Saturday, December 6, 2014

LIVING WITH FRAYED EDGES

I once refused to accept papers with frayed edges.  Papers with the fringe along the perforated edge were unacceptable, uncollected. Many English students stared in frustration as I handed papers back to be scissor cut smooth. These messy, perforated edges stuck out and awkwardly clung to other pieces of paper,  not making for a simply stacked, precisely packed, carefully clipped collection of papers.

Living with loved ones with Alzheimers is a journey of learning to live with these  unexpectedly torn edges, the edges that frustratingly force us to shock stop and search to restack hopes in a new package, acceptable shape.  Getting the dreams collected with the Alzheimers fray seems impossible when the fringe hangs loosely, clinging to every moment. Each change of the Alzheimers fringe leaves hearts torn open.  This Alzheimers perforated life is a series of holes punched and bored through dreams, separating our mind from our heart.  Every day it's a new sucker punched hole  to a perforated heart.

Today, I  don't try to smooth the hanging fringe but pray for moments to learn to accept the fray when it feels like torture, when lives don't edge together well and there are more holes and gaps and chasms. Every day newly worn and torn edges tear through my soul and the tears flow. 

Yet,  I can live without the smooth life and awkwardly crave and cling to moments of clarity. When a messy life is not a precisely packaged stack of fairness, I will find hope in her smile and an "I Love you" and I will accept those torn edges of her life.

(Dedicated to Judy and Brent Roberson who bring beauty to the frayed edges of this Alzheimers life.)





Thursday, June 19, 2014

DUMP THE BAGGAGE (MY PURSE: A METAPHOR FOR PURSE=UING GOD

We don't know how some days, like our purses, get so stuffed, so overwhelming, so messy, so unorganized, so unplanned, so not how we want them to look. But their contents snatches our breath at the overflowing and unmanageable, exhausting and exasperating. Sighs surface and heads bow as heavy hands relinquish to a draining heart.
organize365.com

Days that turn us inside out and upside down, we just can't carry them anymore; the baggage consumes us. The dump we cling to, the chaotic clutter, has to be dumped to find what we are searching for. We have to refuse the refuse that deposits in the middle of our days, the work spaces, the heart crevasses. Because there is a consumption that occurs from the inside out.  It is the separated soul suffocated in the abyss.  

There I was on the highway trying to drive to St. Louis while searching through my purse for the item I was certain I possessed. It must have  settled deep down in my purse, unable to be seen or felt. And deep down don't my frustrations come because I know somewhere I have what I just can't seem to muster for that day. Frustration brought me to the place of surrender, the final straw, the clearing, the unloading, the beginning again. Fiercely shaking my purse, I dumped all its intentionally, well-packed, crucial contents.


Contents laid bare on the seat quickly quieted my rage as it supplied my lost item.  And when I am undone by life and wander in my forfeit of peace, when my mis-placed harmony falls between the cracks, can I just abandon the baggage and count all this that entrenches me as loss and lay my soul bare before the seat of the One who calms the fear and anchors my soul?


Speeding 70 miles per hour down highway 70, I was blindsided by a truckload of truth.  In my full-speed pursuit of God and His abundant life, the contents of my life become like my loaded purse. 


This life overloaded with its contents to help in my pursuit of God has actually weighed down my pursuit. For my life found within Him, dissolves all of me and reveals His truth, throws off all of my importance and knows His. Dumps all my pursuing importance for a life that knows to rest in Him, completely within the life He offers.
 

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. Philippians 3:7-8

This is the new life, highway truth: this abundant life I seek is not a pursuit OF God but rather IN God. It is one of pursuing God with the baggage I carry, for He doesn't live outside of who I am.  My soul continues to seek hard after Him because my life is already and only found IN Him. This desperate need, crave, desire wasn't because I didn't have Him; I already did. It was because

He pursues me. 
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Philippians 3: 12

But the contents of my life, my purse, my pursuing need to be dumped to get to the heart of the matter, to find the contents I really need to carry.


In finding the desires of my heart and in a search for abundant life in Him, will I position myself to continue to seek with Him or speed blindly after Him all the while He is lost in the cracks of my pursuing. One is a continued trust that He actively leads this race we  run together knowing He is the one winner already, and the other is a continual, furious chase after a trophy whose benefits I apparently know not.



