Never Disappointed

“I’m disappointed in you.”

Ever heard that from your parents?  Said it to your kids?  Felt like that’s what God would say to you?

Evidently, there’s a child-rearing Bible study out right now that justifies the use of the above statement with children.  The very idea gives me what my Granny would have called the “heebee jeebees.”  My parents, thanks be to God, never said those words to me.  Somehow I still always knew when I’d made a mistake. I’ve been talking with my 14 year old about this when she recently expressed she thought God was disappointed in her.  My heart broke to find she actually thought that, and yet the more I think it through, the more I wonder how many people use this method, and further, how many think God uses it on His kids?  Think about some things with me:

How effective could the statement, “I’m disappointed in you.” actually BE?  I say, not effective at all.  Unless, of course, you are attempting to accomplish humiliation, irritation, and ill feelings between you and your child.  Perhaps some say this phrase and really mean, “I know you can do better.”  or “I wanted better things for you.” or “I expected you to make a better choice, and I’m surprised you chose this way.”  But when “I’m disappointed in you.” comes out, what it REALLY communicates is:  “If you performed better, I’d be happier with you.”  and “I’m in a certain class, and you, because of your choices, no longer qualify to be in my upper crust group.”  and “I’m embarrassed by you because you aren’t as good as me.”  and “You’re just not as good as I thought you were.”

If I desire to parent my children as God would parent me, then I can’t say “I’m disappointed in you.”  You see, God, no matter how big my mistake has been, hasn’t been disappointed in me.  He hasn’t been disappointed in you.  Disagree?  Then I would ask you, how, if Jesus knew of your every sin when He died on the cross for you, could he possibly be disappointed?  Disappointment, by its essence, includes an element of surprise, an element of expecting one outcome and actually receiving another.  Yet God in His omniscience knew every bad choice you and I would make and still gave His only Son to be sin for us, to bear our punishment.  He knew EXACTLY the outcome.  You and I have never once surprised God, even with the most outrageous of our antics.  And without some element of surprise, you can’t have disappointment.

But I’m not omniscient like God, right?  Right. I still feel upset when my kids make bad decisions. However, unless I think that God has waited until now to create the first three perfect humans since Jesus and given them to me to be my children, then I must expect that these precious ones WILL make mistakes.  I should expect that they’ll have the same drives, same temptations, same flaws that all humans have and will, on occasion, fail to measure up to standard as they fight to handle their frailty.  More than wanting my children to know how upset I am that they messed up, I want them to learn from their mistakes, and I want them to know they don’t have to be perfect to be LOVED.

How very grateful I am that God is teaching this idea to me, His daughter.  His grace wasn’t given to me because I earned it, but because He loves me.  I’m so glad He isn’t waiting until I’m good enough to give me His approval, but gave it to me for free, based on the perfection of Jesus Himself.  I’ve striven many years to be “good enough,” to be as perfect as I could be, and yet I’ve always come up feeling like my best just didn’t make the cut.  What a freedom to be loved by God in spite of my flaws!  With that belief, I’m free to be me, to love God back, and continue getting to know Him through my own good and bad times.  The temptation to just quit, since I’ll never measure up anyway, is gone.  I’ve already “measured up” because of Jesus, so now I can get to know God and myself and explore who He made me to be.

I want that so much for my kids.  I want them to know that kind of love.  I want them to know the One who IS that kind of love.  I want them to climb higher than I ever dreamed they could, because they have the confidence to try, knowing they’ll be loved whether they succeed or fail.  That’s what I have in God, it’s what my parents lived for me, and what I want my own babies to know above all else, even as I try to believe it myself.

 

 

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Screaming Hussy

Yesterday a resident at the assisted living home where I work came to me for help.  He asked if I had a dictionary.  I had none, but there was a thesaurus on my desk, so I offered it to him.  “I just want to look up the meaning of a word,” he told me.  This gentleman has very poor eyesight, so after trying to read the tiny word and its synonyms, he asked if I’d read aloud to him.  The word?  Bimbo.

