Thursday, August 18, 2016

Memories

My wedding ring went to the shop a few weeks ago.  It just needed a small repair, but it was going to take up to a month, and I didn't want to be without a ring for that long.  I'm pretty proud of the man whose name I share and I'd prefer the whole world knows I belong to him, which meant I needed to rummage around in a closet and find my grandmother's ring to wear in the meantime.

My grandmother's ring.  The ring I used to watch her twist around and around her finger.  The ring she would let me try on when I played "wedding."  The ring she left for me in a box lined with blue velvet, my name written in her wild cursive on a torn piece of notebook paper and stuffed in the lid.  My grandmother's ring.

By the time I inherited it, I was much more mature than the little girl who used to pretend she was getting married.  I was in fact married with a ring of my own.  I also thought it was a little funny looking, not trendy at all.  I put it in a safe place and didn't think about it again.

But, something happened when I took it out of the box lined with blue velvet.  It wasn't funny looking at all.  In fact, it was a tad bit trendy.  And what's more, it was beautiful.  It was still small and worn and not a bit shiny.  But, it was beautiful.  Because it was hers. 

And for the last few weeks, I've caught myself staring at her ring on my hand.  Staring and remembering.  My grandmother has been gone for fifteen years, but I can still hear her laugh when she told one of her funny stories.  I can still taste her cherry cheese pie.  I can still smell her powder.  I can still see that ring, twisting round and round on her finger.

Today, I got the call that my own ring is repaired and ready for me to pick up.  I'll be glad to see it on my finger again.  But, I'll put my grandmother's ring away differently this time.  Because the older I get and the more I stand in one place and feel time rushing past me at a rate I can't control, the more I treasure my memories and the people I thought would be in my life forever, but rushed right past me to a place I can't see.

So the memories in a box lined with blue velvet will be waiting.  Maybe for my daughter.  Maybe a granddaughter.  But, they'll be waiting.  For someone to hear the stories of the laugh and the cherry pie and the powder and the ring.  The ring twisting round and round and round.



Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Quietness and Trust

My first grade teacher would tell you I've always had a little trouble being quiet.  She once made me sit under my desk during class because she thought I needed a reminder not to interject my thoughts at will into her lessons.  It's not that I talk all the time, I just often have trouble keeping a good idea to myself.  Good ideas are meant to be shared, or so thought the first grade me.  Evidently, Mrs. Lindsay either didn't agree, or wasn't sure all my ideas fell in the "good" category.

I've definitely learned since then that not all my thoughts are for sharing, which is most likely on the litmus test for maturity.  But, I've generally stuck to my early premise that God gave us the ability to think, imagine, and dream in order to contribute to the world we are privileged to live in, and we therefore have gifts to give by finding a way to communicate those thoughts, imaginations, and dreams.  There was no stern-eyed teacher or desk in the world that could keep me down.

But, I hadn't ever factored in a season of quiet.  And that's where I am now.

A season of not talking, at least in public venues.

A season of hidden conversations.

Conversations between me and the God who has not put me under a desk, but has called me to sit next to him at the front of the classroom because there are some things He wants to show me.   Things about Him.  Things about me.  Things about what we're supposed to do together.

And all of that just adds up to a season of quietness and trust.  Quiet so I can listen to what He has to say.  Trust so I can believe that He means what He says.

I won't pretend this is my favorite season, but I can sense the value of it.  For how can I take His words to this world if I have not heard them from His mouth? 

How can I lean not on my own understanding if the only opinions I spend time listening to are my own? 

And how can I join Him on His journey if I don't stop and sit when He stops and sits? 

So, I'm choosing to lean in closely as He's telling the story, kicked back, with His feet propped up on a rock beside the trail I thought we were in a hurry to travel down.  I'm choosing to wait.  And listen.

Mrs. Lindsay would be so proud.







Monday, April 4, 2016

Transition

I have a bathrobe I adore.  It was once white and it was once fluffy.  It's now mostly white and decidedly unfluffy.  But, I don't mind.  I wear it every morning to shuffle in to the coffee maker.  I put it on every night with my glasses and a messy bun to watch Netflix with my husband.  And sometimes, when I come home on my lunch break, I put it on over my clothes and curl up on the couch with a cup of coffee to just breathe before I head back into life at full speed. 


As much as I'd like to be known for Princess Kate fashion, I have a sinking feeling that if my kids were asked to draw a picture of me, I might be wearing that robe.  And I don't even mind.  In fact, I'm not sure I'll ever get rid of my bathrobe.  I can't.  Because when I put it on, I feel at home.  When I wear that robe, I'm completely, absolutely, 100% comfortable.  And I like that feeling.


It's a feeling I don't have much of at this particular juncture in life.  I am completely, absolutely not comfortable.  Instead, I am in transition.  Transitioning in every conceivable part of life.


Transition.  The process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another. 


The definition doesn't sound like it should be hard.  It sounds clinical, like something you should be able to observe from a distance before remarking, "Success. The subject has now changed."  But, I'm not finding it to be easy or clinical.  I feel more like someone has taken my bathrobe and is holding it hostage indefinitely.


