Five Minute Friday: Gift

Add a little bit of body text (6)

Gentle Reader,

Chit-chatting with my online friends and trying to ignore the headache pounding behind my eyes. It’s Kate. It’s my people, my group. It’s a: gift.

Go.

I look out the front window. My eyes rest on the rose bushes climbing the weathered wood trellis. They reach toward the sun, canes shooting this way and that. Heavy heads sway back and forth, up and down in the breeze. Bright pink, full flowers mingle with darker fuchsia. Shy buds hide within deep green shields, waiting for their turn to burst forth in showy display.

This is a gift.

My parents passed on a love of plants to me. Oh, I can’t rattle off a list of names of the flora that crosses my path when I take a walk. In fact, I can’t name very many plants by sight at all. The love they passed to me is less…clinical, I guess. Less about lists and terms and more about an appreciation for beauty.

My mom put potted petunias on the porch steps every summer. My dad took care of the rose bushes. (One sprung up in the middle of the lawn and he left it there just to bug my mom). Snapdragons and tall, willowy grasses grew just beyond the fence. Around the corner from our house, wild lilacs filled the air with their delicious, heady scent.

There is something so refreshing about nature. I feel connected to God when I’m digging in the dirt. There is a sense of accomplishment when I pull weeds. There is pleasure in putting together a bouquet.

The softness of the petals. The sting of the thorns. The glorious shades of color, never perfectly matched by paint.

God’s special gift in a tough world.

Stop.

My journey to faith. (15)

Advertisements

Five Minute Friday: Rise

Rise

Gentle Reader,

On the couch. Feeling sick.

Linking up with Kate and the crowd. We: rise.

Go.

Don’t want to rise to the occasion. 
Don’t want to get up on my feet. 
I want to pull the covers over,
And just go back to sleep.

These are the first words that came to mind tonight. I’m sure it’s the stupid thrush. Third time I’ve had it. I’m tired and achy on a good day, so throwing this pestilence into the mix makes things worse. Probably should have stayed home today, but we’re so busy at work right now…

Does anyone else feel that way? Feel compelled to get up, to go, to be there when you really shouldn’t? When someone else should pick up the slack?

I’m sure there are. I’m sure there are people reading this who feel that pressure. Who can’t discern if it comes from within or without.

We are schooled in this world of ours, this society obsessed with the vaguely-defined “American dream,” to sacrifice all on the altar of success. The house, the cars, the 2.5 kids. The corner office. The title. The not-necessarily-bulging-but-definitely-not-empty bank account. The race of rats and the Jones’ with whom to keep up are particularly plaguesome for the Type-A folks who really do want to do a good job.

But you know…it’s not worth it. Going to work when we’re sick and overextending and saying “yes” when we really mean “no.” Constantly covering the behinds of  the slackers. Automatically replying with, “No big deal” because we can’t recognize when we’re about to burn out.

Last night I listened to was is easily one of my favorite passages of Scripture. Psalm 119 starts off immediately confronting the franticness of our lives:

Blessed are the undefiled in the way,
Who walk in the law of the Lord!
Blessed are those who keep His testimonies,
Who seek Him with the whole heart! – vs. 1-2 (NKJV, emphasis mine)

Those who seek Him with the whole heart are blessed. Not the ones who ignore fevers and families for one more hour at their desks.

Stop.

I believe in working hard. That’s how I was raised and that’s why I find slackers so everlastingly irritating. I believe in doing the best you can do at whatever it is you do. But I wonder. I wonder why I put so much emphasis on my job in comparison to seeking Him. It’s not that I don’t seek Him. I’m thinking in terms of attitude and time. I wonder why I worry when I miss a day or two of work, even for a vacation, and yet don’t worry if I miss I day or two of Scripture reading.

It’s a dangerous place and a dangerous time we live in. No, there are not guns held our heads. We are not (yet) compelled to renounce Christ or die. But how easy it is to set seeking Him aside in the pursuit of that which lasts no longer than the smoke from an extinguished candle. The seduction of this Western world and the hope of winning the prize of the dream made real clouds our thinking. We blend faith with culture and think God wants us to have the house and the cars and the corner office.

