6:45 NLT)

Later that same day, I was checking out at Michaels and the person in front of me was speaking her mind to the slow cashier. After huffy Harriet left and it was my turn, I told the cashier (who looked all of twelve) how sorry I was that she was treated like that. She looked so relieved, told me it was her first day on the job and that she was so nervous. Take a deep breath, you’ve got this.

I’m so grateful when God gives me an opportunity to redeem my jack-assery. The lesson that day? Be Kind, Not a Behind because you just never know what someone is going through.

kw

 

 

 

 

 

Girl in the White Bell-Bottom Jeans

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Not normally one to seek out adventure, I threw caution to the wind, got out from the safety of the middle and decided to try my hand with the faster, more experienced kids.

I should have known better.

But I’m getting ahead of myself so let me back up a bit.

My brother and I were the second set of kids my grandparents raised. Money was tight on Grandpa’s swing shift job working the burn off at Anchor Hocking. My Granny helped in all the ways she could cooking, keeping house, and sewing. She sewed most all of my clothes.

My younger self didn’t begin to understand things like single incomes, budgets and frugality. I just knew that nothing screamed poor like matching gingham shirts and pants. All I wanted to do was fit in. I wanted someone to notice my clothes, not because they were making fun of the homespun, but because I was setting a fashion trend. For once I wanted to hear the girls ask me where I shopped for such a cute outfit.

Much to my delight (and seven day work weeks for my Grandpa) I got to get a store bought outfit in the spring of my third grade year. I was the shizzle getting off the bus and walking in to class that day. I had the cutest little solid red top that fit perfectly. The pants? Oh my word!  White bell-bottom jeans trimmed with a red cuff and white polka dots. And not just any bell-bottoms. No. These were elephant bell-bottoms! Bell-bottoms that had bell-bottoms. Throw on some new white Keds and I was ready for the runway, setting trends and blazing fashion trails that left all things gingham-checked in my dust…

I was having the best day.

That is until I decided to get adventurous and push the (now banned death trap) merry-go-round on the playground. As you might have guessed, it didn’t go well. It got going faster than my little girl legs could go and since I wasn’t used to jeans with flared bottoms, well, I took a pretty good tumble. On a side note: It’s important to let go once you fall down, otherwise you keep going but not on your feet.

The boys laughed and the girls gasped and I got all kinds of attention I hadn’t bargained for nor wanted. My hands had rocks embedded in them and both of my knees and one hip were bloodied. That wasn’t even the worst of it. The school nurse could clean and cover those with ointment and Band-Aids. But what of my pants?

I felt a little like Ralphie from The Christmas Story who thought his mom wouldn’t notice his busted up glasses. My pants were shredded at both knees and down one thigh (remember to let go…) with so much dirt and blood you couldn’t tell there was a red cuff let alone white polka dots.

What was I going to tell my Granny? She asked all manner of questions: What was I thinking? Why didn’t I stay in the middle where it was safer? Better yet, why get on that thing at all?  Your Grandpa worked hard so you could have those jeans and you ruined them because you were goofing off  and being full of yourself.

I don’t know if these were the exact questions but it was the gist of what I walked away with. Somewhere along the way, that day translated into: being adventurous and carefree equals getting hurt and disappointing people. It equals falling and failing.

Unknowingly, that day followed me around well into my adult years.  Afraid to draw attention. Afraid to be brave. Afraid to get out of the middle.  Afraid to be carefree.  Afraid to let loose and go fast. Afraid to disappoint. Afraid to fall. Afraid to fail. Always playing it safe for fear of busting up my best bell-bottoms.

Oh, this memory wasn’t like a cash transaction where I purposely handed over money in exchange for fear. It’s more like an auto-pay where you don’t even think about it until you see the withdrawal on your bank statement. I simply kept forgetting to cancel the auto-ship on a package I no longer wanted.

I began to recognize that little girl in the torn and now bloodied bell-bottomed jeans was embedded in my thoughts like those rocks in my hands. Always reminding me. Silently berating, shaming. Once I understood it was her that was whispering like the wind… don’t venture too far too fast, you’ll fall down, people will laugh, better play it safe, you don’t want to disappoint… I began the process of picking out the lies, of healing the hurt, of mending the tears, of telling her it’s alright. Ever so slowly I began to inch my way out of the middle, to put myself out there, to know I could fall and fail but also get up and try again. I could have fun and go on adventures. And it was okay.

The girl in the white bell-bottom jeans?