A change in jobs.  A move.  A son going to college.  An uprooting of everything familiar.


New city.  New home.  New assignment.  New relationships. 


They're all big, white, fluffy robes.  Lovely, but untested.  Warm, but unfamiliar.  And I know the only thing standing in between me and comfort is time.  I love my robe because I've had it a long time.  I know it well, and it knows me.  We have mutual respect.  We've been there for each other.  We both smell faintly like my dachshund.


And I can arrive there again, even in a new place.  It just takes time. 


I think that's the reason the clearest word from God I know I've heard during this season of transition is, "Be patient."  It won't happen in one day.  It can't happen in one day.  Very few treasures in life can be purchased in a day.  They take time, which is what makes them treasures in the first place.


And I think that's why He's gone out of His way to hold me.  It's a prayer I often pray.  "Hold me."  In two words, I'm asking Him to come into this moment, into this unsettling place I find myself, into the insecurity and the change.  I'm asking Him to pick me up, wrap His arms around me, and put me on his lap.  I'm asking Him to look me in the eye in the middle of my uncertainty and to let me know it's going to be ok.  I'm asking Him to be the thing, the one thing in my life that never changes.


And He does.  Every single time, He holds me.  And He has never once changed.  His love, His stability, His character, His compassion, His faithfulness.  They have never changed. 


He is the friend who never leaves.  And He never smells like dachshund. 



Monday, January 4, 2016

Believe It or Not

"You are everything I ever wanted in a daughter."


I heard my husband speak those words today, and they took my breath away.  I paused to watch what they did to her. 


She found his gaze.  A slow smile.  A nod.  A kiss.  And then she was gone, on to living life, which meant at that moment lunch and Phineas and Ferb.


There was no big reaction because there was not a new revelation.  Just quiet confidence that Dad still felt the way he has always felt, assurance that comes from knowing you are as loved as you have always been.


But, my heart has been contemplating the many, many grown women who are still walking around wondering what their dads think of them, wondering what it would be like to experience the embrace of approval that has never come.


And so, today, if that's you, you need to know something. 


Your Father is completely, 100%, absolutely, and with great certainty enraptured with you.  He can't keep His eyes off you, and He is captivated by your beauty, your grace, and the wonderment of you.


If the wounds of this world, or maybe even the wounds of a dad, have kept you from ever realizing this, or you have just forgotten it under the weight of self-doubt or self-loathing, then it is time to step into the embrace of the truth.


Because whether or not you believe it, it is true. 


Your Father, the One who created you and knows every detail of your life, is your biggest fan.  He believes in you.  He adores you.  He is convinced you are gifted, and He can not be persuaded otherwise.  He is rooting for you, sitting in the bleachers of your life, cheering you on.  He talks about you to his friends, pointing out every one of your attributes.  He remembers your birthday.  He comes to all your parties.  He can't wait to see you when you wake up in the morning.  He misses you when you don't come around.


He doesn't just love you, he enjoys you.


If you don't believe that, you don't know Him.  And He wants you to.


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Storehouse

I recently read a couple of lines that were written as a side note, but impacted me as if they were the primary message.  Tucked away treasures, hidden, yet full of potential to change hearts that take the time to ponder.


They were two small sentences from an author named Mark Batterson in his book, All In"[The life I live] is an answer to the prayers my father-in-law prayed for me.  His prayers did not die when he did."


And there it is.  Such a profoundly startling truth.  And such a deeply moving one.


When I close my eyes and think of the people in my life who I know have prayed for me over my lifetime, and not just said a sentence or two, but repeatedly approached the throne of Heaven on my behalf, I immediately see my grandparents.  As a child from a blended family, I have had the honor of having three sets of grandparents to speak into my raising.  And all of them prayed. 


Two grandmothers are still with me, all the rest of that generation are gone.  But, their prayers remain.   


Still effective.  Still reaping.


I once stood innocently in the produce aisle at the grocery store, putting my entire concentration into the choosing of carrots when a man walked behind me.  I never saw him, but I smelled him.  And his cologne was the one my grandfather wore.  I don't even know the name of it, but I know the smell, and I instantly found my face wet with tears.  I have them in my eyes  right now just writing that sentence, just remembering the smell of a tall man who loved to laugh, used big words, fed my infant son his first taste of ice cream without thinking to ask the mother, and walked several miles every morning.  And prayed. 


A man who prayed for his wife, his children, his grandchildren, his great-grandchildren.  Every single day.


And I'm so grateful that his prayers for me and for my family are still bringing the fragrance of remembrance into the presence of God himself.  


I often wonder if my husband and I serve in the same area that my grandfather pastored in because God thinks generationally.  But, now, I also wonder if we are not here as God's way of answering my grandfather's prayers that are still rising, the ones that must have so often been prayed for this land and for its people.


Scripture says no word from God lacks power (Luke 1:37), and I'm coming to realize that when His word is in our mouths, our words are never without power either. 


