whiteflowersandelephants


Spring Trip to Independence, Texas and Antique Rose Garden
March 19, 2012, 3:15 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

My favorite flower: Indian Paintbrush

Look mommy, no hands! Zachary thought I made a strange choice. I thought I was flying!

Running through wildflowers

Bundle of baby pink flowers

I love standing under white flowers

Sea of green and gold by Old Baylor

Swings

Fuzzy and wrinkly: Beauty

Baylor Daddy

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Running
March 18, 2012, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I went running today in Cameron Park. It was a beautiful spring day, windy, nice. I do the River Walk which is somewhere between 4.5 and 5 miles long. I usually walk it, but lately I’ve been running parts of it.

I start out the trail running, and go as long as I can. I watch the leaves on the canopied trail, and the river in the breaks between the foliage. I listen to my breathing, as it slowly transitions from breathing to huffing. I stop running, and walk as I catch my breath. I get back up to a power walk, and keep that up till I reach the Bosque River. Once I round that turn I set off running again. I watch the Austin chalk on the cliffs to my left, and the river to my right. I try to protect my ankles, as this is a rougher terrain and I am prone to sprains. I set goals, run to that next rock. I get to the rock, and decide to run to the curve in the trail. I veer to the right with the curve and am now hungry to make it across the bridge. I make it over the bridge and I want to run to the top of the hill. Once I get to the top of the hill, I give in to walking.

The end of the trail is right around MCC, and looks more like a fairyland than a trail. I take the opportunity to meander around the tight curves and under low hanging limbs, just enjoying. I make the turn at MCC, back in the direction of my car, and set out running again.

The way back was different.

I was tired. I had pushed harder than I was used to on the way to the fairyland, and I knew running back would be a chore. I thought about walking all the way to the Brazos. And suddenly, as if I was tuning in to a radio station, I heard my Coach. He sounded like a drill sergeant, He was telling me to run. RUN RUN RUN you can do it! You better run girl! I ran, I jogged like an 80 year old man to be precise. That’s right, that’s right! You RUN! You don’t quit! My baby doesn’t ever quit! She never ever would quit, she’ll run to Calcutta if I told her to, you can make it girl! I asked Him, where am I running to? What am I looking for? He said I was running to a bridge, and I could stop once I crossed it. I was tired, but He was yelling on the side of the trail, My baby wont quit, she cant quit! I told her to run to the bridge, its already done! I’ve seen her finish, there’s no other option! She’s going!  She’s going! Never quit! You RUN! Way before I would have been exhausted I saw the bridge, I crossed it and I started walking, catching my breath.

And I’m not kidding, I heard Jesus Christ cheering. He was telling all the angels in heaven about how proud He was of me. He was busting with glee, because I was hearing Him, and obeying. He was saying, My baby listens! Amanda hears me! She obeys! Did you see her?! She ran the whole way! She never quit! She made it to the bridge, she’s walking with me now! She’s hearing me!

Hearing all that going on, you better believe I was power walking.

I knew He was going to ask me to run again, and I was looking out for the marker. He wouldn’t say what I was looking out for, he said to just keep listening and looking and He’d tell me when I got there. I was walking fast, anticipating a run. I didn’t know if it would be a long run or a short one, but I did know that Jesus knows my body, and my headaches and my out of shape heart. I said in my spirit, He would never ask me to do more than I can do. He yelled right back, You better believe it! I am so known by Him.

I rounded the curve toward the Brazos, still no running. I asked Him, He said to wait.

Eventually, I saw a family coming my way, a man in a green shirt with a stroller. He said once I passed that man I was going to run. At this point in the trail, if I started running, I knew He was going to make me run the whole way out of there. It was a longer distance than I had ever run in there, maybe ever run in my life. I started running once I passed the man, and Jesus. went. nuts. Oh He was screaming, and yelling. GO GIRL, RUN! You wont quit, my baby wont quit! You’re gonna run all the way, all the way to the end, you never will quit! She’s going, She’s going!

After running for quite awhile, I was looking out for landmarks that would show me I was nearing the end of the trail, there weren’t any. They were way up ahead. The landmarks, to give me hope that the end was even in my future, were way up ahead. How am I going to run this whole way?

Jesus was just freaking out, so excited, so pumped. I was more focused on His excitement than on my running. I just kept going and going. I saw a curve that looked like the last curve in the trail. It wasn’t, it was the third to last curve. I was looking at the other side of the river, trying to see if I could judge how close I was to the end. I had no idea how I was going to keep running at this point. What is He asking of me?

