Do You Truly Understand the Impact of Your Calling?

Do you truly understand the impact of your calling?

By day he was a janitor.

His pedigree did not accompany letters like PHD, or Dr. No. This hardworking, humble man, walked the halls of a middle school and cleaned up behind the debris left by hundreds of adolescents in a single day. When I was little, it was such a privilege to accompany him after hours, and watch him take care of details most don’t realize need to be done.

He and his wife lived modestly. So much so, it was not uncommon for them to enter a restaurant and re-use old tea bags and just ask the waiter for hot water.

His wardrobe was equally as eccentric. Belt AND suspenders held up a pair of paints which seams had seen better days, and a grayish-white-short-sleeve-button-up topped the ensemble.  The upper pocket of this shirt held a worn-out pocket protector which held only one piece of literature:

A pamphlet with the words, ‘Perhaps Today’.

He was quite a site.

On paper, his life was not marked by worldly possessions, but, I would suggest it far-surpassed most.

This man, who happened to be my grandfather, was my first witness of Jesus in words, and by action. A former missionary to Venezuela, he went on to pastor a very small congregation in the Midwest, without pay. He invested countless hours into the lives of only a handful of people for many years.

Yet, the fruit of his labor was far-reaching—much farther than I ever knew.

On the other side of the world, a walking postman lived in Ghana, West Africa. One day while working his route, he noticed a piece of paper on the ground. He reached down and picked it up and put it in his pocket. Later, he read the words, simply titled, ‘The Good News’. This homemade Bible tract was hand-produced by my grandfather, from the other side of the world.

How it reached the ground of this man’s path—only God knows.

But, the result was far-reaching. This man, whose whole family ended up converting to Christianity, went on to become a pastor himself. He planted home churches and shared the Good News of Jesus throughout his lifetime.

Though they never physically met, and related solely by hand-written letters, they worked alongside each other for both their lifetimes.

As a result, the trajectory of many lives changed because of their dedication. How many–only God knows.

Sometimes we don’t see the fruit of our labor, or, how far-reaching our actions can be…

May I encourage you today?  

Your actions are far-reaching–much more than you may ever know.

The Agony of Defeat

I write this on the cusp of crying.  My throat feels raw and tears attempt to fill the gap of grief that desires to overtake me.

Yet, I am determined to not let discouragement take over.

It is just a rejection.  It does not mean I am not a writer because I have yet to be published.  You would think by now I could easily dismiss the emotional overreaction from these dismissal letters.  Apparently not.

Why is it defeat is so defeating to our wellbeing?  

The other day I awoke from a dream with a single word, in all caps, centered in my conscious:

CONTENT

I wonder if this was perfectly placed to keep me from wallowing in the self-pity trap which can accompany times like these?

I don’t know.

I do know though that tears are actually a form of relief.

So, I guess I will give up the fight and allow them to fall freely.

I will then sip my sorrows with a glass of Cabernet and nice, warm bath.

Tomorrow is another day.

And, as a wise man once said–

I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances.

I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I

’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am…-Apostle Paul

Good night my friends.

Avoiding the Long Lines of Melancholy

It has been awhile hasn’t it?  With the hustle and bustle of the season, and the selling and reselling of our house that has been on the market since August, I have been in somewhat of a writer’s rut. Maybe this will be my resolution for 2015–to write more frequently…

Who am I kidding?  We know this, like all spectacular promises made, whether the first day of the year, or the first day of the week, seem to find their way unresolved.

Really, as I sit her pondering the emotion I attempt to express, I cannot seem to build words around the ache, that is not exactly pain.

I think it is melancholy that attempts to arrive and accompany me.  It is not like I don’t know her.  She seems to make an uninvited appearance and knock persistently on the door of my heart, to unravel every heartstring of emotion that was sentimentally put in place the day before.

I think it is because Christmas is truly the most wonderful time of the year.

Maybe because this day represents the idea of hope.  

Think about it.  We plan our whole month around this one day–hoping it is a success.

The peak for me is, after standing in a long line spending entirely too much on a gift, to see the spontaneous broad smile accompany a loved-ones profile.

Tears enter my eyes, and my heart feels all mush.

Unfortunately, this moment arrives, and leaves, all in a matter of a day.

It is no wonder the day after is a dull disappointment.

Standing in lines to return the gift you graciously gave a curtsy of a pleased expression.

Seeing the small pieces of wrapper debris alerting you to the fact it is over.  Another Christmas soon to be packaged in its plastic containers.

At this point in a post, so not to bring the reader entirely down in the dumps, there needs to be the subtle shift to alert you that it will not end at a crisis point, but point you to the reason for our hope that will end with a nice verse to piecemeal it in perfect place…

But, really, it is okay to feel disappointment.

It is alright to feel an ache of dissatisfaction.

It is okay to be melancholy.

Because this life is truly temporary.  Before we know it, it will be over.

How’s that for dreary?

Really, this is the reason we celebrate in HIS honor–He is the reason for our hope.

Knowing we one day will live in an eternity without melancholy makes today feel entirely okay.

Sometimes Life Does Not Play Fair

She stood in the room and looked around at her whereabouts with a perplexed gaze.

The nurse who noticed her disorientation, took her by the arm and gently guided this beautiful lady of retirement age to the changing area, sectioned off by a curtain, and instructed her to change into the pink gown provided on the chair.  She was here for the same reason every other woman over 40 was–to have a date with cumbersome humiliation on a hard, cold surface, AKA the mammogram.

But, after a couple moments, it was obvious something was not quite right.  She seemed to have difficultly understanding the simple assignment and became restless, so the nurse stepped in and assisted her into her gown.

Afterward, she was told to sit in a chair and wait.

She sat beside me for the couple of minutes until her name was called.  Uncomfortable in her surroundings, she smoothed the edges of her gown.

I attempted conversation, but, I was a loss for words.

If I had to guess, I would say she had Alzheimer’s.

Lost.  Yet, entirely there.  

I wondered how many recognizable moments of awareness she had in the space of a day.

I wondered how her husband felt, as he sat in the waiting room, and wondered if his wife was okay back there–since he must have dealt with her disorientation on a daily basis.

Does she recognize him at all outside of the role of caretaker?

Sad.  So sad.

I noticed them as they entered the office minutes earlier, arm in arm.  I admired this picture of the perfect elderly couple.  Both leaning slightly inward toward each other, walking in unison as if they held each other up.

I am sure he pictured his wife by his side, spending hours upon hours of fond recollection of memories of days gone by as they entered retirement age–Not the daze which accompanied her lack of recollection.

Sometimes life does not play fair.  

But, what if life was all good–with no downs, and only ups–

No sickness and only health–

All wealth, and no poverty–

No loss–

No hardships–

Then, how often would we need to lean in on our Savior to hold us up?  

How often would we search aimlessly for His Presence, and when we discover Him, rest in His unfathomable peace?  

How often would we desire to gaze into His face, which we will see in full recognition, upon our arrival into our final destination?  

Shut Up Already!

“eh oh whey oh, ehhh oh whey ohhh…”

How is it a song you can’t stand will stay in your mind, playing its rhythm over and over again, until you venture on the verge of insanity?

For that matter, why does that never seem to happen with tunes that are actually music to the ears?

Ever an investigator, I research Google, and discover that this phenomenon is quite common.

And, the remedies to end its incessancy are endless.  The top answers are as follows:

Distract yourself

Concentrate your thoughts on something else

TELL IT TO SHUT UP ALREADY! (Just don’t do this one in public as it can cause quite a scene)

But, my favorite one is almost too simple…

Simply play another song over it.  

Okay.  Sounds simple enough.

Find a song and play it over the tortuous tune until my mind sings along to another song.

Hmmm.  It seems to work.

Okay, what if I applied this simple solution to the same negative musings that run incessantly in my mind?  Like the ones that play over and over again attempting to pull me down with endless chants of negativity?

I would give you an example, but I am certain you have your own playlist pounding in your head.

What if the solution is as simple as that?

Okay.  Sounds simple enough.

May I suggest a love song?  I mean, really, who doesn’t like to be serenaded every now and then?

