Sunday, April 29, 2012

To Hold 100 Balloons & Fly Away

Source: Pinterest

Tonight I want to. To hold 100 balloons and fly away. I want to see the sunrise before anyone else. To spot it from my cozy spot up, up, up -way up high. Smiling at the moment we share alone - just me and the sun. 

I want to be untamed. The good kind. Wild and in my natural state, the way God intended me to be. I want to paint in red regardless of the color palette. Leaving behind the thoughts of being too much or too little.

I want to walk up to the fire and confront it. Face to face. So close that my eyes reflect the flame and the smell of smoke lingers in my hair. I want to burn without burning out.

I'd like to drink coffee with the mystics and smile. Laugh at their mysteries knowing that I know One who knows all and sees all. Look them in their eyes and tell them to keep looking, for they haven't found it yet.  

I want to send postcards from the unknown. Skipping over five-point stars high in a dreamy sky with effortless motion. I want to hold His hand and hear Him call me 'darling' while He shows me what 'on earth as it is in heaven' means.

I want to go further than I have been told I could. I want to laugh harder than is lady-like. I want to dream something so magnificent I will never be bored. I want to scare hell to death.

  I want to hold 100 balloons and fly away. 


Saturday, April 28, 2012

When All Is Said & Done...

When all is said and done I must land on this phrase. Despite what I interpret my situation to be. Regardless of what my fears & experience tell me. May God be true and every man a liar. He is good.  It is not okay, do-able, or so-so. It is WELL with my soul.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Throw Back Thursday- Your Shoes Are Too Small

This week's Throw Back Thursday is an old favorite of mine...

You have probably heard about foot binding. Its an ancient Chinese practice which involved wrapping a young girls feet so tightly that they were prevented from growing. It wasn't uncommon for the bones in the feet to break in the process. Often times severe deformities resulted, infections set in and sometimes girls died in the process. The confines of the shoe and bandages created an handicap that women had to live with for the rest of their lives.

So, why am I telling you that your shoes are too small? You are most likely not Chinese & there is a 50/50 chance that you aren't a woman either. But, I bet your shoes are too small too. How do I know? Because we have big shoes to fill.

Just like little kids feet, we need room to grow. Or we get distorted and walk with a limp. Why are your shoes too small? Because your dreams are meant to grow bigger. God's calling for your life is meant to increase and the fruit you produce is meant to be abundant. As followers of Jesus, it is our destiny to grow.

If we live in the limitations, fears, and comfortable places of a previous stage then we begin to get ingrown. We believe a lie that we don't have anywhere important to go anyway. So, who cares what shoes we wear? Our dreams press against our capacity and we feel inverted and confused. We need new shoes for new seasons.

I need to be regularly putting on larger shoes. Making sure that I have room to wiggle my toes and grow into them as God increases in my life. After walking with Him for a while, there won't be room anymore. On with another pair. More room for dreaming & advancing. More capacity to run in roomy shoes.

We bind our own feet too often. We are afraid to get bigger.

"What if I walk this road alone? I'd rather just wait in this place and grow into these shoes when I get married."
 "If I walk out, no one will follow me. They won't trust what I bring to the table."
"I just got comfortable here. I don't want anything to change."
or the ever popular:
"I'm not gifted. I don't have anything to grow at all. I'm just meant to watch other people do the cool stuff. I observe, others participate."

Except a funny thing happens. The tissues and fibers of who we are keep expanding anyway. Even when we try and stay in the same old shoes. It begins to get uncomfortable. Following Jesus is irritating because we get blisters. Eventually we just sit down and stop going anywhere. It hurts too bad. The longer we sit the greater our disfunction grows.

And that is where a lot of us are. Sitting on a curb waiting for our feet to stop hurting. Dreams, calling, destiny, capacity...they are all pushing against the boundary begging to be let loose. Risking again on love. Risking again on pain. Risking again to breathe.

And then a fabulous thing happens. When we are rubbing our stubby toes wondering what happened to our lives, Jesus comes. Tells us to stop being so scared. Stop being so comfortable. Stop thinking we can't walk any further. He puts these enormous shoes before us. The shoes of Heaven that contain limitless power, hope, and destiny. We are terrified to put them on because we know we can't fill them. Not only that, but our little feet are tiny and tangled.

