Friday, December 29, 2006
More than likely, sometime, somewhere, whether you're a Christian or not, you've heard those words. God speaks.
I was writing out some bills this morning and with the start of the new year looming I decided to raise my rent. It might seem like an odd thing to do, but my rent is obscenely low, and property taxes are obscenely high (and rose even higher this last year), and so I decided it was only fair for me to pay more in rent.
I had a specific number in mind, but suddenly paused and prayed about it, asking God for a number that would be good - in case mine wasn't - and sure enough, He gave me a new number. His number was a bit deceptive in that if my parents (the landlords) don't pay close attention to the check, they might not notice immediately that something has changed. So I carried on and finished writing out that check with my new number.
The very next check I started to write was for my church. My tithe check. As the words I was writing on the check rolled through my head my pen paused as a new number rolled through rather than my normal tithe amount. I stopped writing and immediately sat quietly for a bit wondering if, indeed, my mind was just playing tricks with me. My mind questioned it and immediately I knew it was not just a strange trick, so I finished writing the check, with the new number, and moved on with life.
Are you a little bored with my story yet? Surely so, as stories about someone paying bills cannot be too interesting. The story wasn't even interesting to me until I began thinking more closely about what had happened.
The King of Creation, The One to whom every knee will one day bow, The Giver of All Life, The Healer that can raise the dead, make the blind to see, the deaf to hear, and the cancer to vanish, The One whose very name causes the demons to tremble; He was with me as I paid bills.
I wasn't sitting around praying for money to be able to pay my bills. I had more than enough to do that. I wasn't in need of a special miracle. Truth be told I was asking His guidance on how to trick my parents into collecting more money from me. Yet, He was here.
People will tell you He's always there, He's always listening, He'll always answer, but it never really feels that way unless you're doing something wrong. And while so many times I know He's there, I just fail to act like He's there. But as powerful and huge as He is, I often have to remind myself that He's also the God of the mundane. And He would allow Himself to be the God of the mundane simply because He loves us and wants to be involved in our lives.
So besides being the God whose very hands could hold the sea in the palm of his hand, He's the God that helps me find the right street to turn on.
Besides being the God for whom time has no meaning as He gazes into past, present and future indiscriminately, He's the God that helps me find a much needed item on sale at a price I can afford.
Besides being the God whose counsel is sought by Kings, and Sheiks, Lords, and Presidents, He's the God that used a friend to get me to try a vitamin He knew would practically cure the problems with my hands.
So while I believe a miracle happened today, I don't believe it was that God gave me a number to use. But only that I thought to ask.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
I don't have any.
As I started contemplating what they would be I started thinking about what God would have them be. But as I started thinking about that I realized, happily so, that God wouldn't wait until January 1st to start changing something about me.
He didn't wait to give me the Holy Ghost until the fresh start of a new year. He wouldn't even wait until Monday - a fresh new week - to start changing my attitude about something.
For God, change starts immediately. There is no reason to wait, and only regrets to hold onto if you do wait. So, in an ongoing effort to be more like Him, I'm not waiting either.
I hope, and I pray, that each day I wake up holding onto the resolution that I would be more like Him. That very resolution changes so much about me. It requires me to be more patient, a better listener, and would require me to grow in faith and understanding. It demands I be more loving and more considerate, more selfless and more passionate. It requires I be the most faithful steward I can be with my money, and the most generous giver with not just my money, but my time as well.
It means daily guarding against forming opinions about people based on rumors, gossip, and other peoples opinions. And on the flip side to that, it means being a master of my tongue so that if I influence opinions with my words it would only be for the good.
Harder still, this daily resolution to be more like Christ means that I can not hold onto grudges, past hurts, unforgiveness and bitterness.
It means living a life changing life and I can't waste a single day.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
I'm a member over at www.adoption.com They have a ton of forums, including Foster Parent forums by state. I spend most of my time at their site reading through Texas Foster Parent posts. So far it's been a great resource to find out what my home study would be like, how long the finger printing process should have taken and some of the scary/wonderful things that other foster parents have been through. It's a good place.
They have a feature that allows you to send a single user a private message rather than always having to talk publicly in the forum. Once a user found out about my CASA experience I received several private messages asking questions about CASA.
Well, I received an e-mail last week saying I had a private message and so I went to their site to view it. It was from someone claiming to be a 14 yr old girl and she, most simply put, asked me to adopt her.
