Coupling (pairing of two items)
The air outside had been stifling. With well over 100 degree weather, the respite was a natural cooling down of temperatures at dusk. A portable air box and fans helped to keep the air inside moving but without forced air conditioning, it was hot.
With a southern exposure, the sun stretched it's light in full saturation. The shades were drawn; squelched stillness permeating the soul. Two little ones (aged 3 and 18 months) were playing inside. Toys: wooden train and tracks, dolls and clothes, nesting shapes resting in one another, a stuffed turtle whose babies zip into a pouch, rattles with rings - all were strewn across the floor. A benched cabinet whose top is made from old wooden stadium bleachers alongside crisp, white doors and clear crystal knobs make a perfect contrast of color and texture while acting as an indoor climbing apparatus.
Walking outside into a subtle cooling down at dusk made it feel like a literal breathe of fresh air. The first stop was the outdoor swing and then a venturing out into the yard. Because the view is breathtaking at this hour, the interlude from the heat seemed even more palatable. Beyond the tall hedges of Oleander, past the houses that sit below, past the river bed is an open field that rests against the hills. I could see some deer in the distance. Deciding to include the 3 year old into a conversation, I brought out the large indoor telescope and placed it at the yard's edge. I focused the lens and scope toward the deer. Mom hoisted the small child upward to peer into a dime-sized hole - nothing. As I began to follow the 18 month old younger sibling around the yard, hoping to deter him from putting any and every small item into his mouth, mom continued her patient intent of trying to get her child to notice the objects in the distance. Until ... what seemed liked an eternity, wide-eyed and a facial expression that showed tremendous delight, reindeer! she said.
Recognition - the view was clear
The heat was rising but not just in temperatures. Because of a variety of books and an on-line, interactive class I'm taking, it just so happened that all had a common thread of examining the sub-conscious thoughts, beliefs and judgements people make at an early age. At first, the books were meeting unmet needs but then it prompted an internal dialog that went deeper.
I believe God, through the holy spirit, reaches out for the purpose of relationship. In the midst of one door closing and another one opening, God was ordaining a faith meeting in which he could drive the conversation a little deeper with precision timing and scalpel-like precision.
The same day a life-long faith friend was moving out of state, I coincidentally reached out to a new friend through a card of encouragement. The card came before the sadness and I realized God was working "behind the scenes" in a path moving forward. The new friend met me a week later for lunch. Oddly, the conversation naturally progressed to a deep conversation about faith and relationships. It was anything but the superficial introductions that often take place with strangers. She encouraged me to read the book, Boundaries by Dr Henry McCloud and Dr John Thompson. Originally published in 1992, the book has expanded into marriage, dating and kids and has numerous awards and accolades. I ordered it on Audible.Com and truly prepared my heart and mind for the journey. It just so happened that I had an impending 8 1/2 hour drive that was a perfect time to meander back into the depths of me.
Some things are too personal for words to adequately convey their meaning but several times, I wept ... I wept at the hurt and disappointment, I wept at my utter and complete lack of healthy boundaries; I wept into the pain. God needed me to have a new lens! The lack of control of my own life is my responsibility and mine alone. There existed quiet and faulty beliefs just below my surface. They originated from the early formative years of growth and with years of experiences, it was a slow progression of a crock-pot stew of emotions and judgements.
It was clear, God was disassembling the parts of me that needed a little tweaking. The combination of books, a class, a difficult season at work and I was raw. I reached out to two friends where the black soot bubbled up; they reached out in a deep conversation of love and acceptance.
I was becoming the same little girl that stood in my backyard trying to peer through a telescope. At first I couldn't see anything. I moved the lens up, down and from side to side - nothing ... until finally, reindeer!
I purposely use the word reindeer because that is the word I heard from the mouth of a three year old. It made me smile - out loud, if that is possible.
I might of gotten distracted for a moment later, the dog poop went into the mouth of the 18 month old little boy I was supposed to be watching. It was a quick swoop and moments later, his mother and I were quickly responding with water. Washing up the mouth and hands of a little one, reminding me of a parallel in life: distracted, the crap enters swiftly.
I purposely use the word reindeer for another reason, however. It conjures up, for me, the image of Santa and his reindeer and flying through the sky on moon lit skies and leaving gifts for small children to receive. It is a perfect word because of the word that naturally follows - mystery.
It is not by accident God calls us to a childlike faith. Mystery. I think we get so "hung up" on being "politically correct" or instilling a complicated narrative in the lives of children that we forget they need to believe in innocence.
From the lens of a seasoned pilgrim, the larger narrative in our current culture, has been a progression toward kid sized shoulders carrying the weight of adult sized problems. If you introduce complicated concepts of gender inequality, racism, discrimination, biases, hatred BEFORE they have sprinkled Leprechaun dust or smelled the gingerbread man baking or the thought of marrying his/her prince or princess under the snow filled branches of an overgrown forrest surrounded by beautiful little creatures, you rob them of simplicity.
If you begin with "there is no such thing as Santa", and introduce them to divorce, disease, and division, their inherent value and worth gets skewed. I think that is why children's books, imagination, dreams hold a vital ingredient to a healthy narrative. Too often, children are used as pawns on a chess board to make grown-ups suffer.
Before the bad, the GOODNESS needs to exist.
God is in the process of transforming us into the likeness of himself and in order to make subtle shifts, sometimes the best recipe is going backwards before going forwards. I must believe there exists people that care for me in the deepest (indescribable) meaning of the word. Weird - because I am surrounded by people. No, this is something different. It is so deeply personal that NO WORDS could possibly convey it's meaning. In faith, God moves toward the muck in order to replace the soot of our souls with pure oil.
Spermaceti, a rich substance found in the head of a sperm whale, for example, is essential to the whales survival. Although it's exact purpose still baffles, the larger meaning is not lost: the design of a whale is so brilliantly delicate implies that we too possess the qualities of being both hugely complicated and finely simplistic.
Further, if God is redeeming us through careful precision, then we understand that those around us are moving toward a deeper faith; the path is both complicated and simplistic. Like a patchwork of colors, we are in the process of becoming.
This week at youth group, we talked about the fourth watch as being significant in scripture. Whether you are new to faith or not, it is the early morning hours of 3-6am. I am not a biblical scholar so you will need to do your own research on it.
It resonated with me on a personal level: frustratingly, I often wake at that time and cannot go back to sleep, beginning a menagerie of tactics (unhealthy) antics or I reach for my cross, literally holding it in my hand as a tangible act of releasing my worries into the hands of Christ, praying silently and allowing rest (healthy) to take hold of my body, mind and heart.
This week, I accepted the youth group challenge of opening God's word and hearing his voice at that hour. I silently prayed. I would not set an alarm but if, however, I awoke at that time, I would turn on the light and allow a personal relationship with the Lord to permeate my being toward a tangible act of worship.
Sure enough, I woke naturally and looked at the clock: it was 3:30am. I turned on the light and allowed scripture to direct my eye site, then opened my journal and wrote a letter to me of what I sensed were the loving words of Christ. At first, I included those specific words in this month's blog post but in closer reflection decided to omit them in order to replace the burden on you, the reader. I invite you into my heart as an act of obedience but the faith part is allowing God, to do the work in your heart and life. My hope is that God will use my personal transparency in order to prick your heart toward the sticky, ugly parts of you for the purpose of transforming you toward the likeness of Him. His truth, His promises breathing life into those dead places of your heart.
Church is changing but His great commission is not: to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength and to love each other as Christ loves His church. Matthew 22:37 We will fall short, period. Let me say that again: we will fall short because of the fallen nature of our humanity but if you are faithful to confess your sin, He is faithful to cleanse you. You are forgiven, you are loved, He has a purpose for your life. If you make the tangible step of inviting Him in, He is faithful to respond. Revelation 3:20 He will be BOTH present in the broken places of your heart and life AND and in the celebration and praise of your blessings. He does not promise an easy road but a journey of becoming ... love.
At the end of the day, there is only ONE NAME, Jesus.
This month's post is about a telescope. If you are reading this, you live in a a fast-paced, ever changing world of technology and producing and climbing the ladder and being the best, most beautiful, athletic, philanthropic, environmentally aware, politically steeped, religiously affiliated, leader, student of life.
Sometimes ... you just need to slow down.
You need to be hoisted up ... not just lifted from empty, unloving arms but with arms that intrinsically love you to YOUR core of your being toward a telescope. With patient persistence, the lens is gingerly tweaked from side to side, up and down.
Until ... what seems liked an eternity, wide-eyed and a facial expression that shows tremendous delight, Jesus! you say.
Coordinates brings the different elements into a relationship that will ensure efficiency or harmony
At work, I am responsible for a myriad of projects including paying the monthly bills but before I do, I must enter the exact coordinates (literally 19+ digits) for every invoice. It tells the broader story of where the money is coming from.
In life, there is a beginning story of you. Added to that are your experiences which is then added to your age. In God's perfect love for you, the exact coordinates to the core of your being is dialed in. God, with precision timing and lazar sharp vision, focuses the exact location of the single most pure gold of you. It is love. It is the place where there is NOTHING that could separate you from being loved. You, in perfect uniqueness are completely and wholly loved ... period.
The purest oil - you. Unimaginably complicated and breathtakingly simplistic, there is nobody like you and God, the father, takes great delight in that. So much so, that he calls you to step onto a chair in order to look through a telescope.
Psalm 139 (1-6)
You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and and my lying down;
you are familiar with all of my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue;
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before;
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
too lofty for me to attain.
A fellow point guard for the faith; a writer, deep thinker, music loving, jeep blazing ... follower of Jesus.