Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Adrift



Do you ever remember swimming in the ocean as a young kid? Your parents might have said something about the undertow or current, about being careful and staying in front of them . . . to be honest, most of us may have heard what they said, but I know for me, I didn’t listen; I just wanted to go out and swim. Having a pool in my grandparent’s back yard, my brothers and I grew up swimming and spent many summer nights with wrinkly skin, water in the ears and blood shot chlorine eyes from the hours upon hours of swimming we did during the day. We were never fearful of this “current” this “undertow” that we were warned about, and thought we could handle whatever the ocean threw at us. (Well, anything but jelly fish---but that’s a whole other story!) 
I remember swimming out past the waves and having a blast. Not paying attention to anything but the ball we were throwing around, or the big slashes we would try to cover one another in, or the random sand rockets that could be coming at your face at any given moment. It wasn’t until you were ready to give the ocean a rest, that you realized you had drifted; sometimes so far that the “familiar” was nowhere in sight. In those first few seconds of realization, panic sets in. The first thought? Swim back to the familiar. But often, that current and undertow that held no power prior to entering its arena, is now too much, too powerful to escape its drift that is pulling you away from all you know. In exhaustion you catch a wave to the shore, hopeless and defeated. You climb out from the water, and you notice something you didn’t see in the midst of your panic. Your mom, or dad, or grandparent waiting right there to take your hand and bring you back to the familiar, back to safety, back home.
I’m not sure exactly when I started to head into the ocean, and I can tell you it was not a sprint into the water. I am sure it started with just the dipping of the toes, and then maybe letting the waves break at my knees. From there, I am sure I started jumping the waves all together until I managed to get past them into the still water. It is out in what appeared to be “still” water that I began swimming in the land of talk radio for the morning commute vs. the “Jesus Jams” that usually fill the car. I’ve been dodging the sand rockets of morning prayers for those few extra moments of staying snuggly in bed. I left the studying and the reading lingering on the beach while I swam in letting the TV decompress my day each evening. I’ve floated on the raft of new love, Sunday morning church, and my career vs. finding the peace in seeking after Him with all of my heart, soul and mind.
And as I stood in an old theatre, on a beautiful Sunday morning, surrounded by everything unfamiliar on the streets of Brooklyn, watching people worship uninhibited, that moment of realization hit.
I had drifted. 
I spent the next week, not wanting to ride that wave of defeat to the shore, but determined to swim against the current that had carried me away. I remained immersed in the ocean, fooled by the still water that I was making progress and heading back to my beach towel that now was out of sight and miles up the beach. As the week moved forward my “career raft” got a leak, my snuggly morning moments were making me late and rushed, and talk radio seemed to peak my irritability. I wasn’t moving. I wasn’t getting any closer to where I desired to be by staying in and fighting that water.
This past Sunday, as I headed into the doors of a familiar place unexpectedly, and found a seat in a familiar room, I bowed my head in exhaustion, and road that wave into the shore, hopeless and defeated that I would be able to find my way back.
As I bowed my head in prayer, I heard the invitation that called Jesus to come in and to touch our lives. 
I needed that. 
I wanted that. 
I prayed that.
As worshipped filled that familiar place, His presence in that room was indescribable.
He was there. 
Arm stretched. Ready to hold my hand, and lead me home.  
As a kid, maybe things changed after you realized the warnings given before entering the ocean held some real value. Perhaps you tuned a closer ear to “the safety patrol” watching you from the shore and heeded to their warnings before you became swept away in dangerous waters. Maybe you no longer headed out in false confidence, but begged someone stronger and wiser to venture out with you. Or maybe this was a lesson that has had to be learned over and over.
I’ll be honest, I seem to end up here a lot more than I would like to admit. 
I forget how easily this world can steal your focus, how it can distort your view of priorities and convince you that stability is founded in careers, salary, mortgages, relationships, beauty, and in every temporal thing this earth has to offer. 
I was reminded Sunday that I have given my life to a God who is the Great I Am, a God who is stable, never changing and a God who is always watching and extending His arm, holding my hand as we run this good race, and there waiting when I forget that He is all I need in this world.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

You are a year unto yourself, 2013.

