Friday, December 27, 2013

It's Worth It

We've been doing some "Spring cleaning" around here.  Yes, I know it's December - Christmas even, but whatever...

We're re-arranging a couple of rooms - from arrangements made for our kids many years ago to make room for all the paraphernalia that comes with active teenagers... bikes, drums, guitars, pianos - the big stuff.  Now we're setting up rooms the way we prefer with all that stuff gone.

This process has required a lot of furniture moving, re-organizing, cleaning -- good-for-the-soul stuff.  It's very therapeutic for this girl.

Anyway.... I keep coming across things like this:

and this...

(Please ignore dust bunnies, dead moths, etc...focus on the round objects, as they're the point of this blog post- some of this furniture hasn't been moved in a loooong time!)

Here's the story, followed by the point I want to make:

Many moons ago, we'd been enduring a looooong winter.  With boys.  Restless, bored, can't-go-outside-enough boys.  If you've got older boys, and you've lived through the winter, you know what this is like.  They really start driving you crazy.  My boys spent most of their waking play time with four other boys - two sets of brothers, right about the same age as mine - they were pretty much inseparable.  Sooo, six boys, between the ages of 10 and 13 - they were always, always, always searching for "boy things" to do (this typically involves dirt, risk, high rates of speed, sharp objects, fire, and lots of "what?! what could happen?!" from them).

One of these especially long winter days, they were all at our house.  It was getting long, and loud, and crazy.  Nerves were frayed (mostly mine).  But, I did have the smarts to realize that it was simply because they needed to get some of this "boyness" out of their systems.  So, in a fit of very uncharacteristic leniency, I decided, without their even asking, that they could play air soft gun wars --- in the house.  I went to my bedroom, shut the door, and let 'em have at it.

It was loud, there was lots of banging and shouting and running and shooting and laughing and...all the stuff that goes with boys being boys.  But I stayed in my room.

That was probably 8 or 9 years ago.  They still remember it.  I still remember it.  Anytime I do any deep cleaning, I still find air soft pellets - they seem to grow out of the woodwork - I just don't get it...places that I can not imagine how a pellet made its way there, they're there.

They had so much fun.  And it took nothing from me, except to relax a little.

Which brings me to my point.

One of the regrets I have with my kids is that I didn't have enough fun with them.  I'm a rule-follower.  I like structure and routine.  I like things to make sense and be predictable.  And I pretty much ran our family that way.

I don't think that's all bad.  Kids needs structure and predictability.  They need a sense of routine and familiarity.  But they also need spontaneity and fun.  I wasn't very good at that.  One of my dearest friends is SO good at this.  She'd let her kids bring dirt in the house - dump it on the dining room table - and play - just play!  (I couldn't even wrap my head around that one.)  Her house would be a war zone on snow days for letting them come in and out 6,000 times.  It was the fun house.  

Mine was not.  I could probably easily count on one hand the times that I was the "fun one".  (Now, Brian's a different story - they got their fun, just from him.)

But I did it that day.  I let go.  I have a few knicks in the woodwork, I've been picking up air soft pellets for 9 years.  But, who cares?

They remember the fun.

So... young moms?  This winter, when you're freaking out and cooped up and they're driving you crazy - every once in a while - loosen up, do something goofy that they'd never imagine you'd let them do.  

It's worth it.

I'm picking up air soft pellets when there aren't even any kids left in my house - 

and it's worth it. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Shut My Mouth


Prov. 18:2 - A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.


Close my me to spend much more time listening, trying to understand those that I disagree with - even if we will never agree...

and less time spouting opinions that only those already in agreement will listen to.  

I am so guilty of this.  I want to be right.  I want everyone to believe I am right, see I am right.  Come along with me in my rightness.  

It is pride.

I'm not saying give up my beliefs, my convictions, the things that anchor me - not at all.  

I am saying that I don't always show love - as Jesus did.  

Scripture does not record a single instance of Jesus ranting at the "unchurched".  He spoke with love, he ate with them, drank with them.  I'm guessing that if they continued inviting him again and again, as it appears they did, he was kind, he listened.

