Morning Love and a Prayer to abide

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Lord, help me live in a way that my actions,my thoughts and my words can’t help but show how strongly you love.

And help me to be so trusting in my walk and so firm in my faith that no doubt or fear will hinder or make questionable my belief in You.

Remind me of the place of your dwelling, my heart, so that the ramblings of my mind not overshadow the Spirit of you, the Holy Spirit in me because of Jesus and mercy and grace, unmerited…unmerited.
Guide me to find you again and again and to remain there, that a place of abiding in you.

Lead my fingers to the words of ancient truth, truer today than I’ve known before.

Do not love the world.

Love God. Love your brother.

Abide in light.
I John 2:7-17

In the name of and because of Jesus, I pray.

Amen

Welcome, Rain

I welcome the grey sky and the swaying pines, looking towards kitchen window, I’m anticipating a good rain.

 

I chose today to rest. Said yesterday, if I can finish this, I’ll stay home tomorrow.

I worked with the goal of completing the task and tried my best to express differently, convey more clearly a need for support.

I’m anxious. I’m apathetic. I fear it may show.

I’d said it all before, usually mostly the same ways in copy paste fashion. Asking for support, articulating a need and lining it up with a result, an outcome.

I write grants, ask for money to help homeless families.

It’s impossible to share in full how important our interventions are. It’s even harder to ask for money, to sell your heart’s work as if it’s a product or commodity.

Hard to think business when your work thrives on heart.

So, I let it rest.

The incomplete application saved to resume on Monday.

Walk away from it. Let it sit. Let it rest.

Deciding to start fresh another day. For now, Friday  feels like Saturday and I walk out into the yard, the view from kitchen window making me hopeful for rain.

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I rest a minute, the thunder’s way off. Hydrangea and hosta, richer, deeper blue and green, waiting in shade of intermission.

 

Then, the rain comes.

101 degrees just moments ago, I watch rain through the window, thin and straight sheets like arrows.

Just a few minutes and it’s done, so I go to see the flowers planted round the pool, bright again and refreshed.

The pool empty and shimmery blue, a single leaf floating in repose.

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Thunder again in the distance, inviting more rest and more rain.

I welcome you,  rest and rain. I welcome your blessing, your end to my season of draught.  Welcome, rain.

And I will make them and the places all around my hill a blessing, and I will send down the showers in their season; they shall be showers of blessing.

Ezekiel 34:26

 

 

Walking under Pink Sky filtered in the Gray

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Late summer days felt long last week.  I walked late in the evening, forcing myself to move, not sure I’d be better for it.  Two days with music and Colt, the humidity still as ugly and thick as sludge.  Returning home, up the curvy hill, feeling nothing more than well that’s done for today. Heavy, exhausted and thinking about way too much, my days ended that way early last week.

Then, on Thursday I walked alone.  It was even later than before and I was embraced so sweetly, feeling change in the air, a wispy cooler breeze.  My walk, more patterned, the sound of shoe firmly hitting pavement, tap the ground with toe, raise the heel, walk on Lisa, walk on.

I walked head up, glancing one side then the other encompassed by sky, cloud and treetop; I began to let go the piles of mental junk mail, recycling the good.

The sky is changing now with the season.  The blue is more azure, the clouds more shadowy gray and foreboding and just at the right time of day, a tapestry of a sweetly, subtle pink in contrasting texture.

And so, that evening I had space enough to ponder faithfulness, of God.20150902_200624-2

How every morning last week, the geese flew over our back yard when Colt and I were out. I’d stop to listen as they approached and say to myself “Here they come. ”  not in my voice, but my mama’s.  I was taken back to the dock and the  contentment of simple expectation fulfilled, of geese flying over a pond, a simple sameness, a faithfulness.

A gift every morning. God’s, the geese and mama’s gift to me.

I thought of how these last weeks, God kept me still and quiet and waiting.

Less adamant in my jumping ahead.

I sense God now, in this time of change, guiding me.

The things that troubled, somehow have become smaller, resolved or resolving.

