tis the season

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Patchwork Masterpiece

I love quilts! Love, love, love everything about them...

How each piece of fabric is beautiful on its own, with its unique pattern and colors that is different from each one around it.

How stitching those pieces together makes a something beautiful and unexpected come alive.

How the stitching is woven into each piece.

How it gets more comfortable and cozy with each wash over time.

As a body of people, we are much like quilts...

Each of us with our own strengths and beauty. And God, the Sewer of our stories, knows exactly where we will fit and which other pieces will compliment us and bring out our beauty.

Sometimes, I step back and try to see the work of art He is creating in all of us. And what I love the most is how He sees beauty where we can't and how the same strands woven in my story are woven into yours, too.

Lord, give me eyes to see what you see.

Teach me to look beyond myself and my needs and my feelings.

Show me glimpses of this patchwork masterpiece You are using us to create,

And help us to all see the brilliant colors in one another.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

This Is the Stuff...

Mornings are an event around my house. I stopped this morning, in the midst of the chaos, and just observed for 2 minutes (yeah, I timed myself).

Jonathan is hurrying from room to room gathering things he needs - books left on the table from last night's homework, his ID and lanyard, socks from the laundry room, etc. He leaves at 6:50 and it's now 6:53. (And I use the term "hurrying" very loosely.)

Sophia is calling to me from the bedroom. I can hear her expressing her thirst over the Mickey Mouse Club House theme music, Jonathan's mumbling and the cat's meows. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention Mr. Trouble, the cat? He is right in the mix with them, walking back and forth from his bowl in the kitchen to my feet in the dining room because he wants more food.

It is chaos. Complete, manageable, preventable chaos. How does this happen? We know the morning is coming. It comes every day. At the same time. Like clock work.... literally.

So, how does this happen? And what does it say about me, as a mother, that this household I am in charge of seems so out of sorts?

You don't spend enough time on the important things.

Your children are just reflecting your inadequacy as a mother.

If you were a good mother, your house would be clean and your children would want to get up in the mornings.

No, no, no.... I don't think so!

This morning ritual, in all of it's hysterics, doesn't say that I'm inadequate..... it says that I'm human. That we are human. That life happens.

The little things that drive you crazy - not being able to find your keys as you're walking out the door, having to ask someone to call your cell because you've lost it again, etc. - are a part of life. There will always be keys and cell phones to find, inconveniences that you can't prepare for or avoid. Don't let them steal your joy and cloud up your day.

"This is the stuff that drives me crazy
This is the stuff that's getting to me lately
In the middle of my little mess
I forget how big I'm blessed
This is the stuff that gets under my skin
But I've gotta trust You know exactly what You're doing
Might not be what I would choose
But this the stuff You use"
Francesca Battistelli - "This Is The Stuff"

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Negative Chatter

Unglued  - Chapter 10

Negative inside chatter.... yeah, I have plenty of that. We all do. Like so many things, it's what we do with it and how we handle it that matters.

You know what I'm talking about...

Nobody cares what you think.

You don't belong here.

You should've known you couldn't handle it.

You are invisible.

Everyone can see your inadequacies displayed in your children's behavior and failed relationships.

Those negative thoughts can easily morph into unhealthy realities. As Lysa points out, this toxic noise leaves no room for the truth to flourish in our souls.

Silencing that noise is hard at times. I certainly don't have the fail-proof way to do it. What I do know for sure is that you have to saturate yourself in the truth.

Like tuning the radio into a station that plays nothing but feel-good, uplifting music that makes you want to get up and dance!

Surround yourself with the truth...

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Make Time Stand Still

"How do I live without you?
I want to know. 
How do I breathe without you,
If you ever go?
How will I ever, ever survive?
How do I, How do I live?"

You were only a few weeks old when I first heard the song, "How Do I Live?" back in 1997. I sang it to you every time it came on the radio. What I didn't know then, but know all-to-well now, is that those words speak the truth of my heart for you.

The time has gone by so quickly. And it continues with no sign of slowing down. You are growing up. Beginning a life of your own outside of us.

