Month: September 2014

Messy Love

ChvNc1e56jjiFBwqXb7O52zXmKsXvjGCcwIajjjTkrwFor forty years he pursued me. Starting when I was just barely fifteen. He fell in love after a couple dates. I had my doubts. He didn’t even know me. I feared intimacy. But Tim never gave up.

Now I realize we fought in different ways. But with the same purpose. We fought for the relationship. Together we pushed through the tension. We failed, we succeeded, then we failed some more. But we made it to the finish line.

Every great story has a struggle. A fight to overcome the odds. And the best ones are when small overcomes great. Or weak finds the fight to defeat the strong.

How many times have we watched the timid warrior pick up his sword? We see the tension as he grits his teeth. Our hearts race as he runs into battle. We inch forward to the edge of our seats.

And when he slays the dragon, we can’t help ourselves. We collectively rise to our feet, pump our fists in the air, and cheer.

Why?

Because God placed a little bit of eternity in our hearts. And it’s the opposite of the fallen world we live in. This world that longs to be righted. Where the end is already written, but yet to be lived out.

So, what if our biggest enemies aren’t demons and dragons? What if it’s our incessant need to be comfortable? To at all cost, withdraw from the tension. To remove ourselves from the fight. To avoid relationships that can potentially cause us pain.

Comfort is the breeding ground of mediocrity. The place where we give up the fight. Where we settle for less than our fullest potential. Where we never push ourselves to see what comes out.

Brene Brown says, “We want love to be unicorns and rainbows. Then Jesus comes in and dies.”

And God calls it…LOVE.

Messy, painful, overcoming…LOVE.

 

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What Have You Been Doing the Last 40 Years?

IMG_3339Last weekend, I sat beside my sister Sheila, looking around the room at sixty fellow students of our 1974 high school class. I don’t understand these reunions. Over the years, I’ve been part of groups that once dissolved, left a more pronounced hole in my life. But we Americans love high school reunions. And for some reason I felt compelled to go.

Though older than me by eighteen months, Sheila and I spent our twelve years of schooling in the same grade. Born premature, and very small for her age, my parents held her back so she wouldn’t be alone. Always quiet and reserved, Sheila was the antithesis of me.

So, it didn’t surprise me when one of our classmates walked across that ballroom and said to Sheila, “When I saw your name on the list, I just knew I had to come.”

I remembered Jerry, and I remembered how close he and Sheila were. What I didn’t know was how every morning, Sheila swung by his house so they could walk to school together.

Now I know I’m a little rough around the edges. And I’ve become accustomed to people noting how much I’ve changed. And Jerry was no exception.

“You scared me in High School,” he said with a laugh. “One day I was at your house and you gave me a look that scared me to death.”IMG_3338

Thankfully he finished his outburst by saying, “But you’re really different now.” Reassuring words to this battered old soul.

Regardless of who we were yesterday, we’ve all got the tools to grow. Every experience we go through, we can choose how to respond. And even when we blow it, we can still follow Christ’s lead. We can always apply humility by seeking forgiveness.

Dallas Willard once said, “What matters is not the accomplishments you achieve; what matters is the person you become.”

Easy words to say, but so hard to live out.

My first response is to blame others for my misfortune. Or to shake my fist at God for the fate He’s bestowed upon me. To justify my bitterness and rage.

But the older I get, the more I value my ability to back pedal.

Because I don’t ever want to stop fighting the good fight. I want to stay in the ebb and flow of striking out, asking for forgiveness, and applying grace when I’m wronged.

I don’t ever want to stop picking up the pieces of my broken life. I want to keep lifting them up and asking Him, “What in the world am I supposed to do with this?”

You see, just because I tend to get off the path. Or I seem to often lose my way. It doesn’t mean I don’t know where I’m going. Because I do. And I’m determined to keep pressing on. To stay in the fight. To never, ever give up.

All I ask is that you not lose hope in me until I finally make it home.

I Kidding Grandma

Pulled from my archives…

Last week on my day off I had some errands to run so I called my daughter to see if my four-year-old grandson Ben wanted to tag along. Of course the answer was yes so I hopped in the truck and drove the two blocks to pick him up. As soon as I walked in the house, Ben ran towards me and began pulling on the bottom of my shirt. While bouncing up and down he said over and over, “come on grandma, let’s go, let’s go.” Unable to talk to Kelly between Ben’s pleas, I gave in and the two of us headed out the open garage door. DSC00648

Ben never stopped chattering as he shimmied his little body up onto the front seat and began to buckle his seat belt. As I sat down I told him if he behaved at Starbucks and Costco, I would take him to McDonalds for lunch.

By the time we got to Starbucks Ben was bursting with energy.

All my attempts to calm him failed as he began to run around the store touching merchandise and grabbing at stuff on the condiment bar. As I tried to get my coffee and corral him, I became frustrated. Afraid of losing my temper, I took a deep breath and tried to guide him out the door, but he darted from me and ran toward the truck.

Trying to juggle my coffee and purse, I grabbed him by the arm, knelt down and told him if he didn’t behave I would have to take him home (my ultimate threat). The corners of his mouth turned down as he folded his arms across his chest and said, “fine, I won’t go in Costco, I wait in da truck”. DSC00230

“Ok,” I said as I chuckled and helped him climb into his seat.

Ben was calmer as he sat next to me fiddling with the knobs on the dashboard as I drove across town to Costco. The minute I turned off the engine, Ben was out of his seat belt and headed for the door.

“Wait a second” I said, “I thought you weren’t going into Costco.” A guilty look came over his face and he grinned, “I kidding grandma.” Laughing, I asked, “You aren’t staying in the truck?” Ben, realizing I was joking, laughed and said, “I kid you grandma, I go in Costco,” then he jumped down, took my hand and we walked toward the entrance together.

That afternoon when I dropped Ben off at home, Kelly laughed as I told her the story of Ben’s silly behavior. Later that night I told Papa, Uncle Daniel, and Ben’s dad Dan. The next day I laughed again as I told my coworkers about my day with Ben. But the more I told the story the more it reminded me of my own childish behavior. And I began to realize how spiritually, I was a lot like Ben.    DSC00595

Many times, I get angry with God because I can’t have my way. I too have pouted, folded my arms, and told God I wasn’t going to pray or go to church anymore. Many times, I’ve quit reading my Bible because I felt it wasn’t making a difference.

Then lo and behold, something happens to confirm my faith and there I am on my knees at church, or sitting in the dark pouring my heart out to God.

I think it’s nice to know God loves me in many of the same ways I love my grandson. I imagine there are times my face looks as silly as Ben’s when I’m caught in my own trap. I think God is amused when I’m at my desk hunkered over my Bible, in essence saying like Ben, “God, I kid you, I go in Costco.”

And I rejoice knowing at any time I can reach for the comfort of His hand as I take the next step in my journey towards home.