It is Personal

Sinking into that place of my very soul, his words caressed my heart. Her picture could not be made right in my world where I did not want people to hurt like this. I passed him in a quick stroll, yet the image of his obvious suffering is implanted in my brain. The stories where we connect, where our lives look upon someone and we stop and we do something:  we FEEL. 

This is my God. He is not a list of rules. He is not a scale that measures our good and our bad. He is a man, God in human flesh, come to place his hand on the leper that is outcast of society. He is the only religion that turns his eyes away from the rich man that follows the law to the broken sinner at his feet and declares, “I love you.”

I am the sick man!  I am the sinner! I need THAT GOD!  Religion of the Western world has become a debate, a contest, a free for all to decide your own way. 

As for me and my house, we will chose the Lord!  I do not chose myself, I fail!  I do not chose a God of rules, I can not. I can not do it on own, of my own effort, my own will, my own record. My past is too unforgiving!  I need a Savior!  I need the forgiver of sins and the healer of diseases and the giver of peace. 

His words speak to me. His story is mine. He chose me and I accept. This is my God, hear me proclaim. Let there be not doubt, no blurr in my words. No question on my face. So that when she, with her sin and her suffering quickly pass by, let her see and never forget something that can change her life forever:  my God!

Here is my story, my life. I share my details and my hopes here daily. What is your story?  Your thorn in your side and your hope of all the wrongs undone?  Please comment. 

Beautiful Scars

By far, one of the coolest things she has ever done, my eight year old just had the experience of swimming with dolphins. She is a fish herself and she is at home in the water wih animals. The trainer started with a few facts about the beautiful animals and then she said something that stuck with me, “Do you see these scars covering her neck?  Well, I don’t feel sorry for her. This means she played with other dolphins, she was well socialized.  It is the dolphin with no scars that I am sorry for.”

I have been to a few funerals in my life. They vary so greatly. Do you see the man laying in the casket?  He is my grandfather. Do you see the wrinkles in his face?  I do not feel sorry for him. It is a time of peace. He lived a long life. The wrinkles mean he lived. And I know he lived well and now he is in eternal perfection with his maker. Oh beautiful wrinkles!  It is the funeral of the babe with smooth plump skin that I mourn. 

Do you see the scar on my neck, the scars on my stomach?  Do not look upon the scratched up dolphin and the wrinkled man and give pity, my scars mean I am alive!  I have beaten Cancer!  I have a story to share, He saved me!  The Cancer ribbon is not for me, I am a survivor!  Oh the beauty of my scars!

It All Changes Not At All

I’m not THAT old. This summer, I will celebrate my 34th birthday. 

My daughter popped up from her summer reading book and questioned, “What is a long distance phone call?”  It just wasn’t that long ago that all phones were attached to houses and there wasn’t the problem of my cell phone battery is about to die.  

I watched a documentary about the Hoover Dam. The men drove trucks into the cave (leaving them on) and then several men died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Just like I am shouting, “I’m not that old.”  I am shouting, “It was not THAT long ago!  How did they not know?!”  Such a simple way, with the knowledge of that poisonous gas, our world has changed. 

Fashion changes so swiftly that now I ask advice from my eight year old, because sometimes I just don’t know “what the kids are doing these days.”

The world is spinning, spinning, changing in so many ways. 

But then I read about the struggles of parenting in the seventies, and love affairs in the twenties, and people greedy for money during Biblical times, and I realize that people have really not changed at all. 

We love our families, struggle with other people, desire riches and comfort, ask questions, eat food, learn just a little bit, and come to terms with God in one way or another. 

For years and centuries and millenniums, human nature remains the same. We laugh about the details around us that change, but they are just that:  details. And it all comes and goes so quickly. So, while I do love me some details, Lord, please help me focus on the big picture. I want kindness more that I want the popular opinion, I want to give more than I want to have, inner peace more than temporary happiness, wisdom more than entertainment, education more than possessions, love more than greed, and Jesus more than this quickly fading world. 

