Thursday, April 29, 2010

Why I love him

True character reveals itself in times of adversity.

He was a child.
His brother, a few years younger.
His dad was an angry man.  Lacking patience or love or tolerance.

They ate at a table.
They sat in silence.
And his little brother wouldn’t use his fork.
He picked at his food as kids do.
A warning was given. 
Tolerance was not.
And true character was about to be shown. 

His younger brother was told to get on the floor.
His food was put into a dish.
He was told that if he wanted to act like a pig then he could eat like one.
And needed to eat everything.
So on the floor he kneeled.
And then it happened.
Another bowl was placed on the floor next to him. 
His older brother kneeled beside him.
He didn’t want him to feel ashamed on his own.
He didn’t want him to be alone or embarrassed.
So he joined him.

They never talked about what happened that day.
And now thousands of miles have separated them.

But character showed up that day.
Grace was there. 
Respect was given to the one who needed it.
Love was given to the one that deserved it.

That boy that knelt down beside his brother?....that was my husband.

He did it then out of love.  And he would do it again.  And if you know him personally, you are blessed.  Because he would do it for you.  And if you don’t know him yet, you will.  And he would even do it for you.  Because that is the man that he is.  That is the beauty that he has had in his soul since he was a boy.  And it’s the beauty that resides there now. 
His father has never liked him.  Maybe it’s because my husband stands for everything that he doesn’t.
Maybe it’s because my husband is a man that his father can never be. 

On that day, a 10 year old boy began to build.  Not of bricks & mortar.  Not of something that could be destroyed.  He began to lay a foundation for what he was becoming.  Strength & courage.  Compassion & love.  All that I love about him.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Where do you see beauty?

We walk in shallow unconscious living at times.
With a lack of recognition of the gifts that are to be unwrapped.
We move through the moment with such excessive speed to get to the next thing that we often miss the moment we are in.
Our time is so valuable that we don’t want to waste any.
Yet the time that is truly wasted are those times we don’t stop to savor what is around us. 

Beautiful things are typically not the ones of materialism.  Not those that we place monetary value on.  Those things that we place in a glass case or vault so no one steals them.

They are the things that can’t be stolen.  That hold no earthly value at all but are more valuable in heart than anything we could ever ask for.  And sometimes those that we don’t even think we deserve.

It is the music we hear & in blue sky days.
It is in the sound of raindrops & of thunder.
The snowcapped mountains.
The blue bonnet covered hillsides of Austin, Texas in the spring.
The breeze that blows through my home on a summer afternoon.
It is in the arms of a grandfather that hugs me.
It is in the miracle of new life.  Of meeting your child for the very first time.
It is the moment of death.  Of being present to usher someone into his heavenly place where he will be Whole.  Healed.  And finally home. 
It is the laughter of my children.
The times that bring tears to my eyes.  Not for any reason but feeling pure joy in a simple moment. 
When my kids run into my arms when I’ve been gone longer than 10 minutes.  When I watch my husband play with them.  Jump in the fall leaves with them.  When I hear them singing ‘Jesus Loves Me’ over the monitor after they are put to bed.  THAT is beauty.

Beauty, is seeing my mom delight in being able to sit with them & read book after book as they fight over who will sit on which side of her lap.  She may not FEEL as beautiful as the year’s do, what she feels, is irreparable harm, but she IS beautiful.  She loves with a heart that only a grandmother could have & in that, exists a radiance.

Beautiful is being able to embrace a friend that is going through a difficult time.  To be the one that she cries with.  The one she talks with.  The one that she trusts.  The one I can pray for.  And having one in return.  That is beauty.

Beauty is in the missionary that puts her entire heart into leaving someone’s world just a little better than it was the day before.  In placing her needs on hold because someone needs food or healing.  Shelter or water.  Prayer or hope. 

It is in the simple gift of touch.
Holding the hand of someone that you love.
Beauty requires nothing but an open heart of the person that is recognizing it.
Beauty does not always lie in the eye of the beholder.
It rests in the heart of the one blessed enough to embrace it.
The one that is willing to step forward & look beyond what is right in front of them. Or do just that….finally recognize that sometimes IT IS right in front of them.

