Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Dance

Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Romans 12:5
NLT

Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down.
The Message

Be happy with those who are happy. Be sad with those who are sad.
ICV

 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
NKJV

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
NIV

It’s so easy. It’s easy to rejoice with those who are rejoicing. To laugh with laughing friends. To be happy when your friend is happy. Most of us are very good at this. It’s fun to be around people who are having a good day. Celebrating life is like licking the icing off the top of the cupcake, right?
Where we fall flat is that second part, the part we hope we won’t have to do. We don’t want to see our friends sad, weeping, or mourning.

I was in a bible study a while back, as a visitor. A young lady was struggling with life. I don’t know her situation, but it could be any of our stories. Life isn’t good or bad. Usually, it’s good and bad. For that day, week, month or year, she was overwhelmed with the painful parts of life.
The people in the class meant well. They wanted to make her feel better. They told her it wasn’t so bad as it seems. They told her she just needed enough faith. Perhaps those things they said were true, but they weren’t really loving or helpful at that time.

In the end, I could see that she just felt like a failure as a person and a Christian. She had bared her heart, her life, her sorrow. They meant well, but the message they sent to her heart was that she wasn’t a good enough Christian. I could see her heart welling up into her eyes. I understood her sorrow, so I spoke up into that place.

Life is hard. It’s hard for all of us. Christian, or not… We have a great gift, in Christ. We have his word and we have the Holy Spirit in our heart. We aren’t walking alone in this world. We need always to be thankful for that.

At the same time, we need to guard our hearts and our churches against the idea that God will give us some Disney-like happily-ever-after. Life just doesn’t work that way. The rain falls on the just and the unjust… We share the same broken world, the same worries, the same hurts.

When another Christian is broken and brave to share the hurts with us, we need to do just as this simple verse in Romans tells us. We need to weep. We need to share tears. We need to share in the sadness and the mourning. Why do we shrink back from the weeping and mourning?

Why do we judge another’s sadness and try to determine if there is adequate cause for the tears streaming down their cheeks? Why do we tell our hurting friends to be strong and to hide their sorrow? Why do we say nice things that are platitudes rather than hold their hands and just let the tears flow?

Are we afraid of sorrow?

Is this a cultural expectation? Are we following culture over the words of the Bible?
We mean well, but are we hurting those we love?

Are we making them hide their true self from the very ones who love them?

Worse still, are we seeing their sorrow as a weakness and using it against them?

Perhaps it’s time to challenge some of our church culture. Maybe we need to do a bit of weeping with those who weep. The bible is often an upside-down book. The least likely become the ones used by God. It may be that by weeping with those who weep, we strengthen hearts and relationships and lives. In that breaking of our own heart for someone else, we open our heart to grow as it never could have in any other way.

God blesses you who weep now,
for in due time you will laugh. ~Luke 6:21

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Quitter

It’s tempting to say I’m in a season of quitting. So much of who I am recoils at the thought of quitting. Anything. Anytime. For any reason.
But perhaps, that isn’t fair. Maybe it’s this misguided notion that one should persevere through come what may and never falter and never show weakness. Just push and stretch a little harder until you make it. Sometimes, we don’t even know what we are “making it” to.
And perhaps, I am making excuses…
I just quit a big thing, a long-held commitment and position. Stepping down is hard. It hurts. Doubts swirl and tempt me to second guess a prayed over and well thought decision. 
Today, I mourn a little bit over what I have given up. Is that okay? 
This position that I had dedicated so much time to serve, was beginning to wear on me. So many things… So much strain. I was running low and finding little chance to find joy. It was exhausting. I was emotionally exhausted. Term limits aren’t all bad, you know. So, I enforced a term limit on myself. I quit.
And though there is doubt and a little bit of grief, there is also peace and relief. My soul needs to serve and to rest. I suppose that at least for this area of my life, this is my time to rest. For everything there is a season…
Today, I’m granting myself a bit of recovery. I read a book just for fun. I took time to have a pedicure session with my little girl. I read Farmer Boy to my little boy. I listened to my two big kids play their music without my usual frustration over the noise. I did laundry, too. You know that never stops in a full house.
Grace is a beautiful thing. It’s unmerited favor. These ladies I served with accepted my resignation with grace. They had every right to be upset that I needed to step away. And yet, they were gracious. They allowed room for my needs and loved me anyway. Loved me, even broken…
Sometimes, it’s okay to be a quitter. There are seasons in our lives when we need to breathe… When we need to remember where we left our smile... When we need to be willing to let go of a good gift knowing God is leading us to do the things He has planned for us. 
Finding peace, today.
Resting today in the knowledge that “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago,” Ephesians 2:10. He made me, crafted the who I am, and HE has plans for my life. 
Today, I rest.