Because in this PURSUIT with JESUS, HE IS NOT AN 
ACCESSORY THAT CARRIES OUR NEEDS.  HE IS THE NECESSARY THAT HOLDS US THROUGH OUR LIVES'S BAGGAGE.

IS Jesus an accessory to your life? Or the necessary?


Next blog:

So the question becomes:    
What are the key contents to place back  into purse=ing God?



Monday, June 16, 2014

EACH. SINGLE. PART. of this weekend

My thirty-two hour visit home was a weekend snap chat of sharing life. With set aside schedules,  the text of our lives stilled space at a resting heart's rate where the soul's private oases became the basis of chatter. Indulging day dream talk of dreams suspended and bucket list chases as the sun reigned down and the wind danced  leaves above our heads. Mom's dream to sky dive was as high priced as dad's dream to continue to drive.  Walking the parkway the way we each share life with each other: ahead, behind, beside, quiet, and close. Blowing to cool home-made pot pies while we fanned the flames of  wishes and words. Oohing over the gooey cake and buttering the jokes thick. Searching and finding the owl in Carondelet park as we do the wisdom from our days: expecting and deliberate.  And then when life's end is discussed while sitting in the middle of these days, the mind's tunnels envision that   each.    single.    part.    of.     life.  should.    be.    held.    hard.  


The power of these passing moments propels us to the possibilities of the heart of our chatter, the genuine matter: his story became her story and her story became my story and my story became her story. Our stories merged our seeing with another's eyes and our feeling with the another's heart. 

And never again do we argue this life but absorb this life.

And in the margin of this weekend's page I write: 

EACH.       SINGLE.       PART.       SHOULD.   BE.       HELD.       HARD!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

MY PURSE: A METAPHOR FOR PURSE= UING GOD. (THE CONTENTS!)

PART  II

I would suppose over the last year  my mantra or big pursuit has had to do with this verse:  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10)

If we were meant to have life abundant then  I challenged God to show me how to pursue this life.

When my heart exhaustion started sighing, “I don’t need this,”  I thought there had to be something that I was missing.

Metaphorically, my purse was a miniature life, and it surely appeared abundant. Like my life, it was crammed full, compartmentalized, and  organized to make the days easier. There were days of triple bags: purse, work bag, gym bag.

Is my purse a metaphor for my pursuit of God?

The clutter I cling to in my purse every day resembles my life.

Lists:  My notepad actually reads to do now or later. These lists are the immediate needs to meet the demands of my family, my home, my church, my job, my activities versus those that could possibly wait.  They are my desires versus my needs. Yet, they are also my hope to accomplish versus the pipe dreams. They are the should do and  must do. They are the many expectations that take precedence for the day placed my myself and many others.

Keys: I have a large set of keys on a lanyard that my husband refuses to carry when he borrows my car keys.  He will take off just the car key to use. My three work keys are color coded for ease of use in dark corridors. They are the tool to unlock my house, my garage, my car, my classroom, almost any door in the school, and my sister’s house. These are the key to getting into the places I need to be. These indicate areas I am in charge of. These keys speed  me along in life at a blinding pace to get everything done, time and again.
Maybe we  hold the keys to too much?

Wallet: I have a small organizer within the larger purse.  I often hope that compartmentalizing my life will help me survive with greater ease, manage each small area with less time consumption. Maybe this tactic just creates more places to clutter, to distract, to manage, to improve, to review.

Credit cards and money and gift cards:  Oh the Capital One commercial comes to mind:  What’s in your wallet?  I usually don’t have cash, but  having things comes at a price, and I have to pay it.  Only when I have a Starbucks gift card, do I allow myself to entertain the idea of chai tea latte.  With money and credit, I gain access to things and places. The receipts evidence purchases that indicate what I value.

Driver’s license: This is my allowance to go places, to gain access to airports and train stations.  It is proof of identity and existence, and yet it is an opportunity for identity theft.

Pictures: I carry these to remember my life’s stories, continuing love and laughter created through memories.

Lipstick: This is the one item I don’t leave home without.  Admittedly, it is vanity in a tube.  Oh, how vain and shallow are the words that come from these colored and decorated lips. May my words never be decorated to disguise the truth. May my bold lips speak words of sustenance and life and remain mute to guard grace.