This gentleman is also VERY hard of hearing.  He must be spoken to loudly and slowly.  So, I proceeded to read the synonyms for “bimbo” to him.  I sat there, screaming “HUSSY, SLUT, WANTON, JEZEBEL, JADE, WENCH…” and so on.

Then he asked me to repeat it, of course, more loudly and slowly.

Several individuals walked past, including a brand new resident’s family.  What to do???  Nothing for it, I forged ahead and continued screaming, “HUSSEEEE…”

It seems to me that often life brings situations when doing what we are called to do makes us look foolish, even crazy.   Sometimes others might think we’re odd when they catch a glimpse of us going about our God-given tasks.

I’m not easily embarrassed, so it’s not that I was bothered all that much by the words I was saying.  However, I do love to maintain the illusion of perfection, and what, I ask you, is perfect-looking about a woman screaming at the top of her lungs, “SLUUUT, WENNNCH…”??? Part of my job is to maintain some sort of professionalism and yelling such words is hardly professional.  However, a more important part of my job is to love the people God brings my way.

As the meaning of the word was heard, an enormous grin passed across this man’s face.  He began to chuckle, since he now understood the punchline of whatever he’d been told that got him wondering about the word “bimbo.”  Imagine a man who, since he can hardly see and hardly hear, has almost no social interaction.  He lives most of his days in silence, finding it too frustrating to continuously ask others to slow down and speak more loudly.  A man who once had a successful law career, a wife, and no doubt an interesting life, now hardly has any interpersonal contact.

But not yesterday.  Yesterday, we laughed like old friends.  We shared a silly moment, and I got to see a rare smile and even rarer mirth from this guy who normally gets by on necessary contact, but almost never enjoys a friendly chat.  Sometimes loving another person isn’t the normal sugary sweet stuff.  Sometimes taking advantage of the opportunities God gives us to love means we might end up doing something seemingly foolish.

Yesterday, I loved someone by screaming, “SLUT!!!” at him.  I ignored what I feared others might think, gave this one person my undivided attention, and in turn, made his day and mine.  It’s the funniest thing I’ve been called upon to do in a while, but it’s had me thinking ever since how much I want to be able to seize opportunities to love, even the weird opportunities.  I want to do what I’m called to do, what I’m MADE to do, no matter how it looks to passers-by.  I want to have the guts to own my life, use my gifts, and pour out all I have.  No holding back.  Even if it means screaming “HUSSY!”

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Offense and Defense

Origins NOLA has been studying the books of 1, 2, and 3 John.  Again and again as I’ve read these books, my attention turns to one subject:  Love.

God is love.  Love one another.  We love because He first loved us.  All these ideas are repeated throughout 1st 2nd and 3rd John.

The bottom line is, believers should be marked, above all else, by their love.  As I’ve been pondering this subject, I’ve been asking myself:  How am I doing in this area?   If Jesus’ main command to me as a believer is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself,” then it’s high time I take stock of my ability to love.  One thing I’ve found is that I’ve never really spent much time purposefully searching for ways to grow in my ability to love.  I wouldn’t say that meanness is a defining trait of mine, but that’s not the same as being a person who loves excellently.  I know how to be a nice girl, but that doesn’t automatically mean I’m great at love.

As we were talking Sunday, discussing the idea of loving others, it occurred to me that when it comes to showing love there are two main directions, if you will.  I’ll call them offense and defense.  (Thanks to my Dad, my brother Bud and beloved New Orleans Saints for a good grasp of the game of football.)

Offense love I’ll define as active, purposeful things done to show love.  Defense love I’ll define as countering whatever comes our way with love.  Showing love through reactions, patience, and the ability to recognize and capitalize upon unexpected situations where love is needed.

Saving my pennies for months to surprise my husband with something special?  Offense.  Dropping my plans to listen to a friend who calls?  Defense.  Planning a special day for my daughter? Offense.  Setting aside my book when my little boy asks me to watch his latest trick? Defense.

There are times in loving that I take the initiative, the offense if you will, and make some love happen.  Then there are those constant moments when love should be the rule that governs whatever situations come along, a sort of defense played as life brings along bad days, stressful times, or needy individuals.

I’m planning to explore these ideas a bit more.  I’m excited at the possibilities that come to mind when I think of improving my “game” as I seek to obey Jesus’ command to love.  I’ll be writing a few more blogs on this subject, but for now I wonder if anyone has some thoughts for me…  Which is more difficult for you, offense or defense love?  Why?  And, why do you think there isn’t more specific direction about HOW to love?  Has anyone else been going along as I have, sort of assuming love would come naturally to a believer but not really purposefully seeking to learn HOW?

 

 

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Termite Theology

It’s time for house church.  Picture this:

We were gathered around the dining table, two couples, a single mom, two kids, two toddlers, and a teenager.  On the lazy susan at the center of the table sat my laptop, with our dear friend’s face on the screen.  (She’s homebound and so we Skype her in for church.  We spin her around on the lazy susan so she can see who’s sharing in the discussion.) Kids were sleepy and cranky, Dads sleepy too from long hours at work.  Everyone was distracted it seemed.  I was presenting our lesson and it seemed like no one was paying attention or interested.  Then it happened…

Termites invaded our church time.  (In New Orleans, we are blessed seasonally with swarms of termites.  These pesky creatures swarm (think plagues of Egypt) and are especially fond of light.)  In the midst of what seemed to be a particularly chaotic church time already, we began to see termites flying around us.  People around the table began smacking their hands together in an effort to annihilate the intruders, but to no avail.  They just kept appearing! I looked down and saw, to my horror, that there was just enough space between our door and the threshold to admit a veritable flood of termites, drawn by the light over our dining room table. 

At this point, we descended into all-out armageddon as we tried to stuff something in the entry point and kill the termites already invading us.  Everyone was on their feet, kids alternately screaming and giggling, teenager totally grossing out.  A few dead termites landed on my Bible as I tried to figure out what to do.  I wanted to cry.  I wanted to laugh.  I wanted to stomp my feet in frustration at the absurdity of a termite swarm on an already out-of-hand evening.  I wanted to quit.

I fought the tightness in my stomach and the lump in my throat, barely controlled the irritation in my voice and finished the lesson in our much darker living room.  I was relieved when it was over.  It had felt like nailing jello to a tree! 

In hindsight, we’ve laughed a lot over our little invasion.  But I’ve been wondering to myself just why it got me so irritated.  I think there are still a few old habits and ideas stuck inside me.  Ideas that I picked up in a brick-and-mortar church but really have no bearing on church done at home:

1)  You must sit very still and quiet as the preacher preaches his sermon.  You must not get up to go to the bathroom unless absolutely necessary.  A reverent quiet must be maintained in “the Lord’s House.”

I think this is one of my main obstacles to being positive and confident about what we do to worship at home.  The reverent hush in a church building is a precious thing, dear to my heart and comforting to the soul.  That said, the rules and regs of church are really simple etiquette for any type of formal meeting or performance.  The same rules apply for a play at the theatre, an opera,  or even a matinee movie.  As we worship together at home, there really is no need for the type of formal behavior expected at a traditional church meeting.  Yet I stress out when we can’t maintain absolute quiet, or I feel like no one cares when all eyes aren’t trained on me as I’m attempting to share a scripture verse or Bible lesson.  Why is this? 

2)  Noisy, wiggly kids shouldn’t be disrupting the church.  They should be escorted out or maybe taught in children’s church.

This again comes back to etiquette for a formal meeting or performance.  At home, we are teaching our children about worship, about God, and about how to follow Him, and I want them to be included in our “services.”  Yet I can’t escape the fact that I’m not going to accomplish the totality of their spiritual training in a two hour meeting each week.  What did the early church do with their children?  As I consider this idea, a scripture comes to mind where God commanded the Israelites to teach His commands to their children.  He instructed them to talk of these commands as they come in and go out, as they wake and go to bed.  I think I’ve had it backwards.  Teaching my children about Jesus is something I need to do 24 hours a day.  I must do it at bedtime, wake up time, mealtime, bathtime, and playtime.  If the children miss something at our church services, or can’t quite sit through the whole time, well, what’s the big problem if I’ve spent every possible waking moment teaching them of Jesus at other times? 