2013, you have come in quickly and have taken me by storm. Maybe it’s because I failed to ring you in properly. I tried, I really did, but by 11pm I could not ignore the bed calling my name. Or perhaps what is at fault are the five days I lost curled up in a white fluffy blanket feeling worse than I have felt in six years.  Whatever the reason, there is no denying the fact that you are here whether or not I was ready for you.
Upon your arrival there are many who make resolutions, implementing new things, new habits, and new challenges for your three hundred and sixty five days to encompass. I can’t say that I am not one who ever thought this way, I did, but along with many, it didn’t take long for my short comings to arise, my will power to die out and for such resolutions to exit off  the radar. I too cannot sit here and say that for you, 2013, I have decided not to make any resolutions, because even if I chose not to call them as such, hello!!! read my previous blog and you will see there are monthly activities I have set and have been trying to incorporate into my life.
(By the way, on the whole one salad a day thing . . .I won’t lie, it hasn’t been as easy as I was hoping, and I have not eaten eleven salads since I posted that blog; however, I have eaten more rabbit food in those past eleven days than I would have normally if that goal where not set. And that folks makes me happy and convinces me that setting such a goal worth it!)
The thing is whether we set these resolutions or not, whether we are ready for your coming or not, you are here, you are new, and you have a new chapter waiting to be written in the story of our lives in each and every day that you bring. 
To be honest, that is probably why I am sitting here on your fifteenth day, feeling like I have only lived four days into you. This whole new chapter you have begun writing . . . well, I’ve been so busy reading the past chapters of my story that I can’t seem to catch up to where you are. I keep comparing what was to what is, I keep weighing what I had to what I have, I keep measuring up today with yesterday, or the last week, or the last nine months . . . get the picture?
And I’m not talking about a quick glance back, to remember the highlights, or the “firsts” of life, or moments that grew me into a better woman, but I’ve been reading and highlighting and dog earring and have been camped out in those parts where sometimes, life just can’t stay.
Somewhere along the journey of 2012 into 2013, I failed to remember that staying absorbed with what was, really quenches the joy and hope that each new today is suppose to include.  And trying to measure everything of today, to yesterday’s standard really immobilizes the abundant life we were called to live. The fumes of yesteryear’s mountaintop pleasures and dreams can only carry you so far, and for me, they have burned out--here two weeks into you, 2013, a year full of its own excitement and jubilee, its own tears and sorrows, its own elaborate hopes and dreams, its own setbacks and failures, its own “firsts” and “lasts,” its own beauty.
2013, you are a year unto yourself, built upon the thirty some odd years of my past, but not defined by them.
I don’t know what you have in store. I don’t know when the days that push me to grow will come or when the days that will try to lure my back into the pages of my past will roll in, but it’s my prayer that I let go, that I leave the pages of my past, seek that still small voice and look for the beauty and the blessings and all things new that I know fill each and every day to come.
So here’s to you 2013.
“No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.” Philippians 3:13-14

Friday, January 4, 2013

2013 New Year's Challenge

I'm going to try a thing. This blog gets pretty boring when I am the only one involved. It's a known fact that you guys are more cute, so I thought I'd take a stab at organizing a New Year's activity for my "blog reading family."

 Here's how it works:

1. Agree to get in the fun. Feel free to leave a comment letting me know that I'm crazy to think that you might actually get involved, but you do know I'll hide around the dark side of the house and jump out and scare you if you don't say yes.

2. Eagerly engage in the pre-designed monthly activities. I'll try to post stories of my experiences and hurdles that will undoubtedly arise, and you can leave comments and share your tribulations as well. Fear not folks, these challenges do not accumulate throughout the year (unless, of course, you want them to, you little go getter, you.)

3. Smile. It's gonna be a fun ride.


January.
Eat one salad a day

February.
Mail one note per week to 4 separate people
telling them why you love them.

March.
Skip Eating Out this month.

April. 
When you go out to eat and celebrate March's success,
anonymously pick up another table's tab.

May.  
Go Caffeine Free

June.  
No TV and/or No FB

July.   
Drink 8 cups of water daily.

August.
Contact your local YMCA and register to volunteer for Bright Beginnings 2013.
And bring a friend.

September.
Go on a walk or a bike ride
at least 3 nights after work.

October.
Bundle up and enjoy a bonfire
with at least 4 other friends, underneath a starry sky.

November.
Take lunch to a homeless friend.
And if you have the time, eat lunch with them.
(They usually have some remarkable stories)

December.
Enjoy one dinner date a week.


FAQ's
1. Hello?!! I am planning Kim Kardashian's baby shower in May, and caffeine is the only way I will survive. What do I do?
In my opinion, babies are the best! If you want to switch the monthly activities around, do it. But only for babies.

2. Ugh. One salad/day? You're being crazy. Why?
First, I made these activities for myself, obviously. These are things I have enjoyed in the past or have wanted to do. If you don't like my ideas, don't tell me because I will cry myself to sleep choose something else that works better for you and/or your schedule. And secondly, I am late in posting this, so lose the 'tude, if you start now, you won't be eating a salad per day for the entire month of January! Just sayin'


3. How am I going to find a hot dinner date weekly?
I can only recommend that you adopt my fail-proof strategy. Approach your dream woman/man and make her/him laugh until she/he cries. Then, show her/him photographs from your childhood so that she/he knows that you have a history of being cute. Then date her/him.

4. What if I give up? Will you still hide in the dark and scare me?
No. But you will start getting photos of silly faces sent to your house. Sorry, Consequences.

5. I have 19 kids (and counting), and it's impossible to do all these activities. How do I still show you my love?
Consider just participating in one or two. Or not. Whatever. I'll know you love me every time you send me a text telling me so.

Disclaimer: Consult your physician before making any diet or exercise changes.
Consult my blog  for advice related to pop and lock dance moves things that don't really matter much.