I saw a light on some trees up ahead. It seemed like the end of the trail. I thought it was the end of the trail. I expected it to be the end of the trail, and as I rounded the last curve it became clear that it wasn’t.  I could see there were more trees and leaves behind it.

I stopped running, I can’t do this forever! I took 6 steps, and in those 6 steps, I saw that after the lighted part of the trail were 5 or 6 more feet of trees and trail and then the end. I started running again, I ran all the way.

Stretching out my calves before I began the run, I wondered what time it was. I wanted to be able to do this trail in an hour or less, so I needed to figure out the time. I left work at 3:00, so it was probably 3:15 or 3:20 something. I saw the numbers 4:25 very clearly in my mind’s eye. Thanks God, ok, I’ll be done here by 4:25. That’s the goal, were working toward 4:25.

Walking out of the trail, towards the car, I was so discouraged. I walked. I stopped running. I didn’t obey. Jesus was bragging on me to the angels, and I didn’t trust Him that I could do it. I thought I knew where the exit was. It wasn’t exactly what I thought, so I just quit. I felt like my faithlessness had broken the favor I had, and that it had slowed time down, and I was going to get in my car and see 4:32.

I got to the car, and turned the key, waiting for the time to pop up, totally discouraged. Like it always does, the CD player showed me the setting, the track currently playing, a black screen and finally the time. 4:12.

4:12. Not 4:25. Not 4:32. 4:12.

What?!

Radical trust and obedience doesn’t get you the promise. The promise is coming, you’ll get there. Radical trust and obedience gets you the promise +. I’m not going to let Him down by messing up in the middle of trying to give Him my best. I’m not going to break everything He’s building in my life by being frustrated in the middle of the miracle. I’m not derailing this train. But as I give Him absolutely everything, resigning my strength and my health and my comfort to His hands, I will receive not exactly what He promised, but better than what He promised.

It was as if he promised me an apartment, but gave me a house instead.

He doesn’t care about me running, he cares about me depending on every word from His mouth, and leaning to His leading. He wants me tuned in to Him, listening to Him cheering me on. He was excited because my obedience meant that I was listening. My obedience meant I was trusting. My obedience meant that what He said mattered more than whatever I thought.

The goal didn’t look like what I was expecting, so I slowed to a crawl right near the end. But as I was crawling toward the finish line, I saw that though my expectation was off, my hope was correct, and I set off running again.

Jesus and my life may not turn out like I expect in every situation, but He is trustworthy. My hope will not be disappointed, even if my expectations are off. I was expecting the trail to end at that lighted portion of trees. Because of the curvature of the trail, I couldn’t see that the trail would ever end, even though I was totally correct in my hope that the end would be just after those lighted trees. It looked different than I thought. The circumstances were not encouraging.  But my hope was still correct. No matter what it looks like, hope in Jesus is placed rightly. Everything in my life may not play out exactly like I would write in this blog, but Jesus will be glorified in my life. Children will be restored and built up. Lives will be changed, and His Kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven.

And when I mess up in the midst of the race, when I doubt, or quit, or cry in a corner, the promise is not destroyed, or even deferred. Because of the times I took His hand, and followed Him with everything I have, laying down all my ambitions and plans, giving Him my radical obedience and trust, my inheritance will be the promise plus immeasurably more.

And when I get to my car, it’ll be 4:12, and God will still be my main squeeze. Wow, I love that Guy.



Love and Death: Romans 12:9-21
March 9, 2012, 12:34 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:

 “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;

if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.

In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:9-21

This passage has long been one of my favorite passages in scripture. In fact, on facebook this passage occupies the ‘About Me’ section of my page. Jesus said He wanted me to take a deeper look into love and life through this piece of Romans. In looking more closely at this passage, I realized that it is a love passage, like the famous love passage in 1 Corinthians. I had always been looking at it as a guide for living as a Christian, but instead it is a guide for how to love. It is practical, action-oriented advice for loving.

This passage is a guide to love out of the lens of discipline. As in, it is a discipline to love, especially in the light of persecution. It also puts a focus on love as an action taken in faith out of a place of trust and security in Jesus. It puts love in it’s right place, as an action by which we exemplify Christ, and not simply a feeling or natural affection.

