Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Blizzard of Blessings

The snow is plentiful this morning.  There is so much that it weighs down the branches of my trees, and makes my shrubs look like they are made of clouds.

But if you look really REALLY closely, what you would see are billions and billions of individual snowflakes.  Each one is a unique six-sided work of art, crafted expressly for the purpose of being a snowflake.  If only one were to fall from the sky, you'd never notice it, but when they get together they close schools, and make roads impassable.  If the "Mayhem" commercials are to be believed (and they're usually trustworthy) they also get heavy enough to collapse rooftops.

Together they change the world.  They turn green lawns white.  As they are blown and drifted, they determine which roads we can travel.  They cover all the stuff in my side yard, including the shovel I will need to move them. All because they came down together.

It hit me this morning that this is EXACTLY the reason we worship together.  Certainly we could pray alone at home, and we should, but if that's all we do, then that one prayer is like that one single flake falling alone. When we pray our prayers together we become a blizzard of blessings, changing the world!

Together our prayers can close roads leading the wrong way.  Together our prayers can weigh down the branches of our pride, reminding us to be humble and lowly.  Together our prayers can cause snow days from school (and life), allowing us time to stop and refresh and renew our spirits.

Jesus said that wherever 2 or more are gathered in His name, He will be among them. Come join Jesus and  your friends this weekend.  Let's pray down a blizzard of epic proportions!  


Friday, January 25, 2013

Snowy, with a chance of prayers.

I'm looking out my bedroom window at the snow falling in soft puffs, cheerfully and quietly racing towards the ground.

They are like millions of prayers and kind thoughts all fluffy and pure covering the dark, scorched ground of a tragedy.

It's been snowing for a while now, and only a few dark spots of sadness remain.  At first glance, all is well and light and pure in the world.  Choose to see only that.

Hold on to the vision in white, made whole by the praying of friends and those who love you and don't know anything else to do for you.  Don't seek out the dark patches where the broken pieces show through.  It's too easy to be drawn into them by their stark contrast against the purity of love, joy and happiness.

 The bare ground of sorrow will be covered by the billowy white softness of this snow until this season of coldness ends.

Soon, the warm rays of Divine Love will melt the snow of blessings into water so plentiful that we can't absorb it all.  Kindness, like soft rains will gently soak away the hardness of cold ground that we've become.  For a time, the  murky mud of our sorrows seems to be everywhere. It sticks to our boots, dirties up our homes, and tracks along behind us everywhere we go.

As we allow these blessings to flow deeper within us, and we absorb the warmth of God's love, we are transformed into fertile soil where seeds of hope can find nourishment and flourish.

The ground always remains, but as time goes by it can't be seen through the colorful blooms and dense foliage of the garden we've allowed ourselves to become.        


Monday, January 21, 2013

Live The Dream

At my house, we are living the dream!

It's not the dream where people feed you grapes while you lay on couches in Greek togas with golden leaves in your hair.

Even the "Cribs" dream of having more bathrooms than bedrooms, and a bowling alley and a movie theatre in your home seems a little unnecessary to me.

I'm talking about Dr. King's dream.  I'm specifically talking about his vision of a place and time that children can learn and play and pray together, regardless of the color of their skin, or the where their great-grandpa was from.  I'm talking about the fact that my kids care less about what color someone's skin is, and care more about what kind of person they are.  We're not perfect over here, but I believe we are living the dream.

One piece of evidence of this happened several years ago on this date.  The kids had been discussing Martin Luther King Day at school, and they came home with questions.

Them: Who is this guy?
Me: Dr. Martin Luther King.  Preacher, civil rights activist, he was shot for his beliefs.
Them: So, martyr?
Me:  I guess so, yes. He gave a very famous speech about his dream.
Them:  What was his dream about?
Me:  It was his hope for the future that people would just love each other and not judge each other by the color of their skin.
Them:  That's stupid.
Me: WHAT?!?!?!
Them: That's stupid!  Why would someone think someone was less or more important because of the color of their skin? That's just stupid!
Me: (Calming down.) Agreed.  But there was a time when black and white people weren't allowed to go to the same school or church or even bathrooms.
Them:  What!?! That's Stupid!  What difference does it make?

This is when I run out of answers for them, because I don't know.  I don't have all the answers for why  people feel that way.  I don't know why history was like that.  I don't agree with that way of looking at people.  Then the kids really got incensed.  They stopped thinking of color and started naming names.