She is me. Only better. Maybe she is you too?

kw

 

 

 

Faith > Fear

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Fears. We’ve all experienced them. We’ve all wrestled with them. Some have conquered many of them. Others still struggle. Sometimes fear pops up quicker than an Eggo waffle out of the toaster. You thought you had worked through that thing but nope, there it is joining you for breakfast…pass the butter and syrup, please. Is there any coffee left? What kind of creamer did you buy at the store? You know I like French Vanilla.

Fear lives with you like an old friend, like you are some sort of bed and breakfast just waiting to serve her every need. You’ve become so familiar with her presence you don’t know what it’s like to not have her company.

But is it sin as was stated on a social media thread when I asked what kept my girlfriends up at night with worry? Nothing shuts down a conversation quicker than the blanket statement Fear is sin. (Emphasis on the period.)

The Bible talks about it a lot (Some say there are 365 “fear not’s” written. One for every day.) Maybe God knew we would have much to fear in this wacky world we live in. Maybe “fear not” is meant as an encouragement and not a command. The only thing he tells us to fear is him. Maybe that’s so our focus shifts from the thing we fear to the One who can help us fight our fear. Maybe fear gives us an opportunity to actually grow our faith.

Here’s what I know about my own dealings with the things I fear or have feared.

Trauma

Some fears seem unwarranted or silly. For example, I do not like being in the middle of a crowd if I don’t think I can get out. So I sit as close to the end of a row as I can get and know where the nearest exit is. We won’t even mention car washes…

We can have all kinds of experiences that plant a seed of fear within us. Death. Divorce. Disease. Abuse. Abandonment. Anxiety. Worry. War. Family. Loss. Sickness. Natural disasters….and not even realize a root of fear started to grow because it.

It wasn’t until I sought help that I realized where this fear of being trapped came from. It was something that happened to me as a young girl. The counselor gave me tools to deal with the fear, to talk myself through it, and breathing exercises so I can go to crowded places and enjoy myself without (too much) fear. (I even went through the car wash by myself…once…)

If “fear is sin” then I will sit in the middle of a crowd thinking I’m a bad person for feeling paralyzed by fear and never ask for help.

It’s ok to talk to someone about your fears. It’s ok to reach out for help.

Truth

Some of my fears are bathed in lies. Fear of not being good enough, thin enough, perfect enough, smart enough, talented enough, tough enough, pretty enough, loud enough, soft enough, adventurous enough, smooth enough, delightful enough, lovable enough…you get the picture. Did I hit any of your “not enough’s”?

Some of my fears have been or are my identity. I’m just a worrier. You are no longer you, the person. You suddenly become your fear. Anybody else ever said those words?

How about fear of failure, success or loneliness?

Then there’s the fear that we’re gonna mess our kids up beyond repair?

I hate to break it to you (and remind myself): we can’t mess up so bad that God can’t fix it. We aren’t that powerful. He is the best Repairer, Redeemer, and Restorer of all times.

To combat the lies, seek Truth. Find scripture verses that are opposite of the lies you believe. Read who you truly are based on what God says and not what your fears say. Satan is the ultimate accuser and wants you to sit in those fears, afraid. Get ticked and do otherwise.

Maybe fear isn’t sin but a subterfuge from Satan to keep us from living the full life God has for us. Just a thought.

Trust

I love/hate when God gives me current examples. I really want to share those things that have healed over nicely so I can show you there’s barely even a scar from battling with fear. But…

I have had an opportunity to fear the past couple of weeks. I have to admit, I sat in it for a bit, stewed on it for a couple of days and invited it to breakfast. And just like that she was back like a comfortable old friend, asking for French Vanilla creamer and a muffin.

We had conversations around this thing and the more we talked, the worse the fear became. Doesn’t matter about what. It could be anything really. The point is I let her stay way too long before I remembered she wasn’t a welcome guest in my home.

My reminder? God. I remembered I hadn’t talked to him about it. I had spent so much time playing every what if…scenario in my head, running them by my familiar friend (foe?) and allowing thoughts to run amok that it completely slipped my mind to simply pray about it.

I was trying to control it all and played into the lie that I had to. Did I trust Him with it? Would I give it to Him?

So in the middle of pulling weeds in the garden, I confessed my fears, my dreadful what if’s and doomsday scenarios. I conceded control and felt way better.

I don’t think fear is a sin. I think it lets us know we are human in need of something bigger than the thing we fear. It helps us to recognize the frailty of our fears when put next to the enormity of our God. Maybe the bravest thing we do is let God know when we are afraid. Then let HIM deal with your guest who is no longer welcome.

Oh and pour out that creamer…she is not the boss of you!

kw

 

 

 

 

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