faith, Jesus

Sometimes My Heart Weeps

I usually leave a speaking engagement feeling exhausted and exhilarated. Today I feel exhausted and sick.  It’s not the scratchy throat and runny nose that seem to be worsening by the minute, it’s the quivering lip and the tear-filled, pleading eyes of a young face.

A face I can’t shake.

Even now I’d rather set my laptop aside and weep.

Just weep and sleep all afternoon. ‘Cuz I’m sick and I’m sick.

I got up early this morning, scratchy throat and all, loaded my stuff into my Escape and headed to a Christian school about 30 minutes away to talk to sixth graders about building healthy lives, healthy marriages and healthy kids.

The first session went beautifully, as usual. The students listed all the things that make them unique geniuses.  They listed all the good things they want from life and all the good things they want to contribute to life.

After a fifteen minute break, we talked about the things that can trip you up, pull you off course, cause you to lose your focus.  We worked through scenarios and looked down the roads of shoplifting, pornography, drugs and unmarried sex.

I shared real life examples from my years as a social worker and as a crisis pregnancy center director.  The kids had questions. Lots and lots of questions.

A girl in the front row raised her hand.

“If a man and a woman did stuff when they were young and then got married and did other stuff, would any of their kids die?”

“I’m not sure what kind of stuff you mean, like drugs?”

Head nodding yes, “And alcohol.”

“Well, drugs and alcohol could cause things like a miscarriage, or fetal alcohol syndrome or developmental delays, but I don’t think the drug usage of the parents would directly cause an older child to die.”

More kids asked more questions and then her hand went up again. Another question about dying.

“Do you know someone who died?”

“No.”

The third time her hand went up, same hypothetical scenario but this time a little more detailed, I knew she was talking about her family.

After the presentation, she lagged behind. She told me she is adopted. Her eyes pleaded with me for something, some hope that her older brothers, who were adopted separately, whose whereabouts are unknown to her, are okay. Are not dead.

We only had a minute. As her tears welled, I asked if the burdens of her heart were too heavy. I asked whether she was tempted to go the route of her birth mother. She nodded yes.

I gave her a hug. It was a limp, rag doll hug.

I wanted to ask her whether she could talk to her parents, whether they knew her concerns about her brothers, about alcohol. I wanted to know whether she had anyone to talk to. I wanted to tell her that Jesus knows all about her brothers. He knows all about her heart and her fears. He really does have enough love and power to help her.

But she left. She quickly left to catch up with her class.

And I want to make it all better for her.

And I can’t shake her sadness.

#purpose

#praying

 

 

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Food, life

Lousy with Lettuce

I usually eat pretty clean but yesterday I ate clean AND tidy.

I was making sandwiches for the hub and me, to use up some leftover chicken. Organic, free range chicken.

And then, just as I was placing a leaf of lettuce over the chicken, I was struck by genius.

Wrap the lettuce around the chicken.

Because I hate it when I tip the sandwich to take a bite and some of the guts fall out.

I had the presence of mind to grab my iPhone so I could show my Facebook friends. In my excitement (and hunger) I didn’t bother to make the pics post worthy.

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What’s in the green schmear?

It’s a puree of one avocado, 2 cloves of pickled garlic, minced red onion, a bunch of cilantro – because my garden has a wealth of cilantro right now, just a little bit of kefir, a drizzle of serrano honey balsamic vinegar, a quick squeeze of lime, a longer drizzle of lime infused olive oil, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper.

The lettuce pouch worked beautifully. Not a single morsel of meat fell to my plate. Not a single morsel fell to the hub’s plate, either.

So now I’m going to wrap ALL the contents of my sandwiches in lettuce.

Because a). I like my sandwiches orderly and b). I’m lousy with lettuce.

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You’re welcome.

 

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family, love

The Epitome of Matrimony

Fishing hub.001

The Hub: I’m going fishing now.
Me: Come in as soon as it starts to storm.
Hub: Naw, I think I’ll stand in my boat and wave my carbon fiber fishing rods.
Me: Is your premium paid up?
Hub: Yep.
Me: Are your accounts easily accessible?
Hub: Yep.
Me: Who do I call to make sense of them all?
Hub: Tom.
Me: Okay, then, do what you want.

‪#‎it‬sjustawaitinggame

daily prompt

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life

Put a Fork in Me, I’m Done.

I’m breaking up with Whole Foods.

