Friday, August 31, 2012

Chasing Perfect

I've been helping my girlfriend decorate her new house and while driving today in traffic, my mind wandered to one of my visits a few weeks ago.

Her six year old came home from school and bounded into their craft room, setting up her own "school" to play with her little sister.  She was the teacher and was orchestrating the classroom in a very orderly fashion, wanting the four year old to follow her directions implicitly.  I would mediate from time to time as I was in the room, but for the most part, I was concentrating on organizing this precious space for them.

All of a sudden, Francesca, frustrated with Sofia's effervescence - and lack of cooperation with her older sister's teaching methods - started howling.  I was a bit startled and exclaimed, "Francesca, what's wrong?" 

"I just wanted one perfect day to play.  And it's not working.  Sofia won't do what I ask, and I just want it to be PERFECT!!!" 

She continued sobbing until I distracted her with another activity.  And while I made sympathetic clucking noises as we adult sometimes do, trying to explain that her little sister might have different ideas of how to have fun, I really wanted to scoop her up on my lap and tell her my story....

How I always strove for perfection, only to be always disappointed...
How I didn't think anything was worth doing if I couldn't do it perfectly, so I missed out on opportunity after opportunity...
How I thought I wasn't worth anything for oh, so many years because nothing I did could live up to my own unrealistic standards.
(You can't exactly start philosophically reasoning with a six year old, ya know?)

But she's been on my heart lately.
I recognized that internal pull of pressure already
in her sweet little 1st grade life,
and it's taken me back.

I want to wrap my arms around her and say,
"Please don't make my mistake of waiting until you're 40 to change your expectation of yourself.  Chasing perfect will never get you anywhere except miserable.  Because nothing is ever perfect even at its best.  For the closest you'll ever get, precious child, is leaning on Him in the mess and the expectation then going where He leads you.  Because it's in these messy, chaotic, unpredictable moments when you must trust.  And there in the chaos you'll finally realize, His grace is enough."

Oh, to be able to talk to my six year old self again. 
To give the insight that I know now. 
How life would be different. 
But I can't go back. 
The best I can do (because it will never be perfect, right?)
is shine His light in my heart for ALL to see....
The elderly...
The middle-aged...
and yes, even the very youngest of the young....
in the hopes that all will see the light of His grace,
stop chasing perfect,
and follow Him.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Deliver Us From Evil

A couple of years ago, I opened my front door to a knock.  A man stood on my porch selling something. I can't remember what.  Magazine subscriptions maybe? 

I listened for a moment and started to reply.  But before I could do so, he smiled in a very peculiar way.  My whole body went flush and my heart started racing.  I was suddenly scared to death.  I cannot explain it, but I knew in that moment that he would hurt me.  I almost screamed "No!," slammed the door in his face, locked it and ran from room to room in my house making sure each door and window was secure.  After, I watched out of my blinds to make sure he was on his way.  He stood there for a few  minutes on my porch...just still, just standing.  Then he left.  I did not see him go to any other doors to try and sell whatever he was claiming to sell.  I was terrified for an hour after.

Since that day, I have felt a little foolish at the reaction I had.  Clearly, I had no evidence that he was harmful.  But still and all, I truly felt I had looked in the face of evil.

Last year, when Oprah was in her final season, they were doing a "best of" compilation.  I've never been much of a talk show watcher - even Oprah - but I was on the treadmill, so I thought I'd tune in.  One of the shows they were reviewing featured a police officer talking to women about safety.  As the expert was going through his checklist of tips, he mentioned that women don't usually want to turn away from helping someone because they have been conditioned to give assistance and be polite.  They feel that saying no or walking away is rude, so they stay even when they have an instinct that they are in danger.  Predators know and exploit this.

He then went on to mention the "natural" signals your body will give if there is imminent danger:
Racing heart
Feeling flush all over
Panic
Fear
That "fight or flight" instinct we hear about so often.

