The Dishes – A Formal Event

kd sullivan:

I pulled out an old post today. Find a place to dance with Him today.

Originally posted on Journey Towards Epiphany:

I had an epiphany doing what is ordinary, even mundane, tonight. We had Easter Dinner 2.0, fine china and all::Ham, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole and strawberry poppy seed salad. When conversation landed and plates were scraped clean, it was time to do dishes. They offered, but for some reason I declined the help. Instead, I started with the glasses and a sink full of almost scalding water capped with Ann’s bubbles, and it came to me. Why not make an event out of doing the dishes? So I blasted Mozart, and lit a candle, and enjoyed the method of it all; the music and it’s repetition, the order of washing: glasses, then plates, then serving dishes, then pans, and finally silverware after changing the water once. And then, I realize that what is usually a chore had become an event worthy of printed invitations and gowns. And…

View original 59 more words

When Numbers Become Stories

.

IMG_0368.JPG

There is a dilapidated stove on the back porch along with some broken furniture and a bag of tattered clothing. A volunteer and I knock on the paint peeled door, unsure of what to expect. Lock jiggling, we see a brown eye through the crack. “We are here from Love INC,” I hear myself say. The door opens quickly to the rest of the face and a smile erupts as our hostess graciously invites us in.

I try not to draw my breath in surprise. An immaculate flat with gleaming golden oak floors beams in front of us. Our friend introduces herself and her children. They also smile big and thank us for coming. They are sitting on the floor eating homemade breakfast biscuits balanced on a napkin. There is no furniture in this home, no plates for the food. Just a single plastic stacking chair in the kitchen which they reserve for mama. Teenage girls grin cross legged on linoleum.

My volunteer and I are here on a home visit. Recently our Love INC affiliate began a Beds and Blessings ministry providing bunk beds, mattresses and bedding for families in need. This is our first client and I like to observe the process at the start so that I can help write the procedures for these volunteer opportunities. Typically these visits are to verify need and check the space to ensure that there is room for our gift. The need was apparent and the empty rooms ensured plenty of space.

The solitary chair is surrounded by mounds of neatly folded bedding used to make pallets for this mom and her six children. They’ve been living like this for the past two months. After recently fleeing domestic abuse, this brave family spent time in a shelter and was now venturing out on their own. They were clearly happy to be together.

Much time is spent at our board meetings discussing people just like this as a number. “Forty three families were served by Love INC this month,” we might say. Or, “50 volunteers gave 412 hours this quarter,” I might boast. But this family? They are not just a number that nameless volunteers visit to fulfill community service hours. No, they are royalty. The children are princes and princesses who treat their brave warrior mama like the queen that she is. They have made a home out of the shambles of their lives. Grateful for napkins and a plastic chair.

What a pleasure it will be to deliver not only two bunk beds, but two single beds, a couch, a dining room table and chairs as well as several small pieces of furniture to this family. At the close of our visit we asked to pray for them. Prayers are welcome and the family gathered in a circle clad with hands of various shades of brown. When my companion and I finish our petitions, our hostess prays for us. She thanks God for sending generous Christians to help and asks Him to bless our homes and families. A familiar lump in my throat and stinging in my eyes threatens to reveal swelling emotions. Because sometimes experiencing the story of a life makes cold hard numbers a beautiful thing.

linking with the amazing people at The High Calling.

…and I chronicle His grace

\deftab720
\pard\pardeftab720\sl360\sa400\partightenfactor0

\f0\fs24 \cf2 \cb3 \expnd0\expndtw0\kerning0
\outl0\strokewidth0 \strokec2 }

Advice From an Experienced Parent: Five Things Empty-Nesters Never Say

IMG_2531.JPG

Many of my children’s friends are now married and having babies. Lately, as I held a newborn, one new mother asked for some advise from an experienced parent. Of course there is all the practical advice about diaper brands, nursing vs. bottles, and which baby monitor works well, but I wanted to concentrate on the more important matters of raising a child in a way that gives them every chance to become a godly person. In so doing, I reflected on conversations I’ve had with my empty-nester friends…wanna hear the rest? Go here to find out what empty nesters never say.