My favorite line is from a famous king named Solomon from way, way back —

You are beautiful, my darling,
beautiful beyond words.

You are beautiful, my darling,
beautiful beyond words.

You are beautiful, my darling,
beautiful beyond words.

You know what?  I am feeling rather beautiful today 🙂

Ps. In case you couldn’t guess the tune at the top of this post–it is also from way back–like in the 80’s you know…

‘Walk Like an Egyptian’ 

 

No One Knows What Goes on Behind Closed Doors

“No one knows what goes on behind closed doors…”

If these words do not form a tune in your mind right about now, let me just say it is a line from a cheesy country song from way back when.

Still, we don’t know what exactly goes on in the privacy of another’s life, do we?

I didn’t want to be in this particular place today.  The last few days have been more than difficult, and I have used all of my reserved smiles for the rest of the year.  But, commitment won out in the end and I sat composed and quiet in fear my tears would make their way to the surface of my eyes.

So, much to my surprise, I watched the tears fall like buckets from the lady who sat near me.  Shocked because I saw her life as “all together” next to my world which seemed to be crumbling away around the edges.

I could tell as she wiped them away, like a car wiper in a rainstorm, that this was not on her agenda.

She wanted them to remain under lock and key–tucked safely in her hurt heart.    

It made me wonder at her loss of composure–what if I looked at others with a different mindset?

What if I viewed individuals without the assumption their lives are in tact and their acts “all together”, but instead saw them as quite possibly as messed up as me?

I may be more gracious as a result.

More forgiving.

More loving.

Because, truth be told, most of us have a whole lot going on behind closed doors that we struggle with sharing out in the open in fear someone may shut the door in our faces if they only knew the depth of our struggles.

Just a thought.

By helping each other with your troubles, you truly obey the law of Christ.

(Galations 6:2 NCV)

I’ll Be Back

Right about the time Arnold Schwarzenegger was about to lose the battle in one of his blockbuster pictures, these words would fall from his accented lips–

I’ll be back.

Meaning, watch out–he was not finished yet.

I wonder sometimes, will I get back to the person I was before depression sucker-punched me in the gut?

I used to be this bubbly girl, known for her excitement, passion and over-the-top God moments.  Always telling a story–always excited about what God was up to–always encouraging–always smiling.

But, a part of the movie of my life has me looking back to lost scenes.  Ones deleted from my memory.  I am not certain if this was a deliberate decision on my part, or more of a subconscious derailing me from the oncoming collision I was not prepared to encounter.

These short clips have made their way to the surface of my awareness this last year or so.

They are not the kind of scenes I wish to recall.

I would rather they stay gone for good.

But, there comes a time when awareness makes way to acknowledgement.

And acknowledgement slowly gives way to acceptance.

Not acceptance that says this was okay.  But, more of accepting the fact that there was some significant trauma I’ve encountered in my early years that continues to hold me down to this day.

I have never correlated the fact that my depression may be in part tied to my past.  Most often, I attribute it to just something that is part of me that rises its ugly dark head on occasion and attempts to suck the breath from my joy.

But, I wonder if it is more complex a creature.

A licensed counselor commented during a recent sermon that a majority of cases she counseled for depression were because of swallowed anger.

Often times, the person had no idea that anger was even an issue, let alone the cause.

Until recently, I had no idea I held onto anger.  Yet, very slowly I began to seethe at the thought of some specific individuals.  Not liking this feeling in the least, I would diffuse this emotion very quickly by replacing it with a smile.

Here I am today with a smile that has faded.  

But, no more.  I need to deal with this my past.  I need to feel the hurt and pain.  So, I can get through it.

My hope is this heavy hand on my heart will be kicked to the curb in doing so.

And, like Arnold–

I will be back.  

Maybe not exactly the same bubbly girl without a care in the world.  Because, really, she had a whole lot of concerns she concealed that occasionally bubbled up and over, and brought her down.

But, be back, stronger than ever–ready to flex my jaw muscles again.

My hope is for you out there who also struggle to suffocate your hurts–

Allow them to rise to the surface–so they can be released once and for good.