3)  You must “get fed” every week by the preacher’s sermon.  Sunday services are your source of spiritual growth and so if you don’t receive adequate encouragement, exhortation, learning, and so forth, then your preacher is probably doing something wrong.

I hate the phrase “get fed” when it comes to church.  Part of my spiritual training by my parents and even my childhood pastor and his wife included the instillation of enough scriptural knowledge to enable me to “feed” myself!!  I feel it’s a poor excuse to say “I’m not getting fed” as a way to blame one’s lack of spiritual growth on the church one attends.  That said, I also know that there was a time that Jesus commanded Peter, “If you love me, feed my sheep.”  I know that there are those in my home church who need leadership and teaching.  So during a chaotic moment when no one seems able to focus or when termites are swarming, I feel inadequate as teacher.  I know that the scripture commands us not to forsake meeting together, and further exhorts us to continue doing so to encourage each other. (Hebrews 10:24-25)  There are times of great learning that occur at our home church, and yet I return to the idea that, much in the way a child is spiritually trained, discipling of other believers should take place constantly, not only during one weekly timed meeting.

4)  You need “good worship” in order to really connect with God.  If your music doesn’t compel people to stand, sing enthusiastically, lift their hands or shed a few tears then you haven’t “let the Spirit flow.”

This one’s a doozie!  The phrase “good worship” is like nails on a chalkboard to me.  As an experienced church musician, I know, love and appreciate the church music.  I also know that chill bumps are induced as much by well-timed dynamics, well placed acapella measures with triumphant instrumental re-entry, or well-chosen instruments as they are by the “flow of the Holy Spirit.”  Don’t get me wrong.  I love to worship God through music.  It’s biblical, it’s wonderful, it’s fulfilling.  There have been times I know the Holy Spirit has enabled me to play or sing a song in a very supernatural way, and I know I could not repeat it of my own ability.  I just can’t help feeling ashamed of the direct correlation placed in today’s church between the quality of music and the “flow” of the Spirit.   I know the scripture tells us to play skillfully on our instruments to the Lord.  I know there is merit in giving God the best of our abilities.  Yet sometimes I’ve worshipped through music, with sobs, with tears, with mistakes.  It didn’t sound good, but it WAS good.  There’s a difference between “good worship” and professional sounding music.  At home, all the trappings of mics and drum sets, sound boards and screens are stripped away.  Music takes some of its most primitive forms as our little group finds ways to use it as we worship together.  Again, I wonder, shouldn’t music be more prominent in my DAILY interactions with God, my family, and those I disciple.  Shouldn’t it go beyond the performance during a service?

There seems to be a theme here.  A theme that would apply whether one worships at a traditional church or in a home or wherever:  Spiritual growth, training, and worship is a LIFESTYLE.  Church meetings, wherever they are, are simply one PART of what we should do as followers of Jesus, most specifically for the purpose of encouraging each other. 

This definitely lessens my stress when I think about trying to structure our home church meetings.  They are a valuable tool in our spiritual growth, but not the “be all, end all” of our interactions with God.  I knew that embracing home church would be a lifestyle change for me, but I can’t help wondering if embracing the idea that our spiritual lives should permeate our WHOLE lives in an all-consuming way might enhance the church experience for anyone, no matter what their church situation.  If church is our only method of spiritual practice, then when church meetings go awry (as they often do at any church) we are left with nothing to fall back on.  But if church meetings are simply a wonderful tool to assist us in our spiritual growth, not our only source of spiritual nutrition, then we are much more free to be ourselves, worship together, and handle the occasional termite invasion. 

Those termites might be pesky alright, but they’ve sure given me some theology to consider!  Let ’em swarm!