This passage is like a railway- made of iron and unforgiving to weak flesh. To love like Christ we must be humbled, and not puffed up. We must be depending on God and walking in our spiritual gifts, and we must choose our actions. We cannot stumble upon goodness, kindness or love. We choose to walk that way, no matter what persecution we meet.

There are many chords this passage strikes with my flesh and current struggles. Taking persecution into account, loving this way seems impossible. To bless and not curse when the world is literally against you, is a huge task. This passage requires authenticity of heart and true surrender to Christ’s headship over one’s life. Another problem I found is selfishness. This passage does not allow for selfishness. It calls us as believers to lay our lives down and live life for the blessing and edification of the Body, and not for personal fulfillment. This is a much more ‘us’ mentality than the average American is used to. Another problem is the tension between peace vs offense. When we come up against grievous wrong perpetrated by our authority, how do we lay down offense and take up the peace of God?

In the text surrounding this passage, Paul describes love in light of the law of the land. The people must have been having a difficult time of representing Christ in the face of harsh opposition. So, Paul describes love and the law together. The law is the skeleton, which must not be broken or evaded, but love is the muscles and flesh that spring out around it. We must have the law and worldly authority, but let love be the power, let love be the meat. Finally Paul asks the church to love with urgency and purpose, because the Lord is coming soon.

Sentence by sentence, the directions I pull from this passage are:

  • In persecution you need the church
  • No room for pride
  • No room for discouragement
  • Trust Jesus
  • No room for selfishness, or high walls
  • No room for bitterness
  • Carry one another in your hearts
  • No room for social stratification
  • Love like Jesus and get low
  • Be a walking testimony, represent Jesus
  • Jesus is the Judge who will never forget the wrongs you encounter
  • No room for discouragement

The church could become very bitter, upset, discouraged, or even violent under heavy persecution. Love needs to be understood through the power of the Holy Spirit, Who encourages and strengthens us to live as we ought to live. We will go through nothing different than what Jesus went through. Therefore we should live as a picture of Jesus, even under heavy pressure. We must display the glory of God to the world, and not misrepresent the miracle that Jesus did, and the truth of His kingdom. My church is not under heavy opposition, but sometimes I can feel that I am. I read this scripture, meant for the Body, as personal instructions as I live and work with people who may not have the same goals and values I do.

The implications of this study in my life are to view life and love through much-altered eyes. Growing up, love is what you have for mommy and daddy, who do everything for you and are lovely and perfect to you most of the time. Then love becomes what you have for someone who is just like you. But here, love is the actions associated with displaying Christ, especially to those who want you dead. Love is choosing goodness, devotion to the Body, honoring others above self, zealous fervor for God, joy, patience and faith in the face of discouragement and opposition, sharing and hospitality. Love is blessing in the face of curses, and commitment to living life with one another. Love is not having everything your way, and choosing to hold those dear you may not have ever deigned speak to. Love is patience and faith, and blessing those who kill you.

I respond by dyeing. This passage describes a life fully surrendered. One who loves this way is not living to have as much fun as possible with the funniest people. One who loves this way is not looking out for self-serving opportunities. One who loves this way is valuing the Body of Christ above one’s self. This is talking about living life as if you’re already dead. This is talking about waiting by the window for Jesus to come through the clouds, and in the mean time living every moment as if you already saw Him descending. This is big, important love.

Asking Jesus about this passage, I feel like He is saying, this scripture must be understood along with the passage describing how to be an ambassador for Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:20) This is the practical action going along with the understanding of myself in the role of ambassador. I have been placed where I have been placed for the purpose of representing Christ, and this is how I will represent Him. I will love this way.

I can apply of this passage choosing the peace of Heaven in the face of offense. Often, in the work place, at home, or in friendships I feel misunderstood, misused, over looked or disregarded. My response must be to bless with a joyful heart in the face of that stuff. To respond to the folly of others as if Jesus were poking through the clouds today. To represent Him, and His powerful love even when people tick me off, especially when people tick me off. Humility, honor, trusting in God no matter the circumstances.

My conclusion to the issues this passage brought up is that in the face of grievous wrong, I must die. I must love others, with a strong love, guided not by feelings or personal preference, but by Christ’s example; Who forgave the crowds even on the cross. When Jesus told me I had to do Elevate, He told me to do it because He wanted me to die. This is a step in death, to give up my response to silly people and take up His response. He loves. He blesses. His patience is long suffering. He is hopeful in affliction. He suffers with us. He practices hospitality. He is the One I’m living for, He is the One I want to see me. I want to walk for Him, and to Him and through Him. So in the face of opposition, I must be careful to be kind and do what is right in the eyes of everyone. And by living out of security and trust in Jesus, I will overcome evil with good.



