Archive | August 2012

When It’s Harder Than It Looked

Recently, my older sister moved out of the house and to another town because she had taken a new job.  Obviously, this means that the entire house needed to be rearranged or redecorated, right?  Tonight, I broke out the measuring tape and wondered if the original plan for setting up my “new” room (which ironically used to be my old room) was actually going to work.  I kept rearranging furniture and looking up dimensions.  It shouldn’t be this complicated.  I climbed the stepstool to tie bows in my curtains and either couldn’t reach as far as I’d hoped or they wouldn’t tie off as pretty this time around.  This is harder than it looked.

I climbed down the stool and got to thinking, as I folded clothes and turned down the covers on my bed to crawl under them—so is walking through this door that’s right in front of me.

I’m not nervous, that’s not it.  I’m not even scared, which is a little unusual for me.  Remember?  I don’t usually like things that I don’t already know I’m good at.  It’s just that, right now, it’s harder than it looked.  I didn’t think it was supposed to be this complicated. 

I took a deep breath and I could feel the tears begin to fill my eyes.  Crying isn’t usually what I do either.  I tend to mask my insecurities and hurt feelings with jokes and sly remarks.  I’m the one at the funeral home who has everyone else feeling bad for laughing.  This time though—is different.  This time—as much as I preach “guard your heart”—it feels like that’s what this whole thing is costing me.  This time—I’m losing sleep.  This time– I’m confident that this is the door; I’m not even questioning it.  (Also a big deal for me!)  I’m actually really excited about it all!  I even got excited about sharing it all with key team players, some of which haven’t even shown up yet.  The problem is: it’s not time to open that door just yet and waiting for it is harder than it looked.   

Loosening the Grip

I pulled in and just sat there behind the driver’s seat.  I gripped tight the steering wheel and stared at the door.  My heart’s known this whole time that I am not looking for anything; I found it a while ago.  My head took a little convincing, but it’s been convinced for a while now too.  It’s the not-knowing where the rest of the team stands that has me so scared, as my old friend coined it.

I gripped the steering wheel and stared at the door.  Now, if I can just get myself from the car through the door.

I’ve always been the good girl.  I’ve tried to do everything a good girl would do.  Meaning, I’ve strived to do what others expected of me.  If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, then you already know that I tend to only take on what I’m already good at.  I don’t want to mess something up.  Recently, that’s caught up with me in some incredible ways.  Particularly, when it comes to moving forward with what God wants from me.  What if it doesn’t look like what everyone expects?  What if I let everyone down?  Even more than all of that: I don’t want to let God down, if I mess it up!

It’s nerve-racking to think am I going to do anything that’s going to quench the Spirit?  Did I hear God correctly?  Have I listened?  Have I been in tune, entrusted with this responsibility?  I’m gonna mess this up.  I’m gonna mess this up!  And sometimes, I’ll be just so overwhelmed with it that I can hardly get focused.  That’s exactly where I was this time too, when I heard God say to me, “YOU AREN’T THAT GOOD!  You aren’t good enough to mess this up, girl.  I’ve still got this.  Just open the door and keep walking!”

My pride hasn’t been letting me really experience the full invitation from the Lord.  But this time, I was determined for it to be different.  So, I took a deep breath.  I felt myself begin to loosen the grip on the steering wheel.  I hit the unlock button, reached for the door handle, and opened the door.

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”

(2 Timothy 1:7)

Can I Help You Find Something?

My face must have made it clear as I walked down the same aisle for at least the third time, because the young clerk walked up to me and asked, “Can I help you find something?”  I looked up and winked, “If I knew what I was looking for.  Thanks for asking though.”  “Well, when you decide, let me know if I can help you find it.”  I wandered out the same way that I had wandered in—empty handed.  I’m not even sure how I’d found my way into this store, other than it was someplace old and familiar.

I sat across the table from her and tried to paint a picture of what it looked like these days.  I vented and she sipped her hot tea.  She understood exactly what I meant; it had only been about six months since she walked out the same door.  “My hope for you,” she spoke honestly, “is that you’ll find it.  And soon.”  “Find what?”  I was so curious for an answer!  “Whatever it is you’re looking for.  Let me know what I can do to help you find it.”

“What happened to the girl who used to always smile like she had a secret?  You sound like you’re just going through the motions.”

I may have seen him twice since we heard Dr. Paschal say, “Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Northern Nash Senior High School Class of 2003.”

“Lately, it sure feels that way.  You got that from just ‘Hey Stranger, I’m okay.  How are you?  That’s sad for me!”

We laughed and stood there talking like we’d just left Mr.  Kennedy’s class, not missing the (almost) ten years in between, then before we left:

“Hey Steph, I may be crossing the line here, but can I just say something?”

“Hey man, we go all the way back to MmmBop.  There are no lines.”

We laughed again then he just held me and said, “It’s gonna be okay.  It just may not feel like it when you want it to, but God has really cool plans that you fit into.  Don’t be afraid to embrace whatever it is that has you so scared.”

We both walked to our car doors then I heard him yell, ‘Oh!  And tell them!”

“Who?”  I hollered back.

“I may talk slow, but I ain’t stupid.”

I pulled in and just sat there behind the driver’s seat.  I gripped the steering wheel and stared at the door.  My heart’s known this whole time that I am not looking for anything; I found it a while ago.  My head took a little convincing, but it’s been convinced for a while now too.  It’s the not-knowing where the rest of the team stands that has me so “scared”, as my old friend coined it.

I gripped the steering wheel and stared at the door.  Now, if I can just get myself from the car through the door…

”For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek Me and find Me when you seek me with all your heart.”  (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

The Road and The Rain

We took the same route that we always do, but today we drove straight into one crazy storm.  The windshield wipers were on high, but they seemed pointless in the downpour.  My hands gripped the wheel and my speed slowed.  I kept thinking, “I just want to get there!”

