Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Little Girl's Gift

I was surprised by fear last night.

In the brittle cold I sped down the freeway as fear caught up with me and settled right down into my heart. I was taking my daughter to the emergency room. I couldn’t get her stubborn fever down. We were sitting at 104.7 when I called the clinic and they said, go. 

Numb typically takes over in the expanse between my small town and the sprawling complex of the children’s hospital. Forty minutes of numb, which stretches into several hours of numb while I wait for doctors to treat whichever child happens to require the extra care. 

This time, numb didn’t come. Fear did. And that was new for me. 

When I feel fear, I feel small. I feel alone, like I’ve done something wrong; like I am not being strong enough.
But I decided to refuse “strong”. I also refused “understanding”. 

I let fear come, and I invited Abba to come. And I let a friend know I was scared, so I wouldn’t feel alone (that felt a bit silly, but I knew it was what I needed to do). 

One moment at a time, I stayed present, for my daughter, with the little girl inside me so close. Fear helped me know how miserably ill she was. Fear helped me be moved to compassion. Fear helped me know to rub her back or stroke her hair. Fear showed me to hold on tight to her hand when the needles came, and to keep holding tight when they were gone. 

This too was new. 

So often, my offered comfort has been forced and I always had to guess at what a loving Mom should do. I was usually angered by the required effort. Then I felt guilty on top of that. To be present in the fear allowed me to be present in the comforting. It allowed the little girl in me to be comforted too

I have despised this little girl in me for her weak emotions. 

Now I am learning how this little girl’s emotions are a gift that will make me strong. 

The Lord is calling the lost parts of me home. As I invite Him to come, He invites them to come.

 In this, I celebrate Advent in a way I never have.

This too is new.

I'm linking up with:
Bonnie Gray at Faith Jam
Nacole at Concrete Words 
Woman Hood With Purpose: Friday Link-Up Party

Womanhood With Purpose

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Faith Barista: Giving Myself Permission to Freefall

I have a confession to make. I realized it today as I was putting all of my fall decorations away. I enjoy the fall better than Christmas. How dare I, right? And this year is so much worse. Blame it on the unseasonably warm weather that just this week finally gave way to artic air. Blame it on the lazy leaves that refuse to fall and scatter themselves keeping me in a kind of autumnal limbo. Blame it on a late Thanksgiving that has me far behind in our traditional Advent activities because I was too busy to decorate for Christmas and our Advent wreathe is still in a box somewhere, up there.

Fall is the “just right” season. It’s, for me, the most comfortable season. The colors are warm, the temperatures cool. I drink it in like that favorite seasonal drink, squeezing out every drop of enjoyment before the weather shifts and the tastes move on to other delightful flavors. I love that first blush of color that creeps in during October. The staggered explosions of orange, yellow and red thrill my heart. There are new sights daily. When the first leaves begin to fall, a carpet of color unfolds beneath the trees, doubling the grand beauty.

And of course there are the leaves that refuse to let go. This year there are many of those in our neighborhood since 70 degree weather made it convenient for the leaves to take their time. I find myself connecting meaning to those stubborn leaves still clinging to the branches. I am clinging too. I have gone through a long spring and summer of change, and transformation. My true colors are no longer hidden and I am enjoying the vivid shades of the fall palate that has been expressed in my soul. And I want to stay here. I want to stay in this time, this leg of the journey. I’m just beginning to figure it out and get good at it. I’ve discovered grief. I’ve given myself permission to feel something other than anger. Grief has brought tears that, like that first autumn rain, has cleansed the dust and grime from the tired foliage that survived the relentless summer furnace. I survived that barren summer too. I outlasted the desert heat of my hard packed heart that expressed no emotion and sealed tears far below the dry surface. But now, the rains have come, the softening has begun. The colors, newly rinsed, glow brilliantly. I feel cool relief seep into deep places. I don’t want to let go of this season.

Yesterday, an arctic blast sent its frigid fingers into Central California and stirred up a bitter wind shaking reluctant leaves from swaying branches. Showers of color captured my longings and fears. I saw the Holy Spirit dancing through the limbs of my soul, chasing leaves from the branches, tossing them upwards in a celebration of the something new to come. But I’m not so sure about this. The hardness of the icy air made me pull the edges of my coat tight around me. It was unsettling watching the leaves finally give up their stubborn vigil and surrender themselves to the free fall. Am I ready for that next level of surrender?