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A Crazy Reckless Legacy

It was late at night and everyone else was asleep.  She crawled out of her bedroom window to meet her boyfriend.  She was 16.  He was 26.  They drove to the next town and got married.  It was crazy.  It was reckless.  It made her mama really mad.  I didn’t know them at their start, but I was there 60 years later when they were parted by death.

That girl was my grandmother.  It always amazes me that the statuesque lady I knew did something insanely rebellious like elope at the age of 16.  It’s hard to picture that classy woman climbing out of a bedroom window.  Did my Papa catch her?  Did they squelch giggles and run hand in hand to the old truck?  What did she wear? 

However it went down that first crazy night, here I am because of them!!  They stuck it out and made it last.   They built a family and left a legacy.

Fast forward  around 80 years from their elopement and you’ll find me, their granddaughter, three years ago today…

ELOPING!!

It was crazy.  It was reckless.  It made some people mad.  But we’re still here!!

That sixteen year old girl grew into a major hero in my life.  I’ve always wanted, and tried, to be like her.  I’m most flattered when someone says I am like her in some way.  I know she had a daring side.  She crawled out of a window at sixteen for Pete’s sake.  She knew about taking a risk, she no doubt felt the passion and swirled in the vortex of a crazy attraction.  But she also knew commitment.  She knew how to stand her ground through life’s ups and downs. She knew her God and called on His name for her family. 

And guess what?  I do, too.

We may not get the sixty years they had.  (We started a little later than they did!) But we have the same kind of love and the same determination and most of all we know the same God.  We’ve crammed a lot of stuff into three years.  A surprise baby, two moves, serious illness, financial disaster, parenting a teenager and toddler simultaneously, wrestling with our faith and hosting a church in our home.  We definitely did not take the easy way.  Sometimes we feel like giving up.  But we won’t do that.  We’ll hang onto the crazy, reckless, passionate love that started all this.  We’ll look to God and keep going.

It’s definitely not the wedding that matters. (Even though I thought a crazy elopement was tons of fun!) It’s the marriage.  And marriage is what we are living every day.  Three years down, many more to go.

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Memory Magic

Recently I attended a solo opera “Paul to the Church At Philippi” performed by Dr. Ed Steele.  It was actually my second time to see the performance (my first was a birthday present to myself!) since Dr. Steele came to perform the opera for our Origins network of house churches.  The music, written by Dr. Steele, is the perfect accompaniment.  He had no need of a lyricist, since the text is word for word the entire book of Philippians.

My tears started flowing as the first few verses were sung and recited.  When I heard the words “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion…” God reminded me that He was talking to me, and that He is far from finished with the good work He started in me personally.

I glanced around the room and noticed something else that moved me nearly beyond what I can express.  A few guests had joined us for the performance.  One was an older gentleman, a good friend of mine, a minister, and a leader in our state among other ministers and missionaries.  I happen to be aware (most others in the room were not) that this awesome man is struggling with memory problems.  In my career in assisted living, I deal daily with the effects of dementia and short term memory loss, and they are heartbreaking, frustrating, and debilitating to say the least.  I glanced over at my friend and saw that as the words of Philippians were recited and sung, his lips moved along, not missing a beat.  His grin was ear to ear, and he nodded in affirmation at words that held deep meaning for him.  The words flowed freely from his memory with absolutely no hesitation.

I was already in a puddle, but melted further still as I saw played out in the flesh the truth I already know:  God’s word stands forever.  Even this moment, the words come to mind that I memorized as a child:  “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth, but the word of our God shall stand forever.” (Isa. 40:8) There’s something LIVING about the words of scripture.  They come back at the Holy Spirit’s bidding, they appear at just the right time, they apply centuries after they were written, and in every different situation.  I loved seeing and knowing that God’s Word and His Spirit are not limited by our minds or our ability to remember, think clearly, or express ourselves.  In my own times of deepest despair I know I’ve been able to cry to God, (not necessarily able to say anything intelligible) read and remember His Word.  He’s always been there, and always will be.

