Tuesday, June 25, 2013

OPEN THE EYES OF MY HEART

At the end of June, I completed my  final year of working at a fabulous place.  The following was a letter I wrote for Judah Christian School's  Heartbeat Newsletter to recap the year.  After being blessed to work there six years, my desire was to show how blessed we are to work, play, and learn in a place  such as Judah when we really choose to focus our SIGHT on what God is purposing there.


MAY YOUR HEARTS BE BLESSED!

“Is it worth it?”  With the price of gas these days, who isn’t asking this question?  Yet, seriously we ask it about so much more.  With another entire school year conquered, we assess if it was worth the cost?  What were the benefits?  Judah’s heart beats to see God’s children blessed.  Did you see those moments this year that blessings were poured out from the throne?  So many moments…

God’s Holy Spirit softly whispered a blessing of awe with music of the band that stopped my breathing and refreshed my heart with tears.  Did you hear those moments of true splendor and ecstasy in His creation?

God gave a blessing in teaching gratitude for a small group of 7th grade children.  Just like the loaves and the fishes, blessings bestowed from Him are not found in the abundance of children.  Rather, the blessings are found in my expressed gratitude, for He magnifies what He gives and makes whatever He has given more than enough for the needs of all. Did you see moments this group shared their multitude of talent?

As Mr. Hubbard spoke God’s words at the 8th grade retreat, God revived hearts. God’s pursuit of their hearts was like as a gentle, firm caress on the shoulder, reassuring and bolstering them to be stronger and more courageous on their journey with Him.  Did you realize this was an altar making moment?

Enjoying the  bus ride to Great Oaks Camp with Kayla Hubbard, Eliza Kramer,
Allison Conway, Kylie Hettmansberger, and Austin Childers

 God blessed rugged hearts as seniors purposed to share Christ and serve others on their senior trip to Puerto Rico only to realize that God was reminding their hearts that that they are richly blessed in their everyday lives. Did you hear the proclamation of those moments?

Our hearts were jolted as we wrestled to find the blessings within the news of a sick parent or struggling students.   Who said God’s blessings always come neatly wrapped?  Watching students struggle with health issues beyond their control, I was blessed to hear Daniel Shoemaker proclaim the victory of miraculous peace and humbled by the strength of a wounded warrior as Zach Berg professed God’s goodness in His life.  I listened to the aching hearts of students who walked the halls this year with smiles but bore bruised and wounded hearts.  He opened my eyes to see that the blessing He bestowed was my ability to trust their lives to Him. When I expressed gratitude for their lives as I remembered them in prayer, He offered the right words to point them back to His faithful, enduring love. Can we consecrate these moments?

There were so many moments this year when God knocked softly on our souls to open the eyes of our hearts to see His blessings.  My heart’s rushed rhythm never failed to find gratitude for the students and families that journeyed this year with me.  No one will ever really know what it costs to bless another, but Judah will never stop proclaiming His majesty’s blessings among us.   Christ even asked after simply washing his disciples’ feet if they understand what He had done for them (John 13: 12) God has clearly shown his mercy and grace at Judah this year with many moments of blessing.  Did you see those moments when you were served by others? 

As you muse the question “Is it worth it?” remember His blessings.  I am most thankful that your child was offered the opportunity to see and hear God’s voice each day.  None should  have gone away hungry.  One child--your child-- in one moment with one blessing for this one lifetime was touched by God for eternity.  Your children are the witnesses of God’s Holy blessings surrounding us daily this year.  For as Mathew 13: 16-17 offers, if we have eyes to see, we will never be the same:  “But you have God-blessed eyes—eyes that see! And God-blessed ears—ears that hear! A lot of people, prophets and humble believers among them, would have given anything to see what you are seeing, to hear what you are hearing, but never had the chance.” (The Message)

May your heart beat of blessings.

Cherie Roberson


Friday, June 21, 2013

Separation Anxiety from the Seer



A friend  blessed me by saying  I was good at "seeing" people. I do desire to really be that kind of person.  I try to be still and see and know.  I fall short so many times. Why is that?  Why don't we see each other well?  Why don't we see God clearly?

Metacognitively speaking, we are shaped by poor thinking.  What about the way we see God?  I awoke last night thinking of Eve in the Garden of Eden. There are the standard messages about the fall of man, but mostly, I think our seeing has been shaped because of the lies that we have believed.

