Wednesday, February 08, 2017

My Facebook Break-Up

Six weeks ago I had a 24 hour bug--nothing serious, just the kind of viral illness that makes you feel lethargic and causes your head hurt when you move. It was a cold late December day so I sat on the sofa in front of the fire and surfed television and the Internet all day. I gorged on media until I was overstuffed.

All that free time with my face in a screen had led me down all sorts of rabbit trails "checking on" people on the fringes of my real everyday life--estranged family, friends I have fallen out of touch with, young women from hard places I have mentored in the past. I peeked into the tinted window of their lives social media allowed and was left feeling sick. I was deeply concerned by some of the struggles I saw in their pictures and posts, but recognized much of that was based on assumptions and filling in gaps between what they said and what I interpreted. I had a handful of people I wanted to reach out to and try to re-engage, but couldn't decide if peeking in their windows gave me a right to be heard.  I felt frustrated and empty.

I woke up the next morning with what I can only describe as a social media hangover. Never had the truth that social media is not the same as real life two-way, person-to-person relationships been more clear to me. I realized I was spending lots of time "peeking in" on people that could have been used to truly enter in with people God had put in my everyday real life.

In one overwhelming moment of clarity, I knew it was time to deactivate my Facebook account. I didn't think it through, I simply obeyed the fire in my belly--knowing deactivation doesn't have to be forever. When and if I feel led to go back, all my info, years of posts and accumulated contacts will still be there. I kept my messenger account so I can still reach out to folks whose contact info I do not otherwise have saved in my phone. It felt scary but right.

I am absolutely NOT a Facebook hater. Frankly, for years I defended it to my friends who had previously defected. I truly felt called there to be salt and light--to post blog entries, uplifting articles, and self-deprecating humor. It was a ministry of sorts. But in the same way I felt a sense of purpose in staying, I suddenly felt peace and freedom in leaving.

I haven't left every media...my Instagram (photos) and Twitter (articles) activity is still high. I don't know that my Facebook departure is forever. But for this season it is a very good thing. God has used the break to teach me a lot.

When I have the urge to "check on" people or connect, I text, e-mail, message or call the person...often with a simple, "Have you on my heart," "praying for you," or direct question like, "how are you?" The response is all the confirmation I need that humans long for personal, meaningful offline connection.

When I read something that moves me I try to text or email it to the specific people God leads me to share it with--or blanket ones go on twitter. :-) This, too, has caused me to pause and remember the specific issues real people in my life are walking through. My relationships while fewer, are so much richer.

And all these difficult, hotly debated political issues...those conversations are so much more productive, informative and helpful over coffee, a Bible or a meal. Seriously.

Honestly, I've re-activated my account a handful of times--and on each occasion, it has lasted less than 5 minutes. It is as if my relational tastebuds have changed. I am hungry now for fewer surface announcements and headlines and more meaningful, personal contact with people seeking to understand and be understood. 

Yesterday, I listened to a wonderful talk Jill Briscoe delivered at If Gathering and it seemed to reiterate the same message. 

"The place between your own two feet at any given time, that's your mission field." -Jill Briscoe

This is the call. Stop scanning for the next best thing. Look right here in front of you. The place where God has planted your two feet is your ministry. We are to be present here--with THESE people--the ones in your home, workplace, grocery store, church, neighborhood, city, the ones whose paths He has sovereignly ordained to intersect your yours. 

"Go where you are sent. Stay where you are put. Give what you've got until you are done." -Jill Briscoe

Maybe in your season and station, social media is a part of your call. Maybe it isn't. But as for me, I am Facebook free and it is very good.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Notes from the Field (Observations of a Middle School Mama)


I have never had the desire to go skydiving, but I have done my share of adventure ropes courses. Part of the thrill of these types of activities is the fear. You know you are participating in something dangerous--and even though all sorts of protection is worn and utilized there is the realization that from time to time there are still terrible outcomes.

Engaging the various obstacles is challenging--and the feeling you have as you complete each implement is a mixture of accomplishment that you made it through and dread at what the next task will involve. I think this is an adequate metaphor for my current status as middle school Mom.

