Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Morning After

The morning after a large party I am always exhausted;  but it’s a good kind of exhaustion - the kind where you worked really hard and you were really successful.  So my back is stiff - my muscles are aching but my heart is full.  I have a smile on my face as I clean up the remains of a beautiful evening of sharing hearts and lives.  Potato chips still plopped in bowls and laid on the table,  strawberry creme soda with ice long melted in forgotten cups scattered around the four levels of my house,  crumpled and twisted napkins here and there, a lonely baby blanket that never found its way back to the toy box, chairs everywhere making room for more guests, more friends.

Three balloons hover shamelessly above the buffet table reminding me of a beautiful night with great friends and a lovely family.  It was a perfect evening. It was sweltering hot and the house seemed too tiny to fit the 50+ people that graced my house last night. But it was magical.  And I will tell you why.  It was magical because we shared a special evening and a special day with family and friends.   There were friends here that we get together with all the time currently and this season of our lives.  There were friends here that were in our lives deeply years ago and even though we don’t spend a lot of time together now,  even though our paths don’t cross often,  we always feel a bond when we get together with them.  We always feel a connection.  

Last night I took a moment to look around.  So many stories behind each face I see.  Some have gone through some really tough waters, cruel waves that threatened to sweep them under - all at one time or another have clung tightly to the grace of God to get them through a tough day or a tough week or tough years.  I have so much to learn from these friends - so much to gain from walking hand in hand across the bumpy terrain;  the bumpy bits of life.  How blessed I am. 
 With all the memories that we have made over the years with these beautiful souls, with all the bits of our lives that we have shared with them, last night we added one more special day - my husbands 50th birthday. 
 I love the sound of laughter in a big group of people; I love the bumping into people when our house is too crowded; the shining eyes, the sharing of hearts and ideas and opinions and dreams and fears.

I want my home to be a place of safety; a place of shelter and peace from the storms of life - always ready to accept the messy people, the broken people as well as the beautiful and the whole.   I want my home to be that place where you are safe to walk through really tough times;  you are safe to bare your soul; you are free to be that person you are even if you haven’t become that person you long to be.  I want my heart to always be open.  Never closed and hiding and waiting for life to be perfect.  I want to my heart to always be searching for that person that needs me; that person that needs hope and that person that needs grace.  I want to be the bridge that brings them across to freedom; to being whole.  I want my heart to live there - right there helping people, right there rolling up my sleeves and ready to work, ready to be involved with the good and the bad, the unlovely and the gracious. 

So today,  I don’t have a lot of money,  but my heart feels rich.  We don’t have a huge house but our lives are huge and deep and driven with precious memories and sacred times with lovely friends.  And last night was perfect.

Thank you my friends.  

Friday, August 23, 2013

Happy Birthday Jeremy!

It is my husbands 50 birthday today.  When he woke up I asked him how it felt to be 50 and he said that it didn't feel much differently than 49.  But I am a little bit anxious because I am coming up to my 50th birthday soon.  Fifty seem like the age where you should have it all together; where your ducks should be in a row for sure.  And I definitely still have quite a few roaming ducks who are not cooperating. I told him how I was feeling and he said,  "Well thank you for having a panic attack in my stead; feeling anxious about our age."  Because he wasn't feeling it.  He isn't anxious.  One thing I can say about Jer is that he ages gracefully.  I have seen so many things cross his path and so many obstacles come his way and he is as steady as steady can be.  He is the epitome of strength.  Not because he has felt pressured into it; not because he has felt that he didn't have permission to be weak, because I have seen those moments too.  But because he doesn't buy into the drama of life.  And what I mean by that is that he doesn't get carried away by the drama because there is always drama and certainly in our lives over the years we have seen our fair share of the difficult, painful, and very hard seasons.  But he doesn't get swept away.  He often reminds me that there is a bigger picture.  He often points me to the One who cares and who carries us.  And I can be panicked about something and completely torn apart and as soon as he walks in the room, I feel safe.  There is safety in his presence.  That's part of his authority - that safety that he will know what to do - he will know how to respond to this situation in a way that reveals grace and the bigger picture of our journey of life.

