Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Old Vs. New

This is worth 6 minutes and 51 seconds of your time:

Monday, January 30, 2012

Life Markers In The Waiting Room

This morning I went for my annual {although it'd been three years for me} gynecological exam. {TMI...I know...} Upon entering the waiting room, I updated my paperwork, then proceeded to do what you do in a waiting room: wait. I piddled around on my phone, flipped through a magazine, then started people watching. Several pregnant ladies were sitting uncomfortably in their seats, looking as miserable as I remember feeling in those last weeks. One couple was entertaining their toddler. Another couple was staring at ultrasound photos. I remembered what it was like to be pregnant in that waiting room, as well as pregnant and entertaining toddlers. I remember thinking I'd never see the day when I would sit in that room without a child in my stomach or at my feet. In fact, I remember feeling a bit sorry for all the "older" women who sat in that room. Today, I sat there thinking that I had become one of those older women.

When I was about to wrap up my trip down memory lane, I was called to the nurse's station for the dreaded weigh-in, urine sample {I know, I know...TMI}, and finger prick. First, however, the nurse asked me my age. Ummmm...... 36. I think? Literally, I stood there trying to remember how old I'd turned on my last birthday. But, alas, I remembered that yes, I am 36...all thanks to my dear friend, Ashley, who told me on my birthday that I now would have to check the "over 35" box on forms!

Upon seeing the doctor, who thought it necessary to remind me that I hadn't been in for a visit in three years, I officially no longer felt like the young, vibrant mom I used to be. Dear-old-doc {who, by the way, had aged a bit in three years} said he was sending me down the hall for a cholesterol check and to schedule my first-ever mammogram {by now you should know that there's just TMI in this post!}. The scheduling assistant welcomed me to "the club." Really? Wasn't it just yesterday that I was standing there scheduling my first baby's ultrasound?? No, as a matter of fact, it was not...that was almost 13 years ago!

Life passes by so much more quickly than we realize. Sometimes days and weeks seem to drag on forever until one day we look back, and thirteen years have flown by. My friend, Jamie, recently wrote about seizing the day. Like her, I'm realizing that every day is the chance to take hold of whatever opportunity God presents us with, and live! Tomorrow may never come, so it's wise to make the most of today. Unfortunately, I've spent the first 30ish years of my life waiting for and worrying about tomorrows. It's only been recently that I've begun to learn what it is to live in the present, learning to savor today as if it might be my last. And when I forget, I give myself grace to remember again.

Has life recently reminded you how quickly it passes before your eyes? Did you look back with a sense of accomplishment in having seized the day, or did you look back with regret over what might have been?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Living Life Well And With Purpose

My counselor asked me in my last session if I could think of someone who had lived life well and with purpose. I can't remember exactly why she asked me that, but I'm pretty sure we'd been talking about my focus word for 2012: healthy. My first response to her question was, No, not really. Now, of course, I know many people who have lived life well and with purpose, but at that moment, no one came to mind. She started talking again, and I interrupted her: Oh, wait a minute! I do know someone. His name was Aubrey Edwards. She asked me what it was about him that made me think of him. I responded that even when he was sick and in constant pain, he never complained. I never once heard him gossip. And he always, always had something kind to say about his lovely bride, Phyllis. He loved Jesus and people...and loved them well.

When I am old {although my children would say I'm old now}, I want to look back over my life from this point and say that I lived life well and with purpose. To me, that means loving Jesus and loving others. It means living in a state of grace...for others and for myself...understanding that God is continually refining and perfecting us. It means living in the wholeness of who God says I am. It means seeking and finding contentment {and dare I say...joy} in every circumstance.

When my session ended that day, my counselor asked me if she could speak blessings over me. I said yes, even though I was a little freaked at first. No one had ever asked to speak anything over me. It turned out that her speaking over me was really praying. She laid her hand upon my knee and prayed that I would live life well and with purpose. I can't tell you how many times over the last few weeks that prayer has come to mind...because for maybe the first time in my life, I'm experiencing what it's like to live life well and with purpose.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Goodness and Intimacy

I've said it many times, and I'll say it again: God is intimate with us.