No one believes He agreed with the lifestyles of prostitutes, drunks, adulterers, cheats - but He did not rail against them.  We have no record of Him talking about them when he was with "His people".  He spoke with love -- even when He called them to a different life, there was still love.

A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.

I don't want to be that person.  Not with people outside the Church, or with those inside the Church that I have disagreements with.  I don't want to spend my time rallying my cause, gathering those that agree and ostracizing those that don't.  I want to learn to shut up more, listen - really listen, understand, pray for a reconciling - a healing.

Without love, I am a loud gong, a clanging cymbal. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

This Girl

This girl?

Five and a half years ago, she was graduating from high school.  I was amazed and utterly exhausted that we had gotten her there. From day one, at five years of age, academics has been a battle with this one.  Social is her gig and school really just got in the way of the things that really mattered. 

Five and a half years ago, in her her words, she was NEVER going to college. 

But, time has a way of tempering our "never", turning them into "maybe", then into "Yes".

Four and a half years ago, she was entering her first semester at East Central.  She struggled, she stressed, she threatened to quit on a daily basis.  She was absolutely certain that she would fail - that she could not do this.  She hated most every second.

It was hard - I won't kid you, she worked HARD, studying many, many hours - probably shed more than a few tears. But... each semester she got a little stronger, a little more confident, the threats to quit came further and further apart.  

She moved around a bit, changed her major a couple of times, but she found her nitch - her place. 

And she thrived.

I wouldn't say she ever grew to love it - that would be a lie.  But she found her place and she grew into a much more confident young woman.

I'm so proud of her.

And in four days...

This girl? 

She will be wearing black again.  She will be walking across the stage as an East Central University graduating senior, with a 4.0.

I don't by any stretch think that your gpa defines you, but I am so proud of this girl - this girl that thought she would never succeed, reaching down inside of her and finding the strength to not just to succeed, but to thrive.

She's gotten a glimpse of what she is capable of and I can't wait to see where the next stage takes her.

If you've been a part of this process with Erin, we'd love for you to join us as we celebrate Saturday.  We'll be celebrating at Cornerstone at 2:00.  Join us if you can!

We are all capable of much more than we believe.  

When we find the spot where God means to use us, we can absolutely soar - I believe that.  

What do you not believe about yourself that God means to see through to the end?  

Trust Him - it's a beautiful thing to watch.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Giving Thanks - Week Four

So, to sum up...

Gratitude is a choice.  Every day there is something beautiful.  Most days there is something difficult.  I can make a choice to focus on the difficult, the hard, the awful, or I can choose to find the beauty.

I'll be honest - there were days in this project that I had to sit and think for a while.  My hormones, or some pain, whether physical or emotional, or difficult people or hard circumstances made it a challenge to not focus on the awful.  It would have been very, very easy to not look for the beauty. There are days I give in to that. 

This month has been good for me and I pray that I will make this a practice - a discipline - to stop every day, maybe several times a day, to reflect on what is beautiful, even in the midst of the mess.

So here's week four:

Day #22 

Today I am thankful that God's goodness is not dependent on my moods, or the way I feel. His faithfulness is not at risk on the days I don't feel well. His compassion is still in tact when I'm just the teensiest bit cranky. His mercies are new every morning. 

Day #23  

Today I am thankful that I was able to spend the entire day in my warm house. Cooked two hot meals and read most of the rest of the day. I can't remember the last time I spent most of the day with a book. Loved it. Ended the day watching a movie that Brian couldn't believe I'd never seen (The Outsiders). A warm house, sweat pants, comfort food and a good book. Thankful.

Day #24 

Today I am thankful that occasionally things completely out of our control (like the weather today, as an example) force us to slow down and enjoy the people closest to us. I loved spending today with Brian, Erin and Jeff. Thankful they were only a couple of miles away and could come over. I wish the boys could have holed up with us too, but it was a good day.

I'm also thankful that it's not always this cold - I don't do cold well.

Day #25 

The small picture...I'm thankful the roads weren't bad for me to get to OKC for work this morning.

The big picture...God is still freaking us out with options for how our life could change dramatically in the next few months. I was reminded again of this today. I'm thankful that I do not have to have all the answers...I don't even have to have any of the answers. He does. I can rest. And I am grateful.