When Tragedy Strikes Too Close To Home

.

IMG_0315.PNG

Our girlish chatter stopped mid sentence as the car turned the corner revealing two blocks of emergency vehicles blocking our turn onto my street. I muttered something unintelligible to my friend as I hopped out of the car still rolling to a stop. “Excuse me ma’am, who are you?” A police officer stopped me before I could step foot on my block, “I live on that block,” I didn’t wait for a response and pushed past the police office and into the street.

My son had been home while I was at a women’s ministry dinner, and the iPhone he keeps telling me is ancient had batteries long ago dead. My heart pounded in my ears…was it my house causing all of that smoke? Had my son been calling desperate for comfort or even worse help? Turning the corner I saw ghostly grey plumes of smoke rolling in my direction. I sighed with relief. It was not my home. My son was in the front yard, camera in hand, waiting for my return.

On the way to my house, I must have still looked ashen as a neighbor grabbed me and held me saying, “No, it’s not your house, thank God.” And my son greeted me with the irritation that only comes when worry builds and communication fails, “When are you going to get a new phone Mom? I’ve been trying to call you for an hour!” His arm wrapped around my shoulders.

Two of my old Home Bible study members ran onto the block with admonishments similar to my son’s as they had tried to reach me to see if I was alright but to no avail. Arms all tangled in tearful hugs of relief, our eyes could not peel from the glowing embers of what was once home to a single mom and her two young adult children.

It was difficult to sleep that night as blue and red flickered on my ceiling past four a.m. There were sounds of hammering and staple guns as they boarded up what was left of the house. And then I remembered, in the midst of my relief, that it is still my neighbor’s house destroyed. The one I had invited repeatedly to my ladies’ Bible study on Wednesday mornings, but who had never come. My relief meant that someone else was suffering.

It was real to them. It was their two dogs killed by inhaling that ghostly vapor. It was their baby pictures and favorite sweaters and grandma’s afghans that had been roasted and then soaked. It was their life that had gone up in smoke. I went to sleep relieved but I woke up ashamed. I was relieved to be untouched while my neighbors had been devastated.

Sometimes, when tragedy hits closest to home, in our gratitude we forget to be sympathetic. Sometimes it’s easier to sympathize with the Christians on the other side of the world than it is with our next door neighbors. I wonder why?

Could it be that in our love for what belongs to us we grasp too tightly unable to see anything beyond ourselves? Could it be that our own neighborhood sees when our lawn needs to be mowed and hears our teenager shout angry things through the summer open windows? Could it be that placing ourselves in our neighbors shoes demands hand to hand interaction in a social media world, and we just don’t want to get involved? Could it be that we don’t know how to answer the awkward questions of why, and so we avoid putting ourselves in the position of being asked to begin with?

It is true. I am grateful for angels protecting my home. But in publicly acknowledging their presence in my home am I telling my neighbor that they were absent from hers?

Human nature hates the messiness of these questions. We default to what is easy, and sometimes what is easy is to turn away. But this is when I want His nature to overcome mine. His nature stands with us in the middle of crisis, never leaving us. His nature doesn’t run from unhappy endings and headlines, but runs to the rescue, sits beside those who have lost. Prays for those who are hurting.

The house is boarded up now. An empty container of what once was a home. And though I’ve since reached out to them, they have not responded. I can only pray that they have found the Source of all comfort. And yes, I pray for the persecuted on the other sie of the world because what they are experiencing is unthinkable. But sometimes my neighbor’s tragedies are forced on my realities and I would rather shove the pain of it aside than make it thinkable. Maybe the truth is that I am afraid to feel their pain.

It’s easier to send a nice check to the starving and hurting than to sit quietly with my neighbor as she sorts through charred memories. Maybe when tragedy hits too close to home it hits too close to home.

