Sunday, August 28, 2011

there's a butterfly on my sandwich

My hair circled around my face as the warm air blew through the open windows of my car, it was just another evening as I rocketed down I94 on my way home from work, I had plans for what I was going to do when I got home, take a walk, get some writing done, pack my lunch for the next day, what I wasn't planning on was my rearview mirror riding home with me in my lap and spending the rest of the night trying to figure out how reattach it,  and the thinning and frayed strings that were loosely holding me together snapped. I am so sick of things going wrong, I wailed as I sat on the cement floor of my driveway looking strange and a bit pitiful to the passerby’s, looking as if they were seconds away from calling the padded wagon to come pick me up.  I couldn’t get my mirror reattached and I had to go to work the next day, I didn’t know what I was going to do.  I couldn’t go driving down the interstate with no mirror on my car, when a roll of duct tape caught my eye, and the next morning I rolled out of my garage with almost an entire roll of bright green duct tape keeping my mirror strapped to my windshield.  

The following day was the start of the weekend, and I had two days to figure out how to fix my latest conundrum, and I discovered it was quite an easy fix once I calmed down.  If you ever need to know how to catch a bat or reattach a rearview mirror, come see me, I am your girl. I know these things may seem small but they are only a few in a series of irritants that keep plaguing me, they stop for a while and then pick up again, and I am getting a little tired of it all. Start rolling a bunch of small stuff together and the ball becomes bigger, that is what it felt like, a big ball of small things steam rolling over me before I had time to jump out of the way.  
I know God had been trying to send me little blessings of comfort, the song Strong Enough to Save by Tenth Avenue north seemed to stream from the airwaves every time I turned the radio on, He bathed me in little breaths of peace at unexpected times, but I wasn’t much interested in His comfort I was interested in things not going wrong anymore, or at least not so often, I crossed my arms and stomped my feet and refused to speak to God until all this nonsense stopped, in other words, until I got my way, cause I’m real stubborn like that, at 40 years old I haven’t quite mastered the art of acting my age, my behavior was more like that of a two year old not getting a second ice cream cone, I was mad.

The day was beautiful when I stepped outside the doors intending to eat my lunch on the Riverwalk, days like that are quickly coming to an end and I am trying to soak in as many of them as possible, the sunlight felt warm on my face as my eyes adjusted to the brightly lit rays that were shining down on me,  the park bench that was nestled on the river’s edge sat empty, my favorite park bench because it comes complete with a little tree that provides some shade from the afternoon sun, my steps growing more anxious trying to reach the bench before someone else could claim it.  Letting out a deep breath as I unload myself onto the bench, the weight of what the world was bearing down on me going down with me, I reached inside my bag and unwrapped my sandwich from the cellophane while my stomach churned against the food I was about force into it, I hadn’t been hungry much lately, so tiny nibbles were all I could manage to eat. 
Then it swooped down from its perch on the leaf that hung above my head, flying things are not on my list of likes these days and I swat at anything that comes within 10 feet of me.  Its wings were bright yellow, the brightest yellow I think I had ever seen and it was coming in for the landing, right on the corner of my sandwich, it stayed for just a second or two before it realized where it was and started pumping its wings ready to take off again, and I watched it for a few more seconds as it glided off into the afternoon sky.

As long as we walk this earth we will have problems, some will fall down around us in a light mist while the swelling tide of others will threaten to overtake and crumble our foundation, it is through the storms that I become more aware of the tiny speckles of God’s handiwork, perhaps it is because through the storms or even the tiniest spray of mist that my focus becomes more clearly fixed on God rather than myself, I notice more of those moments of beauty that can only come from Him, those mighty blessings that He wraps me in everyday but have developed a habit of overlooking when my circumstances seem to be in perfect alignment and I am double timing it to the tune of my own agenda. 

Problems serve a multitude of purposes, sometimes they are used as discipline or correction, sometimes they are used to get our attention, sometimes they are used to teach us to learn to trust Him or strengthen our faith and sometimes they are used to realign our perspective, to tune us into always keeping our eyes up not just when the clouds loom overhead but also when the sunshine is burning brightly, because that sunshine has a way of blinding our vision, to look for the beauty of those moments that can only come from Him, when He lets us know that He is near, the beauty of a butterfly landing on our sandwich.  

Monday, August 22, 2011

the weaver and the potter

My fingers longed to glide across the keyboard, my heart overflowing with words that were desperately begging to be put on paper, but the words seemed to have sufficiently oozed from my brain by the time I got home from work, my head an empty abyss, void of the words that were ripping through it just a few hours earlier.  I longed to write, I ached to write, my greatest fear when I started my new job had come to pass, I worried about when I would find the time to write and time is now in short supply, when was I going to have time to write?

I feel empty, like a piece of me is missing when I don’t write.
It felt as if the world had punctured a hole in the little bubble I had created for myself and started to fill the air space around me, suffocating me, leaving my head spinning like a snow globe that had been shaken a little too hard, what is the meaning of all this, what was the point of everything if this was how it was going to end? It felt as if the carpet had been picked up and all my dreams were swept underneath it, crushed under the weight of the woven threads that lay heavily on top, this is not just about not having the time to write, but also about giving up the dream of starting over, a career change, going to school and becoming a teacher, I have to quit school, for now at least, I can start again next semester… maybe.

