Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Little Ditty About Advice (wherein her "but" is exposed)

You're listening, you swear you are. The person in front of you is dispensing some well thought out advice and you are hearing them talk to you. At least you think you are. In between assimilating what they are saying and constructing the awesome response you will give as soon as they take a breath, that is. They are looking expectantly at you now, you almost missed the opportunity! Here it comes... The wind up... And the pitch!

"Yeah, but..." Fizzle, spark, GAH! Seriously? Did I just say that? Did I really just say in those two little words, "I am not listening to you because I already have all my excuses listed out in my own head, and although it may have sounded like I wanted your advice, I just wanted you to sit here and pat my hand while I griped about my circumstances." Uh, yeah, Stace, I think you did. Well doesn't that just suck!

Been there done that, have ya? Welcome to my world. It's a quandary. I am catching myself doing it less these days, but I guess that has a lot to do with my current surroundings. Maybe my current surroundings have more to do with this habit? Now ain't that a chicken and egg scenario. Harumph. But what do I do about it? How do I get past the "yeah, but" stage and into a more positive, less whiny, less self-serving outlook on my own life?

First, I think I have to take a good look at my motivation for sitting in front of the advisor in the first place. Sometimes, we simply want to talk, us women do... We want to kvetch about our issues and get a little girl time in there. We want to gripe about our husbands, our kids, our jobs, etc. That's what we do. So much so that our male counterparts think it is all we do when we get together. We like to call it "venting." (Call it venting, men - Do yourselves a favor!)

There are other times that we simply want to know if we are alone. We want to put out there our circumstance and have the listener say to us, "Oh, Honey! I know exactly what you are talking about!" To come together with a woman-friend who truly can relate to our own frustrations is comforting and confidence building. We think we are all alone in our trials, and that isolation can be a dangerous thing, so coming together with a trusty confidante is our attempt to make sure we aren't one step away from the looney bin.

Not often, but there are times, I really want an answer to the questions I put out there. I want advice, and I want it now! I may be exhausted, I may be confused, I may be hoping I missed something. So why then does my response seem to be one of such dismissal? It may be a case of simple vernacular. I could be so overwhelmed I cannot find the right words to say to you, "That is an interesting thought. I have touched on it before and this concern has always pushed me away. Do you have a way around that?" Ahem... Why are you shaking your head? You don't buy it? Yeah, neither do I!

The thing is, when I say, "Yeah, but..." It is a definite give away that I didn't really want advice or a solution in the first place. I either wanted a confidant, a Yes-woman or an accomplice. My motivation wasn't to get the problem solved, it was to have my problem validated. Unfortunately, my would-be advisor is now frustrated with me because they thought out a response, tried to deliver to me a solution, and I outright rejected it because I wasn't clear as to what I needed from the interaction.

I have a friend and part time business advisor who is great at watching my face when I am venting to her. She sits and listens quietly, waits until I look at her expectantly and then asks a very pointed question. "Do you want advice on this, or am I just being Friend-Kelly?" It makes me take a serious look at what I am saying, how I am acting and what my response might be should she pony up a well thought out response. It gives me a moment to assess my own needs and my own solutions as well. There have even been moments when after a split-second of silence, we have both broken out in laughter. Because we are such long time friends, I can even preface a conversation with, "I don't need a solution to this, I am just in need of someone to gripe to," and she is prepared with the appropriate response before I ever utter one word.

The next time you're deep in conversation with someone, whether you are in the advisor role or the one who is pitching a b----, and those two little words are tempted to come out of your mouth or you hear them uttered and want to get a little miffed, think about what you really want out of the situation. And try not to let your "Yeah, but" out of the bag unnecessarily. Compassion and understanding go a long way to building relationships that matter and when we are too busy formulating a response to the people we interact with, we miss some amazing opportunities to grow ourselves into invaluable friends.

It never hurts to ask, "Do you want me to give you advice or just listen?" That kind of response shows that you are involved and willing to put more of yourself out there if desired. It also shows that you are willing to put aside your need to be the superhero and listen when that is all someone wants. It is a harder role to take, for sure, but if a response on the advice level isn't desired, it won't be received well anyway. You will get the "yeah, but," and no one needs that!


