Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I'd get up for you

My biological father died 3 years ago. He was a great friend to a lot of people. He was handsome and super friendly. He had blond hair and blue eyes and was more than likely who I have to thank for naturally highlighting hair in the sunshine. A whole bunch of people really loved him. But, he wasn't a father.

He never grew up which I guess to some might be charming, but it's not the best quality for a little girl looking for stability in a male role model. Our relationship was strained to say the least especially as I got older. Divorce didn't help. Moving far away probably didn't help. His lack of interest in a true relationship really didn't help. He was a fair weather friend. He couldn't deal with the hard times or the confusing things or the frustrating moments. He was surface and I'm sooooooooo not. We were probably both a little thankful when I turned 18 and we didn't have to fake a good relationship anymore.

The last time I saw my dad alive was when I was 21 visiting other family in Pennsylvania for the holidays. I didn't want to go see them. I hadn't seen that part of my family in over a year and I couldn't visualize a scenario where there wouldn't be awkward moments. But, they asked me to come over and visit one evening and so I did dragging my cousin Julie along for the fun....ahem.

We walked in the door of my aunt's house, my grandmother took my coat and we leaned against the counter. My dad was sitting at the table about 10 feet away from me playing cards with my aunt. "Hey kiddo. What's up?" He didn't look up from his cards and went immediately back to his game. They kept playing like we weren't there. My grandmother tried to fill in the gaps with a few questions you ask people you don't really know and then I asked for my coat after about 20 minutes. We left and I'm so glad we did.

My cousin basically had her mouth open like she couldn't believe that just happened. I can't remember what we talked about on the way back, but I remember being really upset. We got back to my other aunt's house and she asked how it went. All I could think to say was, "He didn't even get up! He didn't even get up!" She looked confused and my cousin said, "really, it was awful."

Granted, he had no way of knowing sitting there that in less than a decade he would be dead. He didn't know that was the last time he would ever see his daughter on this earth. I like to think if he had known the exchange might have been different. I like to think he might have walked me to the car and apologized for not being there. I would have had the chance to forgive him and we could have agreed to be friends. It didn't happen that way.

But, when he was dying I halfway got the chance. He had been dying for several days. Everyone at his bedside had told him goodbye and had given him the proverbial permission to go. He was still hanging on. My step mother called and asked me if I would please speak to him. He was comatose at this point, but I agreed to do it. They held the phone to his ear and what I said doesn't matter. But I told him I absolutely forgave him for anything he felt was left unfinished. Later that evening he died.

I've thought about that exchange hundreds of times since then, but what has stuck with me is not that very one sided conversation. By now I had forgotten about the last time I'd seen him. But that day as I hung up the phone and took a deep breath I felt like God whispered to my soul that day, "I'll always get up for you."

People will always leave voids in our lives intentionally or not-it's part of being human. But, I have yet to experience a loss myself that God did not meet and exceed those expectations to absolute perfection. I'm so thankful that when we feel a void of any kind, temporary or seemingly permanent, he offers us Himself.

I'm thankful that when we come to him after moments or days or years, he gets up for us. He cares enough. We are that important to Him.

Amazing love.

Monday, August 30, 2010

One Day Soon

I've been thinking a lot about Heaven lately for some reason. My main disappointments with scripture are not knowing what happened to Esther and not knowing enough about Heaven. I believe in the sovereignty of the Bible-fear not. I believe if we needed to know more it would be there, but still, I want to know more.

Some days I'm just ready to be on the other side of the pearly gates forever. I want Jesus to not just be near, but be right there. I want to turn the corner and run right into Him and then laugh about how I didn't always look where I was going on Earth either. I want to know what His eyes look like and finally see for myself the depths of compassion in them.

I want to appreciate in real existence the nail scarred hands as He takes mine. I want to tell Him in person that I never could have made it a single second alone. I want to see the bottle where my tears are stored knowing that not one was ever overlooked by Him. I want to tell Him that he not only gave me something to live for every day, but Someone.

I want to be where there's no fear. I want to be where tomorrow will be as peaceful as today over and over and over again. I want to be where each day goes as expected and there's never anything to ruin everything again. I want Death to be defeated and the Enemy to be in his final resting resting place.