We forget that Jesus is a healer. He touches the deformities and they straighten. The skin and bones go back into place and the painful sores go away. He puts the too-good-to-be-true shoes on. The kind we dreamed of wearing when we were little children.

Jesus takes our hand and gently walks with us. Helping us as we go. Little feet tripping along in big shoes. Before we know it, our feet begin to grow again. The shoes aren't so big anymore. Then we begin to run. We remember how fabulous it feels to run. How could we have forgotten the sensation of taking new ground?

Maybe your new shoes look like a relationship. Maybe they look like a new business venture. A move to a distant land. The revival of a dream that has nearly expired. Could be letting go of a fear that has held you back and controlled you. Leaving behind an old identity for a new one...

All of us have new shoes waiting to be worn into fresh ground. Remember, we are meant to be a Church that says " On earth as it is in Heaven!". To do that we need Kingdom shoes. Will you risk putting them on?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Getting Lost & A Midnight Mass


It is a little known fact about me. Amid the type A drive and tendency to hurry, I adore being lost. It is true that I am 1/32nd Cherokee & can tell time by looking at the shadow of my horse - but, I do in fact get lost often. Like the time I went to Italy...

My friend Connie & I flew into Milan with our backpacks and a gust of whimsy. The plan was to catch a train to Slovenia for a few days and then explore some fine Italian cities. After landing we headed straight to the main train station. Naturally, there was a train strike when we arrived & we were stranded. Stranded in Milan. During fashion week. Whoops. There we were surrounded by very eccentric fashionistas & a large group of angry Russian women. For some reason, they filled the women's restroom and were not inclined to share it. It was the only warm spot in the train station and the Russians had dibs on it apparently. Through some United Nations style negotiating, my friend Connie was able to get us on a train to Venice. Hungry & barely awake we lugged ourselves off the train in Venice and began our hunt for our hotel. It was the Hotel Albergo.

It was just after 10pm when we got to Venice and we spent what seemed like days saying, "Scuzi! Dove e Albergo?" The boisterous Italians would flash a smile , point a direction & say a slew of words we couldn't understand. It didn't take us long to realize our mistake. Albergo wasn't the name of our hotel. It was the Italian word for hotel. We wrote it down wrong. Hours we spent going from Albergo to Albergo hoping to find one that had our reservation. 

Dizzy from wandering around the canals, Connie & I stumbled upon a midnight mass and sat in the back row happy for a rest. Watching a foreign expression of worship in a foreign tongue was quite spectacular. The droning of the prayers and devotion of these faces lit by midnight candles was enchanting. When it was over I was a bit more rested and ready to continue our hunt for the infamous "Albergo". 

Luckily, or perhaps by divine providence, we found it a few minutes later. The owner's son was attending the front desk of the small hotel. I don't remember his name, but he was possibly the only ugly Italian male we saw during our visit. He had the hots for my friend & proposed every time we entered & left the hotel. Oh, the Italians.

To be honest we pretty much spent the entire 10 days lost in Italy. We stalked nuns to the Vatican, had a pair of shoes made by a cobbler we found on the Isle of Capri, we were blessed by the Pope, & stumbled into hidden eateries that the travel channel overlooked by serious error. We stood in the dark & crooked catacombs outside of Rome and watched an elderly nun cry as she explained the story of the Christians forced to hide in there.

Our train ride through Tuscany consisted of us and a group of Italian soldiers coming home from basic training. They broke out bottles of wine and sang old Italian songs while the Tuscan countryside passed by out the window. They sat and stared and asked multiple times if they could kiss us. We said no, and they left it at that going back to their singing. Oh, those Italians.

None of these activities had been on our To-Do list. Each step of the trip was calculated before we left. I spent $1,000 total on the 10 day trip. Yes, that is INCLUDING airfare. (Just try and beat me on travel deals, I dare you). Despite my best planning efforts, the entire thing was a series of missing trains and getting lost.

That's just the way life goes sometimes. We get lost, away from our planning & calculations. Lost in strange towns with people we had no intention of meeting. You end up heading north instead of south and going when you were supposed to stay. Your 5 year plan for your life got stuck in an old journal and God has created a new route for you to take. 