Satan twisted God's words that we were being held out on by God.  Eve inferred that God was somehow selfish and not wanting to share His wisdom.  He implied that Eve was misled in thinking that God and her relationship were not as intimate as she had perceived. He planted in her a desire to know that which spiritually she hadn't cared to know before. 

It didn't sound like it was the first time she saw that tree. And she clearly refuted Satan at first, alluding to her direct communication with God by stating what His plans were for her and the tree.  She saw God's vision.   In pity from Satan's twisted implications, she may have inferred that she wasn't fulfilled enough, good enough, smart enough, trustworthy enough.  She wanted more, to know and be known. 

Satan even hinted that she could be more like God.  God and her would be closer, more aligned in thinking and seeing.  Satan twisted her desire for knowing good by making her lack in seeing her own disobedience.  The end certainly didn't justify the means. She saw herself differently through Satan's eyes. He implied that doing and knowing all things were gainful callings, that the sky was the limit, that her knowing was illimitable. 

Satan even assured her that she wouldn't die. He assured her that she would be like God.  Wow, what a trick.  First, he implied that God was controlling and holding out, and then he told her that she would be more like Him.  Who would want to be more like that kind of person? Why wouldn't she see his deviousness?  If she was confused, Satan cleared it up by guaranteeing her eyes would be opened.  "Ah---"Eve was probably saying.  I will then understand my confusion. The trust she once knew in God was severed by Satan's implications.

Verse 6 presented the thought that my mind kept circling around.  Now she saw the tree differently.  She saw the tree that she had walked passed many times before differently.  It says she saw the tree was now pleasing to the eye and desirable.  Here was where the separation anxiety began. Had she not thought that before?  Suddenly, she no longer saw spiritually.   She only saw the physical.  Her desire came throught her eyes.  She desired with her eyes all the while her spiritual eyes, the eyes of her heart, were closed.    It seems slightly ironic that we say "keep your eyes wide open" when we want people to analytically survey a situation well and beware. Heeding this warning is considered wisdom. But this earthly wisdom Satan presents is a wisdom of learned fear. Her spiritual eyes were severed from her emotional and physical seeing.

God  comes even closer now to call us out of hiding and blindness and shame  than during His wandering through the Garden to call on Eve.  His wisdom is found through a different tree now.  It is found in seeing  and knowing and asking for our relationship with the One who took the tree upon Himself not to be hidden.  He lives and guards our hearts from within.   His wisdom isn't the lie of fear as Satan's was.  As the cataracts of earthly wisdom are cut away, we begin to see others, even if it begins more like shadows, glimpses, or rare sightings.

Those people that really see others seem to have an extraordinary wisdom. Any true earthly wisdom and seeing is gleaned through our spiritual eyes. We are limited in our ability to see one another or God clearly without the full prescription of seeing: spiritual, emotional, and physical.

A spiritual connection of complete intimacy with God and His creation allows us to see others not as lacking or naked or evil but as God intended.  In my own life, the only way I see people and situations well is if I see them with God's eyes.  Hiding from the Seer in me causes separation anxiety.   

Thursday, June 20, 2013

When Borrowing is NOT a BURDEN




Borrowing pain and sorrow are difficult for me not to do.   Yet, I do have trouble placing it back where it belongs.  I figure it could be like everyone in the family cleaning the home rather than just one person.  If  the drudgery is shared perhaps the pain will be over sooner, right? Really, borrowing sorrow simply seems to multiply its effect.  Looking at it logically, the borrowing of sorrow and pain is like trying to get gum off the bottom of my shoe. (Who threw the pain in the neck gum on the ground in the first place?) Once I realize I am stuck to the ground, pulling it off the shoe only causes it to stick to my hand which only causes it to be transferred it to the other hand when I try to get it off my hand.... We know the endless sticky mess this makes. 

My brain is missing some basic skill here because as I see it borrowing only gets me in trouble, yet I do it.  Concerned about my husband's furloughs, we know a bit of the troubles the government's borrowing of money causes.  If I borrow money on credit, the interest is sky high.  That's probably why I pay the entire balance of a credit card off each month and another reason I would love to pay my house mortgage in full. I have paid fines on borrowed library books (They were small!).  In high school, my brother borrowed (without my knowing) my yellow Polo shirt (I had matching socks!!  It was a guy's yellow Ralph Lauren Polo which was the in-thing for girls to wear).  It was noticeably returned to my closet with an ink stain on the pocket. 