But what if that’s not His plan?

Do we even ask?

I may just be preaching to myself here, but I suspect not. I rise early to get to work on time, but do I even think of rising for Jesus? To spend time with Him? To lay myself at His feet?

Time of sweet, holy, worship. Thanking Him for who He is. Seeking to know Him more.

That is an occasion is should rise to.

Signature

SUBSCRIBE TO THE NEWSLETTER, REST STOPS ALONG THE WAY. PONDERINGS AND PUPPY VIDEOS DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX EACH SATURDAY(ISH).

Five Minute Friday: Follow

Add a little bit of body text (1)

Gentle Reader,

Tonight we spoke of eating our feelings, throwing things and longing for new bodies. We prayed for hurting doggies, discussed my upcoming book “Things That Make Me Cranky and the Food the Makes It Better,” shared Blacklist jokes (yes, that show comes up fairly consistently in conversation) and enjoyed the deep sort of soul-sigh that comes with being in the company of family.

Connected across the miles and denominations and food preferences.

Kate and the gang. We: follow.

Go.

Today was tough. Some stuff was said by some people, which pushed the ever-shortening fuse of my temper closer to the dynamite. I got quiet. (Nobody seems to realize that lack of speech is a warning sign. I might not be the most verbose of persons, but if I’m completely tight-lipped there’s a good chance it’s for the safety of others). I tried to keep my head down and just get through.

But really I wanted to cry.

I hate that. Emotions are so awful.

Of course, they aren’t really awful. They are God-given. I know that. As a person who is very much wired for the head-space and not the heart-space, however, emotions are difficult to handle. Often I don’t know what I’m feeling until the moment has passed. Sometimes it’s hours later.

I felt embarrassed. Publicly humiliated.

So I ate my feelings and put on my sweatpants and chatted with my lovely Twitter friends. All the while, I hear the Spirit speaking into my heart, “Follow Me.”

Why does He say this? I know without having to think. Because my reaction to those feelings was not good. My face was a blank mask (at least I hope it was), but my insides were ugly. I was throwing things. Name-calling. Screaming.

And following Him, while it means not that I ignore the hurt or gloss over the wrong, does involve letting that screaming, cussing, termagant die. It involves killing her. It looks like taking all that pain and frustration and dumping it at His feet. Asking Him to sort through my emotions and help me to feel them in a way that does not bind me tight.

Following Him means releasing the desire to whip around, look at those people and drop a list of their wrongs, failures and short-comings on their laps. It means not retaliating.

Following Him is hard.

So very hard.

Stop.

My journey to faith. (15)

Five Minute Friday: Good

But He was wounded for our

Gentle Reader,

Stepping into the soberness of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday with my beloved brothers and sisters of the Five Minute Friday crew. Gracious Kate provides the space. We contemplate: good.

Go.

By no means do I consider myself a poet of any real skill. Nevertheless, this week’s prompt called to mind the following words I wrote years ago:

The Death That Should Be”

The blows to

Strike me down

Knocked my Lord

Upon the crown

The insult designed

To hurt

Threw God upon

The dirt

The streets that

Ran red

Came from Him

Instead

The blackness,

A terror

Enveloped Him,

But no error

The death that

Should be – me

Rather experienced

By He

The pain, the loss,

The separation

All our inglorious

Damnation

Heaped upon

The One

Who created

Shining sun

Who calms the

Storm

Comforts

Forlorn

Struck fire on

Mt. Carmel

Every day –

A marvel

The Lord, the God,

The Master

Replacing me in

This disaster

Do I even

Really know?

What it would mean

To take such blow?

I think I have

No comprehension

Of this Heavenly

Condescension

How can it work

That I am free?

From the death

That should be me?

Stop.

Thank you, Jesus.

My journey to faith. (15)