Here Comes the Life

There was nothing except excitement and love swelling within me that could not be contained. The church was huge, ornate, and movie worthy gorgeous. My church from birth hid our lack of money and lack of decorating in its every day stunning beauty. Something borrowed was my white designer wedding dress. One of my very best friends was married two months before me and graciously offered for me to wear the dress I could not afford. But from the outside, I was the bride beaming for my groom. 

The opening of the huge sanctuary doors demanded the audience to their feet. The wedding march boomed from the organ pipes. 

One step. I was twenty one years young and ready to wear a bikini on our Bahamas honeymoon. 

Slow step.  My groom was rushing me to the ER, praying over my convulsing body. 

The bride stepped closer to my groom. And there was a toddler running around my feet. I am distracted and tired but I smile up at her Daddy. 

Slowly, my white heel takes another step toward my love. I am yelling and frustrated and angry. He knows my sin and I know his. But I chose him now and he takes all of me. 

My white dress follows behind. The crowd stares and admires. My body has new scars. My hair has gray streaks. Our daughter is about to take her own walk. Her Daddy has been the finest example and now he will walk her to her own groom. 

I smile as I near my groom, one intentional step down the isle. I am faded and gray now. My body wrinkled and old. But I take my husband’s hand and I know now the deep love of the wedding vows. 

My final step and I am face to face with my groom.  We smile into each other’s eyes. It goes beyond the perfection of our young bodies. It is deeper than the moment of young love and a honeymoon vacation. We vow to love when it hurts. We promise to chose each other when we don’t want to. We make a covenant to always protect and always serve. And with our wedding vows, we are now one. One life. One body. One love. 

In my life, I have walked halfway down that church isle. When I look back, I see a much different girl that started that walk. And when I look forward, a much different girl will finish it. While things have changed, for better and for worse. With each step I take, I love my groom even more. When those doors first boomed open, I thought I could never love more than this. However, lessons have been learned and promises have been lived and love is so much more than a wedding. Love is life. 

Each day, I take a slow step forward and each step our lives change. But each step I take toward my groom and my promise of only him. And I now believe this life is our wedding ceremony. Our home is our covenant. We are standing and proclaiming our vows to the world.  Our love is rings exchanged. 

But when we turn and face the crowd and when the pastor announceds Mr. and Mrs., we will run down that isle and the real honeymoon will be in heaven. 

Because that is what God calls us to. To help each other on that way. In sickness and in health, for better, and for worse, we present the lives we led and the one that we became together. Encourage. Strengthen. Forgive. Serve. And most importantly, love. 

And one day, I will turn to the perfect bride groom and the life before us will be perfect eternity. I will be stunningly gorgeous forever. All my vows will be of tears wiped away and life beyond comprehension. My last tear of joyous disbelief will be lovingly wiped away, as my perfect groom admires me, and before all the hosts of heaven, I will proudly proclaim, “I do.”

I Am Wrong

Somewhere around five years ago, James and I set our minds on buying a leather couch. I had a little bitty budget that I wanted to spend and unrealistic expectations on what I could get. Routinely, I scanned Craigslist and was discovering that I had set the bar a little too high.  Perhaps, our old couch would have to do for a while longer. 

And then it happened, like the ad was shining and glittery and playing angelic music, I found it. The couch. It was exactly what I wanted for exactly my budget. It had to be a typo or a scam, it was a little too good to be true.  But I am a sucker for these kind of things, so I gave the number a call.

Nope, it hadn’t sold yet. Yep, he was available that afternoon. So, a few hours later, I loaded up toddler Madison and dragged along husband James (poor guy with a logical brain that falls in love with a dreamer like me.)

On the short drive, Madison fell asleep, so we were the kind of dorks that do things like this:  James “went in” first to scope out the safety situation and returned to watch the baby. Next, I knocked on the door to give the fashion approval.  James would return to break the deal. That is pretty much how we operate. 

Well, approximately two minutes later, I return to the car decorated in a huge silly grin, “I bought it.”

“Huh?”  I had overstepped boundaries, James is the final deal maker.

So I explained the situation:  the couch was perfect. In fact, it was a practically brand new $1,500 couch and the guy was asking $400.  Yes, I was going to buy it. I was already thrilled about the situation. But just because I am American and good enough is never good enough, I just have to ask, “Will you take anything less?”  And I waited for the guy to tell me to leave for being rude, insulting, and ungrateful of a good deal when I see one.