He said that 9 times out of 10, these physical signals of danger were accurate.  Oprah then had women tell their stories:
Of either escaping from an attempted abduction
or
Having survived one
or
Having run before they really got into trouble.

I knew as I continued watching the program that the physical manifestations of my fear that day years ago were valid.  That I had reacted correctly.  That I had been given those signs for a reason.  Apparently, according to the letters that streamed into the studios in the wake of that episode, the information given saved countless lives of women who had watched and taken heed of the advice.

It's true that our human bodies are miracles from God.
I'm convinced that He thought of our safety as He instilled in us these protective measures.
But as I was thinking about the forces of evil the other day -
yes, these are sometimes the things I reflect upon in the quiet of my shower - creepy, I know -
I began thinking of the word "evil" and where I most often utter it...
The Lord's Prayer.

All of these many years, I have prayed the final words of
the Lord's Prayer as a sinner:
"Forgive us our trespasses
(or 'debts' or 'sins', depending on your religion)
as we forgive those who trespass against us. 
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil."

My personal interpretation has always been
"deliver me from walking into the pathway of evil and sinning more." 
Which I do think holds some weight.
But the more I chewed on this, the more it came to me that I think I have been asking to be delivered of the evil that could befall me...
Evil in my path...
Hurting my body...
My mind...
My marriage...
My family...
My very soul.

And what, then, if in this very common but big, bold, soulful prayer,
all this time I have been asking for help in those moments
when evil is at my door, smiling and waiting to take me down? 
If I have been asking for intervention from harm? 
What has God done for me then?

He's sent the Holy Spirit to give me clarity...
To make my heart race...
To flood me with the decision to turn away...
To slam the door in the face of the evil one.

Most days I like to think about all of the good He does in my life...
the way He blesses me...
the way He loves and communicates with me...
the way that it's warm and fuzzy and cushy and sweet.

But today I thank Him for His protection against all evil in my life.
I thank Him for shielding me from the injury that could have happened multiple times in my life of bad choices.
I thank Him for giving me the strength to
Listen...
Heed...
Trust...
Follow...
Both into His light and away from the darkness.


 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Use Your Words

Out of the blue on Saturday, my fifteen year old daughter posed a question to my husband and me:

"If the only choices you had were not being able to use your voice at all or having every thought you think come out of your mouth, which would you choose?"

Without skipping a beat, Drew and I both said, "Every thought coming out."
"Oops...didn't mean it."

Colleen asked, "Are you sure?  Would you really be okay with everyone knowing every thought?"

Drew and I appraised each other from our peripheral vision.  I said, "Well, I can't imagine ever choosing not talking.  Plus, I'm getting close to being okay with what I'm thinking being known."  I've cleaned it up alot in the last year!

Of course, what I was  also thinking - and glad she couldn't hear - was that most of the thoughts that I wouldn't want folks to hear are about my kids.  Something akin to,
"Why doesn't that kid ever clean their room?"
or
"If you roll your eyes at me one more time..."
or
"Lord, help me through the hormones." 
(Love you, Coll...love you, Brae...just in case either of you are reading. 
Aren't you glad I edit?!?)

But her comment really got me thinking about how  truly hard that would be - to know that every thought that went through my brain...
though fleeting...
or out of frustration...
or in fear or anxiety...
would be heard, felt, judged, and have impact on those around me.

Though all of these outcomes would matter to me,
in the final analysis I think my real concern ought to be: 
"Shouldn't I be living already - each day -
as if every thought I have could be heard?"
Because, in reality, they are.
And by the most important One of all.


Photo credit:  Microsoft Images

Sunday, August 26, 2012

1000 Gifts Sunday

Breaking 400 this week on my gifts of gratitude.  Thanks again go out to Ann Voskamp's A Holy Experience for the challenge.  This has become one of the most sacred parts of my week.  (Plus, I can watch Tivo'd episodes of the Nate Berkus show while I'm typing!)  I hope you all find a few moments in your week to reflect and find the things for which you are most grateful...a great way to start a week!