Debris flying.

                                   Rain pouring.

                                                                  Grip tightening.

                                                                                                            Speed slowing.

 

I knew our destination hadn’t moved; we’d get there.  I also knew I’d feel better if I could see the road more clearly.

Today’s trip is the perfect snapshot of my heart.  I know the destination hasn’t moved; that I’m confident of.  That the Lord has me absolutely convinced.  It’s the road I can’t see.

 

Debris flying.

                              Rain pouring.

                                                             Grip tightening.

                                                                                                               Speed slowing.

 

Where’s the mile marker that says how much longer it’s going to take?  Where’s the landmark that says, “Yes, you’re still going in the right direction”?

Started Makin’ Trouble In My Neighborhood

The road I live on is named after my family.  My dad grew up out here too and can remember not locking the doors to the house when you left.  Most of my childhood was spent riding bikes past houses that were owned by people who share my last name.  Could I name all of my neighbors?  You bet!  Duckpond Road divided us for school, but basketball and kickball united us when we all got home.  You let a loved one pass away and one of those neighbors was cutting your grass while the others were rallying food and cleaning your house.  There was even an occasional “neighborhood” block party.  No one cared if your dog played in their yard and everyone’s moms and dads parented all of us, share and share alike.  You didn’t have to just borrow someone else’s tools to finish your project, the neighbor came with them to help you out.  No need to look up “neighbor” in the dictionary– we defined it.  I loved that I was from Browntown; loved that I grew up here!

Today, down that same road, only a few homeowners are the same.  Some have moved and others have passed away, along with the sense of truly being neighbors.  Today, I wish the folks across the way wouldn’t street race at 2am.  Today, I wonder if it’s truly just target practice at 9:30 on any given night.  Today, I get annoyed when I can’t turn down my road because someone else’s dog wants to stay in my way the whole time.  Today, I’m convinced that when something goes missing– it was stolen.  Today, I lock every door there is to the house when I leave.  Same thing applies when it’s time to go to bed, the cars too.  Needless to say, I cannot name everyone on my road anymore.  Today, I’m completely over my neighborhood.

Unfortunately, that attitude has spread to more than just the street I live on.  It’s infected the way I feel about my Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria.  If you’re an avid follower of my blog (bless you, by the way.), then you know I’m learning more and more just who my neighbor is supposed to be and that I’m to be loving them.  But…. love my neighbor?  How can I love my neighbor when I don’t even like my neighborhood??  Can it be traded in?  If so, then I want a new one, please!

I have no idea how grace is supposed to enter this picture when, today, I don’t even want to be at the coloring table… 

I Need to Show You Somethin’…

In the middle of a conversation with her dad, she came running up to me and said, “Come here, Stephanie!  I need to show you somethin’!”  I was torn!  I really wanted to finish listening to what her dad was saying, but she was so excited, how could I not stop in the middle of what I was doing and go see what she was up to?  Besides, she’d already won me over when she bull-rushed me with hugs and kisses, pouring her love all over me.  Decision made– I grabbed that little hand and went to see what she was dying to share with me.

We rounded the corner to her room and she did not have just one somethin’ to show me.  She wanted me to see and experience everything there was to share and she could not spit the words out fast enough.  She introduced me to all of her stuffed animals (never mind that I’ve met most of them before), opened her jewelry box and told me the stories behind where she’d gotten each of them, and pointed out the chair where her bedtime routine is had. 

 

“This is where my Daddy reads to me.” 

“It is?”  I asked. 

“Uh huh.  I sit with him.” 

“I bet your Daddy loves for you to snuggle up close to him.”

“It makes him very happy.”

 

Normally, that kid just melts my heart.  It’s not that she didn’t do that very thing today; it’s just that she was also the route God took to grab my attention.  He reminded me that He’s been trying to show me somethin’ this week too!  He’s bull-rushed me with His love and asked over and over again to go with Him, He needs to show me somethin’.  Except, I haven’t dropped what I was doing to go see and experience all there was for Him to share.  I haven’t slowed down long enough to crawl up close to Him.  I’ve missed it!

How does that happen?  How do I let myself get so caught up in the conversations around me, the laundry that needs doing, errands that need running, and the phone calls that need returning that I just completely miss the invitation to drop what I’m doing and go see what He wants to show me?  When did I start letting something else take priority and how do I make that stop?

I don’t want to miss it!  I want to be in a place where I always drop what I’m doing when He says, “come here, I need to show you somethin'”…

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

You are the person who ignores me at lunch.

You are my best friend in the whole world.

You are the classmate I make fun of in gym.

You are the guy who laughed at me when I fell down the stairs.

You are the teacher who gives me five pounds of homework every single day.

You are the person who helps me with my Algebra almost every night.

You are the girl who stopped to help me pick up the mess I made.

You are the people who are at my church on Sunday but who party on Saturday night.

You are the friend who shares my secrets with the whole school.

You are the person I cut off in the parking lot.

You are the person who made me fall in love and then broke my heart.

You are the co-worker that drives me crazy the quickest.

You are the people who support me in my Christian walk.

You are the disabled person whom no one talks with.

You are the class clown who makes everyone laugh, but whom no one befriends.

You are the guy who asks me the same question every time you see me.

You are the captain of the football team, the clerk at the grocery store, the organizer of the drinking club in town, the mailman, the woman in tears just needing a hug, the leader of SGA, the guy holding the sign on the highway, the pregnant teenager in the doctor’s office, the mean lady at the counter, the little boy whose mom isn’t watching him.

You are my neighbor.

 

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”  Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  Everything hangs on these two commandments.”  (Matthew 22:37-40)