Borrowing for long periods of time even leads to other troubles.  I borrowed my brother-in-law's Office DVDs one Christmas break.  When he asked for them back, I knew I had already returned them.  The family concluded that the solution to the  mystery of the long missing DVDs must lie within my other brother-in-law borrowing, misplacing, and forgetting them. A year after the search for the DVDs, I discovered them in a cabinet next to my bed where I was keeping them safely from my adult children. Wow, I really wanted to stealthily place them back in the house I borrowed them from, but I had to admit my own  amnesia.

Who  would choose sadness, anyway? Absolutely, I would reject any offers of it.  It seems it would be as easy to say no to as someone asking, "Hey would you like to house my irreparable vehicle in your driveway?"  or "How about I hang an empty 11 x 17 picture frame in your living room."   What good is that?  Yet, I realize I actually I  do say yes to borrowing pain.

Looking harshly at myself, I thought maybe I had a God complex, thinking I can fix others' pain. In my defense, for years I have fixed my children's aches and pains and scratches with cold packs, Tylenol and Ibuprofen, albuterol, numbing ear drops, aloe, and Bactine. I know a few things about alleviating pain.

In a twist of thinking, that's what I concluded about today's close pain--that compassion does call me to borrow the pain because I DO KNOW AND SHOULD DO A FEW THINGS ABOUT ALLEVIATING  THE PAIN.  So today, as I have always done with borrowed pain (They don't call me Dr. Cherie in this family for no reason), through prayer I sorted out and researched my heart for the cause of the borrowed pain. I determined and searched my biblical medical supplies for the correct salves and medication to help.  I applied them as directed in the Word.    And I now stand guard watching and waiting and expecting the healing to begin.  Reapplying prayer as necessary.

I borrowed the pain in compassion to carry and lay it at the cross for my Doctor's cure. In his consultation with me as a parent today, he gently reminded me that compassion is not a burden so I can borrow that pain for a moment, but I should never carry the weight of the burden which is only for Him.
 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Efficient


 
I am pretty sure if an employer were reading this they might not always define my use of time as efficient.  I am also pretty sure that writing on this blog is not something most would remotely describe as an efficient use of my time, considering everything else  I could be doing or that NEEDS to be done.  And truthfully, that struggle for using my time efficiently always seems to reside foremost in my brain.  Even at this moment, I vacillate in labeling this moment as efficient.  I suppose (notice I am still musing on that) to fulfill the axiom  "get the most out of life"  we need to be efficient. What does that actually look like?
 
 
ef·fi·cient

adjective
1. performing or functioning in the best possible manner with the least waste of time and   effort; having and usng requisite knowledge, skill, and industry; competent; capable
2. satisfactory and economical to use
3. producing an effect, as a ase; causative
4. utilizing a particular commodity or product with the least waste of resources or effort

High school ingrained this quest motto: "use your time wisely and efficiently." Occasionally, in a rare move for me, I would be found sitting and socializing on the landing  before and between classes talking about weekend activities, upcoming events, singing out random songs that words brought to our brains. Occasionally, I could be found during my study hall sitting outside catching warm sun rays on my arms and legs and joining in idle chatter with friends. Usually, a book was nearby to accomplish minor homework tasks. Those moments were most often interceded by the wandering principal who asked if we were using our time wisely. One time, she actually directed the question to me alone. The response in my head sounded something like this: "Okay Sister, I edit the newspaper (at times at school nights and on my weekend), play volleyball after school, lead the senior class as class president, achieve straight A's..... you can back off now! I think I have that skill mastered. You don't need to continue to harass ME about using my time wisely. Go find someone else. Believe me---this is efficient use of my time." Remember, I said that was in my head.  Now, I wish I had taken more time in high school on the landing to "use my time wisely." I might have acquired much earlier what I now consider a better grasp of my use of time.

I am pretty sure anyone tagging time as "efficient" determines that by his value and use of the end mark, the goal, the product. Thus, a boss would probably find this blog an "inefficient" use of time. Yet, I am talking about that personal question that eeks into your brain lying in bed at the end of the day: "What do I have to show for my day?" Or perhaps phrased differently in your brain, it is the question your spouse asks: "What did you do today?" Immediately, my brain wants to answer with items crossed off the post-it note list lying on the counter like conquests of accomplishments and evidence of an "efficient" use of my day. Are these defensive maneuvers to prove the worth of my moments? The pace of our current culture may push me to define our moments by outward symbols and signs.
 
