Five Minute Friday: Worship

worshipthekingweb

The white hot sun is lowering itself in the sky as I aimlessly float on the pool. I look up at the expanse of that deep in the  heart of Texas  blue sky, bleached pale by the sun’s scorching stare. 

The wisps  of clouds look like runaway stray hairs.  

Long.                  Trailing. 

As if God was rearranging it with His fingers. I bask in the goodness He gives – the cool water, the trees-those crape myrtles that flourish and thrive in the heat. Their blooms full-tilt in your face. White, pale pink, hot pink, lavender and my favorite, the deep red ones all painted from God’s palette. The doves  calling to each other as they fly around trying to cool their wings, the squirrels chasing each other up the tree trunks.  

I see all this and more and am so grateful. I am reminded of how much He loves me when I am surrounded by His creation. 
 
This is my worship today.
 
Here.
With His creation that shouts: 
 
“See me? He made me!”
 
Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Luke 12:22-24
 
 

Only Good Memories

Pain, sorrow, grief, sadness to the core; does it affect the things we remember? After my daddy died, my mother began waxing poetic about how she missed him and how good their life together was….nice, but, untrue, really. 

They argued long enough and loudly enough to make a fight between two tomcats look like the social event of the year. For most of my childhood he was a falling down alcoholic, one, who could keep it together for work- most of the time. She, on the other hand, had a tongue that could slice hardened steel like it was warm butter and she would goad him until he couldn’t stand it anymore. Then he would lash back at her-thus starting one more argument that would seem to last forever. She didn’t want the neighbors to “hear” them, so she would make him get in the car and drive so she could yell in the relative isolation of the vehicle. Most of the time I had to endure those trips pretending to be invisible. {and she never understood why my head was always in a book? Well, duh.}

After he died she would just go on and on about him. She loved him. She missed him. She needed him. He was a wonderful man. A wonderful companion. Sometimes I would comment on something that reminded me of one fight or other they had. According to her,  It was an argument, a discussion, a disagreement- never a “fight”. “We never fought.”  

She would vehemently deny the whole point and say it never happened or say that I had it wrong and would then relate the event as she remembered it. I never understood it. I asked her once why she only chose to have good thoughts about him and remember only the good things and she responded that when people die you just remember the good things- the bad part you forget. 

Being a nurse, I remember being in my psych nursing class and learning that the negative events in our lives are those that become the most vivid and enduring memories.  I cannot even attempt to answer my own question as to why she chose her memories. I have no clue. I suppose that was the only way she could cope after a lifetime of conflict.

Sometimes I wish that I could remember the good things about her… but I can’t. It’s the painful memories, the ones where I felt as if I didn’t matter as a child, I was belittled as a teen, and my own parenting was disrupted by her actions. In the end, the memories of the  disintegration into the madness that was our relationship until she died that I remember in living color.

There is a part of me that is so envious of everyone who had a “storybook life” where two parents loved each other well and showed it, where the individual was respected as a child and when a parent is lost, a healthy sorrow ensues. Actually I just wanted a real family, not one where I was an afterthought. 

(point of clarification: my parents were my grandparents who raised me after my biological parents divorced when I was 6 months old. I was dumped on my grandmother- my grandfather was serving in Korea at the time of my birth. They had been married less than a year when he shipped out- he was husband #6 or 7- never knew for sure).

Today she would have been 102 years old were she living; however, she gave up her fight with this world five years ago. I would like to miss her and to miss being with her. But I spent 35 years of my adult life missing a real, loving, trusting relationship with a woman who was irrevocably broken by the choices she made due to her mental illness. I think I grieved enough when she was alive to last the rest of my life.  

Back to the good/bad memories question…living long enough with the negative can extinguish the memory of the good.

 I think that’s one of the reasons Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8- “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

 And this is what I can try to do- fill my heart and mind with the things listed above- truth, honesty, justice, purity, loveliness, goodness, virtue, praise. 