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My disenchantment began two years ago when I found these aliens in a can of green beans.

I tweeted this picture (and I almost NEVER tweet) @WholeFoods saying I was going to avoid their 365 brand. They responded almost immediately and  asked me to send all info via e-mail. I sent a picture of the can, the upc code, etc. They assured me they’d look into and get back to me.

That was June 5, 2014 and I haven’t heard a word. No explanation. No offer to replace the green beans (not that I would have bothered anyway), nothing.

Not cool.

I posted the pic on Facebook hoping one of my botanically inclined friends would know what the heck. No one did.

I don’t hold a grudge, though, so I kept my relationship with the big WF – avoiding the 365 brand.

But then last week I bought a bunch of stuff that I wouldn’t have bought had it not been on sale.  Things I use, but didn’t actually need at the moment – I had a newly opened package of Fig Newmans in the pantry, for example, but since they were on sale and the hub likes them, I threw a pack in my cart.  Same with a half gallon of milk – had an extra in the downstairs fridge already, but it’s on sale…. You get the idea.

Even with all the sale items the bill was high. As usual.

After I put away my loot, I scanned the receipt.  I was charged the full price on all but ONE of the many sale items I purchased.

I called the store and asked the chill young man who answered what a girl has to do to actually be charged the sale prices. He said, “Maybe the sale stickers were expired.” Then He put me on hold to transfer me to groceries.

Anyone who knows anything about grocery stores knows that if you don’t remove the sale stickers you have to honor the posted price. And someone was really sleeping at the switch because, if that was the case, the store was full of expired posted sale prices.

Anyone who knows anything about customer service knows that the first words out of your mouth in a case like this should be something along the lines of, “I’m sorry.” I’m sorry for the mix-up, I’m sorry for the inconvenience, I’m sorry for being far too chill.

I waited and waited and waited on hold and hung up. I’m not as chill as the young call-transferring man.

So I’m done. Whole Foods is not the only high-priced, organic game in town.

#putaforkinmeimdone

 

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Jesus, Light

Love, Regret & Pure Rapture

My heart was caught up in a beautiful rapture this morning.

The hub and I were standing shoulder to shoulder singing one of my favorite worship songs when I noticed the elderly gentleman sitting in front of us was quivering. My heart was drawn to him. The quivering increased to what appeared to be silent crying. I didn’t know whether he was in distress or whether he was just moved by the song.  Often when I went to church with my dad, he would cry during worship, so I knew being moved to tears was a real possibility.

But just in case, I put my hand on his shoulder and said a prayer.  Almost in unison, the hub put his hand on the other shoulder.  Then his sweet wife noticed and took his hand. The beautiful clasp of their long-married hands is one for the memory album.

That precious snapshot was the prelude to an even more beautiful moment.

We next sang, Come Worship the Lord.

The young worship leader’s rich, able voice stirred the air as we sang the chorus again and again:

Come, worship the Lord,
For we are His people,
The flock that He shepherds.
Alleluia.

And I thought about my sister, Laura.

I thought about one of the last conversations we had before she died.  She asked me about my church. I told her I hadn’t been going.  She looked alarmed. “We’re just taking the summer off,” I assured her, “we’re going to start visiting churches in the fall – look for one that fits us better.”

“It’s the singing I miss,” she said.

Many years earlier she attended an Assemblies of God church with my dad. Back then I attended an Evangelical Presbyterian Church, but I would come and worship with them occasionally, especially when Laura was singing a solo.

She had a beautiful voice. The only one of us seven sisters who could sing.

Then she remarried and no longer went to church, hadn’t been, as far as I know, in about 25 years.  She told me, once, that she wanted to, but her husband wasn’t willing.  He was interested in more of a Native American spirituality which she adopted, and which gave her much comfort, in her battle with cancer.  And she never stopped believing in the God she worshiped in church.

She missed the singing.

And as I stood in the midst of the rapturous, glimmering, Spirit-filled air this morning, I wished it had occurred to me to say, “Let’s sing now.”

I’m tone deaf, so I would have sung along very quietly.

The two of us all alone in her house singing as many worship songs as she could remember.  Perhaps they would have stirred the air, enrapturing both our hearts.

I went to the funeral of a stranger.  I witnessed his family gather around his casket, which stood in the center of the aisle. They laid their hands on the casket and they kissed it and they prayed.

