Humiliation in Hobby Lobby

I have hesitated for a while as I considered writing about this. For, like, two years.  Almost exactly.  But as I pursue my call to live out loud, this is what I need to share: one of the turning points of my recent years.

Just about two years ago, slightly more, I was in one of the hardest places of my life. Ever. No exaggeration.  I was about six months into the shiny new world of health “challenges,” struggling deeply with my as-yet-undiagnosed chronic illness, fatigued to the bone, weak (couldn’t stand for more than a few moments), in pain, and fighting hard with the fear that threatened to choke me out.  Add to that an ailing elderly parent and a teenage daughter making colorful choices and you have what I was at that moment. A bit of a train wreck.

It had been a couple of weeks since I’d felt able to venture out on my own.  At that point, I couldn’t drive a lot, so I usually had my daughter, my son, or my husband (when he was in town) drive me to where I needed to go.  I didn’t get out much. But one day, feeling extra adventurous, I set forth to our local Hobby Lobby. Alone.

It was grey and a little drizzly, perfect fall afternoon. My objective was to replenish my yarn supply so I could continue my most recent obsession, knitting. I parked as close as I could and grabbed my cane/stool that went everywhere with me, just in case I needed to sit down mid-browse.  Cart acquired, I set forth to the yarn, found more than I needed and, feeling a bit over-confident, I thought I’d stroll through the beautiful fall decorations and take a few minutes to savor just being out.

I navigated my cart up and down a couple of aisles and my body made it clear that, in no uncertain terms, I needed to sit down. Now. So I pulled the cane/stool (his name is Sit-izen Cane, BTW) I’d so wisely brought along for just such an occasion from the cart, unfolded it, and started to sit down to take a much-needed pause. Except the pause ended in a crash. Unbeknownst to me, one of the screws in my stool had fallen out and the whole thing collapsed as I fell full weight into a display of ceramic pumpkins. Awesome.

Alerted by my ruckus, an old lady with a walker rounded the corner and asked me if I needed help. Awesome again. As if this sweet walker-wielding granny could help me get up. I was scraped, bruised and so, so embarrassed.  Pumpkin fragments at my feet and tears on my face, I insisted I was okay, I would be fine.

Then the manager/cavalry rides up, apologizing to me, asking if I need help, calling for cleanup on aisle 5. More awesomeness.

All I wanted was to melt into the linoleum floor and disappear. All I could think was “I’m NOT this girl! I’m the super competent career girl! I’m the girl who climbed Half Dome! I’m not this weak, not this needy, not the woman who crashes into pumpkin displays and calls attention to the fact that she’s not who she used to be.”

Mr. Manager insisted on pushing my cart, insisted I didn’t need to pay for the broken pumpkins that lay scattered on the floor next to my shattered pride, insisted on checking out my yarn purchase himself and escorting me to the car.

Once there, once alone, I turned the corner from the trying-to-hold-it-together-in-a-public-place-where-I’ve-humiliated-myself-enough-for-one-day-thank-you-very-much-cry to full-on-ugly-cry. I sat in that parking lot, tears pouring, raging- at this illness for taking so much from me, even the ability to do something so simple, at God for not consulting me on this whole illness thing to begin with, at the manager for being so stinking nice (never said I made sense)- and mourning- at the loss of independence, at the loss of my sense of self, at the loss of all my former plans.  The words “God, I don’t WANT to be disabled,” wrenched themselves out in between sobs, “I don’t want to have to depend on everyone else.”  I waited for an answer. It felt as if my raging, mourning, and cries bounced back off the ceiling of my car as the rain poured down outside.

I got it together enough to drive myself home, still snuffling, still stung, still straining to hear God in the midst of this mess.

And I did.

I’ve got you, and I’ve got this, He told me. Trust me, He whispered, it’s for your good. I can use this. In that moment I had to choose to trust or not.

I took a deep breath as I climbed out of my car, walked into our home, and I knew. I knew I could depend on Him. On His purpose. On His timing. Even through the raging and the bruised body and pride, He had me.