Cell phones: This is a mini life preserver or absorber within my life. It carries answers, directions, documents, contacts, work, games, books, and coupons. It keeps track of my walking, my spending, my photos, and my mail.  Cozi organizes my life and Facebook keeps me socially connected to everyone I want. At a finger’s texting, I can communicate to resolve problems or find out where I am when I am lost. Through speaking, I can negotiate directions, write a text, and get answers to questions from an unknown person.  I can call anywhere in the country for the same price and speak to my best friend for four hours, sharing our lives stories, closest emotions, worries, and laughs.

Make up: I often try to clean myself up a little before leaving my house, putting on a touch of make-up.  Cover stick covers the chicken pox scar under my nose.  Blush and a little lipstick make the my color come alive, and mascara helps my eyes appear awake.  I am encouraged to remember that a little cosmetic enhances features and a lot of make-up covers who I am.   This is the real me and my real life, my real mistakes, my real goals, and my real hopes that I present to God and others. Yet, when I try hard to create the look I think others desire, all the while I am not PRESENT but PRESENTED, and this is not a life that is real.

Measuring tape: When I asked ladies on Facebook what they carried in their purse, my best friend’s resounding first response was a measuring tape. After my teasing, she responded, “What doesn’t everyone?” She carries a full size measuring tape for home repair or projects.  She is a clever crafter,  determined decorator, and fancies fixing-it, always trying to help others solve problems. Who and what are we positioning ourselves to repair?  What are we building for His Kingdom?

Pens:  I love the smooth slide of a pen across paper. WORDS!  Those spoken, written, and unsaid.  Words I recorded in my heart and in my journal, some to keep and others to post.  It has been a hard few years of words spoken to me, words that have seared into a bare heart. 

Glasses/Sunglasses: There is nothing more frustrating that not being able to see clearly or needing to squint through the day.  I barely need glasses, but with fine print eyes falter.  Glasses help me see people and circumstances more clearly, without blurred sight of judgment and condescension, but with mercy and compassion.

Tissues: Life is messy, gently wipe to clean it up.

Breath mints/gum/perfume: I like to present a first good impression to the world.  Some see it as covering up the bad, while others see it as an invitation to gather closer. We have a choice really as what we will project to others.  What message do you first present with your presence?

There are many other random objects in my purse I think I MIGHT need to survive.  It is a life survival package. Hey, I know a woman who carries spare underwear in there.

But when we are holding so tightly to these things, we don’t realize the need to be held close.

Some days I just want to travel light, to dump my purse, to clean out all the unnecessary that weighs me down and keeps me bound to it. I need to minimize the contents to only the essential. In my purse and in my life, I become conflicted and weary by the heavy journey. I can carry baggage in my life for days, for years, for why?
Stop holding on so tightly to what’s around and  just be held by God.

What are life’s bare essentials?  And how do I bare a heart and soul to what is essential?

MAYBE I SHOULD JUST STICK TO THE BASICS OF MY PURSUIT IN MY PURSE.

We throw guilt, blame, shame, games, living restless, wilderness wandering, hopeful hangovers into our purses and grow weary from the heavy burdens.

We fear the contents of our bags, our lives, slipping from our hands so we grasp tightly with hands that should be emptied to raise in praise. 

Is it the pursuit of a dream we fear losing that causes us to cling?  Sometimes, we cling to the baggage that is the pursuit of purpose, or expectations, or a place, or a person. Those weight us down until we fall down and give up.   We hold hard to the pictures and plans of a life we always thought we would be living.

Perhaps, our purses and lives need some clearing out.   Let’s go back to the fearless, childish days before we committed to carry all these “necessities,” before we held tight for fear of losing a life of importance and valuables.

So here it i:  just throw in the purse…give it up…stop carrying it. Stop the shame, the guilt, the doubt, the restlessness, the pain, the false valuing, the empty commitment… and purs-ue  God and His guarantee of abundance.

Pursuing God is a filling up with the pursuit of trust. Lining our purse and aligning our lives so that we act like what we believe is true:  that God is alive and living in us and wants us to be in His presence and know that He is enough right now even in our less than perfect circumstances. This is the life of pursue=ing of God, not the running and chasing and trying to be better and have more and be more, but the letting Him pursue us, letting  Him step in and clear out all but what is necessary, and us allowing Him to do so. It is the pursuit of trust in Him.


Then what are the key contents being placed back into our purses, into our  purse=ing God?

Monday, June 9, 2014

MY PURSE: A METAPHOR FOR PURSE=UING GOD (How the idea began!)

 PART 1: How the idea began!