Day #26

Today I'm thankful for this man. Y'all don't want to hear all that I could say about the reasons I'm thankful... Ain't nobody got time for that - but here's a few:

1. He is my biggest cheerleader. He never, ever stops encouraging me. I've never for one second doubted his love for me.

2. He's a great dad. The reason I picked this picture is because it so represents how he fathers. He is always there for them, always has been - yet he always gives them space to be themselves, to learn, to grow, to make their own mistakes, and to shine.

3. He is a good friend.

4. He is loyal to a fault.

5. He is the most forgiving man I know. Being a pastor gives you many, many opportunities to practice forgiveness and I'm constantly amazed at his ability to forgive in the face of painful circumstances.

6. He challenges me with his love for people, his passion to invest and be involved, to take risks and have fun. I fully credit this man that I haven't become a complete hermit, living alone with a bunch of cats.

I'm a way better person than I would be without him and I am thankful.

Day #27

I forgot to take any pictures, but today I am thankful for all the people that show up to make our Thanksgiving meal for the community happen. Those who donate and organize, those who cut and slice and bake, smoke our turkeys and hams, pass out flyers, those who worship at Cornerstone and many who do not -- and all of this before tomorrow even arrives. I'll try and remember to take pictures tomorrow, but the myriad of people that have already stepped up is humbling. It's a beautiful thing.

Day #28

Ten years ago an idea was birthed to serve our community on a day meant for thanks, for giving, for family. This has since become one of our favorite days of the year.

We have learned so much, been blessed beyond measure. We have met some really amazing people just by opening these doors and serving a good, home cooked meal - some of those people have become really good friends. We honestly do spend a day giving thanks, with family - a family that grows larger every year.

This event rapidly grew beyond us. Every year, others outside of Cornerstone jump in and help make this possible. Every year I am able to serve with new people - and our family grows larger.

This family of faith is so much bigger than any of us realize. It is so easy to make it about the people we meet with in the four walls of our "church" each week -- we are so much bigger than that. God has beautiful things for us to do - together.

This day reminds me of that and I am grateful.

Day #29

Tonight goes to family. This is kinda sappy and I've tried to steer clear of the easy picks for what I'm thankful for and really think through each day. But there's just no getting around the sappy on this one. I've spent the last two days with many of them, and I've just gotta say it...

I simply love my family. Family by birth, by marriage, my parents, my in-laws, siblings, kids, my husband. I'm not going to tell you that there aren't ever times that are difficult, but I am going to tell you that these people bless me. Every. Single. Day. I love that even though we can't pick our family, if I could, I would still pick these people.

I recognize that there are many people that cannot say this and I refuse to take for granted the blessing this family is. These are my people. I am grateful.

Day #30 

"Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.” ― George Eliot

Today, the last "official" Giving Thanks day goes to my friends. The gift of friendship that God gives to women is a beautiful thing. There are so many that I love, identify with, esteem, admire and enjoy. So many that bless me and I pray daily I bless them. Some that are very new and I'm excited to see what the added gift of time will bring to these relationships. Some are sporadic, forced apart by space and circumstance, but easily renew every time we are able to be together. And some are old, comfortable as an old robe...

Today goes to these women - the few that years, joys and trials have forged a special bond. These women hold me up, hold me together. We have laughed, cried, prayed, ranted, raved, counseled, vacationed, birthed and raised kids, served, cooked, cleaned, organized, planned, solved the world's problems many times (if only anyone would listen), laughed and cried some more.

The years of friendship with these women range from the longest (my Mom), being my entire adult life, to the shortest (my daughter), blossoming as we got to transition to friendship in her adult years.

I love the beauty that time has brought to these friendships and these women. When I am with these women, I am at home, no matter where I am. They are my safe place, my refuge, and a gift from God. I am grateful.

So as we end our designated time to give thanks and, traditionally, enter into a time of frenetic insanity all in the name of Christmas - let's slow down.  I want to really commit to remain thankful, and thoughtful.  To look at each day and find the beauty there.  To see Jesus.

Join me?