My children returned to school last week to their second semester of 6th. How in the world can it be that I will have three teenagers in 4 months?

It is hard for most people to even say "middle school" or "teenagers" without groans. I'm reading everything I can get my hands on about the developmental stage we are entering. I know to brace myself for the turbulence on the horizon. I have three preteens who are growing and changing emotionally, physically, spiritually and intellectually. I am under no illusions that this will be clean and smooth. I know there will be bumps and bruises as we go through this awkward phase--and that to try and protect against that would be depriving us all of the growth, change and maturity that is necessary.

But, right now? Right here? Life is good. I love experiencing my people at this age. I mean REALLY, truly. I am enjoying almost every minute.

As a mama who goes through each age/stage/grade three different ways with three different people at the same time, I have always strived to savor the present. This often involves choosing to accept the annoying parts of a stage in order to focus on what is good and rich.

I don't get most of the middle school humor. I am not interested in becoming a Pokemon expert. Bottle flipping drives me crazy. We have a long way to go with hygiene, manners and self control, but we are in a good place.

None of my three are active on social media yet. Crushes aren't a thing. Skin is still clear. Friends are not yet eating each other alive. Emotions and attitudes are mostly in check and when they are not, we talk about it. Conversation lines are open--and they are rapid fire doozies!

Over meals and during car rides we are having talks that are so rich, so real and so very important. Just this week, gender identity, racism, hormones, euthanasia, depression/suicide, politics and evolution. Whew!! Here's the thing: I am so glad we are discussing all this. Yes, the pressure is on in car rides to make sure I am ready for any conversation that may unfold, but I want to be the source they are coming to about these issues. Blowing these subjects off or covering them up because I am uncomfortable will simply send a message to my children to get their questions answered elsewhere. I don't know all the answers and I tell them so when I think I need a timeout to collect my thoughts. But, honestly, the talks we are having are my favorite part of being their Mama.

So, to the Mamas coming behind me this is my advice from what I am seeing here in the beginning trenches: Fear Not, but pray up! I wasn't sure how I was supposed to use my downtime now that my children are increasingly independent, but I can now see it is for reading, equipping, consulting with older Godly Mamas, alignment with my husband and recuperation so that in the time we do have together in the mornings, evenings and weekends I can be physically and emotionally present and ready for whatever is fired my way.

It is important to set aside your own anxieties about this age and stage. Confess it to God, pray through it, get support, but don't transfer it onto your kids. I am noticing that for many of the most anxious mamas these things become self-fulfilling. Their anxiety/fears/wounds from their own adolescences can unwittingly set their kids off on that course. Let your tweens start to stretch their wings in semi-controlled ways, then show up and coach them on the playing fields they are choosing.

At the end of every quality high ropes course is a free fall drop or swing of some sort. The moment before you pull the release or step off the edge are the height of fear. You must look down and realize what is about to happen. I feel as if this is where I stand in parenting. I know the days are coming where we all step off and trust that our Heavenly Father's protections are going to hold--but there will still be a jolt.

Last week I had to circle back with my children on a conversation I felt like I had flubbed. As I brought it back up I said, "I feel like I might have messed that conversation up because I was nervous and scared. You know, you haven't ever been 12 year olds before and I just started parenting kids this age. With God's help, we can do this. We won't be perfect, but if we keep talking we can help each other through it."

The smiles on all three faces were all the affirmation I needed that authentic conversation, patience and love and going to be powerful tools as we navigate these waters.

These are the days...

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Foxes

Saturday night was New Year's Eve but with a Daddy on trauma call and a viral bug that had kept me feeling bad all day, our plans were for a quiet evening at home. The boys and I watched football during the afternoon while Ryland was at work and Kate was with a friend. The family was reunited for dinner, then we enjoyed a little sofa pile/movie time before sending everyone off to bed around 9:30.

Kate came downstairs during the bedtime preparations and told me she wanted to go outside and check on the bunny since she had been away most of the day. Ever the conscientious pet owner, she wanted to refill his water supply and assure his comfort in the outdoor hutch during a rainy drizzle.

