Cleaning Day

“I should be mad at you for not letting me take the car,” she says. Her brows arch in surprise. “But I’m not.” She smiles. A small, sweet smile. The one I would sew a thousand tiny doll dresses, go on a million trips to the park, and bake a hundred chocolate cupcakes for. A yesterday smile.

She is mine for a few weeks. She told me so before finals. She said, “I will be hanging around the house for five weeks.”

I know that won’t happen. She already has plans. There are friends, events to go to, and a dance workshop.  There is a boy. There is always a boy.

Her schedule fills up so fast I can barely squeeze in her dental appointments, an eye exam, and a doctor visit. And she really should be evaluated for that persistent weakness in her ankle. She twisted it at school months ago, stumbling on the theater stairs.

“You were right, Momma,” she told me then. “I should have tossed those boots.”

The worn down heels made her ankles pronate. After she fell that day, I snatched the boots away and trashed them, sending her to buy new shoes with her ankle wrapped tight.

It’s summer break. Today she stays home. We clean. The guys installed an exhaust fan in my bathroom, and the white powdery dust from new cut holes and whatever else they did invaded the master bedroom. It coats everything.

We wipe with damp cloths. I wonder aloud, more than once, why they didn’t consider covering my work space with plastic sheeting. She shrugs, grown wise in the ways of women, knowing I need to grumble and fuss at the mess, knowing it will not make the least impact on our men.

First years are hard, and Baby Girl isn’t so special she dodged the common freshman bumps along the road. Stress and grief dogged her, on too many days panting hard at her heels, snapping. More than once with blood-drawing teeth.

Yesterday she came upon me, armwrapping me from the side. “I feel content,” she said. Has she ever said that before? I wanted to breathe it in, cradle her contentment like an infant-holding  momma smelling her baby’s hair. She still has that peace about her, end of semester relief not yet morphing into boredom and the fidgety unsettledness. We rest in this moment, the place between.

We wipe with the damp cloths. It’s so dusty. The rags have to be rinsed, over and over, water turning milky.

I go through the neglected stacks of papers. It wouldn’t be such a chore if I had kept up with the endless flotsam of every day life, but I couldn’t. Clutter accumulated without notice until now. The curtains needed washing, as did clothes left too long in untidy, neglected mounds waiting in vain to be folded away. The washer has been going all afternoon into evening. There are a pile of rags and towels in it now, waiting for tomorrow. It’s too late to start a wash now. Rugs are clean, floors mopped, ceiling fan dusted. The room practically echoes with good, simple clean.

I found things that have been lost for months. It’s good to wipe away the dust, to rest in the inbetween, finding contentment in the stripped down rooms of home.

Overcoming Darkness

IN THE beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself.
He was present originally with God.

All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him was not even one thing made that has come into being.
In Him was Life, and the Life was the Light of men.

And the Light shines on in the darkness, for the darkness has never overpowered it [put it out or absorbed it or appropriated it, and is unreceptive to it]. John 1:1-5 AMP

Darkness and light are not equal. Where light is, there is no darkness. Turn on a light switch and suddenly, instantly, darkness is gone.

Even the weakest sources of light are never overpowered by darkness. A candle flame is not extinguished by a creeping shadow; rather, the flame casts its glow in all directions producing illumination that travels outward from the central source. No corner can remain dark if the beam of a flashlight shines into it.

Light overcomes darkness.

Darkness is real. It is a fact of life. These words of John, if we can grasp them, hold life, bringing such comfort and peace.

Darkness never, ever, eats up the light. The opposite is true. The smallest spark displaces darkness. How much more does the very source of perfect light overpower the darkness?

The smallest spark displaces darkness. How much more does perfect light overpower darkness? (Tweet This)

Jesus is the Light. And He has come to give us light and life.

There it was–the true Light [was then] coming into the world [the genuine, perfect, steadfast Light] that illumines every person.

He came into the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him [did not know Him].

He came to that which belonged to Him [to His own–His domain, creation, things, world], and they who were His own did not receive Him and did not welcome Him.

But to as many as did receive and welcome Him, He gave the authority (power, privilege, right) to become the children of God, that is, to those who believe in (adhere to, trust in, and rely on) His name. John1:9-12 AMP

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Open |Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday. One word. Five minutes. No edits.

Come and join us over at Kate Motaung’s site for FMF.