This, I love knowing.  I love knowing that my friend who struggles to remember some day-to-day things has God’s Word planted deep in the recesses of his brain.  I love knowing that if and when those words do fade from his memory, they will be no less true, and God’s Holy Spirit will remain, bringing comfort where there may be no words.  I love knowing that God is able to permeate every layer of our conscious and subconscious and is not subject to our limited abilities, not sickened by our illnesses, not destroyed by our mistakes. 

This comforts me beyond measure and inspires me to memorize even more, to stuff every possible word into my own gray matter so that it’s there for God’s use and at His disposal.  I’m reminded of more words from Deuteronomy that Jesus Himself used in his own battle with Satan: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”  Those words are alive.  They are real, and they are good.  Give them a try!

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Cut From the Same Cloth

At the end of this month, a memorial ceremony will be held and a new gravestone set at the site of my great, great grandfather’s grave. The little I know about William T. Jeffries includes a family story about his service in the Confederate Army.  He walked to the battlefield, only to lose an arm in the fighting.  He continued to help with horses, perform other duties for some time until his discharge.  I can remember as a little girl staring at a picture of the one-armed man in a dusty looking coat.  My childish mind had little concept of what it must have been like to lose a limb in battle, then go back to serve some more.  I marvel now at the determination and grit, bravery and commitment he had.  It’s not so much the cause for which he fought, but the courage and commitment with which he lived that interests me.

And I’m cut from the same cloth.

 My Grandmother, Lavada Jeffries, was a lady through and through.  She carried herself with the utmost grace and sweetness at all times.  She had a tender way about her, but was fierce in her determination.  She lived far beyond the doctor’s prediction by simply refusing to give up.  Her children can testify she was a force to be reckoned with, and was not to be disobeyed.  As her grandchild, I rarely saw her iron fist but was lavished with plenty of her sweet-smelling hugs, and heard plenty of reassuring words in her soft lilting voice.  I ate my share of her amazing biscuits and loved her vegetable soup.  As I grew older, we read our Bibles together in the morning and shared cheese toast before I left for school.

Years later after she was gone, I was in the depths of despair after my first husband confessed an affair.  I had tried to keep my misery from my dad, not wanting to stress him out since he had his own health problems, plus not sure how a daddy like mine would react to the betrayal of his girl.  Daddy knew, though.  He found a moment alone with me under the carport and I’ll never forget his words.  “I know what’s going on with you, Baby.  Your mama told me; I made her tell me.  I know it’s bad right now.  But don’t you forget whose granddaughter you are. (He nodded toward Granny’s house.)  You’re just like her.  Made from the same strong stuff.  You can do this.”

He was reminding me I’m cut from that same cloth.

My mother has been a minister for as long as I can remember.  Her world is her pulpit, especially the McDonald’s drive thru, the local thrift stores, and the patients for whom she tenderly cares.  Shirley Jeffries was into women’s ministry before women’s ministry even existed.   As a little girl, I learned to braid hair from one of mom’s friends.  We spent quite a bit of time at Donna’s house and now, looking back, I know that my mom was ministering to that lady and her two young boys through a divorce that left them penniless and a disease that left Donna disabled.  I’ve seen my parents stop along the roadside to pick up a stranded single mother.   As a girl, I was no stranger to nursing homes, funeral homes, and hospitals.  Now I know my mom, and dad too, were busy in those places, singing, loving, praying, visiting, helping people along the way.

And I’m cut from the same cloth.

These days I’ve been super concerned about my own children.  I have been lamenting the fact that I’ve failed to give them one childhood home to remember.  I’ve failed to give them so many things I hoped and dreamed they would have.  I’ve had my heart set on building a plan to stay in the same place and finally give them more than two consecutive years in the same school.  I still want that continuity for them, but a friend of mine pointed out something that helped me relax a little, and got me thinking about the kind of stock we come from.