I was asked to speak before a group of Christian women by a dear wise woman whose genuine pursuit of God I have admired for years. Her confidence in my words undid me as I found myself at a loss for what to impart to women wiser, smarter, and more clear headed than I might currently be. 

When she texted me, she said I could just give one of my lessons I spoke at church from Ann Voskamp’s 1000 Gifts. But the funny true story is that if you speak that into your phone it comes out Ann’s Vodka Camp.  I teased her that I was immediately comforted by the fact that I would be speaking at a place that people might not remember my name or thoughts.  It surely lifted the burden.    
 
Days later, I moaned to another friend that I didn't feel I had any expertise to share.  Who am I that I should be speaking to others?  I ramble thoughts about words and events in life that make me think “Hmmm” here on this blog domain. It is mine alone and given with open invitation for everyone to peruse.

Her response: “But you are an expert at life.” So true.  We all are to a degree aren’t we?  We all have a degree of life that we can share.  And some of us have a master’s degree in certain areas.

MY PURSE--A METAPHOR FOR MY LIFE?
Days later, while driving the long flat three hour stretch of highway to St. Louis, mentally and spiritually preparing to lead an intervention for a woman I care deeply about entangled within the snares and cares of life, I  plunged one hand in my tightly packed purse for a pen to record an idea.  (I have to record them quickly these days. They fly away as quickly as they appear.)

One hand rummaged and one hand held the wheel, one-eye watched the road while one-eye glimpsed the purse, one tasking the other. This confirmed why I hate purses. Because I was mentally frustrated by the empty search for a pen that I had purposely placed in my purse’s inside pocket right next to the lipstick,  I heartily shook all its contents on the seat to reveal the pens.

That’s when the thought occurred to me that this exercise of purging seeming organized contents that I carry with me every day might be more deeply revealing metaphorically something about my life.

I thought of the various types of clutches I have had throughout my life: purses, bags, fanny packs, backpacks, totes, satchels. I thought of the purse I was currently clutching every day. I hate purses and for me to spend money on one was rare, but the one I was using I actually purchased from Thirty-One because I loved its compartments and could get it monogrammed.

Actually, I had been working out of two purses switching the necessary contents back and forth based on which purse I needed for the occasion.  I am somewhat purse bipolar.  Some days, I think I want a little bag, when suddenly the desire for a large dump purse becomes appealing.

Are our purses too big, too small, or just right?  Are they full of compartments or just one big container to dump everything in at random?  Are they made of weave or tough leather?  Are they dainty, frilly, eclectic, sporty, classy?

I thought the baggage I have carried throughout my purse days. Is the baggage neatly organized or over-stuffed. Is it a confused heavy conglomeration wearing ruts in my arms?  Is it full of junk, the necessities, or the just in case stuff.  Is it a mystery holding place, making me wonder just where items went?  Does it fit awkwardly?  Does it seem to match my shoes, my clothes, or even my daily events.

This purse I carry: it is truly a metaphor for the life that I live. 
 

The questions began unraveling in my head:  what clutter do I carry each day in my life, in my pursuit of God? Why do I continue to clutch certain items in my purse and likewise in my life? What could I stop carrying around in my life?  What are the bare necessities? And what is this purse=uing of God supposed to really look like when I already commit to live with God every day? 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

WHEN EVERYTHING FALLS

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
-Psalm 34:18

My niece and nephew lose their precious baby boy two days after cradling him for nine months in her womb. Our hearts break with them, and we know there are no words we can give to glue the chasm in their hearts back together. 


When the dream of a life ebbs away, the hole creates a vacuum that siphons our lives with it. 


And  when it seems absolutely inconceivable that one day again we will sense sweetness in the silence, make melody in music, look high for rainbows, seek pleasure in public, find faith for the future, and pursue purpose in Your plans, You choose to continue to heal our hearts' holes. 

When there seems to be no reason to recall yesterdays, plans for tomorrow, or even remember that today is Friday or Sunday or Wednesday, you plant purpose. 


The fact that You are not frozen still like we are by our heartbreak, 

that we are not condemned by our flowing tears that weep of doubt and "whys,"
that we are not abandoned because of our throat choked voice harnessed by anger and fear, 
that our reality is not made complete with the hope we cannot fathom, 
but that You hear the numb prayers that our unstitched hearts whisper, 

is evidence that GOD IS STILL WORKING!

In our heads and hearts, we know that we are always in God's hands, but when the control of this daily life we think we are holding is stripped away and everything seems to fall apart,  then what remains can clearly only be the strength of His hands that sustain us and that remind us that we are held, rocked, followed, watched, and cared for.  


We continue to hold Hannah and Chris tight with arms bound together in love. We know that it is not our arms that will keep them feeling safe but His love that they begin to feel from our embrace. 


When everything falls apart, we hold you strong, and He loves you still.



ASHER,  WE LOVED YOU THE MOMENT WE KNEW YOU---- from all your family

Listen to the words to the song "Everything Falls"  at this link:
  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhT7mAMbUKE&list=RDyhT7mAMbUKE  


To make a donation to help with expenses go to this site:
http://www.gofundme.com/9latho




Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A PRAYER FOR DANIEL AT GRADUATION: TRANSLATING THE UPSIDE DOWN WISDOM OF GOD

I am translating the upside down wisdom of our God for you because the world often taunts and mocks His ageless wisdom as lacking and shallow. I pray you  always find true life giving wisdom when you seek with your heart and mind and soul the everlasting words of wisdom.

May you embrace the beauty in the blemish, the bruise, the ugly, the damaged, the lost. Don't be distracted by the shiny, but be startled  awake by the lovely in the low and deep and wide and hard places.

May your hands always be dirty with the work that serves others' needs. There will be long tired days that will hurt your muscles,  but your heart will sing strong for joy.

May  worry and sleepless nights submit to an assurance of purpose that God will sing over you.

May you breath life into others with words that judge others as God sees them: holy and worthy creations.

May your tired and bruised soul only be blemished from the love you have given over and over and over. May you not count the days of sacrifice but count on sacrifice.

May the day you leave home you realize that your home may be where you are without a roof, without a chair, without a bed, without a door.  May your home be a heart lassoed to Him no matter the circumstances and finery. May your home not be sturdied walls but sturdied by a steady lean into Him.

May the  foundation of your life be stones of forgiveness that are dug hard in the earth, never slung at another.

May you strive for less of the need for the immediate, less of a desire for what others want, less of the search for the popular and trendy.

May you seek the turmoil and deliver peace with a sword of thankfulness.

May you gain peace only by warring with the truth.

May you count the cost and decide it doesn't matter but count the cost by what really matters.

May you lead without selfish ambition.  May you never have that haughty attitude that seeks to push ahead of the others around you  but count others more important than yourself.  The humble path always causes others to question your motives and a genuine attitude of caring causes others to want to follow. The way we treat others impacts everyone. That is the ripple effect of great leadership.

May you react in heated moments with honor and not out of raw emotions. Don't assume what you immediately see is the most accurate perspective. You cannot know another's heart and mind except with a dialogue without gloves and guarded hearts. Even when offended, attempt to answer with honest grace, gentleness, and peace. It will be the only path to true resolution. It might seem like our job is to set others straight, fix them, prove them wrong, respond in like anger so they see how they are acting, but in the heat of the moment, they are probably not listening.  Our job is to maintain perspective and respond with a gentleness that turns their wrath away. The truth is that if you respond in like, you trade your peace for anger.


May you always believe you have something to offer.  May you always act from this knowledge.  Count your gifts around you and then be the blessing by blessing others with grace and the gifts you have been given.  Holding tight to what we have been given squelches, but letting go allows it to multiply through others.



May you learn in life the difference between God-sized dreams and man made dreams. Go BIG but it may appear small.

May you experience work that is  God-given in the midst of the man-driven. One will make your soul grow dry and weary and the other will energize you for the day and others, satisfy your mind, send your head to your pillow with a good night's rest and wake your eyes to believe in it for the next day.

If you want to be heard in this screaming, noisy world, lower your voice and whisper grace. When the crowd is loud, one ear hears and quiets to truth and obedience and the impact catches like fire.  The loud people are used to the noise; the quiet is the rarer noise.

If you feel least and small and purposeless, remember that comparison to others is as a mirage. There is no comparison in this world that matters other than living a life well for God (and He always smiles over you).

Jesus is never lost to you.  When you look and your eyes do not see and you seek answers that you can't find and feel empty in your search, He is there. He holds you strong through the journey so that you see what He has set forth for you, not your own desires that are shortsighted and limited in their reaching.

Don't try to be a hero by seeking glory from those with power and position. You already have a Hero who is wanting to make you a hero to those near you that He has called you to serve.

There is no special age for gaining wisdom, but there are eyes and hearts and souls that gain it because they seek it from the Source it can be found.  You were made for a time and place such as now. Seek it all your days because it can be found.

May you always know you are loved.
Love,
Mom




Thursday, May 1, 2014

WHEN A LEGACY IS ENGRAVED ON YOUR HEART

It seemed to be a slow slide into spring, days patiently pushing the powder toward petals.

But with a turn of my head,  my heart began to race jagged across the pages of days.

Standing before twenty-two fourth grade students who could never have imagined their "Goodbye, Mrs. Pridemore" chanted one Thursday afternoon would be their last, I knew they feared to face the fade to memories as the sole source of honor for their song singing teacher.   



An aneurysm shook her body from her earthly throne, but her purpose patterned persistence designed the legacy now engraved on their hearts.

The balm of words and prayers ease the oozing ache of wounded hearts. 

Daily classroom life dulls the breathless, silent panting.

Tears sting less as confused anger subsides and lingering sorrow softens. 

And these ten year old souls I have come to know and who know the hope of Heaven will ever be lullabied the whispers of Amazing Grace by their witness from the clouds, Mrs. Pridemore.   

      

Thursday, April 10, 2014

ARE YOU APPROACHABLE?


"ARE YOU APPROACHABLE?"

---MICHAEL CHITTY
CEO, JUDAH CHRISTIAN SCHOOL



It was a simple question thrown across the interview table. The simple reply "YES" came with a quizzical look. Intuitively, I knew his desired answer was "yes."  I wondered in the realm of teaching how that answer could be anything but "yes" for a teacher. It SHOULD be "YES."  Looking back at that question, I realize my surprise in its asking and assumption at an obvious answer caused me to not really expound upon myself or my thoughts about that question. 

If I were interviewing myself, I would pose a follow-up question: "How do kids and parents know that you are approachable?"

After all, through the years with my own kids,  I have heard many teachers assert that they are approachable when students feel they are not, supporting their defense with this comment: "Kids know they can come to my room and ask me a question any time they want." 

To me both as a teacher and a parent, that comment does not project to many students the sense that a teacher is approachable. (I am not endearing myself to many teachers at this moment.)

I take my model from the source that models our behavior. 
JESUS CAME TO SEEK AND SAVE. HE WALKED AMONG US AND CALLED TO US AND TALKED TO US

He didn't wait for people to come to Him.  He didn't shelter himself in a temple room waiting for people to seek answers from him.  He walked among people, looked in their eyes and lives, and sought those He knew were troubled. 

Approachable? It is an intentional move. It is extending your heart, your words, your eyes, your time, and your actions first.  It requires walking among students and parents, creating intentional contact before they need it of you.  And then, it is fostering that relationship.

And my examples of walking among students and parents are how I would  answer my follow-up question: "How do you know that you are approachable?" 
   


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

ENOUGH GLITZ FOR ME


"And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?
(Esther 4:14)




Sitting at my counter, I was distracted by a line on the to do list: clean the house for a group of women coming Friday night.

My eye flitted to areas that needed improvement.  Yet, there was nothing in this short amount of time that I could do, short of simple cleaning, to improve the facade.  My mind's-eye scattered across the wish list: curtains, stool seat cushions, throw rugs, completed pictures frames hung, couch, throw pillows for my bed....

What had so suddenly eclipsed my soul? On the day I  invited women to my home, I was comfortable with the vulnerability of exposing the imperfect places of my home, but now as the time draws near, I pant to paint a richer picture?  The trappings of this life shine bright, distracting me and corrupting my heart desires.

pinmania.net
So today I learn from Esther.  Oh Esther, it was a long walk to stand and plead your heart before King Xerxes who offered you up to half his Kingdom.  You were not encumbered by that distraction of certain comfort and the beauty of his treasures were not a facade for security.  But the favor of your king was an honor that fueled your soul. And your people were a prize greater than the kingdom's gold.
 
Oh Cherie, it is a few days before cherished women share a short few hours of their lives. These moments in your home are as jewels, honoring one another with the gift of time.  May the facade of beauty fade to the background as the hearts of women compel your heart to see beyond your home's superficial identity to your real treasure: an exposed heart.

May I, like Esther, always seek the favor of  my King.  May I position my mind, heart, and soul in His royal treasure. May I choose to be adorned with the glamour of gratitude and grace which will always be enough glitz for this soul's home. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

THE TEXT OF YOUR LIFE

ladylouisespeaks.com


I love my phone, but it sure does cause havoc at times.  

I spoke into the microphone (ahem and didn't review it before sending it); it told my friend that my son had to write an essay "for Lowes."  For Lowes?" my friend was totally lost when she texted back. I had to use my hand to text government "furloughs."  Wow, that really took us down a different path.

When I was driving to visit my friend Kim at her mom's house, I texted her that I was almost there (Hey, I was at a stop sign when I texted).  She  texted back, "Let me know when you are here, and I will help you carry your GUYS in." I told her this was a girl's weekend, no guys allowed.  I didn't bring any guys with me." She sure was lost in my response. Who knew BAGS could turn into GUYS?  We sure rolled with that for a few more laughs. I guess she didn't go back and look it over either.

Just recently, my friend Peggy texted me asking me to speak at her next ladies meeting.  She was giving me some ideas to speak about because she didn't want me to fret.  Her text said I could just use something I spoke about before like "Ann's vodka camp."  (Ann Voskamp,  if you are reading this, I promise we both got real belly laughs that you would appreciate.) I think Peggy didn't look over her text either.

Speaking on the phone today about that speaking engagement's topic and theme, we heard each other very clearly when we both agreed that the topic of my talk and her women's meeting theme could actually seem totally mismatched because it all comes back to Jesus anyway.  Since we are both teachers, we can cut a segue like no one's business. (Ann's vodka camp---I am imagining the slant now.)

And then the message clearly hit me...no matter the life we have been given...no matter the glory cloud we have ridden...no matter the circumstances we live in...no matter the heart that we have hidden...no matter the mess we have been in...it all slants back to Jesus.
pm4girls.elizabeth-harrin.com

And our life and messages are just that...words that are sometimes misunderstood, misspoken, unedited mistakes. And our life is that too. Sometimes our life's unedited version is a wild type run into the dark wildness... a run in confoundedly conflicting circles. I think of poor Pooh Bear lost in the Hundred Acre Wood and us lost in the Hunger Ache of Would and Should.

And in our life of unedited mistakes, we don't want to encounter the Heffalumps of Piglet's dreams in the dense woods, but we know some real characters in our life that we imagine to be a lot scarier. Sometimes characters that show up in texts and phone calls and doctor's diagnosis are just the scariest lumps we can imagine.

But it is true.  We circle dizzy along these blazing bee trails angered by the swarm of life, the loss of ourselves, hidden in our own dense fog, but eventually it all comes back to where we started.  It all comes back to where we  find the sweet.  We can choose the frantic fear and raging round and round rants or stop feeding the bear and then decide to run the bees from the tree and live off the honey.


It always comes back to Jesus----the text of the message our life and character wants to speak this more clearly than the mistaken unedited version.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

THANK GOD---EVERY TIME?

I  thank 
my God 
every time 
I remember you. 
(Phil. 1: 31)





remembrance.band.com


Let's face it; life would be easy if we didn't have to get along with people.  Work would be easy if we didn't have to encounter others.  Driving would be easy if no one else were on the road.  Family gatherings  would  run smoothly if no one showed up. Teaching would be easy if there were no kids.... You get the easy road?  It is void of people.  But that road doesn't exist, and we are called to walk down the one that is clearly filled with encountering others.  So this scripture today really needs to sink in.

I THANK ....Seems we are called to be thankful for people.  I am thankful for things and situations and jobs and people, but every person?  What response should this thankfulness muster? 

I THANK GOD...Seems God is the creator of those people in our path because we are called to thank Him; Who are the people that are coming to your mind right now that you are thankful for?  Your mom, your husband, your kids, your sister, your pastor.... We are inclined to thank Him for the wonderful people that we are thinking of right now.

But we aren't very happy about some of the people that cause stress in our lives. Are we called to also thank Him for  those that bring joy to our days AND those that create difficulty? Picture your day doing just that.  Thanking God for those people that you remember have caused you pain.   How might my attitude and outlook on life change if I thanked God more often for everyone in my path instead of grumbling inside about those that irritate me. Thanking God for each person reminds me that He gives them value, not me.

I THANK GOD EVERY TIME...Seems it is true that even those that bring the sunshine one day might be those  that  cause muddy puddles on another. Maybe that is why God wants us to be thankful EVERY time, not just on those days when we appreciate these people in our lives.  For sure, our thankfulness might not change them, but how might it change us?  How might who they are to us change?  

We are a repetitive people; we need to do some things over and over and over and over until some of the sentiment sinks down into our soul, until we have created the mental habit of  thanks.  We are never to tire of giving THANKS for one another. 

I THANK GOD EVERY TIME I REMEMBER YOU...Seems being thankful brings others back into our fold even when they might seem far away.   Our thoughts bring them back to us.  We RE- member them.  We bring them back into unity with us:  both spiritually and mentally.  This kind of thankful  expression is one of continuance, an unbroken remembrance of unbroken gratitude, earnestly and unabashedly thankful. 

THE CHALLENGE:  Maybe being thankful for another person EVERY TIME seems  impossibly foreign and daringly impossible.  Are you thinking of the person that you have said "NO WAY--I CANNOT BE THANKFUL FOR THAT ONE." How could this  even look in our lives?  There are no rules set  for when we are to be thankful: we are not thankful only when he speaks nicely or acts correctly or does something sweet for us. No...every time we remember them.  I hear you saying, "Then I am going to try hard to stop remembering them." Good luck with that! 

Maybe this challenge compels us to try to change our perspective about some people in our lives.  Maybe this challenge calls us to be intentional with those God has given to walk beside us. Maybe this challenge will help me understand the real essence of gratitude. 

Go ahead and try the challenge: thank God every time you remember that person.

I  thank 
my God 
every time 
I remember you


remembrance-band.com

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A PICTURE PERFECT IMAGE: SETTING THE SHUTTER TIME TO SHUDDER

It's Ash Wednesday and the third day of substituting for a photography class.  Although, I claim very little knowledge of photography, it made  me clarify  how I picture my days ahead.
livingbeing.com
I really should understand the basics of photography since I vividly recall the unit in 7th grade science. Sadly, I was traumatized by the teacher sending me into a dark room with certain 7th grade boys.  Is that when I began to pray out loud? The rumors of the activities that occurred in that over-sized closet, make-shift dark room, would have shut it down cold had they reached Mrs. Leach.

I was reminded in class today of the difference between shutter and shudder, and how really the one affects the other. The SHUTTER TIME affects my SHUDDER TIME. Ash Wednesday for me isn't about giving up  but rather lengthening the time I spend exposed and aware of God 's blessings. The SHUDDER time that brings reverence and awe in place of crippling fear.

Shutter speed is the length of time that the camera's shutter is open while taking a picture. And today, on Ash Wednesday we begin 40 days of Lent and many find ourselves looking for something to sacrifice in order to allow for more intentional saturation of  exposure to God because time really does impact the picture.  The more our eyes are open to the world that God creates, the more enlightened we are, the more beautiful the scene becomes, the more accurate we can set our lens to clearly sharpen our hearts to what He wants us to see.

Today, I need to find the right SHUDDER speed because I want to discover the awe in the marvelous light that God painted these landscape of my days with. But this kind of awe only comes through exposure. The length of exposure time affects how much light reaches my heart's sensor, and I am awakened to see His joy and beauty in its raw form. Being immersed in this abundant life means having my lens focused and zoomed in to what He created for me.
digital-photograph-school.com

Short SHUDDER TIME...small living...little exposure... foggy seeing...blurred lines...calloused hands and feet to others needs.  And in my fast paced world, I wonder how many times I have blinked quickly at God's offerings and missed His best for me.  Exposure to short sound byte to sound byte screens, how calloused have I come to the needs of those around me?  In the streaking speed of agenda living and list conquering, where has my lens sharpened to His movement in my world?

Long SHUDDER TIME ....slowing down time...more light exposure... transparent images...triune foundation .... braced on His promises ....holding still in His presence to absorb long and to see clearly the road ahead. Practiced dependence on His steady foundation exposes our life's transparent mission: an image that can only be clearly focused when stabilized through long SHUDDER TIME.

weheartit.com
We can manipulate the shutter time on a camera for a variety of affects to produce the picture of our lives that we want, just as we can manipulate our gifted time on Earth and get a variety of outcomes. God reveals Himself through both short and long SHUTTER times, just as surely as He creates every moment. For today, the reminder is that if we want to live within God's image, we must intentionally set the exposure to maximize our lives' SHUDDER time for the affect we want.