Friday, June 10, 2016

These Shoes Were Made for Reassurance

God moves in mysterious ways. A bit of a cliche, but a fact that I recognize more and more as I advance along through this thing called life.

Those throat-tightening moments when someone you love walks away, receives a dreaded diagnosis or is involved in a life-altering accident. You pray. Beg God to move, to restore, to heal. PLEAD. Cry tears of desperation. Pray more and more...and yet God doesn’t seem to budge. At least, not in the way you want Him to.

Then there are other times; times when a teeny-tiny detail thing happens. Something so minute and unimportant that you don’t even think to pray about it. Like a pair of shoes.

She wanted a pair of sneakers. Yet their use for traipsing around the inner city of San Francisco, loving on homeless people, didn’t seem to justify the extravagance of spending money on a new pair. When a sibling invited her to come along to some neighborhood garage sales one morning, she went, on the slim chance that she might find a pair of sneakers she liked.

Not only did she find them. They were at the very first garage sale. Just her size. In one of her favorite colors. The previous owner had already christened them, who knows how many years before, with these words from a worship song written on the side of the sole:

“I wanna be your hands, I wanna be your feet. I’ll go where you send me!”

And all of that for the bargain price of one buck.

Wow. When God moves - He really does it up right. Yet I can’t help wondering why. Why remain quiet and unmoving at times - times when we’re desperately looking for Him to move? Other times when we least expect it, BOOM, He shows up. I’ll never figure it out.

That’s what makes God...God. His ways higher than our ways and all that stuff. I just have to keep trusting that in those lowest moments, when it FEELS like He’s not budging an inch to help out...He has a different plan that I don’t understand. 

Therefore, what is there to do but press on? Expecting that eventually He'll show up with showers of blessings...or shoes, as the case may be.

1 “Come, let us return to the LORD;
for he has torn us, that he may heal us;
he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.
2 After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live before him.
Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD;
his going out is sure as the dawn;
he will come to us as the showers,
as the spring rains that water the earth.”

Hosea 6:1-3

Monday, January 11, 2016

2016 - Living and Learning

Wasn't this just yesterday?
As always, a new year causes reflection. If truth be told, this mid-life thing brings about reflection almost weekly. Sometimes daily. The older I get, I find myself finally "getting" it. Grasping realities that at a younger age, I chose not to think about or didn't understand. Realities incomprehensible until experienced. Realities so universal that some have become cliches, mantras or even forms of religion. For instance:

  • Time flies when you're having fun. Actually - it just flies. Perhaps a bit faster when fun is involved. I've now passed the 50 year mark. That means, in a best case scenario, my life is half over. Worst case, as Miracle Max put it, I might be "mostly dead." Yet this is where people sometimes forget the obvious. I. am. not. dead. yet! A blunt reality that I remind myself of when I'm feeling troubled by new wrinkles and sags, children growing up and leaving home, and life passing by too quickly. All of it is simply a reminder that I am still here, so why not make the most of it? 
  • The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Yes it is - and that's okay, because grass is an "on the surface" commodity. Just under that green surface is soil - dirty, grimy, decaying filth. The longer I live, the more I'm reminded that NO one's life is perfect, no matter how manicured and green it may look. Scratch the surface and most people have struggles and problems that would cause us to plant our feet firmly on our own side of the fence. That reality slapped me in the face several weeks ago, while attending a holiday party. This family's home was a life-size dollhouse! Lovely, historical and tastefully furnished with beautiful antiques. Their children were well-mannered, adorable and very social. The kitchen was incredible - spacious and perfectly set up for entertaining. On and on I could go...I found myself comparing and feeling woefully parched on my side of the fence. And then someone asked about a framed print of a young girl - not one of the happy children present in the home. The father matter-of-factly stated that she was his little girl from his first marriage...who died in an accident when she was seven years old...a week before her mother died of cancer. And then a few years later, his second wife died of cancer. OUCH. Can I just stay right over here on my side of the fence and hang my head in shame for those brief feelings of green envy?
  • Life is this incredible blending of good and bad. No, this isn't a cliche, but definitely a theme that people have turned into a belief system. It's the old black and white "yin yang" symbol; or the theme of a new TV series like "Shades of Blue," where cops aren't BAD, but they're not really GOOD, either. Apparently a mixture of good and bad creates balance and makes everything whole and complete. No - I don't buy into that religion, but life keeps teaching me that good things and bad things do work together to make us who we are. I can shake my fists at God or others when "bad" occurs, allowing anger and bitterness to control my life...or I can mourn the loss, learn and move on. Never forgetting, but perhaps forgiving and relishing a bit more freely as I move forward. Let that "badness" create a wiser person. I absolutely love the Disney Pixar movie that came out in June of 2015, Inside Out. Such a profound illustration of how sadness is bound to happen...but through it some of life's deepest joys can be found. Ironically, the same month that Inside Out hit theaters, our family experienced a birth and a death within two weeks time. The sadness was heart-breaking; saying the final good-bye and giving that last hug tore me to pieces. Yet two weeks later...I found myself meeting my very first grandchild! Words aren't adequate to describe the mixture and swell of emotions. Suffice it to say, there was a richness to it that would not have been there without past sorrows and loss. I know I cherished the moment more fully, feeling deep within my being that life is indeed precious and fragile. A gift to be treasured.  
  • It's not about me. Wise words, extremely true...yet after all these years I STILL have to remind myself of it almost daily. "Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves." --Philippians 2:3  
That's my pep talk to myself for another year. Sadness, envy, selfishness and fears can just loosen their grip as I try to stroll my way into 2016 with a bit more radiance.
"I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed." --Psalm 34:4-5