elevator grace

elevator button

 

I confess when I am alone in an elevator, I push the button to close the doors

as quickly as possible.

Elevators can be awkward.

Usually when I need an elevator, I seem to be in a hurry.

I definitely do not want to linger before arriving at my destination.

Last Thursday, I had an appointment with a specialist

as I have some blood levels which are being quite rebellious.

The consultation I thought would last 30 minutes spanned close

to 2 hours leaving me a bit sore from all the poking and prodding

and offering up more blood.

I raced to the elevator and was the only one waiting for that

familiar ding and lit up arrow to draw me closer to my car

in the parking garage below.

Of the four door options, I found the one with the gaping hole

and stepped inside.

I pressed the number button and perhaps assuming I was “safe”,

I didn’t push the close door arrows.

The doors were closing and I was exhaling as

a man straddled the threshold and stumbled inside,

joining me.

He was white-haired and quite striking.

I quickly determined

if his floor choice needed to be pushed.

With a grin he told me we were going

the same direction and asked how I was.

I told him I was doing alright.

I reciprocated by asking him the identical question.

Without his smile leaving his face, he paused.

He glanced his eyes to the heavens which in this case,

was a cold metal ceiling and didn’t utter a word.

His pause was long enough that even

without our elevator encasing it would have felt awkward.

Silence reigned and I wanted to reach out

to touch his arm or even give him a hug.

But we were in an elevator and surely this gesture

would have broken protocol or etiquette.

It was a pause saturated with meaning.

When what felt like the final grain of sand had joined a

heaping mountain in the bottom of an hourglass,

he volunteered,

“You know, just sitting in those rooms makes

my blood pressure go up.”

As the doors begin to slide apart and

this dear man strides to exit,

I nod and say,

“Yeah, they don’t give us lollipops or stickers

when we have been brave anymore.”

He turns and faces me as we are now

among the cars in the cool, dark dampness

of the underground garage.

He says,

“Oh yeah.”

“Man, that’s a good line.”

He is still wearing the smile.

The smile we have learned to assign ourselves

in our public lives.

The smile meant to shield the world from the inner

life residing in the dark, damp underground

place we park our fears and concerns.

I could see behind his smile and he knew I was not

just feeding him a line.

We parted as people in cars visually pleaded with us

to vacate our parking spots.

We separated by telling one another to take care.

I sat in my car and prayed for a man I will most

likely never see again.

I prayed he has people in his life who will wait with him

in the pause, even when it feels awkward and long.

I prayed they would remain after the words are uttered.

I prayed that he has comforting places where he can

wear whatever face he deems appropriate.

I prayed that he would be steadied when his pulse races.

An elevator,

a check-out line,

a cross walk,

a classroom,

a bus

or any other everyday place can be an opportunity

to gaze into someone’s eyes and offer them grace.

Each day we have the privilege to give others  stickers

and lollipops of our affection and concern as they bravely

walk through a life filled with landmines.

Perhaps we all need to pause before we push

the doors closed.

 

 

spiritual teachers

 

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During our conversation, it became apparent my daughters differ in their preference of

reading the same book repeatedly.

I was reminded of the books I have read daily or year after year.

The stack above is a collection of books that have accompanied

me during the morning hours and remained steadfast through

the ever-changing landscape of life.

Just like a faithful friend, they encourage, remind and provide

a foundation of strength to keep standing.

There are several more I could place on the honorable mention

list, some might even be your favorites but besides

my Bibles, these have been my truest guides.

(A tiny sliver of me feels so vulnerable sharing these
books. Perhaps because they are a window to this delicate
and fierce walk of faith.)

Daily Light: A common thread of scriptures for the morning and the evening.
One of two devotional I have given the most to loved ones.

Jesus Calling: This is my number two gift devotional. I started reading
this devotional a long time before it became so popular. I loved that it
always seemed to express what I needed to read.
(If you are curious to know my #3 gift, it would be Blessing for the Evening.
It would make my stack, but I don’t own it. Isn’t that wild?) 🙂

Let Go: This might be a strange choice, how a slim book of letters
written by a 17th century French Archbishop would find its way
into my hands but I am thankful it did. This book is tough and
tender. It has this beautiful sunset on the cover but don’t be fooled.
Sometimes we need our teachers to be gentle, sometimes we
need a little shaking. It’s all about surrender.

My Utmost For His Highest: I started reading this devotional
in high school. A friend raved about it so I eventually bought
a copy of the original version and I couldn’t understand it.
Later in college, they came out with a contemporary version
and it was much more to my comprehension. This probably
explains why my friend went on to become an emergency
room doctor and I did not. I do read the original from time to
time and understand it more, it only takes me two readings now 😉
Timeless wisdom.

