Monday, February 6, 2012

Don't judge a book by it's cover

There are rules that get drilled into our heads as a children.

"Don't run with scissors."
"No swimming after you eat."
"Don't talk to strangers."

But one that sticks out in my head today is: "Don't judge a book by it's cover."

An ugly part of my past (that I don't like admitting) is that I have not always lived by this rule. I often walked around with a very judgmental attitude. It's a part of my past that has left me with many regrets, many burnt bridges, and yet it is a part of my past that has also allows me to see God's grace and transformational power.

About 7 years ago, a new book appeared on my bookshelf. True to form, I judged. And I judged harshly. In all reality I didn't give this book a chance. I didn't care what the inside read. I didn't even care to read the synopsis on the back cover. I didn't think I needed this book or wanted this book in my life. But this book was persistent, not necessarily with the objective to win me over, but more to prove consistency and character. This book wasn't perfect. There were some creases from previous dog-eared pages, some coffee rings could be seen throughout the chapters, and the pages were yellowed from years passed. Despite the imperfections this book never claimed to be anything it wasn't. Throughout the years there were moments I shut my eyes to the book's presence on my bookshelf. How childish to cling to the "out of sight out of mind" philosophy. However, this book remained. Life took some awkward turns for me, yet this book remained. There were choices I made in my life that clearly deserved a raised eyebrow, and this book remained. I would have moments where I was mean and irrational and hurtful. This book remained. There were moments where I caught a glimpse of how wrong I was. This book remained. This book has been consistent. And even though we have had a few bumps and bruises along the way, this book's character and love has spoken volumes over the years.

I sit here today, thankful for second chances. Thankful for the power of forgiveness and of a changed heart. Thankful that I have been knocked off whatever high horse I once thought I was worthy of riding. I sit here today unsure how long this book will remain on my shelf. How I wish I could take back years of stupidity, of pride and youthful arrogance, and exchange them for all I have learned and now know. But I can't. My past is my past. My mistakes are my mistakes. I have wasted some precious time. But moving forward, things are different. There is now laughter and appreciation. Healing and forgiveness. There is a bond that has been growing for the past few years and each day I realize it's importance. Even more so today.

I have come to appreciate this book, respect this book, love this book. I have learned from this book and have become a better woman by it's influence. This book has taught me persistence and strength. This book has brought happiness and comfort. This book bleeds selflessness and generosity. The unconditional love this book has lavished over my life, even in the most undeserving times, makes me cherish the story so much more. This book is filled with stories of hope, of faith, of strength and of love. And those who have read it, and continue to flip through it's pages are changed for the better.

I am changed for the better.

This book will always hold a dear place on my life's bookshelf and even a more special place in my heart.

To my special book, I love you and I am thankful for all you have been and continue to be in my life.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Early morning ramblings

3am. Why am I wide awake? This has been one of the longest hardest weeks I have had in a very long time. I've been pushing full throttle, running on all cylinders and pulled emotionally and physically in all directions. Sleep has been a luxury this week, a luxury that I have not been able to spoil myself in.  So, 3am, when I should be nice and cozy and in dream land, I toss and turn and sleep is no where to be found in this house.

In the midst of the crazy moments this week, I am reminded tonight of all the incredible moments . . . . the kairos moments. 

Kairos is a Greek word which means the right or opportune moment. God-ordained times. Kairos moments allow us to get a glimpse of how God is working, to hear Him and to see Him.

I've  been grateful. Grateful that in the ups and downs this week has sheltered, He has shown up. He has poured His love and comfort over me in the form of unexpected blessings. He has used His people to love on me, to help carry my burden, to bring laughter, to offer a shoulder to cry on, to cast vision with, and to be reminded of God's grace and unfathomable love.

Tomorrow . . .or should I say today, will be packed full. I pray for my mom and Larry, my stepdad. I pray for answers, for peace, for health and comfort. I pray he gets to come home, for healing and strength. I pray for tonight as folks gather together to pack thousands of socks. I pray for lives to be changed, for a smooth operation and for authentic community to fill the walls at PCC. I pray for Miss Norah Kate as she approaches her first birthday. May she never go a day in her life not knowing the love and hope she has brought into my family's world. I pray for my brother as His baby girl quickly grows up and as He continues to become an amazing father. I pray for the tables late tonight that will gather at El Cerro Azul. May we marvel over the work that has been done and give glory to where all the glory is due. I pray for traveling mercies, and comfort in the midst of absence. I pray that no matter what happens tomorrow...today, no matter how crazy the schedule is, that my eyes are open. Open to those Kairos moments. Open to see God and to give thanks.

And as I write this, I am reminded that when we stop and pray and give thanks for the blessings: peace comes.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Our generosity will lead people to the generosity of God.

I came across a letter today.

A letter that is 1900 years old, written by a Greek philosopher Aristides. He was asked by a Roman Emperor to investigate these people who call themselves ‘Christians.’ The Emperor explained that He keeps killing them and they just keep coming back. He keeps persecuting them and they just keep on loving people. What's their deal?

This is what Aristides wrote:

It is the Christians, O Emperor, who have sought and found the truth, for they acknowledge God. They do not covet what belongs to others. They show love to their neighbors. They do not do to another what they would not wish to have done to themselves. They speak gently to those who oppress them and in this way they make them their friends. It has become their passion to do good to their enemies. They live in the awareness of their smallness. Every one of them who has anything gives ungrudgingly to the one who has nothing. If they see a traveling stranger, they bring him under their roof. They rejoice over him as over a real brother, for they do not call one another brothers after the flesh, but they know they are brothers in the Spirit and in God. If they hear that one of them is imprisoned or oppressed for the sake of Christ, they take care of all his needs. If possible they set him free. If anyone among them is poor or comes into want while they themselves have nothing to spare, they fast two or three days for him. In this way they can supply any poor man with food he needs. This, O Emperor, is the rule of life of the Christians, and this is their manner of life.

--Aristides, 137AD


100 years after Jesus died, and that was the way His followers were not just talking, but were living.

Wow.

The way they lived was so authentic, so genuine and so original that Aristides himself converted to Christianity.

All because of behavior.

They lived in the awareness of their smallness.

They befriended those who oppressed them.

They gave ungrudgingly to the ones who had nothing.

And when they had nothing to give they sacrificed, they went without so they could provide for those in need.

Wow.

Galatians 6:9 "Let us not become weary in doing good . . ."

Our generosity will lead people to the generosity of God.