Changing times

falls

“Patience,” she says.  “After all, Niagara Falls wasn’t formed in a day.”

Niagara Falls?

“Mom,” I say, my ten year-old self feeling smug and smart. “The saying is Rome wasn’t built in a day, not Niagara Falls!”

She doesn’t stop pinning the hem of a dress I am to wear to my eldest brother’s wedding. We’d pick the material and pattern out on a shopping trip to the fabric store in town about a month before. And this was at least the fifth time I’d had to stand on the step stool in our kitchen as she tucked, pinned, and chalked the paisley printed cotton.

“Rome or Niagara Falls…great things take time,” she say. “Now straighten your knees or your hem is going to be as crooked as the tower of Pisa.”

I straighten in obedience. Anticipation of the new dress had me excited but irritable with the time it was taking. Yet, with each fitting there was a new piece added, stitched thoroughly. The dress changed to be suited perfectly for me, with my mother’s skill and with time.

Continue reading “Changing times”

A step into living hope

“And honestly, the loneliness of self-protecting barriers can feel like it will kill you–and the heart-breaking risk of intimacy and vulnerability can feel like it will kill you too.” Ann Voskamp from The Broken Way (2016)

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“I wouldn’t even know,” he says, his eyes becoming half moons with his warm grin. “Truly. You’re all  heart girl but I wouldn’t know how you feel.”

I pierce my lips, furrow my brow, wondering, his eyes now wide open with chestnut eyebrows lifted. He shifts in his cafe chair, waiting.

“Really?” I finally let out, let my breath release.

“Girl, just tell him. What do you have to loose?”

“What?!” I suck in air, hold it, a faint smell of vanilla and chocolate from our hot drinks dusting my senses. I let it out. “I can’t do that!”

“What’s the worst thing that could happen?”

“Well,” I start, my hands twisting my winter scarf on my lap, “it could mess up the friendship we already have.” I bite my lower lip, my eyes darting to the right and then back again, at my companion whose bronze eyes are once again partly disappeared in half moons.

He shakes his head slightly from side to side, then stills my busy hands with his. “Maybe but maybe not,” he says. “No matter the outcome, you’re still you–beautiful, fun you but more open and vulnerable to allow someone to know how you feel. You’ll take a chance, let down the self-protection walls you’ve been creating. And no matter what happens, at least the walls are coming down and I promise you, it won’t kill you!”

Continue reading “A step into living hope”

The Illusion (Stop IT! Part II)

But I’m not sentimental. This skin and bones is a rental. And no one makes it out alive. Lyrics from Up Where I Belong, by Switchfoot

Wintry droplets of water from a scatter of rain clouds overhead settle, soften and slip on the palms of my hands, and the back of my neck. My spine shivers, then calms, stretched straight as my eyes are drawn, lifted and squared on a strip of light ahead. I stride toward the glow, my hikers silently bending tall blades of wild grass. The bright beckons.

And my mind, even though observing my thoughts and perceiving my senses, is hushed in this place. Hushed even as I move, focused on a strip of light, a glow and bright that beckons. But this shine that invites also dims my sight to my temporal surroundings, and I’m tempted, my body favored to feel the pains of thistle needles or the ache of a marathoner’s lungs, to look away from this light.

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My body is pulled toward the concrete of the world, to cement itself in the securities it proclaims: money, food, possessions, relationships and careers. This is the concrete that not only through doing one possesses, but is also the concrete that possesses. The cement, the element of concrete, when believed to lead us to security, to freedom, instead I know, hardens and enslaves.

For when serving the system of doing, the system of gaining that which is only temporal to obtain security, we do not receive freedom, only death.

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
    says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless.”

 What do people gain from all their labors
    at which they toil under the sun?
Generations come and generations go,
    but the earth remains forever.  Ecclesiastes 1:1-4

But the allure of the glossy, polished and sparkling, the satiny, slick, and silken is tempestuous with promises of instant gratification and stimulated sensory fulfillment.

Cold, letting my thoughts interpret the water as uncomfortable dampness, a shadowed shelter I see lies just steps to my right, on another path away from the light. This path is not wild grasses, but instead concrete, not unlike a walkway to a neighbour’s front door.

shelter

I hesitate. I draw my eyes from the right and look ahead again. I see a glow, but no shelter, no structured comfort can my worldly eyes see. Yet, my skin warms, my thoughts hush. The eternal beckons. I step seeking the light, my hikers silently bending the wild grasses. 

And as I walk, I don’t look but just know. Know that if I was to look behind, the shelter would not be there–the shelter that is only an illusion, an illusion of safety, disappeared from sight.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Matthew 6:33

Your word is a lamp to my feet, a light on my path. 119:105

And even though I step, I stop inside this journey, peaceful when turned toward the Light, beginning to understand, the journey is more than a means to a destination. The journey is the end itself.

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May you be resting in Him in all that you do today, knowing you are already complete with Him and in Him.

