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Thursday, November 26, 2009

One Of Those People


The sun is settling on what has been a beautiful Thanksgiving day. I wasn't particularly looking forward to what is usually one of my favorite holidays. My daughter is on a destroyer somewhere in the Persian Gulf. It's not her first Thanksgiving away from home, but it's her first so far away. Just knowing that she will be sad, and it will be months before I see her again, makes it hard for me to enjoy this holiday in the typical fashion. My Son wasn't going to be able to come home since taking a job in the City at the City Rescue Mission. Hundreds of volunteers give up the comfort of their homes to provide a special lunch for those who have no home, no family and in most cases no hope. This year seemed like the perfect time to mix things up, change tradition and do things a little different. Our family decided to get out of our comfort zone a little and spend the day doing something for someone else (sadly something we don't do often enough).  We had an awesome day! We had the privilege to join the homeless in praise and worship before lunch. It was a beautiful sight to see those who literally have no place to lay their head, worship God with hand uplifted and voices singing "I Am Free". But one of the most precious things about the day was Maggie. Maggie is a 3rd grade teacher at the Catholic Church near the mission. As I sat there and listened to Maggie talk my heart just swelled. She was one of those rare beauties who lives what she believes and believes with all her heart. She didn't share with us in a bragging manner, just humble conversation about how she lives to visit the sick, give to the poor and has little but has everything because she knows so many have so much less. I watched Maggie all day long. This was her first time to volunteer at the Mission, but she jumped right in and was as busy as a bee all day long. She didn't hesitate to mingle with the strangers that came for a warm meal. At the end of the afternoon, after all the table were moved and the chairs put away Maggie said she thought she'd go home and tend to her plants then she thought she'd come back and help the Mission serve dinner. We exchanged cell numbers and hearty hugs as we headed our separate ways. I may never see Maggie again but I have a feeling that they will be seeing a lot of her at the Mission. She's just one of those special people who can't help but give to others.... For me she gave a lasting impression.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Every Few Feet


I had the pleasure to go on a hike this weekend with our best friends minus one couple. It was a beautiful fall day. That morning the sky was overcast and it had rained sometime during the night but I knew that living in Oklahoma meant by noon it could be blazing hot with the sun at full throttle. When we got to the beginning of the trail I had to wrangle all the guys in so we could get a group shot (you know to capture the memories as I'm always saying). I'll have to say that they were pretty agreeable in the beginning.... with that first pose. But after a few feet (100 yards to be exact by their calculation) I found what I believed to be another background that needed to captured with our smiling faces in it. About the 3rd "background" opportunity they began to act.... shall we say.... a tad fussy. What is it with guys any way? It's important to the girls that we take advantage of every photo opportunity that comes our way. I still can't figure out why the big deal. My oldest son used to tell me to put the camera down, "no more 3x5's Mom". I pushed my luck as far as I could until I had to settle for action shots of them pretending to be hiking across a dam, shoulders slumped, heads down, looking terribly bored. The next night at church I asked one of the guys what the deal is with pictures... why the heck all the fuss? He informed me that they just wanted to get in the woods and conquer the task. Okay, I could almost understand that... you know, kind of Neanderthal mentality. Actually, when he said that I instantly got a visual of them bouncing through the woods in ape-like fashion, scratching themselves and passing gas with glee, but for the sake of not belittling their manliness we'll call it conquering the task. Basically, we cramped their style with all of the stopping and fussing over couple shots ("Oh Jac, you're going to want to frame this one") Luckily, all of the girls have very strong personalities and the Neanderthal needs of the guys did not prevent us from capturing our adventure every few (100 yards) feet. Next time I guess I'll leave my camera at home so the guys can whisk us through the woods and impress us with their navigational skills... LOL! I will, however, be sure to secretly record all of it on my cell phone and immediately post it on Youtube!!! Wouldn't want a good memory to go unrecorded.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Broken And Unashamed

I'll have to admit that I feel a lot of pressure to be something I certainly am not.... perfect.  At any given moment I can give you a laundry list of ways I feel like I've failed everyone. Over the last couple of years I've struggled with the knowledge that to a large degree I'm not the person I wish I could be, and the realization that I'm probably not the person everyone else believes me to be. Oh wouldn't it be nice to fulfill every ones expectations including your own. The one thing that gives me comfort is knowing that I am exactly who God designed me to be and that includes all the flaws I wish I could erase.  God has been loving imperfect people since the beginning of time. I tend to glamorize my biblical heroes but the common thread throughout the bible is the heart of fallen man and the mercy of a loving God.  Yes, broken and unashamed is how he found me, but mended and fully redeemed is how he loves me... Guess perfect will just have to wait.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Little Moments



Like most children I looked forward to Christmas every year. Unlike now, it seemed that it took Christmas forever to roll around. With anticipation I waited to see what surprises Mom and Dad would have for me. My husband still harasses me about the fact that I would make note of the dimensions of the doll I wanted from the catalogue and measure my presents to see if (allowing for packing) the dimensions of the wrapped gift tucked back under the tree was a close match. Yep, as a child those little markers gave me something to look forward to and that's how I made it through the year. Now that I'm an adult the things I look forward to have taken on a whole different dimension. What gets me throught the week may be.. making it to my morning workout... having lunch with a friend... just little stolen moments that keep me putting one foot in front of the other in anticipation. One of my favorite rituals is my Friday morning reward... Starbucks! I look forward to celebrating the end of my workweek with a Venti White Chocolate Mocha (heavy on the white chocolate). Seriously, on Wednesday I start counting the hours till I can daintily (NOT!) sip (gulp) my large cup of liquid heaven... It gets me through the week. Ya, so this morning I truly stumble out of bed with a raging headache that kept me up most of the night and prevented me from making it to my morning workout. Ugh!!! But... the silver lining and the thing that rolled me out of bed was the anticipation of my Friday ritual. My husband suggested I call in sick to work since I felt so bad, but I informed him that this was Friday and it was my Starbucks day so everything would be well with my soul once I got my fix. Surprisingly he wanted to know why I only went to Starbucks on Friday... Duh!!! I'm practicing an amazing amount of self-control (smirk) and keeping a strict eye on our budget like he's always asking me to do (dramatic eye roll)!!!! Give me some credit why don'tch? anyway, I get my paint and powder on (as my Mom always says), tease my bump up to the highest altitude I can muster on a Friday, slid on my jeans (cause it's casual Friday) and jolt out the door and head for the hospital (we don't have an actual Starbucks, we have a hospital with a mini me Starbucks inside). I get to the hospital having completely forgotten about the raging headache and reach for the doors to the cafeteria when I see it... This huge handwritten sign hanging on the milk steamer thingy that says... "OUT OF ORDER"!!! I kind of hesitate but walk on in where I find the little girl who knows what I want before I ever get to the counter. I look at her with literal tears in my eyes and say, "It's broke?" The guy behind her kind of looks at me then looks at her like "Should I hide, cause she looks a little unstable?" She just smiles and tells me yeh, it's broke and I'll just have to run down to the convenience store like she did. I really just stared at her in disbelief that she would even suggest a convenience store could be a replacement for my cup of heaven. My headache returned with a vengeance, the room began to spin and in my mind I crumpled to the floor in a fetal position and began to sob. In reality I slumped out of the hospital, muttering to myself like a schizophrenic psychopath. It's pretty much at this point that I realized just how much those little rewards mean to me, and how much I miss them when circumstances prevent me from "getting my fix". They make every unpleasant thing that comes my way bearable (gentle sigh). Next week, if the machine is fixed, I'll appreciate that Venti White Chocolate Mocha a lot more. If the machine isn't fixed... Well, Heads - Will - Roll!!! Ya, it's the little moments that I look forward to.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Defined By Grace


Having been raised in a very legalistic Christian environment, it's still hard for me, at age 46, to wrap my mind around the grace of a loving God. In my mind I see him keeping track of every misspoken word, every ill conceived desire and every broken commandment on a score card that grows in size every day. My transgressions are written in bold print and the extraordinarily bad deeds are highlighted in florescent yellow. Sometimes the idea of living a victorious life seems like an overwhelmingly impossible task. After all, when you are young those around you are quick to forgive your bad judgment to youth. The older you become the less likely you are to be the recipient of such forgiveness especially from those in the Church. At times it seems that among the more mature sect there is a competition to see who can appear to be the most spiritual. The goal is to be viewed as a mega Christan instead of merely a forgiven Christian. Even though I've been in church all of my life (literally slept under a pew as an infant), I can't seem to grasp the idea that we try to define our spiritual selves by how positive we can talk, how above it all we can come across and frankly how disingenuous we can be. It seems to me that it would be easier just to be...real. How much more effective could we be to those around us if we would just be real? So many Christians define themselves to others by how much time they spend in prayer, how much they give financially or how many spiritual gifts they hold in their possession. I cannot boast of great things. The only thing I can say is... I am a fallen angel. I stands at the foot of the cross desiring, but not deserving grace. I am not interested appearing to have it all together for I do not. I'm not interested in having the most outstanding testimony, because I have yet to overcome. But my one desire is to stand before the cross, broken by sin yet defined by His grace. For me this is as real as it gets.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Air That I Breathe

I was just sitting on the front porch today soaking in some rays. It has been an absolutely beautiful day! Sometimes I get so consumed with my own thoughts or problems I forget to just open up and enjoy God's beauty. Later when back in the office I was walking down a dreary hallway; what a stark contrast to the outside! Everything was different than an hour before. The air was stale, the lighting was dim and the sounds were muffled. I thought to myself.... "This is what life would be like without the one I love". He is the air that I breathe and without him life would be one lonely journey.