…and I chronicle His grace here

Caring for Yourself Is Really Caring For Others

image

Constantly spending energy without replenishing leads to a definite breakdown. It’s rather a matter of math. Cars can’t drive great distances without refueling. Bank accounts can’t sustain repeated withdrawals without deposits. The same is true for you. The demands for your time and care will leave you on empty, unable to keep caring. It was a dark day for me when I realized that I had used up all of my strength on others and hadn’t taken care of myself. Ongoing care for yourself is the only way to prevent a breakdown and keep caring for others.

Would you care to join me at Family Fire?

When You’re Between A Rock And A Hard Place

20140804-083134-30694839.jpg

What do you do when you must stop your testimony mid sentence because in order to tell what God has done, you must tell what someone else has done, and love keeps you from just that?

What do you do when most of what you have to offer through life experience must be kept silent in order to keep from slander or harming your cause?

What do you say when you must risk any semblance of success you’ve attained in order to declare, “It is written!” and the masses watch while mocking and ask, “After all, are you afraid of success?”

It is lonely in this hard place. So few know what I am about. The details of the “why” in my life are hidden from plain sight. Without the “why” my actions look unkind…even unChristian.

I find myself in a place all-too-familiar; a place with a few sentinels standing guard amid a surrounding mob of accusers, and even worse, those who just curiously wonder and don’t know what to say.

I’ve been that person. The one who stands back at a distance, wondering how to approach someone walking through the Valley. Wondering whether or not they even want to be approached. It’s not easy being the Valley traveller or the onlooker. It’s awkward, and like most Americans we run from awkward and discomfort.

What do I do when I find myself in this place? The place where others out of discomfort look away? I run; run from the pain, the accusers, the curious, the awkward. I run to the one place that has sure footing amidst the slippery slopes. I run to the Rock that is higher, to the High Tower, to the Shadow that shields from the scalding heat of pressure. And I pray, “Lord, may You be glorified, even in my silence! May You be glorified even when standing for You looks like a defeat. Lord, not my will, but Yours be done in the broken pieces of my life.”

You see,

When you find yourself between a Rock and a hard place, the safest place is the Rock.

And I cleave to the only Foundation that never moves, my well worn, leather security blanket. For while I lay with this Book, cozy on my chest, it feels like some of my bleeding heart is mended. I remember that this life isn’t about my popularity, my expression or my opinions, but rather the laying down of these things that I might lift Jesus higher than my name, that I might express His feelings to this sad world, that I might hold closer to His opinions even than to my own.

20140804-082514-30314809.jpg

It is in the cleft of this Rock where I watch the Presence fill up the Valley with Himself. He has given me a choice seat to watch His wonder, His glory fill my frightening Valley with light and splendor, and I peak from around the Peak like a child who peers from behind his mother’s skirts while she confronts her child’s bully.

Once again, “The Lord Himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” Ex. 14:14

All that I have ever wanted is a chance to stand. Now that I have that chance, I want nothing more than to run. And this is fine, as long as I run toward His protection, behind the hem of His garment and let Him fight for me. I can run to the High Tower and then stand in the cleft of His Rock to watch Him do the fighting for me. Even when I want to be oh so strong, I am weak. In my weakness, I cleave to His un changing, everlasting words and I am made stronger than before.

20140804-082514-30314574.jpg

…and I chronicle His grace here

Cultivating An Adventurous Faith

imageYoung people are looking to live for something worth dying for. When we walk out our Christianity, we model a way of life to which they can aspire.

However, familiarity can breed contempt. What seems familiar to them may not seem exciting or worth their full attention.

How do we keep them on the course when they are restless for adventure?

Can we help them to see the Christian faith for the risky, radical, and revolutionary adventure that it is?

Friends, I am over at Family Fire today…will you join me?

Read more…

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,108 other followers

%d bloggers like this: