Table For Two, Please

One of my dearest friends loves to eat at restaurants. She’ll bring her favorite book and politely ask wait staff if she can “rent the table” for a little longer, when she finishes eating.

When I get the privilege of meeting her for a meal, I can always count on two things.  The first is that she will arrive before me.  I try to get there on time – I really do; but she knows me well. The second thing that happens, without fail, is that as I round the bend in the restaurant to get to our table, I find her hunched over whatever book she is currently reading, devouring a page. It makes me smile every time.

Her enthusiasm for reading is infectious.

And I can identify. I feel a lot like that whenever I get alone time with my God to read His Words.

Carving out the time in my day to do that is no easy task.  And, I’m sure that’s true for many of us.  But, it’s also critical.  Renee Swope reminds us, in her book, “A Confident Heart”, that we can’t “find” the time to spend with our Jesus.  We have to make the time.

Find_Time_ACH

And He can help us do that.  We need only ask Him to.

Even if we work outside the home and have family responsibilities. Even if we work the night shift, or struggle under the weight of unemployment, or suffer with a long-term illness. Even if we are double-dog tired by days end. Whatever your “even if” situation is, when you ask Jesus to clear the way for more time to spend with Him, I can promise you, He will! He’s just waiting to be asked.

Maybe, that’s why I love spending time with Him.  He doesn’t force me to come to Him. He invites me to.

He’s inviting you, too.

Who doesn’t want to accept an invitation like that?

Jesus_Invites_Us

The time that I carve out to spend with God is indeed at a table; but not at a restaurant table.  No. My kitchen table serves as the place where I can lay out His Good Word and my pencil and notebook and concordance and notecards and…

It’s a production, you see.  I want to be able to look up any word I don’t understand.  I need to be able to write any thoughts that He may bring to mind about my current thinking or behaving.  His truth needs to be underlined or starred or re-read out loud. Sometimes, I feel the need to re-write some Truth to be placed in a location where I can easily see it again and again.

And I just can’t do that in a restaurant.

But I most certainly can at home. For it is in those precious quiet moments, without distractions that I am able to hear Him speak soothingly to the hurt places and joyfully to the dark places and softly to the hard places.

And that table? It is always a table for two.

Join me over at Proverbs 31 Ministries’ Online Bible Study today. We’re discussing chapter 9 of “A Confident Heart” by Renee Swope.  And the topic?  #WhyWorry I don’t know about you, but I stand to learn much about that!  Go be encouraged.

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The Method of the Message

“All the world’s a stage.”

William Shakespeare

Recently, I peeled back some of those silly surface layers I pile on around here to share a little corner of my heart that needed some serious light shined in. And it felt like a too-bright spotlight was being shined on just such a space that desperately needed some cobwebs swept away to make more room for God to pour into. And He did.  Oh, how He did!

Actually, He’s still sweeping.

At the time that I wrote about all the editing, I felt some guilt. I’m not gonna lie. We like to call that conviction, around here. It was never my intention to make my daily life a stage.  I’ve spent more than a little time wondering where the line that determines sharing to be known for the rights reasons (making someone feel less alone) and sharing to be known for the wrong ones (do I matter to others?) lies.

But…

I’m enamored of a God who dispenses grace like candy. And, although He does indeed give me a good swift kick in the shorts sometimes, it’s only because I need it.  Here’s the beautiful thing, though – I can always count on Him to liberally apply The Balm of Grace to this convicted little heart of mine, afterwards.

And he did that this weekend.

Listening to a message about the different parts of the body and how they each have a function and each one is necessary for the entire body to function properly, I felt His merciful grace drenching my sore spirit. He whispered gently of how He lovingly created me.  Exactly as I am. And He reminded me of my function and place within the body of Christ.

We are each gifted with a different way to share the message of God’s love with others.

