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?