Thursday, May 31, 2012

Green is the Color of Love

My friend Steve usually has inspiring things to post. A few days ago, he posted a thought that I really enjoyed. In a simplified version, it said something like this, “We become what we behold”- Now this statement is quite intriguing to think about. The responsibility of making change in my life really rests in my pursuit of God.  I mused this around in my head for awhile and turned it inside out, then I started thinking in reverse.  Not only should we behold God, but we can do so with the knowledge that God beholds us!

Now the biblical definition of behold is to fix the eyes upon, to see with attention, and to observe with care.  The depth of His concern goes even further. It is the difference between just feeling what someone is going through and actually living what they are going through, almost “Avatarish.” As usual, it reminded me, of a little story that illustrates it so well.

The summer of 2007 was incredibly exciting for us. Our daughter was getting married in July.  June found most of our family in Lewiston, Idaho to watch the Collegiate World Series. Even more exciting was that not only was our son, Ben playing, but also our future son-in-law, Brad. Brad was also recognized as a Champion of Character at the Opening Ceremonies. Our young men’s team didn’t win the title, but we all had a great time. 

Upon losing the final round that knocked us out of contention, both families gathered at the hotel Jacuzzi for a little R & R. For those who know our daughter Bethie, know that she is always in motion. I guess it’s a gift a kindergarten teacher needs! It was of no surprise to us that she made herself a human ball and was rolling around beneath the surface of the water.  The rest of us including Brad’s family, sat around talking and being entertained by the strange moving fish in the middle of the Jacuzzi. Acknowledging how tired we were, we left toward our rooms. It was then we all noticed that Bethie’s hair was green.  No worries, nothing that a warm shower wouldn’t fix. 

Hours later, both families met in the lobby to plan dinner. Bethie was a late, but finally slinked by the front desk with red, swollen eyes. It was then I saw her new garden glow.  Her long blonde hair had been transformed into long flowing lettuce leaves.  The Jacuzzi had dyed her hair!  I don’t mean a faint color of green, I mean GREEN!  The lobby was disconnected into a sea of strange interactions. I was trying to console Bethie, while her brother was beside himself with hysterics. To say that Bethie was horrified was a real understatement. She couldn’t block out the thought that in just six weeks she’d be walking down the aisle with hair looking like the inside of an Easter basket! Brad saw her falling apart. I guess he looked deeper than the rest of us.  He beheld her.

In the middle of trying to figure out what to do in lobby, Brad had disappeared.  He had slipped away to do something purposely in his compassion.  Some may have called it crazy, and some may have called it kind of cute. When we finally found Brad, his hair was dripping wet.  He had been out at the Jacuzzi dipping his head in the water.  If his bride was going to be green, then so would he.  They would go through it together.  We all laughed, but can I tell you he scored huge points with his lady?  He understood her.

What would compel this young man to do something so drastic? Simple – love.  He didn’t even quite think it through, he just reacted.  Well, our heavenly Father goes even further than a head of hair dipped in water when He beholds us.  He lived our life. Ever wonder if God “gets” you?   This is a God that knows what it is like to be rejected, to lose a loved one, to have to believe for each meal and be homeless, to have friends and family disappoint you, to have people question your gifts, and to be tormented by evil and Jesus certainly knew the full measure of pain. He understands because of His purpose driven life for us.  Once again, as I behold Him, I’m floored by the depths of His unending love and how He beholds you and me.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I may be slow, but I get it!