After I got over the initial surprise I asked around and apparently this wasn't a common thing to happen. But, it reminded me of the many times I have been told that once a foster child is eligible for adoption that they'll often ask if you'll adopt them so they can stay where they are. So this might have been my first time being asked to adopt someone, but it probably won't be my last.
I remember during my home study the investigator asked question after question trying to figure out what I would do in certain situations. So often my first answer was simply a fervent "PRAY". She was stubborn and wanted another answer also but if this experience is any example, prayer is going to be a constant and necessary thing.
Every situation, every time.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
I'd done a small thing, not even by myself, but simply helped someone to do something and was later thanked. When I remarked that what I'd done was so very small, they indicated I was being thanked for something else entirely and believed I knew what they were talking about. By the time I got back to my car I realized that I really didn't know what they were talking about. My contributions to anything this person would notice are so small they are almost inconsequential. So if I'm not being thanked for that, what am I being thanked for?
And that started a whole list of things.
As I was trying to understand someones very sincere gratitude, I realized there are so many things that I don't understand.
I don't understand how people can sit down during a worship service.
I don't understand why one of our church ladies persists in kissing my neck rather than my cheek. I've seriously wondered if one day I will have to explain why I have lipstick on my neck.
I don't understand how every person in the world is not wholly addicted to Sonic's lemon berry slush.
I don't understand how I got so blinded by doing the "best" thing that I did it anyway despite making someone feel badly.
I don't understand how supposed Christians can not desire God.
Unfortunately, I've also never understood which blinker I should use if I'm merging right but turning left.
Life's full of things I might never understand.
But for once, at least today, I'm happy to be oblivious. I don't have to understand completely.
It's just enough to know that people are sincerely glad to have me around. That even though they sit for a worship service they're still moved enough to stand every once in a while. I'm grateful for the warm hug that just happens to come with an uncomfortable kiss.
I'm also happily grateful for the small pleasures in life that make you literally stop and thank God for taste buds. I'm grateful that I can have confidence in people that even though I'm taking better care of a tray of meat than a friendship, that my friend is still my friend. And I'm grateful that God still moves in the hearts of those that are His own. And nothing can make you desire God more than just a taste of Him.
And my insurance company is grateful, that regardless of which blinker I turn on, I've nearly always gotten to where I'm going safely. :)
I tried, I really did try. But nothing quite stuck.
Now that it's over, I almost feel let down. And I wonder how Christ feels. It was after all His birthday. I hope someone, somewhere, celebrated it with more gusto than I did. At least for His sake.
But now that it's over I'm trying to figure out what went wrong. Thinking back to some of the things I've said over the past couple of weeks, I realize now that one thing was seriously skewed in my mindset. Never once have I required certain weather conditions for my birthday to feel like my birthday. When my niece or nephews birthday rolls around, it could be snowy, rainy, hot, muggy, it could be a huge impenetrable blanket of fog and it would still feel like their birthday.
It's typical in my family for holidays and birthdays to raise up conflict, and while that elicits a certain amount of dread it's never made me wish away a single holiday or birthday. And even in the midst of conflict, it still feels like whoever's birthday it is.
Somehow, I wasn't able to give Christ that same consideration.
Not this year.
Monday, December 18, 2006
Have you ever stubbed your toe really hard?
Smacked your thumb with a hammer?
Shut your hand in the car door?
Banged your head into a low board?
I remember years back watching Home Improvement with Tim Allen, and every time he would go into his basement he'd bang his head on that pipe. He'd grab his head and let out string of (thankfully) unintelligible words while waiting for the pain to wear off.
Whether you've done or not done any of these things, I'm almost certain that everyone reading can equate to holding your breath in pain. The moment the pain lets up you let out air you didn't realize you were holding and you take a breath. You might even take a couple of deep breaths as your shock or surprise at the pain ebbs away.
I caught myself several times last week, doing just that. I wasn't busting my thumb or banging my head. There wasn't any pain involved at all. But there was something in me that was loosening that I'd never realized had tightened so very tight. It's simply one of those things where you walk around thinking you're alright until one day something changes and you find yourself wondering how you could have walked around like this so very long.
God is too easy to slip away from. I'm so good at holding people at arms length that I forget my relationship with God should be anything BUT that. As I distance myself further and further from God there is all the more room for things to stand in between me and God. Whether it's family or work, or health. Until one day I realize my only glimpses of God are what's available between the gaps of the mountains in my life. And that's just not good enough.