Sampling
January 30, 2012, 10:11 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I am a sampler at a local restaurant. To be a sampler, you must go to work early, make 10 sandwiches, cut them into thirds, and wrap them in tiny little papers. They are cute, baby sandwiches. If a certain kind of woman saw these baby sandwiches, she might feel the need to cradle it. That’s how cute my samples are.

I have a binder with a map of Waco on it. The map is divided into eight sectors. My job is to go, sector by sector, and give out free baby sandwiches to all the businesses. I am doing this so that everyone knows that we deliver grown up versions of my baby sandwiches. It is a fun job, most of the time. Imagine someone walking into your place of work, around 10:30, and saying, ‘I’ve brought you a free baby sandwich.’

I know, right?

I have learned about God, and my walk as His disciple while I have been a sampler. I think I could stare at a rock all day and learn about God and my walk as His disciple, just because He’s an informative God. In the beginning of my time as a sampler, I was making 15 or 16 sandwiches and carrying them around downtown, in the cold. The places I was sampling to were so close I was walking the whole time. I learned about evangelism through that experience. My bag was so heavy; I walked around with this burden to give everything I had away. Not for any reason, other than the weight of my burden. If I think about the good news this way, every place I go, every person I see becomes someone I can deposit this gift with, and they can share the heavy burden. I can’t begin to run fast until someone is carrying the weight with me. I liked that little lesson. Thanks God.

                                                         .      .     .

I learned another lesson this week. I was giving out samples in an area bespeckled with affluent businesses. I parked my car on a street where there were so many businesses that I was going to be walking door to door, rather than driving till I found a place, as is my usual custom. I was thinking, “I’ll be done so early! These six businesses will take everything I’ve got.” I went to the first door, a law office, I think. I walked in and to my right was the receptionist. I offered my usual cheerful, though scripted, greeting/pitch. She said, “Oh, no thanks.”

I would like to take a moment to describe my usual day as a sampler. I walk into an office, or hair salon, or senior center. I do my greeting/pitch. First the woman (as it is 90% women I meet first) may ask me to repeat what I said; her mind was otherwise occupied when I first walked in the door. I say it again. She repeats it. “You’re giving free sandwiches?” I say yes ma’am, with a charming smile. She either takes what I’ve got with a look of elementary school Christmas glee on her face, or immediately runs to the back to tell all her friends what miracle has occurred. Sometimes I’m stampeded by the entire workforce at the door. Sometimes I’m paraded around by this sweet receptionist as she repeats what I told her three times. “This young lady has sandwiches for free! She has ham and cheese, turkey,” she looks at me with worried eyes, to make sure she’s got this one right, “and cheese…and….avocado?” she looks back to the man behind the desk, “You want one Bob?!”

So, when this woman says, with an intonation leading you to believe I had offered to pick her toes for free, that she would not like a sandwich from me, I am a little confused. This isn’t totally unheard of; I get this from the receptionist about 7% of the time. New Year’s resolution to not eat bread, or something. So I ask, as I am want to ask, if anyone else in the office might care for one. She says no.

O…..K…… Guess I’ll leave then? Wow. No one would want a FREE sandwich at the time in the morning when your coffee wears off and you’re main focus is to not let your face slam onto the keyboard as you pass out like a narcoleptic? I’m shocked. Shocked I say!
I go next door. I offer my cheerful pitch, I am not phased! Same response. I’m a nasty bug trying to take away this woman’s dreams of losing .05 pounds today, or something. I ask if anyone else might like a sandwich. She asks the man with his back to me if he wants one. He says no, as well. And as I am turning to leave, wondering if I’m in an episode of the Twilight Zone, he says, “Oh, well sense you’re here, yeah I GUESS I’ll take one.” His attitude in taking a free gift reminded me of the valley girl in that movie Valley Girl who says, “Gag me with a spoon.” Like, “Gag me with a spoon, ya gimmie that baby sandwich, gah.”

I wrote in my binder that I handed out one sandwich at that business. Looking at my sheet I see that every other slot I have is ‘4 sandwiches, 15 sandwiches, 9 sandwiches.’ On to the next place. “No, thanks.” (subtext, no we don’t want your sandwiches here you tiny sandwich creature) Next place, the door was locked. There were people inside, they just wouldn’t answer the door. Across the street, same thing. The door next to that, one guy in there. He didn’t want a sandwich but he would sell me a subscription to his newspaper. Next door, “No- we only eat at strange times of day, but I guess we’ll take a menu.”