Beauty surrounds us.
At every turn, it is there to bring a gift. 
It is there for us to embrace.
It beckons us to linger a while.
To savor it’s goodness & the way it makes our heart delight.
Where do you see beauty?  Will you see it differently now?  And when you do, will you embrace it with a full heart?  Will you let it settle into your soul where it belongs?  Because when you do, it is keep!  Forever!

Friday, April 23, 2010

I will sing

Did you ever notice that the birds sing even in the rain?
Clouds cover their sky.
Thunder rolls gently above.
Rain saturates the ground.
And there is still a song in their hearts.

They don’t complain that it’s dreary.
They don’t wish it away.
They praise it with song for they know it brings something beautiful.
When the rain stops & the storm is over, it is then that they can appreciate the bounty of the true blessing.  The grass is greener.  Their food more plentiful.  Their nests can now be built to provide shelter & safety for new life.

As the birds sang today & the rain was coming down it gave cause for me to sing praise for my own rain.  For the storms I have withstood.  For dark days.  For thunderstorms that I never thought would end.

 I will sing.

I will sing because the rain will end.  God did not leave me there.  And the land that I now walk in is an absolute bountiful blessing. 

When the clouds covered my sky, I didn’t see the light in the distance.
When the rain washed all of the hope of love & promise that I had away without much hesitation or mercy…..there was a stillness that I needed.  There was blessing in the rain that I couldn’t see yet.  If I only knew then….I would have sang.

But now I know. 

There will be more storms.  I am sure of that.  I am not pessimistic.  I am just a woman that understands that life has ups & downs.  There will be rain.  There will be rainbows.  There will be days that are hopeless & lonely.  Times when rain keeps coming.  Moments when the flood waters are almost too much.  But I will lift my voice.  I will lay my burdens down.  I will give them over to the One that can carry them for me and……

I will sing. 
I will sing. 
I will sing.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

In good company

I love being in good company.
To sit and talk for hours about everything and nothing.
To grab a cup of tea or glass of wine, slip my shoes off & snuggle in…
I would ask you about your life….
Where you have lived….
Who your family is….
What they stand for…..
How you got to be who you are….
Or, how you plan to become who you want to be.

We would even sit quietly at times.
Feeling the breeze shifting softly & listening as it rustles the leaves on the trees standing tall over us.
It would be a comfortable stillness.
The kind made for old friends.
And, the kind that is invited by new friends with kindred spirits.

We would talk about worldly things.
    Lofty goals.
        Elaborate Dreams.
     And, not-so-realistic wishes.

We would laugh as funny stories were shared until out stomachs hurt so bad that we couldn’t stand it.
And maybe even share tears while we talk of some of ‘those things’ that did make us who we are.

And when the day was done & it was time to go our separate ways, we would enter back into our lives with gratitude of friendship & of love that only good company can give.

I wish we could sit down right now in this place!  We would have such a great conversation.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Simple Words. Big Meaning.

We have been visiting my parents in Kansas for a week now.
Just the kids & I.
I never thought I would love it so much here but it has been one of the greatest experiences.
I have no responsibilities to clean the house, do any of the things that have a way of taking over my calendar & consuming my life for days on end.  No work to worry about.
The only job I have had for a week is enjoying time with our kids.  And watching my parents enjoy time with them too.
We have visited some really fun places & I have to say that it is one of the most kid friendly cities I’ve been to. 
Hallmark is located here & provides an opportunity for kids of all ages to be entertained.  We played.  We made puzzles.  We did art projects with recycled materials from Hallmark. 
On the way in to play, there were banners hanging on the pillars outside.

Simply stated….they revealed the whole purpose for our trip.

Laugh.  Celebrate.  Connect.

And I thought it was ironic that I was so drawn to these beautiful words as they symbolized the reason we are here.  And not just here in Kansas but here…right now….wherever you are…in this time & place.

