Thursday, April 24, 2014

Distraction

I have always considered myself a very focused person. I made good grades, I finished things I started - mostly. There is still 4 rows of knitting that were supposed to become a toboggan 14 years ago. Can't seem to unravel it. And there's my point... I'm really not all that good at focusing.

So many glorious things have happened in this past year. But I lost focus on Him yet again. He has redeemed, renewed, restored, rebuilt, re-everythinged my life. And still I am Doug from "Up" chasing the squirrels of this world.

I'm am so easily distracted. Oh my word, so easily distracted. But I don't think it's because I have diagnosable attention issues. At least not according to the DSM-V.

No, I'm distracted because I take my eyes off Jesus.

In the post that preceded this I used a verse from Hebrews 12 - "let us fix our eyes on Jesus..."
Please note that the previous post is now over a year old. Could it be that I got a bit distracted again? Um, yes.

Until the past two weeks. It started on another Palm Sunday.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Who is this you are making me?

It is a quiet rainy Sunday morning - Palm Sunday. This is the week before the world could finally be reconciled to it's Creator through the perfect sacrifice of Christ. It is a time of great reflection.

Reflection has been the theme of the past nine months of my life. In late July of last year everything that I thought was secure began to fall apart. Looking back, the crumbling began years before. But I couldn't see it. I was blind. I lived in fear. The most deceptive kind of fear. The fear that if I didn't do life on my own, my way, and in my timing that I would be a complete failure.

I was a hamster on a wheel. Spinning spinning spinning, going no where, and wearing myself out in the process. The irony is that all of this self-fueled effort was the real failure.

The wheel came to a screeching halt last summer. God did not intend for me to live the life of a hamster on a wheel, in a cage. He intended me to live a life of beautiful freedom in Him.

I had ignored His still small voice for too long. So He did what any good parent does. He loved me enough to let me fall. He knew that I would not listen until every false source of security was ripped away.

He literally threw me off the wheel, out of the cage I had built, and into the big scary world. The false sense of security I had developed over the course of many years quickly revealed itself as well.... false.

Much of my reflection in the months since has been a sorting out of what is false and what is true. The Truth versus the lies. I want to share more of that in the days and weeks to come and I think I might be ready to do just that. I've started to do that a few times on this blog, but I've never shared the full story.

That's a little scary. But not nearly as scary as living like a hamster in a cage.

Now that we've established that I'm not a hamster - yeah. Who is this He is making me to be? That's a question that Beth Moore asked during her Simulcast on September 15, 2012. There were 7 points within that talk. The one that has me in reflection today is number 6:

"Faith rests its case on the resurrection of the dead." 

Yes it does.

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of throne of God." 
Hebrews 12:2

That verse has run through my mind more often that I could dare to count during these months. Through His resurrection I too am resurrected. I have real life because of Him. No more hamster on a wheel. It's a life of daring adventure and excitement around every corner. It's freedom.

Life is actually not complicated when we truly "fix our eyes." It gets complicated when we focus on anything else. Not only does it get complicated, it gets constricted because our own worries and fears create boundless limits to what we think can happen.

Beth Moore's follow-up to point 6:

"All bets are off... He can do anything."

And oh my word... the anything has left me breathless lately. What took years to nearly destroy, God has redeemed and restored in nine short months. I want to share more of that with you and I pray for the courage to do so.


I hope you too have had time to be quiet and reflect on this Sunday.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Transition

I have been unemployed for a little over two months. Please don't lament for me, this was my choice. I'll admit, I have questioned my decision at times, but for the majority of the past 9ish weeks I have been quite content to break away from a high pressure full-time job.

Now, I'm supposed to be writing feverishly on my dissertation during this time. I'm getting there.

What I did not realize (and have never realized for that matter) is that major life changes don't often lend themselves well to jumping from one high pressure situation into another. There is a very real, very tangible, very necessary place for transition.

Hmm... that's actually the focus of my dissertation. Students with disabilities who are in transition from school to work. That's funny, I had not intention of that coming out or connecting when I started this blog post. The first title was going to be "Rediscovering and Redefining" and then that sentence came out. That's how He works though. Love Him.

