The Worst Four Letter Word

Fear can instill some mighty heavy feelings in this heart of mine.  I keep kicking the can down the road, where some of this fear is concerned. But, dang it all if it doesn’t so one little thing to help soothe that erratic heartbeat of mine!

If I know anything, (and let’s just agree that I know next-to-nothing), it’s that when fear grips, faith grows.

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Faith in being an Overcomer.

Faith in The One who overcame all.

Faith that this grand story that I get to be a part of turns out Beautiful.

Next weekend, I will be swimming that quarter of a mile that I committed to swimming, a few careless weeks ago.

Sweetman asked me if he and the kids could come cheer me on.

I said no.

I’ll let that hang in the air a minute.  It’s okay.  I’m as ashamed to write it as I was to be feeling it.

Why in the world did I say no?

Fear.

I didn’t want them to see me fail.

I didn’t want them to see me struggle.

I didn’t want them to see me come in last.

Fear really is the worst four letter word, isn’t it?

How dare I say that My People can’t come see what all of these morning “work” swims have been all about.  Why shouldn’t they see me work hard and follow through on a commitment? Why shouldn’t they watch as I try?

Because, actually, to try is to win. I’m halfway there just by giving it a go!

And, you know what? I want them to see me give it a go!

Did you see what just happened there?

My faith… it just grew.  It out-gripped that fear and overshadowed it and made my heart beat a little more steadily.

God, you tell me that I can do all things through you. And, that it’s You who gives me the strength to scoop and cup that water and slice through it with enough power to see me through to the end.  Get me there, God. See me through, in Your power.  Let my family see that I can indeed do all things through You, who strengthens me.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen!  (taken from Philippians 4:13)

Oh God, what you can do with some Words.

My no has become a yes.

Oh, yes indeedy!

How to Keep Reaching Your Mission Field

One of them sleeps in the soft violet bedroom down the hall. The other one hops around in the pale blue room next to hers. Together, they equal a vast mission field.

My mission field.

And that doesn’t even include the brilliant engineer who needs, too.

There is a lot of talk in the great Out There, right now, about how folks are feeling called to Go and Do.

The older I get, though, the more opportunities I see Here and Now.

We are an emotional bunch, us humans.  I don’t want to be All In when the rest of my community feels swept up in a tide of emotion over the latest greatest Giving Opportunity. Or serving opportunity. Or ice bucket challenge.

No.  I don’t.

I want, truly desperately want, to be swept up in the understanding that I am always, even right here in this living room, able to give.

A soft place to land for my Sweetman.

A safe place to just Be, free of judgement, for my Sweetboy.

A place to soothe the hurts of relational injustices for my Sweetgirl.

Do you know where your mission field is?

Because, truthfully?  I think I just figured out, after forty-some years of living, that mine really is just right down the hall.

And I’m thankful, once again, for the grace galore that is slathered over my rough places, smoothing them down.  It’s got to be so almighty trying to watch me chase some illusive “should” down a rabbit hole that was never meant to be traveled by me.

Thank you Jesus.  Thank you for shining light so I can get back out.  For loving me anyway. For the grace to keep traipsing down the hall in my fuzzy slippers toward the vast expanse of mission field within these four walls.

Please grant me another day to get up and attempt it all over again.

For Your glory.

And my refinement.

I’m asking for Your help here, God. Open my eyes to every opportunity You send my way, to keep reaching my mission field.  Make me able to meet the needs of as many as my heart will recognize.

Especially the least of these, at the other end of the hall.

Sometimes You Need a New Station

I love me some Pandora.  There are a handful of stations that I could about listen to right on into the ground.  My Jack Johnson station – uh-huh!  My All Sons & Daughters station. Yup! Hillsong Young & Free? Check! Andy Hunter because, trance! And, the Sade station? God Almighty said there’s a time for everything and let’s just leave it at that.

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And I like listening to my tried and true tunes. Oh, yes indeedy.

Don’t we all?

My heart has been observing some subtle shifts in the rhythms of my life, lately, though.  And it unsettles my soul a bit.

Because shifts indicate change. And change tends to send me one of two ways: if it’s an adventure that I’ve sought out, I grab a hold of it with arms and legs wrapped fully around.  However, if it’s change that I wasn’t prepared for, I can sort of work myself into a full-stop shutdown.

I don’t have any great insights into why these are my two default responses, other than to know that they just are. Knowing this about myself, I can usually see a shutdown coming and head it off at the pass.

Usually.

Once in a while, though, there’s a change that I couldn’t have seen coming if it landed on top of the nose on my face. Before I know it,I find myself tuning toward some station I wouldn’t have chosen if my life depended on it.

Then, I sit stupefied, realizing that I’m humming and bobbing my head to a song about being so fancy.

This leads me to believe that I just might need to seek out a new station or three and enjoy the ride of new rhythms and melodies. There is a season for everything, right?

Even azaleas.

Oh, there are songs we each take comfort in hearing.  And, they bring us back, bring us around, or bring us up. I think we can also probably agree that some music does more to lift our spirit right on up to the tippy top of Happy than any ice cream cone ever could.

But, as the song goes, “It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day…” and all that.  I think I’m ready to tap my toes to some new tunes.

What in the world do all of these words mean?  I’m not sure I can share just yet.  But know this – I will!

Until then, why don’t you try out a new song.  You’d never believe the places you can go with some fresh beats in your ears.

Because sometimes, change dictates that you just need a new station.

Fifteen Years is Better Than 15 Pounds

This guy right here?

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He and I said “I do” fifteen years ago, today.

Oh, yes indeedy!

I might have whispered it, I was so scared witless to be in a dress. With heels. And sequins. Or beadery. Or whatever you call All The Fanciness.

But he heard it.

And I meant it.

And I still do.

Oh Sweetman… you roll with it more than any man should have to.  You bankroll adventures with emotional checks that would bounce in this mental bank.  And you look at me with eyes that are more loving than any I ever could have imagined.

These fifteen years with you have been so much better than the fifteen pounds I’ve also accrued.

Thank you for laughing with me.

And at me.

And for me.

I pray you never grow tired of my antics.

Or my “fawns”. (Bless you, Solomon, for the imagery.)

And I only ask one thing…

Do you wanna do this for about fifty more years?

Because, I do!

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What Lurks Beneath

In honor of the close of “Shark Week”, and, For Captain Ahab and my family – blood and other.

My brother is brave.  Military, kinda-brave.  I’ve not seen him shaken up but once in my life.

On our illustrious Bimini trips, all of us kids would take turns jumping off the docks into the crystal clear blue waters of the marina.  That water was stunning.  I didn’t realize it then, but the pure joy of jumping into water that you can see clear through to the sandy, starfish and sand dollar strewn bottom of, was a gift.  We took it for granted.

Youth is wasted, and all that.

We also took for granted that there would ever be anything in that water that could hurt us.  The marina felt safe.  It was a haven, not only for the boats that would make the trek over from South Florida for their various fishing and diving ventures, but for us kids, too. We knew only safety in the incessant jumping in and climbing out of those waters.

One of the most majestic sea creatures that you could ever encounter are the giant Manta rays that glide through the waters of the Bahamas.  They are massive.  And docile. But, massive.  The “babies”, alone, are from three to five feet across.

One fine afternoon we all ran down the dock, taking turns jumping into the crystal waters.  When it was my brave brother’s turn, wild and reckless, even at 8 years old, he took a gigantic flying leap out into the marina. And promptly walked on water right back up onto the dock.

We all came running to look down and see what could possibly instill fear of that magnitude in my brave brother’s heart. Four gargantuan Manta-rays gracefully passing through held us transfixed.

It took a couple of minutes for my brother to get his color back. And, you can be sure that we all looked before we leaped from then on out.

We would also waterski everywhere when we were in the Bahamas. If the boat could fit into the area and the stretch was long enough to get a decent run in, then we would go for it.

From time to time, we would actually have one of us in the water getting skis on and ready, while someone else was making a run. If we were the one waiting to be taken on a run, we’d sometimes have to wait for 5 minutes or more for the boat driver to circle back around.  Once in a while, if it wasn’t shallow enough to stand, we’d just lay on top of our skiis until it was our turn.

And so, one cloudy day, that was me.  Bobbing around on top of the skis waiting to be picked up. Happily.

