Friday, December 10, 2010

A time to mourn and a time to dance!

It has been one of the busiest weeks I have know in a long time. I’m tired. Ready for a break. I wish I could clear off the calendar, even just for a few hours to breath deeply and refocus. But for the next few days, life is plotted out for me. Obligations I can’t avoid, places I need to be, studying that needs to be done, work that needs to be finished, and loving that needs to be given. As I think about the craziness of my week, emotionally, physically, mentally, I have to take a step back. My crazy week, has been nothing compared to the crazy 6 months that my grandma and dad have lived. My heart is heavy for them. Today, they will mourn, once again, the death of a father and granddad.

It has been a life altering 6 months for my grandma. After fighting a good fight with cancer, my papa left this world this fall. Picking up the pieces for her has been a taunting task. 52 years, day in and day out, spent with your partner, your best friend, your other half, is a lost I cannot fathom. She’s been strong, she’s been weak, she’s laughed, she’s cried. In a tiny town, there is not much available to distract you from the loss, but somehow she has managed to get up everyday, and create some sense of a new life. A new life that would not have been possible if it were not for the sacrifices my dad has made. For the past 6 months, his life has not been his own. In his own grief, he was able to love my grandma and provide security, strength and gentleness to help her get through her own. He has and continues to stop whatever he is doing in order to take her phone call, make a visit, answer her questions, or to offer encouragement to try new things. He has been the son every mother longs for, and as his daughter I could not be more proud.

Today, all the emotions of loss overwhelm them once again. My great grandfather lived a long life. At 95, he will be placed to rest. My grandma will mourn, not only the lost of her dad, but she will remember papa today as well. Her heart will be broken, the tears will flow, the questions will come. But I pray too, that she remembers. Remembers the lives lived. The memories made. And is able to grasp the hope of Ephesians 5:20 “In all things give praise.” May today the blessings of her dad and the joys of my papa bring her peace. My dad will put on his beautiful armor of strength. He will put aside his mourning and be the rock of the family. He will speak tender words of a life well lived, he will sing sweet melodies of praise, he will be the shoulder my grandmother leans into. But his heart too will ache, tears will come, and his mind will be rushed with not only memories with his granddad, but memories of his father as well. As he musters the strength to lead my family out of this loss, I pray that he remembers he’s not alone. I pray for the promises of Isaiah 41:10 to consume him. “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

I look forward to spending my afternoon with these two. Amidst the tears, the loss, the grieving, I know there will be laughter, hugs and memories made. Our God is good, and I am thankful.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Holidays have been, for me, a matter of running here and there, trying to fit in as much family as I can, and overwhelmed with making sure everyone is given equal quality time. Sometimes in the midst of scheduling and planning, I forget to take the time to remember and to be thankful. Thursday, was about taking that time and counting my blessings. I am learning that no matter what life's circumstances may be, there are blessings and praises to be given.

I started my day, by heading over to my dad's. When I arrived, I was overwhelmed with family I haven't seen in a very long time. The coolest part, was that 3 new people joined in on our family feast. People that didn't have a place to go. A widow, a single lady, and a prodigal son. In the midst of whatever life circumstances they were in, they were there laughing, sharing their stories, and giving thanks.

It was my grandma's first holiday with out my papa, her husband of 52 years. He was truly missed, but seeing her laugh, hearing her stories, and watching her love on people remided me that no matter what life brings, there is much to be thankful for.

After stuffing our faces with amazing food (great job daddy!) games, hugs, kisses and goodbyes, I headed down the road. This year was different. Instead of heading out to farms of Victoria, VA, I was driving into a beautiful sunset in the mountains of Charlottesville.

Previously in the week tradegy struck in the lives of some family. The joy and excitment of the birth of two precious babies, was quickly cut short by a horrific car acciendent that involved their dad. As I knocked on the door, my heart was heavy. I was greeted with warm smiles and encompassing embraces. It was bitter sweet. There were these two beautiful babies that exuded joy, happiness, and hope. But the absence of their daddy, knowing he was in a hopsital unable to enjoy the first precious moments of these lives, brought saddness, questions, and despair.