It’s not about the house we have, and it’s not about my ability to protect my kids from the pains of life.  I can’t do that.  But I CAN show them what kind of fabric makes up their genes, what kind of blood runs through their veins.  My job is to concentrate on building that character into my children and it doesn’t take money or a house or lack of troubles to do that.  It’s more important to know the kind of people we ARE not the kind of place we live or kind of things we have.

I want my kids to look back, consider my faith and my courage, my smile and my laughter, my love and my commitment and say:

“I’m cut from the same cloth.”

 

 

 

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What’s the Deal With The Pitcher?

My friend and former sister-in-law, Sandi, gave me one of my favorite things.  It’s a “Rebekah Pitcher” she made.  It lives in my kitchen window, often holding flowers picked by my boys for me.  It never gets put away because it’s a reminder to me of who I am and what God wants me to do.  Go with me here…

Rebekah of the Bible (Genesis 22) was walking along one day, headed to complete the chore of carrying water.  I can picture her (ok, in my mind she looks like me, especially for the purposes of this story, only she’s workin’ a type of B.C. style of clothing and footwear) with her pitcher perched on her shoulder, moving forward with the business of the day.  The pitcher might have been heavy.  She might have been in a hurry.  But there was a man at the well, and when she saw he had need, she quickly lowered her pitcher and watered his camels.  He didn’t even have to ask!  Little did she know the man had been sitting there praying that the girl who agreed to water his camels would be the one God wanted him to choose for Abraham’s son, Isaac, to be a matriarch of the nation of Israel.  She wasn’t looking for a meal ticket, she just helped a guy on the spur of the moment, but she ended up opening the door to quite an adventure.  Through that one act of compassion, Rebekah became Isaac’s pride and joy, practically a queen, and gave birth the the house of Jacob, thus becoming part of Jesus’ bloodline as well.  Imagine that… a random moment where she simply acted like a daughter of the Most High, doing something pleasing to Him, and lo and behold she walks right into His plan for her!!!

What has entrenched itself in my mind is the idea that Rebekah quickly lowered her pitcher and offered herself to help another, without thought of her schedule, her future goals, or her bottom line.  God took care of those things.  She just lowered the pitcher.  She clearly had things to do and was in the midst of accomplishing her daily tasks, but evidently had the kind of freedom in living that lends itself to the impromptu lowering of one’s pitcher to participate in an act of kindness and compassion alongside another person.  She wasn’t too busy, wasn’t in too much of a hurry, and wasn’t so wrapped up in herself that she might miss a moment of life’s joy shared with someone else.  If Rebekah were around today, I imagine she’d have a constantly running coffee pot, a lot of miles on her vehicle, and a lot of smiles shared with those she’s touched along the way.

Sure, ol’ Bek had her faults.  She showed favoritism between her sons, deceived her husband, and it seems she could be pretty demanding at times.  She didn’t always get it right.  Still, the way she lowered her pitcher to help the man at that well with such immediacy and ease speaks volumes about her.   I imagine that she lived with her head up, eyes open and expectant, looking for the next opportunity to “lower her pitcher” and experience the joy of helping, serving, encouraging, or interacting with another person.  That’s the Rebekah, or  Rebecca, I want to be.

God has definitely given me a “pitcher” (we all have one) and I want the contents of mine to be used by Him.  That means I have to be willing to lower said pitcher and share the contents.  That’s the reason for this blog.  Pouring out what God has given me to share.  That’s the reason for my life.  That’s what living out God’s calling means to me.

And that’s the deal with the pitcher.

 

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Tin Man (Woman)

This little dietary exploration has been fun for me so far.  I’m feeling a little like the Tin Man who just needed some parts oiled and was able to move again.  By simply paying a little attention to what’s going on, I’ve been able to have some little successes.  Yesterday, for example, I noticed a slight hunger sensation and went ahead and had a small snack since I had an appointment that delayed my lunchtime.  That way I wasn’t ravenous at lunch so was able to have a reasonable portion and stop when full.  I’ve also noticed thirst playing a part in the way I feel.  I’m definitely not drinking enough water.