When I am full of these there will be no room for the negative, tainted, ugly, evil, damning thought. I’m not there yet.

Maybe she got that part after all….

Me? I am still waiting for the good memories to surface. 

Maybe they will.

Someday. 

This morning, one of my blogging friends posted this as her status on FB:

“Too often we focus on the negative when there is SO MUCH positive to celebrate! How are you celebrating the positive in your life today? I’d love to hear.”

In light of what I wrote about, Traci, I suppose that I should tell you that the positive I’m focusing on is Life. Birthdays do that for me- We’ve just celebrated the oldest grandchild’s birthday; about to celebrate the next to youngest grandchild’s birthday; and then comes another one’s birthday the first week of September; then we celebrate a new life’s arrival mid-September; and another grandchild’s birthday in October. Whew! So much to celebrate- perhaps those negative memories will fade just a bit.

Restless

Restless

Yes, that is what I am.

I’m looking for You. 

Yes, You. 

The God Whose face I dream to dare to touch. Whose eyes look into mine, looking deep into the depths of me and Who alone knows me for who I am.

Like the writers in the Psalms- I search, I wait, I have sleepless nights, I feel despair, I feel elation, I feel justification, I feel abandonment. I want peace, I want vengeance, I want justice, I want righteousness, I want to prosper, I want to win, I want You to defend me, I want joy, I want rest, I want to be in Your presence.

I want You.

Sometimes, You are close, God.       And then, You’re not.

Sometimes I know You are here.

Sometimes I hear You speak.

Sometimes I hear You respond to me. 

Yet, You don’t even have to give me a twinkle of a thought. 

That scares me.

A little.

A lot.

Yet, Lord, I still want more of You. I hunger for Your Word.

Your Word–

Sometimes it crushes me.

Sometimes it breaks me.

Sometimes it molds me.

Sometimes I am held in the cleft of the rock by it.

Sometimes the right word at the right time makes me come alive.

I wish I was more- a better mother, a better grandmother, a better wife, a better me.

One that doesn’t trip from guilt to guilt over what I have or haven’t done. 

One that wishes she was understood. 

One that wishes she understood. 

But, the want-to and the doing are so far apart in reality.  How can I ever be who I am in You and be content?  How can I stand up and say I’ve run the race, I’ve completed the course, I’ve persevered and pressed on and endured for You when I don’t even know what I don’t know?

This sounds so… so – like I’m rambling or ranting as one on the brink of insanity. And maybe I am.

Maybe we all are?  All of us who follow a Carpenter who left all for nothing and got a mountain of rejection and a nightmare taste of hell just so we could become His siblings and call You Abba and live forever in Your presence.

  “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ ” Acts 17:24-28

 

Five Minute Friday: Small

How providential that the prompt for today’s FMF is 

SMALL

Eleven years ago today, my life took another turn.  I became a grandmother for the first time. Months of waiting, anticipating culminated in this day. We are so blessed by family now with 7 g’kids and another on the way in a few weeks. They are all precious to me, but it’s when they are so small they can fit on a pillow on your lap that I get all mushy.

You see, I’m a pediatric nurse by profession and tho retired I’m never far from that role. It’s the small ones, the defenseless, helpless, can’t do a thing for themselves babes that I gravitate to- every time. 

I can’t help but wonder if that’s how God sees us- and if it’s not the driving reason, above the sin and straying issue that He sent his own Son as a babe- He loves the defenseless, helpless, can’t do a thing for ourselves state we are in and He hovers over us the same way I’ve hovered over countless babes, especially my own. 

So if you think that you are too small, insignificant, helpless, hopeless for Him to notice. Don’t. He sees you. He loves you. Even if it was just you!

For God so loved the world that he gave his only son…. 

What a difference a Year makes

Declare- what a difference a year makes!