We went to Cincinnati a few years ago and visited the Underground Railroad Museum.  It was awesome and I highly recommend it.  I watched my kids learn the history of former slaves and free people working together to liberate those born and sold into slavery.  As every cruel act was described, at every horrible disrespectful word they would look at me and ask "Why?"  It was the same response when we got to sit on Rosa Parks' bus.  Why?

Stay innocent, my children.  Don't look for reasons to separate and hate and disrespect.  Don't hate people.  The dream is that Love Rules!  Live the Dream!  Love One Another!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Closer than they Appear

My friend told me to think of your life like a car driving at night.  "You can't see any further ahead than your headlights."

This totally rubbed me the wrong way, since I am incredibly GIFTED at worrying about the things to come.  Not that I worry for no good reason, I am a sensible worrier.  I mean, I don't worry about the whole Mayan Apocolypse, or Zombies or anything senseless like that.

However, I was given the most incredible blessing of being the mother of 7 great kids. Hence the worrying.

Some of this worry is indeed, beyond the scope of my headlights.  I can't do much for my children when they are grown or when we are apart from each other.  I can't make my grown kids brush their teeth. (I trust Jordan's wife makes him do that now.)I can't make them change their socks.  I can't make them make good choices.  Sometimes, for no really good reason, they will cheer for the wrong football team.  (Sometimes that team will even win a game, which STILL does not make it appropriate to say "Roll Tide" at the dinner table.) I can't make the girls actually sleep when they have a sleepover at Aunt Chris's house, or Aunt Jenni's. I can't keep them from trying a drink or a joint.  I can encourage them in the right direction, but the decision is ultimately theirs. (And, kids, if you're reading this, KNOW that I will find out and that you WILL NOT like the consequences!)

What worries me is that I can't keep them from harm.

Before they lived in Alabama or Kentucky or Louisiana, or even Michigan, they lived in my heart (and places south of that) and that makes my kids like the objects in my side mirror:  CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR. At the moment, I have children in three states.  In the next few months, I will have children in three different countries. No matter where they are, they are always in my heart first.

When my sons deploy, I will worry.

I will also remind myself that they are closer than they appear.  I hope they will remember that I am closer than I seem also. It's hard to cuddle with half of a DNA strand, but just know I'm there, and not just me.

Our Creator is closer than he appears also.  The one who loves us most.  The one who can see beyond the headlights.  The one who tells us that we can't change a single hair on our heads by worrying.  

Alright.  So I guess I'll just be happy with what I can see right now, knowing that Love is much MUCH closer than it appears.    


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Rear View Mirror

I'm driving to church with my 8 year old daughter in the passenger seat.  She's looking out the window at the crushed side mirror that dangles by a strap of duct tape from the hole that once held it in place. "Hey Mom.  Are you gonna get that fixed?"

I intend to.  It's not a big priority, to be honest. The mirror was fine until one morning when I was cranky and hurried and fuming about something and came flying out of the garage too close to the side of the garage and stopped just in time to crack the mirror glass, but not dent the door.  Having the glass hanging their limp and lifeless is a great reminder to me that if I don't slow down enough to pay attention, LOTS of the things in my life will end up broken.  The precious things.

Out of the blue and for no particular reason, I said "Can you imagine if we had to drive everywhere using only the mirrors?"  Hmmm.  Why did I say that?  It got me thinking.

I think I've been trying to drive my life using only the mirrors for a while now.  I don't  look out the big window in front of me much.  Instead, I look at the rear view mirror to see where I was and how far I've come.  I look at the familiar, and how odd it looks as the perspective changes as I fly down the street away from the things I'm leaving behind.

Then, of course, I get fixated by the objects in the mirror that "are closer than they appear". Closer than they appear?  Are you kidding?  Certain objects loom large in my rear view mirrors! My cardiac arrest is right there.  My recovery is right there.  My fears and my worries are all right there.  Closer than they appear! But those are the things behind me.  My heart is getting healthy.  I still have heart disease, and always will, but my heart event is past.  My divorce is long past, and happily far from view.  Lots of good happy roads have been traveled since then.

 If I'm not careful, I get stuck looking behind, and forget to look at where I am right now.

NOT the view out my back window.

I'm still heading to church.  I'm looking right out the front window, with the sun shining off the little bit of snow still melting on my windshield. With my eight year old daughter wondering about my broken mirror.  I'd rather look at her sweet face than anything I would see behind me, anyways.  Maybe it's Love that's closer than it appears.