 

STOP IT! (I)

There’s a song on the radio I often hear, even daily perhaps. And three words of the chorus often repeat in my thoughts, whether I have been exposed to the tune that day or not. They drop in like unseen raindrops, showering me over and over, until I finally take action, mindfully unfolding my umbrella, creating shelter between them and me. But the words unceasingly pelt , grabbing my attention, over and over.

Christ in me.

 

Alright! I say, in frustration, as I bring down my umbrella, look up and allow the wetness to cascade on my face. The falling rain drops absorb into the corners of my eyes, and into the canals of my ears. I lick my lips of the water, pure and clean. I cannot keep the rain away.

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But what do You want? I just can’t seem to be good enough, ever…..

I bow my head, bend my knees, and sink down into the sodden grass. The rain showers on me, drenching my hair, chilling my bare arms, and soaking my blouse.

I’m tired.

Continue reading “STOP IT! (I)”

From flames to forgiveness-Part II

Outwardly I spread out kindness, grace, even good-deeds, believing my actions would convert the pain of betrayal, blame and condemnation. Act yourself into a feeling, so to speak.

Outwardly I resisted, controlling and protecting through avoidance by positioning myself to not be in the offenders presence for a duration. Time heals all wounds, so to speak.

The above is an excerpt from last weeks post Journey from flames to forgiveness. This journey of forgiving started in the upside down way of the world–do and then I will be the forgiver and the forgiven; do and then I will be rewarded; do and then I will receive (worldly) blessing.

Strive to follow the rules and then I will please God and become complete in Christ.

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In our human world, it is natural to want to have rules to follow, laws to live up to, yet is that what God calls us to? Are His ways the ways of the world? Does He call us to follow the way of rules to become worthy of being complete in Him?

I tried to find my own words to answer these questions with what I think is truth but Paul’s words say it so much superior.

What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.

Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily. Galatians 2:20-21 The Message

I’m struggling friends, of what to write, as there is so much here to unpack! It is the foundation for understanding how much we are loved without needing to ‘impress God.’ It is through this love, our identity in Him, we no longer are  ruled  by our egos, others opinions of us, and our human vulnerabilities. And we are free to love ourselves and others as Jesus loves who keeps no records of wrong.

(Love) does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 1 Corinthians 13:5

When we grasp this understanding that we are already complete in Christ, loved wholly and unconditionally, we no longer need to be loved by anything else in this world. Often our hurts, offenses made against us are from expectations we have on others on how we think we should be treated. Our identity gets wrapped up in our attachment to how others satisfy our egos. So when others do not live up to our own expectations, our character feels attacked, and we take offense. We become afraid and build our walls of defense.

In other words we become a slave to others opinions and treatment of us.

But Jesus showed us a Way out of this entrapment to freedom. He showed us how to love.

 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:24

They do not know what they are doing. No judgement, no unmet conditions, just Perfect Love seeing the brokenness in his offenders, and keeping no record of the wrong. Instead, He rose and came back into a world that crucified Him because He loves us that much!

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When we grasp this understanding of this perfect love He has for us, where there is no condemnation, no-need to please or make-up for our transgressions, we begin to love ourselves as the Father loves us, freeing us to let-go of any need to be loved and treated a certain way to feel okay in this world. And in that way we free others too, from our own judgement and conditions. This leads us to take no offense and casts out our fears of being vulnerable because we are complete in Christ, and fully loved just as we are now.  We can then take that understanding of God’s love for us and return that same love out to the world.

Friends, I don’t pretend to know it all. Paul’s words again express this so much more superior than mine.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Philippians 3:12

Camp on these words for a moment-Christ Jesus took hold of me. He’s got you, looking out for you, because of who He is-Perfect Love.

letgo3-35-of-1And how can we understand His perfect Love that holds no record of wrong, that does not take offense and extends only grace? I believe only through the Holy Spirit, asking our eyes and heart to be opened to Our Good Father.

Open the Eyes of My Heart-Michael W Smith

 

 

Are you accepting the invitation?

Imagine this, or maybe you don’t have to imagine. Maybe you have an experience, a point of reference that allows you to dive into this story, in heart, in spirit.

Imagine you are peering into a window of a door that you have been invited to open. The brush of a cool wind, and the smell of the fall season’s leaves entertain your senses. You lift your hand to the door knocker, grasp the brass bar. And halt.

You see through the window a table set for two. But not just a table, but one laden with colors. You see so many jewel colors of blue, red, green, yellows that they blur in a melody like a rainbow in motion!

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Your eyes focus in on the beauty of the details: a vase chock-full of your favorite blooms, a table draped in a yellow linen cloth that drips off the edges to a glistening tiled floor, pure white china plates etched with blue delicate vines, two wine glasses with tinted strawberry red stems, and two vine-patterned napkins garnished with a gold rose.

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What is this feast, you ask yourself? Why has my friend gone to this extravagance?

And you let go of the knocker, look down at your empty hands. I have not brought anything, you think to yourself. You turn, look behind you to the shadows of trees on the street. I have not done anything to deserve this extravagance, you think to yourself.

And you begin to take a step away when you hear the door open behind you. There you are! the familiar voice hails. Come in, come in! the recognizable voice summons.  Continue reading “Are you accepting the invitation?”