Gratitudes #377 - 407

Drew's birthday gift...an organized home gym & inspiration to run
a 9 minute per mile marathon in October
(I usually write pretty chronologically through my week, but this week I must start with my husband's birthday...the best!)

#377  MOST grateful for my husband, Drew, the birthday boy!


#378  Handmade cards for Drew from the kids, precious sentiments







5 of Drew's 14 marathon medals framed for inspiration

















A little prayer of faith to run with strength the race  <3


#379  A great family gathering
#380 Boat ride on the bay, playing name that tune with the ipod


#381  A nine-minute marathon mile space for motivation (complete with Colleen's homemade sign)


#382  Drew's comment after the massage appointment we gave him (at the close of his 20 mile run...brutal!) & being worked over pretty hard:  "At the end of the appointment, I wasn't sure whether I should hug her or charge her with assault."  Hilarious!!
#383  Braden insisting that we ride to Costa Mesa and get Drew the USC-UCLA "50-0" T-shirt he had mentioned wanting...the car ride down...Braden saying, "We are the same person, Mom."

#384  Brae's homemade sign for Drew.  (for you "The Office" watchers, he took it from Dwight's party for Kelly..."It is your birthday."  Statement of fact.  This is more professional.  It's not like she discovered a cure for cancer.")  He kills me.
#385  In 'n Out burger
#386  Bristol Farms pastries
#387  P90X
#388  Reaching 12,000 page views and 160 posts
#389  The end of a (grueling) few months of trying to figure out how to design my writing website...major breakthrough!  It's almost done!  (Preview next week, hopefully?)
#390  The kids registering for school
#391  Watching Colleen take on leadership roles in high school

#392  Colleen learning to play guitar, taking it from room to room with her

#393  The Farmer's Market

#394  Singing next to Braden in church, getting up early to go together

#395  An incredible homily by Deacon Tom, a great message for my week
#396  Reading my mom's updates each day from her trip to Florida
#397  So grateful and happy that she is free and able to spend time with her siblings, exploring, eating, laughing, loving
#398  Annie's mom, Donna, healing from her surgery
#399  A drive and shopping with Drew
#400  A sparkling studio, cleaning with our own 6 hands (me and the kids :)
#401  Continuing signs about my big, bold prayer...the biggest coming to me on my dad's birthday (thanks, Daddy...love you...)
#402  More hearts & crosses
#403  Attending morning Mass together as a family on my dad's birthday, celebrating his life and memory
#404  Singing "Songbird" with Drew in the studio (he's teaching himself to play the piano...of course!!)

#405  A quick visit to the public records department...nice sign...who would want to wait in line for death??  Ummm, I'll take birth or marriage instead please?!?
#406  Watching Bruce Almighty again...oh, I love that Jim Carrey, says the physical comedy girl
#407  Morgan Freeman's quote (as God) in the movie:  "You have the spark.  You know how to bring joy and laughter to others.  I know.  I made you that way."  Oh, what a reassuring reminder when I wonder if I need to be serious in order to do His work.

{Thank you for reading. 
And would you please join me for one more thing?
Please join me in gratitude to our Lord
for sparing my family & all of the residents on the Gulf Coast
from the destruction of hurricane Isaac.
It's been a lot of years of havoc. 
Thank you so much...have a blessed week.}


Friday, August 24, 2012

A Special Wish

On this beautiful Saturday, I need to give a shout out,
using this forum to say

Happy Birthday

to my wonderful husband...

What would I do without this man?

fight on, baby!
He is loving, supportive, funny, handsome, faithful, intelligent, strong & compassionate....

I love you, Drew, and I thank God...truly...every day for you.
I know the coming year will be our best yet.

 - C.




Love you, Babe!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Birthday Gift

Monday, August 20th, was my dad's birthday.  He would have been 78.  I've missed him every day since he's been gone.