I topped the hill on our curvy road and looked ahead, almost evening then.  I stopped and waited, hoping to prolong the view.  This view, a faithful sky, a sunset and the promise of a flock of geese in the morning.

Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens;
    your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. Psalm 36:5

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Because, God is faithful.

Because God believes in us even when we don’t believe in ourselves.

Sovereign over us…all around us.

Thank you Jennifer!

Thank you Jennifer!

When God Calls You to Do Something Crazy? Go Ahead and Do It. — #TellHisStory

Sharing my Heart

 

Show your heart

Show your heart, crows feet, age spots and scars

Yesterday was the Monday we all love. The day off that falls after the Christmas and New Year’s days off.  It always feels to me like a gift, as if the timing of the date knows we all got spoiled rotten in the holidays, school out, time at home, cold outside, just lounging days after Christmas.

A day off from work in January is a sweet grace period before we really step up our game for the new and resolute year!

Of course, yesterday, an observance of a powerful leader who spoke of peace and rest, not strife and unrest made it even more appropriate that we “pause” in January on a day off from work.

However, at 8:30 ish, I get a text saying ” I need you.”

The nonprofit agency I oversee operates a homeless shelter for single mothers and their children. We embrace our families and facilitate lasting change for them.

Our mission. Pretty effective words, right?

Outcomes based and inputs focused…all the language of grantors, corporate or otherwise. I have a reputation of doing my absolute best to do what I say. Employees know this foundational truth about me.

And I do try.

Our approach is to help women acknowledge their role in homelessness along with the bad hand life may have dealt them. Staff ( I am blessed) who have just the right combination of empathy and structure spend at a minimum of  an hour a week, just talking about challenges, setting attainable goals.

Still, just as we all come with our scars, many of the women have deep, deep scars resulting in a closed off and protective approach.

Scars, no matter how scabbed over can be ugly.

Trauma has a way of hardening, hiding and disguising hearts. That way, they can’t be broken again.

Yesterday, I sat with a mama who had decided she was not going to talk to us anymore. She was going to bide her time and avoid a certain key staff member. Something had been said and even though the staff member apologized profusely, she was not going to budge.

Unfortunately, because Nurture Home requires meetings with staff, this refusal, going on a couple of weeks now, would not be tolerated.

I would need to tell her she and her children were being discharged.

Arriving at the shelter, tension filled and unpleasant, I first talked with the children and mama’s. All were situated in the den, braiding daughter’s hair, little girls braiding their baby dolls hair. One mama working on a job application while her son played a game. I simply said in front of the children, “I know there has been some yelling and some people have been angry…that is not good.”

I spoke, to the boys and girls, homeless and afraid, and told them that I knew they needed a calm house to live in, so I’m going to do my best for our house to stay that way.

Children who experience trauma, unrest, instability are keenly aware of the dynamics, the mood, the possible violence in their home. They are skilled at trying to determine what’s next, how to stay safe.

I know.  I was one of those children.

So, I promised them that we want them to be happy and not worry while they are living in our shelter.

The 7 yr. Old raised her hand and said,  “I have something to say, I’m happy, because I have a home. Nurture Home is my home.”

And then, she asked if I could braid her doll’s hair.

Still, the angry mama was not budging. Her heels were dug in and she refused to talk with staff. She and three children, one who sat next to me, head resting against my chest, would be leaving.

So, we gathered for our “one on one”. We talked about what the staff member had done that she would not forgive. The decision had been made, she and her children will leave at the end of week.

I told her that I didn’t want her to leave without talking things through with the staff member before leaving.

Because, I said, I know what you are doing. If you are angry and if you stay angry and leave, you don’t have to trust again.

You don’t have to take the chance of being disappointed by another person you thought cared.

And then, I did the thing that’s taboo in my work.

 Self-disclosure…”don’t let your clients see your insecurities…they’ll use it against you, you’ll lose your power.”

I disagree. If my struggle is not used for good…it’s stays just that, my struggle, my pain, my scar.

