happily seeking (bob goff)

Our church is reading a book together this summer, “Love Does,” by Bob Goff. I started a little late because to be perfectly honest, I am extraordinarily particular in whose writings I really enjoy. When I finally picked it up, weeks after its Amazon arrival, I was giddy to see that the forward was written by my very favorite author, Donald Miller.

Score!

So, contrary to my usual MO, I actually read the forward, and dove into the book headfirst. To say that I am enjoying it would be an understatement. I can hardly put it down, and it is sure to be done by tomorrow (with the exception of the final chapter, as I won’t be able to bear it being done. Similarly, I have also reserved the last chapter of my most recent Donald Miller read for the past week for the same reason).

What is most striking to me in reading it is –

1. How timely it is for the season I am in.

2. It’s extraordinarily confirming.

3. I am seeing doors fly open in my heart that I either had thought would never reopen or had forgotten even existed.

The basic premise, to me anyway, is that love does. But it does on the daily. It is not something we schedule, plan or create a system for, but rather it is who we are. For years, that is how I operated. Then, for quite a while, I found myself doing way more “should’s” than merely “being,” and as my eyes were slowly opening to the revelation that the “should’s” were slowly killing me, Mr Goff just confirmed for me exactly that.

I am not certain if it’s being a child of the 70’s and really identifying with the whole gypsy-hippie thing as a youngster, or finding anything rebellious and free-flowing to be most appealing, but in my heart of hearts I am not a systems person. I tried and it kills my spirit, really. The most powerful moments God and I have had have been in puddles on the floor, in the wind on mountain tops and in prayers over perfect strangers. Reading this book has not only reminded of how powerful God worked through me in my life historically, but it’s pointing me back to the person I was designed to be all along.

Now, not to say that there is not a place and time for a plan. For some, that is what they need to operate. But for me, putting God into even the tiniest of parameters is stifling and I long to feel free to just blow where the Spirit would take me. Once again.

My prayer for you today would be for you to begin on your own self discovery as to how you are wired to do the things you are called to do. The most beautiful thing about a relationship with a living God, is that the possibilities are endless, and the Creator of the world is so multi faceted, there are truly no limits as to where and how you may go in this journey we call faith…

Happy seeking!

 

 

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control freaks & finding answers

I love to entertain. Well, it’s a love-hate kind of thing, honestly. I enjoy having people over and making them feel special. Holidays, especially, are seasons when I love lighting the candles and setting the stage for fellowship. My prayer is always that those who enter our space would feel loved, the joy of the peace of God, and perhaps a nice post-dinner nap. (Which, actually happens more often than one might imagine – we have a very cozy nap chair!).

The dark side of such events, however, has historically been what happens to ME when trying to create peace for others. Cleaning, shopping, finding hiding spaces for my never-ending paper piles and decorating on a budget has a nasty tendency to turn me into somewhat a monster. Laser-focused and terse when my spouse and child-soldiers aren’t marching up to my expectations (or perhaps not at all), I realized a few years ago that while our friends would come over to a peaceful scenario, the preceding week was communicating nothing to my family other than holidays are unpleasant, anxiety-provoking opportunities to bring out the very worst in mom.

Ugh.

So, I began to make some changes. Mostly internal but some practical (like starting a week early so I can do things in stages between work and school and daily life). The internal shifts were of greater value, however, and fell in nicely with other changes I was already making in my life. Learning to pick your battles is not cliche, but truly a matter of survival for all. Over the past couple of years, conversations have led to questions about how I made such shifts and so I thought I would share what helped me. If it’s not beneficial to you, feel free to disregard. Everyone’s journey is individual. I will, however say, that when I began to make these questions a part of my processing (and I allowed time to process!), I became a happier more peaceful human, subsequently helping my 7- to nearly 19-year-old humans, and my husband, to breath easier as well.

Joy is restored.

1. Is this issue worthy of our relationship?

Example: Does it really matter that my child’s choice of clothing would lend itself to anyone outside of our home’s opinion that   they are, in fact, homeless, or at the very least mentally unstable? No, it does not. I know my child is clean, healthy, fed and             cared for. At the very least, they are finding their own style and perhaps, like my oldest, one day find themselves voted best             dressed. That purple tutu over red rain boots topped with neon green and turquoise striped sweater are NOT worth creating           tension or teaching your child you judge their personal style. Not ever.