I should be ok with that. I want to be ok with that. But I'm not. And I can now see that my tight, desperate grip is taking a toll on you. It's taking a toll on me.

Not just yet. I just need more time..... those are the words my heart is screaming out. I want to buy just one more Megazord. I want to read just one more book & tuck you in to bed. I want to hold you and rock you and sleep with you in my arms just one last time.

How can it be possible to simultaneously want something so much and, at the same time, not want it at all?

Reconciling that within myself leaves me a mess. And I know I have taken my childhood emotions of abandonment and allowed them to manifest in our relationship. I know it. I can see it. I recognize it. But how do I change it?

I long for us to be close again, and at the same time, I've built walls so high that I can't let you in. I am coming unglued at the thought of you leaving.

How can I explain that to you? How can I change it? I just don't know. It's like breathing - second nature, automatic. Something that runs so deep, I'm not sure I can scratch the surface of it to even begin healing.

And the cold, hard bottom line is that none of that, not one iota, is your fault. Yet, here I am, unleashing my fears onto you. With every passing year, it looks like things are falling into place for you, and it feels like they are falling apart for us.

I feel like one of the toys on "Toy Story 3". Just waiting for you to pick me up and show me that you still value me. It isn't important that you don't play with me anymore, but that I am here for you when you need me, right? I think that is what mothers do and say. But, to be honest, I'm just not quite sure.

"And when you finally fly away
I'll be hoping that I served you well
For all the wisdom of a lifetime
No one can ever tell

But whatever road you choose
I'm right behind you, win or lose
Forever Young."

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Be the Tortoise

Day 15 - Thankful for moments.

Life is made of moments... portions of minutes, fleeting periods of time.

So often we look back at our days and weeks and reflect on them as a whole. In doing so, we lose the moments. You know, those small things that make a big difference...

A smile from a stranger when the world seems full of hate.

The beauty of a flower growing in the coldest places.

A pat on the back when you are silently doubting yourself.

The kindness that lifts you when you think no one sees you struggling.

An opportunity that shows up when you're feeling stuck.

God shows Himself in the everyday, ordinary things. He isn't all about the huge, show-stopping climax. He is in the details, the small things that we so easily overlook and take for granted. And the situations that are disguised as inconvenient can be the very place that He shows himself.

That night class at the end of a long day is a time to see how He is using you to teach others.

That looming bill that you don't have the money to pay is a chance to lean on Him.

That lingering red light is an opportunity to quiet your mind & hear His voice.

Slow down a bit. Those things fly right by when you're speeding down life's road.

I know there are places to be and people to see and deadlines to meet all in a day's time. Just be intentional about getting to those places one step at a time.

"Miracles come in moments. Be ready and willing." - Wayne Dyer

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Perfectly Imperfect

Day 14 - Thankful for imperfection.

There are times when things just don't go the way you plan.

You start out the day with good intentions... and then life happens.

Tasks you intended to complete remain undone at day's end.

Situations you intend to see with a new perspective look all too familiar.

Feelings of insecurity you intend to squash with affirmations get the best of you once again.

All of this indicates one very simple truth. You are human.

You will disappoint yourself from time to time.

You will fall short of expectations.

You will forget things.

You will overlook the feelings of another.

The good news is that you don't have to be perfect.

God is glorified through our weaknesses. He fills in the gap where we fall short.

Be present in every moment - He has a blessing, a lesson, a mission just for you.

The question is, will you slow down long enough to see it?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Community Thanks

Day 8 - Thankful for community.

Yesterday has been coined "Worn Out Wednesday". After Meltdown Monday (challenges at work not handled so well) and Toss Up Tuesday (the culmination of the presidential election), Wednesday found me ready to lay low and keep to myself.

And then a phone call came from my son's high school that knocked me off my feet. Without drowning you with details, I'll sum it up like this.... Houston, we have a problem. 

I fell apart. I could not find words to speak, literally. When the dust settled, I physically collapsed in a chair. God knew I didn't have the ability to handle this situation on my own. He carried me the entire way through. And He strategically placed friends and neighbors around me where He knew they could be most helpful.

He does that with each of us. He brings us into each other's paths at a time where we can help and be a blessing to one another.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

Day 7 - Thankful for grace.

This morning is bitter sweet. The American Presidential election is over & I am happy with the results. However, I let climate of the situation get to me last night and said things that I'm not proud of.

Have you ever said or done something and instantly thought, "I shouldn't have done that"? I didn't say anything that wasn't true or that I would take back. But... you know how there is a time and place for everything? Well. it was simply not either of those.

The misconception that comes with writing about faith and being involved with a community like (in)courage is that I've got it all together. (Cue the laugh-out-loud sound effect. HA!) The reality couldn't be further from the truth!

My journey is a progression and every day I am further down the road than I was the day before. I'm not proud of my open-mouth-insert-foot moments. I am proud that I have the courage to recognize and acknowledge them.

You see, some days I still believe the lies.

"You don't belong here." 

"You aren't a writer." 

"You can't do this." 

"You don't belong." 

And some days, I play right into the Devil's hand - basing my actions and reactions on those lies.

The glory in all of this is that I am reminded of His grace and mercies. They are new every morning because I need them every day. And I know that He will use every one of my shortcomings to speak to the heart of another.

So, if you are beating yourself up today about something you've done or said - listen up! Lay down the boxing gloves and the guilt. Take responsibility. And let Him do the rest. His amazing grace is more than sufficient.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Make a Choice

Day 6 - Thankful for a choice.

After 2 long years of political back and forth, election day is finally here. We are so blessed to live in this great country. My prayer for today...

Heavenly Father, be with us today.

I praise you for allowing me to be born into such a great nation.

I thank you that I can make choices - about who to worship and who to lead this country.

So many others can't say the same.

May whomever wins this election lead with conviction.

May he remember his role, the government's role, in the lives of citizens.

I pray you give him ears to hear your voice and the courage to make the hard choices.

I pray that you will teach us how to embrace our differences rather than fighting them.

We will not always agree. May your love and gentleness smooth the bumps and fill in the gaps between us.

Open our ears and our hearts so that we can listen and learn from one another. 

Help us to put down our picket signs and hang up our boxing gloves.

Open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers.

Break down the walls of judgement and hatred. 

We are neighbors. We are brothers and sisters.

Each of us is your child, precious in your eyes.

Teach us to treat one another that way.

Keep your ways at the forefront of our hearts.

Those in positions of leadership have responsibilities that we can not fathom.

As a citizen, we have responsibilities, too - to respect our fellow man & this land.

Let today, a day of choice, be the day that we choose to do things differently. Amen.

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Little More Time

Day 5 - Thankful for a little more time.

I wake up at 5:30am .... or is it 6:30am? Daylight Savings Time has ended and isn't it amazing what just 60 extra minutes can do.

How many times have you said, "I just need more time"?

Time to prepare... for that hard talk, that important meeting, that next step.

Time to linger and take in a quiet moment.

Time to gather the courage to speak what your heart is saying.

Time to forgive and let it go.

Time to love and hold on tightly.

Today is made up of 24 hours, just like all the rest. But it feels like you've been given more time.

It has been rewound, in a way. Given you a chance to catch up. And isnt' that what really matters?

Take it. Make the most of it.

Call an old friend.

Take a walk with the Creator.

Color that picture and read just one more story.

Say just one more prayer.

Whatever you do, make it worthwhile. You are trading that moment of your life that you will never get back. Make it count.

What will you do with this gift of time?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

What A Game!

You might not know this about me, but I love college football. It's more of a way of life down here in the South than a sport or recreation.

Yesterday was game day and two heavy-hitting, physical teams squared off in what proved to be the game of the year so far. And that was case for each team for different reasons...

LSU has fallen in the ranks. It is not seen as the power house to beat as it once was for so long. The team has faced adversity and loss. Alabama has been riding high. They have shown week after week why they are viewed as the top team in the country.

For those of you who aren't football followers, stay with me. You need to know, there is a lot of history between these two. Each is like a bad habit to the other. It comes around a few times each year - and just when you think you've kicked it for good and put it in it's place, it gets the best of you once again.

In the match up last night, what both teams experienced was a life lesson. One that we can all learn from....

LSU came to play. In their home among their legions of loyal, hungry fans.They got momentum early in the game and did not lose it. Their confidence rose with each play completed, each ball caught. Much like one of their standout players, the team as a whole was a giant powerhouse that would not be stopped. Against the odds and in spite of some careless mistakes, they were winning. Even though the scoreboard didn't always reflect it, they were winning big and they knew it!

Alabama was not itself. All of the coaches and players were in place, but something was just off. Slipped tackles and overthrown passes. Saban's well-oiled machine was experiencing some technical difficulties. And as the game went on and LSU rode that wave of momentum, Alabama's energy level weakened. But in the end (literally), when it counted the most, Alabama came back and drove the ball into the end zone destination for a win. Perseverance paid off once again.

Laying in bed thinking about this game last night, I had to chuckle to myself. I look back at the plays and see metaphors for life. (That is just so me!) God is so big that He is in everything I see, even a football game! I get the lessons and hear the messages in what transpired before me on television....

We all have days where, like A.J. McCarron (Alabama's quarterback and leader), the pressures of our situation get the best of us. They throw us off of our game. Things just aren't working. And it seems the harder we try, the worse things get.

And all the while, our Coach is on the sidelines saying, "Remember what I have taught you. Drown out the noise around you and listen to my voice."

Whatever the circumstance or situation that is throwing you off your game today, it isn't too big for God. He sees the bigger picture. He knows the plays that will lead you to victory. With Him, you will persevere. You will overcome.

*The picture comes from a post by Amber Haines at (in)courage.com... don't ya love it!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Enjoy the Ride

I know lots of you that are spending everyday in November being thankful. I think I'll join in, too. There's nothing like being late to a party! :-)

Day 3 - Thankful for the ride.

When I was a little girl, I spent every other weekend traveling up I-65 to Georgiana with my grandparents. I treasure those memories of the country, but 1 1/2 hours was a long time spent in the back seat of a car! I can still hear myself saying, "Are we there yet?"

Here we are - Friday, the end of another week. I am so happy to be here..... yet I know it's really just a checkpoint along the way. There is a part of me that sighs and whines like that 8 year old on a road trip because I know in two days we'll be doing it again.

And isn't that way with so many things in life?  We want to get to the place where we're happy. Where the struggles are over and we can peacefully settle in. Where we can look around and know this is it. We have arrived.

The truth, my friend, is that you and I will never have that..... not on this earth, anyway.

What you will have is plenty of rest stops along the way to your destination. They are the next steps that our Father has planned for us. That project. New relationships. Different destinations. Not the be-all-end-all that our soul's long for, but perhaps a step closer.

Now, I don't know about you, but I'm going to sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. There is no heaven here on earth, so quit killing yourself trying to find it or create it. There is rest and relief knowing that I don't have to reach perfection along this road. He has more than enough grace for the trip.

No, we haven't reached the end of the road yet. But the experience of getting there is incredible. Don't be so focused on the destination that you miss the scenery.

Enjoy the ride!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Perfect Timing

What can I say? This chapter (which wasn't scheduled to be mine to post on) of this book (chosen at random simply based on the title) was meant for me at this exact time in my life.

Lysa's words about stuffing emotions, building barriers, and toxic relationships are God-given. Given to her to deliver to me. His timing overwhelms - every single time.

It may sound like a cliche, but it is timeless truth..... there are no coincidences.

Look around. Wherever you are, there is something for you.

Knowledge. Perspective. Opportunity.

Listen to that sound - the beating of your heart, the tugging at your spirit.

You were made for such a time as this.

Your skill. Your gift. Your strength. Your talent.

All placed with purpose in this moment, in this place.

Used in His perfect timing, you deliver His intentional impact every day.