Until I saw a fin. At fifteen, I was plenty old enough to know that all of the many sharks we had seen over the years had been incredibly kind to mind their own business.  I knew how much pain a shark could inflict. I started to breathe in and breathe out, keep my eye on that fin, and pray to hear the motor of the boat approaching.

The fin seemed to be about 40 or 50 feet away.  I still have no idea. I’m not very good at gauging distances, and even less so when I think a shark is eye-balling my person. I decided at some point to just lay on top of my skiis, stop watching the fin, and hope for the best.

And about that time, I was so zoned out that I completely missed the approach of the boat. I only knew rescue had come because Ahab had reached down and pulled me up into the boat, all calm-like.  No one said a word and we hustled back to pick up the other skiier.

But I’ll tell you this – I never offered to be the sitting duck again, I’ll tell you. Oh no I did not.

And we were all more aware of what lurked beneath.

Oh, yes indeedy.

Heaven Is a Warm Ocean

I am an ocean lover, through and through. The warmer, the better.

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I like pools. The warmer, the better. (Unless it’s because you couldn’t make it to the potty in time. Then, not so much.)

And then, there is a special spot in my heart that is reserved for all the things I tolerate.

Lakes.  Lakes are there in that spot – right next to lizards.

And cold pools.

We have an ocean near-ish. We get there as often as we can, in the summer.

It’s cold.

We also have a town pool. We get there as often as we can in the summer.

It’s mostly cold.

This Floridian still can’t muster up the courage to jump into our town pool before July 30th or after August 30th.

If you’re doing the math, that equals up to Not Much Pool-time.

During this thirty-one day stretch, I must continually remind myself that I chose to move to New England because, Boston!  And because, Sweetman!

So, I was thrilled to find out that one of my sweet friends, who also happens to live in our neighborhood, is planning to have a beautiful new pool put into their backyard.  It’s one of those super fan-cee salt water ones. It will have the standard stairs, to get into and out of, of course. But, the best part about this pool?  It’s soon going to be heated. Oh, yes it is!

I’ve come to the conclusion that this is necessary for anyone who chooses to live above the Mason-Dixon line.  Otherwise, you might just find yourself jumping into a pool that is barely pushing 65 degrees.  Even if it is 98 degrees outside.

And people?  That is just not right.

I should have taken a clue when I began teaching water-skiing in the Berkshires of Massachusetts some twenty-odd summers ago.  That first crisp summer morning, when I jumped into the lake to begin instruction, it took less than 10 minutes for me to tag the other instructor because I was too cold to stay in. Plus, my foot touched something slimy.

No. Just… no.

Therefore, it might surprise you to learn that I was somehow convinced to become part of a three-woman relay team, as The Swimmer, in a local women’s triathlon sprint. Yes, you read that right.  Come early September, this girl, right here, will be doing her darndest not to die as she competes in the swim portion of a women’s triathlon sprint.

“It’ll be so much fun,” they said.  “You’ll have so much support,” they promised.  “We’re not doing it to win,” they assured me.

The part they forgot to mention?

Training.

In the local lake.

Or town pool.

Neither of which are heated.

Oh, and…the race itself? In a lake.

I don’t have to wonder about what hell is like.

I think I’ll stick with my plans to go to heaven.

There will definitely be warm ocean water there.

Yes indeedy.

Putting Our Eggs in The Basket Carrier

While we’re over here rejoicing that we survived camp week, I have dear friends in the midst of a precarious and precedent-setting job situation.

While praying that Sweetboy would be able to stick it out each day from eight in the morning until five at night, we were also praying that there would be a resolution in this acrimonious situation that our friends find themselves in the midst of. A situation that, supposedly, business schools across the country are intently observing.

Sometimes, it’s hard to realize that there is a whole world beyond what goes on within our Sweetfamily’s four walls.

Despite the media attention being drawn to the circumstances surrounding their plight, our friends have been faithful to pray. And, even though there have been, and continue to be, underhanded schemes at work, I’m asking the God Who Cares About People to make Himself known here.

Would you join me?

I don’t often ask folks to jump on the bandwagon with me. But I’ve watched this family put their livelihood on the line for what they believe to be right.  I’m honored to be able to gather some prayer warriors on their behalf.

You can learn more about what’s going on at Market Basket here.