So I'm in transition. I'm healing. I'm sipping my coffee a little longer and reading the local newspaper each morning. I have the time to make a shopping list based on the 3 sale papers of grocery stores I like. I'm meeting friends for lunch. I'm listening more. I could go on and on and on.....

And I will, tomorrow.

But right now I am leaving the public library because a sweet neighbor friend of my parents just walked in and as we chatted it turns out she needs to go to the same grocery store I do. And on a recent trip to Memphis she picked up something she'd like to give them and I'm going to journey with her.




Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Day 31: Found at the Cemetery

I know, it's not exactly a catchy or cute title for today's post. But hey, it's Halloween so maybe it is mildly appropriate. 

I went by another cemetery today. I took my dad a few weeks ago so that we could leave flowers at his parents' and grandparents' (my grandparents' and great grandparents') graves. This is not something that we do often - or really at all. But in my recent return home I have the overwhelming urge to learn about and from my past.

Here's a picture of my great grandparents:



Daisy & Horace
c. 1906


Horace rode across the mountain from Tennessee into North Carolina on a horse for like 20ish miles just to court Daisy. Can you imagine?

And here is their fourth child, my grandmother.



Merill
c. 1938


She was 28 in this picture and already had four children of her own. She drove her entire life without ever obtaining a license. At some point in the late 70s or early 80s she was pulled over and cited by a city policeman, but she still did not get her license. 

And here is a picture of her parents, Horace and Daisy, in their later years. Many many many exciting, strange, scary, miraculous, sad, joyous, and lovely things happened between that picture from 1906 and this picture in 1965. 


Horace & Daisy
c. 1965


I hope I can write about these things some day. Growing up I heard many hilarious stories about these family members. After all, when folks are gone we want to retell the joyous and the funny things right? Nothing wrong with that. There's a host of things about this side of my family that I want to cement into my memory and into the traditions I create with my family.

But there's more to a person's life than the happy. There's the sad. There's the generational behaviors or tendencies (and sometimes sin) that happened too. There's the stuff that if left unmentioned and ignored may be repeated for generations to come. I don't intend to go on some gossip finding mission or anything - not at all. But in listening to stories and events I have started to "hear" things differently and wonder.

And when I look at myself, my family, and my decisions I can't help noticing some striking similarities. Some make me laugh. Others make me cry.

Today when I removed the dead flowers I stared at my maiden name on my grandparents grave. How do I want my family's name to be remembered? What part of "us" do I want to live on and what part of of "us" must die in order that He might live? I guess I can't ask those questions in the plural. I can't decide what other family members will do with our heritage.

But I can make that choice myself. Hmm... wrong again. I'd rather He make those choices, whisper them to my heart, and then I obey.

More to come...

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Days 27, 28, 29 and 30: Found in the Small

I have the general feeling of being small lately. I can't say that I welcomed this feeling. By "small" I do not mean anything regarding an actual or tangible size to anything. I just mean the opposite of the generally large/overwhelming/often-times all-consuming things of this life.

I used to have a "big" job. I frantically worked to establish and improve my image in my field. I made presentations, dressed older than my age, and wrote about survey results and such. And I talked about it a lot.

Now I have no job. Doesn't get much smaller than "none." In fact, I've been turned down for every job that I have applied for in 10 months. Makes me feel quite small.

I can no longer end my days looking back on the previous 8 to 10 hours patting myself on the back for a great presentation, a finished report, or kudos from my employer or coworkers. While none of those are bad things in and of themselves I now realize how much I depended on my "big" job to define me.
I'm actually more joyful and peaceful in my current unemployment than I ever was in my job.

And it's not just the lack of a job that makes me feel small. I also do not live in my own house. Instead, I reside in a small guest room at my aunt's house. The clothes I brought take up one side of a small closet and three dresser drawers. Seriously - that's it. My schedule (or lack of) also makes me feel small. I literally spent about 10 minutes this morning putting "library" into the next 6 weeks of my calendar so that it would say something.

All this smallness has left me a lot of time to pray and listen. I purposely did not say "think." Inordinate amounts of time "thinking" out of my own devices (aka "my flesh") never go well for me. No... that's actually speaks more to the largeness of myself and my ideas. And we're talking about being small today. So I'm learning to embrace this "more of Him, less of me" way of life.