2. What am I teaching my child long-term?

Example: If the child is loading the dishwasher and doesn’t do it to your particular pattern or personal expectation, it is NOT an     issue. We can gently show what is most helpful and why (as to water hitting here or there) but what we are really wanting to           teach them is to take personal responsibility in being part of the team. (And by the way, your way is NOT always best. Just an         FYI). What you might just be teaching them is that you are stubborn, controlling and that they aren’t capable of doing it well           enough. To this day, I still vacuum before I dust, just because I can.

3. If I died tomorrow, would this issue still have been valuable of the tension I have just created, or is it truly vital?

Honesty? Yes. Manners? Yes. Vacuuming all the way to the edges or making the bed perfectly? No.

4. Whose job is it really?

Our job is to train up, to coach, but ultimately, our children have free will as do we. Critical thinking and finding ones own               ability to self-regulate are vital skills for our kids. If they can’t make the decision as to whether or not their own body is cold            enough to wear a coat on a 50 degree day, we have little faith in their capacity to think for oneself. If they are cold, they will              come back inside for more clothes. We can take them to church and train them in the way God has called US to, but their faith        must be THEIRS. Taking ownership of their mistakes, learning that there are consequences to every decision in life (forever),          are lessons that are absolutely invaluable. Micro-managing their every decision and movement throughout the day teaches them    they are incapable and therefore incapacitates them from engaging at all in their own thought processes and decisions. It                  disqualifies their capacity, and the capacity of the God who created them.

Tragically, sometimes we end up completely shutting them down. If they can’t do anything right or in their own strength, they may opt out of the process altogether…

I hope these thoughts help someone release just a little bit of tension in their home, or give a little food for thought. Lately, I have been personally working on questions with relationship to friends, extended family, and within my marriage. Even my relationship with my God. 90% of disappointment, frustration and disillusionment in my personal journey has come via unmet expectation, and unfortunately the majority of that has come from my poor assignment as to who owned what part of those situations in the first.

My prayer is that you might also find your answers today.

Shalom.

good, bad, human

Yesterday I was playing referee between my 7 and 11 year old littles and we had a fantastic conversation about our spiritual gifts.

In our space, we acknowledge and actively work with the reality that with every gift comes what we call the “dark side.”

For instance, one of my children’s giftings is the ability to maintain a singular focus, and is not moved by fear of being on stage, what others might think of her, how another might react to her “performance.” She is confident in who God has designed her to be. She also tends to struggle with the ability to see outside of her singular focus and goal in order to pause and be able to recognize, let alone respond, to the verbal and nonverbal cues of those around her.

Similarly, my 7-year-old believes strongly in what he has learned is right, and in justice. When others do not seemingly hold to these same values as firmly as he feels they should, he is very passionate and can become irrational and unkind.

As we were discussing the light and dark in each of them as it unfolded into disagreement, I mentioned something my oldest used to struggle with, to which my youngest responded, “It’s hard to imagine that.”

It made me smile to know that the evidence of our ability to overcome our personal struggles and weaknesses was made to clear to my younger two children in that moment. The person they know their brother to be today, although not perfect, has a much better handle on his own shortcoming than he did when younger. It is evidence not only of the power of prayer and a life submitted to the Lord, but also gives hope that no matter what we are born with, born into, or have personally chosen in this life, there is always an opportunity to grow and change.

Today, be encouraged that no matter what your child, or your spouse, or family member, or friend, or YOU, are working out, that there is always hope for personal growth and beauty in fullness of the knowledge in who we are – the good, bad, and human.

peace and powerlessness

It’s late afternoon, and I just spent the past several hours in and out of prayer, tears, worship, and Facebook, then back to prayers, tears, worship… Now, I am listening to Elton John. Not because he’s ever been my favorite, but because for just a moment, I feel like a little girl again.

Life was far from perfect then, but somehow it seemed safer because I wasn’t really responsible for very much. I was a lower-income white kid bused across the city for school, because on paper I came from a predominantly minority neighborhood. I remember the kids I got along with – some black, some white, some hispanic. And, I remember those who really didn’t seem to like me – some black, some white, some hispanic. My dad was a Seattle Police Officer and I heard stories and overheard adult conversations about race riots. Sometimes, he would grow a really big beard and disappear for days during the years he was an undercover detective. When he came home, he often talked too freely and drank too much, and it didn’t very often feel peaceful or emotionally safe. Race stuff was a big deal, I could tell, but there wasn’t a lot of productive talk about it. At least not to an 8 year old girl.

