Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Wonder of It All

I spent time this week with dear friends, pondering the mystery of the universe.  Why is it in a universe so vast we all share that universal fear of being rejected?  That we fear being turned away?

I've been there.

Here is what I've learned after my turns of being turned away.  We survive.  In big ways and small ways.  Well, the small ways always come first.  For someone like me it is always devestating at first.  But then I still get up.  Brush my teeth.  Dress for the day.  And keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Eventually that gets you somewhere.  At least it did me.  I remember clearly one of those difficult times.  My safe world of love and acceptance had fractured.  It sent me into a tailspin.  There was no confidence left in me.  I felt so alone.  Because someone had looked away I thought everyone felt the same.

It happened years ago.  And I know it sounds crazy, but the only way I can tell the wonder of what happened is to tell the truth of what happened.  Again, it was years ago.  I was having one of those crazy moments in my head when perception skews reality.  I felt so alone.  So alone.  I remember going for that morning run, my mind running away from me, metering out the implications of aloneness.  For a split second I thought what if my foot slipped and disaster plastered itself all over my body and I was gone?  Who would miss me?  Would I miss me?

Ah the split-second is over and I continue running, and God help me, I find something better to think about.

Later on in the week I went to some dinner I had to attend.  And there was a friendly face--a genuinely friendly, I'm so glad you are here, kind, kind of face.  And the friendly face says, "I was thinking of you the other morning, on Wednesday about 8 a.m."  "Oh you were?" I reply.  "Yes, God brought you to mind, and I prayed for you."  I give my thanks, humbly.  This one does not know how humbly.  The Lord has just let me know how I am never out of His perview, and that there are always ones around who care.  My imaginations are not God.  Only God is God.  And God has said I matter enough to Him to bring another to their knees, on my behalf.

The small ways of surviving the hard thing is the most basic thing:  We simply keep going, putting one foot in front of the other.  Grace is undergirding every step.  And prayers.  Someone is always praying.  We rarely know who, or when, or where, or why, or how.  But they do.  And with all the prayers, and Grace, and keeping it going we eventually run into the big way of surviving the hard thing.  We come to recognize that above all else we would miss ourselves if the stuff of who we are were no longer around.

That is the greatest Grace of all.  That God would show this animated lump of clay the worth it has in His Hands, but would also place within it a fondness for the clay it is made of.  Oh such a miracle is this.  And honest to goodness it is the sweet miracle in my life that I just can't get over.  Today when I go running, I'm so thankful.  For the good, bad, and even the ugly.  I'm thankful for people who pray, and I'm thankful for shoes that don't wear out, and I'm thankful for Grace that keeps me going, and most of all I'm thankful that I'm finally fond of this clay that I am.  Oh the wonder of it all.  And sweet friends, I am so thankful for you too.  You will never know how fond I am of you, and the wonder each of you are to me.  When I think of you, you bring me to my knees.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Made For

As much as I am made for Heaven, I know I am also made for something here.  I'm just trying to figure out what that could be.  I feel like I am in a way station of sorts in my life.  I know I'm not at the place I was made for, but the faith part of me says that this place I am at was made for me, that there is reason and purpose for this season.  What could it be?

Still working on that one.

But I did get a glimmer of hope.  In the craziest of places too.  I just spent two days at a conference for preschool teachers.  Now I have been to all kinds of conferences in my professional experience.  Let's face it:  Methodist clergy persons like to confer.  We even have a "special" name for it--holy conferencing.  We even call our big yearly meeting (where every Methodist church in the state sends pastors and laity to vote on stuff) Annual Conference.  I've been going to those things for a long, long, long time.  And sitting through it feels like a long, long, long time.  I must say, clergy meetings and preschool teacher meetings look nothing alike.

When my journey as campus minister ended last year, God opened a door for me to teach in our church's preschool.  I knew it was a God thing because I was assigned to the 4 year old classroom, and my sweet son Isaiah was right across the hall with the other 4's.  In a time when my heart was so tender, God gave me a tender place to be present with Isaiah, for his very last year of preschool.  Isn't that so like the Lord?  We walked through the year together, going to the playground at the same time, sitting in chapel at the same time, wiggling during music at the same time.  I got to see up close and personal my precious son, learning and growing, leaping and laughing, becoming wonderful in all kinds of wonder full ways.  He is my sweet boy.  I love him so.