About 30 seconds after she went outside, I heard her howling cry as she rushed back into the house. My husband and I jumped up and followed the sounds of hysterical tears. We collided with a terrified Kate in the dining room.
"Something got, Bear," she sobbed, "The hutch is destroyed. He's gone."
My husband and I exchanged panicked looks as we ran outside into the rain and darkness.
As Kate had described, the hutch was indeed mangled. Two entire sections of wire paneling had been pulled back and three wooden planks had been pried off the structure.
The bunny was not in the hutch.
"He's so fast and so smart," I hopefully offered. "I'll bet he is hiding safely under the storage shed."
As the words came from my mouth Ryland tersely instructed us to get out of the rain and go back inside. I knew from his tone he had insight into the situation and we should heed his advice.

The commotion drew RyGuy back downstairs. Although Bear officially belongs to Kate, RyGuy has also taken a strong interest. He craves responsibility and has a soft spot for animals. He frequently feeds the bunny as a favor to his sister and faithfully checks on him daily. As we caught RyGuy up on the situation, the concern on his face was immediate. He quickly pulled on shoes and straightened his shoulders into a masculine rescue stance.
"I'll get a flashlight and help Dad find him. I know the places he likes to hide."

Ryland came back in the house with a face full of dread. Kate wrapped herself around him like a spider monkey as he picked her up for comfort. She buried her face in his neck and over her dark curly head he shot me a look that instantly conveyed Bear had not survived.

We broke the news to Kate and RyGuy. Their pained responses were enough to beckon Parker, our resident introvert, back downstairs from the comfort of from his nighttime book and bed. I was forced to deliver the traumatic news all over again.

The next half hour was painful and tender as we cried and hugged and talked about love and loss. Kate wanted to understand every detail. The fact that she and her Daddy had spent hours selecting and building the hutch for the rabbit's protection added an additional layer of pain. What kind of predator was likely to blame? Did Bear experience a painful death or could he have died of fear? What type of injuries did he appear to sustain? Where was he left? When do we think it happened?

Ryland tried to be more stoic--pressing his fingers into the corners of his eyes to stop the tears. He blamed himself because he had been the last one to see the bunny alive. He confessed that he had a fearful feeling following a nightmare earlier in the week of something dark crashing into the hutch and killing the bunny.

Parker expressed his broken heart openly through painful wails. After a few minutes he rose to retrieve a journal where he wrote an epitaph and attempted to cheer us up with his quirky sense of humor stating "Well, 2016 has managed to take another victim."

Around 10:30 we were finally able to get everyone settled down for bed. Ryland and I were then left to deal with our own emotions and questions. We eventually settled on a theory that it must have been a fox that struck the hutch. We felt violated, sad and angry. Not only had we lost a beloved pet, but our kids had been hurt deeply in the process. Then the second guessing ensued. How had we allowed this to happen? Had we been foolish to leave the bunny outside? In 6 months of bunny raising we had felt no threat of predators. Shouldn't we have known better? We had invested in a fine and sturdy hutch. What more could we have done?

As I laid down and attempted to find rest I couldn't help but think about how this marks a new stage of parenting. When our children were younger we could tightly control their environments, severely limit their exposure to harmful threats--but they are now entering a period of adolescence where figurative (and, I suppose, literal) foxes are lurking. We identify and prepare for as many threats as possible, but there are things we can't predict.

We pray. We plan. We talk. We love. We protect. And yet, we cannot guard against everything.




When I posted about Bear's death on Instagram several people messaged me with their own memories of the traumatic loss of a pet at about this same age. I remembered my devastation at age 13 as I found our cat, Patches, surrounded by the feathers of my parakeet, PJ. Like Kate, I had purchased him with my own money and been fiercely protective. And like Bear, PJ had fallen victim in one rare moment of opportunity when a predator could pounce.  