And that makes me feel small in a very cool way.



Friday, October 26, 2012

Day 26: Found in Fish

I was going to title this one "Found in Salmon Patties" - but I just couldn't.  However, there ya go, it's the first line.

Two days ago I made salmon patties in an effort to use what was available in the pantry instead of buying new groceries. I truly love these fishy things. Apparently they were a staple if you grew up in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. I did not grow up then, but my parents are older and as such I grew up taking part in older traditions.

It had been a very very long time since I had made these so I followed a recipe. I then had the bright idea to share my leftovers with a family member. This person loves these fishy treats as well. So when I called to thank this person for the food items they left in exchange (their idea not mine), I was surprised to discover that a compliment and rave reviews were not in order. Nope. What did I get?

Person:  "What did you think of them? Did you like them?"
Me:  "Yes."
Person:  "Did you think they tasted like your mom's?"
Me:  "Um... I actually liked mine a lot. I've not had my mom's in like 10 plus years. I don't know. I'm sure hers were better. Most things she makes are."
Person:  "Yeah, I thought so. Can I offer you some suggestions should you make them again?"
Me:  "Sure."

Really? Why do some people only offer up a healthy dose of criticism at every possible opportunity? I was trying to do something nice. I've actually avoided this person a lot lately for this very reason. Then the minute I go out on a limb and try... that's what I get.

And then to myself I say "Really? You're going to let salmon patty criticism ruin your evening? Really? Are you that insecure?"

Yes, yes I am. There are moments when my flesh is that weak.

And then I laughed a lot. At the entire situation.

And then my husband showed up the next night as I was just finishing up the last salmon patty leftover. Another "Really?" We're trying to mend things and the night he shows up I'm parked in front of the television with a TV tray smelling of canned fish. Really I say?"

And then I laughed a lot - again.

Thank you for finding me in fish Jesus.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Days 23, 24, and 25: Found in No Surprises

During these months, weeks, days, and minutes of being found I keep being reminded of something a dear person prayed over me:

"Jesus, this is not a surprise to you."

Truly, there are absolutely no surprises for Him. None. 

The possible "perfect storm" brewing out in the Atlantic - He sees it coming. He already knows the outcome. The exact path. Every molecule of seawater that it will move. 

The "perfect storms" of relationships, illness, and loss -  He also sees those coming. And He already knows the outcome. The exact path we will take. Every tear we will cry. Every word we will yell. Every cancer cell and healthy cell that chemo will destroy. Every relationship that it will alter. 

These storms often do not meet our expectations of fairness. My human mind cannot reason its way through to understanding the purpose of it all. Asking why and wondering to what end is a normal default. It's how our human minds are trained.

I'm a little over being "normal" by human standards though. Normal has not served me well. Normal reasons, figures out, blames, wallows, turns inward, and becomes a victim. Normal is exhausting.

Instead, I'm craving the foolish default setting. The wisdom of heaven is often seen as foolishness in the eyes of this world. Such foolishness trusts, walks it out, commends, praises, reaches out, and becomes a victor. Foolishness is exhilarating. 

Now please understand, I am by no means an expert on embracing the foolish and forsaking the normal. No, I'm just learning these lessons. And I will continue to learn them for the rest of this earthly life. But in the moments of clarity when I listen long enough to hear Him whisper, "I'm not surprised by this" I have found the sweetest rest. Instead of dwelling on the circumstance He has reminded me of His indwelling Spirit. And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 

Where is the Spirit of the Lord? In me.
What else is found in that place? Freedom.

So I can live in freedom. 

Freedom.

Freedom from fear, blame, doubt, depression, apathy, rage, malice, and on and on and on and on. 

No matter what storms swirl around me, these things cannot hold me captive. They will not conquer me. I am more than a conquerer. 

He has marked out the race already. No twists, turns, rain, sunshine, valleys, Alp like climbs, speed bumps, or even face plants on the pavement will shock Him. 

And because He is in me... they don't have to shock me either. 

Again, this is a new way of thinking and behaving for me. As I type it I fully expect to trip on my walk back to my car and literally face plant in the parking lot.

But... what if this kind of thinking became our default setting? Can you imagine?