It’s Been a While

Spring Flowers by df

Spring Flowers by df

Amazing how life takes its twists and turns.

One moment, I have all the time in the world,

to write, paint, create…and then…

everything changes.  Sigh.

At one moment, I could spend an entire day

discovering more about God…more about me and how I am to become more like him.

In the next moment, life begins to swirl

and I feel as if I am falling, trying to grab hold of something – stable, steady, stationed.

But, seasons change and so must I.

So for now, I cling to the time past that has taught me well.

I replay the memories of the quiet days – singing, reading, writing and cooking.

I relive the times of worship and surrender – in preparation for this season.

Thankful for the time; then and now.  God is good..ALL the time.

Giving up…

Woman with Arms in the AirThis is the first year that I have given much thought to the season of Lent.  I have been a member of a Christian denomination that does not usually participate in this mainstream practice.  However, during the past few years, I have been studying and learning about the Christian year that most mainstream Protestant churches follow and I have come to appreciate the practices.  I have come to value them so much that I could even get comfortable with using a lectionary!  SBC FORBID!  (lol!)  So, this year, our worship pastor has challenged us to participate in Lent and has even provided daily devotionals for us to use.

The first week, we were to consider giving up something for the 40 days before Easter.  Not just to give up something for the sake of giving it up, but for the purpose of filling our hearts and souls with the truth & presence of God.  So, for two weeks I’ve tried to decide what to do without during this time.  It had to be more than chocolate, even though the thought of being without it does make me a bit crazy.  It had to be more than caffeine – I could still have all the things I consume that contain it – just the caffeine-free variety.  But what?  What is so consuming that if I were to be without it, it would cause me to fall to my knees and truly communicate with God to meet my need.

And then it hit me…I knew what had to go.

Not chocolate,

Not caffeine,

Not TV,

Not Facebook,

Not painting,

Not music…

But what had to go was something so constraining that my first day without it was only managed through prayer.  And yes, the enemy attacked almost immediately and I was confronted with the decision to leave it lying there…gasping for breath and begging to be rescued.  It was hard, it was painful and I literally had to talk myself through the attack, all the while, relying on God to keep his word to never leave me or forsake me…especially not now.

What I had to give up is something so dear, so precious, and so beloved that it aches to think about it not being a part of my everyday thoughts and actions.  To let it die, without even attempting to help it live, was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done…and yet, one of the most freeing.  I have prayed for God to deliver me from this albatross for a long time, but I have come to realize that faith on my part is what pleases God and moves His heart to respond.  And after the first day of living without this heavy, heavy chain, I feel…hope, real hope.

I am sure you’re asking, “What did you give up?”

The vice that I gave up for Lent this year is…me.  My identity, my desire to be known, my need to be acknowledged and loved and noticed.

Lord, I believe…help my unbelief…be ALL to me.

The Color of Grace

What is the color of grace?

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It is white like a winter snow

covering an unkept autumn lawn.

It coats the ground and keeps

the tender shoots of hope insulated

until the warmer breezes blow again

to awaken groggy dreams.

What is the color of grace?

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It is green like the blades of grass in the spring

that bend beneath my feet.

Blades that form the path I am to take

that lead me to where I am to be –

to become who I am to be.

What is the color of grace?
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It is as blue as the eyes of my children

who constantly remind me of my great need

of something more than I am –

pointing me beyond myself to a greater purpose –

a higher calling.

What is the color of grace?
red spatter

It is crimson as it flows down the wooden planks,

the rusty nails…splattering to the ground…

to the unkept lawn of my heart…

in need of direction and purpose,

acceptance and freedom.

When my eyes rest upon these colors,

may they stir a remembrance in me

that I already possess what I am looking for –

through grace.

not so fake anymore

Well, there she was…standing right in front of me…working on her project while I am unloading a shipment of merchandise.

“What do I say…that doesn’t sound creepy?”  

So I say nothing.  I just keep checking items against a packing list and trying to think of how to start a conversation with a REAL, LIVE, RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME – ARTIST!    “We are nothing alike”, I thought.  “She’s the actual thing – a real artist…not a fake one like me.”

