a meandering path

A short time ago, I wrote a post about how God can be trusted.

Somehow three hours later, I returned to my default.

I slid off the edge of trust and into an abyss of mistrustful thinking.

Once again I couldn’t grab any sense of control with my fingers and my thoughts wandered everywhere but towards truth.

It was painful, crippling and humbling.

Not only do I need to practice what I preach but read what I write and believe it.

I am grateful this spiral didn’t last long but was a reminder of how quickly I can return to faulty and familiar ways.

*****

Three times in this past week, my eyes came upon words which helped me to recover, reminded me of where my trust should reside and provided comfort despite my propensity to tumble.

The Word

“I have not spoken in secret,
In a corner of a land of darkness;
I did not say to the descendants of Jacob,
‘Seek Me in vain [with no benefit for yourselves].’
I, the Lord, speak righteousness [the truth—trustworthy,
a straightforward correlation between deeds and words],

Declaring things that are upright.

+++Isaiah 45: 19 (AMP)

This verse was a good reminder of how God speaks words of truth directly.
He is not playing hide and seek with His people.
If I am actively listening for His voice, I will and for my benefit.

A STUDY

My God does not speak in whispers and accusatory hisses.
My God only speaks in promises. He only speaks over me.
He is a promise-maker and a promise-keeper.

His language is promises.
To hear God speaking, we must become familiar with his promises.

+++Hannah Brencher (from First Be A Follower)

When I am overcome by fear or struggle, if I reflect, the words circling my mind are not affirming, life-giving or encouraging. God’s words are full of promises not defeat.

A STORY

I’m a reader but  when I suffer a book slump, I have found reading middle grade fiction, especially fantasy, snaps me out of my book fog. I picked up Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow from the library last week.