And thank God it doesn't have to be. It can be so much better. So much richer. So much deeper. So very wonderful.
So today, I can only say this: I'm sorry God. I'm sorry that I need reminders to talk to you. I'm sorry I wait too long and forget the depths of Your love for me when I talk to You. I'm sorry for every time I've talked to You professionally and courteously and failed to talk to You, a very personal God, in a very personal way.
And to you, my friends, my family, and any that wander to this post today: I pray you become passionate. Passionate enough to love God wholeheartedly with utter disregard to the worlds standards of love. Passionate enough to do whatever it takes to get as close to Him as you possibly can. Passionate enough that nothing could possibly keep you from Him.
"Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. " Colossians 4:5 & 6
I remarked after the reading about what a good verse I thought that was. Fortunately since the reading is online they couldn't see me beating my head on the table declaring it to be very nearly impossible for me.
I looked up the word grace and was even more disheartened to read all the lovely words they were able to use to describe grace.
Grace: that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech
This is one thing no one will ever accuse me of. Yet, the bible wants me to speak words that afford joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness.
It's a wonderful thing that I serve the God of the impossible.
As I pondered over the words of the verse and the challenge they are to me, I remembered yet another verse that tells me that it's out of the abundance of my heart that I speak. So if I'm mostly concerned about the words then I'm just treating a symptom and not the root. If I develop a heart of grace, the words will flow as naturally as my sarcasm does now. What an honor it would be to be known as someone whose words were filled with joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm and loveliness.
But more than that, how peaceful would it be to have a heart that flowed with those same qualities.
As I turned to the One who seems to have such high expectations of me I could only tell Him that while I understand how He wants me to act, I don't know how to get there on my own. I will never be glorified for the way I act or words I've said. But, if He works in me long enough, and hard enough, He might just end up glorified, and I might be filled with pleasure and delight to be, in my Saviors eyes, a vessel of honor.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
and purple kool-aid grins.
Thank you Lord for extra laundry, and stains I can't get out.
Thank you Lord for giggles and laughs, and cries and shouts.
Thank you Lord for smudges of dirt on smiling cheeks, and ketchup on my rug.
But most of all Lord, Thanks so much for the sticky hands wrapped around me in a precious goodnight hug.
Friday, December 15, 2006
So often I find myself looking at my relationship with God wondering if it's actually true. If He was just a really great person that loved me but had no power... would I love Him this much? I have a hard time praying for others simply because He's done so much, and He's still doing so much, it's hard for me to ask for that little bit extra. Whether my words of love and thankfulness come before or after my request I can't get over the feeling that He'll scorn my words as a sick trick to manipulate Him into doing what I ask.
I don't believe I'm trying to manipulate Him, but I've seen the selfishness and wickedness of my own heart so I wouldn't put it past me. And even if the words are true, the timing of my words of love attached to your petition seem suspicious to me. Even if I try and separate the two, it feels as though I'm just trying to pad my account with God so I can get what I want later.
If you learn one thing about me from my blog, learn this, I over analyze everything.
I had nearly an hour of waiting around my church for someone yesterday and so as I paced the church trying to figure out the answers, and a way through this over-thought problem I realized that I'd lost something.
I'd lost the very thing that made my relationship with God special; the ability to tell God anything and everything at anytime.
Five years ago this January I moved into my home and I made the conscious decision to talk to God. Period. I was mad at Him at the time and had nothing good to say to Him, but I was determined to talk. And that very talking changed my life.
I don't know when I quit talking. Oh, I still talk to Him, but it was nothing like what I was doing before. I can pray, I know the right words for prayer. And that's what I've been doing for awhile... praying. I equate the word prayer with a hands-off religious type ritual. Talking though... Talking was like, talking to my best friend. I could explain the depths of my desires, ask about the things I don't understand, and somewhere in there my petitions for those I love and my declarations of love for my Friend and Savior always found their way in.
By the time the person I was waiting for arrived, I'd found the closeness of a relationship that I'd allowed to become far too distant. I'm so glad. I'm so relieved. It's easy to slip away and you forget how important some things in your relationships are until you've grasped them again wondering how you could have possible gone without this.
I don't want to forget this reminder. And I'm thinking I'll post a sticky note somewhere in my office so I won't forget again. Remembering my key to a good relationship with God is much like remembering where I put the key to my house. I can't get in without it, and it's where I'll go to rest.
