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