Did I laugh today?  Yes!  At myself.  At my parents.  At my kids being silly.  At the fact that even with a Garmin we still didn’t know we were going. 
Did I celebrate today?  Absolutely!  It was a gorgeous day.  I was at peace today.  Nothing providing turmoil or strain to my soul.  Just pure peace.  And that’s a really good thing no matter where you are!  I celebrated the gorgeous green rolling hills.  (yes, there are hills in Kansas).  The cherry blossom trees in their splendor.  The opportunity to play with the kids.  Have lunch with them.  Just BE….with them & my parents.
Did I connect today?  On many levels.  I visited with a friend that I haven’t seen for a really long time.  One that has walked with me through the death of my first husband.  Who is not someone I talk to all the time but miles & time don’t matter when it comes to our friendship.  It is lovely when you connect with someone like that. 

And I think to myself, ‘wow, if the only goal of every day was laughter, celebration & connectedness…..what a different world we would live in’.  Even if some days, we just focused on one….that would change a few lives in the process as well.

So I am thankful for today.  For what it brought to me.  The gift that I got to unwrap.  And I can rest tonight knowing that I did what I was meant to do today.  To celebrate the life that God gave me for this day.

Friday, April 16, 2010

She floats

She floats on the water.
Arms outstretched.
Pink swim cap snug against her long blonde hair.
Goggles pressed tightly against her blue eyes.

She is comfortable.
She is safe.
She is protected by the teacher’s hands that hold her.
She knows they will not let her go.

So she floats.

She enjoys her freedom.
Her soul rests in ease.
It is soothed by the faith that she is protected.
It rests on the promise that she will not be deserted or forsaken.

And as our Father does with us, so does her teacher.
She knows what her potential is & she lets go. 
Releases her into freedom to go her own way. 
She will not abandon her.  He will not abandon us.
She will not put her in danger.  He assures us that we should not fear.
She is still there with her.  He NEVER leaves us.
Her job is to teach.  He walked this earth to do the same.
Her job is to lead her in what she already knows.  What she has already learned.  He too, has felt every pain, every disappointment, every lesson, every loss, that we have felt.
She knows when to let go.  He knows when He needs to hold on.

So she let’s go.
And the moment that my daughter realizes that she is not being held on to, fear sets in.  Confidence is shaken.  Legs tuck in.  And she goes under water.

She showed me that day that I do the same thing.

In confidence.  I float.

Bank account in excess.  I float.
Roof over our heads.  I float.
Healthy kids.   I float.
Good marriage.  I float.
No impending debt.  I float.
Food to eat.  I float.

And then….I feel His hands lift.  Not because He isn’t still there.  Not because He has left me.   But His hands move from being supportive to allowing me more freedom.  Freedom to make my own choices.  Away from Him.  To go my own way.  If I choose. 

And when that happens…
When I choose on my own….
When I try by myself…
When I think MY will is better than His….
I tend to become scared.  I lose confidence.  Strength is devoured.
I tuck my legs under.   Panic takes over.  And I start to go under.

And as her teacher did, so does Mine.
He grabs a hold of me.
He pulls me back up.
He provides the safety that I need. 
He saves me, once again.

And then, I dry myself off & get ready for the next lesson.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Closer than we think

The first time I saw him, I knew.

He stood tall at 5 feet.
Hands tucked gently in the pockets of his navy blue shorts.
His eyes full of hope.
His shoes two sizes too big for his tired feet.
His heart full of love that only God can provide.
And.....MY heart was changed forever.

We have never met.
I have not been allowed the privledge of hugging him.  Being invited into his home.  Meeting his family or watching him play soccer.

He is 14 years old & he lives in one of the poorest countries on the face of the earth.
He goes to school every day.  He helps his father with his brothers & sisters.  His chores consist of carrying water & gardening.

We do not speak the same language.
We do not feel the same hardships.
We do not understand each other’s worlds.
But none of that matters.

We were brought together in…
We were brought together because there is a greater love that knows no boundaries of country or rulers or principalities. 
We were brought together through Compassion International.

His country was devastated by one of the largest earthquakes in history.
Where a city used to be, lies rubble.  Death has plagued his world.  And an already impoverished country relies solely on the strength & giving of other nations.  He relies on the Only thing that is consistent & never failing.  He relies on God.

Compassion International sponsors over 1 MILLION children in 25 countries.  He is just one of them.  I can not help them all.  If I could, I would.  But it is up to us.  It is with these hands & feet that we serve a great God.  It is with our own blessings that we extend that love to others.  We are not here for this world.  We are here for something so much greater.  Something that we can not even begin to imagine.  For me, it started with a sweet little boy in Haiti. 