He came to encourage us to give that last mite in the temple treasury; to give without expecting to receive in return; to give of ourselves lavishly and extravagantly to people we barely know, or don't know at all. He came to ask us to sell our possessions and give to the poor, with no expectation that we could ever redistribute so evenly that there would never again be the poor.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Somewhere in the chorus of all the praying, my pastor asked me to raise my hands. Immediately a faithful and kind woman supported me by holding up one of my hands.
For me, those very actions were like the ripple effect of a tiny pebble on a pond.
Immediately I was panicked. I can't tell you the specifics of why, but I've rarely been able to raise my hands like that. If you ever read or hear that I died during a bank robbery it's probably because I couldn't make myself "stick 'em up". If you see me with my hands raised at church, it's only because of the Spirit enabling me.
In this situation I felt imprisoned, by a very kind and quiet lady who had no idea that my sudden intense emotions were anything but the normal actions of someone seeking the Holy Spirit.
After she had released my hand I tried desperately to pull myself together. I can understand rational problems, but I have very little tolerance for irrational problems in my life. Freaking out because someones holding your hand up is definitely in the irrational category.
With my arm finally freed I wrapped my arms around myself as a flood of unwanted emotions seemed to run away with me. As I tried to wait them out an almost overwhelming chorus of thoughts began colliding in my head. 'I was worthless', 'my church family didn't want me there', 'I cause trouble everywhere I go it's only a matter of time before I cause trouble here' and a thousand different reasons why I would never be filled with the Spirit and why I shouldn't have told my church family that I was seeking it and how they'd all be disappointed. While everyone else was praying I'd receive the Holy Spirit, I was begging God to please just make this horrible cadence of thoughts stop. It's hard to describe, but I literally could not think another thought but those and the mad scramble of those horrible thoughts literally made me walk out of the building.
I can only imagine what they were thinking as the person they're praying for just walks out. I don't even know what I would be thinking if someone I was praying for did that. It's definitely not a shining moment in my life and this will be one of the few posts that I might not end up having the courage to post.
In case you're wondering, I was only gone about 5 minutes and I did come back.
With all that said, feel free to join me as I take a long deep breath, exhale slowly and totally shift my focus.
I was writing to a friend yesterday about the grace of God in my life. God's grace in my life; His amazing grace that has covered my past, my present, and leads me into a grace-filled future is well worth meditating on. Too often I stop meditating and simply forget. And when I forget it's harder and harder to fight when my enemy challenges my very right to exist.
Nothing has any value, whether silver, gold, jewels, computers, ipods, mp3 players, Xboxes or sports cars. Nothing. Except to the person that knows how to use it. Someone that has a plan for it. At the hands of this world I have no value. I will be used as nothing less or more than a worker bee for all the days that I'm able. Then, more than likely, I will live off a holed away pocket of money until finally I die and someone sticks me in the ground.
Solomon had it right when he adamantly declared all things to be vanity.
But, there is a Father that purchased me by sending His Son, a part of the God-head, to be brutally beaten and murdered; a Friend that at the beginning of the world made provisions so that I might be able to live in Him, know Him, that I might know life and know it more abundantly; and a Saviour that purchased my life at such a high cost because He knew exactly how He planned to use it. Under the hand of that powerful and loving a King my life has a value that is beyond my comprehension. He can and does draw anyone He pleases, and He chose to draw me.
The King of the universe chose me.
I don't understand how I can forget such a thing. In a marriage it seems like there should be a very special feeling of knowing that your spouse has chosen you, they looked at you and decided they wanted to spend the rest of their life with you. God chose me; He chose me. He has a plan for my life. And just like it was promised in Jeremiah, He's given me a hope and a future.
I know the cure for my 'less than shining moments'. I just tend to remember the cure after I've gone through the torment of fear and doubt. What must God think as He offers me royal robes and I stubbornly don my rags? How many times will He see an empty place at His feasting table while I gather crumbs? There is so much He's offered me that I'm just simply blind to or don't comprehend how to reach out and take it. It seems as though the simpler the answer is, the harder it is for me to grasp. Accepting God's gifts never needs to be difficult.
He's offered me so much.
I have so much to be grateful for.
I'm so very grateful, that there is One that by seeing value in me gave me value.
Father, Friend, Savior, help me live up to Your estimation of me.
What other desire should any creation have, but to live up to the expectations of the Creator?