Open

I know God wants me to be open. To Him, to His people, to His way.

Open is what I am not. Long ago I learned not to be.

To be open was to be hurt. So I wrapped that little girl up, winding layers around her, swaddling her. I thought it would stop the bleeding and it did. I wrapped her so tightly I could not hear her cries and feel her struggle. She was quietened.

But sometimes the tears break through and the wounds still hurt. To be open would expose things. To be open would be to heal, but what would it cost?

Jesus has loosened the bonds, a bit. Only as much as I allow.  I pretend I am open, but I’m not. I think I am until old tender places are trespassed upon and I run back to hide under my wrappings.

Jesus is ever patient, and the wailing does not deter Him. He is a patient Healer. One day all the layers upon layers will be peeled away, when I can bear it. When I can bear to come into the light and let my tightly wrapped armor fall away.

 

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Giving Thanks: Searching the Storm Clouds for Silver

This week I have had several conversations with friends about going through hard seasons. We all have our share. I hesitated to spill words here, for fear of being misunderstood, named melancholy. That is not where I am. I write these words to bring honesty and an attempted measure of comfort. At times it is good to speak of our oh-so-common pain and poorly hidden struggles.

There are times when darkness overwhelms.
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Even though we assuredly know we are blessed, untangling threads of silver from the storm clouds remains elusive. (Tweet This)

I used to say that times are hard but at least . . . and would then consider those things and events that were not, as if comparing tragedy to tragedy would lighten the load.

I still do this and there is a coping value in such a habit, but today I choose to face head on the things here and now. The pain that demands to be felt and not only touched but gripped. There is much to be thankful for in the midst of the human condition we so often find ourselves.

When everything moves off center, regaining a sure footing is a dance too clumsy to perform well. There is a profound lack of grace in the middle of stumbling over a thing so large its impact has shifted your entire world. When this happens, and it will, it is impossible to catch yourself. The ground is hard and strewn with half-forgotten discards that make for a rocky landing. We bruise. We bleed.

But we cannot catch ourselves, even when we realize the hard fall is coming.

I am thankful for the God Who Catches Me.

Today I am thankful for not knowing. For the should have, could have, would haves, the guilt and horrible realization that seizes me as I gape at the depth of my inadequacy. Facing our own lack is a rude and exquisitely singular pain. But I believe in a God who reveals.

The revelation here is that I will never truly be enough or do enough. What arrogance to think I was ever intended to be.

I give thanks for the God Who is Enough.

I am thankful for the desert places. I have been to the place where I have given and given, expecting a return. It did not come. There was a time I would become upset with those who did not respond in kind, not understanding that people cannot give what they do not possess and no amount of striving on my part will cause my need for reciprocity to be fulfilled. That yesterday seems so long ago from the here and now moment my feet are entrenched in today.

I have learned what it is to dwell in desert places, to have someone hold my heart in their hand without even an inkling of understanding what that means. Yes, there is sorrow in the knowledge that this love will not be returned, but there is an unfathomable greatness in knowing that without requital I would walk, with no hesitation, through fire for this one.
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It is in the act of giving, not receiving, that love comes to rest in its true purpose. (Tweet This)

Today I am thankful for the power of love that comes only from God. It pours itself out, watering this desert, and life blooms.

I am thankful for the God Who Fits His Vessels.

I have tried to be thankful through physical pain. This is one of my large failures. I detest measuring my time and energy in small, careful steps when my nature wants to run and dance headlong into adventure. But here I am, creeping along, sweating in a most unladylike manner and uttering words that are equally unladylike. I do not like this weakness, this dependency, this failure. I am not the owner of an angelic countenance and no gentle speech regarding my body’s suffering flows from my lips. My days are filled with physical pain and I bite against the restriction.

Any advice on what the grand meaning of this thorn may be will not be welcomed as long as I remain in this frame of mind. I much prefer being ministered to with soft, encouraging words accompanied by something chocolate and gooey delivered to my door. Yet I am thankful for today’s small victories.There will be an end to difficult times, of this I am sure. My thoughts skip over all the in-betweens.

I am profoundly thankful for the faith and hope that provides me courage to continue on.

I am thankful for the God Who is My God.

Flower with Quote Thankful for the Power

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This post is part of the Thankful for God’s Gifts Blog Hop. Please be sure to stop by the other participants listed below.