Lost in adventures you didn't see coming. We should put down our maps a bit more often & get lost.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Wish My Heart Would Memorize This

Source: Pinterest

I wish my heart would memorize this. I need to know it better than I do. It would be quite helpful if my brain would yell it at me when I start worrying. Worrying that I'm not giving my kids what they need. Worrying that I won't keep people interested in my projects. Worrying I will regret my decisions and want a do-over. I worry about a lot of things. Worrying is a form of fear that I justify. It can seem even practical and responsible to 'worry'. But it is fear. And it is a liar.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Dumbest Trends I've Taken Part In

Six weeks of resurrecting my favorite old posts. This week's throw back Thursday is...

We were riding in the car home from IKEA and I thought about a really stupid trend from jr high...which got me wondering...What are the dumbest trends I've taken part in. Here they are. Don't judge me.

1. Pillsbury Dough Boy Shirts. Who came up with this??? Great for Pillsbury, bad for everyone one else. I honestly don't know why this had such mass appeal, but I had one. I wore it often with my wide leg pants. It's such a wonder I didn't have a boyfriend.

2. Long chains hanging from jean pockets. Okay, I didn't personally have this, but I dated several guys who sported this look. Which means I was attracted to this trend, and that is far worse. Point? Whats the point? Maybe they were supposed to look tough, but I doubt James Dean would have worn one.

3. Beanie Babies. Why did we believe that these were going to be super valuable and we should all collect them? I didn't exactly collect them, but I did get some as gifts. I kept them because they were supposed to be worth millions by 2025 or something. Obviously, that didn't quite pan out.

4. "You Go Girl". I think that I may have said this phrase a few times in 2001. A decision I deeply regret. Thankfully, this phrase is no longer in use with the exception of a few middle-aged white women.

5. Spiral Perms. In elementary school, my parents had a brief lapse in judgement. This included letting me get a perm. A spiral perm. Permanent spirals are never good...its very similar to vertigo. Which, is what you would get if you saw pictures of me in first grade.

6. The Macarena. Apart from the 'Bunny Hop' this is the dumbest dance. I proudly danced the macarena. I think it is because it is one of the only dances I could do. Still, this whole macarena thing should never have happened. 

7. Rope Sandals. Yes, it is what you think. Sandals made out of rope. Perhaps you don't remember this trend. I'm not sure if it was a wide spread thing, but at Midway High School or Highland Baptist Youth was. I had them & I looked like a hippie...which isn't my best look. And they smelled. 

8. Brick colored lipstick. I don't know why all lipstick in the late 90s was the color of a faded brick, but it was. Including mine. The cast of 'Friends' pulled it off...but no one else. Actually they didn't either, but their haircuts carried them through. 

9. Uggs with all day gym wear. The only person who need this outfit is an aerobic eskimo. I did this a few times in college...hey, I was in a sorority. What do you expect?

10. AOL Chatrooms. Ha! Yes, I did on occasion visit chat rooms. Thankfully Facebook came along and put an end to these. I hope. 

Okay, those are my top ten. Feel free to write yours in the comments.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Hurried, Frantic & No Where To Go

Some days every hour is rush hour.

Under most circumstances, I like flowers. But not on days like today. In fact, these stupid flowers might be the straw that breaks the camel's back. The fluffy white dandelions were too big a temptation for my kids to resist. They blew them, stepped on them, & threw them. It was so irritating. Especially since I had given a pep talk before leaving the house, "Okay, guys. We are going straight to the car. Not to the swing set or patio. To the car!". With my impatient accusation of the delay they were causing, I was finally able to get them in the van to go. Driving through the neighborhood I am thinking about how ridiculous this is. Why can't they get in the car? No way it should take 5 min to leave the house. We need to GO!

The funny thing is that we are just going to the grocery store. It really didn't make a difference if they played in flowers for 5 min. No big deal, right? Except it was a big deal to me. I was in a hurry. I have found myself in a hurry a lot lately.

Busy - (adj.) actively and attentively engaged in work or a pastime ; engaged in action; occupied; being    in use.

Hurry - (verb) to perform with undue haste; to impel to rash action; to impel to greater speed

I manage my schedule to keep me from being overly busy, but I don't manage my emotions to keep me from being hurried. This rushing, urgent attitude follows me on my days off, it makes me rush to finish projects around the house and causes me to be quickly impatient. It is an attitude problem not a scheduling problem. Why do I chase phantom deadlines? Why do I feel the need to be so rushed and stressed?

