Friday, October 15, 2010

Beyond Today


This week began rather tumultuously. Monday brought with it enough discouragement to last me the entire week but I'm much too ornery for that, or so I like to think.

As I drove home that night after work, I could think of no better way to spend my evening than wasting away in a heap on the floor trying to figure out what went wrong. However, God in his gracious wisdom intervened and informed me that would not be necessary. It was not at all a fitting way for the daughter of a King to spend her time.

So I spent some time instead, asking the Lord one very simple question. Why did the circumstances of this day affect me so negatively? Certainly I could have avoided all of this angst. Then, over the next few days He very graciously answered my prayer.

I have learned some very revealing things about myself - revelations I might not have come to face had Monday never occurred and had I not realized, it wasn't at all about the circumstances. It was my response to them which caused me to seek the Lord for clarity in the first place. Of course I prayed for the rest of my week to go much smoother than Monday, and for the most part it did. However, that one day's events illuminated some areas in my life which had been hidden in the shadows - areas in which I needed to grow.

Most days I enjoy living in the moment. Yet I often forget that it is in those moments, in both the sublime and the agonizing, that I am being molded, shaped and perfected, or not. Therefore, I am learning to live not only fully present but also aware of the impact each moment may have on the ones yet to come.

It is a fact that each day has a beginning and an end. We close the door on one day and open it to a new one. However, in living with an eternal perspective where we realize each moment builds upon another and affects our lives in the present and the future, we can begin to see the door remains open. The days may come and go but we can look in enough to see that there is more to this thing than meets the eye. God is doing something behind the scenes in those hidden places of our lives. The door to our transformation remains open for us to walk through if we dare.


I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back. Philippians 3:12-13 (The Message)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Daddy



Next weekend, I will be taking a road trip with my daddy. His only grandson, my nephew, is graduating from high school. It is sure to be a family affair as relatives I haven't seen in years will all be converging upon the Big "D", (Dallas for all you non-Texans) for the graduation festivities.

Daddy, as seen here in a hospital stay last year, will be 90 this year. (Those are not his reading glasses by the way. He, like the majority of those in my inner circle, finds it best to humor me from time to time.)

Yes. NINETY! ...at least we think. He would tell you he is in his early 80's but he would only be pulling your leg. We're not even sure he really knows anymore just how old he actually is. My sister and I tease all that time that he will certainly out live the both of us, but if he doesn't his tombstone shall read...

Died: xx/xx/xxxx
Born: June 7, anybody's guess!

He is truly a character!

Not too long ago, I received word that my birth father had passed away. Yes, I am adopted. So look again at my daddy's age and compare it to my almost 42 years, and what do you see? A man who was called to become my dad.

I have to say I had very mixed emotions when I received the news of my father's passing. I had never met him although I knew his name and where he might be living. How does one respond to news like this about someone they've never met, yet is so much a part of them? I did what any girl would do. I called my daddy.

We decided he would be my proxy. He was going to attend the viewing the next day and survey the land. He made me laugh. I needed that, and so it was settled.

Later that evening, while at a friend's party, I began to really think about why I didn't want to go. I wasn't bitter nor did I feel any malice or animosity to this man who had given me life. It just simply felt weird to go see a man lying in a coffin whom I had never seen waking or breathing. Yet, I made the awkward decision to go for several reasons.

Walking into that funeral home the next day was quite surreal. I ignored the somewhat awkward but congenial glances from the few visitors who were present, no doubt wondering who we were and if we were indeed in the right place. I graciously acknowledged their presence, realizing their loss was surely deeper than mine, but I kept walking toward the front with my daddy in tow.

Finally, looking down on this man who's face I did not recognize although I could see our resemblance in his obituary photo, I had an even more surreal revelation. I was actually standing there looking at my father with my daddy by my side. Wow!

Immediately, I had a picture of my heavenly Father standing there with me as well, silently watching as I was processing all of this. Eventually he asked me the same question my daddy did, "You okay?" WOW! I was more than okay! I was surrounded by a Father's love on all sides. How could I not be okay?

I have to say, that my dad and I have had our moments over the years. That's no doubt, but something seemed to shift during that encounter. Consequently, I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am about not having to share him with anyone on our drive up to Dallas next weekend. By the end of that trip I'm sure I will be ready to hand him off to my sister and other relatives, but for the meantime we're stuck with each other. He is quite a mess, but then again so am I!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

What's Bloomin'?


As most everyone knows by now, my yard is officially landscaped! After a year of being in this house, it was time to do some much needed work to the yard. I greatly enjoyed daydreaming about which plants to choose and what to put where. I bet I changed my mind at least a dozen times, even after I started buying them. While I did not enjoy the actual labor of the task, having it all finished has been a great reward.

After waiting for what seemed like forever, my gardenias in the back are now full of blooms. I love the aroma of this simply beautiful flower. How can anything so small give off such a powerful scent? I don't know but it's part of the reason why I picked them for this space. I knew they would be extremely fragrant. I could just see myself enjoying them while spending time out in the back yard.

However, before the bushes blossomed something else starting sprouting up in my garden - mushrooms! Yuck! These weren't pretty little button or yummy portobello mushrooms, much less any other variety I was familiar with. They were ugly fungi with weird shapes and shading, and they were growing around my newly planted bushes. I was not pleased.