And as for those of you who thought you'd see my butt... Shame on you! (giggle)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Books and their covers

Have you ever thought about why you buy the books you buy or choose the ones you borrow from the library? Some may come recommended by friends or pastors. You may have a specific author that you love to read. If you are a browser of books, however, likely you can recall picking up a certain volume solely because of its cover. The picture intrigued you, the binding felt good in your hands, the color is your favorite... Whatever the reason, that cover drew you in and you opened the book.

Authors tend to be preoccupied with what is inside the two sandwiching pieces of cardboard to the point that it consumes us. We don't want any spelling mistakes or grammatical errors and we want our message, no matter what that is, to come across loud and clear. We write and rewrite, massaging our words until they are smooth and concise, vivid and relatable. Once we are done with that (which is a myth, by the way... I still see things in my published work I want to redo and reword, clarify and ... well - you see what I mean...) we have to start thinking about something that is intrinsically difficult for a writer to entertain. We have to start thinking about marketing our work.

I don't know what it is about selling my words that makes me cringe, but it does. I am assailed with self doubt, I want to rewrite and rework, all the while knowing it is a reaction to having to market a piece of me. One of the most difficult steps of this marketing my soul (yes, I am being over dramatic) was to put together a pleasing and relevant book cover. Any publisher worth their salt will tell you, "Covers sell books." I wish it were not so, but I have purchased many a tome on just the cover alone. Sad, but true. When it comes to books, we judge them often by their outsides. We look at the picture, or feel the leather bound edges. We want the cover to speak about what is inside and to give us a good feeling when we open it to read out its contents into our minds. Covers matter.

In books, covers tell at least a part of the story inside the pages. That would be why they are so important. It stands to reason that this too can be applied to our daily lives. Our outsides, our visage, our makeup and clothing, they are all a part of our "cover." We present to the world what we want folks to know about who we see on our inside pages. The catch is, with humans, this isn't always a fair representation. We don't put everything on that cover for all to see. We hold some things deep inside our inner chapters and the fact of the matter is, we hope that the cover will be good enough for most of you out there looking. We don't necessarily want you cracking open our volumes to know the real us. Just check out that cover, isn't it lovely?

We present our best face to the outside world. We tell those who ask we are doing great. We dress the part, whatever our part is, we put on a little "color" as my southern ladies would say, and we smile when we don't feel like it. We lay out our cover art for the day and we attempt to keep the world at bay because if they knew what was on our inner pages we might be ostracized like lepers on the outskirts of town.

We don't want anyone to know about the filthy home we are living in, the late bills the collectors are calling about, the abusive husband or the struggle with alcohol we have. We hope that no one will crack that cover and discover who we really are. We keep up our appearances and we smile through our pain. Most of the time.

Every once in a while the binding cracks and pieces of our ugliness come spilling out of the pages. We might be sitting in a cafe when our order comes and it is all wrong. It seems like such a small thing to the other diners at the table, but to us it is just another layer on the insults we have endured beneath our facade. We rip into the incompetent waitress as if she should have known that when we said no croutons it is because we cannot have them not because they aren't on our diet. We rail at the sales clerk who sold us the wrong computer accessory and made us drive back into town because we think he should know that we live more than forty minutes away. We present our cover and we expect that people will glean all the pertinent information from it alone. To add further insult, we also peruse the covers of others and think we know all about them. How can we think such things when we ourselves are hiding so much behind our own flimsy toppings? Easy. We are human. We believe the lie that we are all alone and that everyone else has it so much better than we do. We are so very gullible.