We have been through the storms of life and I am not sure what I would have done without him; without his steadfast faith in God and his overwhelming faithfulness to me and our marriage.

I always encourage women out there to wait for the man that will fulfill everything that God wants fulfilled in a marriage.  I always tell them to wait for Mr. Right, not Mr. Right Now.  and it might take a little time and you might be lonely for a season but that's okay.  I read today that you can't learn how to rise above loneliness until you have truly learned the true beauty and worth of enjoying the alone times.
This is true and the reward for finding that soul mate, that person who will roll up his sleeves and walk every part of the journey with you is incredible. The reward is so worth it in every important way.

I applaud my husband today for being the man he is; for standing up for the passions in his heart; for being the steadfast strength that he is - not just to me but to so many; for being the example of what a husband, what a father, what a pastor, what a man should be.

I remember when I was pregnant with my first child oh so many years ago.  I was in the hospital a month before he was due because I was very ill with toxemia.  I had just found out from a nurse that I would probably have to have a c-section.  I was terrified.  I was alone when she told me and then she left.  She was gone and I was shaking and crying; not knowing what the future held or if my baby was truly ok or not.  I was beside myself.  I felt that I couldn't go through the next phase of life; I couldn't possibly do it and I knew that somehow the baby had to come out.  The nurse gave me a phone to locate my husband and I remember within minutes  he was running to my room with his guitar in his hands.   The minute that he walked through that door,  the minute I saw his face and his bright red curly hair,  my world was all right.  In that very moment,  I knew that I could do it.  I knew that with him by my side,  I could do it because he would be with me and he would make sure everything was just as it should be.  He sat by my bed, took out the guitar and sang to me until the nurses kicked him out long after visiting hours were over.

  When he left,  my roommates had tears in their eyes and they  mentioned how lovely, how peaceful his singing was and how fortunate I was to have married such a wonderful man.  But I already knew that.  I really did and 30 years later, I still do.

Happy Birthday, Jeremy!!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Orange Elephants

The other day Dylan, my older son was talking to Sean, my seven year old son about the use of word association to remember important things.  In trying to explain it,  he said, " I was having this same conversation with Mom the other day.  Do you remember that Mom?"  He directed the question to me.

I looked at him blankly.  No,  I didn't remember at all.  In fact I had no idea what he was talking about.  He got a little frustrated.  " Don't you remember? You HAVE to remember!  We had a whole conversation about it and you were sitting on the couch and I was sitting on the chair."   No.  I didn't remember at all.  I was pretty sure that it was someone else he had been talking to and it was HIM who had forgotten.  

Then that night I was laying in bed and suddenly it hit me.  But not everything.  Only a little smidgen of the conversation and it being about word association to help aid your memory.  I laid there for the longest time trying to remember the full conversation but couldn't.  It just wouldn't surface in my mind.  It was as if it was right there, but just got caught in amidst all the other thoughts jumbled in my head.

The next day when I saw Dylan,  I exclaimed,  " Dylan I DO remember the conversation.  Part of it.  It was a color.  I think it was blue.  Something to do with blue monkeys maybe???"

Dylan shook his head and chuckled, " No,  it wasn't blue monkeys.  It was orange elephants!"  

Suddenly it clicked!!  It was!! It was orange elephants.  When I thought of orange elephants it was supposed to make me remember what I was supposed to remember!! 

" But what was I supposed to remember when I thought of orange elephants?" I asked Dylan.

" I have no idea" he said, " that was for YOUR memory; YOUR word association, not mine."

So now, I am wandering around, wracking my brain, trying to remember what orange elephants was supposed to be helping me remember.  And I think it was mildly important.

Did I invite someone over?
Was it someone's name?
Was it to remember a password?
Was it to remember an invitation?
More importantly,  did I already miss it or forget it or misplace it?

All I have running around in my brain is orange elephants and nothing else - it's blank, completely totally a blank.   And it is honestly driving me wildly crazy.