When I attended Mamas Write last year, I stumbled upon it via someones comment on FB,  I had no idea what to expect, nor did i know anyone who was there. I must admit I felt a little on the margins- I was one of the very few(count ’em on one hand) older ladies who attended. 
Whew, that took a lot to admit!  I have attended many other conferences for my profession and I’m used to many voices at one time all speaking the same language. But, not then- I was the foreigner in a foreign land. New to blogging, only at it not quite a year.  Not like some of those other “girls” whose voice had been out there for 5, 8, 10 years.  I was the outsider looking in and I was overwhelmed. TMI and a lot of it didn’t apply- not because I knew it all, but because I was in a different season than most of those precious young ones. 
Fast forward a couple of months and I went to Allume- I was called there- and I knew it. But, even though I met in RL many of the sweet girls I had become friends with online through the Better Writer group on FB, there was still something off kilter. TMI  again and so much that it was still flowing out my ears six months later. I did love meeting my girls tho- those ladies are so precious to me, to  have met, hugged, talked with, ate with, sat in sessions with and ate chocolate with; not to mention the incredible photo booth which was an experience in itself (yes, Trina, I mean you).  Still, I must admit that I’ve been off-kilter a lot since then.  A lingering minor illness that sapped my strength the rest of the fall, winter and into the spring made even thinking about blogging a challenge. 
Now, fast forward from spring to now- I declare! What an amazing difference a year makes. I was torn this year between going to every conference I could to not attending any. Financial concerns were looming. I held off until the week of the conference- ok, that was last week y’all! And, just like last year- It was a God thing that I go. 
I could tell you of meeting in RL two of my fellow Better Writer bloggers (like meeting long-separated family). I could tell you of the little jewels that stood out in Mary DeMuth’s talk; but I wrote a page and a half on that! I could tell you of all the sweet ladies that I met at the table at meal times. I could tell you of Kat Lee’s Ninja talk  (another 3 pages of notes). I could tell you of Amy Lynn Andrews’  fast and furious paced answers to those blogging FAQs (but she gave us the link to her cheat sheet). I could tell you of Holly Homer’s introduction to the world of Google + (whew, more notes!!). 
I could tell you of all the wonderful vendors I talked with whose hearts for the truly disenfranchised and for the least of these was evident in every conversation. I could tell you of Jill Monaco’s wonderful roller coaster talk and her absolute trust in God and His timing. I could tell you of David Molnar’s great photography tips and his fun sense of humor (great tips, thanks!). I could tell you of Jeff Goins and his most sincere talk regarding the in-between (not to mention-his impersonation of Ron Weasley). I could tell you of the worship band, Undignified and their wonderful leadership into the heart of worship for us all.  But, what stuck most in my heart was Shaun Groves.
Shaun’s heart is so far out in front of him it’s flashing with neon lights! His music was a joy to my ears, but when he talked about his precious little man, and the fact that if only someone had been compassionate and had sponsored this sweet boy, he would now be home in India in his own home with his own parents, with his own father telling him that he loved him in his native language. There were tears in Shaun’s eyes as he related the story of tucking in this little man and telling him that he loved him and this sweet boy, not understanding the language, asked what love meant. He told us that he used the words the boy did understand: “I big, big, big like you!” And that sweet boy told him: “Daddy, I love you, too.”  (big cry)
Shaun then related to us how much it would mean for this little boy to hear that from his birth parent and how he wished that it was so. That it was not him, the adoptive daddy, but the real daddy telling this little boy about love. It didn’t matter to him that he loved this one with all his heart, he only knew that there are many boys and girls out there who do not hear those words every night. There are so many more who are orphaned and given away or abandoned by parents who have no means to feed, clothe, educate, or anything else. These parents, destitute, fade away. The lucky ones are scooped up by missions and organizations like Compassion. Their bodies are fed, they are clothed and educated and their souls and spirits are fed the food they need to soar and to grow into the Body of Christ.  
That is what I want to tell you. It’s not about blogging. It’s about community. It’s about loving our fellow man, caring for those who are helpless to care for themselves, in whatever way we can. For those who blog- it’s telling our story to anyone who will listen because we all matter.  It’s loving until it hurts and then loving some more; and if we have the means it’s sharing what we have with those who have nothing.
Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes to feed the crowds. He will multiply your words to reach the ones who need to be told “I love You”.
Trust Him. He will feed you and give you words so that you can feed others. 
That’s what I gleaned between the lines last weekend at Declare!
I’m linking up with other attendees over on Declare’s site– go out and read what knocked their socks off this weekend? I know they’d appreciate it and any comment you give them will spur them on as they write!

I wish someone had told me

I wish someone had told me….

Before I watched Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont- that I would need Kleenex, that I would cry at the very end, that feelings that were rooted deep would rush to the top like fresh cream on milk.

As we grow older we start to wonder about our own mortality. It has become real. We can be consumed by avoiding the thought that we are the oldest generation alive in our family or by dwelling on that very thing from the moment we wake till the moment we climb into bed at night.

If I avoid all thoughts about aging I’m fooling myself. If I dwell on all aspects of it, those thoughts will crush me. I try to keep my distance from the age issue most days but sometimes, when a movie like this expresses aging in such a touching way, those thoughts escape the shadows and come out into the day where they can be seen by me. And I have a Monty Python moment-

 Run Away! Run Away!

Because I really have had a distinct dislike for what it represents-the loss of one ability or another, the increase of illness, the difficulties in communication between the old and the young. My apologies here for those of you who really love “old folks” and enjoy their company. My own experiences scarred me for life. Now I’m facing the fact that I’m teetering on the cliff of Senior Citizenship, my family might say I’m already sliding down the slope.

So there I sat in the dark. Alone. Watching. I got to the end of this movie that is so touching and endearing and so full of the reality of aloneness as we age and leave this world and the need for someone just to be there with us as we go. And I was fine until…. The second feeling rose to the surface.

It is something that I don’t quite know how to come to terms with. Have you ever been so homesick that you thought your heart would break if you didn’t get there in the next 24 hours? Let me explain:

As a child I never lived in one town more than two years, many schools (14) are in my past. Old friends. No friends. New friends. Rinse and repeat.

But there is this-

This once upon a time moment in my life. I had the opportunity to go to England as a child. I went to a summer camp there and for three days before camp started we saw London. For an 11 year old it made an indelible impression. I never thought I would see it again.

But God is good and He knows what He’s put in my heart. For our 25th anniversary, my husband and I celebrated well. We took a 16-day trip to England. We backpacked and crammed in every possible experience we could. We figured we only had the one chance. We came home and I never thought I would see it again.

I relived every moment of those 16 days over and over. It consumed me. Homesickness had set in. Only I didn’t know that was what it was until almost 2 years later when we got a bargain basement rate and went again. When I got off the plane in London the feeling was something indescribable.

Until that moment I had never understood that it’s the same feeling I get when I think of Heaven and all that’s waiting for me there. Because I know I don’t belong here.

 The last scene in the film is a view from the south side of Westminster Bridge looking back across the Thames at Big Ben. I cried. Like a baby. Because it feels like home and I’m not there. {I don’t even have relatives there.} And no one gets it, this longing that I have. Not even me. But God does.

Disclaimer: I love my husband, my children, my grandchildren and I would never distance myself from them.

Fact: But even they have heard me say: “If someone came up to me and told me there was a flat in London with my name on it I’d be there in a heartbeat.” Not in a flash, not on the next plane, not as soon as I could pack.  In. A. Heartbeat.  In that space between life and death, that pause between the lub and the dub.  Pretty dramatic, eh?

 The patriarchs were familiar with this intense longing: 

 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” Hebrews 11:13-16

  I understand what it means to long for a place and to acknowledge that I am an alien here. I do long for that Heavenly One much more than the earthly one and as I age it’s so much closer. I think God gave me a heart for London so that I would truly understand the longing I have for that Better Country.

London. A distant second. Yes.

But a city prepared for us? 

By God?

 Oh, Yes!