I went to eleven businesses. The only sandwich I could give out was to the Valley Girl man. I remember I came up to a group of senior men who worked at a wood-carving place. They actually made fun of me. “Girl, you couldn’t GIVE those away, haha!” He was right. That’s ALL I wanted to do, and I couldn’t. Maybe people couldn’t hear me when I said free. Maybe they thought I was trying to sell them something. Maybe everyone on this street has boycotted bread. Maybe everyone on this street is really working for the CIA, or something equally secretive, and in their super secret code “Do you want free food?” means “Do you want to be relocated to Siberia?” I would say ‘no’ too.

The next place on the street is a clinic for the homeless. “Oh great. The nurses are going to say no and I’m going to be swarmed by people on my way out.” I went to the nurse’s desk, half frustrated by my continual rejection, and gave my pitch. She tells me they order all the time, and “Yeah, we’ll take nine.” Wow! Nine! I have 29 left to give out and she’ll take nine! FINALLY! A girl in the waiting room asks for 2, one for her and one for her brother. Why not? Her mom wants a menu. The nurse is calling the shelter next door, they always want free food. I’m thinking, I’m supposed to be marketing to people who might order from us. Something tells me the homeless aren’t going to be faithful business. Can I even do that? I look at the clock. I have to back at work by 11. Guess I’m going to the shelter. The girl in the lobby asks for another one. A disabled man walks in and says, “Whose got sandwiches?” It’s me, I’m the sandwich girl. He begins to lead me to the shelter. The girl asks for another one with unashamed face. She doesn’t even hide behind a fake brother this time. I smile at her and I say no. A tiny homeless woman asks if she can have one. Duh, get over here, sandwich away!

We walk to the shelter through a large group of homeless. The man has closed the box I carry so they don’t attack me. I am led to the back offices. I give my pitch. They don’t fully understand. I explain a couple of times. The response is, yeah we’ll take them, we’ll take them all. How many do you have? I have 15 left. They count the homeless in the shelter. There are 20 back there. There is obvious disappointment. They can’t give all but five a sandwich. They tell me to set the samples up in the break room, and the staff will get to them. The attitude is not, “Oh my goodness gracious, glory be, a sandwich!” It’s a very, “Thanks, we gotta move on,” kind of reception. But I feel so happy.

I went back to my car, through the gathering of the homeless outside. I sat, and looked at my clock- I have 15 minutes. I pulled out my journal and started to write about what I was feeling.

When I was rejected over and over, I didn’t feel personally rejected. But I knew how good my little baby sandwiches were. I knew how cute they were. I knew how much joy they could bring. And one after another, eleven businesses worth of people just said a flippant ‘No.’ No we don’t need that, no we don’t want that. They had enough. They had food. They had already eaten. They didn’t need anything from anyone. They said no to a free gift. And I was sad, because I had made them by hand. I had wrapped them myself. And as I was wrapping them, I was think about how excited the receptionist gets, and how happy it makes the hungry people who work in the offices all day. But when I got to them, they just rejected what I had made for them.

I can imagine an older woman getting home from work. She does the same thing every day. She doesn’t have much to report to her husband that he’ll understand because he doesn’t know the inner workings of the data entry program she spends her life with. But today she can tell him about the little girl with the pink ribbon in her pony tail who came and gave her a baby sandwich. The whole office stopped. It was a hoot! We talked about it for an hour afterward, what a funny thing to happen at work. The people who said no, missed out on some silly and meaningless blessing. Just something funny that could happen. Just a happy thing.

But blessed are the poor, and those who hunger and thirst. They will be filled. The poor are blessed. They know how to receive. The people that work with the homeless don’t make that much money. They don’t work in the posh offices that I had visited earlier. They go without for the joy and honor of being a help. And when I came to them, they said yes. They wouldn’t turn down a gift. And I was happy. Not because I had been accepted, but because someone was going to take the gifts I was carrying around. And the people in the waiting room, they will probably never call in and order from my restaurant, but I was so happy that they asked for food from me! I’m not going to gain from giving them a sample, but it doesn’t matter. Someone gets to hold my baby sandwich. They even told me how cute they were. And I was like, ‘FINALLY! I know, right?!’

