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Going Forward from the Well

One Imperfect Woman with a Bucket of Water

It’s Just Toilet Water Under the Bridge

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I often hear God talking to me through the things I say to my kids. God is a parent after all.

Today my 7 year-old son dropped my phone in the toilet. Here’s how this played out: I’m wandering around my bedroom trying to avoid the pile of laundry on the bed that needs to be put away, and I hear the sound of my son’s panicked breathing in the other room. He hasn’t said a word or really uttered an actual sound–I just hear the breathing that tells me something is wrong.

I rush into the living room where I find him jumping around, crying. Now he’s making sounds, but still no words. It’s the cry of, “I did something and something bad happened.”  Parents, you feel me on this, you know the cries and the facial expressions that mean certain things even if no words have been spoken.

“What happened?” I ask, my own panic rising, fearing that some ill had befallen his younger brother or a pet or who knows what.

My son is holding my phone. I’m starting to piece it together.

“Tell me with words what happened?” I say again.

“It only went over the edge,” my son says, and I know what’s gone down.

The phone–into to toilet. You know how you just know… yeah.

“The phone fell in the toilet,” I say and I’m not going to lie to you, there was anger in my voice. I’ve told him not to take my phone in the bathroom.

He can tell I’m angry, and he starts to cry even more. I try to assess the damage and not to raise my voice too badly, because even in the heat of the moment, I know it was an accident.

After I get the whole story from him and put the phone in the other room so that neither one of us are focused on it, I sit and talk to my son about what just happened.

I urge him to come to me more calmly, so that I know what’s going on and how to address it. I tell him that I might be angry about what happened, but that I love him and we’ll work it out. He nods, tears still dropping from his eyes, but relief relaxing his face.

The phone seems to be ok, and I go on about my business.

Now, all of this that has just transpired would be enough of a reminder of the way God knows when something has happened just by the sound of our heart.

“Come talk to me,” He says. “Tell me what’s happened, and even though I might not like what you’ve done, I love you and we’ll work it through.”

BUT, the thing that really turned my attention that God was speaking to me through the words that I spoke to my own child, was when my son came to me later, still talking about the phone. Asking how much a new one cost. Wondering what needed to be done to repair the phone if it was broken after all. Saying that maybe there was something he could do.

Without a second thought, put my hands on his head and kissed his hair and said, “I want you to stop worrying about this. Everything is ok.”

I meant between the two of us, of course. I didn’t even care about the phone anymore.

Well, that stopped me in my tracks as they say, because I know all the things that I go back to God with over and over, after He and I have already talked about them, after I know He’s already let it go or that His plan to take care of it is already in the works, and He says to me, “I want you to stop worrying about this. Everything is ok.”

Tears drop from my own eyes, and relief fills my heart. My father loves me and everything is ok.

 

 

 

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Stay and Let’s Talk About It

Last Sunday I attending the Out of the Darkness Walk in Asheville hosted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. It has taken me a while to post about it. I wasn’t sure what to say as I processed the weight of all I saw. I saw so many people wearing so many beads to express their loss. There were so many cards, notes, and posters commemorating the loss of a life that is so terribly missed.

Even under the day’s gray and rainy skies so many people came to remember, mourn, and honor their loved ones who had died by suicide, but more importantly to be a face and a voice in the darkness letting those who suffer know that someone is listening. Someone cares.

I tend to take photos of everything everywhere I go, but something about taking pictures here seemed like taking photos at a funeral to me and I didn’t share them online like I usually do. I didn’t post other than to thank the wonderful people who donated to the foundation (and I thank you all, still). I didn’t share. I didn’t know how. I didn’t want to do it wrong.

But there is no wrong. Except to keep quite. Silence feed suicide.

Silence let’s the devilish voice of anxiety and depression whisper terrible lies into the hearts of the people we love. Silence tells them that we don’t want to be burdened with their pain. It lets them think they are protecting us and keeping our world shiny and clean. Silence tells them we won’t love them, accept them, want them if we knew the depths of  darkness inside. Silence tells them we are better off without them. Silence tells them the darkness is theirs alone to bear.

