Sunday, February 24, 2013

Poor Me

I like to read. That's no surprise if you've known me for five minutes. I read mostly nonfiction because it's what I like and I don't like how so often fiction is, well can I just say, depressing. I find real life hard enough without being depressed for the sake of entertainment. But I digress. If you look at my reading list, you'll see a wide range of books, from Does the Noise in My Head Bother You? by Steven Tyler to A Return to Modesty by Wendy Shalit.

Last summer I read the book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide and my heart broke. My heart broke for the millions of women and girls for whom violence and rape are common place. My heart broke for these girls and women who don't know they are valuable and important, treasured and deserving of love and security.

My heart also broke for the millions of us living a better life who choose not to be aware of what is happening in this world. We all live on the same planet, and I'm ashamed so many of us choose to look the other way because we might be inconvenienced or feel guilty for doing nothing. These same traumatized girls and women could be us if we were simply born into a different place.

A new point of view
A walk in your shoes
I wish I could get inside your head
To see what you see
When you look at me
'Cause I could've lived your life instead
Instead by Stacie Orrico

Today, I watched this short video featuring the actress Eva Mendes and her involvement with Half the Sky. It made me sad and not for the reason you might think. I was sad that it is seemingly so easy for a person like Ms. Mendes to be a change for good in the world. Most of us can't jump on a plane to Africa so easily and likely wouldn't be as welcomed upon arrival.

But these feelings are selfish. Honestly, this is just a "poor me" moment (ironic, huh!). The truth is there is tremendous need all around me - all around you. All I (all you) need do is open my eyes, open my heart and be the hands and feet of Jesus to those standing right in front of me.

I'm ready Jesus. Let's go.

Wondering where you can go to be the hands and feet of Jesus? In your own community, look for these organizations:

Center for refugees
Homeless shelter
English language center
Boys and Girls Club
Your local elementary school
Food bank

In Idaho:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I Am Not Letting Go

I was running last week and listening to music when these words filled me.

Hope is just a ray of what everyone should see
Alone is the street where you found me
Scared of what's behind
You always scared of what's in front
Live with what you have
And make the best of what's to come

Tell me a story long and true
We are what we say we are what we do
Just pieces of a puzzle to find where we stand just confused
So you are the moon that pulls me through the night
Tell Me a Story by Phillip Phillips

The words spoke to me so clearly that I stopped running. In that moment I understood that for so long I didn't allow myself to grab onto hope, that I lived for years with a fear of what was to come - a fear of what life would be like when my sweet children grew into lives of their own and were no longer a part of my moment by moment life. Would I still have purpose? Would I still be valuable? Lovable?

I realized I hadn't given myself permission to feel hope because I didn't really believe  God loves me just as I am.  Oh, but he does.  The Bible says I am wholly and dearly loved, a saint, a child of God, blameless, chosen, God's special possession, a priest, righteous, faithful.

"Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us. . .  For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light." Ephesians 5:1-2 & 8

Today I grab onto hope, knowing it is indestructible. Hope grabs onto light and does not let go. I see hope, and I am not afraid.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Five Minute Friday: They Are All Beloved

Today's writing prompt: BELOVED (A person who is dearly loved)

At 15 my beloved and I found each other.
Not the norm we know!

At 22 this beloved came into my life.

At 27 God gave me this beloved.

My life is more than I dreamed. So much more. And I know it. Every. Single. Day.

I desire that God open my heart to a bigger concept of beloved. That those who aren't as visible become visible and beloved to me. To all of us.

Today, these sweet ones are also beloved.

God, please open my heart so that each face is beloved to me. Just as each face is beloved to you.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Peace of Christ

Today, Kevin and I were blessed to attend church in Utrecht, Holland at St. Martin's Cathedral, or Domkerk as it is known locally.

The church is beautiful and as you can imagine we don't normally worship in such a setting, living as we do in Boise, Idaho. In fact, our home city goes for a much simpler worship style and one that suits us well on a regular basis. Today's worship, though, was special.

The choir in their long red robes filling the church with ancient song, the sounds rich and full in the stone church.

The kindness of the elderly Dutch gentleman sitting next to me, guiding me through the Dutch prayer book, pointing to each song and prayer and probably wincing inwardly at my botching of the Dutch language.

The female priest.

The story of Peter and the overflowing net of fish which I could make out even in Dutch.

The communion. Oh, the communion. I loved it. The lining up, altogether, sharing a cup, thanking my Lord for what he's given me.

And my favorite, greeting each other with the words, "the Peace of Christ," said by some in Dutch, others in English.

Indeed, today I am blessed.

Vrede van Christus.

Friday, February 8, 2013

My First Five Minute Friday - BARE!

Today's writing prompt: BARE

Ready, Set Write!

Bare is a scary word. It's a word I came late to living. In the last year I have come to embrace this word, which to me means being vulnerable, being authentic, being my true self - even if that self isn't as acceptable to those around me as my cleaned up cheerful self.

I credit much of this new way of life to the writings of Brene Brown. When I read her book, The Gift of Imperfection, my world was rocked. I read the book in one sitting - on a drive home to Boise from Portland, Oregon (my husband was driving!). I think I read half the book aloud to him with each segment starting on a gasp of discovery. 

I next read Brene's book Daring Greatly, and learned how much of who I am is influenced by the shame I feel. I so wish I could have read something like this when my children were young, so if you're a parent of young children, please grab onto this book!

For me living vulnerably is summed up so well, in the words of Carl Medearis, "I know the one place I can't go wrong is the place where Jesus is.  I can be weak, sinful, foolish, and even rebellious.  I can fail others, ruin ministries, fumble my work, and still, I cannot go wrong when I stand with fear and trembling, knowing only Jesus."

Bare - It's not so scary after all.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Always Hope - Always Always Always Hope!

Are you ever amazed at the themes different stages of life bring? I am. For a while now it seems everywhere I turn I hear the word hope. In music, sermons, and scripture hope seems to be a hot topic. This word hope has a special hold of my heart. If my children allowed it, I'd have the words Always Hope tattooed on my wrist.  For me hope is intensely personal. After a long walk in the darkness of a deep depression, I emerged in May 2010 into a world of hope. Hope that light will outshine darkness every day. My journey out of darkness was long and hard fought. It included a great deal of love and never-waivering support from my husband, and the guidance of a gifted therapist. One day I'll share more of that journey but for now, here are some words of hope I love.

But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice and always put your hope in God. Hosea 12:6

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. 1 Peter 3:15

For God has not given us a spirit of fear: but of power and of love and of sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

They say you'll find yourself one of these days
As if they know I'm lost and could never be saved
A gamble is what I'll take trading ashes for gold, hoping life will give its sake
Life is too short to stop and stare at the blank page that tells your way
Hold On by Phillip Phillips

In Christ alone, my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My comforter, my all-in-all
Here in the love of Christ I stand
In Christ Alone by Keith Getty

"If you will trust God with your anguish it will birth something precious to you. It will birth something that you will not trade back." Beth Moore

And so I will always hope.