My Shoes

Nobody says, “I wonder what it would be like to walk in their shoes?” about abused children.

No one daydreams about being yelled at, called names– or worse.

No one envies the child with the broken spirit, no one celebrates their choice to fight to survive.

One of the strongest memories of my dad was the time I walked into our living room and he just started yelling at me about how much he hated me, how I was just in the way– how he wished I were dead and had never been born.

I reacted to that, at first, by contemplating ways to take myself out of the way. Then– I called my best friend.

She helped me realize the best way to help myself would be to remove myself from the situation. So– I planned a vacation, where I could strengthen my will to continue to live.

I was in high school at the time. I planned for a two week vacation from my life. I took time off from my job, I arranged for a place to stay, and I told no one except the person I stayed with where I would be.

That saved my life.

It was inconvenient for others, I know. Some worried– and they should have. They should have been worried more about my state of mind before I took my time-out, than the fact that I left.

I only used a week of that planned two weeks.

I was introduced to a life I had never known before that, but it was just enough to realize– that also was not the kind of life I wanted to live.

I woke up to some harsh realities, and I walked away from some permanent options that would have become permanent mistakes– had I chosen to take them.

I had always had a secret life of envying others who had dads that were loving, kind, and healthy. Dads who’s hugs were not dangerous, where insults were not the “norm”– ones that cherished their daughters.

My dad, he had a rough childhood. He probably had a secret envy life, as well.

I forgave my dad for his failings, years ago.

I made sure my own children had what I envied of others (God made sure too) because I knew what I had missed. I don’t blame my mom for my dad’s issues. It’s never been her fault.

I love my friends who have had wonderful, nurturing and healthy relationships with their fathers. But, it’s like bumping an unseen bruise to know that that’s something I will never get to know firsthand.

I’m old enough that I’ve forgotten many things I’ve experienced. That ache at what I was robbed of is always there, though, silently throbbing under the surface.

I’m so very happy for others, but my heart silently envies and daydreams about what their lives must have been like.

I’ve attempted to try on their shoes, but my callouses and bruises keep them from fitting comfortably, I’ve never been able to walk in them.

I’ve heard more often than I can count, that God is my Father. True– He is. He is a good father.

As awesome as God is, I still have a lack in my heart for a loving, mentally healthy, earthly dad. That’s my reality. Acceptance from God has been more healing than anything anyone could offer. This is why more mentally healthy, accountable-to-others, Christian men need to step up inside the church. There are people of all ages missing healthy relationships. We are so quick to just expect God to mysteriously fill every void and heal every affliction, when God gave us to one another.

Jesus made sure his own mother had someone to step in to fill the void He was leaving. What an amazing example of compassion and understanding! We lack nurturing, healthy relationships inside our church families. Our own members are hurting from devastating wounds and circumstances, and we busy ourselves with programs, not recognizing the deep needs right in front of us.

God help us to be what our own family-in-Christ needs us to be– what You call us to be.

God has given us shoes to wear. Shoes of the Gospel of Peace. Shouldn’t we wear them at all times, starting inside the Church? And if we don’t wear them there, if we take Abaraham’s burning bush approach and take them off on Holy Ground– Jesus made it abundantly clear the need to wash one another’s feet.

In other words– we need to look after one-another, with the same intimacy as close, healthy, loving family.

We need to get this right so we can effectively affect and reach the world around us with God’s gift of Hope, Love, and relationship with Him through Jesus.

Worship– What Exactly Is It?

We’ve all been there:

Cue music:

Oh, I love this song! I wonder if my hair looks ok? Did I brush my teeth? Oooh, my voice sounds so good today, I’ll sing louder!

How much thought do we give to God, really? Everytime? Do we pay attention to the words we sing?

Are we really worshiping God through music and singing?

As a worshiper, these are things that have been stirring up contemplation in my own heart lately.

The Bible tells us to worship Him in spirit and in truth. It tells us to exhort one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs and sing to God with gratitude.

I looked at 71 Bible verses about worship, and out of all of those verses about 10 mention singing.

Not one mentions music.

Am I saying worshiping God with music is bad? Absolutely not– I believe it is genius!

But, what I am saying is– worship and praise are not music. They can be done with music, with singing, but music is not the definition.

I wonder how God sees what we do in our churches we call His house? Does it really honor Him? Does He approve? Does He even like it?

Or, does He see that really, we are doing it for ourselves, at least, sometimes, and only think it satisfies God?

Or, maybe we are missing that whole worhip Him in spirit and in truth, completely.

How do we worship God in spirit and in truth? What would that look like to God? Do we even try to worship Him outside of the music sets and practice times?

What does worship mean?

What does praise mean?

I do believe we all come to a point in our walk with Jesus where these questions burn into our spirit. We think we know, but–

Do we really?

May God grant us understanding, a willingness to learn, along with eyes and ears to hear and see what we might not already, clearly.

Don’t stop the music and singing. Let’s just do a heart and understanding check to see if we are missing something.

Reflections

Today is my birthday. I’m ?? years old– my Grandma always said “A lady never reveals her age.”

I’m feeling like– I made it! I survived! I feel a kind of rejunenation today.

Also tired.

