Monday, September 30, 2013

OFFER A GRACEFUL GLANCE

I finally did it---exactly what I worked hard to avoid for months.  Wasn't this task part of my mental muscle yet?  There were plenty of near misses through the months since the arrival of Bentley the Yorkshire terrier.  Seconds before my fall, I would have assuredly thought I was in the clear, balancing book and drink as I glanced into my living room to the comfort of my over-sized chair and a few stolen minutes of pleasure reading.  How many hundred times a day had I glanced and hurdled this gate? Yet, today I would suffer the agony of misjudging the impact of not raising my foot high enough in this simple feat of stepping over the dog fence. 

The word FAIL could look remarkably like FALL if I didn't use the right font. And simply put,  this was full-fall failure. Fortunately, I had the mental fortitude in the midst of the fall  to stop clinging to my drink so I could catch myself with my hands to land somewhat gracefully and not hit my head.  This fall was cleaning sticky drink off cherry wood floors with steam mop but also on my hands and knees failure. It was broken glass failure. It was heavy sighs and shaking my head failure. It was disappointment in lost relaxation time and energy failure.  It is now neck and back spasm failure. It is referred pain down the leg and arms and back pain failure.  But in hopeful time it will dissipate and only the memory will remain.

But really, this fall was full of grace.  I didn't berate myself for my stupidity. I heard the spirit remind me that these sudden shifts in happiness can happen in a blink of an eye. Hold strong to His promise to me that "joy in the midst"  can be my motto.  

I didn't find easy obscenities to lash at myself or the dog. Our spirit can be drained in seconds by words--certainly don't waste away my soul by speaking words to myself that He would not throw at me. 

The spirit reminded me not to begin to list the excuses for failing to safely hurl the gate or even thinking to just move it aside.  He reminded that there are no excuses for crossing boundary lines, but when we stumble in crossing them, we need to get up and clean the mess and reset the gate's boundary. 

A quick assessment of pain when face down on the hard wood, reminded me that I may pay for this fall in the days to come. And the Spirit reminded me that in getting up my face no longer needed to face down but the warm light shining on me through the window were rays of promises to look toward. And the pain to come would be the reminder of His grace that helps me to look up and not wallow in the back.   

And then there rose a surprise, a surprise smile at what I had just done.  Who finds this a time to smile? It was a smile of  letting  go and leaning into what He spoke and knowing that pain will hold, cleaning agents will be necessary, time to heal will make me wait, but all is well when we allow Grace to seep into the soul like soft piano music.

And what of what I know about grace through the years has become my mental muscle? For a little over a year now, I have conducted a very unofficial daily experiment unknown to most close to me of smiling at strangers and friends and family to observe their response--an offering,  a GRACEFUL GLANCE. 

I smile at cashiers, people walking by me in the aisles at stores,  people in cars as they drive past me while I sit at stop lights, gas station attendants when paying my money, people in the Redbox line, people walking dogs past me, people walking up the church aisle, people looking for books at the library, people sitting in the doctors' waiting rooms, people on bleachers at games, people....  

And while this is unofficial, I easily kept the data because ALL but one has responded in kind with a smile.  And many smiled back in surprise and maybe even wonder at the crazy lady whose smile had fallen upon them.  While it might seem greatly odd, those are great odds. 

But mostly what is odd is that I didn't just fall onto this experiment for others. Students that I taught told me that they loved all the funny faces I make, and so I made more and a greater variety of them. If you weren't in my class, you might not have realized I had such a repertoire.  They derived simple pleasure and comfort from my smile---such an inexpensive gift of joy.

One day, I heard their words a bit differently, a calling to offer others this simple gift.  What could I offer to others in passing that might bring momentary or lasting joy?  I have always wanted to start a business that teaches etiquette to what I call first-responders to the public, those who greet the public at large in stores and restaurants. What I wanted to show them in many different ways is that we can attend graciously  to others even when we don't feel graceful ourselves.  

The message  lived out was my smiling at others to offer them referred joy because we all know there is certainly a lot of referred pain in this fallen world. Don't ask why I would do that but rather why would I not?  
 
Because offering grace is not a gamble.   Every moment is a choice in responding.  It was to offer people  a glance of grace.  It was to crash into their worlds at the point  they were thinking and they were experiencing life to offer a mind and maybe spirit altering moment. A graceful small glance if allowed  to sink into their souls from my lips could be like a kiss from heaven.  It's a weighty hope for a simple glance of grace. But what is the alternative?

