Serving Up His Love

Last weekend, we had a soup kitchen Saturday with our youth group-as in an opportunity to volunteer at one. πŸ™‚

We had hoped to have all our students for this new venture, but with our constantly shifting Kansas weather, important basketball games had had to be rescheduled for…you guessed it, Saturday. 😏

There went several of our regulars…

In addition to that was state Scholar’s Bowl and, wouldn’t you know it? Our middle son/awesome drummer is also rather an old soul, knowledgeable on a variety of subjects most his age are not, and, therefore, much needed for such tournaments. ( No, not a proud mama at all.

πŸ˜‰)

So, suffice to say, we wound up a rather tiny troop of workers.

A Gideon sort of reduction, perhaps? πŸ€”πŸ™‚

Well, the thought is kind of just for humorous irony since we spent the better part of the fall studying the Old Testament warrior, but, maybe…

For, it could’ve been deflating in a sense, or more stressful with fewer hands, but, you know, as much as I really missed seeing certain faces in the mix, it was a most beautiful and triumphant day regardless!

Perhaps, even better than we could’ve thought for the quiet simplicity of it.

For I got to watch my shyer, more reserved ones, including my oldest, newly-minted adult son, find ways to step up, pitch in, and feel helpful.

I got to listen to my sweet teen autistic girl do what she does best-draw the lonely into lively conversation and boost them with her amazing gift of song at worship time.

I got to see my enthusiastic youngest boy pour over the dishes and delight the whole kitchen with his giggles as the water sprayer kept “accidentally” getting him.

I got to see my dear, gregarious husband ladle on laughs along with the baked beans and encourage everyone around him with hope as he shared the way God has built our family up from next to nothing.

And what did I do?

Well, I’ll tell you, being rather prone to awkwardness myself, I was a bit nervous on the outset about what role I could really play there without fumbling too badly.

I knew I might be okay in the kitchen, if I wasn’t having too clumsy a day.

I thought I could perhaps hand out food or provide background on the songs if I didn’t goof or go too off-key.

Or, just guide the kids in their various pursuits, as I typically do.

Parts of me truly longed to be more as my fearless daughter, she who lives to worship out loud.

I sometimes observe her at a distance and wonder how she could be mine!

Yet, I can also see little pieces of me-of the me I might’ve been if life hadn’t been so weighted with, well, hurtful things…

Or, I’ll watch my husband, he who charms lampposts, and grow wistful for just a wisp of that ability.

Spent too long in that place, I can start to wonder why someone like that chose someone like me.

Not healthy on any day! 😳

So, instead of pulling a lot of Gideon-aw, shucks-not-meisms, I find I must learn to look past me to the whole:

More than anything we did, we got to share with some all-too-often forgotten souls.

Young families in need, older gentlemen and ladies relatively alone in life, some who have been ravaged by disease and harsh circumstance and time.

People whom I might shyly bypass on any given day, not sure what to say, but people that when I pause long enough to really get beyond myself and look, I can see my own struggles reflected in their eyes.

For we really aren’t so different, any of us.

We all need each other and we all need the love of Jesus.

Every one of us look to be fed, not only physically, but spiritually.

Every one of us need to feel our worth. Our real worth. In Him.

Honestly, no one was counting how many of us there were or weren’t, or judging how well we handled dishing up barbecue pork, or whether we all sounded even remotely like Hillsong.

They just wanted to matter, same as anyone.

And, in serving up time, food, and, best of all, the love of Jesus, we had the opportunity to tell them they do, same as anyone.

I don’t know exactly what’s down the road. But, I hope we get to go back. Even shy, awkward me. πŸ™‚

Looking at spring… when basketball and scholar’s bowl are all done and before the summer wave of busy hits.

I know God will use us, big or small, but I wouldn’t want the rest of our kiddos to miss out on this every time! πŸ˜‰

May we all look for our chance to extend the love of Christ to the forgotten, whatever we think of what we can give. Blessings and prayers, dear friends! Thanks for reading!

The Becoming

This poem grew from a comment I made the other day on a post on Heavensreef, a very encouraging blog I recently started following. πŸ™‚

Now, it’s not what you’d call a traditional valentiny sort of piece, but, truly, what better love is there demonstrated than in His redemption of our lost souls? ❀

Query:

What were you before Jesus?

Answers circle, haunting truths

So heavy to carry.

Surprisingly daunting task, this-

How to describe what I was

And not lose sight of what now is?