Chances are, I will not meet him in this life. 
But I will sit with him some day in a much more beautiful place than this world could ever offer.  I will be given the honor of finally meeting him soul to soul. 
And there will be no more death.  No more hunger.  No more suffering. 
There will only be beauty & love & peace.  Our worlds will finally come together.  There will be no boundary.  No more miles separating us.  No language barrier keeping us from understanding each other’s hearts.
And, It will be beautiful.

(Won’t you please consider sponsoring a child through Compassion International!  You WILL be changing a child’s life.  You will be giving them so much more than you can imagine.  And receiving a gift even greater!!)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Live like you were living

The love of his life died 8 years ago. 
And ever since that day, he has set his boundary within the four walls of his home. 
His love only comes when we make the phone call or we take a stand. 
               We move so that he moves. 
                            We challenge his will. 
He is alive.  But he is not living. 
He breathes.   But life doesn’t take his breath away anymore.
His heart beats.  But only in rhythm with the remote control that sits softly on his armrest.
The atrophied muscles in his legs still get them where he needs to go.  If he would only go….somewhere.
His eyes still can appreciate the same sunset that they have always had the pleasure to see. 
He is here but he isn’t present. 
He is alive but he isn’t living. 
His life is in OUR living.  It is when we visit.  It is when we take him places.  It is in watching our children laugh & play & be alive.  But when we depart, so does his joy.  When we leave to go back to our own lives, his life, in some respect, stops.  He pushes his pause button & waits for the next call.  His life will remain on hold until someone else comes to resurrect it.

When did his life become the sum of other peoples living?
When did it become the product of every one else’s lives?
When did he make the choice to stop living in the moments he is still blessed with?
Or does he feel that the choice was made for him when she died?

We are surrounded with pleasure every day if we allow our hearts to open to the magic & miracle of all of them. 

We are provided a heart to feel.  We are given hands for the holding.  We are gifted with senses so that we can use them while we are here.  We need to live in the here & now.  Not wait for the then & there.  Let our hearts be used for what they are intended for.  To love with an entirety & a wholeness.   To let joy seep into every chamber until there is nothing more it can hold.  To allow our hands to want for nothing because we have everything that we would want or need or ever ask for. 

The day will be here soon enough when we are called to someplace greater.  But until then, let THIS life be the one that is all-consuming.  Seek the miracles of the day.  Let us not be just a shell of existence.   And let not our hearts keep beating just to keep us alive.   Let the breaths that are taken be appreciated & valued because it is bringing us something so much more.  Where we can walk through THIS life with a spirit of a life that is lived.   And lived well!!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A gift of words

I have thought hard about what gift to give today.  Most often, the real gifts do not come at a monetary cost.  They are usually something from the heart.  They are handed to us to usher a change.  To allow new perspective.  To instill a value in something.  
So the gift I chose today are words.  They are not mine.  They are from Priscilla Shirer & they are amazing!  They are poignant & real & true & they could not be more beautifully written.  They are even more powerful when she speaks them.  So go unwrap the gift and.....Enjoy!!

Who do we belong to?

He is the first and the last, the beginning and the end.
He’s the keeper of creation and the creator of all.
He’s the architect of the universe and the manager of all time.
He always was, always is, always will be unmoved, unchanged, undefeated and never undone.

He was bruised but brought healing
He was pierced but eased pain.
He was persecuted but brought freedom.
He was dead and brings life.
He is risen to bring power
And he was raised to bring peace.

The world can’t understand Him.
Armies can’t defeat Him.
Schools can’t explain Him.
And leaders can’t ignore Him.
Herod couldn’t kill Him.
Nero couldn’t crush Him.
The New Age cannot replace Him.
And Oprah cannot explain Him away.

He is life, He is love, He is longevity and He is the Lord.
He is goodness and kindness and faithfulness
And He is God.
He is holy and righteous and powerful and pure.
His ways are right
His word eternal
His will is unchanging and His mind is on us
He is our Savior, our Guide, our peace our joy,
our comfort, our Lord and He rules our lives.

I serve Him because his bond is love
His yoke is easy
His burden is light
And His goal for us is abundant life.

