Friday, April 26, 2013

Falsely Filling in the Blanks (Just Curious -- Anyone Ever Make this Mistake?)

I was hasty, I will admit. And I am not proud of it.

I overheard part of a conversation.

I wasn’t eaves dropping (honest! I wasn’t), I just happened to hear something.

It was crowded in the room.  Lots of people were talking about lots of different things, and all of a sudden, I heard a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

It wasn’t gossip, but it was about something that I was concerned about, and even if it was only a partial story, I didn’t like what I heard.

And before you know it, I filled in the blanks on the parts that I had not heard, and quickly constructed a story in my head.

“This is not good. I’m upset by this,” I said to myself, reflecting on the story that I was certain was true.

I brooded about it for a while.

I cased out scenarios in my head on how to best deal with it.

I puffed and fumed inside my head a bit, too. Just a bit.

And then, I stopped. 

I stopped brooding. I stopped creating cases, and stopped puffing and fuming.

“This is not good,” I now said to myself.  “I do not like what I am hearing myself think!”

The Lord pushed in to my heart and suggested, ever so gently, ever so quietly, that perhaps I did not know everything.  Perhaps I made a mistake. Perhaps I needed to double-check my facts before I went too far.

I called a friend who I knew was in 'the know,' and confidentially and asked her if what I heard, could at all be true.

Turns out, I was guilty.  I was wrong.  I jumped to conclusions. I filled in the blanks, where I had no right to even pick up the pencil.

I repented to her, and I repented to the Lord.

Thankfully, (and to no credit to me) I did not act on what I heard. I would have made a fool of myself and probably, would have hurt someone along the way.

I’d like to say that I always extend grace, judge not and love lavishly.

But try as I will, I fall short. Regrettably. 

So, today, I am humbled, by the weakness of my own ways, but grateful for the Lord who intervened in my heart, showed me the truth and forgave me for my folly.

Proverbs 3:21-22 says, “…preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck.”

Thank you, Lord, for Your grace.  Please help me to judge less, love more, and seek You first. Help me not to falsely fill in the blanks, but to be wise and discerning in all my ways, trusting in You. Amen.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Bigger, Better Things? A Tribute to a Friend

When we were young, my friend, we had big hair (it was the ‘80’s!), big dreams and big laughs.

We had big pom-pons (what’s with the little ones the dance team girls use these days?  Budget cuts?).

We had big ‘sun basking days’ on the roof of your house, unwisely using baby oil with SPF 0.

We went to big polka dances at the pavilion (I can hear our daughters now …. "Mmmmoooommm, you did what?")

We drove around in your mom’s Volare, my parents’ big, ugly brown van, Gwen’s Javelin, Jayne’s parents’ station wagon, and a variety of other beater cars.

I suppose we had some worries, but really, we mostly had fun.  Big fun.

But there is a time for everything. A time to be born, a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them.  (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2,4-5).

Three years ago this week, I sat with you, as you entered a new season of life – a season of grief and a season of widowhood. We sat in the church and mourned the unexpected, tragic death of your husband.

Before I go any further, I want you to know -- I was proud of you. I am proud of you. I will forever be proud of you.

It was a fresh spring day.  Incense floated through the air, mingling its heavy, sweet smell with grief.  The sun was shining outside, stirring up a light breeze. The gentle, tinkling of a waterfall, in the back of the room, sang softly.

Friends and family gathered in this Holy place of your husband’s funeral.  It was a Holy space.

We heard kind words about a man who loved deeply, was generous to others, but who struggled.  It was an open, honest reflection of his life, inviting us all in to the reality of our own lives.

And you were there, with your son on one side of you, and your daughter on the other. You all stood strong.

You were there, head held high, gracious, and although grieving, you were grateful, not just for your husband, but for what the Lord gave you across the years and in that room.

You were there, doing what you had to do, being who you always are – beautiful.

My friend, on this day that marks the third anniversary of your husband’s death, I want you to know that you are loved. You are amazing.  You are strong. You are beautiful. 

Many love you and your children.  You have allowed the Lord to carry you, and you reflect His power and His glory as you’ve grieved, but lived.

Yes, to everything there is a season.

Neither of us could have ever imagined what we each have walked through in the 30 plus years since we had big hair, big dreams and big laughs, but now, perhaps we have better bigger things – bigger strength, bigger love and bigger faith.

Dearest Cynthia, I am so proud of you.  It’s a privilege to call you friend.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A Restless Night ...

I could not sleep. I could not rest.

2:33 AM. 3:07 AM.  3:37 AM. The bright red numbers on my alarm clock raged at me.

I tossed. I turned.

I laid there, painfully awake, thinking of all the things I needed to do today.

Before long, other thoughts flowed fast in the night.

My worries. My fears. My sorrows.  There were lots of them.  Many more than I care to admit.

I tried to pray them away.

Photos of friends and family members, even people I did not know, flashed through my mind.

I tried to turn each one in to prayer.

And then, without invitation, insecurities inserted themselves.

I have no purpose. I am a waste of time. I am forgotten. I am a mess.

I briefly considered the lies. Darkness distorts truth, but the light dispels darkness and I knew what I needed to do.

I threw on a sweatshirt over my pajamas, made my way to the kitchen, made a cup of decaf tea doused with honey and plopped down at my desk.

I read through my devotionals, pondered His Truths and fixed my eyes on the One who I knew, knew me.

And I asked Him to help me to rest in Him and help me to cast my cares (and the cares of those He loves) upon Him -- no matter what -- trusting that He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).

Why was I up early? I’m still not sure. Maybe it was to pray for someone who needed it and maybe it was for more to see more of Him.

I have no idea what today holds, but He does.  I will admit, I fear a bit for why I was awake and what that may mean as I step in to this day, but I am clinging to this -- He started my day, by reminding me that regardless of the tossing and turning of this life, I can find rest in Him, because He truly -- really -- cares for me and He cares for you.
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