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
For 3 days I've spoken as absolutely little as possible. And it's just amazing how people respond to that. Mostly they talk more. I've also been called more endearments the last three days than ever before. Inappropiate endearments though since "baby" isn't a good thing to call the lady considering you for a job. But it just simply wasn't worth correcting at the time.
I got a crazy sore throat that made swallowing nearly impossible and talking one of the most painful activities I've endured for awhile. Granted, bear in mind that I don't get myself injured too often and there are a lot of worse things than a sore throat.
I haven't eaten or had anything to drink since Monday. Today, things have eased up enough that I went in search of something cold to hopefully help things along. After Sonic tried to charge me a dollar and a half for a cup of ice I quickly remembered the joy of a Wendy's .99cent frosty. That satisfied my sense of right/wrong far better than a $1.50 for a cup of frozen water so I went with that.
An hour later I sit here, still very quiet, but very sincerely thanking God for the invention of ice cream. Almost sick-free is very nearly as good as sick-free after you've experienced sick. I rarely get sick, and when I do it's almost always a doozy. Last time nearly a year ago I spent 4 days running a 104/105 temperature. My parents actually visited me. They brought water. Family is nice sometimes. Always interesting at least.
I've also marvelled at the human body's ability to fall into a state called "sleep". It may seem insane to anyone else but me, but to be able to lay down and slip into a world where you don't hurt anymore, be it only for an hour or two, absolutely amazes me.
Just a touch of this itty bitty germ, reminds me of the compassion to be felt for those that suffer regularly from constant ailments. I can't imagine spending every day fighting a bad back, cancer, or a thousand other things just beat a person down, whether with pain or just the constant maneuvering your life around to deal with it.
My understanding of such things is limited to some of my own experiences, and thankfully those have been few. But I hope that at least through God's wisdom and understanding I might be able to gain some understanding.... though... I've always been ok with crossing my fingers and hoping something I say works out for the comfort. And when I'm entirely not sure I simply resort back to the trick that's worked so well the last three days. A quiet nod and lots of uh huming.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
I think the last time we ate together, alone, was 14 years ago.
It's amazing how two people can sit right next to each other and not really say anything. We talked about a lot of important things, but they were all technical things. He even began each new topic with the number it was on his list of things to talk about. Not that there was anything wrong with that, it was just a reminder that we weren't talking as friends.
We're all concerned about my mom who seems to be going far too quickly. And we're concerned about him having surgery possibly this month, and how his being in the hospital for a week will affect mom. He's also concerned about a constant legal battle he's fighting over the land my house sits on.
All in all, it was a heavy meal.
The thing that always surprises me is, even listening to things that are of great importance, and great sorrow, there's the underlying and constant assurance, at least in these areas, that everything is going to be alright.
I can't tell you why, I can't tell you how, and I can't tell you that "alright" means it turned out the exact way I wanted it to. But it will be alright.
I've watched my friend, and my co-worker, Lisa, struggle through so many things. I've watched her fight legal battles, emotional battles, I've seen her suck it up when her own dad had alzheimers and finally passed away. I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that the "it's going to be alright" does not transfer itself to everyone -especially those that don't know God - during rough times.
There's just a peace that comes from knowing that God is in charge.
I don't mean to sound sacrilegious or ungrateful, but doing what God wants you to do, with no reassurance that you're going to do it well or right, is downright frustrating. Frustrating and scary.
I've thought back to the thorn that Paul had in his side, and how God said it was to be used to display that in Pauls weakness He was strong. There's no doubt in my mind that I, Jeanette, am destined to be a horrible foster parent. But I'm trusting, that without fail, when my weakness at parenting appears, His strength in parenting will take over. He will lead and guide and I'm just going to be along for the ride.
Cause let me tell you, if I'm driving... we're in a whole mess of trouble.
Monday, December 11, 2006
"To believe in God is impossible - to not believe in Him is absurd" - Voltaire
"We turn toward God only to obtain the impossible." - Albert Camus
Just to take Him at His word
Just to rest upon His promise
Just to know thus saith the Lord.
Once I've gotten past my initial knee-jerk reaction I will probably change my mind. But I'm telling you right now, I'm two seconds from yelling "hogwash" at the idea that trusting is sweet.
When an army is chasing you and God's plan seemed to be to march you into the sea, trusting seems anything but sweet.
When you're in a crowd of over a hundred thousand hungry people, and someone informs you that your source of food is going to just... fall from the sky tomorrow, trusting seems anything but sweet.