This morning I set out for a 9-mile run. I needed to make it through all nine miles considering the half marathon is in just a few weeks. I've had shin and sciatic pains over the last couple of weeks and haven't run nearly as often or as long as I should, but I was determined this morning to run through any pain. I washed down a couple of pain relievers and stretched before I left home.

The first few miles went fine, but at mile five, the pain started to kick in. I kept going, hoping it would eventually subside. But at mile eight, something happened in my back. I felt as though I were having childbirth contractions. The pain wrapped around from by back to my stomach, and I got scared. That's never happened before. I seriously thought I might have to call my husband and get him to stay on the phone with me to make sure I made it home since I was still a mile from the house. Instead, I started to pray. God, give me strength to make it home. Make the pain go away.

As soon I finished praying, Lincoln Brewster started singing in my ears via the TobyMac station on Pandora Radio. As I listened to the words, I knew not only would I make it home, but that I'd be okay. Turns out that whatever happened in my back must've helped the sciatic pain as it's better than it's been in two weeks.

God is intimate, answering our prayers, and sometimes sending a little sign along the way. This morning, He gave me a song to reassure me. I want to share it with you as a proclamation of His goodness and intimacy with us:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Be Still

God has been speaking the same two words to me over the past several months: Be still.

Be still {cease striving} and know that I am God... Psalm 46:10a

And Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today..." Exodus 14:13a

Just be still.

Yet, sometimes I take a trip back to the past. I wallow there for a while, in the muck and mire playing the blame game. God reminds me that He is well-acquainted with my past, and is the One who brought me out of it. When I travel back down that road, I rob myself of peace.

And sometimes I run ahead, comtemplating the future. Will circumstances change? If so, how and why? My mind rushes through all kinds of possibilities, sometimes eliciting fear and dread. Again, He reminds me that He knows my future...it's in His hands. I don't have to worry about what might or might not happen tomorrow or ten years from now.

That leaves me with today. Right now. This minute. Present tense.

Even in the right here, right now, I get impatient. I can't see Him working, so I take matters into my own hands instead of being still...instead of trusting Him. This is the time He reminds me that He knows best, not me...because I usually make a mess of things, and being still is really the wiser choice.

Still, He continues to speak to me...

Be still. I'm God. Know me. Trust me. Don't be afraid. Don't do anything because I am working for you...even right now. One day, you'll understand why I wanted you still during this time.

I'm still. I'm trusting {right now}.

Has God been speaking to you recently? What's He saying?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Betrayal In the Suburbs

I can't remember if I was a junior or senior in high school when I signed up for an elective class with a popular, well-liked teacher. Everyone talked about how easy his class was, even fun. I was confident the first few days that I'd made a good choice. But it only took a couple of weeks for me to feel uncomfortable enough to ask my counselor to switch me to another class. The popular, well-liked teacher made several inappropriate comments that left me wanting to walk around with my arms crossed over my chest.

After the counselor talked with the teacher and enrolled me in another class, he apologized for making me feel uncomfortable. I've thought about him several times over the years and wondered if he'd made anyone else feel uncomfortable by his comments. As far as I know, I was the only one who ever requested to be removed from his class.

But for so many children, their similar stories aren't tied up as neatly as mine.

Last week the suburb where I currently live made national news. A retired, long-time, well-liked teacher was arrested for child molestation. He confessed to molesting at least 20 children during his time as a teacher. Since his retirement in 2009, he's worked as a substitute bus driver, driving my children's bus at least once. I didn't personally know him, but two of my children recognized him immediately.

As a parent, my protective instincts kicked in when I heard the news. I was and still am outraged and angry. There's just something about abusing the innocence of a child that seems worse than any other wrong in the world. I am thankful that the man is behind bars.

On the flip side, I've had time to think about that man. I wonder if he hated himself a little more every time he betrayed a child's trust. I wonder if he was relieved when the police arrested him, and he confessed. I wonder if for the first time in years he can trust himself because his access to fulfilling his sick desires is denied.

You see, while one part of me has a list of consequences I'd like this man to pay, another part of me identifies with the betrayal. While he betrayed children, which on every level is infintely worse than anything I can imagine, I am guilty of betraying the innocent. Most of us are. Sometimes it's in acceptable forms like white lies and gossip. Sometimes it's bigger and seems a little more unforgivable...

like stealing from someone to pay for a drug addiction,
or committing adultery,
or embezzling on a grand level, suddenly leaving employees without jobs or insurance or retirement.

