Friday, April 24, 2015

LISTEN to what you SEE

Just finished a plate of pancakes with strawberries. 

Caroline and I are enjoying "a night in" together.  Ava is gone to a birthday party.  Shep and Zeke are off doing boy stuff that most certainly includes shooting rifles and shotguns and such.

The house is oddly quiet. 

Francesca Batistelli is singing in the background (love her) and Caroline is making delightful sounds as she rips up an old magazine.  She loves doing this.  She lays on her side and uses her left hand to turn the pages and rip them out. 
I guess it is the equivalent of what it feels like to rip open presents...just minus the presents.

Anyway I thought this might just be the perfect time to sit down and type out some of what has been rolling around in my brain lately.

A couple of weeks ago I attended a memorial service for a dear friend's mom that passed away.

It was obvious that she was a kind and generous woman. 

Observing her family it seemed as though her love kept on  living...even after she was gone.

Before she had passed away she had told her daughter that if she had any advice to give at the end of her life it would be this:  listen to what you see.


5 powerful little words.

I try to be a good listener. 

Sometimes my ADD tendencies get in the way with that.  (I am easily bored)

But I am rather nosy.

I notice stuff.

I notice people.

I notice body language.

I notice expressions and tension. 

I notice fear, anxiety, and anger.

I notice insecurity.

God has been working in my heart and life since I was 9 years old.  But this past year or so He has begun a new work. 

It has kind of caught me by surprise.

It seems as though most of my life God has been slowly teaching me to love Him.

But in this past year....He has opened my heart up to love people.  Really love them.

After all~ loving Him means loving what and WHO He loves.

He loves scoundrels.
He loves drunks.
He loves liars.
He loves addicts.
He loves haters.
He loves idiots.
He loves doubters.
He loves racists.
He loves abusers.
He loves betrayers.
He loves thieves.
He loves sinners.

Here is the thing:  I AM ALL OF THAT.

My heart has been made new.  But I know the thoughts that I think.  I still battle with my flesh.

Without Jesus...I would reach for any and all "feel good" remedies.  I would ache for fulfillment.  I would chase after empty thrills just to feel something.

When we see ourselves as who we really are ~ then others aren't so bad.

Loving them is no longer a chore. 

Loving them is easy.  Because they are JUST LIKE US. 

One way believers can do this is to take the advice my friend's mom gave: listen to what you see.

Most people don't want to be in the spotlight but they do like being noticed.

Look around.

Someone needs an encouraging word.
Someone desperately needs a compliment.
Someone is falling apart.
Someone is contemplating leaving their spouse.
Someone is depressed.
Someone is battling addiction.
Someone is losing hope.
Someone needs a miracle.
Someone has bills they can't pay.
Someone needs a second chance.

Listen with your eyes.

I have heard it said that when Jesus lived he was a very busy man on a mission but He was never in a hurry.

Our hurried lives keep us from having fellowship.

Being in a hurry all the time leaves very little room to love people.

I am right smack in the middle of learning this lesson with God.

He has to go super slow with me. 

But as I have began to listen to what I see and engage people that I have never noticed life has begun to bulge with blessing.

Some folks may take me the wrong way but when love is our motive even that isn't offensive.

Being free enough with myself to love others is seriously the coolest thing I have experienced in a long time.

Lives change with love. 

He modeled it for us.

Let's look around and listen with our eyes. 

We may never know the impact that our love has on someone else.

Matthew 22: 37-40
 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.  The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments."'

Saturday, April 18, 2015

the BOAST post

There is this song we sing at church that goes something like this...

"Blessed be Your Name when I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness blessed be Your Name.

Blessed be Your Name when the sun's shining down on me
When the world's all as it should be blessed be Your Name.

Every blessing You pour out I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in Lord...still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord.  Blessed be Your Name."

I cannot tell you how many times I have sung that song and felt nothing at all like blessing the name of Jesus.

Hope has felt a million miles away and difficult days have numbered more than the easy ones. 

Yet...I would sing it loud.  Beyond what I felt.

I would sing of what I knew. 

I would sing beyond the day.  Beyond the present circumstances.

And some days that song would reach full volume from my voice while tears of pain and doubt stained my face.

Its just what we do.

But the past 2 weeks have been different.

Tonight that song is not only known but it is felt as well.

Now THAT is fun.

Lots of the time Jesus asks us to press through with praise.  Sing it and declare it despite what you feel.  Despite what you see it front of you.

And then....there are the other times.  The times our hearts want to burst from joy.  The times our eyes get a glimpse of God doing the impossible things.

My Caroline has done some new things lately.  Formerly impossible things.

This girl is almost 13 years old.

In the past 12 days she has been able to sit (without help) in a camp chair.

She has also said her brother's name.  He goes by "Zeke".  Her version sounded something like "Eeekk".  But still.  Beautiful to us.

And lastly, a few days ago she sipped liquid up through a straw.


I could just come unglued. 

These little things might as well be mountains to us. 

I have been a picture-taking and videoing fool. 

Unashamed I might add.

These past 2 weeks hope of the new has painted a new canvas for us.  Colors I have never seen have suddenly appeared and my soul can hardly stand it.

Hope is a gorgeous view.

Limitless possibilities with a God that delights to bless His children.

Bless the Lord oh my soul
Oh my soul
Worship His holy Name.
Sing like never before.
Oh my soul.
I worship His holy Name.

Tomorrow the skies of blue may darken to monotonous gray once again. 
Days may stretch into weeks and months and years.
Hardship and difficulty will no doubt knock upon my door.

But today....the colors are vibrant.  These weeks have refreshed my faith.  I almost feel buoyant. 
Lifted and carried and light as a feather.

I want to boast in my God.

He is life and breath to me.  My Savior and Redeemer.  The One that lifts my weary head. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Revisit the Scene

To this day my husband does not like to go back to the hospital where Caroline was born. 

The sights, sounds, and smells take him back to a very hard day.

That day, her birthday, changed us forever.

Chaos took the place of calm.  What should have been a glorious celebration turned into a day of shock, fear, and change.

In the process of her birth Shep almost lost both of us. 

So any normal person can understand his angst over going back there.

For me it is different.

I kind of like going back.  It provides a surreal even euphoric kind of therapy.  I can remember how it felt to walk in the hospital with butterflies dancing in my tummy.  Fear was mixed with determined joy over giving birth and becoming a mom.  The days and weeks and months that followed became a friend to me.  Time was the only thing that helped me get through the day. Time didn't judge or push.  It just stayed with me. It passed. 

No friend or family member could really understand what I was experiencing.  Honestly...I didn't either. 

I just knew that my life would never be the same.

The walls, sounds, and smells became my company.  Odd I am sure.  But they were stable and sure.  That hospital was the setting that God used to shape and mold me. 

Day after day I would sit in the NICU and learn.  The zombie state I was in began to wake up to the dreaded newness.  I learned to not fear the machines and the beeps.  I began to embrace a level of hard that I thought would never be possible.  Courage and strength were there even though I barely recognized what they looked like.

Going back there reminds me of a loss and a gain. 

All of it hard.  None of it wanted. 

But it is there just the same.

What I gained in those passing days was an awakening.

The loss of what I had expected birthed a sprout of hope.

Although Jesus had saved me I had never really needed his help for much else.

Now hope was essential to living.

The promise of His help was my only hope.

Almost 13 years later I sit here with some perspective.

God has been faithful each and every moment of every single day since.

Revisiting those days spark new appreciation for who I was before and who God is making me into now.

Today is also Good Friday. 

I hate thinking about this day.  But something in me needs to revisit it. 

I need to go there in my mind and picture the reality of that day.

God's Word gives us 4 gospels that depict the scene and the surroundings.

I imagine dust in the air.  Shouts of buyers and sellers in the street.  Quiet tears on the followers of Jesus as they stand a respectable distance away. Crucifixions were not uncommon.  But this one would be.

Creation knew that its creator was doing the unthinkable. He was becoming a servant to the very ones He delighted to create.  He was dying for what they had done.  Innocence and restrained power hung on a cross.  The nails held his flesh but unparalleled love held his heart. 

The words on the page don't seem to do it justice sometimes.

My Jesus suffered so.

He was mocked, spit upon, beaten in the head with a stick, and cursed.  He was flogged with a lead-tipped whip.  Long, sharp thorns were shoved into his skull.  He was naked and forced to carry my burden.  He willingly went to the place of death and laid down upon the wood.  He offered his hands and feet to be nailed down.

For me.

For you.

The scene is so brutal and gruesome.  The picture is so bleak and depressing.  Such a loss. 

Yet....such a gain.

Death bought my life. 

His death gives me hope.  Hope that I cling to now...2000 years later.

Revisit the scene. 

Appreciate the pain.

See the hope that was born from such loss. 

And remember....Sunday is coming!!

"Then Jesus shouted out again, and he gave up his spirit.  At that moment the curtain in the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.  The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened." Matthew 27:50