All you need to know about the plot is the main character, Morrigan, believes she is a cursed child but she has been rescued from the family and city which gave her this identity. She must conquer a number of trials to be granted admission to the Wondrous Society.  At this point in the book, she fearful her patron will not be present for her last trial. She has the following exchange with Fenestra, an enormous feline or a Magnificat (stick with me).

~~~~

He’d promised her. He’d promised.

Just like he promised to take you to the Nevermoor Bazaar, said a little voice in the back of her head. And look how that turned out.

But this was different, Morrigan told herself. This was her trial. The big one—the one he’d sworn he’d take care of, the one he’d said she didn’t even have to think about. She’d done her very best not to think about it, but now what? She couldn’t do it on her own. She didn’t even know what her talent was supposed to be.

“Fenestra, please!” she yelled, and the cat turned to glare at her. “What’s he doing, where did he go?”

“He said he had something important to do. That’s all I know.”

Morrigan’s heart sank. More important than being there for the most important day of her life? More important than keeping his promise?

She felt wrong-footed. Seized by the sudden terror of her predicament, she entirely forgot why she had been looking for him in the first place.

She was on her own. She would have to do her Show Trial without him. She was on her own

Morrigan slumped down into one of the leather armchairs by the fire. Her whole body felt as if it were made of lead.

Fenestra stood up suddenly and appeared above Morrigan’s armchair, bringing her enormous furry face down to the girl’s eye level. “Did he say he’d be here for your trial?”

Tears pricked Morrigan’s eyes. “Yes, but—“

“Did he tell you he’d take care of it?”

“Yes, but—“

“Did he promise you everything would be all right?”

A few hot tears spilled down Morrigan’s face. “Yes, but—“

“That settles it, then.” With a placid blink of her huge amber eyes, Fen nodded once. “He’ll be here for your trial. He’ll take care of it. Everything will be all right.”

Morrigan sniffled and wiped her nose with her shirtsleeve. She squeezed her eyes shut, shaking her head.

“How do you know that?”

“He’s my friend. I know my friend.”

+++from Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

When faced with struggles, ask the following questions:

Am I all alone?

What do I know to be true?

What true words can replace my words of fear,insecurity or lies?

Who am I? Who does God say I am? Does each answer agree or contradict?

Can I trust my Friend today?

May we each continue on the path of complete and continuous trust in our Maker, but may we also accept grace when we meander.

Amen.

 

What I Learned in February

wpid-20150214_172543.jpg

February is nearly a memory. I am linking up again with Emily at chatting at the sky
to recount what we learned during this short month.
I have been quite absent from this space but perhaps after you meander
through this list you will understand why the shortage of written words.

  1. It is important to say out loud who you are.
    I am starting a new job on Monday 🙂
    Although writing my resume was a challenge,
    the interview process was also difficult because
    you must talk about yourself. That’s the point, right?
    When you take time to sit and think about yourself and
    your accomplishments, a powerful wave of
    acknowledgment takes place.
    It is not about becoming inflated with pride,
    instead it is a necessary reminder of identity
    and place in this world. It’s all about
    recognizing your gifts and giving thanks to the
    One who sprinkled them over your life.
    I was out of practice in speaking about myself.
    I had forgotten parts of my personal history.
    I am so glad to be reminded.
    This weekend, take a sheet of paper and start
    compiling your experiences, your accomplishments
    and what makes you who you are. It might take
    more than one attempt to let your mind expand
    and roam. Then here’s the challenge, find one
    person to share one detail unknown to them.
    Speak forth who you are.
  2. I need to make root beer floats more often.
    One way we celebrated this new job was to have
    root beer floats after our traditional Pizza Friday.
    I forget how much I enjoy this simply delicious treat.
  3. I love my Timehop app.
    If you aren’t familiar with this app, through the
    magic of technology, this app tracks any activity on social
    media over the last 5 years and reminds you what you posted.
    I knew I had given up coffee awhile ago but thanks to Timehop
    now I can remember the exact date.Screenshot_2015-02-27-09-25-49
  4. There is power in a smile.
    The photo at the top of the page was taken inside Salt & Straw.
    If you are familiar with Salt & Straw, you realize the joy of being
    inside the ice cream shop and not waiting outside in line. If you
    don’t know about S & S, they sell wonderful sweet and savory
    ice cream. They are local to the Portland area but now have a
    shop in Los Angeles.
    Carl and I spent Valentine’s Day poking our heads into shops
    and restaurants along streets we normally race past in our cars
    and don’t have time to stop and linger. We decided to embrace
    standing in line at Salt & Straw. We didn’t mind the 35-40 minute
    wait as the weather was perfect and we were not in any hurry.
    wpid-20150214_171913.jpg
    This is Paige, looking downcast as she hands a customer a sweet taste
    upon the cutest little metal spoon.
    We didn’t know this was her name until it was our turn.
    So let’s get to our turn.
    (Recall lesson #1, for the sake of imparting a lesson, I will share.)
    Carl and I walked up, smiled and said hello.
    Nothing unusual, really our normal style.
    Paige stopped and stared at us.
    Then to me, she said,
    “You have the warmest, most genuine smile.”
    Looking at Carl, she said,
    “You both do.”
    We gushed, thanked her and  quickly gave her our sample
    requests because you know, people are waiting for their turns.
    She handed us heaping spoons and continued chatting with us.
