Just this one relationship…

I doubt that there is anyone who has better friends or more friends than I do.  I am grateful to God and to my friends for the gift they are to me.

Yet, I find myself mourning the lack of family. I married late in life and do not have my own children. My husband now has dementia, which robs us of meaningful relationship.

This loss of not having a family becomes especially painful to me on holidays. It seems like everyone knows where they are going to spend the holiday and with whom. I always am invited somewhere, but it always feels like I am the added on one.

I have given you this background so that you have a context for what I want to say next.

My only nephew, who I do have a deep life- giving relationship with, lives in Houston. This week, he and his two step children, plus a cousin of these children, have visited this area and invaded my house as if it was their own.

On one of our days together I said, “I am so thankful to have this time with you because I don’t have a family.”

This cousin, who has just turned 15, seemed perplexed as he looked deep into my eyes and said, “You have a really big family.” He then went on to list the members of this extended Mexican family that was now claiming me as one of them.

My heart was stirred as my mind questioned. “What is the reason for him embracing me as family?”

Is it simply because my nephew married his aunt?

Is it just this one relationship that extends to me all the benefits of family?

How could this concept of family help us in the church?

What if we were to look deep into each other’s eyes and say that because you belong to Jesus, we belong to each other?

Just this one relationship…

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A Smile and a Receipt

(Please read yesterday’s post “I don’t feel like me” for context here.)

I woke up this morning to greet my new hair color and subsequently my new face in the mirror.

As I pondered and tried on different expressions, I found that when I smiled, the person looking back at me from the mirror was easier to accept. I forced myself to say, “Good Morning, you cute little brown thing!” and as I did. I couldn’t help but giggle.

I am determined to not mask this new me by returning to highlighted hair, but what I want to do is make a smile a standard component of who I am. Being a person who contemplates and reflects, this will take some practice. But I don’t think my propensity for contemplation and reflection needs to be done behind a somber face.

Instead of highlighting my hair, what if I embark on a mission to highlight my face with a smile? I like this thought.

And then there is the spiritual side, which is faithful to show up in every life transition, demanding a view from a higher plane.

Yesterday, just after I wrote “I don’t feel like me”, I returned to my Bible to finish the passage I had started earlier in the day. After just three verses I read, “Letyour true beauty come from your inner personality, not a focus on the external. For lasting beauty comes from a gentle and peaceful spirit, which is precious in God’s sight and is much more important than the outward adornment of elaborate hair, jewelry,[b] and fine clothes.” (from 1 Peter 3:4-5 TPT).

So more important to God that how I look in the mirror is that I have a gentle and peaceful spirit. He even turned the knife a little by specifically mentioning elaborate hair.

Maybe it’s time to receive what God has given me with thanksgiving. I have a beautiful head of brown hair that is consistent with a healthy body. He must think it’s appropriate for this next season of my life. I hope I don’t talk about it much anymore.

Instead, I want to put my energy into nurturing a gentle and peaceful spirit.

So, I put a smile on my face and with gratitude give God a receipt for what He has chosen to give me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I don’t feel like me

It’s when I look in a mirror.

The me that looks back at me is not the me I know. I even introduced myself to the me in the mirror, but no meaningful connection was made.

I go to my default of reason. I say, “You are not a person that spends time in front of a mirror anyway” or “Your identity is not in your outward appearance” or “There’s nothing different except for the color of your hair. It’s not a big deal!”

Yet, somehow it is a big deal. I am writing in an attempt to uncover the hidden meaning in my response.

This change of hair color has been in process for a little over a year. It was then that I decided that I no longer needed or wanted to “highlight my blond hair”! My reasons were many. I understood that adding the chemicals needed to highlight hair is not good for your body.  The salon visits were both financially expensive and time consuming. And, probably most importantly, I was ready and willing to be a grey haired lady, knowing it is the certain status of a woman who is free to reconcile her appearance with reality.

But now, instead of displaying a head of grey hair, I have dark brown hair on the top of my head and around my face. It has, of course, been gradually revealing itself, as such, over the course of this last year. But, it is this last haircut. where every semblance of the blond was cut off, that has left me with a self portrait that I don’t recognize.

As a little girl, I was Daddy’s blond blue eyed girl. As a teenager I had a blond ponytail. As a young adult, I visited the home of my Norwegian heritage looking like I belonged.  Sometime later,  I began highlighting my blond hair. Now, it seems that for decades I have been masking this occult transition from blond to brown.

I stand emotionally naked in front of the mirror.

It doesn’t help when friends, who have known me for decades, say “You don’t look  like you.” They tell me I should go back to blond.

I’m not ready to do that. I want to understand why this is such a big deal for me.

Until then, maybe I’ll wear a hat.

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Did I Miss the Parade?

I really don’t mind missing a parade. I know today is July 4 and a parade comes naturally to mind. For some it’s a tradition and a fun way to celebrate. Watching the parade implies appreciation for those passing by and what they represent. If your own child is in the parade, all else fades and you have one focus.