Covers, when it comes to human beings, are a bad thing. They may sell books, but they are only the surface of a man. They do not tell our whole story, they do not explain our actions. They are misleading and can be the source of so much pain and misunderstanding. The covers we present to the world are designed to protect and guard us, very little of them are the entire truth. I don't say these things in judgement, thinking that we all should wear every bad habit and bruise on our shirt sleeve for the world to see, on the contrary... What I am saying is this:

The next time you look at someone and think you know what their life is like, think again! They are presenting to you their cover art. It is designed to give you a small taste of who they want to be. Some of it, most of it, may have truth to it. But lest you assume that they have it all figured out, that their life is without stressors or ugliness, remember your own binding. Think about your deepest, darkest secret and, for practicalities sake, imagine they are dealing with the same issues. Imagine that they too have the very same problem you have and that they too are just as wounded and broken as you are. Imagine that their life is a shambles like yours is... Would your approach to them be different? Would your assumptions fall away? I hope so. If we can all treat others as if they too were struggling with the same issues we are and we approached them with the compassion we want to be approached with, the world would be a better place marked by empathy instead of prosecution.

It is my goal that those who look at my cover, though they will not always see the real me, hurting and wounded, will see the face of God. I have had some dear friends commend me on my faithful visage. I have to laugh! That was definitely not me they were looking at - That was God. Every day I pray that those who look at me and think I have a smug attitude, that I know it all, that I am preaching from a broken stump, will take just a moment and see only the face of my Lord. I do not pretend to be a whole human being without frailties and failings. There was only one of those and He died nailed to a cross. I am wholly broken and wounded, just like you. I desire that God will shine through these words to comfort your heart to let you know that you are never alone. He knows the story on your deepest inner pages and He loves you still, no matter what it might read.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Help Not Wanted

Aren't you cute! How nice of you to come. Look! You brought your little backpack filled with all of the things you think you may need today. Aw... Isn't that nice? Let's see what's in there, shall we?

Hmmm.... I see you brought your expertise. Well, um... ok. That might come in handy. After all, you have made some good decisions in the last 43 years. We will pretend we don't know about all those others that might color your stellar record. Surely I can use something of what you know... There may be something you can add to the conversation, I'm sure.

Ah! I see you have your self-esteem all brushed off and ready to go. Isn't that quaint... You missed a little pride there on the side. I think we will just put this aside. It might get in our way today.

Ahem. Your lunch. Yes, we wouldn't want you to forget to satisfy those base needs of yours. Me? No, I don't need your food. I will get along just fine. It seems to be in a rather large sack. Are you sure you need all of this? I mean, it is just one day... You do? Ok.

Oh yes, your list of questions to ask along the way. It looks much like the questions you asked yesterday... Don't you know these by heart yet? Do you really need the list? You don't want to forget anything. Ah-huh. You don't think I will remember all of the reassurance you need? I might forget. Ah! Ok...

What's this? A flow chart to keep on track? Really? I hadn't thought of that! I just have this omniscient thing going for me, but a chart! Now that is truly unique... Oh yes, please explain it to me. This is how you think things should go? Do I have any questions?

Hmm.... Let me think about that. Do I, the Creator of the Universe have any questions of you, my creation? As a matter of fact, I do!

Do you trust that I am God? Oh, well that is splendid! I am so glad to hear that! Do you believe that I love you? Again, so wonderful to hear! I was a bit concerned there for a moment that my Son's sacrifice might not have been enough for you... Do you believe that I have a plan for you and that I value you above all others? Yes, I know the Bible says that I do, but do you believe it? Good! Then I have only one thing I require of you today.

Leave your baggage right here. If you have me, you need nothing else. Your skills are not what I am after in our relationship, it is your heart I desire. I do not want your help, I require your commitment. I do not ask for your resources, I need your obedience. Of course, Child, you are not a slave to me. You must choose to follow me. As it stands, you are not fit to run the race I have planned out for you, you are too encumbered. I will not strip you of those things you keep trying to bring with you, I will only tell you the race will be much more difficult if you continue to insist on your own way.

Drop your luggage and follow me, hand in hand. Today, I got this! I will be all you need today. I was all you needed yesterday. I will be all you need tomorrow. Trust me. Your trust is worth more to me than all of the other things you possess. When you delight in me, I reward you with the desires of your heart. Prepare to be rewarded! Nothing you leave behind to follow me will ever be missed, I promise...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

That Sharp Tongued Devil

It felt good... really good! I was on fire and the words were coming almost too fast to get out. I was making my point and relieving all the pressure that had built up from months of injustice, lies and mocking. The tirade flowed from my tongue like honey drips from a spindle. It was easy. I was careful not to use foul language but my words were sharp. Sharpened like a prisoners shank, I was wielding my weapon with lithe steps, darting in and out, wounding efficiently for the most devastating effect.