A few years ago my sister told me the funniest story I think I’ve ever heard.  ABC could have used it for one of their sitcoms. The scene took place in her Tennessee front yard driveway on an extremely rainy day. Now here in California, we don’t quite understand the kind of rain they get in Tennessee. We’re talking about water falling from the sky with volume more like a Niagara waterfall rather than our California mist. My sister, Anne had returned from Walmart with her trunk full of groceries.  Knowing she was going to have to battle the deluge, She bundled herself up tightly. Raincoat zippered all the way up-Check, Hood anchored in place- Check, Ready, Set, Go!  Out she dashed to open the trunk and get into the house as quick as possible.  She still had her keys in her hand, so she dropped them smoothly into her right pocket and grabbed the grocery sack.  In lightening speed, she slammed the trunk shut.
Here’s where it all went downhill.  She turned to run to the house, but couldn’t move. Against all odds, the trunk had closed on her jacket.  Anne scrambled through her purse only to realize that she had put the keys in her pocket.  The hungry trunk had managed to devour the whole lower right side of the jacket- pocket included! The pocket containing the keys was now INSIDE the closed trunk! 
So, here is my big sister standing attached to her car in the pouring rain holding a bag of groceries.  As fate would have it, it was a minimum day at her school. She left work about mid-day, so unfortunately, her cul-de-sac that early was a ghost town.  If she was going to get rescued, she would have to do it herself.   Anne slowly unzipped the jacket and removed the hood.  Rain pelted and soaked her once dry hair and skin.  She tried to slither downward to no avail.  Since the rain had made a great lubricant, her best chance was to pull herself up on the car and try to squeeze herself out of the top of the jacket like a banana.  After the strange aerobics and weird contortions, the wet worm was finally free.  She turned to see her partially unzipped jacket hanging from the back car, like snake whose skin had been shed. 
Seizing her bruised victory, she dashed for cover and remembered that her home was locked too.  The next feat was to climb in an unlocked window.  As Anne’s last leg swung over the window pane, she heard her phone ringing. She picked up the phone cradle to only to hear her neighbor’s voice. The neighbor was calling to ask her how her day had gone.  She also told Anne that someone had left a grocery sack in the rain and did she know that a coat was hanging out of the back of her trunk?  This is a story that will go down in history only seconded by the time she ripped the gas pump off at the gas station., but that’s another tale….
I was reminded of this silly story last night when I went to see the new movie, “Battleship". There’s a scene in the movie when the hero is faced with personal loss, is overwhelmed with his situation and feels so inadequate for a role of leadership he is being thrust into.  He is holding back.  As the crisis builds, his heart cries out for him to rise out of his despair and become the man he was destined to be.  I found myself yelling to the movie screen, “he needs to step it up!”  At the same time, I heard God speak to my own soul, “Yep, Lynn- you need to step it up!”   There are places in my life where I have “trunked” the keys to the very things that have the ability to serve me, just like my sister’s ordeal and that movie!
What was God speaking to me about? Well, let’s get real and name a few of the phrases I tuck away and sit on. “I can do anything, in Christ!” God delights in using me!” ” If I don’t know how, nothing is impossible”, “My strength perfect in my weakness” “I’m going to succeed and God will be glorified.” “Why not me?” “My heavenly Father can finance anything endeavor! “, “God will make a way, where there seems to be no way with my time!” and there are more.  These messages, I lock deep in my own trunk, but why? When they hold the keys of opportunity for daily living and for some of the bigger things God is calling me into.  Keeping myself locked out, hinders me from going places, such as a car without a key.  It robs me of taking possession of what is my inheritance!  The key to my dwelling! And even worse is, if I don’t have my keys, who does?  My security is compromised.  I can be robbed of my God given identity!

It’s high time that my keys get out of the trunk of my stupid thoughts.  Keys are a symbol of power, authority and security, so why waste time questioning if we should even use them?  How crazy is the picture of the wet woman stuck to her car in a rainstorm holding a bag of groceries?  So thanks God, I got a good mental picture of how ridiculous Your view of me is at times.  I’m working on it.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Oh, Snap!

When you pull the lid off a tuna can, it makes a snapping sound as the last corner of the metal lid detaches from the side of the container.  This is how I felt this past weekend.  I am still buzzing with grace and love since the lid of favor continues to overflow in my life. It doesn’t mean only good things happen, but it does mean, I know how to see His goodness in all things!  And yes, I feel like my heart and my soul snapped into a new place of recognizing the depth of my Father’s love. In the core of my being, I understand I am loved, but as God continues to peel the lid off my eyes- “Overwhelmed” is the only word that even comes close to my response.

I was privileged this past weekend to attend a hospital Foundation benefit for women who need cancer screenings and treatment, but can’t afford it. It was entitled, “For the Women We Love.” This function was work related but so much more for me, so I bought an extra ticket for my man. The cost of a ticket, was the cost of a mamogram. The venue was brightly decorated.  There were pink cloth napkins shaped into ribbons and outlandish bras dangled from tall vases in the center of each table.  On the wall were 3 twelve foot posters of women the Foundation had helped. Sitting at my table was one of these ladies - a little weathered, but none the less here!  During the moving evening, the host asked every cancer survivor to stand to their feet.  As I rose from my chair, I looked around the room of 400 and saw perhaps twenty five or so people who fought the fight with me.  My heart was humbled as it exfoliated to expose the depth of the grace I have been afforded.