I am grateful for the job and I desperately needed it and I like going to work, and I work with absolutely lovely people, and even though this not where I see myself in the long term I still go in to work every day and work as if Jesus is my boss, but this isn’t what I had in mind, and although we were not given a spirit of fear I am afraid…
I sat on the bench of the river that flows in front of the office building where I work, I had a few minutes before I had to go inside and I spent those few minutes talking to God. 

Heavenly Father, I am so afraid, and I am tired of being afraid, I don’t understand what this is all about, is this how it is going to end?  Is it over?
Afraid that if this job doesn’t work out, I don’t where I will go next

Afraid of not knowing what is up ahead or where I am going, and I am left wondering if I am even going anywhere. 
I must admit I had thoughts of taking this blog down, wondering if this was God telling me my season of writing was done, it was time to quit.

I am jumbled mess of confusion these days, the view before me is hazy and foggy I am not sure what direction I am going in, I am not even sure if I should be writing anymore, when I didn’t think it could get any harder, it has and I have no idea what God is up to.  My faith that I thought was rock solid and unshakable is being stretched to the point of barely being able to hold me.

I was putting my faith in the wrong things, I thought if I had a job I would feel more stable, but I don't, I thought if I had someone to share in this burden with me I would somehow feel more secure but I don't have that person, I thought I had surrendered and given up control, but I didn't not completely, I thought a lot of things that were wrong, because jobs end, people change their minds and leave, things happen in this lilfe that are beyond our control, there is only One that never changes, He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, Jesus.

My hope has to be in Jesus,

My trust has to be in Jesus,

My faith has to be in Jesus,

I have to put my life in the hands of Jesus, let Him be the weaver and potter of my life, Jesus is the only way, because I don't want to be afraid anymore.


Monday, August 8, 2011

twas the night before my baptism

Twas the night before my baptism and all was calm in the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse

A change of clothes were folded neatly with care
Placed in my bag knowing the baptism would soon be there

What is it that I see from the corner of my eye?
Something with wings darting through the evening sky  

It burst on the scene with no noise and no clatter
And I rose from my seat to see what was the matter

Too big for a butterfly, too small for a bird
What was this thing flying through my home unheard?

Could it really be?
A bat that I see?

It rose from my belly, an earth shattering scream
As I fled from the scene no shoes on my feet

I drove down the street in search of new digs for the night
While I reflected on my evening’s plight

Eventually darkness giving way to the morning light
The noise clapped through the sky in the new morning’s dew
Is that a thunderstorm I hear?
While a basset hound snored in my ear

Removing a paw from my face
I watched from the window as the raindrops picked up their pace

I peered at the wet ground soaked from the mornings wake
Wondering if I was going be dunked in the lake

I unlocked the front door and tiptoed inside
When suddenly sunlight ripped through the clouds like a tide

Stillness awaited me while my winged intruder settled in for its daytime nap
And I managed to capture it in a butterfly net.

I got myself good and prayed up before I went home Sunday morning, and unfortunately I had to miss church because I was a little busy bat hunting, but it turned out to be a beautiful day and about 60 of us were baptized yesterday.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

the screwtape letters

The Screwtape Letters are a collection of letters from Uncle Screwtape, a senior demon, to his nephew Wormwood who is a novice demon in training. Wormwood is assigned the task of keeping the patient, a recent convert to Christianity from making advancements for the Kingdom of God (in this particular case, the Enemy). As I read through the book this week, I started musing at what a letter from Uncle Screwtape would say to today’s woman.  

Disclaimer: I am not trying to be the next C.S. Lewis, so humor me, ok?

My Dear Wormwood,
I note with grave concern that your patient has recently begun attending Bible study; this is definitely not a victory for our camp. While all is not lost, winning her back to our side has now become more difficult and it is of the utmost importance that you not take my instructions so naively this time.

You write that her particular area of weakness is her feelings of inadequacy, so it is imperative that you immobilize any advancement in this area. You must continue to encourage her to compare herself to others as this will feed her insecurities about her own abilities, if she feels she is incompetent moving forward for the Kingdom of the Enemy will become almost impossible because of her fear of rejection and failure.
Since He actually loves the little vermin and wants to have a deep connected relationship with them keep her busy doing good works for the Enemy, this may sound counter-productive, however keeping her busy thinking she must earn His love and acceptance will limit her time spent with Him out of her desire to do good deeds to prove her worthiness.

She has arsenal of past mistakes that you can use as weapons of mass destruction against her. Continually remind her of these mistakes and inevitably her shame will become too much for her handle and will negatively impact her relationship with the Enemy out of fear of not being good enough because of these mistakes.
As she continually works to prove herself worthy, corrupt her thoughts with her failures and shortcomings and remind her that she is too far gone to be of use to Him. Continually work to make her believe that the Enemy finds her unimportant and that she is unworthy of His love, this will cause her work harder trying to prove herself but ultimately she will grow tired and give up. She may still attend Church and her Bible study group but she will become so paralyzed in her fear of failure and inadequacy that further advancements will be impossible.

Of course a full extraction from these activities is our ultimate goal and will have to be closely monitored but if you follow my instructions closely I anticipate she will become frustrated and give up and drop out on her own without any further work on our part. I trust your next letter will be a pleasing report on the progress you are making.

Your affectionate uncle,

If you think you can’t do something
If you think you are too far gone to be of any use to Him

If you think you have made one too many mistakes
Chances are you are the perfect person for the job

He came for people like you, He died for people like you, He loved people like you, He healed people like you, He used people like you.
He took the least likely and made them likely, He took the insignificant and made them significant

Chances are you are exactly what He is looking for.