2016 has been full of goodbyes for us--my Grandmother, three foster children and in the last 2 hours of the year, a beloved pet. Love followed by the heartache of loss and grief is a part of the human condition. We cannot spare our children the very pain and life lessons that will be used to mature them into thinking, feeling, compassionate adults, but even that truth doesn't make it feel any better. 

Yet, as we sat together in the family room sharing our grief--loving each other through it-- I realized even if protecting against all hurt were possible, it would also mean blocking moments like these. The bittersweet times when we get to put all these years of loving, intentional investment to work by being each other's soft place to land are foundational for future relational needs.

I am reminded again that adolescence is a different season, but one God has been working us steadily towards. Our parental roles are shifting. As our children bud into young adulthood we have a choice: We can try to protect them from life or prepare them for life...including the times when the sneaky foxes break our hearts.

I am so grateful for my faith that God created every life in this family for His purposes--all of this is training ground for what lies ahead. So we lean into Him, trust His Hand and love the hearts He has entrusted to this home. Even when it hurts. 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Christmas Story

Wednesday afternoon my Kate came panting breathlessly into the kitchen. "There's a puppy. He looks lost and lonely and afraid. He's so little....and cuuuute. I can't catch him. Can you help me?"

Animals, outdoors and adventures are the trifecta for my girl. My heart beats for the orphaned and forgotten--and for quality time/adventures initiated by my children. I suppose I don't have to tell you how I responded.

I dashed out the door behind her, down our driveway, across the street and two houses over to the right. As Kate led she shouted "the last time I saw him he was in these bushes." I found myself creeping along the property line of three houses in our neighborhood. One home is currently uninhabited, but there were gardeners trimming branches. They confirmed they had also seen the pup. The other two homes' residents are elderly and don't get out much. I imagined they might be peering from their windows preparing to either call the authorities to report prowlers or deciding that the woman with so many animals and children had finally lost her marbles.

Just when I was preparing to suggest we wrap up our adventure Kate shouted, "I see him!"
I ducked under overgrown fruit tree branches and squatted beneath some shrubbery next to her. She pointed to a dark pile of fluff with two dull and frightened eyes. The pup was 3-4 feet from us, literally burrowed deep in ivy with his back against a wooden fence. As we moved towards him he wiggled under the fence and disappeared.

We dashed back to the house for a brother to help and a slice of turkey to entice, but our search for him was futile.

Kate has mentioned the puppy a few times in the last couple of days...worrying for his safety and wondering if we would ever see him again. I assumed someone had taken him in.

Around 1:30 this afternoon little Ryland and I ran out for a last minute elfing errand. As we were turning back into our driveway he shouted, "Mom! The puppy!" I followed the direction of his pointed fingers and saw the timid animal scurrying across the road and up the hill from our house.

I turned the car quickly to the left and up the hill. We hurriedly parked on the curb, driver's door open and flashers blinking as we followed the pup down the driveway of yet another neighbor. He ran into their carport and found a hiding place under their front left bumper, huddled close to the tire.

This time I decided to ring the doorbell and let the homeowner know we were tracking a pup, lest we find ourselves in a trespassing bind. She kindly offered to help us coax the pup out using a bit of hamburger I had in my car.

As we pulled into the driveway of our house RyGuy held the pup--who turned out to be a girl--close. I ran in and excitedly told Kate, Parker and Daddy Ryland to come and see what we had brought home. My husband said sarcastically, "Let me guess. It's puppy." Well, actually...

The rest of the afternoon became a full-time job--trying to find a home for this sweet, timid little girl. To borrow a phrase from my friend Amanda, "our ark is full," of cats, dogs and a bunny. I just knew in my gut she was meant to be under someone's Christmas tree! I fielded calls, facebook messages and even drove over an hour round trip for someone to meet her to see if she would be a good fit for their family. We bathed her and thought of as many possible homes to contact as we could. Then it was time to dress and go to church.

During our Christmas Eve service tonight, Parker was distraught. In loud whispers, he kept leaning over to me, "What is going to happen to her? I know we can't keep her, but I don't want to take her to Animal Control."

I prayed. I reminded the children to pray. We fielded a few calls on the way to our fancy Waffle House dinner. We showed her photos to several fellow diners. I told the children what I was begging God to be true, "There will be a family that's just right for her. We just have to keep praying and wait and see."

We set a bed up in a kennel for her outside. (It is 58 degrees here.) And then I got a glorious text. Through word of mouth someone had heard about the puppy and Santa is going to deliver it to their little boy tonight. The mutual friend was kind enough to send a photo of the boy with Santa for my children to rejoice over--and then she told me the kicker--this sweet child had been adopted from foster care a few years ago by people who worked with my husband a decade ago.

Our orphaned puppy will be brought in the family for this adopted child--on the birthday of our sweet Jesus. The little boy won't ever forget this Christmas--and neither will we. Our God is certainly one of details--and when we are willing to put ourselves out there, to set aside our agendas or conveniences, He will let us have a front row seat to the Glory of His rescue business.
What a precious picture of seeking, finding, pursuing, caring, trusting and rejoicing as the lost find their way home. This is the way of our Heavenly Father. This is Christmas.

Friday, December 02, 2016

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Rather than the traditional turkey and dressing, we left the country during Thanksgiving Break for eight days of history, adventure and family time in Italy. It was amazing. We made fantastic memories and returned the Sunday night after Thanksgiving with full bellies and overflowing hearts. We were exhausted but grateful--and ready to wrap up November and start looking towards Christmas.

When I woke up (at 4 am with jetlag) Monday morning, I was shocked back into 'real life' by feeling very, very behind. Every social media post was someone's beautifully decorated Christmas tree, their trip to see Santa, wrapped gifts...and seven different e-mails about various secret Santa, dirty Santa and unwrapped toys I needed to send within the week. As I picked up my mail there were holiday cards! I felt my joy being sucked away before the season had a proper start.

It seemed I had been in some sort of time warp. We had left a week prior to Thanksgiving and came home to full-on cultural Christmas. But, the calendar still said November. I had pumpkins placed around my home. My Christmas decorations are all right where I left them packed on December 31, 2015. I haven't even selected a photo for cards.

Maybe it is because I usually get gradually sucked into the vortex like everyone else (and am more prepared) that I haven't experienced this before, but my eyes and heart almost stung as I observed the grateful spirited people I left now frenzied. Every friend I encountered mentioned feeling overwhelmed, stressed and behind...and it wasn't even December! I felt grumpy and frustrated--like my own holiday had been hijacked before it started. Then I got a spirit check.

Monday, as I tried to make lists and plans to catch up on life PLUS Christmas a received a handful of different requests from people in my life for real help--- help finding placement for a young mother fleeing an abusive situation, friends experiencing grief who wanted to talk, work that needed to be done for our local children's home, celebrating the artisanship of a friend being used to raise money for an important ministry, an overwhelmed parent who needed time and space to talk through issues and a spouse who needed me to take his car to Atlanta for an electrical issue to be addressed.

All of these things were important--and time-consuming. I looked at my calendar and realized the requests would push my Christmas To Do list out even further--and I felt sick. Then I heard the whisper in my heart "When you can't see my people because of the frenzy of your list, you have missed the whole point."

None of the things on my list had anything to do with the Christian celebration of Christmas. They were not bad. They were fun, sweet, well-intentioned and festive--but they were distractions from the heart of the season. I made a vow to myself--not to scrap 'traditional' Christmas--but to put Advent before commercial Christmas.

I decided at each invitation or crossroad I would ask myself if this was drawing me closer to the true spirit of the season or farther away. I committed to not let the world's expectations of what our Christmas should look like to distract me from what I know and believe about the birth of Christ.

Advent is about His coming and entering into a messy, frenzied world that had lost sight of God. Considering how I had been feeling, this seems to be exactly the year for me to reclaim that spirit of the season. So, I made a plan for how we could tackle the tree acquisition, the shopping, the decorating, the celebrating--and maybe cards. Then I set my face on showing up for the true needs of the people in my life--following Jesus example of entering into the real life messiness of a frenzied humanity as my own celebration of Advent.

"Your ability to love is directly tied to your willingness to be inconvenienced." -Ann Voskamp

Ironically, this renewed commitment meant I spent yesterday, the first day of Advent, driving 3.5 hours round trip to have my husband's car repaired. While I waited, I went to a large nearby shopping mall to try and find gifts for a few people on my list. Being a small town girl for the last 14 years, the Mall is not a place I often find myself. As I walked through chain stores, admiring the glittery wares and trying to find meaningful gifts, it certainly felt like an ironic start to my refocused celebration of the season.

We serve a God who promises that when we seek Him we will find Him--and that's exactly what happened in the hallowed walls of Pottery Barn. I only had a couple of things and there were two people in front of me, but the wait for check out was almost 15 minutes due to computer issues, a complicated return and a customer who required an inordinate amount of service. I shifted back and forth several times, but somehow managed to keep my growing impatience under control. When it was finally my turn at the register, the young man helping me didn't even look up. He was clearly stressed only one hour into the store opening. He was determined to check me out as quickly as possible as an apology for my long wait time.

As he sighed while trying to find the barcode to scan I said hopefully "It's the most wonderful time of the year."
The clerk stopped what he was doing and looked directly into my eyes, exhaled and said, "It is, isn't it?"
I told him that I was repeating that as a claim...that I had committed to not allowing pressures and expectations rob my joy and his eyes sparkled. "Yes, I agree."
Then he laughed and said, "I just told my co-workers in our morning meeting to remember we are selling home accessories, we are not curing cancer here. It is all about perspective."
"It's the most wonderful time of the year," I repeated.
His eyes twinkled as he said, "Thank you. You just changed the course of my whole day."

And that conversation solidified the course of my Advent. People before lists. Period.

I pray God will keep me in this posture, the one His Son assumed, humble service in a frenzied world. I am human and know I will stumble through it, but I am going to try.

Let's take our eyes of the list and focus them on the eyes of those around us. What do the hearts that cross our path really need from us--another $10 candle, or to be seen, acknowledged and cared about? I want to remember what it means to BE a true gift.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

A Bike Grease Gospel

Last week I started Ann Voskamp's newest book, The Broken Way. As is my preference, I was listening on Audible during my solo car time and while performing otherwise mindless chores around the house. When I realized I had already clipped and noted 6-7 things in the first three chapters, I pressed pause until I could get a physical copy to mark up. My daily household chores now have me listening with the hardcover book and a pen nearby.

In the book, Ann describes how she started drawing a small cross on her wrist in ink every day as a reminder to die daily to self as Christ laid down his own life for us. I did it one morning last week and was surprised to find how often during the day that small inky cross served as a touchstone, perspective shift, and a Gospel reminder. While I am not prone to ritual, something about this practice really resonated with me.

For the last 7-8 days I have taken a moment in the morning to quietly re-commit myself to the Lord and then scribbled a rudimentary cross--two lines across my veiny wrist as a simple act of remembrance.

Tuesday morning I rose earlier than usual to prepare for the day. We were all dragging a bit as a result of being up late for Trick or Treating and my husband coming, going and taking phone calls into the wee hours with call night responsibilities. My children had projects due, presentations to make, and I had a couple of important events scheduled. After dropping them at school I had only 25 minutes to regroup before a coffee with a new foster parent who was struggling and in need of a listening ear. Immediately following that meeting I was leading a small group Bible study in my home before a friend was coming by to help me with another project.

Just as I walked back in the house to breathe, mark my wrist and shift into adult/ministry mode, I received a call from the school. On the other end of the line was my Kate.
"Mom, I forgot I needed my bike today. Could you bring it?"

Kate is a very responsible 12-year-old who packs her own gear, thinks ahead and never makes these rescue phone calls. This was not really a judgment call about teaching her a lesson, it was about me.

My mind flooded with all the important things I had to do. I glanced at the clock and did some quick math. I could rush and make it happen. But my attitude was poor as I was already in 'real clothes' and did not want to deal with putting a cumbersome rack on my car and getting filthy as I loaded a dirty mountain bike.