Two years later and two time zones away, he still has me. I recently walked through our local Hobby Lobby, mindful of where God has brought me and how different everything looks.  He’s taken me a long way from that pile of shattered pumpkins and the spate of parking lot ugly-crying.

I am daily grateful for the way He has blessed my life and family, led me to a better doctor, given me a new church home, and given me an oh-so-appreciated measure of physical recovery. I will likely never be completely free of fibromyalgia, but God has given me ways to manage it to the point that allows me to do most normal person things much of the time on many of my days (interspersed with rest).  He has been steadfast and faithful, in all the hard things and all the good things.

But don’t miss this piece. Even still, I need to focus daily on what I CAN do, not what I CAN’T do.  God doesn’t ask me to do what I can’t do. He asks me to do what I CAN, through His strength and blessing, do.  Chronic illness or not. He does the same with you.  He never demands that you do what you can’t do.  He calls you do do what you can with His help.

I am not disabled, I am ENABLED by my God to do what He is calling me to do. And so are you.

Acts 2:25 I saw the LORD ever before me, because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Unstuck

It’s been a while since I sat down to write.  I could blame it on traveling (which I did) or on preparing for my mother in law coming to stay with us this weekend as she’s moving into her new place a few miles away (which she is) or I could blame it on preparing to go back to work part time (which I am). Valid excuses, all.

But.  There’s more to it. I get stuck, you see. Inside my head. It’s a carnival of crazy in there sometimes. I get stuck in overthinking what I “should” be as a writer instead of just writing. And so the spiral begins that gets me paralyzed, stuck in the should and not doing anything about it. I would literally rather clean out my fridge than try to write. (and I may have done that this morning) Because that next step is just to scary.  What if I get it wrong? What if I pour out my soul on a page yet again and it doesn’t make a difference? What if no one reads it? What if, what if what if…

I am convinced (with the help of a good friend who knows me oh so well) that this is one of the major tools Satan uses to keep me from doing what God is asking of me.  Which is to live out loud. Which is to speak my truth. Which is to share with you what He’s teaching me without getting caught up in what a blog “should” be. Which is to just be real.

Does any of this sound familiar? Can I get an Amen? Do you ever feel this place of “stuck”? Tell me I’m not the only one.  I doubt, I worry, I wonder if it matters. But it does. What I do matters and what you do matters. God put each of us on this planet with a specific voice, a specific set of one-of-a-kind gifts, a specific set of not-always-easy experiences and that curious amalgam is what we need to walk out, however that looks according to His perfect plan and timing. And Satan doesn’t want any piece of this to happen. He wants to stymie our voice when God wants us to shout. He wants us (me) to stay stuck in the second-guessing instead of just doing the simple next thing in front of us.

My knows-me-oh-so-well friend, in this same pep talk, gave me an awesome analogy: We all have a microphone. It’s up to God to adjust the volume.

Wow. Yeah. That’s it.  I need to speak into this world what He has put inside me, and maybe you do, too, whether that’s through writing or loving your family or reaching out to someone who’s hurting. The reach, the influence, the scope, that’s all in God’s hands.

So my microphone and I refuse to stay stuck. And I’ll trust God to adjust the volume to His liking.

One Year as an Intentional Texan

We close our eyes and the world has turned around again,
We close our eyes and another year has come and gone,
We close our eyes and the world has turned around again,
We close our eyes and dream…
     -Oingo Boingo
One year. More song lyrics spring to mind, but I’ll spare you.
We recently returned from a trip to California (helping our daughter move into her dorm for her sophomore year of college). As we landed at DFW airport, it struck me full force that it was the anniversary of the first time I landed there, when I stepped off the plane into the unknown of my new life. I might add here that my arrival last September I opened a text I received in-flight, my new down the street neighbor (now a very dear friend) warning me about snakes in my backyard.  Oh. My. Goodness. It’s a wonder I didn’t turn on my heel and walk right back onto that airplane.
But back to my California interlude. I wandered my old hometown while visiting sweet family and friends, but things have shifted. As they do. The place hadn’t changed dramatically, things were still familiar, but didn’t seem like home. It was strange, but I felt no pull to drive on autopilot to our house of 16 years. Hit by the surreal nature of the experience, I pondered as I drove through town, “I don’t live here. Home is somewhere else.”  And it was ok.
Really truly better than ok. I love our Texas life, though I miss my people in California, but I have been intentional in embracing my new home.  I intentionally set out to find my people and my places. I intentionally looked for beauty all around me (and found it!). When God led us to a wonderful new church family, I intentionally plugged in, joined a small group (or two) and started leading a small group in our home. I intentionally bought cowboy boots.  They’re black and really cute and very comfortable and go with more than you’d think. I intentionally looked for a doctor who would be able to help me and God led me to someone wonderful who DID help me. (read this if you haven’t already) I intentionally explored and fell in love with Fort Worth and all our small towns surrounding it.
However. This whole moving-to-Texas-thing has been one of the toughest things I’ve done.  Don’t let all my intentionality lead you to think otherwise.  It was SO. HARD. Hard to leave, to walk out in faith, going to a place I’d never seen far from everyone (except my husband and son) and everything I’d known for 49 years, leaving my friends, my family (including my tiny baby daughter at college in California), my church home, my doctors, my safe places.
But walk out we did. And tears were shed. And loneliness crushed down sometimes and I would forget to breathe for a moment. And I kept getting up, kept making our Texas house a home, kept reaching out to people here and people in California, my tribe old and new. Kept finding ways to embrace where we were and choose to love my life. Kept being intentional. Home, you see, isn’t just a place, but a gradual process, a thousand little steps, sometimes hard-won. It’s not overnight but it is worth the effort.
You’ll always find what you’re looking for, someone once told me.  If you’re looking for the good, there it is right in front of you. If you’re looking for the worst in every situation, it will be there, staring you in the face.
But as a year has passed we have learned so much. You can choose your home and what home feels like. You can choose to move forward instead of being stuck looking back; you hold onto the precious things you already have and carry them into a new season, a new place. I’m told by some of my Californians that I have developed a bit of an accent, which makes me laugh. Sure, I’ll embrace it.
I haven’t written a lot about the move itself and our whole transition, largely because it felt too raw and too much in flux, but the thread of God’s leading and His blessing has run throughout.  The logistics of the move were so smooth, our deals to sell and buy houses went without a hitch, and we all got back here safe and sound, as did our stuff. It was the thousand degrees of letting go that were so hard and kept sneaking back in to remind me of what was lost. But not really lost, is it? Those who were dear to me still are. And those dear to me in Texas would remain unknown, as would the joys of so many things purely Texan, if I hadn’t trusted God’s leading and walked through the doors He opened.
Be intentional wherever God has you and make home where He directs.

Leaving Home and Going Home

Another page in the story of our family was turned this week, but a familiar one.

This week we put our tiny baby girl (who is, in actuality, a smart, confident, 19 1/2 year old young woman) on an airplane to return to California for her sophomore year of college at University of the Pacific, my husband’s alma mater.

We were blessed to have her with us in Texas for the summer (OUR first Texas summer, incidentally) and though we knew it was just for three months, we slipped into that all-four-of-us-under-one-roof-normal so easily.  I felt much as it always did, all of us living together, our family united.

She was introduced to the joys of summer storms and the brilliance of Texas summer sky.  She learned to love Kolaches for breakfast and embraced gorgeous walks in the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens.

But. Then she went back to school.  Getting a bit teary in the airport watching her walk away from me I was reminded that she doesn’t really live with me anymore.

She visits.  She spends time. But she is moving forward with her life, as she should.

I spent the last day or so cleaning the guest room where she stayed and the adjacent bathroom. While some of her stuff lives in the closet and in the nightstand, she doesn’t live here.  It’s a stopping place.

She is so welcome and we are so grateful for her time with us. But she lives for real somewhere else as she charts the path she needs to follow.