All of that being said, I finally walked away from the verbal battle. Disappointed, I had realized that my words were falling on the ground like rain. They were not sinking in to the target at all. They were not wounding anything, or so I thought. It would be another week or so before the wounds would show and surprisingly they would show up on me. Those words turned on me and cost me dearly, both in reputation and in consequence. The words I had intended for one target had ricocheted and wounded a completely different relationship. It was a costly lesson.

I don't think it is any big secret that I have a temper. I know this about myself and I know that there are folks out there who have expounded on that fact with much speculation over my marriage, my business sense and my religion. I get that and because of my sharp tongue it is well deserved. I need to let it be known, however, that I am far from proud of this fact. In fact, with my gathering maturity (anyone cracks wise on that, and - well...) I have come to realize that my tongue, sharpened instrument that it is, can be a source of great humiliation and deepest sorrow. While we all dream of letting someone have it, the wisest among us know it is much better to walk away chewing on our retort than to let it fly. It is a demonstration of self-control that not many can master.

The Word is full of advice on the matter. Wonder why? Well, we shouldn't. James chapter 3 has an entire 12 verses devoted to how untamable and evil our mouths can be. This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can't tame a tongue-it's never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. (James 3:7, 8 MSG) A wanton killer, really? That's a bit dramatic, isn't it? uh, well... sort of. I do think, however, that those of us not likely to arm ourselves physically with a gun or knife and storm out to dispatch our enemies think little of letting fly insults and verbal injury when we are provoked.

Oh yes! When we feel we are justified in our anger we can come up with some doozies to spout off and our memory gets so sharp and clear, you would think we were geniuses blessed with eidetic capabilities the likes of which no one has seen. We aren't the first ones either. Remember David from the last post? He is oft times referred to as The Great Man of God. Very cool title to be remembered by throughout history, don't you think? Did you also know that David had a temper? If you read the Bible at all, you do know this. He was not above using his sword to further his own desires, just ask Uriah, Bathsheba's husband. In Psalm 39, we see another side of David, before he checked out the nude bather on the balcony below. This was a David more frustrated by his circumstances before he became king of Israel. I'm determined to watch steps and tongue so they won't land me in trouble. I decided to hold my tongue as long as Wicked is in the room. (Psalm 39:1 MSG) He is trying desperately here to make the right decisions. He knows he can be rash and blurt out things that can't be taken back. He is trying to keep a handle on his tongue. Reading the entire Psalm reminded me so much of the frustrations I feel at times.

Proverbs also has warnings about running off at the mouth. A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire. Kind words heal and help; cutting words wound and maim. (Proverbs 15:1, 4 MSG) Notice what it doesn't say. It doesn't say, cutting words get your point across. It doesn't say, a sharp tongue will keep people from hurting you. It says that no matter what you think about your justifications, your words will become weapons if used rashly. You will have more to fight about and more damage to clean up later, if you can heal the damage at all. No matter how justified you are, no matter how much you are hurt, it is never an excuse to use your words to hurt another person.

Words are insidious weapons, they go on hurting your victim long after they have been spoken. They are recalled in the mind over and over, relived and rehashed for eternity, no matter how many apologies have been issued. That's the thing about words, once they have been spoken, you can never get them back. My words will always color how people see me. Things I spoke or wrote years ago will follow me forever. If they were uplifting things, that's wonderful. If they were cutting words, they wound that person over and over, each time they are heard in the recesses of their mind. I know this from experience as I am sure you do too. There are words that I have in my mind's library that will creep up and hit me when I least expect it. Words that tell me I am unworthy, useless, pathetic and filthy. They cannot be erased. They are there for eternity. I can beg God to allow me respite because I know He wants me to be freed from them. I know that God doesn't see me that way. I know that He wants to use me for His glory. If I am mired in hateful speech that just isn't possible.