As I watched, I thought, “I would entrust my funeral to these people, to this pastor.”

This morning I wished Laura’s funeral had been entrusted to them.

This will likely offend some in my family, if they were to read it, but there is a deeper, higher, broader, sweeter, whole other layer of spirituality in worship and in the gentle giving of last rites and in prayer that my sister missed out on. Perhaps she wouldn’t have wanted it. Perhaps she would have asked for it if she did. Perhaps she didn’t know it was available for the asking.

I didn’t, until I witnessed it at that stranger’s funeral and until I was so moved by it today.

All I know is that Laura missed the singing and, if I had that afternoon in her living room to do over again, I would sing.

I want my death to have a soundtrack.  I want to walk to the gate with music playing – music that reminds me that I am one of His flock, and He is my Shepherd; music that affirms that even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, He’ll never let go of me.

I want this song on my dying breath:

 Worthy is the, Lamb who was slain, Holy, Holy is He…

I want to be surrounded by those who will sing it with me. Or for me, if I haven’t the strength or the consciousness to sing.

Then there was the sermon. It was one of his last in a series on the Apostle’s Creed.  The pastor explained the meaning of the holy catholic church and the communion of saints – including that great cloud of witnesses that has gone before us.

And again my thoughts turned to Laura.

When Abraham and Ishmael and Israel and others of the Old Testament died, Scripture says they “breathed their last and were gathered to their people.”

I’ve always loved that phrase, “gathered to their people.”

Shortly after my sister died, I had a dream about her. She was sitting under a tree with an open book in her lap.  From a distance it looked like the hardcover yearbooks we purchased in high school. People were sitting and milling around in the background, blurred, and she was sharply in focus in the foreground.  The scene looked and felt like a family reunion from our childhood.

Laura looked down at the open page and said, to no one in particular, “I really like her.”

It was as though she was being introduced to her people, sitting there under her family tree.

I know she’s fine now and I’m fine, too, and this morning my heart was full of love and regret and pure rapture.

Holy, Holy is He.

 

#breath

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Jesus, life

Order Your Burgers Well Done.

I was thinking today about that thing Jude wrote, about certain individuals infiltrating the church.

And as that train of thought chugged along, it stopped at something Keith Green said:

“Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to McDonald’s makes you a hamburger.”

And that thought rounded the bend to the e-coli that gets ground into beef when it is not butchered carefully.

And about all the crap that gets ground into the church by those “certain individuals” – crap that drives people away from Jesus.  Crap that gives real Christians a bad name.

Not everyone who claims to be a Christian, and that includes some pastors, is a Christian. So don’t equate what “certain individuals” say with Christianity.

If you are looking for Jesus, you have to read what He actually said for yourself, so you know what’s crap and what’s not.

The Light at the end of the long, dark tunnel is Jesus, follow Him.

And order your burgers well done.

2222269171_2e8a44cc3a_ophoto: cyclonebill, Creative Commons

#packedasuitcaseandjumpedaboardthethoughttrain

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life

Risks, Rewards & Friendships

My first husband was a small business owner. Through him I learned that most small businesses fail within the first five years.  His didn’t, but most do.  It’s all part of the risk/reward.

It just occurred to me that the high failure rate must have an effect on chamber of commerce meetings. When local business owners come together on a regular basis to support one another, friendships are bound to develop. And then a business fails and a new friend is forever absent.

When my grandma was alive, I would spend a week with her every year around her birthday. She loved to play cards so that’s what we’d do, pretty much all day long, for the entire week.

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Birthday visit March 2001. 101 years old

One evening, as we were slowly walking from her small apartment to the dining room, a pleasant looking woman, who was heading into her own small apartment just down the hall from grandma’s, smiled and said hello. Grandma completely ignored her. It wasn’t the first time I had seen grandma snub the woman.

“Grandma, it looks like that woman is trying to make friends with you. Maybe she likes to play cards, why do you keep ignoring her?”

Grandma, who was 99 that year, said, “I’ve lost too many friends, I can’t lose another one.”

She had outlived her husband, all of her friends and, just about six months earlier, even her son, my dad. It was too much.

When I was a new blogger a year and a three-quarters ago, I met other new bloggers. Fell in love with some of them. I didn’t know then what I know now – just like small businesses, most new blogs fall by the wayside.

It’s a tricky thing taking bloggers into your heart.

I guess I just miss my friend.

#tricky

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