Well, I’m not afraid of the dark. Let me hold your hand and lead you out. I don’t mind if it’s a long journey. We’re not on it alone.

So, I might not know the “right” thing to say. But I will SPEAK. The first thing we must do is remove the stigma associated with depression, anxiety, and suicide. It’s not a weakness that you can “shake off.” It’s an illness like any other and the wonderful news is that there are many treatments and most importantly there is so much HOPE.

How do we remove the stigma? Gosh, this is so easy. We talk about depression, anxiety, and suicide like we talk about cancer, Alzheimer’s, Autism and so many other things. We make it ok to talk about by talking about it. We make it ok for someone to ask for help by letting them know it’s ok to ask for help. We end the silence and therefore we end the unnecessary shame.

If you’re suffering, please, just STAY and we’ll talk about this. I’ll tell you how much you are intensely loved, deeply cherished, and desperately needed. I’ll tell you there is hope and I’ll do my best to help you find it.

Stay. I’m here. We’re here. God is here. You’re not alone.

 

 

Let Them See You in Me

Lately, I’ve been thinking about Paul.  You know that guy who used to go by Saul? The one who made it his life’s work to denounce Christ and to jail and kill Christ’s followers. Yeah, that guy.

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Then one day while he was going about his business, Christ appeared to him on the road to Damascus and his understanding of Jesus changed. (That’s a long story short–see Act 9: 1-19.)

Sometimes I wonder and even lament over what I can possibly do to change anyone’s mind about Christ. Unfortunately so many people have had a less than Christ like experience with people who professed to be Christians. People’s understanding of who Jesus is is formed, rather warped, by those experiences.

So what am I to do about that and how? The light of Jesus of was so bright that it blinded Saul. He could no longer see things the way he once saw them. (Quite literally, but you see what I mean here.) I then, should be a light so bright for Jesus that people will have no choice but to rethink who He is.

How do I do that?

By showing them Jesus. His mercy. His compassion. His desire to know them and to be in their lives. His love.

I recently started wearing a silver cross that I used to wear. The chain it was on broke, and the cross sat on my dresser for many months. I pondered that cross for a long while, wondering why I didn’t put it on a new chain and why people wear crosses at all. If it’s just to mark myself as a Christian, shouldn’t my actions do that already? So why wear it then?

For me, I came to this: I want people to see Christ when they see me. I want them to see any act of kindness, forgiveness, mercy, help, friendship, or love as the actions of Christ. Not me. I don’t want them to see some sweet lady who did something nice for them. I want that cross to stop them in their tracks and make them see Jesus. I want them to see the real Christ. Our actions reflect Jesus. I want to be a reflection of his love.

Especially for those who have formed such an opinion of Christ that they actively work against Him.  Be Christ to someone on their road to Damascus. Challenge them to see Jesus for who He is. Change their heart so that they can know the wonderful peace and love of Christ for themselves and who knows, maybe they will do the same for someone else.

Saul became Paul who went on the preach and teach about Jesus to thousand then and millions even now.  You might know him best from this:

1 Corinthians 13: 1-13

13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

 

 

 

Fight Fire with Love

Last Commandment

You know that saying, You gotta fight fire with fire? It might work if you’re a firefighter, who is fighting an actual fire, but we know it to mean something more like: give it back to them just like they’re dishing it out to you–but worse.

If you want to be poetic about it, you could say it means to fight with the same passion and force of your foe. Lately it feels like we could replace the words “fire” with “hate.”

What puts out a fire anyway? A lack of oxygen to it, essentially. (See actual fire safety rules, please.)

So how do we cut off the oxygen to hate?

We love.

It was Jesus’s final command to us. He could have said anything. He told us to love each other. When you’re leaving, you say what’s most important. I believe He wanted to leave us with a call to action what would make the most difference. I imagine Him saying to us: of all the things I want you to do, I most want you to love each other.

Let’s love each other.

 

 

 

He Likes me, He Really Does

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I’ve often thought about the difference between love and like and how we assume that love is the more preferable of the two. The deeper. The stronger. The “better” because it’s the more difficult to achieve.

Is it?

