Broken is easy

I had an “ah-ha” moment today. I was driving to pick my son up from work and the thought ran through my brain that brokenness is easier than “healed and moving on” with respect to the Christian life. Being broken is passive. An outside force alters our life and we have no control over the effects it has on us. We lie at the feet of our Savior and God. We cannot move unless he moves us, because we are broken. What happens next is beautiful. We are gently lifted to the Savior’s shoulders, his wounded lamb, and carried near to his face as we heal. I have recently been broken, shattered, and now I am 2 1/2 years from that event walking on my legs again. The urge to be lazy in following God now is tantalizing. Part of me fears getting close because the last time I was so close I was also hurting in my soul. I think I am a little afraid of Him as well. Either way, if I don’t focus and listen for his voice I can be distracted by the minutia of daily life and the ever present muzak of self worship. I have realized that I am in physical therapy for my soul. I am having to learn how to worship again, sing again, serve again and think less of me. It’s very tempting when we are broken to become self focused. In fact, we have to be that way for sheer survival at the beginning. But when the lamb is gently lifted from the Shepherd’s shoulders and set on shaky legs, the urge to survey every element of the landscape based on how it will challenge us and look for the easiest route to avoid any more pain can be almost impossible to ignore.

So, I am thinking that brokenness is more painful but the hard work of getting better is much more difficult. Thoughts?

I do believe in fairies!

Today a friend of mine on Facebook posted a story about a man in England who discovered the mummified remains of fairies in a small fissure near his home. They had a photograph and scientific descriptions. I must tell you that this delighted my heart. I have always been a dreamer that believes wholeheartedly in the existence of things that we cannot or do not see with our eyes. I don’t divulge this fact to very many people as I have found ridicule in the past. But today I step boldly into the sunlight to clap my hands and say, “I do believe in fairies!”

I have to say that after reading the article and seeing the photo I immediately thought of the fairies and their little hearts breaking at their burial site being disrupted and brought to light. The article stated that there were as many as 20 mummified fairies in the site. Some guessed to be as old as 400 years and some newer still containing fingernails and eyebrows. I imagined how I would feel in their place with my loved ones and ancestors becoming a local news story and not a hidden treasure.

When presented with images of the mythical, mystical and legendary my heart responds with wonder at a world that is far larger and more magnificent than I first imagined. I do not find that this narrows or rattles my views of faith. God is wondrous, infinite and the seat of creativity and imagination so why would I limit what I think he could or would create by my ability to explain or define their purpose. I believe that some things exist solely to foster in us a sense of child-like wonder and remind us that we are small in a vast domain.

My imagination is vast and well populated with things that I have never seen or even hope to see. It is a land that I have comfortably lived in for as long as I remember. It is what makes my heart beat with the rhythm of a child. I told my husband today that if I had to guess, I would say that I am 30% grown up and 70% child. I am happy with that ratio and have no desire to tip the scales to grown up. There is great beauty in looking at the mysterious world with the eyes and imagination of a child throughout one’s life. But there is the pain of being misunderstood and the scoffing of those who see the world more logically. I consider that a small price to pay for the moments of joy that dance around the campfires of myth and wonder weaving stories of worlds and peoples unseen but closer than we think.

What about you? Fairies or no fairies?

I look forward to grocery shopping

I grocery shop on Monday’s each week. Unless of course Monday gets full of unavoidable other things then it’s a Tuesday thing. We can’t really go much further into the week because food runs out. It is a precious and quickly devoured commodity in our house. I actually look forward to this task. My older 2 boys accompany me each week and sometimes my youngest completes his school in time to join us.

I find a sense of accomplishment in being able to buy for my family for a week safely within our budget while still getting items that people crave and enjoy. It’s kind of like I give myself a little gold star each week. That would be the first born in me at work. But even more than that I revel in the time I get to spend with my boys. We laugh, dance  publicly, joke and go about our tasks. We shop and eat lunch at Costco before we head to Kroger for step two of the shopping process. In this method, my young men have learned how to work a budget and price evaluate for a good deal. They have acquired life skills while we had fun.

But mostly I have been able to pack away memories and joys into my mind and heart of countless hours spent getting to know them better and hear their hearts as they wrestle with the onset of manhood. It is a treasure that I didn’t even know to look for much less how to find and it found me. I am so grateful to God that He gives us things of eternal value that we don’t even know to ask for. I am in awe over the gift of being a Mama to three wonderful young men. And I don’t say that lightly. I honestly feel as though I stand in front of those moments in my life, mouth agape, tears welling at the wonder of this life I have been given.

Who knew Heaven was waiting in the grocery store?

The “Big 4-0” is Closing on Me

This Thursday is not only Thanksgiving in my house, it is my birthday. Also, it is not just any birthday, it is my 40th birthday. It’s not the age that is bothering me. I have many friends who have gone ahead of me and they assure me that there is air up there. I don’t want to seem like a childish youth-seeker holding my breath as I am pushed out of the elevator doors onto the 40th floor. But I cannot ignore the emotional effects that this transition is having on me. I am also wrestling with the fact that I am not responding as a child of God, full of faith and hope. So, in an effort to sort through the clutter of my mind I will unpack some of it here.

