31 Days...

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Remembering and Re-Membering

How can it already have been nearly 3 weeks since I last posted? I mean yes, Spring Break and a trip to Wine Country with my most favorite Wine Guy and events of importance there and trudging back to work for 7 more weeks and back to grad school for a few more weeks seem to have made the last, nearly 21 days, seem like a time warp. But actually that IS my life.

So now I am ALMOST at a point of taking that deep breath and releasing that heavy sigh - if I could ONLY get this darn paper to start writing itself. Seems it should be easy enough - 15-20 pages about...ME! I know, right? This should be a no-brainer...I mean I get to talk about ME! For lots of pages! UGH! Not as easy as you might be led to believe...and I am either using this platform to further procrastinate or hoping (praying) that it will be some sort of a catalyst to this odd sort of writer's block I feel I am experiencing. And of course, I do work best under pressure! (Wink, wink)

April has been a big month here in the Life of Merit. I've been doing a lot of remembering. It didn't start out this way...I was trying to do some forgetting. I now, thank my dear and loving God for not letting me forget - but nudging me  to remember. The remembering all began during Holy Week. How can you not remember? Remember the ultimate scarifice made for me, for you, for the world in the greatest act of unconditional love ever made in the history of humankind - Christ's death on the cross to redeem me, you and everyone who will receive the gift. That is where we need to start our remembering.

Then someone was courageous and fought for me. He wasn't willing to just sit back and watch me slowly slip away - because I was forgetting and all caught up in the Me of MErit...he reached out and grabbed me and said he wanted ME...despite ME! And the trip to Wine Country with Wine Guy was more remembering. Remembering what an amazing, loving, compassionate, caring, genuine person he is. That he encourages me and thinks I can do something good. And that we love so many of the same things. That we love to laugh and drink wine and eat good food and just be together. And when we travel we actually do it well without arguing or getting mad about schedules or directions. And what the heck was I thinking? Sheesh, that was a close one! I will always remember he fought for ME.

I felt sort of dis-membered once I returned from California..the red-eye alone could set a person back for months! I felt like pieces of me were scattered between here and there...and just when I thought I had gathered all the pieces and was about to move forward my sweet dog was hurt and I had to put him down. And it was sad and hard, but people I love and who love me were there with me and that made all the difference in the world. I keep remembering Bruce though - as I walk out of the bathroom in the morning and he isn't there, as I come home and he isn't there, as I get to sleep in for a change...and he isn't waking me up to be fed - who thought I would ever miss that? But I remember how he sat by my side as I cried and cried nearly 4 years ago as my marriage fell apart. How he would force his nose up under my arm so I would pet him. How I would lie next to him and warp my arms around his neck and feel his soft fur and feel him relax with my touch. That I will always remember.

Today, I especially remember my dear sweet Dad. The loving, loyal, intelligent, genuine, musical, God loving, Bourbon drinking guy who had his name on a brass plate at the pub he loved so dearly. "Where everybody knew his name" and if someone was sitting at his barstool they were kindly told "Dr. Bob is here and you are in his seat."  And I remember how much I wish I had more time to tell him how much I loved him and how he made me feel like the most beautiful girl in the world and how I remembered how he would rub my head when I didn't feel good and how I wished we could ride in the old truck to kindergarten one more time and sing silly songs. And to tell him that he would be so proud of his grand-daughters and he could tell them how beautiful they are too.

And all this remembering makes me remember again the sacrifice that was made for ME. That He died and rose and for that I am free. For that I am free to be who God designed me to be. And I will still sometimes forget...forget that people, and dogs, love me. I will forget that I don't have to be afraid to live my life boldly and courageously and ON FIRE for Him! So what am I waiting for?

I need to remember...the Eucharisteo...the GRACE, the Thanksgiving, the JOY - all a gift...for me to embrace...and share and remember.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Die to Live...Then the Moon

So today started off pretty good - I mean I got to sleep in sort of...well - not at all because I have this old pitiful dog named Bruce and he decided he was hungry at 5:38...so I got up and fed him, but then he needed out and then he whined for an hour and then I gave up...and just got "up" -which means I was still in bed but I was awake with the light on and my coffee trying to get into this next Joyce Rupp book..which maybe it is too soon for after the last one that has ROCKED my world...ANYWAY...

