Friday, July 27, 2012

What's Saving Me ... Right Now (On Grace)

I don’t do well with solitude. I am not an introvert. I excel at talking to people about anything (or maybe even to rocks, and walls, and dogs, and anything else that will listen).

I keep myself busy. Full-time work, full-time Mommy, full-time wife, full-time seminary student, full-time ordination seeker. I balance so many things that sometimes I wonder how I find the time and space to get it all done. I juggle it all and oftentimes leave myself out of the mix.

People around me often ask, “How do you do it?” In which, I answer ... "I don’t know" 

But, really. I do know the answer. 

It’s Grace.

And it’s always been Grace. Even when I back my car into my own mailbox and am forced to stay home from work … it’s grace letting me spend a extra day with the little boy I love. Even when I’ve felt like my husband and I couldn't afford to go out for our anniversary, it’s Grace in a giftcard from a friend. Even when I don’t think I need time for me, when I don’t want to disconnect from all the things I love to do, it’s Grace that brought me to a dear mentor’s beach house to finish writing my ordination paperwork.

Sarah Bessey asked over on her blog, “What’s Saving Your Life Right Now?” And for days, I couldn’t come up with an answer. But, the answer is and always has been grace. The waves are crashing on the shore and I’ve got nothing but this night to write until my hearts content. To pour out who I really am to those who want to know how and why I’m called to follow God into the homes of the least of these. My deadline is next week, so there's no rush, it’s a slow time for me. It’s the space that I had been craving for me, but didn’t realize I needed. Sure, I could have gotten it all done without this generous gift. But God’s grace doesn’t work like that … grace shows up where you least expect it.

I’ll return to my family tomorrow. Hopefully with all my paperwork finished, but more importantly I’ll be ready to do it all again. To give the million facets of my life all of me until I’m worn out again and God, in his wisdom, provides again a time and place for me to sit. Quiet. Restful. Full of Grace.

What is saving my life … right now?

This View:

And Grace.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Something (On Eight Years of Marriage)

You're asking me will my love grow . I don't know, I don't know. You stick around now it may show. I don't know, I don't know – The Beatles

Dear Love,

Eight years ago I walked down the aisle and joined my hand with yours. We knelt at the altar separate and raised together as one.

That first year was easy, wasn’t it? Everyone told us that it would be hard, that we would fight, trying to figure out who we were in the union of two becoming one … but it wasn’t like that for us, was it?

We played at house, going to grad school, hanging out until the wee hours of the night. In that little apartment on Walnut Street (Stomping on wedding dresses because the closets were too small). Making stupid financial decision, together, going to the Bahamas on$5 and a dream. Eating French fries and drinking coke at the hotel bar because we couldn’t afford anything else … discovering Dominoes delivered the 3 for 15 deal and eating a slice a day until the boat trip back to Florida …

Oh, and Florida. It was in our bones, wasn’t it dear? From you saying at six years old that you wanted to live at Disney World, to us deciding to spend a week there for our graduation present. To the call that came that gave us a week to move to our new home, 1000 miles from our families. 

At first, we missed Arkansas. The town that had sheltered you and I through grade school to high school. The traditions of visiting the haunted light … walking the railroad tracks together and visiting the “V” seemed so far away. But, we were here, and we were going to make it work. And it still was easy.

The challenges came, though, didn’t they love? In difficult workplaces that tore at my soul and made me lose a little bit of myself. You, telling me not to call it church ,while  they took my dreams, my talents, my call from God and hung it out to dry. You stood by me when I said, even then, even in the hurt, God had ordained me to lead, to preach, to serve the least of these. You carried tables and filmed videos at the homeless shelter while I gave my heart and soul away to the lost and the needy. You embraced me, encouraged me to come back to myself, be who I am, the woman you have loved. I stood tall in your love, and have never looked back.

Then, we became parents. And, that’s when the real struggles came. We weren’t prepared for the new way having a child would make us change and grow as people. We have adored this son of ours, and everyday work to be the best Mom and Dad we can be. But, even in those moments we heard ourselves arguing more, struggling more with work, home, parenting, date-night … the first two years of Jude’s life were what the first year of marriage was SUPPOSED to be like. And that’s okay. Because even in the doubts, the fears, the frustrations we are still us. Like a tree, we stand with our limbs intertwined around each other, as one. Swaying with every storm … we bend in the wind, but we do not break. Because, this love we have, it can’t be broken.

We are in this together. We’ve spent a lifetime already growing together. We can remember our third grade teacher (and how, she is pouring herself out even now for third-world Missions, how did that NOT affect us?) We remember our senior English teacher who is home now with Jesus but how she helped make us who we are. We remember, ten years later, at our High School reunion. We have lived so much of this life together … but life really began when we stood in that little hometown  Church and committed ourselves to God and each other.

Every step since that day, every decision that has been made. It’s been together. No hierarchy needed, just two of God’s children, submitting equally to one another … letting God take the lead and guide us both. And when we brought our son to this world, we invited God back in again … we placed him in Baptism, letting God’s prevenient grace pour over him in water as it continues to pour over us. We've walked the dirt roads of Haiti and slid down trash heaps in Mexico. We've given ourselves to God -- and to each other.

We have a hope and a future, my dear husband. We are two cords, but we wrap ourselves up in another cord … three cords that cannot be easily broken. We are beloved to one another. We are one.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

And I Love Her (On A Love Letter to my Body)

This is a letter for the SheLoves synchroblog. Read it, and maybe write your own too?

"I give her all my love. That's all I do. And if you saw my love. You'd love her too. I love her" - - The Beatles

Dear Body –

Let’s just put this out there right now. I’ve never really liked you. I remember you at 9 or 10, following in the footsteps of big sisters with big sister bodies … and you didn’t look like them.

Then, when 11 hit and you started the path to womanhood, even then, I did not like you. I felt like you’d stolen my childhood … pushed me into responsibility that I wasn’t ready for yet.

Then at 15, when the weight started to creep on, I ran laps around the band practice field, twirled the baton to the beat of the drum, and somehow kept the fat from collecting on my hips and thighs.

But at 21 … when I got married. I wasn’t skinny. I wanted to be … but I never could make the diets and fads work. Sure, I’d lost a few pounds, but you were stubborn and, let's be honest, I really didn’t want to work hard.

Then at 26, I wanted to get pregnant. I thought with my large hips and curvy build that birthing babies would be what my body was made for … by 28 you still hadn’t come through for me. With the advances of modern medicine you finally let me give birth …  but not the “natural” way.

But, still. When I haven't liked you ... I have wanted to love you. Even though we’ve had a hard go at it. I want to look in the mirror and respect you for the half marathon you got me through. For the high-risk pregnancy that finally delivered a baby boy. I want to admire you for the hourglass shape that you have. I want to embrace the curves and the softness.

And, I do have to thank you for the places you did not fail me. You let me nourish my son with the milk that could have possibly saved his life. When my husband looks at you .. he desires you … so you must have done something right.

Do I love you body? I’m not sure yet. But I do know this. You were wonderfully and fearfully made. I believe, you possess somewhere in you, the image of the almighty God. And if I love God, then I must love you. For to know you, should be to know God. For, when God created us, male & female, God created us, he created YOU. God spun a tale of history in your calloused hands and your big calves. God looks at you, oh body, and delights, God says, "It is good."

If I give God all my love, then I must give you, my body, some of my love too. So, I will love you, not because you are perfect, but because God is perfect ... Yes, it's true, I may not have liked you ... but I'm going to do my best to love you.