Over at the shelter, the people there were glad to receive the gift, and sad there wasn’t more to spread around. They know how to receive, and to immediately give to those in need. I wanted to run back to the store and make a hundred more tiny baby sandwiches. We would all sit around together and talk about how cute they are, and then eat them all up, and not think about how strange that concept is.

Jesus stands at the door and knocks. If anyone opens the door, He will come in and eat with him! All day long, He has gifts to give, He is holding them in His hands. And when we try to do it all ourselves, and ignore everything He has prepared for us, it makes Him so sad. When we take what He is offering and ask for more, it’s not presumptuous or greedy, that’s how a son acts. He offers peace. We say, “Yes thank You, I’ll take it all. And all your joy as well!”

We are sons, and He is giving gifts. We need to receive like the homeless. That’s what I learned sampling this week.



In the window sill, not on the shelf
January 22, 2012, 4:23 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I am not wasting away. I am not a commodity with a shelf life. I am a brilliant, beautiful and funny girl, sitting in a nook by an open window on the third story of a century old mansion, with a pipe in my mouth. My nails are painted fuchsia. And though I am single, I am not alone. I have a sweet brother sending me sweet messages even now. My car isn’t here, because a dear friend needed to use it. I have little sisters coming to make dinner with me. Everyone tells me I’m lovely. I agree. And so, even though I do like a boy, I will not sit and stew about that. I am more than that. I am not the woman who is wasting away. I am fully alive in Jesus, and therefore am not waiting for anything or anyone to start living to the full. I am a princess in a tower, kept safe by a good Father. My God honors the desires of my heart- because all the desires of my heart are in line with who He says I am. So, no matter what I think I need, or what I want right now, I know my Father honors me, and does not withhold happiness.



When I am an old woman
October 7, 2011, 1:58 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

On my good days I am so good. On my bad days I am so bad. I could say more, but Paul already said it. Romans 7:18-20

When I am an old woman, I will sit in my kitchen listening to the latest This American Life with whoever decides to sit beside me. I will eat grapes as I listen, and play cards or look at the latest pictures from the family. My grey hair will be held up in a bun by the pen I use to journal with the Lord in the morning. My hair will tumble down as I scribble a note, or a grocery list, only to be twisted back up again. All day, up-down-up-down. I will hear the washing machine tumbling, because it is always tumbling, full of someone else’s laundry that I will fold later on. I will pray for the wearer as I fold, and place the anointed coverings in drawers, waiting to see the day they walk out the miracle prophesied over them.

Once I have won my game of solitaire, or the computer stalls as it loads the photos, I will hoist my old bones up and water the flowers in the kitchen window box, and the planters just outside the sliding glass door. I am careful to do it quietly so that I don’t miss any of the precious words on the podcast, bringing me into a walk of life I have never known, alerting me to the pulse of this American land I’m temporarily visiting, informing my prayers and bringing a smile to my face as I marvel at how brilliant or idiotic my countrymen might be. Whoever is sharing the kitchen table with me folds his news paper, and takes his plate to the sink. I will never know what the program said during the rustling or the sink running, but long ago I decided the people near me are infinitely more important than whatever I might want to hear on the radio.

The front door slams shut and the shuffle of feet fill the house as tennis shoes bound up the stairs. Downstairs comes the older one who had been up there already. I love it when she comes into the kitchen, even though she is trying to escape a less than desired roommate. I haven’t seen her since morning devotionals, where she was once again confronted with the truth: God’s love really is enough. It seems too easy to her, she feels too complicated. Her mom messed her up too much, her dad hurt her too badly. I’m glad she’s here, she’ll learn in time that no wound is too deep for the love of Christ. She hugs me. I ask her if she got to journal about the Psalm I suggested. “I tried,” she says. That means that she did it, and doesn’t trust that it did anything. I smile and hug her close, so that we are almost nose to nose. “Its all true. And you are more lovely than I have ever seen any young lady be, ever before. Can you believe that?” She smiles and holds my gaze. She’s trying hard, either to believe it or not to. I’m so glad she’s here.

The man at the table informs us about what he read in the news paper, she rolls her eyes and hugs the top of his head before she grabs her water bottle and heads out to her part time job.

Two boys make their way in and go straight for the pantry, talking about some TV show I don’t watch. I pray that one day they will be more excited by risking they’re lives in the Middle East for the sake of the gospel than they are about entertainment and fantasy football. I know that to be a prayer Jesus loves to answer. It’s time to get they’re hair done again. I better make the appointment. Down comes the hair again as I scribble a note. The laundry buzzes as my middle school friend finally comes in to say hello after her long day at school. I can see on her face that it wasnt a good day.