Why all the angst?  I mean, we ARE both humans which gives us SOMETHING in common to discuss.  But it took me a good 20 to 30 minutes to be willing to say, “Hey Lisa, I have to tell you that I was admiring some of your work yesterday.”  The song by Sheryl Crow, “First Cut” comes to mind – “the first cut is the deepest…”.  I had jumped right in and now I had to wait.  “Will she respond to the newest addition to the store?”  “Would I get a smile and a quick, ‘thanks’?”  “Or will she actually talk to me?”  (Which, of course, is what I wanted!)

To my surprise, she opened right up and we had the sweetest conversation…complete with encouragement for this “fake” artist.  Why, she even stepped over to one of her “real” paintings and talked me through the steps she took to achieve it!  WHAT??????  That never happens in my experience!  I have found that most creative personalities, no matter the medium, are very much to themselves and don’t really seek to help others develop and find their way.  Maybe I’m wrong and have just met some “uncommon” folk in the past.  (I hope so!)

She has no clue what she did for me yesterday…an accomplished artist was telling me to keep doing what I was doing: keep “copying” others so that I learn, keep watching those YouTube videos and discovering how to use various techniques:  keeping painting!  What a gift!

I kinda don’t feel so “fake” anymore! 🙂

THANKS, LISA!!!!!!

I Believe He Can Fly!

Whirlwind.

That’s all that I can call the last two months of my life.  I have planned, decorated and attended multiple graduation/birthday parties for our oldest son; hosted family & friends; lead Vacation Bible School class which involves singing and dancing; attended an awesome 50th birthday party of a dear friend; cleaned house; cycled through countless loads of laundry; taken the youngest (and friends) swimming numerous times; trekked up to Amish country with my buddy (and her 4 kiddos in tow); and the list goes on and on.

But as I’m living my little life, I’ve been pondering big questions and looking for answers.  The first and foremost is this:  “How do I parent this ‘adult’ that now resides in our house?”

To date, this has been the hardest part of parenting to me.  I mean, I THOUGHT the potty training thing was going to do me in with all three, but this letting go stuff is for the birds!  I now have another adult male sharing our space.  And just like all other adult males I know, he desires to do this “thang” whether I like it (and most of the time, I’m not a fan) or not.

So, what is a parent to do?  I can no longer ground him to his room, or take away his favorite toy (oh wait, there’s still the PS3), or treat him like a child.  But as I see it, he’s still my boy and needs my help.  There’s the trouble…he’s not a boy and I know it.  I also know that some of the things he needs “help” with will only be corrected by learning the lesson himself…and with God‘s help and instruction, not mine.

For any parent, this is hard; letting your child go to make mistakes, “buy” some hard lessons and even on occasion, in the beginning, FLY!  But why has it been so hard for me?  I mean, I am a Christian and have always held to the belief that God is ultimately the one who cares for my children and I have been given to opportunity to teach and nurture them until adulthood.  So, why the struggle?

Could this situation be revealing some issues that I need to deal with?  “Do I really trust God with my child’s well-being?”  I mean, “Will he really take care of him like I will?”  HA!  What a thought…someone smack me!  Did that really just come across my mind?  Yes it did, and I am most certain it crosses the mind of every parent out there that has a relationship with Christ.

I have come to believe that this stage in life is not only a time of growth for our children, but for us as well.  God is calling us to put our “stated faith” into “action faith.”  This is not for the faint hearted and much prayer and study of the Word of God gets us through it.  That’s what I’ve been doing in preparation for our son’s departure to South Africa on a mission trip.

His first time to fly – 22 hours.  His first time to be in a foreign country.  His first time to be on a separate continent from his mama.  His first time to be alone…with God.  And God has told me that it’s good and I can trust HIM with my boy.

I can’t wait to hear of his trip and experience with God without mom or dad and I can’t wait to tell him how God is changing me.

Fly, Isaac, fly!!!!!
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Back row –  L to R:  Matt, Isaac
Front row – L to R:  Amy, Cassie