Adding: I got married when I was 20 years old. My adult life began with a big add. I had added a husband and another family. I added my own home with the furniture that I had found and chosen. About 5 months after we were married we found out that we were adding a person to our home. Over the next 5 years we added two more people to total three boys that we were thoroughly enjoying  and doing our best to raise.

All through the last 20 years I have been adding. I have had losses. I have had some truly difficult losses that will always leave a hole in my heart.  But by and large it has been a time where each new phase approaching my life brought something that would add to my life in a beautiful way.

The fear of Subtracting: As I face my 40th birthday, I see a time of massive subtraction ahead. I have a sense that the scales are tipping. This is why I am afraid of this transition. My boys, whose company I love and cherish, are reaching the times when they will be rightly moving on and starting their periods of adding to their lives. But that will be a subtraction from mine, times three. I know that the people that are in my family are approaching their times of moving onto the BIG ADD, Heaven. But that will definitely be a deeply felt subtraction for me.

My daily life will be subtracted as I need to cook for less people and maybe even less often. Not a big loss as far as the chore of it all but rather the joy in knowing that I am making the men in my life happy. I love hearing the yummy noises of delight and hearing them say, “That was really good, Mama. Thank you for making dinner.” Such a sweetly generous reward for a menial task. I will feel this subtraction.

I know it seems a dismal view to take about an upcoming milestone. But I find that I cannot avoid it. I can repress it but ultimately to no real avail. I am feeling stung by the transition. I see a fog of undefined reality ahead of me. I can’t see what the adds will be whilst the outlines of the upcoming subtractions are all too clear. Truthfully, I am frightened. The tiny, inner me that whines at adversity and cowers at change is screaming, “But I don’t wanna!” I am trying to rationalize with her, but I fear she is deaf to reason. I am coming to my dear friends who are across the threshold for assurance and reason.  I am looking to my parents and in laws to see the joys of the next phase of add that waits; daughters in law, grandchildren and such, if God wills.

So, I will do my best answer the knock on Thursday  with a gracious and hopeful smile, welcoming the possibilities of the future. I will quiet the inner me with a soothing lullaby chorus of, “Breathe. You were never in control to begin with. God is bigger than the moments you fear. Go back to sleep until you arise again at 50.”

This is excellent and I had to pass it along.

Forgiving Jacob

Genesis 32:25-26 ESV

When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

I must admit that all of my Christian life I have judged Jacob in my heart as selfish and arrogant. That he was demanding that the emissary of God bless him before he would let go seemed unconscionable to me. I am now keenly aware that I have spent all of these years misunderstanding this story. God’s kind revelation to me is as follows.

Jacob was in a time of great uncertainty and fear. He felt that everything he held dear could be violently stripped from him within the next day’s time. Then, as if to add insult to injury, he is up all night in a wrestling match with an invincible challenger. Then in the midst of the struggle he refuse to let it be for nothing but believes that a blessing can come out of the difficulty and pain – his hip was touched & he limped as he left.

The last year of my life has been that type of emotional wrestling match for me. No matter where I turned or what I did I could not escape being in God’s grip. Nor could I force Him to change or submit. I realize now the beauty in laying hold of God in anyway at all. Also, that in the dark night of my soul, His voice is the one that called out to me that day had come. Rather than letting me languish in pain & fear alone in the night, He engaged me, changed me, made me walk differently. In all of that struggle I remember thinking that I had to hold on tight until I saw, for sure, God’s goodness toward me. I needed His blessing.

So now, dear brother Jacob, I repent for judging you. Rather I thank you for showing perseverance and desperation to lay hold of God in the truth of His nature and in that moment to receive the blessing of having seen Him. Better to limp at the hand of God than walk easily in ignorance of being in His grip.

Genesis 32:30-31 ESV

So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.

The Art of Living Like a Child

When is it that we decide that needing to learn something is a sign of weakness? As a child we unabashedly ask for explanation when we don’t understand a concept or don’t know a word. Yet somewhere around age 13 we begin to feel that knowing everything is what is expected. We stop asking questions in class for fear of being mocked. We pull back on our relationships with adults so that we don’t look like goodie goodies. Therefore, forgoing anything that they could impart to or teach us. Unfortunately, it’s hard to reinstitute the previous attitude toward life. It takes a serious and concerted effort. It takes a humility and a willingness to “look stupid” among all of our peers who still seem to know everything.

However, the benefits of humbly asking for what we don’t know are so great. We are able to gain new insights, accept before unseen truth, and turn to others with an attitude of sincere help rather than arrogant condescension. Only if I see my own deficiency more clearly will I increase in patience and love for the deficiency I see in others. How could I judge and badger others if I know their plight? That is what support groups are built around. People sharing the same struggle and gaining strength from one another as they share their failings and successes in an environment of encouragement and understanding. Maybe the key to loving each other in a way that lets the world know we belong to Jesus and follow His way is the art of living like a child.

Matthew 18:2-4 ESV

And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.