And don't we all want the grace of His hands fallen, stretched out wide upon us?  And can't we offer grace with outstretched hands?  And don't we all have moments of sighing big at life's toughness? And can we whisper softening words to others? And don't we see the ugly all around? And can't we lift heads to point out the beauty instead? And don't we all have plenty to cry about? But can't we all offer a smile for others?

And in my doing, I realized that my glances of grace experiment has been replicated in so many different ways for me. These glances of grace that offer referred joy find ways to sing my soul. 

A sweet treat gift on the counter from my daughter and son-in-law. A text of "I love you too" from my youngest son. A trip home to see me from my oldest son. Red roses on the table from my husband.


Pictures of nature's beautiful moths and birds from my sister.  Written words and poetry shared by my mom. Stories ending in laughter from my dad.
                                                                                Pictures of childhood's innocence from my brother.


You too have graceful glances to offer.

...because when we fall hard, fail little, fall little, or fail hard, do we allow ourselves to be caught by graceful arms? Is grace for us, too? Is it for all time, for all ways, for all parts of us? Is it for the weak and weary and the mighty and righteousness?  

Do we cling to the drink He offers keeping it safely in its cup or allow His words to spill and seep all over our soul?  The everyday, trying hard, once upon a time and again broken people need a graceful glance--- this amazing grace that He bestows on us and allows to bring abundance to others when it overflows from us.



Find your graceful glance and offer it today.





Hebrews 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

WHEN WE ARE CALLED TO ONLY WAIT

In Streams in the Dessert,  today's entry finishes with this quatrain:

                             When I cannot understand my Father's leading,
                             And it seems to be but hard and cruel fate,
                             Still I hear that gentle whisper ever pleading,
                             God is working, God is faithful, ONLY WAIT.

mikemesserli.blogspot.com



My thoughts streamed for a lady that I barely know, but whose life circumstances surely must make her bow her weary puzzled heart. 

And maybe these truths of eternity we already know.  Maybe life's path veers and we question how God plots this story we are living.  The Holy Spirit directs us in ways we cannot always fathom, imagine, or believe could be Him.  We sometimes lack the skill to understand His will. And many times what He asks us to do is merely WAIT, to rest, to hold still, to lean hard into HIM, sometimes REALLY HARD! 

And even in those alone, dark, silent, numb days, He leaves us that singular, deep pit in the stomach assurance that our ONLY real need is truly waiting for Him and allowing Him to stand in to be our Savior---our Savior of each silent scream moment that boils in our mind --of each thought of abandonment we entertain-- of each desire we want to beg  to fruition-- of each wish we can barely dare to whisper--of each moment we choose to give up--of each hand we cannot raise in praise--of each plank we fall desperate to the floor upon--of each song our mouth will not sing---of each of our expectations for this day, for this life...

And this is the broken walk of faith. When we feel broken, we are not, but we walk faithful to His saving grace in our brokenness.  Our broken is His building, His mending, His healing path.  He is faithful to carry us through.

And these thoughts streamed  also for me today and maybe now for you. We are sometimes called to ONLY WAIT and see Him work through.  

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Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. (Psalms 27:14 NLT)


A Time for Everything

The seasons of my life cycle from birth to death.  For every moment in-between, Ecclessiastes 3:1-8 promises a host of events within and beyond my control will scroll across the screen.  Today is a season for such time as this:

There is a time to plant and to uproot 
Today,  plans to clean the garden and uproot plants prepare for fall.  I will pull late summer weeds allowed to grow.  Yellowed-leafed hostas and a host of other plant foliage will be cut back.  Trees to trim prepare for sleep. I will pull tomatoes off the vine that are increasingly slower to ripen this late September morn.   I will pray the red peppers produce better than they have. The scattered apples across the grass floor will be collected and sorted.

A time to weap and to laugh
I will remember that vegetable garden sits above our yellow furry friend we had to help to eternal sleep this year and our hearts are still bandaged in healing as we miss his ever unconditional big-head nudging love and his sweet, staring-eye acceptance. Time now to cry inside alone, an ache that feels like it momentarily splits the heart and strangles the throat but then waxes a memory that refuses to allow pain in its remembering.

A time to hug and not to hug
Today, I will once again release my son to Chicago as I drop him at the train station to go back to his created world. I tight-fistedly released the thought of his life behind our home walls when he left the first year for college at DePaul; relenting to the everyday knowing of his growing and becoming. So many choices and obstacles and voices vying for his attention.We wait as with shallow breath to embrace him again, watching him silently from afar and finding moments to speak into his world as he traverses uncharted ventures and finding those moments to give the  bosom wrapped gifts of  wisdom we have gained  from our own travels.