    She explained she had been having the worst day and her co-workers had been trying
    to cheer her up but nothing was working until we walked up.
    We spoke with her for a few moments between yummy bites and making our
    official flavor decisions. We exchanged names and she gave Carl the
    biggest two scoop waffle cone either of us had ever seen.
    Paige was so delighted she kept piling on the ice cream and was
    giving Carl a free waffle cone as well.
    She continued thanking us and expressing how we had lifted her day.
    But in reality, when she smiled back at us, it made our days as well
    and we were able to see how gorgeous she was. Truly.
    She dubbed us Sunshine & Sunshine as we made our way out to
    the crowd beyond ice cream heaven.
    As we left the line behind us, we were treated to this view:
    wpid-20150214_174450.jpgSmile at everyone you meet.
    You may be the key to elevating their day.
    Oh and yes, eat more ice cream too 😉

What did you learn during February?

 

 

a bad case of stripes

a bad case of stripes

 

When our daughters were in elementary school,

I was the Reading Is Fundamental coordinator for 5 years.

It was a book lover’s dream to be surrounded by boxes of books,

selecting and ordering enough books to distribute to the students

three times during the school year.

One year during Read Across America Day (Dr. Seuss’ birthday),

each classroom had a guest reader or two come to read a personal favorite.

I was asked to read in Carlen’s 5th grade class.

That year, the 5th grade had endured an extremely traumatic event.

But Carlen’s class in particular was impacted greatly.

This group of kids were definitely exhibiting all the normal  preteen

attitudes and behaviors but heightened by their grief and loss of control.

They had a tendency to lash out at each other and most assuredly

the adults in their lives.

I remember sitting on a stool in front of the class and beginning to read

A Bad Case of Stripes.

At first there were a few rolled eyes and sighs suggesting I was treating them

like children and not accounting for their advanced age.

Within a few pages and laying their eyes on the illustrations and you could

hear the proverbial pin drop.

They were lost in the world of Camilla Cream and her inability to think for herself

and be true to her identity.

When I read the last page and asked the class

their take away from the book,

hands rapidly shot up to the ceiling and without waiting to be called on,

a girl, who played softball with Carlen, said that it reminded her to be true

to herself and not to try to be someone she is not.

As soon as her words were uttered and acknowledged by her nodding

classmates and a beaming teacher,

the bell rang and dozens of feet took flight to the halls

and beyond.

I breathed a silent prayer that maybe life didn’t have to go back

to normal for each of those precious 5th graders.

Perhaps in the face of tragedy,

they could grieve,

continue to live and most of all,

they could stay true to how each of them

had been wonderfully made..

stripes or no stripes.
This post is apart of the 31 days…yet again series
about books. You can find the entire series here.

enjoying the view

palouse-16[6]
photo credit: Ryan McGinty

I grew up nestled among wheat fields and the rolling hills of the Palouse.

When visiting family I would gaze longing at Mt. Ranier

and considered this view supreme.

Upon moving to Oregon, with a simple

twist of my neck there were mountains

dotted along the horizon plus

we were a mere 70 miles from the ocean.

Mountains blanket me with awe

but the ocean is my soul’s sweetest spot.

The force of the waves captivate and woo me.

I didn’t find beauty in wheat fields

until I parted ways with this scenery.

I was always looking over the stalks to get

to a more preferable terrain.

I overlooked the surroundings in which I was planted.

There are days I don’t even notice Mt. Hood peeking out from

the blue and white sky because I am so saturated by my own thoughts.

Last week we were beach dwellers.

The summer has been a toasty one and I was anxious to

feel cool breezes and don a sweatshirt if it was deemed necessary.

If it was chilly or rainy, fine by me.

I simply wanted to be cool and I wanted my pupils to be

enlarged by the sight of the ocean.

On one particular day, we had the quintessential beach day.

The kind of day that could have been used by the chamber of

commerce to promote tourism.

I am talking the kind of day full of kite flying, sand castles

followed by jaunts of wave jumping and football throwing.

The sun was a mile high and the breeze was just enough

that it only occasionally created book pages to flutter.

Boys buried themselves in the sand while others

lifted their face heavenward and dozed in sunny bliss.

I decided to abandon the family and stroll

in the opposite direction from where our family was

staked out.

A runaway dog was chased by hollering kids,

dozens of brave souls sent out delighted

squeals in the shiver-worthy water and then suddenly

I came upon this vision…
wpid-20140722_155245.jpg

I spotted this empty chair from quite a distance.

I expected it to be filled by the time I drew close enough to capture

the image on my phone.

I wondered where was the owner.

Using the restroom?

Unable to the resist the pull of the tide?

When I reversed my path, the chair was still unoccupied.

I have looked at this photo from time to time since we have

returned to normal life back among the mountains.

I have asked myself…

Am I sitting in the chair designed for me?

Am I longing for someone else’s chair?

With no one in sight, how easy it would have been for me

to sit right down in that aqua colored chair and enjoy the

breathtaking view.

In fact, only the true owner would have noticed my

seat sitting where it didn’t belong.

Back at my beach base camp, I sat in

a drab forest green portable chair.

Boring I say.

Sometimes I view bits and pieces of my

personality and temperament as not preferable compared

to someone else’s.

Much of my life, I have lived in one terrain

dreaming of another land or seascape.

Slowly God is showing me how to live

where I reside and according to

