Just One of the Misfits

Spiritual Misfit by Michelle DeRusha was a saving grace in my life. Going through a period of my life where my faith was floundering, I needed a reminder that I wasn’t alone in my thoughts. I needed to know I wasn’t alone in my fears and inability to figure out all the answers to All the Questions.

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I don’t remember how I first heard about this “occasional author”. It may have been through Deidra Riggs, as I know they both live under the big sky in Nebraska. All I do remember is reading the back cover of this book and thinking, “This. Is. Me. Right now, this very minute.”

And it was.

It still is, sometimes.

Believer, Follower, Christian…whatever you want to call people who are amazed by God’s grace, that’s me. And if you, like me, are just one of the misfits, you will find this book a mighty encouragement.

Every half-decade or so, I go through the spin cycle of my life and everything I believe gets hurled around in my head and heart and I’m fumbling around for my faith again. It unsettles me. Loving mentors always set me back on the right track through mature counsel; but sometimes, my floundering around lasts a heck of a lot longer than it needs to.

After reading this book, though, I’ve felt more at ease with the doubts. And, as DeRusha makes clear, I’m less alone in them, too. She is the master of gently pointing out that as we begin to drift toward that island of misfits that so many of us find ourselves on, God draws us just as gently nearer.

And always in the way we most need.

“Perhaps God knows this is true for us humans. Maybe he knows the whole enchilada would simply be too much, too overwhelming, too mind boggling. So instead he gives us just enough – the shaft of brilliant light in the murky green…”

Indeed He does.

We’re getting close to the halfway point of the Best Books Ever series. I hope you are enjoying these. If you’ve read any, please let me know in the comments. Have you read any that are similar or affected you similarly? I love a good book discussion!  Click the button below to see the other posts in this series.

Click here to visit the Write 31 Days Challenge website and see all of the other topics.

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It’s Okay, Try Again

I’d just had a rotten argument with my husband. One of those oh-so-un-Christ-like moments during our discussion, I chose to assume the worst. It went downhill from there.

As I huffed upstairs to cry on my bed, I realized that once again, I had led with my feelings and not my mind.

Or, the truth.

This always, always gets me into trouble.

How about you?

But, I go back to a tender and beautiful and true comment that The Gammy made to me, recently. We were talking about how our mouths can get us into so very much trouble, how human we really are. She wisely pointed out that we are loved by a God that, when we come to him with tear-stained faces, says, “It’s okay. Try again.”

And He says it with the gentleness of a soft breeze.

He means it with Ultimate Authority.

He is the God of grace, after all.

I clung to that as I sat on the bed and cried my little heart out. And, we are resting in that regarding the uncertainty of fractured relationships.

We long for healing. For Love to win out over the hurt. For understanding and grace and joy to creep back in.

We’ll wait as long as it takes.

Because, doesn’t He?

Why The Little Drummer Boy Still Rocks

Sweetman came home, the other day, with a boxed set of “Christmas Classics” DVDs. We only wanted Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeeryou see; but, we missed the buying boat for just that one. Everyone else had already been there and bought that.

Because Sweetman is brilliant (and really, because he knew coming home without the movie in-hand would cause a mutiny), he bought the boxed set. All for the low-but-actually-not-so-low price of 2 Many Dollars. It includes Rudolph, of course, and Frosty the Snowman, and The Little Drummer Boy, and Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, and a couple of other “original” classic Christmas movies.

Except, I don’t remember some of these movies as being classics.

In fact, two of the movies included are Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol and Cricket on the Hearth. I’m sorry, but I’m pretty sure I would have remembered a “classic” about a young woman going blind from shock, and a crow sent out to murder a sweet little talking cricket, and Brandon Thomas’ toothy grin as he narrates it all. Oh, I especially would have remembered that. That’s the stuff of nightmares, folks. Oh, yes it is! No matter how delightfully Mr. Thomas croons about the birth of The Savior.

Anyhoo, one of the movies that I had plumb forgotten about, was The Little Drummer Boy. We snuggled in and began watching. Five minutes into it, though, I considered the choice a mistake.

WHY did they kill his parents, Mama?” Followed by, “But WHY does the little boy not have people who love him?”

And then, the tears!

I’ll be honest, I wanted to have a stern word with the folks who thought this kind of story line was a good one for children. Until, of course, I realized I’d likely be yelling at a bunch of dear elderly persons in a nursing home.

Sweetboy interrupted my imaginings by innocently asking why the little drummer boy wanted to be alone with the animals and why he hated people?

And, I realized with a start that I had one of those rare golden parenting opportunities. We, parents, only get this kind of opportunity every-so-often. I wasn’t about to let this one go by with a shoulder-shrug.

We pressed pause.

As two expectant pairs of eyes stared at me, I realized how many directions I could go with this conversation. Anger is an emotion all humans experience. Death is an experience all humans will eventually meet with. And, hatred is something none of us ever wish to encounter, but far too often do.

Where to start? How far to go? What words are appropriate for a six and eleven-year-old?