I downloaded a handy period tracker app for my phone (sorry fellas) and it has lots of cool features that help track cravings, moods, and other symptoms.  I played around with that a little and it’s been interesting to note my cravings and moods and their relation to my cycle and stress level.  It’s helpful to notice that how I’m feeling physically and emotionally has a profound effect on my appetite.  A little preparation can go a long way I would imagine, especially when I know a vulnerable time is coming. 

Another drip from the oil can fell on the part of me that knows food isn’t an adequate comfort mechanism.  I suppose it isn’t enough to be aware that I use food for comfort, but I must be further aware that food ISN’T DOING A GOOD JOB.  There is a much more perfect Source of comfort and He (God) is always available in plentiful supply.  That knowledge has made me want to turn to food a little less…  I know God and the glimpses I’ve had of His majesty make food seem like a pretty dumb substitute when I could have Him.

I’m feeling more able to “move” and function in a healthy way, especially since I’ve focused less on the food and more on my rationale.  Another drop from the oil can fell on my brain, I guess.  So I’ve noticed it makes a difference when I’m thinking about what I’m doing rather than making mindless decisions.

I had a stressful phone conversation at work and was startled to notice that my first thought upon hanging up the phone was “I need chocolate.”  Hmmm….  I didn’t refuse myself the chocolate, but I got up and walked around the building outside to breathe some fresh air and clear my head, telling myself I’d get something if I still wanted it after I walked.  The few moments diversion worked and I was onto another task that presented itself when a resident stopped me for conversation.  I forgot about the chocolate, but learned a little lesson from that.

Hmmm…   I’m still not going on a diet.  Still not even setting a weight loss goal.  But I feel like progress is being made.

 

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Continue to Grow

Thanksgiving night our table was crowded with people, lingering over coffee and pie, laughing loudly at this story or that one, even crying a little.  Kids ran around, fought over toys, and asked for more ice cream.  Inside, I felt sad.  I missed my mom and dad, my sister and brother.  My inner pity party was practically a rave when I realized something…

My table just then looked remarkably like the one at my mom’s house.  The laughter, the stories, the noise of playing kids sounded just like the ones often shared and heard around my parents’ table for as long as I can remember.  Some of my sweetest memories are of my family and a few friends lingering around the table long after our stomachs were full , telling stories, laughing hard and loud.  Daddy always had a story or joke, and we’d all get started and before you knew it, the hour was late and we were all nearly ready to eat again.  There might be an occasional political debate or deep theological discussion, especially as we all grew up and began to wrestle with those things for ourselves.  Family legends (all true, of course) were passed down to another generation, friends were turned into family, and I’d wager some hearts were mended in the process.

I wasn’t at that table this year, but I had created another just like it.  There was, there is, something special at that old table we’ve gathered around for so long.  Though it nearly breaks my heart to be away from that place, I’m realizing that I’m never truly away from there.  I’ve taken that special something and brought it over seven hundred miles away to share it with more people who need the comfort and love it brings.

Around our table this year was a couple whose grown children are far away, a single mom with her two kids, another family of our dearest friends who live life along with us, and of course our family of five.  Me, Dwayne, and three great kids.  Hmmmm…. three kids.  Sounds like another family of five, only I was one of the three kids.  In what is, I think, the ultimate parenting success, my mom and dad raised children with generous doses of God’s love, laughter, and friendship.  And that love is so big, so strong, that I’ll never have to leave it behind.  It simply expands far enough to reach wherever God places me.  Now that I’m grown, I carry that love with me, pouring it into my own kids who will one day have tables just like that old one I grew up with.  Who knows where they’ll be, but the same love of God will surround them, just as it did at my mom and dad’s and just as it does at ours.

This is how it happens, the day-to-day sharing of our faith and His love.  This is how it expands, how it travels around the world.  This is my mother and father’s goals accomplished and me on the way to accomplishing mine.

Maybe I couldn’t be with my dad, my mom, my sister, and my brother this year.  But I took what I share with them and spread it generously around my own home, and in that way I was very much with them and always will be.  Some things need never end, thank God.  They only continue to grow.

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