I am learning that not everything needs said. In the land of Facebook and Twitter, it is so tempting to get caught in a maelstrom of harsh words. We all have our causes and we want people to take notice of what stirs our hearts. That is completely understandable. But when our words wound others, when we throw out the desire to shed light for the desire to be right, when we talk over others because we are afraid we aren't being heard we completely miss the boat. God will take up our causes when they are an extension of His glory. It isn't our job to make sure everyone hears, it is only our job to be obedient to His purpose. Proverbs delivers the best advice once more: Watch your words and hold your tongue; you'll save yourself a lot of grief. (Proverbs 21:23 MSG)

I am working on my tongue. I know it is a hard row to hoe, but the best gifts aren't easy to attain. I will fail. I will also succeed at times. Ecclesiastes 3 encourages me that there is a time for everything if I am patient enough to wait. It reminds me that God is the Master Planner and that nothing escapes His sight. No matter how impatient I am with His time table, I'm trying to take verse 7 to heart: ...A right time to shut up and another to speak up. (Ecclesiastes 3:7 MSG) And it's time to shut up...

Friday, February 17, 2012

Living on the Edge

It has been a while, but I still remember. I relive the feelings every time I roll into a show...

Standing at the gate, waiting. It feels like forever as the horse before you is finishing up their run. You think back on all the preparation, the hours you spent worrying over every little detail, and you hope today it was enough.

The hours of lessons, getting the skin flayed off you by your trainer (for me, he is also my husband - stick that in your pipe and make your own dinner), riding until your jeans have rubbed the insides of your knees raw and realizing that if you were riding correctly, that wouldn't be happening. The hours of grooming and washing and laundry, of braiding and brushing and realizing just before you head into your class that you missed a spot. Countless nights spent dreaming of being in the saddle and doing it wrong over and over and over again. Trips to the vet, injections, vaccinations and mountains of cash you may as well watch swirl straight down the commode. But you know you would do it all again, exactly the same way, so that you could be standing at the gate waiting your turn to go.

I am at the gate. I am waiting my turn to make my move and have the run of my life... Only, I am not sure what class I'm in or which horse I'm riding... I just know I'm waiting - again. That's right folks, hurry up and wait. Part of the Christian dynamic that can be trying, frustrating and curse invoking.

God has me waiting at that gate again. Not sure why, although I have been here before and He's always had an amazing adventure waiting for me in it. I am trusting Him to let me know in just enough time what the heck it is I am supposed to do to move forward, to have my run, to be all that I can be and set the world ablaze. I watch as others seem to cut in line and move past me. That's a bit frustrating. I watch as the horse I think I'm supposed to ride comes up lame. Worrisome to say the least. But again and again, I am reminded not to look too far ahead, not to make any concrete plans because God is hard at work.

Ever been there? When you feel God moving in your life, but the direction you are supposed to take is shrouded in fog? He can sure stir Himself up a pot, can't He? Makes me all kinds of crazy inside. I want to do something, even if it's wrong... But I know better. I have to wait. Waiting is the hardest part (funny, more song lyrics), and the most treacherous. It is here that God tests your obedience, your resolve, and it is here that He looks to see if you've been listening and learning. Like a kid with their pencil sharpened and the sealed test booklet before me, I just want to rip it open and get started! The not knowing if I prepared correctly, if I know enough to get through it, that is harder than even knowing I haven't got a clue how to get from point A to point B. At least then I know I have no part in the doing, that God will have to handle it. But being right there, on the edge of something huge and not being able to do anything yet... It's killing me!

So once again, I trudge off to do last what I should have done first. I open my bible and God brings me straight to David. David, that Great Man of God who graces so much of the Bible it is overwhelming. So much so, it is easy to forget that God had Samuel anoint David as the next King of Israel fourteen years before he ever put him into power. In fact, looking at the time David spent waiting isn't exactly encouraging. He was taken into Saul's palace, never to return home again, after killing Goliath. Saul wasn't the benefactor one would hope to have as he had a tendency to throw spears at David's head, plot murderous adventures for him and spent the better part of his last years pursuing David like a hunted animal.