The words I chose were the ones that were the simplest. And the most truthful. I asked them if anyone had ever hurt their feelings. When each said yes, I asked them how it made them feel. One said sad, the other said angry.

Ah, yes. Emotions that we all feel.

We talked through some of the ways people respond to others when they are angry. Or hurt. Or sad. Because, really, sometimes they’re all bumping up against each other. Right?

I asked them why they thought Jesus came to earth as a baby. That was a tricky one for Sweetgirl. But Sweetboy? He nailed it. “So we could be in God’s family.”

Oh, child… YES!

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The Truth. It’s the best place to start and the best place to end.

Always.

They both got antsy, after that, and asked me to press play. We watched on as, in the end, that little drummer boy was able to give away his most prized possession out of love. Love that was placed in his heart, and is placed in ours, for the purpose of overcoming the anger and the hurt and the sadness.

Thank you Jesus!

What grace!

It turns out, The Little Drummer Boy still rocks! He may be stilted in his movements, but the heart behind his story beats strong among us all.

Oh, how it does!

Yes indeedy.

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!

Two-For-One Lessons

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There are moments when it seems like everything you know about faith is turned on its head.  You know those moments I’m referring to, don’t you?  A loved one reveals a character flaw that takes you by surprise; a friend lets you down so big that you’re not sure if friendship is something you ever want to pursue again; or, your child gets a diagnosis that no fever-reducing medicine can touch.  We can all probably add to this list from our many life circumstances.

While I’ve certainly encountered my share of big reveals, back-biting, and bedside vigils, I’ve learned a few lessons along the way in this faith journey, of mine.  I’d like to share them with you in the hopes that it will help bring you some comforting perspective as you travel along on your own path to deeper faith.

Join me over at Fancy Little Things today, won’t you?   I’d sure love to hear about your own lessons learned. Click the button below to head on over there and read the rest.

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I apologize for the glitch today.  It looks like all systems are a go now.  So… go.  Now.  Pretty please?

Brave New Year

Climbing back down from Mount WashMore the other day, I was reflecting on this brave new year we are entering around here, and how everything can turn around with a new perspective.

One can lament that school is starting in 1 day and 15 hours.  Or… one can look forward to making new friends and seeing old ones in only 1 more day and a couple of hours. (And, I don’t think anyone has to guess who’s doing the lamenting, right?)

A bouncy haired child can be insistent that she doesn’t need to stay at school All The Day Long this year. Or… she can joyfully look forward to moving on to “big girl school” with brother.  (Say it with me now, “I NOT going.”)

A mama could cry endless tears of sorrow for the years that have flown by far too quickly as she considers that her baby is going off to Kindergarten Much Too Soon and that her oldest is far too tall.  Or… she can step out on the edge of Trust and praise God for this new season and all that it could bring. (There will be more tears, though. Of that, I am sure!)

And maybe, instead of being the girl who talks a big game about how God is faithful and how He loves her children more than she ever could,  she can become the girl who lives like she believes it.

Indeed.

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And maybe she’ll allow her faith to take flight on the wheels of a big yellow bus on Tuesday.

Until then, though, she’s praying.

For strength to wave bravely as the bus heads off and turns the corner.

For the willingness to Cry It Out on a few sweet shoulders.

And for the patience needed to get through the day believing that God’s got this.

And them.

Anyone else???

(Pass the tissues, please.)

A Social Story About Shorts

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Shorts. We’re talking about shorts.  The kind you wear.

I’m over at (in)courage today in my (in)Able and (included) community, writing a social story about shorts.  And a deep need for something bigger than All The Patience to lean on when the learning curve is steep.

Join me over there, won’t you?  Just click the button below and you’ll be whisked away.  See you there!

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Yes indeedy!

 

The Iris of My Eye

Do you have an Iris?

Probably.

No two are alike, you know.

Here is mine:

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The (in)courage webcast, this weekend, included much talk of Mentors; both being one, and having one.

My mentor is my friend.  And her name is Iris.  She is creating a legacy that is born of a desire to live for God.  I want to honor her today, by sharing her, a bit, with you.

My Iris is infused with joy. She has a twinkle in her eye and a laugh like a giddy little schoolgirl.  Her hair is a different color almost every time I see her, and the woman wears accessories with the panache` of a runway model.  She knows her limitations, and has learned well how and when to use the word “no”.  She wears wisdom well.  Grace and humility adorn her.  Her heart is strong in the Lord. And her arms are always open to me.

And that?  That is just scratching the surface of this funny, compassionate, and adorably short woman,  I assure you.

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“Isn’t it such a privilege to serve the Lord? It’s such an honor, isn’t it? We get blessed in just so many ways when we do, don’t we?” These are all standard refrains from my Iris.

The more time I spend with this woman, hearing her stories and seeing her delight in life, the more my own appetite is whetted to pursue God in every area of my own life. She has logged countless hours at the feet of Jesus. And the Godly wisdom and counsel she has readily available, because of that time, is precious to all who are blessed by it.

“God gives us children and they are our mission field.   We are blessed to be able to spend time with our children. It’s a crucial time for them – this time that you have at home with them.”, she often reminds me.  When I’m weary of the daily, I can count on her to swoop in with her encouragement to just keep relying on God’s strength, not my own.

She never follows these positive reminders with “Don’t ever forget that!”. And, she doesn’t begin them with “You really should…!”.  No, no. She never chides.

My Iris only encourages.  And mightily.

“I think what you’re doing now – putting your children first, is the right thing.” Each time I consider embarking on a new adventure, this woman, who has been down many of these same roads before, challenges me to consider what I will be giving up for it.  And, more importantly, she asks me what God might be whispering in my ear about it? “Have you prayed? I will pray for you about this.”, she will say.

I’ve been mistaken for one of her daughters more times than I can count. It makes me smile each and every time.

I say she’s my sister.  And, indeed, she is.

What’s more, the legacy she will eventually leave, is one of a woman who loves well and often.  Who laughs at all the days to come.  Who joys in the very moment she’s been given.  Who lives life with zest and enthusiasm for each new challenge. A woman for whom the word adventure is an intimate friend and who is well acquainted with The One who has given her every breath.

I am deeply honored to be mentored by my sweet Iris.  Any legacy I am creating is shaped, in large part, by her influence in my life.

“We’ll keep you in our prayers.”, she ends every conversation with.

And I’ll be keeping you in mine, sweet Iris.

Yes indeedy.

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One Withered Fig

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Sometimes,  a girl can get into a downright funk about her age. Can I get an amen?

I’m talkin’  a “one square of chocolate ain’t gonna cut it today, folks!” kind of funk.

I’ve been experiencing a few growing pains, lately.  As in, my age… It is growing.

Please, don’t misunderstand me here.  I knew it was an inevitability.  I just thought it wouldn’t be quite so painful.  Turning 30 was a piece of cake.  Turning 40 was an even bigger piece of cake!  And I’ve taken pride in my ability to weather each new birthday with All The Laughter.

But this year, I face 42.

And, I’m feelin’ it y’all!  I got The Nostalgia the other day when I heard  Mike & The Mechanics’, “The Living Years”.  Immediately, I started to get all “Is this what almost half a lifetime looks like?”, with a side of “Who is that old lady in the mirror?”.

In the midst of all my moaning and groaning, though, there was a Small Still Voice whispering in my ear. And this is what it brought to mind:

“Let all that I am praise the Lord;
may I never forget the good things he does for me.”

Psalm 103:2 (NLT)

That brought all my caterwauling to a skidding halt! Because, there are so many good things.  Another Bible translation reads, “and forget not all His benefits.”

Sometimes, my life oozes the benefits of God, but I’m so stinkin’ wrapped up in this world’s vision of Worth, that I can’t see them.

I see them right now. Today I choose to focus on:

His steadfast presence even when I stalk away in a huff

His strength for every stinkin’ moment that I am weak or unable or unwilling

His grace in spades for this messed up little girl of His

His mercies new every single morning that He gives me breath again

His everlasting love for me exactly as I am and where I am

His patience with me as He continues to refine me

His blood poured out for me despite my sin

Whether I’ve accomplished much in the world’s eyes, doesn’t matter one withered fig to our God.

I can’t help but imagine that I must be fairly ripe (in the very best sense, of course, because otherwise, EWW!), because I certainly feel like He’s been using me lately.

And I love that! I love being used by God. Pick me! Pick me, God!  I am yours for the picking!

I believe I’ve officially written myself out of my funk, because 42 isn’t looking so bad.

Indeed.

Do any upcoming birthdays feel like they’re looming for you?  What helps you get a fresh perspective?

The Philosophy of Winter

In a way, winter is the real spring, the time when the inner things happen, the resurgence of nature.”
-Edna O’Brien (Irish Novelist)

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I don’t do winter.  I may have mentioned that a time or twelve.

Winter, particularly, brings out my inner philosopher.  No one likes my inner philosopher.  Especially not me!

I begin asking questions like “Why, specifically, am I here on this earth, Lord?”

Each time that question pops into my mind, I end up having a conversation with myself that’s 5 kinds of crazy. It usually goes a little something like this:

Me: “Why are you struggling so hard to make sense of It All?”

Well, me again, I guess: “Because I want to understand why I’m here. I want to make sure I’m doing what I’m meant to do.”

I get to thinking about that intersection of Faith and Follow. It’s sometimes blaring with so much traffic, that it’s no wonder we get directionally confused. Or worse, forget that I have to wait for the light to turn green before moving forward. And the longer I live on this earth, the more convinced I am that when I’m not sure which direction to go in, there’s really only one help for it.

Patience. Especially when it feels like winter in my soul.

Because:

“There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.”

Philippians 1:6 (The Message)

And if I’ll just practice some more patience, and keep trusting, then what’s inside, will indeed spring forth.