Sunday afternoon service at my church was being said again in memory of my dad.  And once again, my daughter, Colleen, and I were on the docket to read at church.  (God, you are killin' me!  It's just getting spooky.)  So, as a few weeks ago, I was faced with reading the general intercessions, trying my best to get through - without a total breakdown - asking the congregation to pray for the repose of the soul of Joseph McGonagle.

Thankfully, Colleen, in her infinite sweetness, suggested she could read them instead.  Whew...crisis averted.

Just as her offer blessed me, the blessings at Mass abounded. There was a visiting celebrant, and as I awaited the Word during his homily, I wondered what message there would be on this Sunday before my dad's special day.  I had been praying that God care especially for me and my family during this time.

The visiting priest began by introducing himself and where he was from.
The organization?
The Josephite Missionaries.
Their main goal?
Education and evangelization.

Drew looked over at me, and we just started cracking up.  The Josephite Missionaries?  My dad was Joseph.  Education and evangelization?  My dad devoted his entire life to these two pursuits.  The last little irony?  The Josephite Missionaries concentrate mainly on helping advance the African American community in their spiritual endeavors and work mainly in the Southern United States.  (Of course, he mentioned Alabama as Drew and I glanced at each other again.) 

The funny connection about Daddy and the African American community is that he was a guest homilist for years at an all African American Catholic Church in Alabama and later became their parish administrator.  For those of you not from the deep south, this was a very unusual arrangement but was perfect for all parties involved. Daddy often commented that he felt more comfortable at that church than many others in our community.

Oh, Daddy, you are so cute...

Scripturally, the Psalm sung was one of the songs my family had sung to Daddy in his final days.
"Taste and see the goodness of the Lord." 
I can still hear my sister, Theresa, singing with total abandon. That moment, watching and listening to her, was one of the most special moments to me of that time together.

The Gospel reading was from John.  (Incidentally, John was Daddy's favorite of the gospel books.)  It read:

Jesus said to the crowds:
"I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give
is my flesh for the life of the world."

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,
"How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
Jesus said to them,
"Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
has eternal life,
and I will raise him on the last day.
For my flesh is true food,
and my blood is true drink.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
remains in me and I in him.
Just as the living Father sent me
and I have life because of the Father,
so also the one who feeds on me
will have life because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven.
Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died,
whoever eats this bread will live forever."

(John 6:51-58)

My heart was so grateful hearing that.  Daddy ate of that bread daily.

The final blessing?  My friend, Tim Clark, who is the chairman for the Movement for a Better World organization that I help at church, came up and gave me a hug at the end of Mass.  He was the one who had requested the Mass in honor of my dad. 

In his hand?  A donation basket in a very familiar shape...

Tim and Donna collecting for the hearts of the poor...

 
 
The woman standing with Tim here is Donna, my partner in MFABW.  She had hugged me at the end of Mass and handed me a card.  (She lost her mother to Alzheimer's last year.)  I exited the church after I snapped the heart basket picture and opened the card.  The message?
 
"Sympathy is many hearts sharing one sorrow."
 
Oh, Daddy, for years I struggled over what to give you for your birthday.
A tie?
A plant?
A book?
Something homemade?
Nothing ever seemed good enough.
There were years I was very happy with the present I gave.
Others not as much.
But never in my 43 years did I imagine that I would be the one to receive
a precious gift - just for me - on your special day.
 
I love you, Daddy...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What Are You Wearing?



I want to wear turquoise blue..and azure blue...and teal...
And kelly green and apple green and forest green (they make my hazel eyes look really green!).
I want to wear yellow and orange - except they tend to wash me out so I have to wear white underneath them, close to my skin to prevent me from looking dead.
I want to wear red, every brilliant, bright shade.
And don't get me started on white. 
I love white.
Love wearing white.
Love being surrounded by white.
It's like living in the Light.


The problem is, many times I find myself wearing the drab, dark colors of anxiety.

I am empathetic to a fault.
This is great if you're a friend or relation or student of mine.
It's even great if you are the person I stop on the street
to ask why you're crying and what I can do to help.
But it ain't so great being this empathetic and being ME.
Scary...