Our moments "efficiency" need to be reborn. Perhaps, they need to become organic again without all the pesticides of our culture's definition. Reborn moments...Jesus' gift to humankind was to show that God's value is not in your product but rather in you. Jesus' time was spent in relationship with others and not in an earthly kingdom reign that people were expecting. People were waiting to herald an earthly king---thinking that would be the best possible manner for the Savior to reign. Yet, God redefined an efficient Savior. Even His great accomplishments, his miracles, were not measure of the value of His time on earth. Rather His efficient time, His life well lived was found in the journey he traveled. Living was the goal...just simply living His moments to glorify and honor His Father. The same God that chose to redeem Jesus' moments on earth also chooses to redeem the moments He gives us. I am continually remembering to redefine efficient time.

Does the efficient use of time imply we have to be ALL IN or SOLD OUT to that moment? What if I don't live my life intentionally? If I am not sold out to each moment in life, I think those moments can still be redeemed in the reflection of them. The moments we live are not just given for the present use but also for the future. It is as if we collect moments as luggage to carry to the future on our journeys of discovery. Obviously, some of those moments weigh more. Voyageurs move through space and time. Our travels always require a reflection upon the moments that comprise the distance of time we were allotted, both individually and collectively. Is the efficient use of our time that we actually SEE and KNOW the truth of the moments for what their uses are or that we can attribute value to them as we live them? Looking back on our time spent allows a perspective from which to glean current wisdom from life's past experiences. So then, the inefficient and wasted moments are those that we don't use to journey the road we are made to travel. Discovery and salvation in Pilgrim's Progress are derived from the events and sojourners Christian, the protagonist,  encounters. We must learn to derive meaning from our moments.

 
Our family says that "we are making a memory" about those seemingly silly moments in time that no one will probably categorize as productive or efficient.
What about hanging with friends on the playground in junior high? What about those victorious moments when the girls experienced victory running faster than the boys at recess races. Or what about that memorable yet annoying moment a boy so poetrically described me: "your eyes are like cesspools."
  

What about those hours I took to lunch and visit an old friend in California with my mom and daughter? The strength of soul that she taught me can never be better honored.
  What about 9 years of watching my son's football games? Oh my---true grit and perseverance and prayer.


What about picking out jewelry for a wedding gift for my daughter, helping her try on wedding dresses, and watching her get her hair done on her wedding day? Shared experiences take the stress away.
 What about reading books on the couch in the same room with my oldest son? No words shared aloud except loving the moment we were in ---together.
What about donning capes  with Jordan?--superbizzaro a waste of time? That was a donning of shared fun and bonding.
 What about a quiet walk with my dog? Recently buried in our yard, I realize even more the value of those moments. 
 
There are so many moments that we could question the efficiency of. How will we know if we are functioning in the best possible manner to use our time efficiently? When we ask that question, we may realize the answer may be best found in retrospect. Perhaps, those moments that teach us something about ourselves and others are the most valuable no matter how inefficiently we thought we spent them as they were occuring. The journey was necessary.
 
Well, I've taken several hours to write this blog. I know I said employers might find this blog an inefficient use of time. I would like to note that my boss and principal took a couple moments out of my teaching time to consecrate a moment that spoke greater volumes than the picture shows: that we wore the same clothes. The moment shared was of sharing the same heart and reveling in the fun of our friendship with our students. My tag: an efficient use of time.

Now, I both muse and laugh at leaving this question: "Are you making efficient use of time?" I have my answer for my moments.

 
 
  

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

RED ROVER, RED ROVER, SEND SOMEONE RIGHT OVER


 








"Red Rover, Red Rover, send ------right over."  That little ditty reminds me of the school playground or of humid, lazy days  when boredom finally led to ingenuity.   Even to this day, I habitually call my wayward dog Rover or fondly tag  someone as Rover when they unknowingly did something silly. (Little did I know that it is a Norwegian word that means "pirate." How very brash of the British to dare the Norwegians to come right over.  The Vikings were a fierce people.)   The strategy of the game is that two teams line up on opposing sides facing each other, and when one side calls out "Red rover, red rover, let (say name of player) right over, that opposing player runs as hard as possible to break the chain  the other team has formed with their locked hands. If the player called is unable to break the chain, then he joins the team. Yet, if he is able to break the link, he gets to choose someone to take back to his team.  This continues until there is only one player left on a team who is unable to break the link.