Gifted_To_Give_Missindeedy

I felt Him clearly telling me that it’s not a bad thing that I share my message with a side of funny.  That is part, I hope, of what appeals to some of you who so graciously subscribe to my nonsense on a regular basis. (I surely do like me some people with a sense of humor. Thank you LORD for my friends here!)

But… I realize that there are times when, to get God’s message of Love and Hope out there, I have to bring it uninvited.   And, I know this to be true from personal experience. There are so many folks on this here World Wide Web, especially in my little corner of it, who don’t want a full on message of Love and Hope.  They’d rather have a quick little morsel of truth wrapped up in Some Funny.  I get that.  I do. Mostly because, not so long ago, that was me. My heart couldn’t handle the truth.  It literally could not.

And, honestly? I still wrestle with The Truth sometimes.

So, I write about the mishaps and the grace that always follow because I want to be reminded that it’s True.

God will always shed grace.

Always.

We can really only share what we have authentically experienced ourselves, right?

It turns out that Shakespeare was pretty stinkin’ smart.  Our entire world really is a stage. Each of us truly is an actor of sorts.  We each have a message inside.  And we are each gifted differently for its delivery.  The method of my message will continue to be delivered in a way exclusive to what God lays upon my heart and the way He has wired me to deliver it.  The same is true for you.

As I vigilantly watch for that swift kick before it connects with my backside,  I will continue on with my message.

The mishaps will continue to be a’plenty – I’ve no doubt.

But there is always grace galore.

Yes indeedy!

All The Editing

I’m keeping the tone of what I have to say light, but be sure of this – I’m sharing deep here, today.  And it’s scary deep, to me.

“Conversations happen in real time and cannot be edited.” *  This quote, my friend Katie heard recently, really stuck in my craw.

Hard.

Then, a few days later, I listened to an online message about looking for likes in all the wrong places. And my ears perked up all over again at this: “Instead of trying to sound interesting, build others up.” (by Steven Furtick)

Ouch.

In all of the thinking I’ve been doing about these two quotes, I keep going back to that first one about conversation. I’ve realized that people only see a sliver of what’s really going on in my real life on social media exactly because I do so much “editing”.

All The Editing can’t be a good thing. It makes it seem like I am so much more witty, intelligent, or jovial than I really am.

Don’t get me wrong here, I don’t believe that being any of those things are negative. In fact, I’m a firm believer that God gave each of us particular gifts to be shared with the world.  As long as we’re pouring Him out into and onto others as we go along, and doing it all for His glory.

But here’s the rub, for me: I start to believe that I am nothing if I’m not able to make enough people laugh (at me), or join the conversation (with me), or show interest.

In me.

I’m cringing as I’ve tapped out those two little words.  They tell me all I need to know about the condition of my heart, deceitful above all things.

I just can’t get that initial conversation quote out of my head, either! Maybe because I’m not supposed to. It sure felt like that quote was directed straight toward my heart when I first read it.  The dagger of truth only sank deeper and deeper in each time it crossed my mind.

I truly can’t edit a conversation. Right? Not if it is happening in the now. Oh sure, I can go back and tweak it, or polish it up to make a point, or highlight certain words for emphasis that I hope others will find interesting or important or impressive.  All of those “I” words that our God actually cares nothing for.  He is not interested in my highest highs being the only thing others see.

He’s interested in being the only thing I show others.

Let_Every_Detail_Missindeedy

The more I think on it, the more I believe that was the lesson for me.  No matter how I go about living my life, what tweaks I make, or places in my life that I decide to polish up – I need to be doing it for God’s glory. And His alone.

Every detail, for God. Period.

*(Click on the quote at the beginning of this post and you can read more about what sparked all of this thinking in the first place. You’re going to want to check that out. I Promise.)

Life Interrupted

Some of God’s greatest gifts truly are wrapped in unlikely packages. Mine came in all 6 pounds and 10 ounces of baby goodness.  Sweetman and I loved every single inch of this package.  He seemed perfect.  We dreamed of life as parents of a bouncing baby boy.