A few weeks ago at church a psychologist spoke on stress. He said that stress was the new status symbol. I think he is right. We get together and talk about how busy we are. "It is such a crazy week. I have been going non-stop...." The more stressed, pressured, and busy we are - the more important we are. It would be socially unacceptable now to not be busy, stressed and hurried. You would get a negative image as if you were a leach on the rest of our hard working society. A bum. 

My whirlwind mind is proof of this. Sure, the laundry & cleaning keeps me busy. But the non-stop pressure to do more is what keeps me exhausted. I look on Pinterest and suddenly have to throw my 3 yr old a party that would merit re-pinning. I see other people's blogs who spend so much time manicuring their sites, and writing these brilliant pieces. On top of that I should probably butcher and grow all my own food, teach my children French, run a shop on Etsy to bring in some extra cash...I better move faster if I am going to get it all done.

Problem is, I can't move faster. Maybe you can & everything I listed above you accomplish by Tuesday of every week. I have found that I can't hurry any more. My schedule may get busier & that's okay, but this hurried attitude is just too much. My brain hurts by 4pm. I have to find rest & peace. 

When I feel the pressure of dreams, promises & hopes, I have to remind myself that I don't carry the responsibility of bringing them to pass. I have to trust that I have time to play in flowers on the way to the grocery store. I have to trust that God is building things and holding my significance in Him. I must remember that He will make all things happen, not me.

I am at rest, because He is at work. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Stuff I Said In The 90s.

I wasn't allowed to watch 'My So Called Life', but I wanted their clothes. 

When people say 'ten years ago', I assume that means 1997. But now 10 years ago is the 2000s. Just another reminder that I am getting older. As I was in bed last night, I began thinking about the 90s. The good old days when times were simpler and Clarissa really could explain it all. Not only that, but there were bad makeup colors, cropped tops, guys who bleached their hair tips yellow...oh, dear. 
Since I couldn't sleep (perhaps the horror of remembering bleached tips and puka shell necklaces?) I made a list of things I said in the 90s. Enjoy!

  1. That's dope - an entire generation refering to something 'cool' as being a narcotic. What was wrong with us? Didn't we take D.A.R.E. in elementary school?
  2. Ugh! I forgot to rewind the video! Remember when Blockbuster had those posters in their stores saying 'Be Kind. Rewind.' ? I still forgot. 
  3. Aiight  If we needed a shorter version of 'Alright' why didn't we just say 'ok'?
  4. How many beanie babies do you have? The measure of a persons worth...
  5. I want a love like Cory & Topanga. This couple from Boy Meets World was one of the most iconic of the 90s. Until Ross & Rachel came along.
  6. All that & a bag of chips! See, we didn't really think this one through. Chips are cheap, full of fat, and found in vending machines. Why is that a compliment?
  7. I need a new CD player. Mine keeps skipping. Most likely the result of my dropping it a lot.
  8. Talk to the hand! So. Stupid.
  9. Whoops! I forgot to feed my Tamagotchi. 
  10. Sorry I missed your call! My brother was on the internet. Kids today will never understand the tension that comes from wanting to play Oregon Trail on the internet & having to get off because someone needs to use the phone.
I am sure this has jogged your memory. I'd love to hear your additions!!!

Source: Pinterest


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Throwback Thursday: Why Hope Hurts

I am doing a little min-series over these next six weeks: Throwback Thursday. Every Thursday I am going to re-post some one Lark & Bloom's most popular posts. Enjoy!

Round, round & round again...

Hope: To cherish a desire with anticipation. 

We have each felt it. All of humanity since the creation of dreams. Hope. It elevates and stabs simultaneously. The desire for something to come. The expectation of an unfulfilled promise or destiny. Or perhaps simply a wish. Despite the size or seeming significance, our lives somehow hang in the balance of this anticipation of a hope. Mothers in Somalia right now are hoping for food. Friends of mine are hoping for spouses. Parents are hoping that their children will be okay despite the diagnosis of autism. Slaves are hoping for freedom in India. America is hoping for economic stability...  I am hoping to finish our adoption of two little Ugandan kids. Ford & Etta. I tear up just writing their names. Today was another day gone by that it didn't happen. We each hope for something. We are each waiting for something. 