Parents and teachers see the inherent danger of such a game. Moments after the teams were picked, like most teammates, I began to assess the players, recognizing that some kids would never be able to break a chain  because of their size.  Even worse, I feared the imminent pain the weaker kids would endure.  Some players would play so cutthroat that unsuspecting victims would run into their chain only to practically have the wind knocked out of them with a fist or be clotheslined;  of course, the other team always proclaimed its innocence. Some tenacious, fearless players ran so hard into the other team, trying to inflict pain on their opponents hands, only to bounce off and fall quickly and forcibly to the ground. Newton's laws of motion became real life lessons that everything has an equal and opposite reaction.  The strong guys never admitted pain, but we girls that endured --much to their chagrin-- always had to trumpet the battle cry and rally the team as we momentarily shook out our hands and reveled in our small victory.   Of course, I always hated when friends on the team would act as if the other team broke their hands and just easily let go of their hands allowing the team chain to be broken, even sometimes feigning pain or sympathy.  To me, that almost amounts to treason.  However, often there would be a surprise, a seeming small fry would pull strategy and break the chain between its weakest people link.

Today, I was harshly reminded of the parallels of this simple game.  The wind was  knocked out of us as I held breath and heart of a good friend standing strong in life when she was hit with the news that her son spent the night in jail because he got a DUI.   Memories of her first husband's death to driving while intoxicated flashed through her thoughts. I know that she wished she could have screamed to get his attention "Red Rover, Red Rover...." and that he would have chosen to run right over in her direction to her arms.  She would have held strong and not let him break through to the ground. Alcohol's pain and lies seem so obvious to us standing on this line.  But his enemy is cutthroat; the wind was knocked out of her son and the bruises of life's fists lie beneath the surface. We  stand and watch as he regains his balance and wonder what of life's lessons he will chose to heed from this.  He is learning that all life's actions do have a consequence of equal enormity. As for us, we are learning that we will continue to stand unwaveringly on the solid ground of truth, hands woven together in unceasing prayer and purpose,  hearts impermeable to the enemy's chanting taunts.

Perhaps, the seemingly saddest moment of  Red Rover is when the last person is left to battle alone against the other team and finally succumbs.  But, this is not so in our case. When our line of defense stops him from running, it will be my friend's greatest joy. The Holy Spirit will continue to bind our hearts and hands as an impenetrable shield as we cry in unified victory  "Red Rover, Red Rover send -----right over." 






  

Monday, June 3, 2013

BELLY LAUGHING!


Great belly laughs begin with autocorrect  (There's the oxymoron).
While chatting with my friend about our upcoming visit she is instructing me about what to do when I am close to arriving:
"Let me know when you are close then we can unload your stud."

Me (replying through fingertip laughter): "I am not bringing a stud. No guys!

She (thinking I am a looney probably) responds: "What?"

Me (continuing to laugh and reading it aloud to my husband): " Read your text!"

She (adamantly) writes: "I typed in car!"

Both of us: laughing laughing laughing

Sunday, June 2, 2013

WHAT DID YOU SAY?

I have traveled daily with some very fun people the last six years and have offered many words of advice and wisdom on all topics ranging from grammar, poetry, books, writing, love, being content, working hard, life, and religion.  I am curious to know the words students remember me offering. Did I give some profound instruction or statements?  I would even love to hear the not so profound statements! (There are probably more of this kind.) I remember the time when I explained diagramming conjunctions and demonstrated "you put your but on the the chair" because the symbol it goes on looks like a chair.  It took me a couple seconds to figure out  why students were laughing.  These memorable pieces of instruction seem to come to my brain effortlessly (obviously--ha ha). 
 
But seriously, perhaps what I said about life or a subject was not directly stated but implied.     What did you infer?  No matter how you see the time we spent together -- under my instruction, my care, or my spell in the classroom; locked into learning or behind bars in jail; or trapped or tricked into learning --- I would like hear your memories on our traveling time.   We all learn from one another. Now it is time for you to speak by writing!  Thanks for the lovely memories.