The thought passes through my heart and mind, "Does God feel that way about me?"  Does He want to be present with me in that way?  Is this our special time?  He gave me the gift of a year with Isaiah.  Could He also give me a year with just Him?  Still learning and growing, leaping and laughing, in a place that is not THE place, but an important place all the same?

Oh God!  Isk!  I cry out to You!  Is this it?  Is this what You want for me?  Is this crazy season I am in to be more than what I thought it was?  I just don't think I'm any good at it!!!!!!
Do you think the Lord hears my aingst?

I muddled through my preschool teachers conference.  I loved the women I was with.  I loved the food.  Oh Lord did I love the food!  But for alot of it I felt lost.  Until the last day when the key-note speaker got up.  The conference program says: 
The noteworthy educational career of Dr. Jean Feldman has spanned more than 40 years. . . .  Dr. Feldman's list of degrees include a B.A. from the University of Georgia, a D.A.S.T. from Emory University, and both M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Georgia State University.
 It's hard to imagine given a pedigree like that, what came next.  That girl got up and sang!  I swear she sang just about the whole time.  And had us moving and dancing and laughing and clapping and doing things that we had not ever done.  The room abounded with all kinds of silliness that is hard to even put into words.  I was totally inspired!  In fact, her teaching style looked an awful lot like the one I used with college students.  But even more amazing to me is that it looked even more like the one I use with preschoolers.

All this time I have inwardly hung my head, sitting at the planning table with my co-workers.  I'm a smart, educated woman.  But my education does not speak to pre-school pedigogy.  I am a pastor of hearts, with a love, warm and broad that embraces whoever is in front of me.  I am a lover of life who eeks out of every moment the joy of being alive.  Apparently, according to Dr. Feldman, that qualifies me to be a good preschool teacher. 

Before the session was over, Dr. Feldman asked us to hold up our thumb if we learned anything.  Then she asked us to hold up a finger for every new thing we learned.  I sat there with tears leaking from my eyes.  I learned that I was intuitively doing the right things all along.  From the inside out I learned there are powerful reasons at play for me being where I am.  Who knew?

I didn't.

But apparently Someone did.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Remembering Fathers--The Word Smith

Somewhere across town Pop is getting ready.  Just like he does every week, he has spent the last couple of days forming and refining Words to bring on Sunday morning.  He feeds and leads those cantankerous sheep assigned to his care.  He is a pastor of souls.

I cannot tell you the times he has pastored my soul. 

Perhaps it is more accurate to say he has tended the Word within me.  Just when I think the spark is gone, there is nothing left, he gently blows on the embers and a Fire rekindles within.  A Word Fire.  Girl preachers are not exactly common.  And there have been so many times I feel uncommon-er still.  There is no mold that even remotely resembles me.  Which is why it is so easy to want to give up.  Give in.  Call it quits.  To quit the hearth that smolders inside, those Words that need to get out, to breathe, to burn, to ignite. 

But Pop won't let me.

He is a true shepherd.  He sees clearly the contents of the soul.  And he speaks Words of encouragement to help it see clearly the Lord that calls. 

I'm was not made to pastor a church.  Oh the years and heartache it has taken to figure that one out.  I was a pastor to college kids, those wide-eyed wonderful ones embarking on the adventure of figuring life out.  I loved pastoring college folk.  Then quite suddenly the road diverged, and God squarely set me on another one.  I have sensed the rightness of this God move, but I wonder where this new path leads?  Where is a Word girl like me supposed to breathe?  To burn?  To ingnite?

And Pop sees and loves me through these questions.  We don't talk about it out loud, the where-ness of God's direction.  But he still blows on the embers within me, keeping the Word alive,  helping me know that the preacher girl is not dead.  And when his own mother passed away, I am the one he asked to preach her service.  He allowed me to lead and pastor him, when his own grief was big in his heart, mind, and soul; so full of saying goodbye that the shepherd within had to step aside, for just a moment to simply be a sheep.