I don’t know. I think about that sometimes, and my thought is that it’s harder to like someone than it is to love them. Of course you love your parents, your kids, your spouse, your friends… not that hard right? You care about their well being. You worry over them. You attend to their needs. Because you love them.

But like is a different thing. Do you like everyone that you love. You don’t have to answer. Just think about it.

When you like someone, you delight in them. You enjoy their company. They make you smile.

Today I read a great post on Proverbs 31 about just that thing. That God “likes” us. That’s the most amazing thought to pass through my mind in a while and I want to share that post with you here.

Proverbs 31: Jesus Likes Me, This I Know

Walk around with this in your heart today.

On This Day

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Today is April 22, 2017.

Today one of my friends says good-bye to her father–attending his aptly themed Star Trek memorial service (sounds like he was a pretty cool dad.) Don’t worry, no bad final frontier jokes here– because this life isn’t the end, now is it?

One other dear friend mourns the loss of her second child on this anniversary of his only day in this world as we know it. It’s a painful wait, but she will be with him one day again.

On the other side of this human spectrum of emotion, another friend celebrates the first birthday of her first child–a baby she and her husband thought they would never have.

Two other friends are getting married–finally able to celebrate their commitment and start a new chapter of their lives together.

I’ll be able to attend the wedding as it’s here in town, but my heart and love are with them all. I’m reminded, on this day of milestones, of the way life rejoices with us one minute and pulls the rug out from underneath our feet the next. We step forward without really knowing where our feet will land.

For me, it’s faith that allows me to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Faith that God is with me no  matter where my feet (and sometimes knees) hit the ground.

Celebrate today: remember, laugh, love, cry if it helps, and close your eyes and pray. God is with you.

 

Waiting Patiently

“I am filled with sorrow, my sweet Jesus. When but a short while ago, the sun saw You hanging on the Cross, it wrapped itself in darkness: The earth quaked with fear and the curtain of the Temple was torn in two. And now I see You submitting to death of Your own will for my sake. How shall I bury You, o my God?  How shall I wrap You in a winding sheet? How shall I touch Your most pure body with my hands? What song shall I sing to You at Your departure? O compassionate Savior? I glorify Your sufferings. I sing the praises of Your burial and Your Resurrection crying: O Lord Glory to You.”

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How often have you said, tomorrow will be a better day; or hoped so at least. I have many times. Well, tomorrow we celebrate the hope that never leaves us. Tomorrow indeed; today and all the days to come.

We celebrate 48 days of Lent in the Orthodox Christian faith and it has been a journey I will miss. Yes, I will miss it. Sounds strange? How will I miss the fasting and the “doing without?” Because I haven’t done without a thing that I needed and I have gained so much more than I had. I have relished this time of prayer and testing and learning. I hope to continue that journey–even if I do add a hunk of cheese back into the mix, and creamer in my coffee, and….. wait–I digress… it all pales in comparison. Yes, even the cheese.

During prayer, I asked God to help me in several areas and boy, has He. One of my prayers was for patience when things don’t go the way I want them to. I prayed this less for me and more for my kids–that impatience bleeds over into unfair irritation with them due to an unnecessary bad attitude from me–resulting in a bad time had by all.

So God took me up on the request and took one of the things that is the quickest to drive me to anger, failing technology, and zapped it all. In the same day, my computer charger and possibly battery died and my phone went belly up. I chuckled, because I knew full well that this was what I asked for.

“Ok, God,” I said, ready for the test and the growth that I hoped would follow. “Let’s do this.”

So we did. I was frustrated and disappointed when things did resolved quickly and easily (I’m human after all), but it made such a difference to know that it was God’s problem, not mine to fix. Letting go of the idea that there was some magic I could preform to fix it took the irritation and anger away. Knowing He was there along side me made it easier to say, “it is what it is” and go on about the rest of my day in peace.

Funny thing is, it’s not all fixed yet, and that’s ok. The phone took about a week and half. I didn’t get on Facebook or chat with folks as much as I normally did. But I lived. The computer is still running just on plug power and man, is it SLOW to do anything. But I’m ok.