how he has fashioned me.

I am learning how powerful it can be

to bask in the gifts I have been given

and allow them to freely mingle with those

another person possesses.

I am determined to embrace mine instead

of looking over at someone else’s field of gifts.

What does your chair look like?

Does it have a sagging cushion or

is it high-backed and seemingly uncomfortable?

Is it lacking arm supports and rocks back and forth

leaving you feeling unsure of its ability to hold you?

No matter the condition of your chair,

it is held together by the strength of a Creator who

has designed it perfectly for you.

You and I don’t have to wander around like Goldilocks

trying on other chairs hoping to find the one that is just the right size.

Imagine this,

your chair is directly in front of your eyes.

The chair God has crafted is just right for your frame.

Sit in your chair.

Allow your eyes to scan the scenery.

Your vision may see the ripple of wheat,

the lapping of water at your feet or you might blink

the sun out of your eyes and behold

the people standing before  you.

The ones you were meant to claim

by loving and caring for them as only you can.

Curb your wandering eyes

and simply sit in your chair

and enjoy the view.

It’s a supreme view.

 

 

before a work of heart: pt.2

Our lives are like a glorious page turner, in which we are not able to determine the twists and turns.  Had we known which way the details of our lives would align themselves, our lives would be predictable and not the journey that they are designed to be.

There are many times that I feel as if my bookmark has fallen to the ground.  I scramble to pick it up as if by simply holding it in my hand, it will magically replace itself.  I rifle through the pages trying desperately to find my location. 

Where am I?

If I backtrack needlessly, it is fruitless…territory already covered.  Lessons learned and vision restored.  If I jump ahead of my place, I will only be skipping important details that are essential to any good story.  Oh, it is so tempting to sneak a peek, just one juicy tidbit to keep my interest engaged, but that morsel will be all the tastier when it is revealed at the proper time.

(excerpt from A Work of Heart blog post-September 2006)

(I fought the urge to rewrite the above.)

If I am honest, had my life been a book, I wanted to be the author.

I wanted to name all the characters, describe the plot, subplots and

construct the ending.

Although predictable endings are often chided, I considered that possibility

fabulous in my book.

Not having a plan or direction in my life unnerved me.

I placed my qualms in a brightly colored box filled with perfection and performance

enveloped with a sparkly smiling bow.

As college approached and tensions heightened,

the public library offered me tranquility and a comfortable setting

to determine the course of my life.

On Saturdays, I would stride toward the reference section

containing  mammoth volumes about careers

and hoist one upon a table.

From A to Z, I would investigate career options, requirements,

salary ranges and who was best suited for each profession.

From the pages of a heavy tome in a library, I chose physical therapy

as my career choice.

I had laser sharp focus in college.

There were subjects I was drawn towards but

if they weren’t on the map,

I ignored the gravitational pull and I drop kicked those classes.

With the exception of a semester of college physics which proved to be

my undoing, I worked hard enough to earn grades necessary to

apply to physical therapy school.

Carl and I had been engaged for a few months and we had a huge decision

to make regarding physical therapy school at

Northwestern University in Chicago or

The Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

Graduate school began three weeks after Carl and I had said our vows.

We stuffed our Honda, waved goodbye to family, friends

and wedding gifts and headed to Rochester, Minnesota

and called it a honeymoon.

We were young, in love and anything familiar to us was thousands of miles

away, visible only if we squinted in our rear view mirror.

The P.T. program at Mayo was affectionately or not so affectionately

called mini-Medical school.

It was intense and not the ideal orientation for newlyweds.

Physical therapy school proved to be

the catalyst of stripping away chunks of my identity.

I found myself uncomfortable answering questions on the spot.

I cringed when I demonstrated techniques before my classmates.

In college, I set up camp in a library and studied without time constraints but as

a young married, I had to learn how to balance school and a husband.

After 8 hours of class most students were in the library or anatomy lab for

the rest of the night.

I wanted to study but I also longed to be with Carl.

I wanted to decorate our apartment and cook meals yet

Carl worked late hours, I would return to an empty apartment and find

a pan of Hamburger Helper and a note from Carl.

I was accustomed to working hard enough to ensure good grades,

now I inhabited the lower third of my class.

Every clinical day I put on my white laboratory coat over my “Mayo Way” dress

code and raced to keep up.

I used to have hours to spend with God, now I could only nod my head knowing

He was with me but we felt like strangers.

I felt every bit like the pizza Carl would bring home at 2 am.

We would sit on the floor and catch up.

Slivers of slumber gave way to awakening with the pizza

hangovers we thought were exclusive to college.

There was a silent conversation between our eyes expressing

disbelief of how our newlywed bliss was spent in tiny scattered segments.

My carefully constructed life was a jumbled up mess of partially devoured

wedges without hope of fitting back into a whole concentric circle.

The steadfast words filling those two years were found in textbooks, clinical

evaluations, board exams

and love notes from my husband encouraging me to not give up.

All words written by the hands of others and not my own.

Could my bookmark be retrieved once it floated to the ground?

**********

To be continued…

This post is from a series called  A Work of Heart History.
You can read the first post here.