Some folks standing were not just people in the room that had fought the monster cancer, but they also were people who struggled with life issues to begin with. The crisis of cancer was the added lump of destruction- the icing on the cake, so to speak.  As I heard their stories, my insides churned. The biggest enemy of their souls was gripping fear.  It went from fear, and then encompassed families breaking down, loss of homes and jobs with no insurance. Fear led to despair and many were not at peace with God.  I am thrilled to say, the Foundation stepped in. They treated these women with respect and were able to make a huge difference in their lives by offering free treatment!  One lady was able to save her home because of their intervention.

As emotions fluctuated between my undeserving guilt and walking in kingdom grace, I mentally started taking note at the warm blanket of generosity that the Lord had draped over me and my family.  My story is supernatural and nothing of my own strength.  The first thing God covered me with in the very beginning, was Love.  You see, Love casts out Fear.  I honestly can say I never walked in fear of death or life. I win no matter what! Future and hope, I danced in.  As for my hubbie, he not for sale! There are no words for his daily and continued sacrifice to me.  He constantly thinks of ways to serve me or bless me and not just what he thinks he’d like to give me, but what I really want.  He listens!  We also weren’t hit financially, my income actually increased during treatment, because I had purchased a $30 a month Aflac cancer policy a year before –so like God to go before me! To this day, I don’t know why I bought it.  There was no threat of losing my home – I actually inherited it and remodeled it! I re-tiled the bathroom during chemo!  I was never in physical pain, just frustrated at the length of time for this inconvenience to end, even though I understood how serious it was.  Lastly, the best part of everything has been this incredible close relationship with God like never before.  His voice is so clear at times to me, I am astounded. 

So I’ve been meditating on this whole thing this week. What does one do with all these overpowering feelings?  SNAP?!! Well...Yes!  I have finally snapped!  My tuna lid is off!  I’m just going to swim in God’s pure delight. I won't be able to stop myself, because it will compel me to serve even more.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Shattered Glass

I don’t know why but the shattering sound of broken glass always comes with a dramatic pause of silence. And so it was in our living room the other day.  The distinct sound of breaking glassware! – I leaned my head to look around the corner to see what had happened
I saw my hubby with his mouth hung open and he stared in disbelief.     
 His words, frozen until they finally rolled out,

“I must be some kind of idiot!”  “How the heck did I do this?”

On the table, lay several broken plates that had died a violent death

Unfortunately truth be told, I had set up our dinning room table for disaster.  On the table, I had been sorting through the 80-some collector plates to label them and categorize them – The Wildlife Series, The Hummingbird Series, The Great Clipper Ships, etc.  Some of these plates were boxed and others were just stacked. It has been a work in progress.  There are far too many to keep as memories of my father who collected them.  I needed to get rid of most of them.  The sorted plate groups made tall perilous piles

Next to the table with plates is a tall china cabinet. A few days earlier before this incident, Doug and I had discussed that the china cabinet would look better in the corner.  On a whim of a moment, he got behind the loaded table to move the cabinet by himself.  His focus and attention was on the glassware inside the cabinet, unaware of the stack of plates on the table. In the end, the cabinet got moved, but my plates got shattered.

Looking at the aftermath, the warzone only lasted a brief moment before I screamed with delight! “These are beautifully colored pieces!” “Quick, let’s get a box to save them!”  Doug was looked at the mad woman he was married to and shook his head. He was staring at the mess and damage; However, I was seeing a work of art!  “These broken bits and pieces are great for making mosaics!” I rambled on.   I usually have to settle and use tile or marbles when making my mosaics.   There is nothing like a great colorful plate! I have to wait for an event like this to happen, or the “mercier” in me, feels too bad for the plate.

Our little story got me thinking. Maybe God looks at our broken lives as an opportunity for some of His best handiwork? A shattered life may just have the colored hues of humility needed for the mosaic He is creating.  I don’t believe He causes the entire calamity, but He certainly knows how to use opportunities to make us dazzling glimpses of His glory.  Today,  I’m asking to look at life deeper with His eyes,  instead of mine – most of us sit around and call ourselves idiots and beat up ourselves with “Why?” questions when crisis hits.  Or worse, why try gluing something back together that will never be right again, when we need to move on.  This is normal human response, but radically thinking- maybe “shattered” is just fine. What if God in His compassion is holding us when problems arise, but is also dancing around with delight because His creation is taking shape?   When we see as God does, we can relax knowing that something beautiful is around the corner because He always has plan!