The situation isn’t much better. I am. And that’s exactly what I asked for. I can’t say that I don’t sigh and look off to the heavens while I wait for something to load (but even that is a reminder to breathe and wait for Him.)  I can’t say that I don’t give up and go do something else instead sometimes, but I do it with much more patience than before (and usually that “something else” was more important anyway.)

Waiting patiently is a reminder that I am on God’s time and for God’s purpose. I am waiting today for Jesus to walk out that tomb, and I know He does. I am able to wait for the celebration that tomorrow will bring because it’s already here.

“I sing the praises of Your burial and Your Resurrection crying: O Lord Glory to You.”

 

 

It’s Like Nothing I’ve Ever Know

I am the thorn in your crown, I am the sweat from your brow, I am the nail in your wrist, I am Judas Iscariot,

But you love me anyway….

 

There’s really not much more I need to say…. well, except this: Thank You.

You Love Me Anyway by Sidewalk Prophets

The question was raised
As my conscience fell
A silly little lie

It didn’t mean much
But it lingers still
In the corners of my mind

Still you call me to walk
On the edge of this world
To spread my dreams and fly

But the future’s so far
My heart is so frail
I think I’d rather stay inside

But You love me anyway
It’s like nothing in life
That I’ve ever known
Yes You love me anyway
Oh Lord, how You love me
How you love me

It took more than my strength
To simply be still
To seek but never find

The reasons we change
The reasons I doubt
And Why do loved ones have to die?

But You love me anyway
It’s like nothing in life
That I’ve ever known
Yes You love me anyway
Oh Lord, how You love me

I am the thorn in your crown
But You love me anyway
I am the sweat from Your brow
But You love me anyway
I am the nail in Your wrist
But You love me anyway
I am Judas’ kiss

But You love me anyway
See now I am the man who yelled out from the crowd
For Your blood to be spilled on this earth shaking ground
Yes then I turned away with a smile on my face
With this sin in my heart, tried to bury Your grace
And then alone in the night I still call out for You
So ashamed of my life, my life, my life

But You love me anyway
Oh God, how You love me
Yes You love me anyway
It’s like nothing in life
That I’ve ever known
Yes You love me anyway
Oh Lord, how You love me

You love me
You love me

You love me
You love me

How You love me
How You love me
How You love me

Written by Ben Mcdonald, Dave Frey, Mark Delavergne • Copyright © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

 

 

When I Forget…

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“I do it myself.” My three-year old says almost daily.

“Just let me help you.” Is my typical, frustrated reply.

“No!” Is his.

He wrestles against me, mentally and sometimes physically when I try to take over the problem he is struggling to solve. As a parent, I know when to let him sort it out and work it through, but I also know his limits and when he really does need me to help him.

Sometimes I realize that I’m the three-year old. That my Father is trying to help me and I’m trying to take my life out of His hands and solve all my problems, tend to all my cares, and face my worries on my own.

“Just let me help you,” He says.

“No.” Comes my unintentional reply when I am so deep in my own devices that I push Him away.

But, thankfully, He holds onto me none-the-less.

How could I forget how big His heart is. How could I make Him so small in the picture of my problems and the landscape of my life? Whatever it is that you’re trying to wrestle away from Him, let go of it. Put it back into the hands of the King of the World. He’s standing there right beside you, holding His hands out to help.

(This post and these thoughts are inspired by a wonderful song I heard recently that I think I will make my official theme song, as if so perfectly calls me out on my natural tendencies to fix it all myself, when all along, I have a loving Father offering His help every step of the way.)

I tried to fit you in the walls inside my mind
I try to keep you safely in between the lines
I try to put you in the box that I’ve designed
I try to pull you down so we are eye to eye

When did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world
How could I make you so small
When you’re the one who holds it all
When did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world

Just a whisper of your voice can tame the seas
So who am I to try to take the lead
Still I run ahead and think I’m strong enough
When you’re the one who made me from the dust

When did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world
How could I make you so small
When you’re the one who holds it all
When did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world

Oh, you set it all in motion
Every single moment
You brought it all to me
And you’re holding on to me

When did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world
How could I make you so small
When you’re the one who holds it all
When did I forget you’ve always been the king of the world
You will always be the king of the world

Written by Becca Mizell, Natalie Grant, Samuel Mizell

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