I want to be so enthralled with Heaven that Earth seems like a dream I had once that I kind of remember, but not really.

I want that and One Day Soon it will be.

More than the beauty of Heaven, more than a continuous relationship with Lord, more than perfect fellowship and absolute worship-I want the Lord to look me in the eye and say, "Child, you did everything I asked of you. You waited on Me. Well done my good and faithful one."

I don't want to miss a moment, a blessing, a lesson, an opportunity. I want to run hard and I want to run well. Straight into His arms.

One Day Soon.

"And yet they're not like," said Lucy. "They're different. They have more colours on them and they look further away than I remembered and they're more...more....oh I don't know."
"More like the real thing," said the Lord Digory softly.

C.S. Lewis-The Last Battle

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Right to Rest

I'm not a very peaceful person. There. I said it. I really like the idea of peace and I love to be around people who seem to grasp the concept but me? Not so much. I'm goal oriented, purpose driven, and accomplishment happy about 98% of the time. All of which is why when I daydream I dream of comfy pj's, soft sheets, uninterrupted naps, Ashram's in India, The Abbey in Kentucky, long prayer times without a watch, reading a book just for fun and mindless tv.

I'm leaving next week for Nashville for 4 days. I'm staying in a super comfy hotel with soft sheets. I have perfect PJ's. I can take a nap several times a day if the mood strikes me. I can watch mindless tv. I'm going to spend time with friends I already know and friends I'm about to make. I'm excited and I need it.

Looking around my house tonight I'm starting to doubt myself. Should I have just stayed home for a week? There's so much I need to do around my house. I have one dog in my lap, one beside me and one on my feet. I hate leaving them! Should I have stayed here and spent time with them?



Because I've stayed home for vacation before and you know what? It wasn't vacation!!

I need a break from productivity. I need the chance to do whatever I want to for a few hours. I need to spend time with friends. I need to be away from here.

As soon as I get back my fall Bible study starts, there's a lot going on new at work that week, I'm going to start leading prayer for the Abbey on Wednesday nights and plenty of other things that are awesome opportunities. I need to rest before then. I can't live this close to the edge.

I need to talk through some things in this life with the One who created it and is currently sustaining it.

It's been a rough season relationally and I really need to find that sweet connection with the Lord again and spend time with His people.

So, that's what I'm going to do. Thankful that God is everywhere. Excited that sometimes he calls us to be away with Him and He promises to meet us there.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

So What

I love that God is relational. I love that He wants us to choose Him. He could have easily put a spiritual chip in us (if you will) and gotten perfect people worshiping Him to perfection. Instead-He made humans. There's one of the great mysteries if you ask me.

Lately I've had more than one encounter with submissive humility. My attitude about said things has pretty much been, "So what." I don't feel like doing them. I don't feel like separating out relationships into little boxes where you have to behave one way in one situation and completely differently in another. At the end of the day when I replay the scenarios I seriously thing, SO WHAT!

And unfortunately this attitude has found it's way into my spiritual life as well. It is absolutely frightening to me how quickly one can fall out of a close relationship with the Lord. It starts so small. We miss a few morning devotions. We're too tired to pray at the end of the day. We don't take one concern to Him and then we get out of the habit of sharing our days with Him. We miss church because someone hurt our feelings or it's easier not to go and before you know it it's been a month. SCARY!

God has been pressing into my heart lately that yes, He created us to have a choice. BUT, once we've made that choice then we need to live seriously the decision we've made. We need to live intentionally. God sent His Son to die so that we could be in communion with the trinity. Perfect Holy Communion with the triune God. It's a free gift and heaven knows we can't earn it, but we can live in such a way that we are grateful people in love with a perfect God.

My excuses fall flat. I'm too tired, too lazy, too discouraged, too whatever to spend time with the Creator? I'm too hurt, too empty, too frustrated, too anxious, too whatever to fall on the chest of my Father to let Him take His child's heart and restore it in Him? If I can take the liberty to put a human face on the Lord just for a minute, I can picture Him saying to each and every one of my excuses-So what.

Some days I'm more committed to keeping my local Starbucks open than my relationship with the Lord. It's sad, but it's really true. I get my car waxed more often than I spend in meditation on scripture. Most days I get every single item checked off my usually lengthy to do list, but I may or may not get to my devotions. I answer every single e-mail, face book notification and twitter update, but am I answering the call of my God on each and every day? Am I stopping to ask Him what I can do for Him and be in Him in this day? Sometimes yes. Mostly not.

And that stops here.

It's time for me to make the Lord priority ONE no matter what else has to go by the wayside. It's time for me to say to my excuses-SO WHAT. It's time to take the Lord seriously. These are serious days. People need the Lord and people need good examples of what it means not to be perfect, but to be in love with a perfect God.

I want to be that person, that Child of God, that Believer in Christ and that committed to a God that never once has been less than 100% committed to me.

He's worth it.

Join me?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Choosing to See-A book review

Bottom line what I loved about this book is the honesty. From the very first page I was enthralled by the stories, the gut wrenching truth and the funny stories all blended perfectly to create an amazing journey. I can't imagine losing a child and at the hands of your other child-there are no words. This family has not only overcome the situation but triumphed through it.
I think the easier thing would have been to write a short statement in a Christian magazine about God's faithfulness. It would have been easier to let people think they have it all together and are doing well.
She didn't have to mention that she was already on an anti-depressant when Maria died and now that she's gone she takes one that's stronger. She didn't have to tell anyone the sweet stories about Maria that maybe were a little embarrassing to them! Precious.
One of my co-workers lost her son last year-her only son. It's been a little over a year and the other day she was talking about whether it ever got easier. She said, "It doesn't get easier, it's always there, but it does get not so raw." I totally heard that.
You would never get over the loss, but you would learn to live with it. I love that Mary Beth emphasises that it's a CHOICE. It's a choice to live with your grief but move on. It's a choice to celebrate in spite of your heartache. It's a choice to choose to live.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Removing eggs from the basket

Tonight I opened up my journal from last year and realized I've come full circle and not in a good way. Started off a little far from the Lord; found a church and a bunch of people that I really loved; fell madly back in love with the Lord and lately feel kind of back outside of the spiritual circle.

It's nobody's fault-except maybe mine.

You've heard don't put all your eggs in one basket? Yep, I did just that. Suffice it to say when it was good, it was really good and when it fell apart I felt like the floor caved in. Obviously not, but I felt like EVERYTHING went with it. I had made it into more than it was which is so easy to do. It just felt, well, perfect.

It's just not healthy to have your whole spiritual (or otherwise) identity wrapped up in one group of people. The hard part is I really love those people! Putting all of the eggs in the basket was a risk, but it was so wonderful. Having to pull them back out is lonely and painful. But it's the right thing to do.

The Lord doesn't want my spiritual identity to be in them. He doesn't want my story to be their story. He doesn't want my life to be so enmeshed with theirs that you can't tell where they end and I begin. He wants ME. Flaws and all. And even though I don't act like I even kind of believe it-He is more than enough for me. I love to be surrounded with great Godly people, but I don't have to be. He can fill any void most completely with Himself.

So, we start back at square one which believe me is discouraging enough to have cried off 2 rounds of waterproof mascara today. I felt like I'd come so far spiritually just to be back at the beginning. I feel like I'm starting over trying to find a spiritual home and a group of people to call my own. It's so hard to find!

The details aren't important, but the lesson is. Never put all your eggs in a human basket, but daily, sometimes moment by moment put everything you've got and all you hope to be in the Lord's basket. And then let Him carry you.

Lord, our home is with You. Remind me that you are my everything and with you I am complete. Amen

Thursday, August 5, 2010

How it happened

So much of life is a mystery and so much of life just isn't. It's so hard sometimes to know why this and how that and who what. Most of the time though if we sit down long enough and think hard enough we can see how the pieces fit together.

Last night I was frustrated for no reason. Cars not turning quickly enough on the way home was exceptionally annoying to me. I fussed at my dog for getting in the cat food. I fussed at the cat for not eating her food soon enough. I was irritated that it was hot, I forgot to put the laundry in the dryer and couldn't find several things that I didn't need right at the moment but felt like I did. Yuck.

So I went to the place any good girl goes to process her thoughts - to get a pedicure. As I was sitting there I realized it wasn't that surprising I was stressed out.

-I'm doing more than I've ever done which is wonderful but a little exhausting.
-It IS hot and it's harder to run so much with the temperatures so high.
-I haven't been sleeping well at all and my dogs have been getting up at all times of the night.
-My hemoglobin this week was at transfusion level low
-Stress within several relationships has made me crazy upset and feel like everything solid was in a whirlwind for awhile.
-I haven't been to anything at church in over a week due to some scheduling things and different activities.
-I found myself yesterday not praying at all because I knew I would never get through my list. I know-genius.

I thought yesterday more than anything I'd like a new feather bed, comfy pajamas, a good book and a few days to rest. Batteries-empty. Stress-high. Life-frustrating.

Thankfully relief is not so far away! I'm so looking forward to spending a few days in Nashville, TN later this month to visit some old friends and make some new friends. I've even extended my stay an extra day to do NOTHING just for fun! I love being super human, but I really need a break. I'm thankful God knew months ago when I scheduled this trip just how much I would need it.

2 Samuel 7:1 .......And the Lord had given him rest on every side........

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Our Spiritual Skeletons

Today I had to go to the orthodontist for the first time in oh, about 15 years. I haven't felt that old in awhile. The 45 teenagers waiting to get their braces adjusted were playing video games in the room next to me talking about the woes of young love. The music was hip hop and the dentist was very cool. It was surreal. I just needed to order a new retainer after having TMJ surgery and having some teeth not wanting to line up so much anymore. It actually wasn't the first time today I felt old!!

The lady took some robotic x-ray of my head to make sure I just needed a retainer and not braces again. (HELLO! No.) and left me in the room with the huge image of my skull x-ray. And the thought occurred to me, "That's what we're headed back to."

We put a lot of effort into this external image. Hair, makeup, working out, eating right, finding clothes that are flattering and shoes that are cute and comfortable. We focus on heart health and kidney functioning. We try to breathe fresh air and drink lots of clean water. We're preserving this temple, which is great, but what's underneath?

As I looked at that image I wondered what was written on the spiritual foundation of the very core of my being. I could almost see the day of salvation-imprinted permanently. Faith, hope, scripture, eternal security-all lines in who I am. The people who have encouraged my faith, who have stood by me in the questions and lived like Jesus in front of me are all there. It occurred to me that ONLY what we do for the Lord will last.

This world is coming to a close. We're all one car accident, one disease, one trumpet sound away from having our work on this earth come to an end. Forever in the record books will be what we've done for Him. It will be too late to lead that person on our heart to Christ, it will be too late to right a wrong, it will be too late to offer what we know of the Lord to those around us desperately in need of Him. It will be too late to live like Him in such a way that makes the people around us want what we have.

Here's what I know for sure. We aren't going to be perfect this side of the pearly gates (I KNOW-it's so discouraging!), but we can do better. I can do much better. I didn't even make it to lunch today without having to ask the Lord forgiveness for sheer stupidity and total laziness. And those are just the instances I stopped to notice! I have argued with the Lord and a few of His followers over things in the past week that are just ridiculous. I have over thought things to the point of craziness. WASTE OF TIME!

I honestly don't feel all that useful to the Kingdom of God most of the time but you know what? It's not about me. Just today 3 different people younger than me asked me for advice-2 of them spiritual advice. That says zilch about my strength but a whole bunch about God's ability to work through this life to impact another. The best thing I can do for Him most of the time is get out of his way (and my own!) and let Him work.

We don't know when the opportunity to make a mark on the spiritual core of another will present itself and we don't know who's watching. I don't care for one second that the skeleton of another person says "Brenda cared for me spiritually" but I care more than anything that there's a permanent knowing that Jesus is all they need. If God uses me to help create or reiterate one of those lines, then all the glory to Him for sure.

I doubt there are really words on our skeleton. Most of us don't have words on our bodies. But we are all sending a message. I don't know how far away I am from lying in a coffin and meeting Jesus face to face. It could be years. It could be tomorrow. I honestly don't care if I'm a size 2 by the time I die with the perfect hairstyle and the best clothes. But I care more than anything that the overwhelming thing people remember about this life is that-"She loved Jesus and she made me want to love Him too." That would be a life well lived.