Ever wonder if David doubted Samuel's anointing as he lived in caves with the most hardened, sketchy men the country knew? I sure do, because I wonder about it all the time. Not that I have been anointed King or anything, but waiting on something you know God is doing in your life is not comfortable. Even when God is gracious enough to let you know what exactly it is, as in David's case, the wait can have you doubting in the validity of the promise. You may even doubt that God really spoke to you. Maybe you didn't hear it correctly, maybe you missed the turn waaay back there in the road somewhere... Or maybe, most likely, you are simply supposed to wait. I am supposed to wait - again.

The last time I was waiting like this, with so much anticipation and very little direction, God handed Shane and I the Ranch. We called it Taj Mahal back then, because it was that much of a pipe dream, that beautiful and that unattainable. God showed me then that He has more power in his very breath than I could ever have in all of my might. I suppose I can trust him as I stand at the edge of a precipice, toes dangling dangerously over the rocky ledge and wait for Him to give me the wings to fly or reveal the path down. Either way, the view will be spectacular!

Monday, February 13, 2012

In The Desert

I watched as his face lit up. It was great to be able to be a part of such an extravagant, well appreciated gift. The whir of the blades got louder and more fervent as the copter lifted straight up in the air, masking the squeal I gave out as my stomach did a loop. Shane was grinning from ear to ear, watching out the panes of glass that separated us from the air we were flying through.

As the chopper ceased its vertical climb, the pilot eased the stick forward and the glass bubble tilted dramatically forward, gathering speed. Flight in a helicopter was so very different than that of an airplane. It was incredible to be able to see so much. From the bubble above us, to the panels at the nose, it was like flying without a plane at all. The Strip of Vegas, always bustling and full of people, gave way to neighborhoods. There were sleepy little homes, and shopping centers, and soon it got sparser. The homes got larger and more extravagant, the lots got bigger. And then, like we had crossed some invisible threshold, we were flying over desert. The desolation such a contrast to the oasis of the city, with its sprinkler systems and its million dollar landscaping.

This terrain was deserted, nothing for miles as far as we could see. It was craggy and empty, barely any vegetation to be seen save a few cacti and scrubby looking bushes here and there. The rest looked like I would imagine the surface of Mars. There were ravines, miles of duney looking mounds, and sand forever... How did anyone come upon this barren land in the early '50's and imagine anything but their own doom? The flight was incredible, a gift unimaginable for my husband's 40th birthday. We talked about the images we both saw from the helicopter. We agreed it was akin to being dropped on the moon's surface: barren, foreign, unrecognizable and frightening to think about being left there alone.

Without trying to sound terribly dramatic, that's my life right now. Barren, desolate, dry, sparse, unrecognizable and terrifying. I can't say that much has changed, except me. I have changed. And I am not sure I like it. In fact, that is a lie... I know I don't like it - I don't like me! I don't recognize my reactions, I don't recognize my own voice... It is humiliating and frustrating and unconquerable - and lonely. Oh yeah, is it lonely.

I don't like the sound of my own voice. I can't stand the complaining, the bad attitude, the lack of gratitude. I have retreated from the interactions in my life because I can't take another moment of hearing that self serving, whiny voice of mine. I open my mouth to answer a question and crap falls out.. Whiny, narcissistic crap! If I look puzzled when I am talking to you, it is because I am! Who the hell is this chick? A friend of mine was having a "discussion" with her husband not too long ago about the very same attitude issues when she blurted out, "Well, at least you can get away from me!" That is exactly how I feel right now. I can't get away from me!

So how do I cope? Honestly, I haven't got a clue. I was hoping maybe you would let me know... (wink, wink) I wish there was a place that once the roller coaster hormones set in, a bus rolled up to your house, a lovely man-person escorted you aboard for a short ride and you were dropped off at a spa-like venue. You would be handed a martini, given a plate of something yummy and told to go relax while they got your crazy attitude all straightened out. Once it was all resolved and you were once again among sane and desirable company, you would be returned to your life, given an in-depth tour and a month's free tech support. Wouldn't that be heavenly? (sigh)

Yeah, don't count on it! As part of His desire to see His people grow and mature, God seems to have another plan. Not that He's telling any of us about it - Oh no! That might come as a little helpful and not at all aggravating... (See? That's the chick I am dealing with! Pain in the tuckus, isn't she?) As it is, I have only a few tools in my arsenal to deal with this monster I am calling pre-menopause (although "crappy-attitude-ed-ness" may be a better diagnosis...). I have my bible, a few inspiring devotionals and prayer - which thankfully, I am never without. So, in that spirit, I start looking for answers and some very irritating things come to light. I can't seem to get away from the tried and true concept that God will not give me more than I can handle. Seriously? Is that it? That is all I get? Wow. (Rolls eyes like a 15 year old girl, "So gross!")

But then, if that is all God is willing to say to me, I guess I need to take a good look at it. First off, I must be buff! If God thinks I can handle raging hormones, crappy attitude-ed-ness (I swear it is a condition!), and lack of friends because of it, I must have muscles I didn't know anything about! It's a virtual Woman Vs Wild around here. But if it makes me a bit leaner (hopefully not much meaner), if my water comes directly from the hand of God and even if He asks me to crunch a few bugs for sustenance, I have to believe that I can do it. I can do it because He says I can. I can trust that God sees I won't break from this, I won't have to be here forever, and I am actually not alone in this desert. I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. Phil 4:13 And for those that like the Message translation like I do... "Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am." (Emphasis mine... all mine!)

I am an all-or-nothing kinda gal. I can't seem to make my mind take pieces-parts of much of anything, so if the Bible is true (and I believe that it is), and God is truly God (and I believe that He is) - Then I have to believe that no matter what it looks like on the outside, God has it all handled and He won't leave or forsake me - even to myself. He promised ... He says I can handle it, and He says where I am unable, He is absolutely equipped... And I am going to believe Him... (gulp)

My hope is only that I don't have to spend everyday in the desert. I hope that I can listen a little better than to have to wander around here for 40 years. (OMGoodness! Can you imagine 40 years of menopause? *shudder*) I pray that if you are in a "desert" yourself, whether hormonal or situational, that you can also look around and know that you are not alone. God is there. He is reaching out to you in ways that may look very suspicious. Trust Him anyway. Just because we don't understand it, doesn't mean it won't have incredible value.... Someday.


If you are going through a time that you don't like yourself, share... We can encourage each other. If you have made it through a time like this, share as well - I could use the hope!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Watcher

I see you, you know. With your poor me attitude, your why me questions. I see your past foibles, the times you lied, the times you cheated. I see your failings, your crumpled dreams. I see the hateful heart, the unforgiveness, the judgement you pass upon others. I see you for who you really are - That broken shell of humanity, bathed in failure and pathetic attempts at redemption. I see how you have done good things for the furthering of your own means, the selfish way you love and grasp at love for yourself. I see you though you creep along in darkness and hide away in shadows. You cannot hide from me. I see the mistakes you have made, the things you abandoned and left to rot. I see the relationships you tore through like a thief bent on uncovering the last of someone's treasures. I see the lack of relationship, the user in you. I see your jealousy, your envy, your fake celebration over someone else's success. I see your stoney heart when you want to cry out that they don't deserve it like you do. I see your bitter tears and your rotting soul. I see your stoney eyes and your plastic smile full of disingenuous condescension. I see your superiority and your elitism, your sneers and derisive snorts do not escape me. I see every betrayal and every cut you deal out. I hear every snide comment and every left-handed compliment.

I see it all...

And I love you still. I love you because I am God. I love you because I have the heavenly ability to accept my Son's promise of you. I love you because you are mine. Though you cannot deserve it, though you will choose sin every time you are able, I love you still. I love you when you give because I say so. I love you when you help though it cost you dearly. I love you because He loves you, that Son of mine. I love you when you love me. I know you are pathetic, sullied and filthy. I love you anyway. I love you when you cry out in anguish and ask me to save you once more from the terrifying state you have yourself in. I love you when you are honest enough to tell me you hate me in your anger, though your heart cries out to me for comfort. I love you not as the World loves, but as only your Heavenly Father can. I love you because you choose me, not because you have earned it. I do not love you because you reciprocate my love, I love you in spite of how you treat me. I love you even though you beg to know my plans for you before it is time. I love you because I promised I would always love you - And I keep my promises.!

