Sunday, September 15, 2013

Somewhere along the way I forgot . . .

Last night I watched a truly great man be honored for his contributions as the president of Compassion International. It was very emotional and challenging to see person after person stand up and show what this one man's answer to God's call meant for their lives. When it was his turn to speak, Dr. Wess Stafford told a story about the building of the Notre Dame cathedral. A journalist comes to a worker with tools and a rock and asks what he's doing. The worker replies, "I'm hammering on this rock." He comes to the next worker who is doing the same thing with the same tools and asks him what he's doing. The worker replies, "Well I'm trying to make the side of this rock smooth so it will fit into the foundation somewhere over there" He walks over to the next man who's doing the same thing and asks him what he's doing, what his job is. The worker stopped and looked up with tears in his eyes and said, "I'm building a cathedral for my God."

I think somewhere along the way I've forgotten that I'm in the cathedral building business and I've moved on to just beating on rocks so that they fit in place. That's on a good day. Some days I think I might not even have that much of a clue as to what my purpose is. I'm more likely just blindly beating on a rock. It's time for that to stop. It's time for it to build the cathedral in my marriage, in my parenting, in my relationships, and in my advocacy. I knew this walking into church this morning where the message was basically that this isn't even done by me, "but Christ lives in me."

This seems unfinished because it is. It's right here, right now and I don't have further answers or plans. I don't know how to build a cathedral. I don't even know if I know the right places to hammer on the rocks. "But Christ lives in me."

Watch Compassion's service as they honor Dr. Stafford and pass the torch to the new president, Jimmy Mellado

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Voices in the Dark

When the lights are low and the breaths beside you are slow and rhythmic, sometimes you hear things. Not things that go bump in the night, but voices. Voices in your head that remind you of things you've done, things you've thought, and lies you've believed. And it's  hard, because the voices are as accurate as a history text. 

It's easy to find yourself back in the negative cycle of accusing yourself and remembering even more wretched behaviors, feeling the guilt pile grow higher and higher. But sometimes, even if it isn't often, you remind yourself that these aren't yours to carry anymore. You've asked for forgiveness and been assured numerous times that your sins have been covered, and nothing has or even is allowed to change that. And you find yourself asking forgiveness for forgetting. You think this might be a good time to catch up a few days on that Bible reading plan. You read in Luke, "Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” 

And maybe you've never seen it this way before, but you start to apply these words not just to your relationships with others, but to the way you see yourself. Suddenly you find that you really can't even afford to slip back into that self-condemnation cycle. Too much rests on your ability to forgive and move forward. Tonight Light wins and the voices quiet, leaving only peace and sleepiness in the dark.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

A Family Chosen

Anyone who knows me would call me an introvert, and it's very true. However, I'm an introvert with a pretty strong need for people. I don't want to organize the people or feel comfortable introducing them to each other. I certainly don't want to be at the center of the people. But I definitely want to be in the group. And obviously not all groups are created equal, but there are those groups where you feel comfortable in your own skin without fear of what will happen if those dialogue filters in your brain fail you and you say something embarrassing or inappropriate.

I got my first taste of these groups with a few friends that I had in grad school. Around the same time, we watched and read Bridget Jones Diary. I don't remember if it was in the books or the movie, but somewhere in there she referred to her tight-knit group as "urban family", and it made perfect sense. In these groups there is a connectedness that you typically think of as reserved for family. I think in some cases, you can be even closer to this "urban family", depending on your own family dynamic. I'm not saying that it should supersede your blood family, because I don't think it should. However, I don't know that I can think of my own groups as less like family. Sometimes "friend" seems too commonplace and "family" more accurate, especially when they are friendships within the Church (big C Church, the whole thing, not necessarily your local church). I have hundreds of people under the label "Friends" on Facebook, but I would said that the relationships I have with most don't feel like family.

My kids are the ones who bring this to my mind most often. They seem to get this concept so well in the way they choose people to really let into that inner circle, the people they allow to really love them. It comes out in their celebrations and in their prayers. For my youngest, it shines all over her face when she sees one of "her people", especially unexpectedly. I love that we share people. Mostly I love that she hasn't learned to temper her excitement. She never worries, "What if you don't like me as much as I like you?" That idea would seem absurd to her four-year-old diva brain even though it's something that I've struggled with as long as I can remember. And all we can do is try to unlearn the fear, to decide that family is worth the risk. The idea of being called to love has in my head for a while, and it occurs to me that I can't do that while holding other people at arm's length. So I have to keep trying. And it isn't really a task of trying to love people, because these people are completely lovable  The task is in deconstructing walls that have been put up over years and years of rejection and fears of rejection (and, let's face it, perceived yet nonexistent rejection). And it's not easy, but so far it has always been worth the effort.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Words on a Page

You can let a lot of time go by without doing something. So much time that you then don't want to come back to it because you're embarrassed about how much time you allowed to pass without doing doing the thing. So more time passes. More regret piles on. I do it with lots of things. Contacting friends, scheduling appointments, Bible reading plans, cleaning a closet, and, obviously, writing a blog. I can say that I haven't had much to say. That wouldn't be entirely untrue. But there have been things written in my head that have never found there way from there to the laptop. Today isn't much different. I still don't have much to say, but I figure that if I just say something that I've broken the cycle of a regret-filled silence.