Seeking God’s Face: This one makes me sigh. For years,
I have wanted to follow a lectionary or a listing of daily scriptures
to read based on the church calendar. No matter which one
I would choose, I was confused. I never knew if I was
reading in the correct place. It drove my perfectionist heart
crazy. Enter this wonderful book made for non-emergency
room doctors tee hee. Here’s a picture.

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See the box? For the next 12 years (heh) I will know my place!
That’s a very good thing.

31 Days of Praise/Prayer: There are times in life when words are distant,
prayer seems futile and difficult. I alternated between these two volumes as
they taught me how to prayer through the scriptures and to keep clinging
to His promises.

How To Study The Bible For Yourself: The pages of this book are yellowed
by age. There is so much wisdom in this small book. I return to it time
and again to be reminded of the many ways to study the Word of God.

Venite: I have written about this book several times. It is now out of print
but used copies can be found. I was raised in church and over my 50 years,
have been apart of so many church traditions and experiences.I am so
grateful for this fact. I also know that I love tradition.
The pastor of the church we now attend always says we are a storied
people steeped in the story of God. I adore this and it is the very reason
I reached back to grasp the old ways. This prayer
book helped me rediscover parts of my church upbringing I had abandoned.
I found it at a time when I was very much in a wilderness and physically
stopping to pray throughout my day and night changed my life.
It changed my heart and drenched me with peace and hope.
I know it sounds trite or cliché but truly I felt my soul fly home
when I began to pray the hours.
There is something so sacred about uttering words that have been
said by countless seekers over centuries.

I wrote Robert Benson who
compiled this book to thank him and to share how
unaware my soul was missing
something until I started praying the hours.
(His letter response is a very cherished possession.)
I wish I always stopped my busyness to pray throughout
the day but when I remember
to pause, I am remade breath by breath.

Whispers of Hope: I bought this book in 2005 at a Beth Moore
conference in Spokane, Washington. I am so happy that she has
updated and recently re-released it.
(Although for those of us with large handwriting, I wish
they had kept the book the same size…oh well.)
Each day is a scripture reading,some thoughts from Beth
and spaces to write out prayers.
I can fan through the pages and see the multitude of prayers
required during that time frame. Some answered and
some remain. I wonder if all of them had been answered would
I still have the need to pray. As I let my eyes roam over those
needs still not resolved, I can’t ignore the reality of seeing His hand.
I know that He has drawn me closer to Himself.
I have changed in the midst of each hardship.
It is more than hindsight allowing me to see more clearly.
It is the prayers of 2005 and the God who was more than equal to
those cries, He is the same God who walked me through
the aching years that would follow.
He knew when I poured my ink prayers onto paper
that more hardship would come and He would remain.
He still remains.

What books bring you comfort?

This post is apart of the 31 days…yet again series
about books. You can find the entire series here.

 

 

prone to worry (& june desktop)

Less than 5 minutes after Caleb left for a school overnight field trip,

I remembered he left a special comfort item.

Then my mind started to imagine what else was forgotten.

Would he have a good time?

He has been accident prone lately, perhaps he would require

stitches before lights out.

Before I could envision the next disastrous possibility,

my phone alerted and there was a text message from

a mom on the field trip telling me she was Caleb’s

activity leader.

A few moments later she sent a picture of him

photo bombing a group of girls 🙂

Several hours later, another mom sent a picture

of Caleb sawing a log.

Bless the community of moms!

Oh the places my mind will go when I am given

a few moments to let it wander aimlessly.

I am thankful God knows how prone I am

to this circular thinking.

Before they call I will answer;
    while they are still speaking I will hear.

Isaiah 65: 24

Those text message moments found a home in expanse of this verse.

We had gathered, fingers braided in prayer before

Caleb crossed the threshold.

Those uttered words should have been enough.

Yet I had been rehearsing my worries.

God is well acquainted with the contents of my heart.

He knew the best balm for my

mother ache.

I am so grateful He hears and is more

than capable to protect Caleb

than his tattered blanket.

*****

June has arrived.

Two places for your desktop enjoyment.

One

Two

 

 

 

 

 

two benches

This is a short tale of two benches.

The first bench was centered in a mecca of activity and artificial grass.

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On the first day of May, Portland reached 90 degrees.

This 70 degree loving gal headed to a tree-shaded bench

while Caleb and friends played soccer on the Adidas campus.

There was constant activity on this concourse and I found myself feeling

as if I had stumbled into a visual catalog

of Adidas apparel and footwear.

Despite the hustle and bustle of those clad in 3 striped uniforms,

I opened my book and settled in to read.

Every so often I would raise my head and see soccer balls sailing

into the ocean of sky then I would quickly return to my page.

The second bench was nestled in the midst of creation and chirping birds:

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This day was not a blue saturated sky day.