I asked her to look at me and I said. “If you leave Nurture Home because you are afraid to trust, we have failed you. I see what you’re doing. We all have ways of protecting our hearts.  My childhood taught me to stay in the background, not cause problems, never challenge anyone who mistreated me. I stayed safe that way along time”, I told her.

“That’s not safe. That’s trapped. The victory is in being vulnerable and courageous at the same time, not tolerating bad, but being open to good”.

She cried. I held her. She cried again. I told her,  ” I don’t want to discharge you.”  “I don’t want to leave.” She said through tears.

Where is it safe to share your heart?

Go there.

2014 in review – learning by doing what you believe you can

Walking in the clouds

Walking in the clouds

Last night, my friend Ray Visotski read about my waning confidence and advised simply,  “Just keep writing.”  A second comment came from David Kanigan, a resounding  three letters,  “Yes.” And so, I will.

This morning, I am thinking of my most recent Children’s sermon in which I challenged a handful of boys and girls to tell me something they were afraid to do.  One little boy described his zip line experiences …staring across a cable from a little perch, wanting to let go, but afraid.  He was happy to share how good it felt to take a chance, to be confident, his sweet face beaming as he recalled the challenge.

He believed he could accomplish what the guide told him he could.

I asked the children if they realized how afraid Mary was when she was told she would be Jesus’ mother.  I shared with them her doubts, fears, disbelief.

I told them of her encounter with Elizabeth who shared with her the one powerful truth that grounded her and led her on.

Blessed is the one who believes what the Lord has said will be accomplished. Luke 1:25

I am thinking this morning of this truth. Having just returned from a trip to the mountains on which my sister’s family and ours challenged ourselves on a hike, walked through waterfalls, ate good food, laughed and loved…All under the planning of my brother-in-law who was insistent and intentional in our 3 days being memorable.

He has the personality of a believer, a thinker, a risk-taker. He jokes about my deep thinking writing, yet instructs me to explore opportunities with my blog. He believes I can be a successful writer and artist. He believes I can accomplish more than hobby.

If I have the chance, I plan to ask him if what I believe of his journey towards his current success as a businessman and ingenious CEO was motivated by the one thing I am convinced of:

(S) He believed he could, so He did.

Here’s my summary of progress thus far in this journey of believing.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,800 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 47 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Proud Mom, Gracious God, Humble children

345ea6c284102bb4a26e444127277298Lord, May these words fall on the eyes of those who are not offended by honesty and soul-searching seeking of You. May I realize the sufficiency of Your grace.

I am not looking forward to the baseball game. In fact, I am dreading it. My son has been on the bench. If I am honest, I’m sad and worried. I am stopping now to grab a jacket or blanket and prepare to leave for the field. I procrastinate knowing this ridiculous anxiety will make me into a mean mom. One of those parents people avoid.

I have spent my day pondering “the root of bitterness” (Hebrews 12:15) that has formed in my heart and after an epiphany of sorts, I have sufficiently labeled this root as pride.

So, here I sit in my chair, opening the word of God to begin to understand the damaging effects of pride. Pride seeks to exalt, to self-promote, to dull the light of others. Pride is not good, moms. Pride says “look how amazing I am”. Pride acts as if God has no hand in our success, their accomplishments. Pride moves God to the background because Pride says  “Notice me” or “Notice my daughter, my son. I did that!”

Pride ignores all perfectly logical reasons for your situation. It matters not that I clearly understand and accept this season. None of that matters because pride is ugly and miserable and selfish. Pride tells your mind and heart that there is no reason why you are not the “one and only best”. Pride messes with your head and switches on the “I’ll fix this, I can’t make it through this” button.

Pride says, “Don’t trust God, trust your circumstances.”

Two identical verses:  scattered in separate books, not my plan to read either places…but obviously God’s.

God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. James 4:5

GOD OPPOSES THE PROUD BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. I PETER 5:5

Lord, I surrender this root of bitterness. Give your grace to my humble soul.