Two years later, our lives were interrupted by the diagnosis of Autism.  I could try to tell you how I wrapped myself around that diagnosis and accepted it with open arms, knowing that if “God brought us to it, He’d see us through it.”  But I didn’t.  I really didn’t.

Here’s what I did do:

  • I cried out to God for answers
  • I leaned hard and heavy on friends who loved us despite my child’s behaviors
  • I continued to believe God had His hand in this, on us, and around him
  • I learned the power of a desperate prayer thrown heavenward morning, noon, or night

There were moments where I longed  are still moments when I long to be able to take part in those conversations where I talk about the sports that are played, the interests that are pursued, the unique passions that are on display “already”.  But I can’t.

What I can do, however, is to stick with it.

Because there isn’t any easy button for this life interruption.

But God…

Be_Strong_Missindeedy

I realize, now, that the healing of this mama heart of mine is going to be a life-long process. And there will be more heartache along the way. But, you know what?  I can honestly tell you that I’m okay with that.

In fact, I say “Yes!” to God because my Sweetboy is fearfully and wonderfully made.  By Him.  For me.

And through it all, I’ve come to understand that this child? He is indeed perfect.

For us.

Oh yes he is.

I’m joining a community of over 24,000 Jesus lovin’ ladies from all over God’s Green Earth for a blog hop today.  We are studying the book “What Happens When Women Say Yes To God” by Lysa TerKeurst over at Proverbs 31 Ministries’ Online Bible Study. If you’d like to read some of the other beautiful words from this online community, click the button below.

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Dripping Grace

Grace_Upon_Grace_MissindeedyWhen do you feel God dripping His grace on you?

I feel it when I am as low to the ground as a human can get without becoming a part of it.

To those of us who have messed up – and good – and felt mercy in a palpable way, that grace is a gift of great significance.  The relief that floods in after being forgiven can bring me to my knees.

At no time is grace more evident to me than when I, in my desperate attempt to matter, muck it up with others I love. It is then that I deserve nothing but condemnation. And instead, I hear, “That’s okay.  We all make mistakes.”  Praise God for His mercy, through others, in those moments.

Why am I surprised when, time and time again, while working through an inward struggle, I crack open my Bible to read and find The Very Verse needed to both convict my heart of my rebellion and encourage my heart of my redemption?

Grace.

In spades.

Right there.

Dripping onto me right from The Very Word  itself.

Yes indeedy.

Drip Your grace onto me, Father God.

Please.

And make my own heart willing to drip it onto others with abandon.

Lessons by Sunrise

As we were strolling along the beach, earlier than humans should be allowed to be strolling, and looking for shells and treasures, Sweetgirl kept stopping to pick up “shells” like this:

At least their vibrantly colored, right?

At least they’re vibrantly colored, right?

Ahab and I kept telling her that she should be looking for shells like this:

The ones with holes are perfect for stringing necklaces, right?

The ones with holes are perfect for stringing necklaces, right?

You know. Perfect shells.

Because, all of us adults seem to have this need for perfection.

Or, maybe just the pursuit of perfection.

And there’s that theme again. When, Lord?  When will I learn this lesson once and finally?

But, God doesn’t want perfection from us.

Perfection began and ended in His Son, Jesus Christ.

I just need to follow hard after Jesus.

And for every time I stumble, I need only look up at The Hand that is offered to get back up.

Maybe, I need to see myself as one of those broken shell pieces.

I should also try to remember that I am already precious to Someone exactly as I am.

Just as those broken bits are to my Little Bit.

Although I would have preferred an earlier start to this lesson in my life, I’m ever so thankful for it.

And, I thank God that He is providing opportunities to teach her this lesson much earlier in her own life.

I’m also hopeful that this lesson sticks with her as she navigates life amidst All The Broken.

Oh, yes indeedy!

In Your Blood

Turtle_Egg_Beaching_Missindeedy

Or, I could have titled this post, “Just Another Deep Beach Walk & Talk With Ahab”.