When you're about to battle a people too great to number and God chops your army down to 300 men, trusting seems anything but sweet.
And sweet or petrifying, the only reason you would dare to do as God says to do is only because God says to.
I'm not above trying to convince God that He's most obviously got the wrong person.
I spent Saturday and Sunday proving in my own strength I stink, absolutely stink at caring for children. Two poor little girls were knocked over, and had their little toes stepped on more times than I can count. It was like having a new pet that is always right behind your foot.
I turned the children over to their parents after 24 hrs of "care" and sat down right then and there and informed God that he had the wrong person. If I didn't know, beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was His plan I would have literally called my worker at the agency and put a stop to the whole thing. I would have called them the very moment the children left.
The giants in my life may be 4 foot tall. But I can barely swallow for fear.
Here's the only good part.
Other than an almost constant cadence in my head reminding Him to equip those that He's called, there is no question as to whether or not this is going to happen.
For all the fear, for all the ways I know I'm going to struggle in this, I am more grateful than I can tell you that I am confident in God. There are so many things I think about God, and so few things I know about God. I'm just so glad He made sure I knew this.
Friday, December 08, 2006
But I don't. I've said more words today than I think I've said all month long, and maybe combined with all next month. I've just finished four hours of questioning.
I have completed my home study.
I have nothing more to do except wait for the call saying that I am approved of and a time arranged for me to go there and be licensed.
Licensed to raise someone elses child.
I can't even fathom.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
So, I'm posting this because I'm hoping one day I'll be able to look back and see a month after this post, I posted the answer to this prayer.
I need something.
I've put myself into a position where I am responsible for doing two things at the exact same time at church. Unless God raises up a person to do this second task, I just simply wouldn't be able to do my original task, which is to play the piano for the worship service.
I can't do both tasks at the same time, and quite frankly I refuse to be satisfied with having to ask a random person that just happens to be "there" to take care of the second task. I want better than that. I want better than that not just for myself, but for the church, and for the sake of having the task done right, and to the best it can be done.
I'm not at a decision point yet, but I'm praying. Our church has so many needs, it seems selfish to focus so intensely on the one need that concerns me most. But, our church needs a piano player too. I can't even imagine walking away from that in order to fill the second role, but if I have to I will.
So I post this to the public. Look at it. Read it. I'll tell you the specifics of my request as soon as I am able to post that the prayer has been answered and the need provided for. God doesn't leave anything undone. If He wants a job done, He'll provide workers for it. I believe that, and I'm trusting and praying in that.
I pray for so many things. Mostly I pray for God's will to be done quite simply because I know I can spend a lot of time praying for a specific thing to be done the specific way that I think it should be done. Usually I find out later that God didn't have that in mind at all, His way wasn't my way, His thought wasn't my thought. So you will rarely hear me say I'm asking God for xyz and He's going to provide xyz.
But this time is different.
So I ask you, if you're saved or not saved, watch this blog for the next 2 months. I tell you this with confidence, because I believe you will read very shortly of God answering a very specific prayer in a very specific way.
You're so small, and so tiny, and delicate. You can't even lift your head. How can I expect you to save the world?
I can't imagine you on a cross, can't imagine you creating the world, can't imagine your clear eyes having seen the depths of hell. I can't imagine confessing the horrible sins of my heart to someone so innocent and pure as you. I shudder to imagine tiny baby fingers curled into a fist, this precious hand, one day being marred by a spike.
The world thinks things of your mother that you should never hear said.
I just want to tell you I'm sorry.
I'm sorry for every pain you'll endure for my sake. I'm sorry for the things you'll see me do, or hear me say that will make you wonder if we're actually part of the same family, or ashamed that you are. I'm sorry for all the times I'm going to forget your birthday. I'm sorry for all the times I'll celebrate doing the things I've made a habit, rather than asking you what you'd like planned for the day like I would any other family member.
I'm sorry for all the meaningless things in my life. From meaningless gifts chosen, to meaningless places gone, and trivial things spoken.
Imagining your tiny childish face makes me want to be a better person. It makes me hope for even just one less sin committed that you would bear on your shoulders one day. One day you will stumble under the weight of a cross, carrying my guilt and shame. As I picture a stable and cows and imagine the smells of your birthplace, it almost hurts to wish this hard that my life, should it be well lived, could ease your burden.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
I can't tell you how pleasant it is for me to read something I've written and reach the end of it feeling satisfied.