I grumbled internally as a decided to skip the rack and manhandle the bike into the back of my Suburban. I had to climb around inside, lowering seats and do some pushing and pulling to make it happen. One of the tires left a 3-inch black scuff on my beige interior. I sighed in annoyance.

Hopping in the SUV I cranked the ignition with my right hand and noticed there was no cross on my upturned wrist. I had intended to do that during my precious few minutes of quiet regrouping. Instead, I was wrestling a dirty bike so my child could participate in a special mountain biking elective.

As I put the car in reverse and turned the steering wheel sharply to the left I saw it. Just as my right wrist was clean, my left wrist bore dark marks--not the inky cross I have taken to wearing, but dark smudges of bike grease.

I couldn't help but chuckle. And immediately a quote from Chapter Five came to mind:

"Love gives, and huge acts to try to make someone happy don't make anyone as hugely happy as simply doing small acts to make someone feel loved. It's strange how that is, everybody wants to change the world, but nobody wants to do the small thing that makes just one person feel loved."
-Ann Voskamp

And there is was--truth come to life.

I left that bike grease there on my wrist all day. I didn't need to draw one in ink, because God had brought me a real life imprint to remind me that we don't get to pick the neat, planned acts of love. Daily surrender requires being available for the smaller, messier, more inconvenient ones. Truly, these moments are the ones that matter most.

I made those two planned appointments--serving orphans and Bible study (about walking in love, no less)--but delivering that greasy bike was undoubtably the most important thing I did all day.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Sunshine and Sabbath

I never intended to take such a long break from writing. But, I have been quiet on purpose.


Three weeks ago today our foster daughters were adopted (along with their siblings--a total of five children under 12) by one of their family members. We have all been in an adjustment period. I have not had a chance to speak with the girls yet, I am respecting the wishes of their adoptive parent to give them time and space. I am praying God will intervene in their hearts and assure them how truly, deeply and forver loved they are by us--even though we cannot tell them ourselves.

We are in a Sabbath season, a recovery mode for our home and hearts. Our family of five has bounced back sweetly to prior routines but with an altered rhythm. We are not the same people we were 17 months ago. And that is good.

For most of my 42 years the tendency of my flesh and my emotions is to rush to judgment quickly. I like to handle things, wrap them up in a tidy bow and move on. It's not just me. Our busy world loves memes, sound bites, t-shirt statements and bumper stickers. 

The older I get the more realize that most of life is not just a simple narrative. I want it to be so...a quick adage at the end of every challenge that I can walk away with like a badge proving I've conquered that lesson. I crave a headline of redemptive meaning to every troubling scenario-- immediately.The last year or so of life has taught the importance of letting life's lessons simmer. I am learning to get comfortable with not having an answer or simply stated conclusion. I randonly came across a post I wrote 6 1/2 years ago with this same theme, an ironic reminder of just how long some life lessons perculate.  


So, even though I'm not very productive as a writer these days. I am still here. 


One day I will probably share more about the day the girls left and all the conflicting emotions of our 17 month journey with their family, but not yet. The story is still in progress and I can't even clearly identify the main theme--except maybe this: Don't rush it. Have faith. Let Him work. Be still and know. 


The mental picture I have of my heart and soul is sitting in an adirondack chair in the crisp Fall sunshine. Eyes closed, head back, feeling and listening but not rushing to declare any conclusions or lessons just yet. I am reading, thinking, living, spending a lot of time in the Word...basking in all of it. It feels like the healthy thing to do.

"When God intervenes and we get a chance to know we're blessed and to feel blessed, nothing is more appropriate than seizing the happy moment...Even if all we do is lean our heads back in the sunshine of our soul's Sabbath and take a minute to feel the glad emotion, it is meant by God to be medicine for our weary souls." -from Esther: It's Tough Being a Woman by Beth Moore (page 194)

We are in a season of sunshine Sabbath for our souls and it is full of peace that transcends understanding. God IS good and it IS well.