“What’s wrong, sweetie?” I say as I take her in my arms. She burries her head in my side and doesnt make a sound.

“She got detention again- that means she has to go to school way early everyday for a week,” volunteers my nappy headed friend in the pantry.

Fighting again. Always fighting. Poor darlin can’t figure out that the Lord fights for her. I look at the man at the table, he knows this is his territory. He comes over, pries her little arms away from me, scoops her up and takes her to the living room. The two of them can alway talk this out. She is learning everyday that she can trust her father, on earth and in heaven. I can see her changing everyday. She comes to us now, even when she has sinned. That is such a victory in itself. Its so hard to watch her continually enter in to physical reactions, even as her heart changes her mind is slow to abandon its survival techniques. I check my e-mail, and sure enough there is a message from her teacher. Its short and to the point. She knows us after so many of our kids have gone through her classroom. “Same stuff, new day. Keep trying, you’re doing great. -Sharon.” I’m so thankful for that woman.

My boys don’t look up from their food and their ‘intense’ discussion. My little girl is talking with Daddy. My big girl won’t be home from work till late. The phone rings, another one of my kiddos is on the line, asking if she can drop off her kids while she hits the grocery store, she needs the time to walk around without the melt-downs and tantrums. She says she doesn’t know how I did it over and over and over again. She says she knows she was way worse than anything her kids have ever dished out. I don’t disagree. I ask the boys what their plans are, and see if they’re willing to babysit their nephews. Finally they are more excited about something than whatever it is they are obsessed with this month. I tell my daughter yes, of course. I’m glad I’ll get to see her face. I ask if she got to e-mail her siblings about Christmas plans. Before she can answer a wail rises up from the background, she says she’ll show me the plans when she gets here. I honestly can’t wait.

Its so nice to have an administrative daughter who can plan this stuff so much better than I can. She reminds me so much of my mother I can’t breathe for a second. They are so much alike, even though they share not a single chromosome. Must have been all the time she spent at their house when I needed a weekend off to catch my breath and get my bearings. I can’t image how she manages to get Christmas together with so much family to work with. They don’t all get to come, but so many do. It’s like a heavenly reunion whenever my kids come home. We share stories of God doing amazing things in our lives. My son prays in faith for healing wherever he goes. My other son is in college and is the boldest evangelist I have ever seen. My daughter runs a mercy house for teen pregnancies, and has discipled so many young women in Jesus. When my other kids are back state side on furlow, I love hearing about how the Lord is moving in the nations. I don’t alway love hearing about the authorities cracking down on foreign aid workers in the region, and getting dangerously close to my babies. But, I learn and relearn everyday to trust my Father with my kids.

I think back on the condition I received them in. I remember hearing the social worker describe the atrocities my babies had faced. I remember the violence and acting out so many of them dealt with. The years of bed wetting from PTSD. The night terrors and subsequent sleepless nights as 3 or 4 or 5 crowded in between us. I remember some of them hating us with all the rage such a tiny body could muster. I remember the teacher conferences, the hospital visits, the court dates. I remember seeing something shift in the hard little faces every time as we took them to the courthouse for adoption day. Seeing a 15 year old gang member weep because he had been chosen. Seeing an 8 year old sleep the whole night through for the first time. Seeing the scars on little girls wrists fade away over the years, and be replaced with Christmas gift charm bracelets. All my girls got them they’re first Christmas home with us, so they would know they weren’t going anywhere. “We gotta fill that sucker up with memories!”

The Lord dealt with us so kindly. He took our lives, and made them beautiful. I used to be so angry, so rash. My mouth would run away with me. One moment I would be building someone up, the next tearing them down. I didn’t even notice the words coming out of my mouth. Year by year, child by child I became a picture of the scripture, “slow to speak, quick to listen, slow to anger,” by God’s grace. I used to find my value in my wit and my tongue. God took that, and replaced it with a crown. He told me my value was in Him, which was infinitely greater worth. I got to pass that on to so many young women over the years. As I jumped into this crazy life I had to cling to Him, or do more harm than good to these sweet people God gave me. I had nothing for them, so He gave me everything. I lost myself, but gained Him and this hoard. This army of warriors for Christ. I gained so many loves. I can’t say they all are where I would like for them to be, but I have loved them. I have loved them and each one of them knows it. They know they are worth loving, and that Jesus stands at the door and knocks. I trust God with those that aren’t living in the fullness of relationship with Him. His arm is not too short to save.