It takes a lot of tweaking sometimes, and often a post you read yesterday, if you went back and read it today you'd find that a few things about it had changed. I tweak even after you've read it. I want it to be right and I usually keep on tweaking until I can read it all the way through without something bothering me.
I wouldn't call myself a writer at all, but this part of me has become important and almost vital. This blog has been an outlet for the best and worst of me. I'm glad I started this.
Through this, I've seen specific ways this is a gift and responsibility from God. I've got a few drafts of posts that never made it to finish, and some horrible topics that never made it to light either. And sometimes, when I didn't have anything good to say, God made sure I wasn't able to say it at all. You would think a person that likes to write could write anything, anytime, anywhere... but so often my brain has sat murking around with a wordless tumble of thoughts that couldn't exactly be translated into writing.
That's what happened yesterday.
I spent the weekend thinking so much that by the time Monday came, it was too jumbled to be coherent. This is going to be my best attempt to unjumble things and write once again.
I realized this weekend how much we take family for granted. We have expectations of family that changes our appreciation of the good things they do for us. And those of us with a lot of family don't appreciate each member of the family as much as we should.
And while I am the last person, the very last person, that should dare to give advice on family relationships here's what I want to tell you.
Love your family. Wholly and completely. Don't love them quietly or expect them to understand your love. Explain it in the same clear and uncertain terms that God, with deliberate intent, explained His. Remember that you have never been guaranteed tomorrow. Some of the most painful regrets concern words not said.
Say you're sorry. Say it even if you're not sure you've offended. Say it every time, and often. Give thought to your words before you say them. It bears repeating again, give thought to your words before you say them. Love your family.
Don't be offended. I don't care what they said. I don't care if it sounded like they were talking about you. I don't care if they even used your name when whatever was said was said. Unless they're saying you robbed the local 7-11, let it go and don't be offended.
That said, your fear of rejection or worse, indifference will tempt you to love your family quietly. Your fears will convince you, with surprising vehemence, that your family knows the depth of your love. Fear lies.
Your pride will convince you, that love means never having to say you're sorry. It will inform you that you were entitled to say whatever you said, or do whatever you did. It will tell you to never apologize for the truth. Pride will rob you of your friends and family.
Your emotions will convince you that no one loves you. It will remind you of every hurtful thing past and present. Your emotions will hear things that weren't said, and interpret tones that weren't intended. It will tell you things unsaid, or undone are out of spite or vengeance. Your emotions will kill no one else but you. Nothing destroys the body quite like a running commentary of hurt and bitterness.
There will be moments when it's difficult or next to impossible to do any of those things. And that is when you go to your Counselor. You head to the One that loves you. The One that loves you perfectly. The One that loves you in all the ways you fail at loving. You confess your fear, your pride, and your emotions. You pour out the worst of you to a Savior that sees the best in you despite your flaws. You give Him your disappointments and your hurts, your dreams and desires, and the worries you dare not speak to anyone else. And once you've picked yourself back up, you start all over again.
Then, with all that done, be one of those people that treats everyone like family.
Friday, December 01, 2006
I'm sitting here staring at this crazy looking toy. The only difference between mine and the one pictured is that mine is green, and the nose lights up yellow. Looking at him, I quite literally can't help but smile. His name is iZ by the way.
Do you have an iZ in your life? Some foolish thing that brightens your day, has the power to change your mood, and best yet, something about which you have no complaints?
It seems like the majority of the words I hear are complaints. I've wondered if I've just got a bad attitude and that's why my ears are picking up on those words, and focusing on them, rather than all the good words I'm sure I hear each day also. So, that's how I ended up sitting here staring at Mr. iZ
Mr. iZ has taken up residence on my desk, as a constant reminder for me to stop complaining. So many can complain about the weather or time or money or a hundred other things. Mr. iZ reminds me to watch my language. God has created all things, and anything that has happened, ultimately it's because God allowed it. For friends that I highly respect, I don't complain about the petty stuff. Often, between friends no one even complains about the important stuff. For the God of the universe, I believe I can take that even a step further.
Mr. iZ represents utter foolishness to me. And God promised me that's what our Christian walk is all about. Because His method of saving me was foolishness. To this day it confounds the wise. Intellectuals everywhere ridicule my faith. Scientists accept even crazier lies to combat it. But ultimately, everyone will accept it as truth. And, for the time being, Mr. iZ will remain on my desk as a reminder.