I’m leaving an era behind me. My husband just retired from the military, and we’re moving into a new phase that I think we are both pretty excited about. I wish I had the same energy I had in my youth to do cartwheels and cheers. My mind is full of energy, but my body is on a whole other plateau.

My husband and I get to enjoy the fruits of our labor now– or soon, anyway. There are always hurdles and obstacles in our course. We’ve learned to weather some big, strongs storms– natural and figurative.

I find myself taking some serious deep breaths. I can let go of some of the heavy things I’ve carried over the years. I can let out that mental breath I’ve held for over 20 years as my husband was sent away from us for months at a time, waiting to find out the unknown, not anticipating the unexpected. I can start thinking about plans I’d like to make that we won’t have to change at the last minute.

I can start thinking about things I want to do.

That’s hard.

I’ve been mom, and military spouse for so long, I’ve tied most of my own interests into my family. My relationships with my kids and my husband have taken most of my energy and planning.

I have a new stage ahead of me that I get to set. I get to explore new things to find what I want to put on it.

I get to relearn, maybe even remake, who I am.

I’m still wife, mother and homeschool/violin teacher. But, now I can look around and add some other things that I want to. I’m not limited to what’s chosen for me, my plans aren’t laid out for me, I have a plethora options I didn’t have the freedom to choose before.

I have the benefit of hindsight, and the excitement of foresight.

I have so much to be thankful for to God, my husband and the military.

I haven’t felt a physical joy in a long time. It feels almost foreign to me as I feel it now– almost like that part of me is thawing out.

I’m genuinely looking forward to the next ?? years that God grants me to live.

Also– I have birthday pancakes made for me by one of my boys.

Life is good.

Strength Of Endurance

God made me to be strong.

I’m not as physically strong as I once was, but emotionally He helps to keep me strong. He helps me exercise my emotional muscles through daily circumstances, and special circumstances that both test and increase that strength.

God designed me to be able to carry a lot.

When I look around, it sure appears that my load is much heavier than others– but I’m not a good judge of what others bear.

Often, while I am preoccupied with carrying my own stuff, He brings people to me that need help carrying their stuff too. Once in awhile, I am overwhelmed by the extreme weight of my own stuff, but often I’m distracted by the need other people have that God chooses to entrust me with to help them carry.

Today, I waver through feeling the heaviness of so many things, and remembering I am not alone in this life task. God is with me. Where He guides, He provides. Today I am reminded that His provision means that He is carrying me. I’m not going to break, because He has my back. He keeps my emotional state in balance, in check.

He does that, even when I don’t think to ask Him to, even when I don’t realize He is.

My path has been paved– carefully, lovingly, with His patience, His endurance, with His peace that defies all worldly understanding.

Today I am weak. He– in me– is strong.

More Than A Glimpse

To catch just a glimpse of what God is doing in the earth is an amazing privilege! He is busy, changing hearts and minds. He is actively working to bring about unity, undermining the enemies of humanity and of Himself, at every turn.

He is constantly aware of every heart’s cry, every tear shed behind closed doors.

He knows.

He sees.

He cares– more deeply than we could ever *get*.

When we are hurting, He gives us His comfort.

When we are lonely, He keeps His listening ears attentive.

When we are distracted, He is not.

We are the tallest trees in the forest.

He sees us.

He sees us.

More than just a glimpse.

He hears us.

He hears us.

More than just a slight whisper.

He is with us.

Always.

He provides for us.

He is our Maker, our Creator, our amazing Designer.

He’s taken great care and detail in all He put into our uniqueness.

He made us for Himself.

Sometimes others appreciate how He made us. Sometimes they do not.

God always admires His handiwork. He always admires His creativity and detail within us.

He always loves us.

If only we could catch a glimpse of Him admiring and adoring us, we would forever understand–

He will Never forsake us. Because we belong to Him. When we knock on the door, it is opened– and never closed on us. When we confess with our mouth that He is Lord– we are acknowledging what will never be changed. When we believe in our hearts that He died, was resurected after 3 days, and walked again with those who followed Him– and then He was taken up to Heaven to sit at God’s Right Hand, we believe eternal truth. He said He would be going to make a place for us. There is a place for us with Him in eternity, as His children. He made that for us. He’s put so much thought and effort into us.

How much have we put into Him?

“Jesus Loves Me, This I Know

For The Bible Tells Me So

Little Ones To Him Belong

They Are Weak, But He Is Strong

Yes Jesus Loves me

Yes Jesus Loves me

Yes Jesus Loves Me

The Bible Tells Me So.”

To catch a glimpse of what God sees– we would see our reflection in His eyes.

Tapestry

One strand

One life

Interwoven

With other lives

Intersecting with strangers

New strands

Intervening

Interceding

To the eye it looks random

Like a bunch of tangled, messy strings

Being brought to order

Composing a theme

One step at a time

One stitch purposely sewn

A picture emerges

The goal’s being shown

As it progresses

The outcome’s unknown

Images are messy

Haphazard, disjointed– monotone

The longer the strand is

Woven in and out

The motivation’s

Revealed throughout

At times it looks abstract

Like Van Goph tried…

But if I look closely

If I squint my eyes…

Is it Jesus in the center?

Or me that I see?

I hope to weave Jesus

Into people I meet

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19 (NIV)