Even just last week he told me with moist eyes that someone recently commented on how well I did.  I tuck it away, the compliment.  I hold it close to my heart.  I feel awkward in my response.  Because it's hard to put into passing words what it meant to me to be the shepherd in such a holy moment for people I LOVE SO MUCH.  To bring a Word of comfort, and encouragement, and even challenge in a tender moment.  Wow.

Both of us know God's not finished with me.  But sometimes I struggle to remember.  Sometimes I need to be reminded.  I am so thankful that God has blessed me with someone who never lets me forget.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Remembering Fathers--A Monday Morning After the Ressurection Kind of Man

When my mother met Joe, he was taking lunch regularly to his elderly grandmother, visiting her when he could have been out doing other things.  I think that is when she fell in love.  When my mother married Joe, I was seven.  They married on the Monday morning following Easter.  How cool is that?  What better thing is there to do after you discover the Resurrection than get married?  Jesus loved weddings.  I'm sure He loved that one.  It changed my life forever.

Jesus had His own Joe.  This Joe accepted into his heart Someone Else's boy, taking Him to raise, as if He were his own.  He crafted his little family out of a promise to trust that Someone Else, stepping out in faith that doing the right thing is always the right thing to do.  So Joe trusted and guided and protected and instructed and loved and raised a Child not his own as if He were his own.  My Joe did the same thing for me.

When Joe became family, someone else already had the name Dad; it was too great a stretch for seven-year-old me to give that name away again.  I just kept calling him Joe.  Over 30 years later this simple name is holy, sacred, and beautiful in my vocabulary.   I can't think of a higher calling than to be a Joe for somebody.  I'm just so thankful I got to be Joe's somebody.

What is it that walks through the door on Monday morning after Easter if not hope?  Not the far away, fuzzy, sappy, and ultimately unreal kind.  The hope Joe brought came with practical wisdom.  My all-time favorite Joe-ism is: "Wish in one hand, spit in the other.  See which one fills up the fastest." It would seem an aggravating thing to hear growing up.  However the aggravation carries wisdom:  Don't just stand there; think through the situation and come up with practical alternatives that could actually be accomiplished!  He taught me that finding creative solutions and doing the hard work to make them a reality is always time well spent, always so much better than wishing.  I guess he knew life could and would get crazy, but he gave us the ability to choose our response to the craziness rather than being swallowed up by it.  Thus I learned circumstances did not automatically get the last word; circumstances could always be overcome.

I love that Joe taught me to ride a bike, running behind me until I could pedal solo without eating pavement.  I love that Joe took me fishing, and showing me "good things come to those who wait." I love that Joe gave me my first allowance, teaching me the value of saving a dollar.  I love that Joe gave me my first car, allowing me to buy his beloved '77 Cutlass Supreme Oldsmobile with the dollar I had saved.  I love that Joe gave me my first hammer, filling my simple toolbox with the basics that could help me navigate my first college living space.  I love that when I finally chose someone to marry, I married a man so much like the one who had raised me, someone who everyday gives of himself for another's good.  I love that no matter how old I get Joe is always happy to see me and his hugs always feel like home.

Real Hope is like that.  See, I think it took a while after the Resurrection for the disciples to realize that death and despair were not their true reality.  They didn't automatically know that Jesus was no longer dead and the horror of seeing Him die naked on the cross was not the last word.  They did not know Hope had spoken a surer word over their lives than the pain they felt.  Instead, Hope has another way.  It sneaks in quietly, taking its time to unfold, revealing itself gently, seeping quietly into the every day normal, until one day we wake up and realize the terrible that could have been, never came to fruition.  God stepped in and did something so extraordinary while we weren't looking that the whole world changed in a second.  But we have to slowly walk into this new reality, letting its goodness seep into our bones, slowly changing us from people of despair into people of joyful Hope.  Because someday we will look back and consider what might have been, if Monday morning had not come into our lives the morning after Resurrection.  Like me when I wonder what might have been if I hadn't been Joe's somebody.  I'm just so thankful I got to be Joe's somebody.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Remembering Fathers--Brokenness Redeemed

I have to start here.  How can I not?  It is the story of my heart dance with my father, full of everything that makes a story good:  love, loss, brokenness, healing, then redemption.  It is because of this first story that I believe, that I know in my bones, God can redeem anything.

My parents divorced when I was six years old.  I didn't notice the damage so much at the time, because the slow ripping seemed commonplace to me.  We still ate dinner, went to bed early, rode the school bus to school, hated our vegetables, brushed our teeth.  But in between all the normal my heart was breaking.

I remember looking for my father's face in crowds of unfamiliar people.  Sometimes I thought I saw him singing in the choir at church.  After gazing thoroughly enough, soon I would see it was just another guy with beard and mustache.  Not my father at all. 

I used to think that this is when I became a perfectionist--believing that if I could just be perfect enough, pleasing enough, I could keep that kind of loss away; maybe people wouldn't leave if I was just good enough.  My sweet husband says I was a perfectionist from birth.  It's just the shape my grief became as I learned to manage the pain.  If I were a different kind of person, my grief would have escaped in a different way.

Can I say, even with this ache in my heart at writing words so raw, even after all these years, I'm thankful for it all?  I would not be the same person without the loss.  I would not have known how to leave that perfection by the wayside and step into the real me, the messy, live it deep, love it well person I am on this day.  I am oh so thankful. 

It's hard for a child to know what goes through a parent's head when the family ceases to be the same one it started out as.  All I can say, now after so many years have passed, is that everything I yearned for was there.  It's written all over this precious picture.

The Bishop had just laid hands on my head.  I had just been welcomed into the clergy club of the Church I serve.  All the fancy hooplah of ordination had passed; it was time to return to my seat.  But standing there, waiting to embrace me, was my father.  This is the day of my ordination as Deacon in full connection in the United Methodist Church. 

I am incredibly thankful for this rare glimpse into the heart of my father.  How could I know that twenty feet away a dear friend held a camera, and snapped the shutter just in time?   Often I look at this picture and think of Jesus holding the lamb, so full of tenderness and care.  The picture says all I've had ever wanted to hear.  It's always been there.

My flesh and blood father was there for my ordination.  Not only present, he stood beside me, representing me as my sponsor during this holy moment in my life.  In some ways he guided my way.  I love the picture of his hand, resting on my shoulder.  As holy words are exchanged above my head, his hand holds me still, settling my heart. 

I am reminded of those first few days of thinking God might be calling me to ministry.  As a twenty year old college coed I weighed my options.  One moment I would wrap my heart around the crazy possibility.  The next I would turn away, seeking a simpler path.  In a letter my father's words helped me discern and choose God's path:

Now I want to take off my "Dad's hat" and put on my "Minister's hat" and respond to two sentences of your letter.  That sentence is "If I were a man, I would go into the ministry.  Since I'm not sure I'm willing to fight to make my place as a female preacher, I think I'll stick to psychology."  Although I am a dad who would be very pleased and proud to see you become an ordained minister, I would not want you to become one under any circumstance unless it was the result of God's calling.  On the other hand, the fact that you are not a man is not a valid reason not to pursue ordained ministry.  That is a prophetic statement.  I had a similar statement made to me by Rev. Gene Gordon, my pastor at Preston Hollow UMC, when I told him I was called to ordained ministry but that because of my failures in marriage I was not worthy.  He said to me that was not my decision to make, that if I felt called I must submit that call to the church.
Now then, if you are called by God into ordained ministry then I believe that in order to be happy and fulfilled you will have to respond to that call.
When I see these words, I can't help but feel like Timothy reading one of Paul's letters.  Sweet words pointing me home!  How could anyone but a father know where me true home is?  My story is full of sweet irony. The father who was gone from my home so early in my life shows me the path to my heart's Home in a way no one else can!  And twelve years later he is there to see, up close and personal, that relationship sealed in my life, as the Bishop lays his hands on my head.