Nothing can stop the power of God.  Certainly not death.  This means that the prayers I pray today, the words and truths of God that I declare with faith, will continue on after I am gone.  They will become their own fragrances, ones that rise again and again.  They will find their way into the halls and rooms of Heaven and into the presence of the One who loves to say Amen to His words spoken by His children.  It also means that I can give a gift to my children, my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren.  I can leave a treasure for my church, my city, my nation.  I can build a storehouse of blessing. 


My prayers.  They will not die when I die.  They will live, and bring life.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Ready or Not

I now have an eighteen year old.

I have an eighteen year old.

My son is eighteen years old.

It doesn't matter how I say it or how many times I repeat it, nothing about that sentence makes any sense to my brain.  But, it's happening.  Happened already.  He's eighteen years old.

One of hardest parts is facing the fact that I'm actually old enough to have an eighteen year old.  I vividly remember turning eighteen, being eighteen, loving eighteen.  Eighteen is when I spent two months in Peru, moved to college, met my husband, and started doing grown-up things like voting, buying my license plate tags, and eating salad.  It's the year my parents moved across the nation, and I had to find my own place to live when school let out.  The year I got a real job.  The year I looked into the face of a man who wasn't too much older than me and said yes when he held out a ring with hope in his eyes.

And all of those things are here, waiting for my own child who isn't a child any more.  All of those experiences, those decisions, those learning curves, they are all lined up like mile markers in front of him because he is eighteen years old.  My son is eighteen years old.  

And I know it's not like his life is just beginning.  It's not that he's at mile one.  He's had eighteen years worth of mile markers to prepare him for this.

The first step.  The first word.  The first french fry, which I distinctly remember celebrating.  The first day of school.  The day he decided to follow Jesus.  The first week-long youth camp.  The first time he knew more math than I did, which happened closer to the french fry than the youth camp.  The first crush.  The first time he pulled out of the driveway on his own. 

They all got us here, to eighteen.  And they all made him ready to move forward.  To vote, move to college, meet someone special, eat salad.

I'm just not sure they've done anything to make me ready.

And yet, it doesn't matter.  The eighteen year old mile markers are here if I'm ready or not.  And all I know to do is the one thing I know I've learned being a mom.  I pray.  

I pray that the God who walked me through my own mile markers will hold the hand of my son and lead him through every one of life's experiences that will start coming faster and faster in this new season.  

I pray he will have courage to make the tough choices in a way that honors the God he loves.

And I pray that the God who gave me this child to begin with will hold my heart when the man he has become walks away from me.  

I pray I will have the courage to cheer him on from a distance as he faces the mile markers that don't require me to be beside him anymore.

My son is eighteen years old.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Favorite Things

My daughter watched the Sound of Music last night.  She was telling me this morning her favorite part is when Maria sits on the pinecone.  So many memories, that movie holds for me, since I watched it at least once a week, it seemed, while I was growing up.


And I think my favorite part has always been the "Favorite Things" song.  I'm pretty sure if the rest of my family experienced anything at least once a week, it was me singing that at the top of my lungs from behind my closed bedroom door.  It may or may not also be the reason my bed broke when I was nine, since I also tended to act out all of the children jumping on it with Maria as they sang.


"When the storm strikes, when the bee stings, when I'm feeling sad, I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don't feel.....(getting up to full out gusto here)...so baaaaaaaaa----aaaaaaaa-------dddddd!"


It's a lovely song.


And probably the reason I have always believed in having a lot of favorite things.  Because if you have hundreds of favorite things, you can't help but happen upon them every day.  The more you have, the better your odds.


Which is why last summer, when our family was trapped inside on a rainy day, we played the Favorite Things game.  If you've never heard of it, I'll teach it to you, and you don't even have to click a link to connect to Pinterest or buy it on Amazon.  Here it is:


You each sit down with a piece of paper and a pencil and you have five minutes to write down all the favorite things you can think of.


Isn't that a brilliant game?  But the real fun comes in the sharing because when you're done writing, you go around the circle and share your favorite things.


I still have our lists because they are now some of my favorite things.  I mean it.  I treasure them.  Because in each list, I am allowed to peer into my husband and my children, into the deepest places of who they are and what makes them happy. 


And what I find there is that there aren't a lot of fancy cars or designer clothes on the list.  None actually.  Not any toys or technological gadgets, either.  What made the lists are just the simple things in life that all equal up to...us.  The hundreds of little things that are actually the great things.  The ordinary that is actually the sacred.


cheese and crackers
comfortable jeans
knowing the answer right away
making funny jokes
midnight cuddles because you're 5 and afraid of thunder
when the storm is over
chicks in a nest
grandparents
music
dessert
when mom is cooking macaroni
a baby's first word
honey and biscuits
father and son hikes
heaters in winter
victory
chickens that have feather pants
being pleasantly tired
learning another language
a sky full of stars
worshiping around a campfire
laughing at yourself
reading a good book
our dog's ears
gentle rain
oreos and milk
old friends
new friends
highlighted and underlined Bibles
worn quilts
fluffy towels
vacations
cherries
green grass
morning coffee
forgiveness


These are a few of our favorite things. 

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