Well, best to just begin, I concede-

Filthy hands had I,

So foolish and full of sickening pride,

Pawing desperately

After a love I tried to define.

Hardly kept a head above

Quicksand most days;

Crackling lungs scarcely held

More than shallow breath;

Fingers curling over

Broken strands of impending death,

Numbing to my own rapidly

Increasing decay.

Ah, but, one word could I rasp to the skies:

“Help.”.

In that moment, stretched out the Lord’s clasp to mine,

Pulling me free of my self-made muck,

Suddenly to solid ground I found myself,

Startled near to being thunderstruck.

Brought me to His river then,

And washed me pure within.

New garments was I given,

Royal robes fit for heaven.

And after?

Well, we’ll call that the becoming.

His truths started in to humming,

New and strange beats on my heart drumming.

Set out to learn this different rhythm,

Untried feet sometimes skipping,

Sometimes stumbling.

Yet, the travels with Him,

Dear companion God,

Are ever onward tumbling…

Oh, this becoming has been quite

A journey for me,

And He’s not done with me yet,

By any means.

Yet so grateful to see

Just how far His love’s brought me-

Long miles streak out behind

Like light-years of shifts and sighs,

From the life that really wasn’t life

To the life He intends there to be.

And one day, this becoming will

Become a became

And, at journey’s end, all the rest

Will fall away,

With nothing more left to do than

Simply bless His name…

Oh, friends, the wonder of the journey from the depths of sin to becoming like Him! There’s nothing like it. May you feel His love on this day and always. ❀ Thanks for reading. Blessings and prayers to you. πŸ™‚

Pursuing Peace

You know how it is when you have a well-thought out post all written and ready to hit publish, only to have WordPress swallow it? Or maybe that’s just me. 😁 Anyway, I tried to recall all those fastflying words, but something always shifts. Sigh. But, importantly, the message is still the same….

Turn from evil and do good.
Seek peace and pursue it.

Psalm 34:14

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Phil. 4:7

Peace. Such a nice sounding word. It brings such a hush to my heart in the midst of a day going like gangbusters.

It has had many a connotation over time.

Some well-meaning but misguided. Some more of a plea.

A few, at least, with some Biblical grounding.

The extended olive branch is, traditionally, the symbol of peace.

A very interesting choice, if you know your Biblical history, specifically the story of the flood. πŸ˜‰

The mantra of many a tired, gritted teeth mama:

“Can I please get a little peace and quiet?!”

Relatable. Not exactly a grace-filled moment. But, relatable. 😏

In the 60’s, the catchphrase became: “All I’m really saying is give peace a chance.”

Understandable desire.

And, in that vein, to culminate the decade, came the words emblazoned on a poster alongside a dove, a neck of a guitar, and a strumming hand:

“Three Days of Peace, Love, and Music”

Not a terrible hope on the surface, but, unfortunately, also a misplaced one muddied deep in sin and debauchery.

But, to switch gears, here are two favorite and more uplifting samples:

“When peace like a river attendth my way…”

And, similarly:

“I’ve got peace like a river, I’ve got peace like a river, I’ve got peace like a river in my soul…”

Lovely declarations indeed!

Any way you slice it, all these various thoughts are full of sentiment for the word “peace”, if not always an understanding of the full import.

We grab at the idea at moments, as in those last two songs referenced.

Oh, we like to think that shows we get it but how often do we really? πŸ€”

When we are divisive with our neighbors, is that peace?

When we yell at traffic, is it evidence of that river flowing inside?

When we grumble at our spouse, our kids, the news, the slow line at the store, is that us getting it?

Oh, we may pridefully claim to be above the real wickedness in this world today, but, honestly, one cursory glance around and it’s obvious none of us really grasp the concept.

And that is chiefly because we fail to remember that first and infinitely vital key from the first verse there:

“Turn from evil and do good. Seek peace and pursue it.”

We neglect to make that turn before seeking peace.

Oh, we like to believe the myth mankind has some inherent goodness.

But, the facts are this:

They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.

Psalm 14:3

Nope. Not even a solitary do-gooder.

A little disheartening on the face of it, eh?

But-He does not leave us there!

For, He who is peace embodied came down to shed His blood for us.

He became the olive branch extended to a harassed and harried group of no goodnicks like us.

We need only seek and recognize this truth, snatch it up tight, and run determinedly with it.