Only God can do such things.  Only God can take what is broken and mend it, give it life and wings and hope.  And so I remember and celebrate my father on this week after Father's Day.  In the story unfolding between me and my Dad I see the Holy Hand of God turning pages, drawing us always to Himself.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Heart Contenders

The dust has settled. Our first season of little league, coach pitch baseball is over.  Last Friday night Noah played his final game of the tournament.  For three nights in a row he and his teammates ate dust, and sweat, and victory, and yes, defeat.  But every night they showed up, fully present, playing till the last ball was thrown, the last hitter swung.  As coach said, they never gave up.  Which is all he could have asked of them.

I'm very proud.  Not because they played well with teams that had previously beat the socks off of them.  But because they kept playing.  When they got hit with the ball they kept playing.  When they missed the grounder they kept playing.  When they got out they kept playing.  When they were down so far we thought they would never get back up, they kept playing.  They may have been down multiple times, they they were never out.  They were never out of the game.

It hadn't always been like that.  There were times during the season when I could feel the energy shift in the middle of a game, and they would just give up.  Something in their hearts and minds would decide the game was over, and they would stop playing.  Perhaps they got intimidated.  Maybe they started looking at the scoreboard instead of the next play.  Sometimes it was simply exhaustion leaking out of the pores, flooding the field with apathy.  Those nights were so frustrating, so heartbreaking.  I would sit back in my chair and watch the pitiful outcome of not caring.

When tournament time began my prayer for them was always for their hearts.   My husband probably saw my fervency in being the sideline mom and thought differently.  He probably thought I was praying they would win.  Does God care about stuff like that?  Probably not.  But I do believe God cares about the condition of our hearts and our capacity to live life open hearted, fully present, giving ourselves to fully to each day.  So I stood on the sidelines a silent prayer on my lips:  "Oh God, I contend for their hearts!"

I can't help but wonder what this would look like in my own life.  What would it look like if everyday I never gave up and never gave in?  What would it look like if I lived open hearted, fully present, unrestrained giving of myself to the day before me?  I know I want that for my boys.  It's a bit intimidating to want it for myself.  But if I were honest, I do.  I want to live with heart.

At the end of the last game each of Noah's coaches took a moment to express what the season meant to them.  One of them said that in all the teams he's coached, this team showed more heart than any others he's been with in a long time.  I couldn't help but feel like God answered my prayers.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Where I Belong

My boys love the song.  All of them love it.  Big one and three little ones.  When it comes on, and we are in my husband's vehicle, the back seat and front seat explode with sound.  "All I know is I'm not home yet, this is not where I belong;  Take this world and give me Jesus, this is not where I belong."  They sing with one voice.  Loud and from their bellies.  Exuberance pulsating around the cabin of our vehicle as the sound waves swirl around us, making me dizzy.  I love those moments.

There is that part of me that would say they are being too loud.  But the words they sing are words that resonate deep.  Sound waves penetrate my body and find an echo in my own heart.  Oh my.  Yes . . . .  Yes, that is what I want to say.

I'm not home yet.  This tender earth beneath my feet so dear to me.  But it's soil is so hard.  I want to dig deep and put down my roots.  But there is something in the difficulty of the process that keeps me from feeling completely at ease.  I keep trying to make my heart relax into the unwieldy circumstances of this season I am in.  But it doesn't.  My heart keeps telling me there is something more, something only Heaven can give.  This is not where God intends for me to feel fully alive.  Fully myself. 

I am suspended between two realities. 

There are seasons of transition, where life plays fruitbasket turnover with everything stable, a time of temporary uprootedness.  Difficult at best, yet temporary.  I know this is the season I am in.  I know it in my bones.  Ugh.  Still waiting for all the pieces to land.  I know that when each piece is in place my whole body will breathe easy.  The constant looking to the horizon for signs of what must be will pass.  So I know there is a settledness that is not yet mine, a nesting in this real world we live in that makes a home and knows how to rest. 

That is one reality.

Because the ache inside, that longs for resolution, points us to a deeper longing.  We long for more than righted circumstances or purpose or clear direction or satisfying conclusions.  We long for the perfection we were made for, and when everything is nearly perfect, we forget.  So in some ways the unrest is a beautiful gift.  It helps me know that not feeling quite at home here on this stubborn sod is a normal response for this flesh made for the Heavenly One. 