11/17/14 Loving Christ Ministries: Thankful In Grief www.lovingchristministries.com
11/18/14 Keeper Ministries: The Barren Woman a Joyful Mother – God’s Perfect Gift www.KeeperMinistries.com
11/19/14 Teena Myers Blog: A Greater Gift http://teenalmyers.com/blog/
11/20/14 Live, Love, Laugh, Post: 7 Reasons I Am Thankful For God http://livelaughlovepost.com
11/21/14 The Green Tomato Experience: To Serve and Capture http://www.thegreentomatoexperience.com/
11/22/14 Donna Stone Blog, Giving Thanks: Searching the Storm Clouds for Silver https://donnastone.me/
11/24/14 Sister We Thrive: Sister, given any thought to being thankful? Well, I have. http://www.lindsyb.com/#!blog/c17x6
11/25/14 Completely Committed Blog: One Grateful Mom http://completelycommittedgirl.blogspot.ca
11/26/14 The Kangacoo Blog Grateful People Share, Daily Bread is Enough www.kangacoo.com/kanga-blog

godsgiftsbloghop

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Dwelling in the Valley

Autumn Valley

 

Is this it? I look back and see the path. It all makes sense now. But still, the destination, where I stand now, is not what I expected.

I mourn.

The gains seem so small to have traveled such a long and treacherous journey. My eyes were on the mountains and here we are at the end—another valley.

I feel cheated. More than that. Defeated. How can this be it?

My ways are not your ways.

I know. Fleshy logic and spiritual faith have worn a rock strewn battlefield across my deep places. There is a way which seems right to man, but that’s not the right way. As confusing as the path has been, His directions always worked better than mine. After all, He designed this path.

When I quiet the wailing of my soul I hear it. Static I can only discern in the midst of purposeful stillness. A hiss. The Lie. The lie that tells me I cannot trust Him. That ancient deception started so long ago when the world was a young garden.

I make the obvious choice, to choose belief in the Faithful.

The scales shift.

No sudden, new eyes. No great moving of mountains. The valley is still a valley, and I still mourn. Yet the breeze carries sweetness. I close my eyes to inhale.

This valley is not the mountain top, but it is a green valley, and my Father has brought me here. (Tweet This)

This is it.

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In My Father’s House

Last night I had a dream.

I was at an event, a gathering full of noise and laughter, but I left it behind to enter a side room through a set of French doors. Here was a sun room, narrow and comfortable, furnished with brown chairs and pleasant decor that reflected the light. There were a few plants and a rug. Everything had a muted aura, a wash of coloring that was not quite sepia, but more of a golden hazy glow reminding me of a movie effect to put viewers in mind of memories or what-ifs.

My dad was there, and in his right mind. I was bringing him a plate of food. I handed it to him and he asked me to sit a while, so I did.

It was him, but without baggage, and we talked with the ease of old friends. After what seemed a long time, he let out a deep sigh that came from the very soles of his feet. He set his unfinished plate on the wooden side table.

“I know this is your party,” he nodded toward the door that led to the large room, “But would you do something for me?”

“What is it?” I asked.

“My birthday is not for months,” he said. “I want to celebrate early.” His hands rested on his knees. Hands I knew, but didn’t know. He squinted up at me through his glasses. “Will you come?”

I grinned with a child’s delight. “Of course I will.”

He opened his arms to me and I went to him. Our arms wrapped around each other and nothing else took up the spaces between us. I could feel his frame, but not the sharpness of his bones. Then I let him go.

It was a beautiful dream.

The Gift of Inadequacy

I’m supposed to know what to do. People depend on me.

I try and try to find the answers, searching for the key to open locked doors. My time is eaten up, spent in this frantic quest, but solutions are not forthcoming. And the giants are very real.

Caught in a puzzling maze, I make too many wrong turns that finish in only dead ends. I chase hope until I come to the end of myself, and there I find it. Not a resolution and not a miracle. Instead I find the gift. The gift of inadequacy.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. Psalm 20:7 NIV

It’s not all on me. I will study and learn, equipping and educating myself in preparation for the task ahead, but the outcome is not dependent on me. My single duty is to be obedient to the calling of my Lord.

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. John 14: 23 NIV

The outcome is in the hands of my God. It’s not all on me.

It’s a funny thing. Once I admit the obvious, that I am woefully and completely inadequate, I no longer feel I am.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12 NIV