The Cursive Letter ‘d’

 

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Cursive has always given me a mild form of cognitive dissonance. The gentle flow of the pen and the beauty of seamlessly connected letters massage my right brain; while the inefficiency of tracing and retracing the same lines pierces my left brain. I mean honestly, let’s just discuss how you make the cursive letter “d”: glide up ~ arch slightly ~ slide back all the way around ~ glide up to the top line ~ slide all the way back down the SAME line ~ curve out. With all of that tracing and retracing I could have printed the letter 3 times…yet even explaining it sounds graceful and delicate…but seriously the wastefulness stirs up real anger inside me sometimes…. Back and forth the whole time I write like laser tag in my corpus callosum.

You see my problem…ok maybe the cursive letter d is not really a problem, but this concept of retracing resounds through my life. I will twist and wind through neighborhoods and city streets, just so I do not have to backtrack, I always walk on diagonals for most efficient travel and I completely reversed a month long trip in Europe after getting on the train bound for the wrong city. I often question why traveling the same road twice agitates me to the point of entering Switzerland rather then Germany. And maybe in pursuit of energy conservation, I am missing the beauty and elegance found only in the painstaking art of cursive.

Maybe God needs to take me up to the top line and then all the way back down the SAME line to create something truly beautiful? Perhaps in the trip back down I will catch all the sweet treasures and grace I missed on the way up? And possibly if I had switched trains rather then routes, I would not have spent a night homeless on the cold concrete outside the Mulhouse, France train station…

I am reaching a place where beauty outweighs effort and I think I want to live in cursive rather than in print.

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Relearning to Breathe

Life as a servant, not a teacher or a helper or a volunteer, carries a different air and a different purpose.  You see, life as a servant is so very different because you are no longer the smarter, better prepared, and more educated person, you are simply a humble maid seeking to meet the needs of your employer. As a servant, I realize that my role is not to fix everything or design a perfect world with my middle class mindset, but rather to go back to Christ’s nature that brings healing. As I walk through Springfield and the ends of the Earth, I hear the battle cry of children fighting over love, attention, opportunity and food. Their cries pile upon you like shrills in a war zone and at times I feel like the need consumes me.

Yet, true beauty is not found in the accolades, material belongings or profound talents. True beauty emerges from the struggle. The incredible spirits that survive and even attempt to thrive among the daily challenges is truly beautiful. The President of World Vision defines poverty as the lack of opportunity and this battle ensues all around.

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These children do not need my pity or wise instruction; they need someone to listen and encourage them. They need someone who can recognize their brilliance and their challenges; they need someone with something positive to say; they need to know their Creator. I seek to invest in lives and attempt to understand my friends’ daily battles. On my bad days, I pretend everything is ok and on my better days I realize the ugliness of my sin of ignorance.

I feel like there are two parts to this chosen avoidance. First my daily life becomes a blinder. I live with friends all blessed beyond understanding and I go home to a family who has excelled through life. I fear that I will never understand poverty. The more I think about poverty, the more I recognize this reality. Even if I gave everything and lived a life of “poverty”, I would always know I could escape with a word to my family; and therefore I will never understand the binding power of the absence of opportunity. This lack of understanding becomes a getaway crutch.

The second part is that I am overwhelmed by the problems. It is hard to know the truth and still feel powerless. Ignorance can be so blissful. I am reminded of the movie Blindside. The picture of two worlds colliding and the realization that all the stereotypes, both parties held, are lies passed through generations. I just want to fix things…find solutions…care for all the hurting. I want to break the restrictions we put on ourselves and reveal the true beauty within each of us. Yet, I am overwhelmed by the task, so I avoid the problem.

The trouble is… I may be able to avoid the “problems”, but these are reality. I like to think that it is not my reality…but it is. My experiences have taught me that my ignorance, reluctance and weak words tighten the grip of poverty. Therefore, in reality, I am part of the “problem”. I see I really have little power, but like the air, each tiny particle is interconnected. We all breathe and share the same air, and while it may be small, our breath impacts the entire atmosphere. God’s ability to magnify our tiny breaths and His desire to draw all men to Himself and be their healer gives significance to my triviality. Every thing we release alters the makeup of the globe and therefore, everyday, I am relearning how to breathe.

Bobby Pins

It seems like all other things in life bobby pins come in seasons. I have noticed that at times my hair routine seems to consist of rummaging, raking and resorting to stealing my roommates bobby pins. And then other times, like today, I find bobby pins under my sink, on my desk, in the dresser drawer, on my floor board, in my makeup bag and generally in all the places I searched for them yesterday. Why is it that some days we search with such intent and drive and frustration, only to come up void and other times, when we are barely looking, our hair clip container brims?

“Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalms 46:10

Maybe it is time I get my hands off of the desperate search and let the Lord bring a bounty of bobby pins ministry to my attention!

Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda

Do you ever look to the next phase in life and think ….”when that time comes I’ll have it together…I’ll be more disciplined, diligent, free, tidy, savvy, stylish, friendlier…better?” Do you look to the future and see the end result forgetting the journey it takes to get there?
I have smacked into the fallacy of these thoughts once again. My thoughts went something like this…. I will be in ministry and be diligent in my studies and my work. I will not be tempted to surf facebook and pintrest and my every thought will be on the nations, my job and the kingdom. This makes a great prayer and aspiration but it does not resemble reality. Don’t misunderstand me my heart still beats for the nations and I still get some work done and spend some coveted time with our sweet Lord, but I also get distracted, mess up and at times prefer watching How I Met Your Mother to investing in the Word.

I have forgotten the journey and my pride wells up within me creating a conundrum between diligence, anxiety and failure. I want to be a jack of all trades, perfect in every aspect of my life and my ministry. I desire passion, movement and fruit not as a means of change or picture God’s glory, but as a tool to validate my life and my purpose. Selfish ambition and the approval of men begin to cloud the beauty and the mission and failure begins to diminish my perceived beauty.

1 Thessalonians 5:24-25 says “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole body, spirit and soul be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the One who calls you is faithful and HE WILL DO IT.” Oh the God of peace, He will do it when I put aside my selfish ambition and rest in His sanctification. Change must start in prayer and with His power.

I’m not perfect….working at a missions agency does not give me worth or validate my existence and role in the kingdom…but Christ does.

Love ’em Fiercely but Hold ’em Loosely…

What do people mean when they say they want to live to 120? From my observations old age doesn’t look that appealing. Maybe what we are really trying to say is we want to LIVE life. We want to have the time to travel a bit, love a lot, be loved even more, pass on some genes, climb a tall mountain, ride a raging river,  calm a troubled child and most of all leave a legacy. But then if we are counting on 43,800 days of life we may never get started before it is too late.

Africans live life. In the middle of disease, dirt and death I see real living. Yes they strive and still have little, but they love and they embrace community with all that is in their being. To my Malian family all things find significance in human interaction. They have taught me what living looks like… it’s giving from your nothingness, it’s bringing out the drums and dancing when your friend arrives,  it’s holding hands on a hot day, and it is investing when you know you have to say goodbye. Oh how they love… they love so feircely but they hold you so loosely because they experience the reality of this world. So now I say love people so fiercely it hurts and hold them gentle enough so not to restrict their wings.

So here is to living life…even if just for another day. Here is to waking up passionate for the Lord and oozing His love out of all our broken places.