I may be wrong but, I think that the word association trick is not a good fit for me.  Haha. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tears are a language...

When I was really young,  about 7 years old,  I was at a school picnic.  The day was beautiful and everything seemed so happy around me and the air was clean and fresh and the weather was pristine  and then suddenly the day turned on me.    My “friend” decided to not be my friend anymore.  To this day,  I don’t know why except that at that age,  girls and kids in general can be really cruel and mean and this was that type of day.  She just announced that she wasn’t going to be my friend anymore and then my other friend decided that she would “follow” her instead of me because everyone has to pick sides you know at that age.  And then suddenly the innocent, fun game of running around on the grass,  pulling bits of grass and throwing it at each other got really mean and they started  throwing it in my hair and trying to pull my hair at the same time, or throwing it down my shirt and humiliating me.  It was one of those nightmare days that a 7 year old remembers for the rest of her life - or at least until she is my age.  I felt so utterly alone and depleted.  I felt like an outcast; like life would never again be the same for me. 

Hurt and raw and so full of sadness for the day,  I trudged home wearily,  feeling totally defeated.  The day wasn’t beautiful anymore.  In fact,  it was cruel.     I cried,  hot tears welling up inside of me and spilling down my cheeks.  I talked to God and sobbed some more.

 Suddenly, in the midst of the sobs came a song.   A song my Mom and sister used to sing as we traveled to churches.   It was called “Tears are a language God understands”.    More tears came; more sobbing  but this time,  because I knew in the very core of my being that Jesus understood.  He understood my tears,  he saved them in a bottle because he cared that much for me.  He understood rejection.  He understood the cares and pains of the world and ugliness and the meanness and the stabbing hurt that people inflict on others and he just calmed my spirit right then.  Right there,  I knew that it was going to be ok.  Because I had a God walking beside me - sort of like a big brother and that if he cared for me, if he loved me,  if he died for me,  it would be ok.  I could go through life rejected and scorned and unloved because he didn’t reject me.  He didn’t scorn me and he definitely loved me enough to die for me.

And today,  again,  I found myself crying.   I didn’t even know what to say to Jesus.  So much to be said but not enough words to articulate it.  Not enough ways to describe what my spirit is going through at times.  I just cried and in a little spot of my spirit,  I said a tiny prayer - not even audibly I don’t think.  “Help” is all I said.  And then I remembered again that beautiful little, powerful song that I remembered when I was little.  Tears are a language that  He understands.  So true. 

Maybe we don’t have the words to voice what is going on.  Maybe the pain is too deep, too raw even to put into words,  even to face that it is happening in your life right now.  Maybe it seems too hopeless and you seem utterly helpless in your situation.  Maybe,  just maybe you see no way out - you are stuck in a really sad corner of your world with no solution, or your loved one is,  and you just don’t know what to do.  I want to tell you that Jesus understands your pain.  He understands the deepest parts of your heart.  He understands everything about you and he understands what will get you unstuck and what will rescue you and what will bring that joy back in your life.

  I don’t mean the “hahaha” laughter,  I don’t mean the fleeting happiness - I mean the real, tangible gut filling joy even in the midst of really really hard moments in your life.  They are there.  I have felt them myself and even today reached up to grab it for my own spirit.

If He is there,  if He understands,   if He is walking beside me and behind me and ahead of me - I am ok.  I really am ok.

 And so will you be.  

Friday, August 9, 2013

Peace is:

Finding the extraordinary in the midst of the ordinary; the quirky in the midst of the mundane.

           Holding each beautiful, tender moment like flakes of gold in tired, weathered hands.

                      Seeing and experiencing and loving the beauty in the midst of a valley.

       Truly grasping and walking and living your day and your moments Through Eyes of Faith.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Heart Friends

 Heart friends.  That's what I call them.  You know - those are the kind of friends that are easily connected to your heart.  I have a few of them.  I have a few of them here and a few of them scattered across the globe.