The citrus farmers here are busy. They know the icy blast that chased away the pleasant weather is necessary. It’s the only thing that can bring the sugar to the fruit. But too much cold can bring severe damage. They prepare for the cold by turning on large fans to circulate the air around the trees. They also run water over the trees and underneath. This water, when frozen, forms an insulation that keeps the trees at 32 degrees not under it. At 28 degrees, damage can start. Large oil burners raise the temps in the orchards as well.

I hear truth whispering to me. For sweetness, I must learn to tolerate the bite of temporary climate change. When the weather hardens and harsher exposure is required of me, I must learn to be thankful and understand its purpose. When the Lord wants to pull sweetness into my spirit he allows the ice to come for a time. I must prepare for it. I must seek the fresh wind of the Holy Spirit. I must be soaked in the word so that I may stand insulated by the Lord’s promises. I must find authentic connection with those my soul is warmed by.

So I give myself permission to free fall from one season into the next. I turn my face towards Christmas. I turn my heart towards the manger. I turn away from the comfort of fall. As the cold wind chills me, on my knees I find something better than warmth seeping in. As the branch of Jesse is manifest before me, those bitter waters that so plague me within, they begin to sweeten. I soak deeply in the Advent scriptures and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to me about the next leg of the journey. I embrace the chill. I let the winter come.

I'm linking up today for JamWithMe Thursday at Faith Barista:

photo credit (first photo): paul bica via photopin cc

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Concrete Words: Yield

(Well, this is one I never published. But, I reread it today and decided to put it out there. I never linked it up to Concrete Words. But this is my take on the prompt: Yield.)

It was more an utter and complete collapse into resignation than a gentle yield of my heart. The anger had won again. The rage had swept through our home leaving chaos and torn hearts. I had tried every method, every discipline, every formula, every verse… and failed. Here I was in a familiar state of despair. But this time, on year ago, I gave in. I quit. And that was when I finally did what I should have all along.

I asked for help.

Not the kind of help that hands you another title to pick up at Barnes and Nobles or suggests another verse to memorize. This was the kind of help that looks you in the eyes and sees the pain you’ve pretended wasn’t there; the kind of help that wants to reach out and weep for that grief so buried in your soul. These were the types of hearts that wonder out loud why you feel like you need to suck it up.

They saw my wounds and were amazed I had stood so long.

It wasn’t that I hadn’t ever tried to yield or submit. I spent years yielding to people’s ideas of how to fix my crisis. I yielded to the demands I put on myself to right this sinking ship. I yielded to expectations that I suspected God had of me. But there was always a neglected person left behind.


And people were wondering where she had gone, while I was convinced they were better off not knowing her.  I left her abandoned way back at the intersection of, “Oh, that was dealt with in the past,” and “I’m a new creature in Christ.” It took my failure to slow me down long enough to hear her voice crying, “Wait for me, wait up.”

This was a new kind of yield to me. I risked transparency, and was met with grace. I risked full disclosure and was met with forgiveness and compassion. I allowed myself to be known, my whole self that I still want to tuck out of view from time to time. There in those exposed moments I found the comfort of a warm embrace.

Christ had been there all along. I desperately needed him to step into the fullness of my being. It took surrendering my need to do it by myself and allowing people to be vessels of the love he had reserved for me.

In this season, the Lord led me to lay down my arms, to stop my fight to survive. I’ve surrendered the defenses that veiled my lack. I set aside the weapons I used to push everyone away. I’ve come to a season when my heart is learning that it needs to rest from the internal war that has inflicted a life time of damage upon an already wounded heart and upon those who desired to show me they love me.

I still hide at times. Dark clouds still descend in difficult seasons. I just got through one of those. But I am no longer alone in my pain. I no longer fight those battles without someone at my back. And that is the very good fruit that has been borne out of this surrender. 

Grief Expressions

I have found my heart bleeding grief lately. It is a new wonder, for grief has never found exit from the depth of my woundedness before. Today, the heavens matched the mood within and stirred words and images that I am realizing are part of this grief process. A coloring session with my son became therapy for me. The words that followed brought meaning to what flowed through the crayon wax.


dark day
seeps to meet
soul's dead mass
angry rays of pain
run veined thru
the Womb
of my being

there will be
no quick release
small portions only
spilling forth
     the poison in

Thanks that Rise from the Depth

I worked hard to find the fix.

My life was spent achieving goals and slipping into depression because goals don’t satisfy a soul hungry for comfort.

I spent year after year earning the right, the privilege to be healed. It never came. Never.

I numbed out. I hid in religion. I isolated. And I tried to look like I was ok.

But, my face never lies. It betrayed me daily. Telling a story I never wanted heard.

My anger and rage refused to be bottled. They ravaged everyone around me. Contempt was bent on destroying my soul.

I came to my end a year ago. I read about comfort. Our need for it. And the walls began to crumble. It was a chaotic time. Every ugly brick of my fa├žade began to fall apart. My flimsy walls that I had whitewashed over and over were swept away in a deluge of the messy me that began to spill out.

And in that book I saw something I had not seen before. I cannot do this craziness alone. My life of proving I can cut it was over. Survival of the fittest was never God’s plan for my life. I filled out the application for our prayer ministry. Where at one time I thought I would step into that ministry as part of a prayer team, now I was committing to walk into the church office and admit I was very broken.

For that ten week session and all the months of follow up after, the Lord has dismantled me one defense at a time. Every level of exposure required a deeper level of trust in those loving me back to life. Each layer that was tenderly pulled back revealed more pain and hurt. More bitterness. More anger. The compassion and guidance of those committed to minister to me showed me the path to grief.

Grief. The emotional connection to those events that wounded me. I had always been detached from those dark moment. I recounted the details as if they happened to someone else. To some stranger. Now… grief leaks out of the depth from those wounds. Tears are washing bitterness away. Beauty is beginning to rise from the ashes. Grief is leading me to be human again. Grief is making room for new found empathy.

This Thanksgiving I look back to a year ago. I thought I was going through my season of healing to get fixed. Now, I know I’ll never be “fixed”. I will be loved, I will be comforted and I will not have to experience the pains and joys of my life alone. I was broken in the context of relationship. I will be healed in the context of relationship. I will always need this healing community I’ve become a part of in my church. I will always walk with a limp. And that’s ok. I am learning to do that with as much grace as God puts in my step. 

For that I am so very thankful. 

I'm linking up today at Faith Barista:

Friday, November 15, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Tree

It's Friday. It's a great prompt. I'm going for it. I'm joining Lisa-Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday. You can too right here: Five Minute Friday

Here I go:


I glanced through my emails again. The one from the vice principal reminds me of the trials of middle school. My oldest daughter is forging her path. It doesn’t help that it’s her very first year in public school. She’s actually holding her own, in the classroom. But, I am finding my head shaking over and over. What is up with these boys? 

She tells me her daily account of the interactions she has with that strange species of preteen/newbie teen boy. It’s a running account that has no stop or pause button from the time she gets home until she slips into bed (unless she’s singing, of course). And I am flummoxed. (Isn’t that a great word. Sounds like it’s straight out of Dr. Seuss.)

Oh this boy asked me out. And this boy asked me out. This boy was too shy so his friend did it for him. That boy sent me a note in class. Another boy wanted me to wear his jersey, his friend didn’t have one, so he asked me to wear his hat. (Eeeewwww?)  We’ve had two contacts with the administration when two separate boys refused to respect her "no" for days on end.

And I want to know, what is going on? I ask her if she is being singled out and if so why. She said the boys are swarming because she’s the only one in her group that doesn’t have a boyfriend. This is middle school? Sigh.

We went to plant trees as a service project about a year and a half ago. They told us how you have to be careful not to place the stake too close to the tree or the trunk will not grow to its full strength. It will be susceptible to damage due to high winds and other stressers when it matures.

My daughter asked me about why we don’t want her to date. She figures it’d be so much easier on her social life if she just had a “boyfriend” to fight off the rest of the hungry wolves nipping her heels. And I reminded her of that service project. I shared with her that her identity is in a key growing stage.  Friendships offer great support and are extremely valuable. Romantic relationships, on the other hand, are like the stake that is too close to the trunk. Her identity would not grow in strength if she constantly looks to a boyfriend for affirmation and acceptance. 

I wish I was more convinced she got the lesson. But, I’m thankful the Lord offered us that experience in the his good timing so that I would feel confident when this trial crossed our path.  Now, we just have to wait and see if she’ll learn the lesson of the tree.

Five Minute Friday