That is the bigger reality.

All of us were made for God.  At a cellular level we know our promise lies not in an earthly answer but in the One who spun universes into being, kneeling to this humble earth, cupping the dust of this ground into tender Hands, crafting each one of us into a singular, unreapeted reflection of Love.  In the swirling mess of creation we are the masterpiece.  We are His crowning glory.  And yet we cannot enter His Glory here.  We will only taste it when we step beyond this earthly vale, out of our territory (gift and blessing yes, but thoroughly ours) into His.  His Heaven.  His Kingdom.  His Glory. 

So what do we do in the meantime? 

We wait.  With Him.  Listening for the Stillness within us to show us where to look.  And we enter into the gift of uncertain days wholly present to each joy and sweetness within our grasp.  Holding close our dear ones.  Singing loudly from our bellies the truth that holds us:  "All I know is I'm not home yet, this is not where I belong; Take this world and give me Jesus, this is not where I belong." 

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Grand Adventure

This is how our little cowboy greeted us yesterday.  Notice the boots on the wrong feet.  We were in the middle of getting ready for church, and Jeremiah had gone ahead and picked out his own outfit.  The fashion sense of a two year old continues to surprise and delight.  Isn't that what the best about life is all about?

I just recently had a conversation with a young man whom I knew during my campus ministry days.  He is in the exhilarating bliss of living the grown up life, newly married, gainfully employed.  Soon he and his lovely bride will travel to London to visit family and see the Olympics.  See the Olypics?!  Are you kidding me?!  How cool is that!  I celebrated with him the adventures of youth.  And that is exactly what I told him:  Have adventures while you are young.

It is my best advice to young people.  I have shared it numerous times over the years.  One of my most recent sharing moments was my cousin's graduation party.  Each table had pens and cards with instructions printed on them to share wisdom for Landry.  I told him to have adventures while he is young because it becomes more complicated as one takes on more committments.  It's harder to just pick up and go when you are married; there is a whole other person whose life is affected by your decisions.  And then once you have kids. . . .  Well, that is an adventure all its own.  That's what I told Landry.  Having children is its own adventure..

Yesterday this truth hit me in a fresh way when Jeremiah walked into the room in his "Go West Young Man" get-up.  Children are an adventure.  A wonderful adventure.  A GRAND adventure.  Everyday I feel so honored that I get to be those rough and tumble boys' mom.  I get to see them grow into persons of individual tastes, talents, abilities.  They are all so unique.  Each one brings me joy, and the joy tastes so different depending upon the boy who brings it.

I never would have imagined God would bless me with all boys, and certainly not three.  But life with three boys continues to surpise and delight.  I don't have to travel the world to be amazed.  I just look in my back yard.  Or in the living room.  Or around the kitchen table.  The bathroom is not surprising or delighting.  Little boy bathrooms can get pretty disgusting.  But everything else brings wonder and excitement to my small corner of ordinary.

I try to enjoy the gift of being mom to so many boys.  I know the time is fleeting.  I know this season, this wonder, this joyful experiment won't last forever.  There will soon come a time when they won't want to be held close, or kissed all over the face, or hold hands in the parking lot.  As long as I can do those things, this is the best adventure of all.  And when they are too old for such silliness with mom, there will be new adventures waiting.  But the quality of those times depends much upon living today's adventure well.  So here is to making each day GRAND, and enjoying every minute of it!

Friday, June 08, 2012

New Sight

We took Noah to the eye doctor today.  We've noticed he's had trouble reading signs lately, and that he's stands so close to the T.V.  Turns out our suspicions were right.  He needs glasses.  It's funny.  You would have thought we were taking him to the candy store to pick out his favorite treat instead of a pair of glasses to help him see better.  He was super excited.  I was excited for him.  We will pick up his new frames and lenses in a week.  And then a whole new world opens up for him.

I remember when I was serving as an associate pastor in a large church in Florida.  It was a painful time for our church family.  There were some things going on that caused deep anguish for so many people.  As we walked through that difficult season together I God gave me a picture that brought me comfort, and helped me reinterpret the events of that time.  It was a picture of a carefully manicured garden, filled with tall hedges forming a complex maze.  It would be so easy to get lost in such a maze.  It would be so easy to take a path that seems right, only to make a turn in the wrong direction, or worse, into a pit.  The only way to get out safely would be to get help from someone who can see the whole thing from above, who knows what lies around each corner, sees the pitfalls, and can give step by step directions to find the way out.  As I would share this picture with others, I would share how God impressed upon me that only He could see the full picture of what was happening.  The only way we would be able to navigate through would be to seek Him first, allowing Him to shape our responses to the things unfolding around us.

So often life is like this.  We are unable to see how each part of our lives fits together.  Only God can see it all.  Only God knows why this happens or that.  Trying to figure it all out can be a bit disorienting.  Our vain imaginations conjure up all kinds of explanations.  And so we begin to look for plausible meaning to our difficulties.  Rarely do they satisfy, except to give us something to sop up uncertainty with.  We come away with a blurry picture of who we are, blind to authentic purpose. 

Just yesterday I asked a sweet friend what her favorite scripture was.  She mentioned Proverbs 3:5-6:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Oh how much I need to be reminded!  Because there are days when I can't see to make my own paths straight.  I have no idea what straight looks like.  I feel like Noah, trying to read signs; everything around me is blurry, every guidepost a meaningless fuzzy dot.

And so we wait.  Noah is waiting for lenses.  I am waiting for direction.  But there is saving Grace in acknowledging the truth.  For my sweet son it is that glasses are a necessity.  For me it is that I am not equipped to interpret the puzzling events of my life without God's help.  For both of us, we can trust that new sight will come.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Divine Details

I hate that saying “the devil is in the details.”  Who says only the devil can own details?  I know, I know.  It refers to hidden detriments hidden in the obscure parts of everything.  It’s like parents or pet owners who slip medicine into food, hoping it will be too small to notice or that the yucky flavor will be masked by mashed potatoes.  I know.  There are a hundred ways that life sucks if we just look closely enough.  Thinking about the human footprint and its implications for our world can make anyone depressed.  These are the details we rarely pay attention to.  Which is why it’s so easy for detriment to make its way into our lives.  We never even notice when our existence comes to ruin.  I guess that’s what the devil is betting on.
But I’m all for taking back what the devil stole.  Like details.  I believe there are wonders hidden in details.  Beauty is hidden in places we rarely expect.  And God loves surprises.  That’s why I believe we can find the Divine in the details, that opportunities abound to be amazed and delighted. 
There are tons of details about this past week that I treasure.  The whole reason we made the trip to Texas was to help celebrate my cousin Landry’s graduation from high school.  (I am the oldest grandchild; he is the youngest.  It’s true that I’m old enough to be his mom.  Sigh.) So sprinkled into this momentous occasion are snapshots that make it so personal, so uniquely our own.  Like the way we all wore fake mustaches in our grand extended family picture from the graduation party.  Like how Landry wore his as if it were a booger hanging out of his nose.  Like how I just happened to pick out his card the day before that said on the front “I wanted to get you something green for your graduation” and on the inside said, “so I blew my nose in your card.”  Coincidence?  I think not!
Or how about this one.  The morning after his big day he posted on Facebook that he wished his “Paw Paw” could have been there, but that he knew he was watching from Heaven.  I commented about how I always think of our grandfather being in our “cloud of witnesses” from Hebrews 12:1, cheering us on as we persevere.  When I  mentioned this to my aunt she told me that she had found a way to sew pictures of both Landry’s grandfathers into his graduation cap for his graduation ceremony.  How wonderful is that?  In a sea of graduation caps and gowns that one detail made Landry’s so deeply special.
Life is full of beautiful details.  Some funny.  Some touching.  Some so exquisite they make our eyes water.  Instead of hunting for all the disappointing ones, I want my eyes to be open to the Divine Love hiding in plain sight.  And I want to be the kind of person that sews the Divine into the fabric of every minute.  So others can see beauty.  So others can laugh.  So others can feel their hearts move.  So that the tears that fall from our eyes become the Water of Life.