I find myself wearing the worry of those around me.
My own worries I'm dealing pretty well with these days.
Prayer, devotion, silence, work out, talk to my husband...good band aids for my woes.

But when it comes to a dear friend or family member -
and seriously, sometimes even those whom I do not know...
those suffering in fear or hunger or disease,
I wear myself out by wearing their grief.
Clearly I forget that I need to ask prayers and petitions for them just as I do myself.
But by then I'm already dressed in the black, grey and putrid colors of gloom and sadness.


It takes me a day or two to recover, adding color back to my spiritual wardrobe.
I need to remember, when listening to a problem or a hurt or a loved one in their sorrow,  that rather than trying to come up with something clever to say...
Or a course of action to pursue...
Or threatening to run over the person hurting them with my Honda Hybrid,
I need to gather them in my arms, take their hands in mine, and offer to pray.

I know the Holy Spirit is with me in those (still too few and far between) sage moments when I do remember to ask for help.
Then when I ask and He helps, He clothes me in the spiritual white of His light.
In the bright yellows and oranges....
In the seaside blues and tree leaf greens...
In the brilliant, fiery, passionate red of His Word...
Yes, in the whitest light of His grace.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

1000 Gifts Sunday

Continuing thanks for all the good things in my life...all of the things for which I need help, an opportunity to lean on Him...all of the unexpected, messy, wonderful, hard, glorious things.  And continuing thanks to Ann Voskamp of A Holy Experience for the challenge.  It has made my life more joyful, more centered.  I hope these simple exercises inspire you to be more aware of your own beautiful things.

Gratitudes #338-376


#338  Spending the last of only a few weeks of summer with my chilluns
#339  Ebay preparations, picture taking, raising money together for a trip
#340  Tivo-ing old movies to watch with the laundry folding
#341  Church mid-week - beautiful service
#342  Tom Hanks...love him!!
#343  P90X - take three!  (3rd times a charm?  Maybe this time no pulled back muscles or garage door concussions?!?)
#344  Kenpo X!!  Love this workout!  (Personal note to Tony Horton though...who exactly do you think is the same height opponent I'm fighting?  An eleven year old?  Wizard of Oz munchkins?  Oompa Loompas??)
#345  A fresh cut and color  (Priceless!)
#346  A day with Jessica, talking, laughing, crying, decorating
#347  Lunch out with Jess, Sophia and a plastic blue saxophone
#348  Making something beautiful out of a brown only space
#349  Unpacking china
#350  Sophia and Francesca and Hailey (Sophia pictured here with Liesel, the dog)
#351  Loving my husband, feeling so honored to be his wife
#352  Miley and Bryan, great friends
#353  A fun birthday celebration for Bryan, loving looking out over the water
#354  Finally seeing Chef Katherine in person
#355  Catching up with old friends
#356  Ping pong games with my boy
#357  A beautiful new "Cool Rain" blue for Colleen's room (pictured at left with a lot of cleanup left to do!)
#358  Watching Drew and Colleen play the piano and guitar and sing together
#359  Sitting in the studio, listening to their music, being so grateful for our humble home and life
#360  Little League World Series stories
#361  New writing gigs
#362  Figuring out new pieces to the website puzzle
#363  Colleen offering to make dinner
#364  THEN....grocery shopping on her own and preparing every dish with her friend, Em
#365  Nikki coming for dinner when she gets back to town
#366  Moreys Music with Colleen, trying out new guitars
#367  Beginning of school prep
#368  Colleen permit test
#369  Shopping for chandeliers
#370  Creating pleasing picture groupings
#371  Sunday night out for dinner with the girls
#372  Mass said for my dad
#373  The Josephites Mission
#374  A heart basket (more on this tomorrow)
#375  Painting with Drew & Coll
#376  Planning a trip home to Alabama


{Thanks for reading.  Loving this exercise.  Loving this life.
And happy birthday today to my dear dad.  Miss you, Daddy.}

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Groundhog Day

The movie "Groundhog Day"...do you know it?  (If not, put down your computer, rent it, watch it, then come back and read the rest of this post!)  It is truly one of my top five favorite movies of all time. 