A time for war and a time for peace
And the battle of letting go and loosening strings desperately rages for peace once again as we plan for our youngest to go away to college.  The strings keep breaking and the hope of tethering strong new ones mounts. It's hard to  release the carabiner, to squeeze and release what holds the heart strong. The insidious war to let go within is deceptive. The late at night forlorn trespasses on the next day's joy, assaulting the weak heart, storming  firm walls of resolve to grow this child to a man without clipping his wings. Eventual peace arrives after these battles of the war within subside.

And these are merely a few of the purposes for this day as time moves to create tomorrow's own.

Monday, September 23, 2013

JUST THESE MOVEMENTS PULSE THE JOY!

The Japanese Maple Tree branches outside my window are quivering in the wind like a small child's heels bouncing up and down.  Its scarlet leaf-hands jittery are begging, stretching, reaching as with child eyes that draw "thank you" before an expected gift is even placed in her hands.  The lower branches are skimming the air like a pianist hands skipping over the keys playing a soul melody.  And then the corner of my eye is captured by the sudden flip of the curtain at the kitchen door as if the wind is shimmying his partner-dancer, tight-holding and releasing against the screen. And like a stolen secret, my heart left its throat and longed to lift its hands  to twirl in that very same wind that teased its eyes back to life.  

And just those movements poured like cleansing water over my heart-soul, over my always failing humanity that is blind, sleeps, and becomes overwhelmed, and it danced and sang the song of  the Glory Gatherer. 

Breathing in this wind that sings, dances, makes melody, gives gifts; just these movements pulse the joy.

Monday, September 9, 2013

I'M COUNTING ON THOSE LUCKY SOCKS, TOO!



Fifteen minutes before football season game two, from the top row of the bleachers at the 50 yard line, my eyes sought my son's maneuvers during his pregame warm-up routine. Behind the scenes, I too continued my pre-game warm-up routine which always begin as I awaken on Friday mornings during football season--prayers for safety. As I watched, my eyes stopped, struck by the shocking sight of his socks. Dingy, drab, poorly washed, non-bleached, hole in heals, (and whatever other synonyms I can conjure),Nike, just do it socks.  

My racing mind tabulated that I had washed those. Wait--I had even bleached them. I thought they were horrid at the time I put them in his laundry pile next to the dozen pair of pure white ones.  Why hadn't I hid those?  Of all the socks lying on the counter in the laundry room (which seems to be his first storage for all his clothes instead of his closet and drawers we gave him), he chose those?  The grey ones in contrast to the white of his uniform pants had to be the socks of choice? Were they the official uniform sock? Certainly not, look at all the other guys with head to toe matching white.

I've heard dismay from sons and dads concerning the horrors of moms who have washed the dead animal smelling practice pants before a full week of practice ended.  Don't tamper with football's hard work sweat! But those socks? 

Time waited for me to catch up as I imagined others' comments, "Must have been a busy week in the Roberson house.   Daniel's socks didn't get washed." Maybe to clean the humiliating air, I jokingly confessed to my friend, "Hey can't you take better care of your child, #33, and at least get his socks clean?"

Day 2 Post game:
As only a mom can casually ask and a son read straight through the lines of her conversation, I remarked the next day after folding his again bleached socks,  "Hey, Daniel are those Nike socks your uniform socks?"  Quick, dry, clear response:  "Those are my lucky socks and when they get really holey I will just wear a pair of socks under them."  Quick interpretation:  Don't throw them out for any reason.


Well, I figured the dingy ones were the lucky socks. There it is! They will forever stand out this year on the field. He will stand armored for war each Friday night with dirt and holes.

And then the thought streamed, "What happens if my young man-captain loses a game?" Blessed with a 2-0 start, again and again he will assuredly pull on those socks for another game, win or lose.

They aren't lucky because he wins but because they help him war well. They set his mind and feet sturdy and hopeful. They make him strong and courageous in the face of the oncoming defense.  For he knows his war doesn't start on the field, it starts before the game with what he puts in his heart and mind and soul!  And so his feet are shod with the readiness of peace of mind to battle victoriously to the end no matter the team, the heat, the pain, the size of the enemy camp, the score.

And so for this mom whose battle isn't with the other camp either, whose war begins in the morning and doesn't cease until fatigue worn muscles are iced and massaged, whose screeching "GO" as her son runs the field is really a cheer to outrun the onslaught of the tackle, whose prayer is for victory of spirit and not so much victory by scores, whose heart quietly trickle bleeds along with the soreness and pain of scraped and bruised boys---This mom is counting on those lucky dingy socks, too!



Prep Football: Mahomet-Seymour vs. Prairie Central 2013

         Battle on Daniel, armored well!


Ephesians 6:10-18

New International Version (NIV)

The Armor of God

1Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.