One of my favorite friends was named Cherry Washington, and even though her mama looked at me funny and wouldn’t let Cherry come to my house, we would disappear into her room for some EWF and life, for a moment, would seem pretty good.

By the time I was in high school, we had moved east and I attended Issaquah High. Back then it was a cow town and I couldn’t have felt more out of place. I was pretty isolated from reality and just struggled to survive some pretty awkward years. College moved me even further east to attend Central Washington in Ellensburg, where I found myself again in lots of conversations about race, and once again saw these chasms that to be honest, made so little sense to me. Between being on staff, a sociology major, and the wake of the Rodney King verdict, I found myself again feeling helpless to bridge the gap between those I loved, and affecting social change in a way that made an actual difference.

Over the years, I have petitioned, emailed, squared off against racists, prayed, picketed, protested, cried and prayed again. It’s a significant challenge to live in this country sometimes. Even more so to do it with authenticity. Social media has added an extra layer not only to awareness, but also to endless opinions. Those of us with any sort of savvy or intelligence knows there is an issue.

The problem is that most of us also completely disagree with how to fix it.

Chatting with a friend recently, I shared how much my heart wants to be heard. To speak words that bring light to oppression, but in a way that will be actually heard by those who perhaps don’t really want to enter into the dialogue. Or change their own perspectives. Tethered between friends who call themselves Christians, Mormons, Christ-Followers, Agnostics, Atheists, Black, Asian, Hispanic, White, Middle Eastern…I long to be a conduit for conversation. For peace.

For just a bit of understanding.

So, before you jump to the conclusion that I hate one thing when I love another, or believe “A” because I support “B”, please take a deep breath and consider the possibility of what I am actually trying to say. Instead of being angry for what I am not saying, acknowledge what I AM. It’s really easy to have an opinion or agenda, and judge all others against yours, but when that is where we live, we just talk in circles.

True communication is far more about listening than anything else. You know what they say about opinions…

Our world is a mess. Of this, I am hopeful we all agree. For those of us who value humanity, it’s paramount that we focus not merely on our own perspective, but the big picture. Just as we are each gifted differently, so are we each designed to promote social health and equality in a unique way. You minister truth to these people, while I speak life to those. You speak your language, while I speak mine.

It’s time we stand together and not focus so much on what one another is NOT saying, or NOT doing, but rather find the commonality we all share.

At the end of the day, after I have done all the talking and marching and crying and advocating that I can, I am left with myself. And my God. I am reminded that alone in my efforts, there is little movement. BUT, in my heart for people, my prayer for others, and in raising up 4 of the next generation, perhaps, if I share enough, there will be 4 of me to continue marching towards the peace we all long for…

don’t jump!

I’ve been in a bit of a holding pattern lately. Not dwelling on the past more than passing thoughts, but not really moving forward. My worship is extending to genres I have never listened to before and extends beyond what I usually enjoy listening to in general. I am needing more of a marination. Moments of space, instruments, spontaneous worship. I used to consider myself to be creative but that feeling of expression has been long sleeping. Recently, someone spoke that again over me and I have found myself shifting.

Like a baby being birthed, the walls are tight, and in some ways I am waiting in the pressure and darkness, and yet it’s not terrifying, as I can see light at the end. My soul is longing for something deeper, more intimate than I have ever known. The need for space is strong, and I find myself allowing for more moments throughout the day when I just stop and see if the Lord will speak to my heart. When He doesn’t I move on, but pause again a short time later in the hope of hearing the tiniest of whispers.

My heart needs out. As often as I have cried out on behalf of others, it’s a season where I need to be my authentic self – no longer struggling to discern what I “should” do, or how I “need” to act. Criticism of how I have lived my life or walked out my faith once crippled me and I second-guessed every action, every thought…reevaluating and critiquing my motivation. Was my heart pure? Holding myself accountable for my part of things (and sometimes owning things that were never mine), and never holding to an expectation of boundaries to protect my heart.

That season is over, I believe. It had its place, but my need to be authentic and stand for what God has put on my heart now supersedes all that held me back. The only expectations that matter now are those the Lord puts before me. It’s a scary place for this recovering codependent to be. Scary, but powerful.

It’s times like this where I know where my faith lies. It’s in the testing. The defining. What do I really believe even when I can’t see? Am I willing to leave that which I have known for that which is yet a mystery? There is only one way to know what God has for me, and my only choice is to

jump.