Not really having a clue in the first place about gardening, I contacted some friends and did some research on-line in order to find out how I could stop them from growing.
One friend said particular types of mulch have trash or junk in them that makes it a hearty breeding ground for the fungi. I did not buy the types she mentioned. Hmm... That wasn't it.

Another friend suggested that the mulch and dirt needed time to adjust to each other and the moisture levels. Okay. That made sense. I guess.

The web sites I looked at said similar things, but pretty much every response was the same. They will go away after a while and they won't hurt anything. Just keep pets out of reach and don't eat them. Well there was no chance of either of those happening. Tiger didn't seem at all interested and steered pretty clear of the beastly things. They also weren't about to show up in any of my homemade dishes!

So, I let them be. Kind of. I can't help but dig them up from time to time. They seem to grow over night and then live for about a day. I come home from work. Dig and then turn the soil. That has pretty much been my routine since they first showed up.

Tonight while I was out back, I was admiring all the gardenias and marveling at how crazy it was to see such beauty side by side with these ugly old mushrooms. Then I had a thought. Our lives are a lot like that.

If we desire beauty in our lives we will allow the Master Gardener to painstakingly till, weed and plant in our gardens good seed that will take root and produce beautiful fruit when we tend it carefully. However, if we've failed to uproot the weeds, and dead things from our lives that the fungi can feed on, the two will grow up together.
The good news is, if we continue to faithfully tend our garden and to allow the unwanted things to come to the surface, then our loving Father will help us deal with them and their roots. With His help, before too long the only thing visible will be the beauty He originally intended for HIS garden.

I don't know about you but my garden needs constant tending. Most of the time I feel as though I don't know what I'm doing, or as though I'm doing it all wrong. That's okay.

I'm so glad I don't have to be good at this, because I'm not. I just know that I was created to live a life full of beauty. I want what is blooming in my garden to reflect that, even if it means that from time to time I'll have to uproot a little fungi.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Restore


I have been looking forward to this day all week, perhaps even longer. This is the day I officially got to do nothing. I have not had a day like this in quite some time and this week, I really needed it.

It's funny. I had to ask myself, "What does "nothing" look like?" I wasn't really sure at first but I think I have managed to define it, at least for me.

Today, I would not allow myself to work on a single on-going project. In my mind, I had a few quick projects I considered tackling, but gave in to only one which I considered of some importance. I am glad I got it out of the way and it did not interfere much with my nothing day.

I had a stack of magazines that lay in wait for my nothing day. Going through them was a rare treat I should give myself more often. The treasures I found inside will keep my creative juices flowing for weeks to come.

I put some fresh cut flowers in the guest room but I had to rearrange a few things in order for them to fit properly. While doing so, I remembered a handkerchief I found not too long ago which belonged to my mother. I retrieved it and stuck it in the bible on which her eye glasses rest. Having those precious things together made me lonesome for her. I am grateful for such sweet gifts.

A post by an old college friend, Renae Brumbaugh, caught my eye while I was on Facebook today. It was about a book she wrote entitled, Morning Coffee with James. I love Renae's heart so I knew it must be good. I clicked on the Amazon link on her wall to get a closer look.

I was only able to read the first excerpt listed on the page. I was too undone to read any further. I simply melted as I heard the Father speaking right to my heart, the very same word He had spoken to me earlier this week, which was the real reason for my nothing day. I was in pursuit!

Earlier, I researched this single word and poured over it in prayer wanting to know exactly what it meant for me. Having some finite idea, I continued to ponder it throughout the day until I came across this entry in Renae's book. I won't say that I fully understand, but my soul is now at rest with the issue.

You see the pleasant distractions, the cherished memories and even the small task of today all acted as restoring agents to a weary soul. Could your soul use some rest? Then take time out to pursue the One who relentlessly pursues you.

"...He leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul."
Psalm 23:2-3

...and yes, I ordered Renae's book!








Sunday, April 4, 2010

All Sufficient Grace!

It's Easter Sunday and my dinner guests have all gone. What a sweet time we had with our church family this morning and then visiting here in my home afterwards.

The three dogs I am keeping this weekend have just been let out of their kennels since my guests have now gone home, and they are more than excited to be together with Tiger for the afternoon. Yet in desperate need of a nap, I sit here at my computer trying to form an intelligible thought and all I can come up with is, "How did I get here?"

Last week was long and hard. Massive changes took place for me at work and my inadequacy came front and center. It was a good thing but it will certainly mean much more from me.

One of my dearest friends - my sounding board, counselor and friend moved halfway across the world. I miss her but I've been through this before. This too is a good thing.



I have found myself in the midst of relationships in need of way more than I possibly have to give. Their needs are beyond me and my heart is often grieved for their pain. Constantly throwing those needs at the feet of Jesus, I see that me being in this place is a very good thing.

I'm not so sure God picked the right person to deal with all of this, but my heart knows better. I have a heart of flesh not of stone, that cries with those who are hurting.

When people look to me to produce results, I tend to hunker down and do what needs to be done. No doubt this is a trait soneone has noticed.

When things don't happen as I would prefer and life "seemingly" hands me lemons, I somehow figure out a way to make an entire fruit salad (thanks to God's gift of resiliency in me).

All of this I can do for one reason and one reason only...

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The LORD will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

Psalm 121