I thought I was going to be productive...clean out the fridge-  which is at critical mass - which in and of itself is comical because we never eat at home so where *DOES* the food in there come from anyway...and the floor really needs vacuumed and, and, and....you get the picture.

But it was not to be...my friend Becky said she could "go with the flow" since my schedule seemed out of my control...I said I "felt like I was being beaten by the waves into a rocky shoreline and why hadn't the coast guard put out the flag to warn"...I was just off a phone conversation I was not expecting or prepared to have; I had run the girls here and there; I didn't get to spend the time with Becky I had intended and my fridge was still acting as a petri dish for the next medical breakthrough of the 21st century.  Her sweet and perfect text response - "that means u will b shiny smooth and pretty when u come 2 shore." That is why I love her! It made me stop and take a breath and tears (as usual) came to my eyes. Thank you sweet friend.

So, in the back of mind my all day has been this day -Good Friday...but what could be good about it? I mean - do you know what we did to HIM? Can you even begin to imagine a death so painful? I still haven't watched the Passion of Christ because I am not completely sure I would ever recover...
But there is something good...it's that HE did it! HE - Yeshua - fulfilled the law...all of it. Last week at the Passover experience - the JEW telling the story said - "This is what WE (Christians) have that NO other religion offers - the completion- the fulfillment of the Torah (Law)." And it was through the Seder plate and the Passover experience that this is so obvious...and amazing and so...GOD!

And so today I get it...We must die to live. We must DIE to live. We must die to LIVE people! How crazy is that? But that is what, like nearly every single day of my life, I must do - over and over again..DIE so that I can LIVE! He did it FOR ME - because HE loves me that crazy much. Because He wants ME to live - not just get through it - but to LIVE! I mean LIVE! Do you hear me? LIVE!!! So every bashing against those rocks is just one more chance to LIVE - to be shinysmoothandpretty!

(and this picture does no justice to the sight we saw tonight)

And as we laid Yeshua to rest in that tomb tonight - dark and cold...so dark and cold...we turn to see the MOON - and I mean the MOON - round and huge and orange and amazing and the most awesome sight ever to behold  - right here in the parking lot of  Mills River United Methodist Church...and I know that HE LIVES and that because HE LIVES...I MUST LIVE - BOLDLY and COURAGEOUSLY - trusting and faithfully - unafraid and KNOWING that HE LOVES me...

And the JOYGIFT is just that - to be smashed against the rocks and come out shinysmoothandpretty - because I LIVE because HE DIED and ROSE AGAIN...

And the Eucharisteo continues to overflow...the GRACE, the THANKSGIVING, the JOY...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Stinky Jealous Feet

Maundy Thursday
Perhaps for me this is one of the more powerful days of the Christian calendar. Ever since my weekend at Walk to Emmaus in  2010 - soon after two significant events in my life... the loss of my father and my divorce being final - I have considered Communion in a whole different light. The power of love in the act of breaking bread and receiving the wine became so overwhelming that I rarely can receive the elements without tears. But tonight, at our service at Mills River United Methodist Church, in little old Mills River, NC...the power of love was not only overwhelming, but humbling beyond words.

What made the difference tonight?


Have you ever had your feet washed by someone else?

Would you?

Would you allow someone else - your pastor or perhaps even an enemy -
to wash your feet in front of others?

In biblical times this was the most humiliating act  - done typically by a slave for his master. What could be lower? Washing the dirt and dust and grime off of someone's calloused and dirty, do I dare say... stinky feet. Yet JESUS, Yeshua as I have come to know him from my Passover experience last weekend, did this. He washed the feet of his Disciples - even the feet of the one he knew was about to betray him.

And so tonight, through my tears humble, I had my feet washed by the beautiful pastor  - the same one I have had feelings of jealousy towards. Yes, jealousy. And I am not proud of it - it humbles me even further..but she lovingly washed my nasty/stinky/in flats with no socks all day feet. And she did it with genuine Christ-like love for me. And I sat there and tears rolled down my face. Because she might as well have been Yeshua - right there at my nasty, unworthy feet - kissing them. Kissing away the envy, the pain, the hurt, the it's all about me stuff that often dominates my heart, mind and spirit. She loves...Yeshua-Jesus loves... even me.

So it is through this act of total love and grace that I come to more fully understand the New Commandment Yeshua has called me to. To love one another - as He loves me. Not as He "loved us." But as HE LOVES ME RIGHT NOW.  To surrender to the love. To remember that we are -EACH, all of us, LOVED BY HIM. And that I must learn to love the hard to love, because guess what...I am one of them.

And the Eucharisteo is overflowing - the grace, the thanksgiving, the joy...

Monday, April 2, 2012

First Thoughts After A Threshold Encounter

So it's been a while. A too long while. But I'm here now and I think I might be comin' round more often now too. I've been challenged to write more. I've never considered myself a writer, more of a talker. But I have found a love of writing..so I am going to feed that love as much as I can.

You know - the whole world of blogging is sort of intimidating these days...so many amazing blogs out there. So it's easy to tell yourself - why one more? What do I have to say that anyone wants to read. But I think maybe I do. And does it really matter if anyone reads it anyway? I mean, sure it would be great to end up with a  book offer or at the very least with a few sponsors who pay you a little dribble of cash or goods for your space...but that's not why I write. It's in the hopes of touching some one's life. Of turning over something that they have been wrestling with and needed a new perspective. Or encouraging someone going through something similar to what I have experienced...just by the sheer act of sharing this thing called life.

So I am going to write - tonight I am just writing - the things that come into my head..I know - that is scary. I am not one to sit and ponder the next post - I am more of a feel it, think it, write it kinda gal. I want it to be real. It sure isn't going to be flowery or beautifully posed like my favorite blogger turned author and overnight phenom - but maybe, just maybe it'll touch just one person who needed to read it, hear it, know that some one else has felt it and gets it.

I giggled when I saw my last post - Favorite People - because I was just thinking about some of them tonight. And there is one who is going through a really tough transition in her life and all I can think about is how I really want to be there for her. I know her pain - for the most part - though our situations were different. But I know the pain of losing a marriage, a home, a way of life. Moving to a new house and "starting over". But I also know - she will be okay. In fact, I know that she will be better than okay. She is going to be incredible. Hope. That is how I know. Because there is HOPE.
Hope is not in the things seen, but in the things unseen. And without hope - what is there. And when she, every now and then, thinks there is no HOPE I will come up beside her, along with her other HopeGiverFriends and offer her some of my HOPE. Because you can share HOPE. It's a perfect gift. Doesn't need a box or a bow...just a hug or a shoulder and a smile and a word of encouragement. Sometimes it might need a raucous girls' night out with laughing and loving and crying...that is the best way to share hope I think.

So I think I need to change the title of my post...cause you are surely confused...but maybe not. Because after a threshold encounter you find something, some ONE most incredible and amazing and the mystery of it all makes you want to share something...can you guess? I think you already know...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Favorite People

   This afternoon one of my favorite people came to visit me. Turns out he even drove out of his way to come see me. How sweet is that. I hope the special "Irish-Italian" spaghetti made it worth his while! I met Dennis this past summer when I went on my first deployment with Rapid Response Team of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association(wow, that's a mouthful).  He was one of the team leaders - or something like that - crew leaders - I don't remember what they call it. But anyway - he quickly became one of my "Favorite People" (FP). His commitment to Samaritan's Purse(SP) and his love of the Lord were so incredibly evident to those of us blessed to get to know him. But he wouldn't like all this talk about himself...but nonetheless it's true. He spends his life (for now anyway - as he told me "Until God tells me to do something else or I fall off a roof" - I hope it's not the latter) traveling around the country mostly with SP to help with disaster recovery and rebuilds. If he isn't with SP he is out there helping someone else. To me he is a true modern day disciple. He has left most everything behind and followed The Call to serve his Lord. It means lots of time on the road, little privacy, hard work and being with strangers a great deal of the time. He doesn't seem to mind though.
   Sometimes this sounds like a great life to me. Go help where people need you, serve the Lord, little material crap to drag you down. But I don't think this is a realistic lifestyle for me at the present time - my two middle school daughters might take issue! And I would tire quickly of community living and showers! One week here and there is about all I prefer to endure! I like my own bed and my own bathroom. So his willingness to go without those things makes him a pretty amazing guy to me.
   But I've gone off topic here a  bit - because my title is Favorite People...so returning from my bunny trail...another of my FP's went away today. She's a gal I teach with at my school. She teaches art and drama and we have eaten lunch together everyday for the past year with the exception of the month in the summer we were out. She's had a tough go here recently and she has held her head up and been so strong and amazing through a very hard and dark and painful time. She is beautiful, funny, and caring and I am so sad to see her go. I had two other FP's from work leave me this past fall when one retired and the other went to another school. So now all my FP's have gone and lunch isn't the same. Now I eat with some other wonderful people, but these 3 are very special to me. 
   The FP's in our lives carry us through the tough stuff, they inspire us, they laugh with us and even sometimes at us, they encourage us, they call us on our stuff sometimes too. There are probably about 6-8 people I consider my FP's. I get incredibly excited when I know I am going to see them. They bring me joy. I know I can just jump in with them and they will follow right along with the storyline even if it's been awhile.  They accept me as I am - all lumpy and bumpy and imperfect. They tolerate my loud laugh - some even like it.
Who are your FP's? DO they know they are your FP's? I try to make sure mine know-  but I know I could do a much better job. I think I am going to work on that. Boy the list of things I need to work on sure is getting long....

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Intentionally Writing, Yet Oh So Tired!

So I started my Spiritual Formation class last night at Pfeiffer University.  I get up at 5:30 or 6:00 most mornings and on class nights I have to drive 2 hours there and 2 hours back and so it is 11:00pm before I get home. That's a long day. So, needless to say - I'm tired tonight. I should have been reading for class and writing earlier rather than plopped on the couch watching the season opener of American Idol with my two girls. But I made that choice-  intentionally.
One of our tasks in this class is to keep a journal. It always amazes me how many people have NEVER kept a journal. Where do you put all those thoughts? What do you do with them? Anyway, I have kept journals on and off my entire life. They have gotten me into trouble on at least two occassions. Boyfriends should NEVER read their girlfriends' journals - I'm just saying! Guess they had it coming.
So I have decided that I am going to write mine in this blog. Now perhaps I should just start a new blog and keep it more to myself. But as I have thought about this for the past week or so, realizing that I am already behind in my own goal with this blog and my living life intentionally this year - I figured this is the way to do it. I am just going to be very bold and very courageous and really put myself out there and use my blog as my journal. Now I usually prayer journal my personal and spiritual struggles with God in a notebook. I have in the past nearly 2 years that I have had this blog shared some of that with you - whoever "you" might be. I guess there are one or two of "you" out there anyway! ;) But I am going to TRY, and I emphasize TRY, to be out there and honest for the next 14 weeks as I journey through this class and my journaling.
Here is what I hope to accomplish through the class:
1) A better understanding of my calling. I feel like I have lost touch with it, with God and quite honestly sometimes, with myself. I want to know that I know that I know what God has called me to and for. I need to know for certain that it wasn't this romantic notion I had in my head based on the events and people in my life at the time. I was certain then, so why am I no longer certain. Is it a coincidence that I have heard two sermons on "calling" this week?
2) To grow closer in my relationship with God. Period.
3) To learn skills that will help me to help others in their journey of faith.
4) To build my spiritual muscle through the classic disciplines of faith - learning new ones, trying ones I have never tried before and strengthening the ones that I find fit me best.
5) An "A". I told you I was going to be honest. I like getting "A's" and so I do - I want an "A"!
So, here we are. Sort of a take-off point. Some days I may write a lot and some very little. I may even try my hand at art and photography - assuming I can figure out how to add that stuff to my blog!
Feel free to journey with me. I would love for you to share your thoughts and comments with me.
Now - it's time for bed. Good night.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Fitting In...

I have about three posts running in my head right now...but as I was getting ready for bed tonight, after putting my two vastly different daughters to bed..this one came to me...we'll see where it goes.

My youngest was hit with a nasty stomach bug Sunday night, was diSTRESSed that she was going to miss school not only Monday, but obviously today too. Thankfully today ended up being a snow day  -so she only missed school one day. My oldest I think secretly wanted to get the bug or some form of it so she COULD stay home. So anyway, as I was tucking my youngest in she was in tears because she thought she wasn't prepared for tomorrow. This kid is more organized than most adults - and it is painful to see her get so upset over stuff all the time. Whereas my oldest - who is extremely smart and hasn't had to work hard through school - unlike her sister - seems to care less lately. I can't seem to get her to care! One needs to care less and the other just needs to care more than she currently does which seems like NONE!

Now - the oldest seems cool with her group of nerdy friends - they pride themselves in being nerds or geeks - whichever it is. Different girlfriends come and go and she never seems bothered by it. She just does her thing and SEEMS to be fine with it all  The youngest is really having a tough time finding her niche of friends this year. Sixth grade has been a big transition friend-wise for her-she doesn't seem to know where she fits in, her best friend of 5 years seems to have found new best friends and it is killing her. It is all causing her great STRESS.  I'm pretty sure she is well on her way to an ulcer at the ripe old age of 11!

All that to get to where I was going in the first place - fitting in. So lately I can relate to Daughter 2(D2). I just haven't been sure where I fit in these days. I keep telling myself I'm okay with it - but it does sort of get to me sometimes. I don't feel like I fit in at my church any longer - funny how starting seminary got in between me and church. I don't feel like I fit in with my usual group of girlfriends - they are all married and I don't know - it's just different lately. I love them, but I just feel like an outlier. (Is that the right word? You know in math when something is way out there from the rest of the group?)  I know I don't fit into my job - enough said on that. So, why am I at this point? Why has God brought me here? (Yes, I believe God is responsible!)

Well - I think I get it - or I hope I do anyway! I am an outlier because God needs me to be. He is moving me away from the familiar and what I am comfortable with and towards a new direction. Fitting in (which is part of our human condition - we want to belong) isn't  what will take us to the new and exciting places we want to go. Just think of all the great men and women who seemed odd or crazy in history...did they fit in? (I'd name some examples but the only one that comes to mind is Einstein!) So I'm trying to learn to accept that this phase is just part of the journey to what God has in store for me next. Jesus certainly didn't fit in to his culture. I wish I could somehow explain that to D2 - to learn to embrace being different and not always fitting in. To be BOLD and COURAGEOUS in who she is (who I am) and what she believes (and what I believe) and what is important to her (and what is important to me)...

I think D1 has embraced it.
She likes it when I tell her she is weird!
Now if I could just get her to care...

Monday, January 2, 2012

A New Year - A New Life

I've been lurking around many amazing blogs lately. I had no idea what all was out there until just a few months ago. One blog lead to another and then another! I am still completely clueless about the whole linking thing, and one of my goals is to figure it out. But you have to have something to link first - right? And there are people out there making money just through their blogging! Women are publishing books as a result of their blogs! Amazing to me!
So, my goals for the new year -although I haven't worked through them specifically yet...are summed up by two words. LIVING INTENTIONALLY!
One of my favorite bloggers used this in one of her posts a while back - I would link you to it if a) I knew how and b) I could remember exactly which one it was! But anyway...it really resonated with me then and then this morning another gal - who blogs and used to teach computer technology and I would love to meet cause she seems so incredibly cool...used it on this really cool poster thing she made with all her resolutions on it! Seems to be a theme!
So, I am going to begin my New Year trying to live intentionally. Funny how right off the bat - as I was way ready to get up do my devotional, lunch already packed - life showed up in the form of my 11 year old daughter with a wicked stomach bug! LOL! The irony of it all!
But I will work to intentionally live up to my blog title...Living Bold and Courageous. The only one stopping me is ME!
It means I will have to get up and be ready to go. It means I will have to make myself move. It means I will have to make better choices of what I eat. It means I will have to plan ahead. It means I will have to say "no", but it might mean I have to say "yes" as well. It means I put God first. It means I focus on my daughters more than anyone else. It means I do the hard work still to be done. It means I play more and laugh more. It means I clean out the crap - physically and emotionally. It means I see God, seek God, EXPECT God and TRUST God. It means I let go of MY expectations and allow God to lead me. It means giving every red cent that I earn a name for what it is doing. It means sometimes having to tell my girls "no, not right now". It means teaching them the value of every red cent. It means giving all that we can give to those who need it way more than we do. It means showing those I love how much I really do love them. It means speaking positive and encouraging words. It means seeing the grace, giving thanks and living the joy.
Maybe my resolution should be "Living Eucharisteo" to borrow from my favorite book, One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp. ThanksLIVING...as I think she or one of the other bloggers who knows her calls it.
So, in the midst of an unplanned day off, with stomach bug ridden daughter, I begin my year of living eucharisteo intentionally.