The Tantrums and whining have been plenteous out of Sweetgirl at this stage of her development. Can I get an Amen from other mama’s that are In It or who have Been There?

Ahab likes to remind me that I still have them, now and then, at 40-something.  Don’t hit me with facts, man!

We are employing the “ignore the nasty behavior and maybe it will go away” strategy, right now.

I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, during our early morning walk the other day, the sweet children were delighted to see the turtle egg sanctuaries dotting the beach.  They ran right up to them and asked, again, about the process.

I patiently re-explained how the mama digs a hole in the sand and delivers her baby turtle eggs there and then covers up the hole with sand and heads back out into the ocean to eat.  And I reminded them how when the baby turtles hatch out of their eggs they make their way out to the great big ocean to find their mother (I might have made up that last part to stem the 400 anguished “But, WHY?” questions that would result from full-out honesty, here). 

Their eyes glazed over and they bailed.

Down the beach they went, playing “catch me if you can” with the waves lapping at their feet.

Ahab turned to me and said, “Those kids sure are ocean lovers, aren’t they?”

I replied that of course they were – I am their mother!

And he reminded me of this truth:

“Once the ocean gets in your blood, it’s there to stay, isn’t it?”

As he sauntered off to frolic with his grandkids, I stood still for a moment to let that sink in.  And I came to a realization.

The ocean getting in your blood is an awful lot like when Jesus enters your heart.

He is there to stay.

And He will cleanse you.  Much like the ocean will for any wound you have on your body.

And He will wipe out our mistakes. As the ocean will do to any pictures drawn in the sand.

And He will remind you of how Powerful He is.  Just as the crashing waves of the ocean will.

And the deeper you allow Him to take you and your heart, the more beauty you will discover. Oh, the beauty to be found in the depths of the ocean!

And, sometimes, there are scary things lurking in deeper waters. We are all quite capable of envisioning something in the ocean that causes fear.

And His significance will ebb and flow throughout your walk with him. Just like the ocean’s tides.

But His love for you is endless. Exactly as the ocean looks when you stare out at the expanse of it.

My pondering came to a screeching halt when Sweetgirl came running up to me to ask, “When the baby turtles hatch, will they see their mama? Does the mama come back? Who will help them? How will they find her?”

Rapid fire.

Just like that.

With an increase of Whine and Panic with each new question asked.

And before I can answer, Ahab jumps in and says, “She doesn’t come back because then the baby turtles will just whine instead of figuring out how to make their way to the ocean by themselves. They just know how to do it already.  It’s in their blood.”

To which Sweetgirl replies calmly, “Oh.”

To which I reply in my heart, “Oh.”

Yes, indeedy.

Good Enough

For the days that filling, refilling, and emptying the blow-up pool seems like an endless task; for the days that the string of pleas for another Popsicle bombard you like water balloons; for the moments of weakness when answering questions about why God made kids with allergies might do you in; and drumming up meals for distinctly different and picky palates turns into the carrot stick that broke the mama’s back… For those kinds of days?  I cling to the adage that I only have to be a “good enough parent”.

Back during the time that I was first told that depression and I were going to walk hand in hand for a while; back when I wasn’t sure I was cut out to be a parent, after all; back when I desperately needed to know that I was enough for this life I’d been given, I was reminded that on those particular days, I just needed to be good enough parent to get through the day. I don’t need to be a perfect parent.

That’s an important distinction.  One that I often miss when I set out to do this deeply difficult and important parenting thing.

And this good enough parenting thing? It isn’t for every day.  Just for those daysGod knows we all have them.  And we all know we give God lots of those parenting days, ourselves, don’t we?

But, I’d forgotten this whole principle in my desperate desire to get it right while I’m here. And I about ran myself ragged with All The Trying.

Good_Enough_Missindeedy

And now, I’d kind of liken it to my walk with God.  He doesn’t expect perfection.  His goal is to press us on toward Christ-likeness.