It was a privilege, however, being in their home that night. In the middle of this nightmare of a circumstance, there was this undescribable love, sense of togetherness, and strength. They counted their blessings and were thankful despite what faced them.

Yesterday, I went and celebrated the life of a beautiful woman, a life that will be missed. She lived her life with one purpose, giving thanks and praises to her Creator. She knew that no matter what bumps and hiccups came her way, that God was for her. Her persepective never shifted from what He was doing, it never got bogged down with the questions or with doubt. She lived a life of praise and giving thanks. Ms. Laura, we will miss you, but are forever grateful for the example your life has been, and the legacy you have left.

It's been a great Thanksgiving. I am thankful for my family. We may not be perfect, we may have made poor choices and have caused hurt, but I love them, I cherish them, and they will forever be mine. I am thankful for my friends. We may no always get along, we may not keep in touch as we should, we may not always understand one another, but they bring so much love, laughter and joy into my life. I am thankful for my church, PCC challenges me and PCC walks along side of me through lifes ups and downs. I am thankful for my job, a roof over my head, food in my pantry. I am thankful for health, smiles of strangers, beautiful sunrises and sunsets. I am thankful for quiet early mornings with a cup of coffee, my journal and the Bible. I am thankful for Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. And I am thankful that no matter what mess I find myself in, no matter what mountains stand in my way, that I can stop and look around for blessings, for things to be thankful for and my cup runneth over!

1 Thessalonians 5:116-18 "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Random Thoughts

Aimless Routine by Katy Kinard

I'd prefer they were dead, all the thoughts in my head . . .shove em down, shove em down. Been a month since I read any words that You said. I feel crowded and burned out. I'll take a cup of apathy, drink it with my dull routine. Surely it's not good for me

Ignoring you just to believe. Ignoring you so I can breathe. And I don't want to leave, I'm just finding it easy to be a changeless machine. And you're patiently fighting to wake me from lying inside this aimless routine.

Lying on this plateau in my "I don't care" mode, it's so cozy. It's so cozy. Far away from the grey and those unanswered prayers that I don't see . . . cause I'm not asking. And I'm far from what I can't explain. Kinda far from your embrace. Maybe it's not good to stay

Ignoring you just to believe. Ignoring you so I can breathe. And I don't want to leave, I'm just finding it easy to be a changeless machine. And you're patiently fighting to wake me from lying inside this aimless routine.

If I wake from my sleep, will you show me your heart? If I give you the keys, will you lead me to park in your peace? Cause I don't want to be

Ignoring you just to believe. Ignoring you so I can breathe. And I don't want to leave, I'm just finding it easy to be a changeless machine. And you're patiently fighting to wake me from lying inside this aimless routine.

I had a good friend share this song with me last week. Today, I happen to come across it again. As I sit here and relate to the lyrics I realize, I NEED TO MOVE. The past three months have been a challenge. There have been some amazing mountain top experiences and there have been some pretty dark valleys. But lately I have been "lying on this plaeatu in my "I don't care" mode." I feel numb, emotionless, and apathetic.

There are steps to take that are going to be painful--I just need to take them.

There are perspectives that will take work to change---I just need to start the process.

There are habits to be broken and habits that need to begin--I just need to do it.

There are people I need to let in--I just need to be real.

There are people's opinions that I need to stop letting define me--I just need to stand up.

There is fear, anxiousness, and insecurites---I just need to seek Him!!!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Taking time to stop . . .

I could not ask for a better back drop to write. I am on a balcony that over looks the James River. The night is still, the lights of the city are beautiful and the sound of the river soothes me. Tonight is the first night in eleven days that I have been able to stop and be still. The last three days I have been running on nothing but fumes. I have booked my schedule to capacity. Tonight, I am making some time for reflection---something I have set out to do more of, but have failed miserably.

I could write on my 10+ day fast from Facebook, or why when I step out and try something new, I am crushed by comparisons that make me feel completely inadequate. I could write about how it disturbs me that Henry blacks out all the faces in his drawings or about talking donkeys.

But as I sit here and listen . . . I am captivated. Captivated by the stillness and the beauty. So tonight, I am writing about stopping.

I am reminded about God taking Abraham outside. This week I have been trapped by the eight foot ceilings--I haven’t been able to see beyond my limitations. But tonight, I was nudged to step outside. And it is here that I remember, His dream is much larger than mine. I am finding peace in the sound of the rolling river, hope in the light of the stars, and purpose from the Creator of this big beautiful world. It is out here that my mind is able to let go of all the senseless questions, all the mindless worries and I am calmed.

I need to stop worrying, because by worrying I am not trusting. I need to stop trying so hard, because I can’t do it on my strength alone. I need to stop running, because by running I can’t be healed. I need to stop doubting, and stand on what I believe.

Nothing ended today as it started . . .my agenda, my blog. But that’s okay.

I have learned it is important to follow those nudges. I am thankful for the nudge to stop, and for the nudge to step outside. Because it here that He met me, here that He reminded me that He is bigger, that He is able, and that He is with me.

So I am stopping--stopping life for a little bit and staying out here under the stars, by the river, and in the presence of His crazy love.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My Voice

I am on this journey to find my voice, my identity. Today, I am taking a break from moving forward. I am stopping to take a look back and reflect on from where I have come. As I look back, I see who I have been, and I am saddened. I see that instead of taking the time to explore who I was created to be, I have wasted my time by creating myself in the image of people who I have admired and have looked up to. I have lived my life by mimicking their actions, speaking their words and by claiming their purposes and passions.

By dedicating my life to becoming more like them, I realize that I have never given ME a chance. I have failed to believe that I was created unique, different, and special. I focused on every flaw in disgust and refused to see those flaws as an opportunity for HIS beauty to be shown.

I have taken that place in my heart that was designed to be completely consumed by ONE thing and have distributed it over the years to idols that were not worthy. I thought that being more like them would create this world where I felt loved, and adored, cherished and looked up to. I thought there would be fulfillment and success, happiness and confidence, but instead I have created a place of disappointment, failure, rejection, emptiness, exhaustion and hurt.

Today, I am broken. I am here standing in the midst of smashed idols. I see the damage of my poor decisions, I see the disappointment of pedestals, and I see my pride and the true motives behind my choices. I have created a life of empty happiness and of hollow fulfillment. I have settled. A word I detested my life to become.

But it is in this brokenness that I feel a sense of thankfulness. This time of reflection has allowed me to shine light onto these dark truths, to break free from these chains and patterns that have held me captive. It is here I find forgiveness for who I have been, the hurt I have caused and the idols I have created. I am clinging to this new life of finding who I was created to be, to find my unique character, to find my voice.

To those who I have admired over the years . . . thank you. Thank you for your love, support, advice and prayers. I hope you do not stop sharing that with me, but I am taking you off the pedestal and putting Him back where He should have been all along. It is His turn to lead, His turn to be my voice, His turn to define me, to shape my character. And as I begin walking this journey again, I know that it is in Him where my identity will be found.

I trust that the little quirks and qualities He has given me are for a better purpose than I can see. It is by faith I am not hiding behind others anymore and trust that I am good enough to stand alone with Him. I think the most freeing part is that HE LIKES ME. I know this is a very elementary thought, but today is provides me comfort. He is reminding me to believe that I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

I cannot wait for the day further along in this journey, where I stop and look back again, but this time I see the ashes and the rubble of where He broke and where He refined. It is then that I will be able to catch a glimpse of the beauty He has been creating.