What Do You See?

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Have you ever had a friend remind you of who you are?

I love those rich moments when, as if looking in a mirror, I am re-anchored to my true self. We cherish our dearest friends because they, of all people, hold the looking glass while we listen and resonate to the sounds of Heaven. We hear the truest words with them.

When I told her my concern — that I’ll never be the life of the party — my friend reminded me of our deep friendship that we have cultivated over the years. When I shared my fears, she pushed them away with a “Pfft!” and reminded me of who I am, a wordsmith and an analyst. I see stuff. Without trying, really. Wordless discoveries, brilliant leaves freshly washed with dew beneath my feet. Clumsy attempts, and tiny blushes of color creeping along the edge of the sunrise.

I’ve heard people talk about the Now and the Not Yet.

I think sometimes we see it best when we put our best foot forward, each day working at loving people more than we did yesterday.

The Now. From within my vehicle I snap and snarl at the driver in front of me who takes far too long to make a turn. Knowing with all my heart that this is not who want to be, an impatient curmudgeon, I drive away with my head slumped because I did not choose love.

The Not Yet. It’s about understanding that God enjoys my heartfelt “yesses” toward Him, and celebrates those way more than my lapses into self-centeredness. It’s realizing He’s not torque’d at me, or even mildly irritated. Father God is pretty big on transformation projects. He goes about things in the most unusual ways, and chooses the most unlikely of candidates. A pregnant virgin, a blind man, a prostitute, a leper. Why? I think because when He showed them the mirror of who they were, in His eyes, they would be the least likely to forget what they saw there. They, of all people, would be so grateful that they would cling to the picture He reflected back to them.

When the blind man encountered Jesus, his sight was restored. There was much debate about his healing – sort of like there is today and yet the one thing he said was this, “I was blind, but now I see.”

What do you see?

Yielding to Creativity

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It’s a glorious experience to watch the autumn leaves fall to the ground in flaming reds and yellows. I’m reminded of Genesis 1:2 that says, “…the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.” I’ve heard it described that the Spirit of God was brooding over the waters.

The Lord gave me a picture of Himself brooding over the creative seeds and plantings He’s placed inside of us, until He sees them germinate and bear fruit.

There are words inside of us that only we can say. Yet those words when, in their due season, finally connect with pen and paper, they carry with them the very DNA of the Kingdom of God. They carry creative life. They are weighty words that pierce hearts. Phrases are turned and tuned in such a way that they become the anthem from a distant country. It’s not even the words themselves but the anointing of our very lives – the price that we’ve paid in hidden places, having submitted to transformation into the likeness of God. They are God-words with a mission known only to Him and, like heat-seeking missiles they pierce the hearts of the desperate ones, those who are parched for a drop of living water.

And so we invite you, Holy Spirit, to reach into the crevices of our lives and find something that would please you. Help yourself to whatever you find, and make it Your own – a scrap of something that you can transform. Breathe on the heartbroken; truly see the forgotten one, and embrace your distant son or daughter.

In like fashion we brood over those You’ve placed on our hearts, the artists, actors, vocalists, writers, and producers – lives laden with creative seeds, beautiful plantings designed to glorify You. Sift their hearts. Play through us the song of the Kingdom as we touch their lives. Bring Your lost ones home.

Letting The Bully Win

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Middle School … what do you remember? Anything? Or have you blocked it for trauma?

I can’t speak for the boys, but in middle school social circles there was one girl that was always the ring leader. There were always cliques – small clusters of girls who tittered about exclusive topics. Oh Lord, could a girl be more nerdy than I was? I didn’t wear glasses but I certainly had a mouthful of braces and I didn’t stretch out until college, so all through high school I was a chunky, awkward girl. I think it was mostly because I was a reader, a day-dreamer, and one didn’t always know what I was thinking. I was exceedingly poor at interacting with the boys … not much has changed there, though I’ve worked in a male-dominated industry for more years than I care to admit!

(I think the phrase “Cave Girl” came up in conversation with the guys at work today. Yep it really did.)

Anyway, I left the ridicule behind and the girls and I went on to become quite good friends. Lately though, I’m going through a situation that reminds me so much of middle school.

Truth be known I’m 44 years old – not 12 – so imagine my complete and utter dismay at realizing I’m being bullied … by a Christian.

Why do people stoop to bullying behavior? It’s usually because they feel threatened. But if we as Christians cannot show the world the kindness and unconditional love that is supposed to emanate from our lives, are we not defrauding the world? Aren’t we a walking betrayal of Christ’s death? Um, yes. In watching this gal I realize that I’m not alone. More than one person has been driven from her midst because of snarky words and behavior. Now. You know I’m not above snarky, especially when it’s funny. All you have to do is swing over to my Twitter account! But snarky at personal expense is an altogether different matter. To put it nicely that takes, ahem, chutzpah.

I don’t have this figured out. I’m actually reeling from it. I don’t get why I don’t fit in, why I’m not worthy of that good old fashioned friendship that I’ve sown into people’s lives for the past forty years. Sure, maybe people think I’m no fun or can’t take a joke … but that doesn’t mean it’s true. The things that people think about you are not your reality. But, honestly, bullying takes its toll. And then you just have to leave. You don’t win over a bully. She wins.

Yep, Darlin’, you win.

The one thing I know is that there are people out there who like me — real people who want to be my friends. I can’t let my heart become bitter with my losses. The incredibly beautiful city in which I live, the amazing people who continue to adore me, the new friends who embrace me … these fill my life with goodness while I release the things that have caused far too many tears.

I’m exhaling goodness as I round this corner. I hope you are too!


Flourishing in the Now

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When I prepared to move to Southern California, my life was stripped clean of unnecessary stuff. I sold a bit, and gave most of it away. I kept the heirlooms and antiques … the things near and dear to my heart. It turns out the Lord was doing the same thing in my heart. He was clearing out the cobwebs of ambiguity, the strands of nothing-ness that occupied time and space. He re-defined the pillars of truth and simplicity that would guide my life here.

No matter where we live, no matter what our track record of obedience or sacrifice or rebellion … nothing prepares us for the next season. For some it is betrayal delivered on a platter by the friends that we trusted. For others it is loss. For another, the mission field in which they find themselves is devoid of the food, water, sanitation and societal norms that they are forced to re-define survival, let alone flourishing.

Learn to flourish in your heart in spite of everything.

Be the green olive tree beside the river whose roots sink deep below the superficial, and whose leaves blossom in every season.

We think we know who will walk with us for the next 20 years, who will never abandon us. And yet we cannot choose the “who” that will be in our lives. Friendships are always and forever … a gift. Undeserved. Silases appear so that we might walk the road together, to sing until the chains break.

Like Jacob we develop a steely tenacity that says, “I will not let You go until You bless me.” Thankfully Father loves His sons and daughters through the night and by morning He changes our name.