For those of you who have not seen it or need a refresher, Bill Murray plays a smug, arrogant jerk of a weatherman, Phil Connor, who leaves on an assignment he feels is beneath him - reporting on Groundhog Day in Punksatawnee Falls, Pennsylvania where the Groundhog (yes, the citizens of the community would capitalize the G) is afforded a hero's welcome for emerging from his hole - or not - to predict the arrival of spring. The end of the assignment finds the weather team snowed in and forced to stay another night.  As the next morning dawns, Phil Connor awakens to find himself reliving the same day over and over and over and over with no idea of how to get time to move forward.  The movie sets a tone of hilarious desperation as Phil is transformed from a narcissist who has no life to "just a regular guy," giving life and hope to others and working his hardest to become a better person. 

The new day finally dawns after his transformation is complete.

I used to feel like I was awakening to my own Groundhog Day. 
Do you ever feel this way?
The same old routine. 
The same old people. 
The same old problems. 
The same old house.
The same old car.
The same old menus.
The same old...well, same old.

I didn't like this feeling.

But when I finally got outside myself and really looked at my life, or looked at others and compared, I saw just how beautiful my life really was.
I think I'm becoming the new Phil Connors.

When did this transformation take place?

When did I become a new enough person to have my eyes opened to the blessings surrounding me,
rather than just being a jerk and wanting more?
More house, more car, more money?
A bigger room?
A warmer shower?
A latte instead of a plain old cup of Joe?

Like Phil in the movie, I know it was when I finally quieted myself and looked around.
When I found more joy in a book of poetry and a simple meal of eggs and toast
than a Broadway show and a seven course meal.
When I wanted to help more than I wanted to take.
When I wanted to save a life rather than complain about my own.
When I wanted to spread joy rather than gossip.
When I wanted to live in the shadow of our Lord
rather than the shadow of a pretend version of myself.

Yes, the movies can be such a wonderfully crafted parallel to our own lives and dawning wonders.

Just thank goodness this all dawned on me before I considered climbing into a bathtub with a toaster oven in the hopes that one day would end and another begin.
(Confused by my last statement?  Really, go rent the movie!!!)

Photo images:  dramahulu.com/movies & personalitycafe.com/art-museum

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Gentle Woman

To honor this beautiful day and the gift that Mary, the mother of Jesus,
was and is to our world, a scripture passage from Luke 1:39-55...

Mary Visits Elizabeth

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.   In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

Mary’s Song

And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord  
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed, 
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name. 
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation. 
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble. 
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful 
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”

How in the world did a woman so young -
just a girl - accept and shoulder the responsibility of raising our Lord? 
How did she keep it together? 
How was she able to always act with grace and patience?

Simple...
She followed.
She listened.
She trusted.
She loved.

Lord, help me to be more like the mother of God.
Lord, help me to always follow You.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Hiding the Scars

Everyone is damaged.

Everyone.

I was telling my sister on the phone the other night that I used to work with a friend who would say to me, "I would never get upset at you (for a work mistake) because you're harder on yourself than I would ever be on you."  I wore that statement like a badge of honor, sharing it with others.

I look back now and am so sad for that woman. 
The woman I used to be.
The woman who was proud of self-criticism and self-condemnation.
The woman who held her head up high, loving that she could beat herself up for even the tiniest mistakes.
The woman who had no time or interest in forgiveness of self.

Yuck...

I look back now and wish I had admitted my weaknesses, been open to the gift of vulnerability.
I look back now and wish I had shared my feelings of insecurity with others.
I look back now and realize there was so much there that needed to heal...
scars that were buried deep...
but that were also blazing red on the surface for my digging at them.

Since sharing my hardships last year with others, I know I have heard stories never told by people who usually feel they need to put on a good show.
But when I come clean, I think it's an invitation to them.
"Well, if she can, maybe just once, I can."
I never realized what a gift that would be to others.