And just like when I do most of those other things I keep putting off because I delayed for too long, it's not as bad as I made it out to be. I'm betting that the organization of my homeschool shelves (that I've talked about doing since Christmas) will be much more painful! So what about you? Where are you most likely to procrastinate? How do you stop the cycle?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Lessons You Just Think You've Learned

Today the girls and I had the second week of our own makeshift advent. We colored a "Love" ornament and read about the coming of God's special baby. We have been talking about Christmas in America during other time periods, and today we started talking about how other countries celebrate the holiday. We've talked about giving through Compassion's Christmas Gift Catalog and have picked our gift, talking about the difference just a little can make to someone who has much less than we do.

All of this just to point to one truth, really. It's not all about the presents. Not even mostly. Then tonight I decided to close myself in our bedroom and take all their gifts out, making sure everything evened out between them. I looked at all of it laying there and thought, "This isn't enough." Now to my credit, I had forgotten about a few things stashed in other places, but my thinking was still so contrary to what I've been telling my kids for the past month. It's more than enough. And I can't expect them to learn a lesson in their six and three years that I haven't learned in my thirty four.

So tomorrow we will write a letter, not to Santa, but to Jesus. We will tell him the things we want help with. I stole the idea from a blog post I read this morning. This mama will write one, too. We will share our letters and pray for Him to be more than enough.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Let's Go to Peru

I told you I would be back. I wonder if you've given any more thought to checking out those blog posts from the Compassion Bloggers in Peru. Just in case life threw you a curve ball or 12 and you forgot, I thought I would tell you about a few of them.

There's a unique thing happening on this trip. While we are seeing the neediest of Peru through  American eyes, we are also getting to see them through the eyes of children. I don't know that these girls are having a different experience than anyone else. I am willing to bet that they are more willing to be honest about their insecurities. This blog post also has great pictures that you don't want to miss. Love truly transcends language and cultural barriers, and you will see that so clearly.

Shaun Groves examines why we give and reflects on an idea that has been rolling around in my head (and my church) that we are blessed to be a blessing. He also takes us on a tour of a home of a child sponsored through Compassion. I don't want to keep pushing (or maybe I do), but you're really going to want to watch it.

My favorite blog post yet is on the other side of Compassion, an employee. But Marco isn't just any employee, he's a formerly sponsored child. That's right, Compassion does what they say they do. They work to break the cycle of poverty. Marco talks about what got him through hard times, and it was a little hard for me to read that it wasn't the student center or the church, but his sponsor's letters. It made me think about what I've been writing and wonder if there are words I need to be saying more often. "Your words to a child in a poverty are too precious to set aside. Too precious to become buried in a list of to-dos. They were all too precious to Marco"

Here's one last picture, from Shaun Groves' Instagram. This one is a culture shock for me.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Join me?

I keep staring at this empty box, trying to put together, in an organized fashion, what I want to say to you. How to make this relevant to you and worth the time that we all seem to be running short of. In a very real way, it's not. It probably doesn't concern anybody you know or anyone you will ever meet, but if you will, just indulge me for a few minutes and I'll try to keep this short.

Next week, there are a group of bloggers who are taking a trip with Compassion International to Peru. They will meet with workers, families, and children and then go back to their rooms and write down their stories for us. I love these trips because they make the world smaller and give faces to abstract concepts like child development centers, poverty, home, compassion. I plan on sharing some of their stories with you and helping to bring Peru as close as your computer is from your face. At that point, it will be relevant. You will have "met" this group of people. Then you will know how to pray for all of those involved, including yourself. Because after you see and read and pray, I think you will want to know what you can do to help. 

Here's a little bit a different blogger learned while in Peru. Which of these six things speaks the most to you? My favorite is "Hugs and smiles speak volumes when the language doesn’t work so well." I hope you'll join in next week and read the blog posts by the eyes and ears Compassion is bringing to Peru and that you will let me know what stands out to you.

You can access the Compassion Blogger posts here.