Yesterday was spent with friends that were not from around here; two of which we hadn't seen in years.  To say that it was a treat would be an understatement of the year.  It was not only touching,  it was epic to see them; to spend time with them again.  Sitting around the table,  eating meat and cheese with soft white buns, and bright red strawberries with fresh homemade whipping cream,  we realized that we had been friends for 3 decades.    We hadn't talked in years,  but it was as if we hadn't left each other; like we had just taken a long breath in order to start talking and sharing again.  It was that magical.

We have created a thousand memories together,  laughed until our bellies ached and cried buckets of tears.

Friendship is something money can't buy.  It's something that you have to give yourself to - your heart, your journey.  You have to be vulnerable - even raw at times.  That's what we have shared with these guys.  We have gone through moves, and babies, and deaths and weddings, and prodigals and everything in between,  together. 

Time is a beautiful thing for some friendships.  Time tries and tests and weighs - how important;  how deep you dug that well of friendship. and for these friendships, time proved that we dug the well deep.  Rich, filled with power, redeeming, satisfying, loving, friendship.

How I love these people and how I love God for bringing them into our lives 30 years ago.   Yesterday,  I needed them so desperately.

When my oldest son heard that all six of us were getting together he said,  "You know, Mom,  things could get really silly."  He remembered the laughter until the wee hours of the morning.  We've talked about crazy things - silly inside jokes that make ONLY US laugh.  We've talked about deep things - like faith and doubt, beauty and sorrow, lovely things and ugly things.  We've shared meals, and vacations, and plays and missions trips and dinners and dozens of cheesecakes and saved the world a million times through our plans and thoughts.  The list goes on and on.

This is what life is all about.  Finding people who will become the words to the heart song you choose to sing; finding your people - your friends - who walk with you through the confusion, through the beauty, through the gross darkness and through the streams of light.

Time and distance has never separated our hearts, our lives from intertwining.

I was disappointed when I saw that this poignant picture was blurry.  And then I realized how significant that was to our lives.  Through the mess, through the clouds, and the haziness and vast valleys; through the blurriness that the journey brings to us sometimes,  we link arms, we hold hands - because we can - because we are heart friends.  Imperfect but vastly beautiful all the same. 

Thank you, my friends.  


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Healing Tears

The other day when I walked out of Walmart I was literally struck with a sky that took my breath away.

I love beautiful skies.  They move me.  They get me right in the heart.  But this one was different on so many levels.  I NEEDED what I saw.

I snapped a couple of pictures with my iphone and then heart racing (yes, thats what sky pictures do to me) rushed my van to another parking lot to see if I could see it better.  As I stepped out of the van, to my amazement the entire sky was spectacular.  What I had set out to look at was beautiful enough with its hues of soft fuzzy pinks and blues - sort of like a baby shower or a soft baby blanket.  But as I turned around I actually gasped.  There were clouds that looked like they were exploding with fire.  There were rays streaming from all different directions in the sky and other clouds that looked like the tips had been dipped in exquisite gold.  It was fantastic.  It was  as if the sky was literally alive.

I stood not even knowing which way to look.  I stared,  awestruck.  It felt sacred to me.  In the very deepest part of my soul,  I knew I was having a moment with God.  Heaven touched me.  God breathed life into me.  He took my tender heart and held it in His vast and strong hand.

And right there in the parking lot of the liquor store  at Superstore,  with cars whizzing past me and people milling around,  I wept.  I wept and I wept and I wept.  Healing tears- like smooth ointment on a newly cut wound; or water on a really really scorching hot day.   It was as if a dam had broken within my belly and I couldn’t hold the tears in any more.  I was so deeply moved and so deeply touched that even now,  I feel it.   All of the pain and the stress and the worry and grief and the questions flowed out of me.   With tears streaming down my face,  I was completely, absolutely overcome with gratitude -  for my family; for my heart friends, for love,  for so many things in my life.

But mainly I wept because the God who made those clouds and made that sky and made the whole beautiful earth is my friend.  I felt like He had painted the sky just for me that night,  that moment in time.

Healing in my heart, refreshed in my spirit,  after a long pause,  I went home a stronger woman.