But child molestation. That one is unforgivable and unredeemable. Right?

While I can't speak as one who's ever experienced it, or as a parent whose child has ever experienced it, I can speak from the perspective of one who has betrayed others. And if I were that man sitting in a prison cell, I'd be praying that someone would toss me a grain of hope. A spark of redemption. An ounce of forgiveness. A seedling of grace for stunned family members. Is it possible?

More than anything, I've wondered about the children. Will they ever fully recover? Will they find the healing process? Or will they live out the rest of their days in fear and shame? Will they ever recover their self worth? Will they hide, or will they have the courage to speak out and bring awareness to this epidemic?

My heart hurts for our small city, for everyone involved. There are so many whose lives are affected. There are so many who have decisions to make in the coming days. And while I don't have any answers, there's one word that keeps coming to my mind...whether I'm thinking of the betrayer or the betrayed. I hope our city seeks and finds healing.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Falling Apart

I have a need for authenticity and transparency, and a desire to see others experience it. I think I'm so passionate about it because I finally started finding freedom several years ago when I started spilling my secrets...when I finally admitted that reality wasn't as pretty as the mask I wore. The fear of truth I'd clutched for so long finally began to fade when I started becoming transparent. I realized that those who truly loved me would love me no matter what. And those that couldn't handle my truth, for whatever reason, probably needed to admit their own truths. I realized that true healing comes when we come out of hiding...when heartbreak leads us to Jesus. Falling apart was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Secrets of Betrayal

Secrets of betrayal are heavy. Literally. They make the heart feel heavy, twist knots in the stomach, and weary the body. It's as if a thick, dark fog settles in, and the longer the secret is kept, the area the fog reaches enlarges. The fog blinds the secret-keeping betrayer from the truth of freedom. They believe that the consequences of telling the truth will be worse than the constant anxiety with which they currently live. Fear paralyzes them.

A word to the betrayer...

The truth is that freedom and healing begin with sharing the secret {with someone trustworthy who will encourage the healing process}. You may have to pay severe consequences for your actions, but the lifted weight from your heart will be worth it. In addition, acknowledging your wrong before God and trusting in His grace will provide the peace which has so long eluded you. Read what David had to say in Psalm 32: When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to Thee, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord"; and Thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin...Thou dost surround me with songs of deliverance.

A word to the betrayed...

There are never good excuses for someone to betray the innocent. And you may not be able to scrape together an ounce of grace in your deepest parts for your betrayer. However, at some point, it may help to realize this one thing: hurt and wounded people hurt and wound others. It's not an excuse. It's not a good reason. It's not an out or an escape. But that one realization may help you in your healing process...because now you have been hurt and wounded. You must find healing in order for the cycle to end.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My One Word

I first read about the one-word challenge on a blog last year. And I've already seen it a couple of times this year. There's even a new blog dedicated to it. The idea is that instead of making resolutions for the new year, you're supposed to select one word on which you'll focus for the entire year. Since I rarely even make it to put my resolutions on paper, much less keep them, I'm giving the one-word challenge a whirl.

My one word for 2012 is...HEALTHY.

I'm already on the path to physical health...running and eating healthier foods. But I need much more than that. I need mental, financial, and spiritual health. Most of all, I need emotional health.

I'll go ahead and admit that 2011 was a crappy year. Of course, there were great moments, and I wouldn't trade those for anything. But, overall, it's a year I am more than happy to leave to in the past. Looking back through the year's blog posts reminds me of the heartache 2011 held. I think it was so heartbreaking for me because I wasn't emotionally healthy enough to deal with all the events that unfolded.

I've been seeing a counselor over the past few months, and I've been learning what being healthy looks like. Part of it is realizing that the past cannot be changed, and I no longer have to function from it. It also means realizing that the future may not hold what I hope for. Being healthy begins with being present in the present and realizing that God has plans for me {which may not include the plans I have for myself}.

This year, as I continue to put one foot in front of the other, pounding the pavement....
as I continue to find healthier food choices...
as I continue to work through the past, leaving it behind...
as I continue to learn to trust God {not people} for my present and future...
I will focus on the one word I want to live out, the one word that I hope is part of the legacy I leave to my children: