Monday, December 24, 2012

God broke down the big door

Christ has come to this world to heal our hearts. He has brought His Light into our darkness.  Darkness must flee in the Light of the Christ-child's holy Presence. 

At our Christmas Eve service this afternoon, my pastor described two rooms with a solid wall between them. One room bright light and the other the darkest dark. He asked us, "which room do you see yourself in right now?" Then, he asked, "which room do you want to be in?" He went on to say that by God sending Jesus to this earth, He Himself kicked the big door down in between the two that even if we feel we've been in the dark, God has initiated and come down to earth to break down that barrier and give us light. The Light of His Love. The Light of His Glorious Presence. We do not have to claw our way through that door to the Light.  Jesus, The Light of the World did it for us.

What a fresh way of seeing the gospel message! I saw it anew and afresh. My prayer is that my family saw it too. That the three thousand in attendance saw it. 

That is my prayer for you, too, this Christmas. That you will know that God has broken down the big door between His brightest bright and the darkest dark to bring you His Light that you no longer have to walk in darkness.

Merry Christmas and God bless!

Isaiah 9:2
The people who walk in darkness
Will see a great light;
Those who live in a dark land,
The light will shine on them.

Friday, December 14, 2012

the gift of awareness

What is it about my past that I seem to doubt my judgement? I doubt that my opinions are valid. I doubt that my desires are legitimate. I've struggled with this for as long as I can remember. Except that recently, I have become aware of this thing with me.

I have been becoming more aware of just how great a gift awareness is. I am speaking here of the awareness of self and why we may behave the way we do. What makes us tick. Not everyone has this awareness of self to a degree that is healthy. And, some are not even aware that they don't have it. How great a gift awareness is in relationships. How great a gift awareness is, period.

If I tend to get angry easily or carry resentment, why? Am I aware of why? If I am aware of why, only then can I learn to do something about it. 

Oh, what a gift awareness is. 

Even if my new-found awareness of some of my irks and quirks might bring me pain, I welcome awareness. Knowledge is power. Only when I become aware of my irks and quirks can I change, grow and become more of who Christ desired me to be in the first place. 

It is true that my life experiences have shaped me to have some of these habits and hang ups. I've been hurt in the past. I've been wounded. Some of those hurts have incised scars on my soul. However, it is not true that I need to stay that way. The way of some of my habits and hang ups may be hurting me and you or our relationship. I do not need to stay in the dark about the way I am and the way I act and the way I may come across to others. 

I do not want my lack of awareness to become a stumbling block for someone else. I want to be willing to humble myself to hear maybe even painful truth about myself, but I do want to hear the truth. I welcome truth. Because truth about me and how I am will set me free to become something else more glorious. I will become more like Christ.

So, if you see me doing something irksome, something that is contrary to who Christ designed me to be, please tell me. Tell me in a gracious and kind way, but do me the great favor of not leaving me in the dark of my unawareness. 

It is only in my complete awareness of who I am, Who's I am and how I behave in the world that I can truly change the habits and hang ups that are hurtful, and become more like my Savior. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

how you can slap the bull and come out alive

Last night, right there in the downtown skywalks, my husband 'slapped the bull' by singing out loud. And he was very proud of himself,too.

 A few years ago a movie came out called Wild Hogs. One hilarious experience after another happens on this reclaiming-their-youth trip with John Travolta, Martin Lawrence, Tim Allen and William H. Macey as they traverse the pavement through the country.

 At one stop, they are at a ranch standing at the corral. The rancher tells them that to prove their manly strength and prowess, they should go into the bull pen and slap the bull on the rear end and then try to high tail it out of the corral before the bull can trample them. Sounds like great fun, right?

The guys look at each other and shake their heads. No way are they going into the bull pen and slapping the bull on the behind! I won't give away the rest of the story, but lets just say that a couple of the guys try it with hilarious results. For them, slapping the bull symbolized doing something wild and crazy. Something that they wouldn't ordinarily do. Something that might be fun, but it also might be a bit risky. (for us, singing in the skywalks is a little risky...)

Us on our Minnesota vacation
For some reason the term "slap the bull" has stuck with my husband and me since we watched that silly movie. Now, we are not huge risk takers. For some of you 'slapping the bull' might be rock climbing in the Rockies or jumping out of an airplane.

For my husband last night, slapping the bull was to sing the Iowa State fight song loud in the skywalks while we were on our walk. It was after hours when most people were home eating dinner so this wasn't too risky. Except for the one man who was walking towards us. After the guy passed us I chided my hubby for being loud in the skywalks. He quickly reminded me that he had just slapped the bull, and wasn't I impressed that he slapped the bull right there in the skywalks? In front of one guy? Okay, underneath my eye-rolling, I was secretly happy that he had slapped the bull in front of that one guy.

No matter the number on the level-of-risk meter, the point is we have this silly little thing. This kind of not-so-inside anymore inside joke between us. 

It's really just an ordinary Tuesday, but tonight we're headed to a bluegrass musical Christmas show. That bull is really gonna be hurtin'.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

five little words

She called me on my son's twenty-fourth birthday, on April 25th of this year. I had poured all of the blood, sweat and tears of my story into two essays in the previous few months. My work was done. I had interviewed. I had visited the school. She didn't have to say those five little words, but she did. And she put a forever mark of kindness on my soul.

She didn't have to say them. She could not have possibly known what her words would mean to me. She couldn't have. She only really knows me as an "applicant", someone who wants to come to the school where she works. She is an admissions counselor. It is her job to recruit people. It is her job to make phone calls. To offer assistance. To provide information to would-be students of their graduate programs. 

Her call in April was to tell me the good news. The essays were tough for me. I had to dig deep into my story...the nitty and the gritty. In one of them I had to find an aspect of my story to compare to a film vignette from Paris Je t'aime. A movie I had never heard of and frankly, it was a little weird in my book. I really had to do some searching to find that commonality. But, I did it. The other essay was supposed to answer a question like, "What excites you about this school? Share your story as it relates to your desired life work and passions." Something like that.

I graduated with a Social Work degree in 1986. Let's just say, many moons ago. Could I write in the APA style? (I hadn't a clue...had to research online.) Could I make the needed parallels with my story? Could I put words together to even make any sense to the admissions team? I have to be honest. I had a lot of doubts. I really did. 

So, her call in April. The first few words after hello were, "Congratulations! You've been accepted!"  What she said next is what will forever be etched in my memory. She said, "It is pretty much the consensus of the admissions team that you are a very engaging writer. And, as for me personally, I just reread your essays to prepare to call you, and I think you are a beautiful writer."  It's those last few words, but really the last five that sank way deep down into a place in me that mattered. Those words touched me deeply because they touched the place where my wounding has taken place. My voice. 

She didn't have to say those last five words. She couldn't have known what those words would really mean to me. But, she said them and I have been forever touched by her kindness.
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