The morning was hazy and cloud heavy.

Squint in the center of the photo and you might see Mt. Hood camouflaged

under an umbrella cloud.

Courtney and I were high atop the world at Mt. Angel Abbey.

We circled the grounds, smiled and greeted the monks.

Upon hearing the bells toll, we felt centered as

we entered the church, fumbled to quickly move the

ribbon markers to their assigned places

in the prayer binders

and found a pew to unite our mouths and hearts with others.

For me, I mainly tried not to weep.

After wandering through the bookstore and

feasting our eyes upon homemade confections,

we found a bench overlooking the town below and

felt our cares and concerns from ground dwelling

take flight.

It was a challenge to command our knees to straighten.

But our burdens felt lightened as soon as we

lifted our bags of

mementos and fudge and

began our trek back to the parking lot.

Books and rest are of key importance to my days.

I sat upon two benches last week in two different settings.

One crammed full of activity and the other whispering serenity.

Would you believe I found rest in both places?

It is essential to learn how and when to rest.

Rest is an action as well as an attitude.

My hope for you this weekend is that you will

find rest in familiar and new ways.

I believe it is possible to find rest anywhere.

Look for those spaces of time where you

can carve out some precious moments of heart rest.

No matter how many people surround your day,

take a breath and make it your pursuit to find

a sanctuary in the midst of the clamor.

Who knows who might catch a glimpse

of your heart at rest despite the landscape?

Your example might give others permission

to rest right along with you.

It’s an open invitation…join me!

 

oh for the love of empty wrappers

I abandoned several months of low carb living Monday for something

in a brightly colored plastic sleeve.

Small discs of peanut butter and chocolate heaven melted

in my mouth as I chose sugar to be my soother.

But that was the other day, let me backtrack a few weeks.

I decided to take a risk.

I applied for something in the arena of writing knowing

the odds were numerically stacked against me.

I decided to consider it an exercise without

expectations pinned on the outcome.

I pushed click and a fragment of myself flew off into cyberspace.

I uttered this to no one except a few lines in an email to a friend

and in private chats with God.

Then I waited.

The way you wait for the thick envelope to land in your mailbox with

a thud during college application season.

Everyone knows thin does not mean you are in.

(Which is not always the case, but let’s go with it for
the purposes of this post.)

One morning, I glanced over my inbox and there it was.

The. Answer.

It was a lovely and kind email even though it felt like a thank you

wrapped in tissue paper tattooed with the word no.

Not you.

During the waiting period, I had made positive self-talk my ritual.

I prepared myself and would not allow any hopes to escape into the

atmosphere.

Yet a few wafted through a small keyhole in my heart.

I moved on because life does carry on with or without my permission.

I thought the disappointment had been absorbed until a week later,

I innocently visited a website revealing

the ones who had been chosen.

Somehow now it made a difference, it felt different seeing faces.

Even when I allowed my calculator

(yes, I am crazy like this)

to do the math telling

me that a mere .0189473684% of the pool of applicants were selected,

it didn’t seem to matter.

It ruined my day.

Or should I say, I allowed it to ruin my day.

I hoped consuming the contents of a wrapper would

fill the lack I felt in my heart.

The peanut butter cup was my gateway drug for

the rest of the day.

Carl didn’t even say a word (bless him!) when he saw

me eating a brownie or two during the NCAA

basketball championship game.

I wish I could blame my binge on

my march madness bracket debacle,

but I can’t.

Empty wrappers, sacks, boxes or whatever

container are not a recipe for contentment.

In the moment, a perfect and harmless antidote but

in the aftermath, the cause for the consumption

sits smugly watching you take out the trash.

Tuesday was another day.

The rhythm of the morning was a fresh gift of mercy.

Later, I returned from a walk and while showering it occurred

to me that I had prayed for God’s will regarding this opportunity.

I had prayed the right people would be selected.

Isn’t that what happened?

Isn’t that answered prayer?

Is it still answered prayer when I am not fond of the outcome?

What does it mean when the right person doesn’t mean me?

In that moment as water crashed upon my head,

I felt drowned in the reality that perhaps my

praying is much more like prodding.

If I am honest, this awareness hurt more than

not being chosen.

Every solitary day God chooses chocolate stained me.

I commence a pity party whenever my will is overridden.

It’s me who needs to be prodded back into alignment.

It may seem inconceivable and sound insincere based on the

above lament, but when I received my rejection email,

I prayed for those selected.

I prayed for how God was planning to use them to minister to others.

I said a carbon copy prayer for myself.

On Tuesday I prayed again.

I prayed the same prayer.

A prayer for the selected.

A prayer for me who has been eternally chosen

by the heart and will of the Father.

 

No prodding needed.