I’ve never been eager to attend a parade. It seems to me that you have to get there way too early if you want a good seat. There also seems to be a need to carry way too much stuff like chairs, umbrellas, blankets, water, food and possibly a dog. Then, you add all that goes with transporting a pet.

This year I am blessed as no one has invited me to watch a parade.

But, I have been intrigued these last few days with Colossians 2:15  “Then Jesus made a public spectacle of all the powers and principalities of darkness, stripping away from them every weapon and all their spiritual authority and power to accuse us. And by the power of the cross, Jesus led them around as prisoners in a procession of triumph. He was not their prisoner; they were his!    (Passion Translation)

Was there a parade that celebrated the victory of Jesus when He rose from the dead?

Is that parade still marching?

Maybe I need to go to this parade today and celebrate that my battle has been won!!!

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My Morning Gift

I have been expecting to see a doe and a baby fawn in our backyard. It usually happens in the spring.

A few days ago, my hope was realized as a mother doe walked carefully through the trees followed by a fawn. But the fawn was much larger than I had expected and was actually acting as though it had become acquainted with the world.

BUT THEN, another doe stepped forward and watched intently as her tiny spotted baby ran in circles, delighted that he could run, kicking his heels, leaping in the air and celebrating life.

I wondered if this was the first time he had space to discover the delight of being himself.

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False Reading…Please Try Again

Before I get to the point of this post, I need to share some of the background thoughts that have led to this moment of awareness.

As a nurse, although my practice dates decades, I have a distinct memory of learning various assessment techniques. In each case, the placement of the measurement tool is critical. The blood pressure cuff only works when applied correctly. The stethoscope needs to be placed directly over the area of concern.

I imagine most professions learn early in their experience that a measurement is of no value if it isn’t anchored to a secure starting point.

These observations would be too obvious to even write if it were not that they have been helpful to me in an area of spiritual struggle.

My confession is that when worship songs passionately declare that God is good and He never lets you down, I still secretly ponder, “I know He is good and He never lets you down, but I have a brutal picture in my memory of a time when He wasn’t good and He did let me down”. (For those of you who know my story, you will know this is the memory of the brutal death of my friend. For those of you who don’t know my story, this refers to a time when I trusted, really trusted, that my prayers for mercy would be answered in a way I could understand.)

I expect some of you are thinking, “This happened a year and a half ago. Why is she still talking about it?” For this I don’t apologize because it is my honest experience. Last week the grief I thought I had processed came crashing back. That’s my reality.

So, Sunday in corporate worship, I engage in my internal mental dance. I try to push myself into celebrating that God is good and never lets me down. When the picture of this 36 years of unrelenting suffering, that led to a brutal death, comes crashing into my consciousness ,I say to myself, “ I have to choose to trust what God says about Himself and not what I saw happen.”

I surrender my understanding, laying it on the alter, and in its place, embrace His promises. I’ve done this for a long time and it works, to a point, but it is a lot of work.

Then, this Sunday, my spirit encountered a new question. “When you question My goodness (the question was asked gently, knowing I knew that my questioning His goodness was a secret I didn’t even want Him to know), are you measuring in the right place?”

Suddenly, I realized that my struggle to celebrate His goodness was located in the blood stained mobile home where it felt like He left me. Together we moved to the blood stained cross, and He asked me to do my measuring there.

New Reading: My friends Victory was won before her struggle began.

Where do you go to measure God’s goodness?

 

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May I Listen In?

It seems like a bold request that I am making directly to all three Persons of the Trinity.

I am risking this question because of a comment where prayer was described as joining a conversation that is already taking place between the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. So then, my asking to listen in is not an original idea but it is a new step for me.

It’s not that I don’t daily enjoy intimacy with God. I  know that Jesus is interceding for us. It’s stunning to realize that the Designer of the universe is talking to His and our Father about you and about me. I know that the Holy Spirit prays for us in ways that are too deep for us to understand. The very words I am writing are too deep for me to understand but I am taking a step of faith and asking the Trinity if I can listen in as they talk.

I have postured myself in a quiet place and am simply being still; listening intentionally with awe, respect and expectation.

I don’t know if I will actually hear words. I’m wondering, if I do hear words, what language they will be in. I suppose our Father speaks uniquely to each of us in ways he knows we will understand.

My listening now is interrupted by God’s “voice”.

But what I am hearing is not coming to me through words but rather it is a gripping awareness. I am being given a view that I know is through God’s lens. The picture is wrapped in gentleness and intimacy.

He is confiding to me that the people that I love are very precious to Him. Yes, he deeply loves the people that I love.

As I process this I realize that this is all I am going to hear right now.

I feel free to amplify it to mean that the people that I hold close to my heart are also close to God’s heart.

I don’t love you randomly. God has orchestrated our relationship and we are walking together by Divine design.

That means I treat you as a rare and priceless piece of art; a one of a kind creation. It means I treasure you, am careful with you and am grateful to you.

It means I recognize that you are gift from God and I am a channel through which He can love you.

 

 

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