I hear a car pull into the gravel driveway, and I know it is full of grand babies. I walk into the hallway to open the door, and as I’m on my way I catch a glimpse of an old photo of me from when I was a young Christian. I remember loving Jesus so much, and sinning so much. Out of the same mouth came blessing and cursing. I was so upset because whenever I got squeezed, meanness would come out. I remember everyday, repenting and resigning myself to walk in peace and gentility. I would grow in wisdom and the power of God, and then sin sin sin. And meet Jesus in intimacy and sin some more. Back and forth, back and forth just like my little middle school friend in the den with her Daddy. She’ll be ok- I know. The Lord is faithful. He breathes life into dry bones, that we might know that He is the Lord.

He breathes life into dry bones, and raises up an army.



Little Girls and their Magical Powers
September 28, 2011, 2:19 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Most people are not aware that all little girls have magical powers. We do not acknowledge this fact because it simply is. It always has been. It is common. Maybe we don’t see it because all little boys have magical powers too, which makes the powers not magical, but simply ‘character traits.’

The point here is, that little girls have magical powers; lovely gifts to be celebrated.

Some little girls have powers that bring peace to those in distress. Some little girls have powers that fill hungry bellies with good things. Other little girls can listen with magical ears that seem to take the weight of whatever problem was being related to them. There are as many gifts as there are girls, and each one is a treasure.

 .    .      .

Most little girls are lovely and shiny and fun, and all little girls are magical, naturally. But one little girl had a funny and unique power. She was excited. She was excitable. She found outrageous, boundless, consuming joy in minute details. The Psalmist could not describe her raptures, even about tiny things like pretty colors, or a particular kind of happy weed growing in the garden. She identified with paintings in art galleries and carefully crafted novels so deeply that the expressions seemed, to her, kindred spirits and friends. The vines growing outside her kitchen window ministered to her soul as much a good message might minister to the mother of four toddlers.

In everyday situations, she could pull out joy. She did not force joy into every blessed second. Life is sad, sometimes. She did not create joy; she merely put an exclamation point on it, and bolded the typeface, and made the letters red like a cardinal in the snow.

The little girl’s power was such that if there was joy to be found, or beauty to be seen, or truth to be told, or love to be felt, or integrity to be proclaimed, the waves of the goodness emanating from the thing God had touched washed over her like a mighty current, and wracked her small body with laughter. Her smile was like the sun. Her eyes were quick to tears, but only happy tears.

To be excitable made life fun! Everyday was a new and grand adventure. Going to school was like going on a marvelous journey. Running errands was like finding buried treasure. Meeting new people was so overwhelmingly joyful, the poor girl kept her social circle small. There was so much to rejoice over in only a few people, adding many more might kill her!

She loved everything, and everyone almost effortlessly. It was all so beautiful! She saw every bit of good in people, and all that she saw in them was truth!

.      .       .

To see, and to know can be hurtful. Can you imagine seeing all that is lovely in so many people? To see God written on so many faces? To love so deeply and so legitimately? To authentically know goodness in so many? To be wracked with the truth and loveliness of all creatures?

Most little girls spend their hearts only when they are bid to do so. This little girl spent all of her heart in many, many places. She had consuming love for the color of her carpets, and the friend she met only today. Her love was not a flash in the pan; it was part of her power. She really saw all the good. She really felt all the joy.

It was a beautiful and terrible gift. She felt lonely. She wondered why.

Why did it hurt sometimes to love everything?

Why was the love she lavished on all not returned to her in kind?

She asked her Maker.

She saw His face as He watched the sons of Jacob give over their precious belongings so that they could birth a god out of lifeless metals. She saw how His beloved children had rejected Him over and over, even as He gave them their daily food in the desert. She saw how He loved Gomer, even as she snuck out of the house again to waste herself in the arms of someone who didn’t love her at all.

He loved past loving.

To see joy was her gift, but He was joy.

The loveliness she witnessed, was as intimate to Him as flesh.

She was a mirror, He was the sun.

She felt His joys, and now she felt His pain.

With the full knowledge of her smallness in the comparison of her love with His, her insignificance, and her great consequence in His sight, she turned all of her love toward Him.

She was loved back, past bearing.