Friday, February 24, 2017

It's been a while...

Long time no see, friend. Several years have passed and I let this blog stay quiet. It's not that I didn't have anything to say. I guess life with 4 kiddos, homeschooling, running errands, being a wife, a daughter, a mother, and a friend didn't leave much leftover.

I miss writing, though. I write a lot in my head. Sometimes, my Facebook posts should really have been a blog post.
I'm not sure I'll write much. Or often. Or well.
But maybe...

Lately, old posts are showing up in my memories on Facebook. It makes me miss blogging a bit. And then, a few people tell me they miss it, too. That maybe, I should write again. So, I am dipping my toe into the waters a bit.

I can hear the thunder of the children waking up and running through the house. The days of sleepy toddlers is long gone, you know. My house is full of music and banging and laughter. Sometimes, it's all sweet. Mostly, it's kind of obnoxious like middle school. For everything there is a season, right?

And maybe, this season can include a little writing. Maybe.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Day of Beauty

Some days, the amazing gifts of an awesome God just overwhelm.

Majestic oak, wearing fall leaves...
Intricate wooly worm...
Wonder in little eyes...
History preserved beautifully...
Tiny flowers nearly hidden...
Warm light and shadows...
Sunshine, breaking through clouds lighting the way...
Rainbows, would you believe there were nine different ones to brighten our way home...
Down a winding country road dressed for the season...

And a sunset reflecting on clouds...

 

A day of joy, gifts of beauty counted in photos.

 
 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Rest

So very hard to slow down, I found myself parked on the comfy chair with some embroidery last Saturday. Allergies kicking, I was too dizzy for my usual busy bee routine. So, I sat. I sipped hot tea. I finally finished the embroidered pillowcases I started a year and a half ago...

I rested.

It's hard to rest when you are the momma. The laundry doesn't stop, and the bathrooms don't clean themselves. Folks just have to eat...

Today, I rested again... Just in a different way.

A hissing tire with a screw sticking out... Warning light lit on the dashboard...

Sidelined from the busy by a flat tire.

Happily, it all happened in front of a favorite country store where they sell bulk baking goods, lunch meats and cheeses, and candy. A store with a wide front porch and a rocker that was just made for a gal like me...

YooHoos all around, the kids parked it on a bench while I called my handsome honey to come rescue me. He has to do that a lot...

He was riding with our youngest in the combine with my baby (bigger than me) brother. Knowing it would be a while, I told the kids we'd just have to enjoy the break. They looked at me like I had two heads.

They paced and kept going to the car to check and see if the tire was still leaking air. Inconvenienced. Frustrated.

I rocked and watched the old pick up trucks driving by. Strangers offered help. Folks I know called me to offer to help after I joked on Facebook about being stranded at my favorite store. One relative just jumped in his truck with his two girls and came to help.

My knight made it, my Sammy asleep in the car seat beside him.

Men folks got busy. I got out my camera...

My big boy helped change his first tire. He says there's no need to call Daddy next time. He's got it under control.

 
Inconvenience became a blessing.

A flat tire, an opportunity to rest in the love of others.

And I rested. Unhurried and feeling utterly loved by the folks who helped or offered hands. Resting in the love of family and community, glimpsing a reflection of a greater Love.


 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Opening New Doors

The girl had always wanted to be a teacher. Mrs. Kramer's kindergarten class had helped her determine that much. She knew how great teachers could be, how much they could do in the life of their students. So, she worked hard to achieve her dream of a cute little classroom in a small town school.

So when she pulled into the parking lot, she felt very unsure of herself, unsure of where her dream, where God, was taking her. The fence with barbed wire at the top was so different from the pastoral fences of her home. This fence surrounding the school in the city was meant for keeping people out, not keeping a herd in the field. She sat in her car, so uncertain, considering going back home.