I wish I could put on my 'godly' hat and say that it is another opportunity to practice patience. But it doesn't feel like a sermon illustration. Some heart wrenching story of the faithfulness of God. It's my life. It just feels like waiting. Again. The days turn into months... turn into years. It hurts to hope. 

We fight off doubt. "Did God forget his promise?" , "I must have done something wrong." , "If it hasn't happened by now, it probably won't". At what point do we throw in the towel? Hope hurts because we have to believe.

We begin to wonder if we sound ridiculous. "I know that we have prayed for 5 years, but I believe my sister is going to get healed." , "God promised a wife for me. I know that there is someone coming." , "He said that he would transform this city/nation/people. I know God is going to come through." Hope hurts because we have to risk.

We have to revisit disappointment over and over. Fight off discouragement and bitterness at unfulfilled desires. Our best efforts start to fall short. Rallying enough inner fight we face another day. Praying that this is the year of breakthrough. Hope hurts because it is exhausting.

Usually when hope reaches the point of pain, we have been in the fray for years. Our resources and lives have been spent. Placing everything we are on the promise that God will be faithful. We make decisions on the premise that our hope will be fulfilled & our hearts will not be left wanting. Hope is all we have left, because we let go of everything else.  Hope hurts because it is all on the line.

Our ability to control outcomes is removed. Circumstances and environments are not interpreted with worldly wisdom. Often we don't know what else to do but stand where we are. Praying that God moves something somewhere. Facing a mountain range with a cardigan and sandals. Unprepared in the natural to tackle the spiritual. Abilities and carnal strength are no match for the promise. Our fleshly nature dies. Hope hurts because it kills us. 

So, why hope? Why endure? I will tell you why I hope:

I hope because despite the immediate situation, I know something more of Jesus. I understand the comfort of a generous Savior. I hope because when there is nothing left in me there is always more of God. I hope because I have to. I was made to carry dreams of God. We all were. I hope because I want to ascend into the heights with Christ that the earth may be oppressed no more. One promise at a time. We cry in the process, but ALWAYS are victorious. In my need He is glorified and I am satisfied. I hope because the One who makes the promise, is the One who keeps the promise.

"...No one whose hope is in You will ever be put to shame..."
         Psalm 25:3

Monday, April 9, 2012

Babysitting For A Murderer

Stickers on at a bus stop in Seattle.

 It was 2005 and our apartment was on top of a Safeway & a Starbucks. I got in the elevator, went down one floor and the smell of brewing coffee met me. Have I mentioned how much I love Seattle?

I spent lots of time in that Starbucks and became friends with a barista named Autumn. She had dyed black hair, plugs in her ears, piercings in her face and tattoos on most of her skin. We hit it off from the beginning. I would invite her to church up in my living room on Sundays and she would return the warm gesture by inviting me to her burlesque parties. Neither of us ever took the other up on the invites.

Slowly my friendship with Autumn began to grow. We couldn't be more different and yet oddly we found the other refreshing. After about a month she was my closest Seattle friend. I would meet her when she got off work & ride the bus with her. She lived near the campus I went to regularly to meet college students. We would talk about God and she would ask me questions I didn't have answers to. "I can't answer that. You just have to meet Him for yourself" I would say.

Autumn had a one year old little girl named Opal & a boyfriend named Merlin. Like the wizard. He changed his name to Merlin because he hated God and felt that naming himself after a wizard would reinforce that point (this is Seattle remember).  Meeting Merlin was nothing compared to what came next.

The big news came in a parking garage when I was about to give her a ride home. She was talking about slam poetry and mentioned that she started performing in prison. Uh...prison? That's when it came out. She was a murderer. Mind you we are alone in a dark parking garage when I make this discovery. Freaking out inside, faking a causal smile on the outside. The crime wasn't intentional, but it happened all the same.

Two weeks later I found myself driving to Autumn's house at 6:30am. Opal needed a babysitter while Autumn went and got her drug treatment at a nearby rehab clinic. I sat with a sleepy Opal for an hour in Autumns room. Very much a reflection of Autumn's life, her room was a wreck. It was decorated with black ravens and pornographic pictures of herself. It was the darkest place.