My goal is not to be Christ.

It’s to be more like Christ.

And He tells me that His power is made perfect in my weakness.

And oh, how I give him ample opportunity to perfect His power!

My job?  My job is to focus on doing All The Things as best I can manage.

filling, refilling, emptying, and refilling that pool
providing food one meal at a time
loving the questioner and accepting the questions that I have no answer for

If I do all of those things through Christ who strengthens me, they are all possible.

And I will find that I am, indeed, good enough for the job I’ve been given.

The Wonder of Five Minute Friday

It’s the final Five Minute Friday post of 2012.  My word! That sounds so official.  If you’d like to join in, click this little button below.  The more the merrier, I say!  (And the more cups of coffee I get to enjoy while reading all of the other pieces of writing.  I win!)

 

WONDER

Go…

There are some things that I never wonder about.  My standing in my Father’s eyes, for one.  My willingness to do whatever is necessary for my own children’s well-being. (Even if that does involve trying their ice cream before they do to make sure it “tastes right”.) Sometimes I do wonder about their flavor choices, but I remind myself that it takes all kinds.

I never wonder if the sun will rise.  But I do wonder some nights why it takes so interminably long to set. (Early bedtimes, anyone?)

Wonder never enters the equation when I enter the doors of my Bible Study group and see their compassionate and loving smiles. I do, however, wonder how a few of them get their hair to look that perfect each and every Thursday?

Elements of wonder such as curiosity and joy and contemplation all enter my mind as I ponder the bread broken for me.  The blood spilled out for me.  But I never wonder if He meant to do it for me.  I know He did.  I do wonder why.  There are days that I just pray this:

I know how I can be.  But, then again, so does Jesus.  And He loves me anyway.  Thank you God!

And that’s where wonder leaves me, when it finally does.  That place of knowing and yet still enjoying a little bit of the miraculous.  Because the fact that I am loved. Despite… Wonderful! Yes indeed.

The Best Friend Ever

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.

Henri Nouwen

I was reminded, recently, that when we spend time with Jesus, he reminds us who we really are.  (Thank you, Dolly!)

 

And I thought to myself, “It’s true! He’s, like, the best friend ever!”.

 

Sadly, it’s true.  I did, indeed, use the word “like” in my head as I had this thought.  For this, I am sorry.  I grew up in sunny south Florida on the beach.  Some stereotypes you can’t shake with a stick.

 

As I thought about this more, I realized that like all best friends, they long for us to just “hang” with them.  And, that the more we do hang with them, the more we get to know about them.  And, the more we get to know about them, the more we usually find that we like about them.  And, ultimately, the more time we spend together, the more alike we become.  (This is starting to sound suspiciously like a children’s book about a house that some child, named Jack, built.)

 

What attracts me to Jesus Christ is who He is.  I like who He was, who He is, and who He always will be.

 

I like that He showed kindness to those that didn’t deserve it, to those that never received it, and to those for whom society simply wouldn’t take the time to show it.

 

There are friends in my circle who tell me that, surely, I’m some sort of saint for showing “so-and-so” much more kindness than ‘they ever could’.

 

But, I can’t take all of the credit for that.  In fact, I can’t take any of the credit.

 

I’m copying my Best Friend.

 

I like that He didn’t lie.  He spoke the truth about The Truth, didn’t let half-truths stand, and got angry when others weren’t telling it in His presence.

 

Despite the fact that I have absolutely no connection to Dr. Phil, I often, do indeed, “tell it like it is”.

 

But I can’t take credit for that, either.

 

I’m copying my Best Friend.

 

It is my genuine hope that I continue to copy Him.  In fact, lately, I’m praying a whole heckuva lot more of Him and a whole heckuva lot less of me, please.

 

Besides which, in the words of Sally Field, “He likes me. He really really likes me!”

 

And that?  That makes him The Best Friend Ever.

 

Totally.