Determined not to be rude, she summoned the strength to go inside for the interview. The door was just across the parking lot. Surely, she could do this. But as she reached the door, she found it locked, stuck firm. A naive country girl, she had never seen magnetic door locks. She had never "buzzed" to get into any door before. Again, she questioned the wisdom of interviewing at such a school in the midst of this city landscape. She pressed on, pushing the button near the door. Surely, she could get through this interview.

With no intention of anything more than practicing her interview skills, she walked into the old building to find the office. The principal, a kind faced woman, met her in the office. Such a contrast from the sober faces at the other schools, the girl was taken off guard. Rather than grilling her with the typical questions, the principal took her into the school and shared it's history and stories of the children who found their way there each morning.


The girl's heart was softened. As they toured the open classroom of the fourth grade, a dingy room with few comforts, the girl knew. This was a place, where by bravely stepping out of her own dream and her own comfort, she might be able to make a beautiful world for these twenty children.



So, she accepted the offer to teach. She took very little pay to drive into the unsafe places of the city and teach these children who stole her heart before she even met them. She spent the summer cleaning the dirty room and adding as many comforts as she could afford. She was preparing for those faces she couldn't wait to meet. Anticipation mixed with anxiety, the children lined up in their uniforms in the front parking lot. She smiled.

She loved them. She taught them. She spent her hours thinking of them, doing for them, pouring herself into that little class of sweet little hearts. When the year ended and they advanced to the next grade, she went with them. They grew to become a family of learners together. She cried great tears as they left at the end of that second year. She loved them so.

A new chapter opened in her life. A story of her own family and the birth of a daughter brought her home. Her love for those children sent them birthday cards and kept them always in her prayers. She hoped they knew how very much she cared... How much she still cares.

Those children are in their early twenties now, the teacher-girl is me. And my heart is still full of love for those sweet little hearts.

I still hear from most of them. They write to me. Once, it was in letters. Now, they message me on facebook. They can't know how much that means to me, how proud I am of them.

What a privilege they have given me! I am seeing them as they open strange new doors of their own, the doors of adulthood. Oh, how I wish I could meet them back in our little classroom and share with them a few bits of knowledge and advice, hope and love.

If I could, I would tell them these things. Many, the same lessons I tried so hard to teach them in years past...

  • Make good choices. As you open these new doors in your life, you have a great opportunity to make a great life. Choose the right doors. Spend your time on things that will make life better for you, your family, and the community. Live life well. Minimize regrets by choosing wisely.
  • Listen to wisdom. No need to navigate this crazy world alone. There are good people who have been there and done that. Find them. Seek them out. Listen to them.
  • Be kind to others. You are grown up now. It's time I tell you why this rule is so important. You see, this world is so very full of sin. Sin is more than just something that is "naughty." You see, sin is something that causes harm. All of us have been touched by sin. All of us have been hurt. Some of us have been called hurtful names. Some of us have not been given the love we should have. Some of us have lost those most precious to us and have grief. Some of us have been hurt in unspeakable ways. We are all wounded, even if you can't see it. So, be kind. Be gentle.
  • Be brave, courageous!
    Try new things, even the scary things! If it doesn't work out, get back up and try something else. Don't be afraid to try new things.
  • Always do you very best work. Remember this rule? It was a favorite of mine. Don't be afraid to work hard. It won't hurt you. And to be honest, it feels good to do a job well. Doesn't it?!
  • There is a good God who loves you. So seek him out. I know there are folks who don't believe this. I also know there are folks who teach all sorts of things about him that are questionable (at best). So, go to the source. Talk to Him. Read His words. Find out for yourself. Do the research. You are smart enough to figure these things out on your own, so do it. Your life will be richer for having taken on this challenge.
And my darling kiddos... I love ya! I'm proud of you.

Come visit me, you hear!

Mrs. S.



Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Homeschool Art

There is classical music playing in our basement, today. Paint, spilled out onto old container lids, being daubed with Q-tips onto an elaborate coloring sheet (found via Pinterest). The artist, would he feel honored by our study of his work?

I don't remember learning very much about great works of art or artists until high school. It amazes me to see my children enjoying this, this art appreciation. Quite a departure from our standard coloring sheets, they work and continue to glance back to my college art appreciation textbook. They focus. They remark on the details I don't expect them to notice. Painstakingly, they work.

This, is homeschooling.