The team of four auditors walked to the front door - cups of coffee and computers in hand. It is not a surprise, the books for a busy office are evaluated annually. In other words, my work is scrutinized. They are making sure i have dotted my i's and crossed my t's in a fast-paced year where excellence is everything.
It is the sound check before a concert.
I'm pretty good at details but still, my heart compressed as my outstretched hand firmly shook the hands of my colleagues. My boss likely fielding questions, my competency, in part, influences him. He has his work to do but also his reputation is based on my hard work too.
It is a team effort.
Introductions: this was among the opening songs for an annual benefit to raise money for memory loss. It is the singer/songwriters that make other people look good. They have collectively written hundreds of songs you know and love on the radio, sung by other artists who have made the songs that stick in your head and bring you back to places tucked into memory. Reaching deep into their guts, they are dreamers and risk-takers but again, it is collaborate effort between artists.
A train, a sunset, an audit and a concert.
dandelions blown in the wind under autumn colors, seeds scatter hope in the breeze
An odd coincidence, I was at an evening bible study where the hosts introduced us to a new video series we watched. Twenty minutes in, a flush of color rose up my neck and into my cheeks; my slight heart murmur beat a step faster to the internal noise of my soul. Using video clips is not unusual in youth ministries but when the pastor preached, his sermon seemed to parallel my words, themes and videos.
Weeks before, I had considered "scaffolding" my website but i have grown spiritually, emotionally and as a writer because of this website. Like faith, each step of the way, I trust and walk forward but I cannot do it alone. I need this platform as much as I need colleagues. The audit is simply the gauge of how we are doing. Wanting to keep with the culture, I considered changing the format but when the young college aged help desk associates pointed out unique page visits, google positions, newsletters, SSL's, logo's, I was in over my head. Nothing is mine to hold on to, tightly. It is a great example of our relationship with Christ. We stumble, fall, grow, praise, step out slowly, jump in enthusiastically but the real work is a willingness to try. With a humble heart, trust begins with a step.
Words, words, words ... as I have written more, I have less to say. It really comes down to the hard work of the cross. God has reached deep into my soul turning what I thought was love, redemption, forgiveness, grace and everything I thought I knew about hard work and religion upside down.
my heart beat faster to the internal noise of my soul - as I looked for a train to take me home.
I knew of dandelions at a very young age. My little hands picked brightly colored yellow flowers from Nana and Papa's yard to hold it delicately under the mouth of their very old and large turtle. Searching for them, I considered the bloom a secret treasure. I still do when I think back to those early days of wonder.
As a junior high school girl, I loved blowing whimsical, translucent white seeds into the wind, wishing the deep secrets of my heart into the sunset of youth. I still do when I think back to those early days of hope.
Bright yellow flowers - clear white petals. They are one in the same. It is the life-cycle of a dandelion. A young and vibrant burst of color, growing quiet and closed until it re-opens again with dry seeds that will be scattered in the wind. A perfect word picture for the maturation of faith. I hang on to this image as I trust moving forward.
It is a four-wheel motion deep into trails that traverse the corners of the canyons of our souls. It is a journey of faith we all are on. I pause. I wait. I trust. I hope. I look up.
They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he needed. Every day, they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47
Financial audits are easier than spiritual ones. They are an accounting of the details of business but what about the audit of faith?
We all have them - bumps along the road. The internal and external were at a crossroads. As I thought of audits, I humbly pondered the areas that needed some work.
Perhaps I was running a little low in these areas.
It is easy to be absorbed in our own worlds. I am guilty of it too but when I was walking in San Francisco last week, I couldn't help but step into the shoes of someone very different from myself. An attractive woman dancing in the streets. There was a boombox playing a popular song. I admired her boldness and confidence. As I walked by, I realized it was a man. I still admired his enthusiasm. Some time later, I passed again crossing the street where out of the corner of my eye, a woman who looked to be a tourist in her 40's did a humiliating mocking motion toward the man. It was a quick jeer and laughing with a group of friends; it was a split-second bullying, outside the playground and I paused. My immediate response was to call her out and the other was to hug the man in the street but I did neither.
Sigh, I did neither. So ... I began to write and pray.
Change must begin with us. Humbly, the conversation of mental illness, suicide, cancer, domestic abuse, inability to find a job, loneliness, frustration, skinned knees and broken places tug at my heart; it is in a context of us not them, that we grow into a community that loves. This has been in a context of a lot of news headlines in the past month: a mass shooting, hurricanes, fires, earthquakes and floods. This is in the midst of a nation divided. I don't stand with answers but only a heavy sigh and a willingness to step out in obedience and try to make a difference in one person's life.
A blessing and a burden is to be vulnerable and honest.
The past few years has been an unraveling of myself and a building up from the ground in order to transform me closer to the example of Christ. It is a letting go of my hard work, a letting go of my adult kids so that they may become uniquely themselves, and letting go of everything safe and comfortable. I wish I could say the work is easy but a strengthening and deepening of character never is.
God does not give us a spirit of fear so I let go and allow Him to change me into a more authentic, flawed version of me.
The result ... a deeper joy and a broader gratefulness.
I have come to believe less is better. God is in the midst. An open embrace just as you are speaks more to the depth of one's soul. That is what community is all about. With gratitude and praise, we appreciate the blessings we do not deserve but our honored to receive.
They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts. Acts 2:46
October and candy corn go hand in hand. I leapt from my computer screen, exchanging writing this post in order to hang out with a bunch of high school kids, youth group. I was slowed by the humility of prayer. un-expectantly, in the midst of our quiet words, our youth pastor handed each one of us a candy corn; the Lord had revealed through the holy spirit someone who held on to un-forgiveness. Each of us was to think of one person we needed to forgive. Gathered in silence around the fire, we stood in the stillness of our hearts. Through quiet prayer, each of us were able to identify a person or circumstance in order to let go. Individually, we tossed our tiny piece of candy into the fire.
As the sweet remembrance rose in the fragrance of autumn, we forgave ourselves too.
Then we prayed.
I love trains and sunsets. As I sat under orange skies, a train passed at just the right time. In the business of audits, God isn't looking through financial spreadsheets but instead our willingness to do the hard work of a jeep trail on the inside - blazing roads of light and darkness, we loosen our grip to trust a living God.
Depth and breadth - may you open your arms wide.
As I thought about my website, i remembered the early prayer: "Lord God, use me to reach one person." And, then I opened my hands and blew the dry seeds of a dandelion across technology through a website and a willingness to fall and skin my knees in order to grow deeper in a relationship with Christ.
The second night of watching the video series in the bible study, I smiled. The same pastor using video and words was highlighting a ministry for hundreds of young girls 1/2 way across the world and I smiled. I smile at the folks that encourage me through their ministries and example of faith.
An introductory song and introductions to an audit, it is the beginning steps to something bigger. I pray God challenges you, too, as we have a limited amount of time in this world. May the breaking of bread in the name of Jesus Christ awaken your soul to His goodness. May you authentically love and be loved as Christ loves us.
And the Lord added to their numbers daily those who were being saved Acts 2:47
A person who searches for depth and beauty in the simple things.