I follow Him because He is the wisdom of wise,
The power of the powerful,
The ancient of days,
The ruler of rulers,
The leader of all leaders
His goal is a relationship with me.

He will never leave you,
Never forsake you,
Never mislead you,
Never forget you,
Never overlook you,
And never cancel your appointment in His appointment book.

When you fall He’ll lift you up,
When you fail He’ll forgive you,
When you’re weak, He’s strong,
When you’re lost, He’s your way,
When you’re afraid, He’s your courage,
When you stumble, He will steady you,
When you’re hurt, He’s going to heal you,
When you’re broken, He will mend you,
When you’re blind, He will lead you,
When you’re hungry, He will feed you,
When you face trials, He’s with you,
When you face persecution, He will shield you,
When I face problems, He will comfort me,
When I face loss, He will provide for me,
And when we face death, He will carry us all home to meet Him.

He is everything for everybody, everywhere, every time and in every way.
He is God and that is who you belong to!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Day 2 of giving

Today was a day for giving…..
I brought them to 6 beautiful women at our MOPS group just to brighten their day.  To show them that I care for them.  That I think of them apart from the Tuesday’s that we meet.   To show them that they are a special part of our group of moms. 

I love flowers.
They are usually a part of the every day d├ęcor in our home.  They bring life & beauty & calm to a sometimes not so calm atmosphere. 
Flowers are good for my heart.

It made me happy to look as these sweet bundles of beauty & know that they would bring a smile to each one of the women that received them.

And I stand in amazement at the splendor of them.  The array of colors they display.  The intricate detail from stem to petal.  It all serves a purpose.  It is all for something.  Their responsibilities are simple.  They bring hope to those who grieve.  They witness the beauty of vows being uttered into the heavens.  They welcome new life.  They are an extension of friendship and love.  Of homecoming & farewells.  They are an extension of God’s own love.  He gives us flowers.  He didn’t have to provide them for us.  But He loves us so much that he created flowers.  On top of everything else, he painted their petals & laced them with a sweet aroma.  He could have just stopped with daisies.  But instead, in His abundant love, He also provided abundant beauty…..with roses & lilacs & lilies & columbines & tulips.   

He made them for us.  And He made them for us… give away!  So that’s what I gave today.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Power of 30

It isn’t a perfect number.
It’s just the number I chose.
Maybe it has something to do with the idea that it takes 30 days to change a habit.

I’ve been out of touch lately.
Not with life…..God knows I’ve been busy!
But when I finally get quiet time at night to reflect on the day, I think about what it is that I’ve given today.  Have I made a difference?  Have I given fully & freely with no need for recognition & praise?  And I realize, more often than I like to admit really, that I come up short. 
I fill my life with errands & play dates & projects & training & kids but I don’t fill my heart up with what it really needs.  And I am empty.  Empty of the true joy that I should be feeling if I am really living in the power of the Holy Spirit.

So I am launching my own Power of 30 Project.  And maybe you’ll join me.
30 days of reflection.
30 days of conscious living.
30 days of GIVING.

The heart & hands that I am lent for this time will be transformed

I do not have a plan.  I just have a purpose.  There was no board meeting to decide what I will do or when I will do it.  There is no To-Do-List to check off.  There is no agenda.  Unless you count giving openly & with a joyful heart.  To experience what it’s like to walk through life for a while not taking anything.  Just allowing my heart to open itself up to what others may need. 

The giving could be small & seemingly insignificant or cross the boundaries of our budget but it’s not about me & it’s not about budget.  I will listen for God & I will let Him take over.  And we’ll see what happens.

The giving was a meal.  For someone that needed it.  And quite frankly, I didn’t have time to make it or deliver it.  But there is more to it than that.  It’s about providing for another.  I didn’t do it to get a thank you or a pat on the back.  I did it because it needed to be done.  Had I known they ate a TV dinner on Easter……I WOULD HAVE DONE IT YESTERDAY!  But I didn’t know then.  TODAY….I do.

So in an effort to change my own heart…..
My selfish SELF…..
My ‘tending to want to take more than I give’ soul….
I will let these next 30 days be a lesson.
And I hope that we will ALL learn something in the process.