I do not love you because you are better than your neighbor, I love you because you are you. Do not compare yourself to others, you do not know their inner hearts, their sins, their failings like I do. You cannot see the inside of a man as I do. If you could, your heart would break over and over, despair would fall upon you and you would sink into depression the likes you can never comprehend. Trust that I know what is best for you, that you are my favorite as are all my children. Not a thought crosses your mind, nor a circumstance chances into your life that I do not know exactly how it will play out. Trust me to never leave you, nor forsake you - that means I will always be here. Only you can walk away from this promise, I cannot and I will not. Know also, if you walk away, I will always provide a path back to me. I will always welcome you back into my open arms. It is who I am. I am God.

I am.

And I love you still.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Tornados and other life changers...

We are waiting on a storm today. It's supposed to be a doozy. Having lived in Colorado all of my life, I am skeptical but willing to prepare for the gut punch of 12-24 inches of snow that is being predicted. In all honesty, it would be a huge blessing. We have gotten very little moisture for our hayfields this season and it will spell doom if we don't get hay again this summer. So, bring on the snow!

The weather in Colorado is a funny thing. We get everything from feet of snow to powerful tornadoes. We have areas that are prone to flooding and high desert climes. There's a little of everything, except maybe a definitive spring... We don't get much delineation when it comes to seasons. It is either wintery or summer-like.

You can literally watch an approaching storm and track the temperature dip in real time as things amp up. It is at once terrifying and awe inspiring. I have been driving into a wintery storm and watched the external temp gauge on my car drop over twenty degrees in a matter of minutes. Because we live on a divide that kind of drastic change is a matter of course.

I am watching another storm of sorts work its way into my life. I am sure you are no stranger to this phenomena either. You can feel the change in the air, things have a pressurized discomfort to them. In your desperation to relieve the stirrings you might make hasty decisions, rushing about like one who hears the far off wail of sirens. It feels like any movement is better than standing still as the clouds gather ominously and the sky blackens around you. You are certain that something huge is going to happen and you just want to hunt a hole and hide or run away where the storm cannot touch you.

While being prepared for actual weather on the horizon does have a certain call to action, the storms God sends into our lives to grow and bless us are different. The best thing to do when God decides to allow a storm to rock our little rowboat has very little to do with knowing all the answers and being prepared. It has everything to do with obedience and faithful responses. It is a time to slow down, not to move hastily. It is a time to watch in wonder and awe, not hide our heads in the sand.

I liken times like these to an approaching tornado. It can be paralyzing, a force so strong and unpredictable that it can destroy us in a moment's time. If you have ever watched a tornado there is a certain awe and fascination in their power. No matter how frightened you are, it is difficult to tear your eyes away from the incredible power they display. The green tinge you notice as they approach, the deafening silence before the equally deafening roar, the suffocating tear of wind-shear as you duck into shelter at the last minute...

God is like that tornado. In a millisecond He could tear our world apart and start all over again with a clean slate. Anything we have built up around us can be leveled with a mere breath from God. He is terrifying in His strength and unpredictability. And yet, when we emerge from the shelter provided from such stormy forces, things are clearer, cleaner, crisper. We look around and feel thankful to be alive and sometimes we see that God has spared not only us but some of the very things we hold dear. Sometimes God levels those things in order for us to refocus on what He considers more important. Heartbreaking, yes. Terrifying, certainly. Necessary, absolutely! I have to believe that He knows more than we do. That He is doing what is best for us. That truly, no matter how much pain the storm elicits God has a plan to grow us and bless us through it.

Right now I am watching as the skies darken around me. There's no funnel cloud yet, just a darkening and a gathering of things on the horizon. I am watching, praying and holding fast to God's promises.

I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out-plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. "When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I'll listen. "When you come looking for me, you'll find me. I'll make sure you won't be disappointed." God's Decree. "I'll turn things around for you. I'll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you"-God's Decree-"bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile. You can count on it. (Jeremiah 29:11-14 MSG)