Pursue it, if you will…

Allow it to fill us up from within, bubble over, and, thereby, spill out beautifully to those around us.

Like a splashing, happy river. 😊

Only then can we even possess a paltry fraction of understanding His peace!

The rest must come on the other side. Hopefully, Lord willing, soon!

Dear God, may we turn from evil, seek peace, and pursue it with everything in us.

Blessings and prayers, friends! Thanks for reading!

Feeling Your Heartbreak

Reposting for those wishing to leave comments. It’s been a while since that section went on the fritz. I was kind of hoping I’d left that problem behind with the old year, but, alas!

Empathy.

More than β€œOh, I feel bad for you.”

No…

It involves something deeper than a perfunctory phrase.

I don’t pretend to be a psychological expert, but I do know that mingled in there is the ability to feel what your fellow man feels.

Or, at least, to understand it.

Something which is becoming a rare commodity these days, unfortunately.

You only have to tune in to television, scroll through social media, or just walk into the local grocery to see an appalling lack of thought for the other guy.

People spout impatient cruelty and knee-jerk opinions at one another, and call it β€œjust speaking our minds”.

We pronounce judgments aplenty-and deftly excuse and defend ourselves from such.

Love is something that we indulge in for the warm fuzzies when it strikes our fancy, but quickly bypass when we encounter what we deem undeserving.

Easy to become desensitized. Far too easy.😞

And, for those of us who grieve the current status of the world, it can be a sad, dismaying burden indeed.

But, lest I just be a downer today, let me insert some slightly lighter truth in here.

For one, we don’t have to allow this ugliness to permeate our souls-when we choose to live in light of His grace.

And for those of us who feel grief over fallen mankind rather keenly, it can be a gift.

Grief a gift? πŸ€”

Yes, when we realize it is His grief we are being allowed to feel.

The Lord grants us the ability to see with His eyes that we might recognize the ragged need we all have.

For Him. For His incomparable cleansing. His extraordinary sacrifice. His matchless love.

It serves to stir compassion we would honestly not be capable of otherwise.

So…hard as it can be, I would much rather be able to feel His heartbreak than not.

I pray we all can tap into it more and more.

Blessings and prayers to you, dear friends! May we each live in light of His grace and allow His compassion for us to extend to our fellow man.

Feeling Your Heartbreak

Empathy.

More than “Oh, I feel bad for you.”

No…

It involves something deeper than a perfunctory phrase.

I don’t pretend to be a psychological expert, but I do know that mingled in there is the ability to feel what your fellow man feels.

Or, at least, to understand it.

Something which is becoming a rare commodity these days, unfortunately.

You only have to tune in to television, scroll through social media, or just walk into the local grocery to see an appalling lack of thought for the other guy.

People spout impatient cruelty and knee-jerk opinions at one another, and call it “just speaking our minds”.

We pronounce judgments aplenty-and deftly excuse and defend ourselves from such.

Love is something that we indulge in for the warm fuzzies when it strikes our fancy, but quickly bypass when we encounter what we deem undeserving.

Easy to become desensitized. Far too easy.😞

And, for those of us who grieve the current status of the world, it can be a sad, dismaying burden indeed.

But, lest I just be a downer today, let me insert some slightly lighter truth in here.

For one, we don’t have to allow this ugliness to permeate our souls-when we choose to live in light of His grace.

And for those of us who feel grief over fallen mankind rather keenly, it can be a gift.

Grief a gift? πŸ€”

Yes, when we realize it is His grief we are being allowed to feel.

The Lord grants us the ability to see with His eyes that we might recognize the ragged need we all have.

For Him. For His incomparable cleansing. His extraordinary sacrifice. His matchless love.

It serves to stir compassion we would honestly not be capable of otherwise.

So…hard as it can be, I would much rather be able to feel His heartbreak than not.

I pray we all can tap into it more and more.

Blessings and prayers to you, dear friends! May we each live in light of His grace and allow His compassion for us to extend to our fellow man.

Reconnections

I have had some interesting conversations on here lately about my differing comfort levels with people online versus in person. (Hi, Eclectic Contrarian, my fellow introvert! 😊) So…for the following to have happened to me is kind of a wow thing…

Something interesting occurred recently.

We were at a live Nativity someone in our community puts on every year.

It was the first time we have been able to make it. In the past, weather has been a concern for some of us with major cold sensitivities!

It still wasn’t warm by my tastes, but, it was doable. 😏

Besides, our intrepid 15-year-old son was going to be Joseph leading a heavily pregnant Mary to shelter.

On a live donkey, no less. ( Which he wryly called Eddie Murphy in tribute to the Shrek character. Love my boy. 😁)

He’d never done that before, so, being the excited sort of parents we are, we had to see him in action.

He didn’t dissapoint.☺

But, that was nothing compared to what else the Lord had in store for me.

I was in the barn where people congregated for the tour when I heard a voice call my name. A familiar one, yet I couldn’t quite identify it.

It was like a call from the past, a description which made sense once I turned around.

Because I found myself face to face with someone I’d not seen since shortly after high school-one of the few from those days I really did not mind encountering again!

She’d been a year behind me, an up–and-comer in drama class as I was winding up my time on the stage.

In a time I was especially uncertain of every move, yet longing to be pleasing to the Lord, this girl became a dear and kindred spirit in many ways, a kind of younger sister to encourage and teach.

There were few who professed a Christian faith in that circle, so it was so nice to know at least one I could interact with on that level as well as in theater.

After graduation, I remember going back to see her play the lead in “Once Upon a Mattress”. What a joy to see how her talent had blossomed!

I remember telling her something to that effect and the way her face lit up, like it really meant something to her.

I think she was at my first wedding later that spring, she wished us well, and, then, that was pretty much it.

She went off to college to study, I played at the married lady, and contact fell away, as it will.

And, then, about a lifetime later, there we were again.

I apparently was still recognizable, right down to my ever-present beret. A comfort to one feeling her age and then some! πŸ˜‰

She definitely was recognizable, down to that same effusive glow. Time had scarcely etched but a few lines around her youthful eyes.

I learned she’d become a missionary, as she often wished for, married a Spanish pastor, and had three beautiful brown-eyed boys, all of whom were in tow.

It was fascinating to listen to her translate me to her brood with such skill!

To think she was once sort of under my wing…

So…we did that for a bit, and then, we found opportunity to get off to ourselves for deeper conversation.

The part I feared would be tougher was my side of things. In addition to my natural reticence, there was the fact she had also known my first husband quite well. We’d all shared a stage and student-led Bible study. She’d witnessed our oh-so-young, wholly untried promises to each other.

Yet, there was still that something of a friend in her expression.

So…in I plunged, hoping not to scare her off.

I tumbled through the high (and low) lights of my long journey from potential youth minister’s wife to struggling single mom of three, two diagnosed autistic, wrangling a class of toddlers and a dark depression alike.

And, then, to the better part-my God-given second chance at love and marriage, complete with my bonus boy.

I didn’t delve into the many adventures of restoring an ancient, Green Acres-style house or the roller coaster ride of assisting my husband in running a business.

I was a little breathless by then and conscious of possibly dominating the whole shebang!

So…I just aw,shucksed my way through the fact I was a published author if she was interested in the full breakdown of said journey.

Talk about your awkward salesperson. Shades of one I remember from Andy Griffith who “didn’t want to be pushy”. 😏

She was so sweet and enthusiastic about that fact, though, insisting on how to find and purchase my memoir, refusing one of my several free copies I had back home collecting dust…😊

But, it really wasn’t the unexpected possible sale that marvelled me.

Sales are done and gone in my ambitions. People are not about sales, after all.

No…rather, it was her utter kindness and warmth, the genuinely glad-to-see-me manner, the deep understanding of the road I wound up on and the shared joy in the way God redeemed my life.

Apparently, she had even been thinking about me recently after a chance sighting of my ex-mother-in-law at the church I attended in my teen years.

She was wondering where I was, hoping, praying to see me somehow somewhere.

And, she had this readiness that God would move as a result that I admire a great deal. I have had spurts of such in my life, but, honestly, it’s grown a bit…rusty.

I could really do with a resurgence of that eager expectation!

In the end, we hugged and reiterated how wonderful it was to see each other again, how awesome God is, exchanging phone numbers and the hopes to find time for future visits.

It was a blessed reconnecting of sisterhood I had not been anticipating or even realizing would be nourishment to this shy little soul.

Or that seeing me could be such to someone else.

Yet, obviously, God knew, as He always does, being the unparalleled composer behind the scenes that He is.

I don’t know yet what else He has in store for this reconnection, but I pray I can have that quality of readiness.

May we all find room for such in our hearts! Blessings and prayers, my friends!