But he pauses and smiles at me like I am his daughter that he can’t tell no, “Sure, I’ll take $300.”  If I had the strength, I would have grabbed the couch and ran at that point, but the man is not done yet, “No…” And damnit, I should have grabbed the thing and ran while I could, sure he was changing his mind, but he continues, “No…I’ll take $250.” (!!!)

At that point, I felt a little obligated to explain Math to him, “Dude, you just dealt in the wrong direction.”

I smiled, offered my many thanks and walked away with the furniture I wanted and a little extra cash. 

I love the story, but I am just like that man, almost every single day. There is something that comes with proclaiming the truth, people want to debate. But it goes a little like this with me:

Person:  You call yourself a Christian?  Well, You are a sinner!  Me: oh yes!  The very worst!

Person:  Well, Jesus said to give all your stuff to the poor!  Me:  I know.  I should do that. I really suck!

Person:  Yeah?  Well, the church is a bunch of hypocrites!  Me:  oh, much worse!  They are liars, cheats, murderers….much worse than hypocrites!

Person:  I am my own god. Nobody tells me what to do.  Me:  I suck as a god!  Glad you have it all figured out because I am really screwed up!

Ya see, being a Christian is not about winning the debate or having a clean house or a new car or well behaved children or going to a Wednesday morning Bible study. It looks more like the outcast guy scraping the bloody man up off the pavement and taking him to the hospital, it looks more like the Mommy sitting with her eight year old for the tenth time in one day and apologizing that Mommy is a sinner, it is more like the woman dragged into the streets and having her tongue cut out by her brother because she rejected the family faith and gave her life to Jesus. 

So, in this debate, before you even say it, I confess I AM WRONG but the only hope is JESUS IS RIGHT. 

Old Sticky Love

I believe in goals.  I believe in knowing what race you are in and running toward that finish line.  I believe in knowing what road you are on and what the destination is.

Love.  I want my love to be sticky.

Newlywed James and Caroline were magnificently in love with love.  We promised and we dreamed but we were only tying on our tennis shoes and the gun had not even yet been shot.  Counseled, researched, planned, and eager, we set out in the race of marriage and a life together.  But we had not yet gotten shin splints, holes in our tennis shoes, and the weather was a perfect sixty-five degree sunny day.

Newlywed James and Caroline sat in the food court of the shopping mall, planning where the day and our life would take us.  And then we got some of the best advice new love can be given.

Their age was old.  The kind of old that can barely move and the movements are slow and thought through.  She sat with white hair and a shriveled body in a wheelchair pushed by a white haired man, leaning over using her wheelchair as a cane.  Her hand was held across her body and her fingers were gnarled.  Their short walk from the door was an exercise in and of itself.

They sat.  Sat at the table right beside us.  He slowly and patiently moved the chair at the table and replaced it with her wheelchair.  There was no talking, just slow movements.  And then, she was left, left waiting.  He, the more mobile one, departed and began a slow shuffle just a few feet away but each step was a goal accomplished.  He achieved what he had set out for and slowly returned to her side.

He dipped the spoon into the cold, creamy vanilla.  Their eyes met and they lovingly smiled at each other.  He lifted the spoon to her lips, his hands were shaking with a tremor and uncontrolled movements.  She opened her mouth as the spoon fluttered forward.

Love.  Love fed her ice cream.  Love was sticky all over her face.  Their painstaking and exhausting mission was to set out and share an ice cream.  After a couple of bites, she had it all over her face, sitting smiling, smiling at her love.

The cup was emptied.  With great labor, he threw away the cup.  With great pains, he returned the chair to the table.  And they began their slow march to the exit.

James took my hand in his.  We smiled at each other.  We each had the same goal.

Now, the gun has been shot.  We have gone through a few pairs of tennis shoes.  We have helped each other up a few times.  We run and run.  Quitting is not an option.  One day we will sit and have our celebratory ice cream and then we will pick ourselves up and soar one last time right through the finish line.

We never talked to them, but their actions spoke louder:  Love can be sticky.