I would sit and rock little Opal while singing worship songs to try and keep my sanity. I would bring my Bible and read scripture , pray & declare promises over Opal's life. Autumn would come back and we would walk Opal to her daycare. Then we would drive back to my apartment. She would start her shift at Starbucks and I would go home and make breakfast.

I did that for about two weeks until Autumn was able to get Opal into daycare earlier. You may read this and think me some sort of Christian hero, but I am not. If I had visited her house before offering to babysit, I would never have volunteered.

 I learned a few things during my time with Autumn & Opal.

First, I learned that in really dark places God's presence glows the brightest. Autumn's creepy bedroom changed completely when I worshiped and prayed with little Opal. The ravens were overshadowed by the goodness and lightness of God. All else melted away. It didn't matter how dark and oppressive the environment was, it mattered that I met God there.

Second, I realized that the Church isn't going to change the world by promoting a certain agenda. It is going to change the world by sitting in creepy living rooms. Holding babies that aren't ours. Listening to stories that make us uncomfortable. The Church is going to change the world by loving and serving the broken & knowing that without the grace of God their mistakes could have been our mistakes.

Third I realized that the goal of loving people isn't for a happy ending. This story didn't have a happy ending at all. They disappeared without telling me where they moved. No one gave their life to Jesus or came to church. I told Autumn once that even though she doesn't want Jesus now, some day she might. And if she ever does, she can call upon Him and He will come without delay. I'm hoping she remembers that & in heaven I can find out it was a happy ending after all. We don't love so that we have great stories of happy endings. We love people because God loves them, and that is reason enough.

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Good Friday Indeed


It is indeed Good Friday. The day we remember Jesus and what He did on the cross. I often wonder what it felt like between the time Jesus died and the moment word spread of His resurrection. Those moments surely seemed so dark and confusing. What would it feel like to think that evil wins? I think I would feel trapped. Caught in the heaviness of disappointment and the death of Hope.  Feeling that there is nothing big for me to believe in. No significance. Simply death & silence. Friday Hope died, Saturday Evil ruled for a day, Sunday Life overcame Death. 

Typing this, I am reminded that there are millions of people who are living in that reality right now. They don't know that the greatest victory has been won. They are stuck in the Saturday between the death and life. Their ears don't ring with the cheers of Easter, only the cries of broken hearts. 

As I was getting my son dressed today, I was thinking that it isn't possible for me to love someone enough to willingly put my little boy through pain or much less death. I just wouldn't do it. My brain cannot fathom how deep and rich a love it would take for a parent to let their child suffer...and yet that is the amount of love God had. What an extravagant and intense love He has for me. What an extravagant and intense love He has for you. For all the people of the earth that have ever lived, are living, and will live in generations to come.

To be loved with an Overcoming Love. It is a very good Friday indeed.

Monday, April 2, 2012

I Am Moving To Milwaukee

Stupid trees...

I had been planning on sharing some significant insights that this past week exposed. However, it appears that I am allergic to the entire state of Texas. Really. I live in a fog these past few days. Thus the lack of posts from this week. 

Tonight I sat at my computer and was plagued by the inability to think beyond..., well to think period. The logical thing would be to look up the name of a good allergist in my town. That's not really my style though. Instead I google the best places to live if you have allergies. 

Thanks to Google, I am considering a move to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. When I hear the words Milwaukee and Wisconsin the only thing that comes to mind is beer & cheddar. I did a bit more research and am happy to report there are a few more thing the city boasts about:

  • 14 miles of great lakes shoreline - Dislike the ocean, but like lakes. This is looking good.
  • They claim to have the sexiest building on the plant- This title goes to their art museum, but I have no idea who makes those decisions.
  • It as been nicknamed the "Genuine American City"- I am an American, so I should fit right in.
  • The Comet Cafe is a city favorite. They were featured on Food Network for their famous bacon wrapped meatloaf - If that isn't a selling point, I don't know what is.
  • Milwaukee is home to the Wisconsin State Fair - I think we all now how fun that is.
I'm not making any rash decisions. I'll sleep on it, but Milwaukee looks nice with their low pollen counts and all. Who's with me?