We don't often go up to folks and say, "Hey, I'm really damaged.  You probably are too!  Wanna exchange stories?"
(And frankly, I don't really think it's a great idea either!)
But we also don't let our guard down often enough to see that the person
beside us,
behind us,
next door to us,
on the phone with us
is exactly like we are and might be the empathetic heart we need to help us ease our burden.

We're too busy to see that, while we're hiding our own scars in fear of the judgemental world, everyone is else is pulling their sleeves down too.

I recently read the book, "Heaven is for Real," a story about a three year old boy who was near death, and while he was in surgery with the doctors working hard to save him, he took a brief trip to Heaven. 

Later, in telling his dad what he had seen, he said to him,
"Jesus had colors here and here, here and here,"
pointing to his hands and feet and side. 
He said the color was red
Jesus nail marks were still evident. 
He did not cover His scars.

Why would the Son of God, the one person who could make Himself totally WHOLE in Heaven, keep the most painful memories of His life alive?  Why would He not heal Himself?

It's a question that I cannot wait to ask when I finally go home to meet Him.
But if I were to venture a guess, I would say this....
That His scars are proof to all who enter Heaven that He suffered and died so that they might arrive there one day.
That His scars show His vulnerability, His humanity,
His walk fraught with the same injustices and defeats each one of us feels...
but that He walked it bravely to pave the way for us.
That His scars comfort us in their rawness...
That if He, who was God's Son, could survive the indignities He found on earth
then we, who are heirs to the throne, can also survive.
He's a beacon of hope for all who bear their own scars.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

1000 Gifts Sunday

Thanks to A Holy Experience and Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts challenge, I have made my list of thankful things for this week. There are so many. I hope your week has been as blessed as mine. 
From Jessica's walk

Gratitudes #305 - 337

#305  My husband coming home Tuesday
#306  A good number 2 pencil
#307  A great dental visit...ahhhhh, minty fresh
#308  Hearing about another Daddy's life
#309  Some time with Drew home with me and the kids
Farmers Market orchids
#310  Some time with Drew away with the kids (in other words, I got a bunch of work done!)
#311  MUCH progress on the website
#312  New goals
#313  Big, bold prayer
#314  Lunch with Miley and Lisa...the highlight of my week!  Love my girlfriends!!
#315  Greek food
#316  My boy and his beautiful spirit
#317  A great trip away for Colleen, learning more about leadership, something that comes so naturally to her
#318  Colleen telling us all about her time away, sharing and laughing
#319  Colleen and friends volunteering to make breakfast for 150 hungry teenagers...so proud of my daughter
Look in the center at that heart carved right into the rock!
#320  Ping pong tournaments with Braden
#321  The most amazing heart texted to me from my friend Lisa
#322  Texts with Jess, God whispering her name on my heart, connecting
#323  New ideas and the direction to successfully get there
#324  Movie night with Drew
#325  Braden's response to our night out, "It's fine with me, Mom.  I know you and Dad need time just the two of you."  Waaaaahhhhh.....
#326  Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones and brilliantly crafted characters
Precious boy with the maracas!
#327  Farmer's Market produce... whoa, those peaches and nectarines.  Ambrosia!
#328  A budding percussionist at the Farmer's Market...soooo precious
#329  Lily Dang at church helping my boy at mass
#330  Air conditioning!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
#331  Beautiful praise band music today
#332  Father Jim's homily
#333  Good workouts
#334  Receiving a letter from my Aunt Peggy...that one knocked the breath out of me (in a good way...it was like hearing from my dad) 
#335  My first heart sent to me in a dream...thanks Daddy
#336  A wonderful phone conversation with my sister, Margaret
#337  Dreams of the beach in September


{I thank God every day, throughout each day, for His grace and blessings in my life.
I count among these the ability to reach each of you.
Thank you so much for reading.
Thank you for the blessings you are.}