As this rolled around in my head, I couldn’t help but be reminded of my home.  Not my California former home, not my Texas home.  But my true home.

Once heaven is our home in our hearts, this place, regardless of how much we are loved here and how blessed our time here is, shifts into being a stopping place.  Our stuff may be here, we may store it in the closet, but this isn’t our permanent address.

It’s hard to remember that some days, when things here are all-consuming and you can’t seem to get your head above water.  It’s in those times I need to remember that my “light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that outweighs them all.” 2 Corinthians 4:17 NLT.

It’s not all troubles and hardship, by any means.  I need to be joyful in my current place, as my daughter did during her humid but lovely Texas summer, while knowing that this place is temporary.  This phase is a season. And that my job here is to find all joy in that season. And to be a blessing to all I can bless during this time, this stopover on my way to home.

I saw my daughter bless many during her Texas summer.

I watched her choose to look for beauty.

I observed her choosing joy.

I saw her reach out to those who aren’t like her and form wonderful bonds.

I need to do the same- I choose to do the same. Without losing sight of where I’m going.

 

 

 

August: Beginnings and Endings

August always seems like a time of beginning and ending, a change of season when one doesn’t actually exist. 

I think this is largely because our kids’ school has always started in August, and because for many years as I taught, it was back to school/work for me as well.  And I love that feeling, that shift to a new page, a new “year,” often involving a new planner of some sort, which makes things extra wonderful.  Ahem.

August feels like a time of ending as well: end of summer, end of that more-relaxed season, end of our kids at home (both of ours went away for their Freshman year of college during August, leaving for real for the first time).  Endings and beginnings, packing up and starting anew. 

This was especially true last summer, beginnings endings interwoven, and much of that has been running around my brain these past weeks. 

A year ago we were packing up.  Everything.  Our house in California had sold, our new house (which I had yet to see) was purchased two time zones away in Texas, and we were embroiled in sorting out every stinkin’ thing we owned, deciding what to keep and move 1400 miles, what to sell/donate, and what to toss, sure that no one would want it.  It was overwhelming.  Ending our time in our home of 16 years, beginning a totally new chapter in a new place.

A dear friend just went through this dance a month and a half ago, sorting, packing, selling, moving.  Ugh. Brought back memories.  I was tired just thinking about it.

In any case, we weren’t just packing ourselves last August, but our daughter, our youngest kid, was going away to college for the first time and she was forced to decide what to take with her, what to send to Texas with us, and what really didn’t matter enough to keep.  I was so impressed with her ability to distill that so quickly:  Decide what bore keeping, what as essential, and what she could let go. 

Such a vital skill, the more I think about it.  Not just in the event of moving everything you own into a tiny dorm room, but in life.  One thing this move has taught me is that traveling light through this world is essential to traveling well.  If we try to drag everything along with us, we are weighed down and the journey is just so much harder.  If we keep hauling everything that’s ending, we have no space for what’s beginning.

So as we walk on, we need to leave behind the stuff, not just physical but mental and spiritual, that weighs us down.  We need to decide what parts of what’s ending bears keeping.  We need to decide- in every season of life- what is most essential, what we need to decide what to bring forward to the new beginning.  And we need to have the courage to discard what is of no value as we begin the next season.

 In all of this process, I’ve seen the value of learning to walk on with grace and openness.  The freedom in  leaving behind the blame and bitterness, and bringing forward the people and relationships that help us grow and become.   

I am reminded again of a post from over a year ago, back in another season of life.  Take a look at it here: http://kathleentysinger.com/2016/06/13/gardens-and-suitcases

I encourage you, sweet friends, to travel light through this world.  In this season of ending and beginning, don’t allow the burdens of what has ended pull you down from what’s beginning.

If a tree falls in the forest…

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make any sound? 

It always annoyed me, that old philosophical question.  Seemingly deep but mostly reduced to a cliché, trite and shallow from overuse.  Well.  Then it suddenly applies. 

I have spent a lot of time wondering about the things I do all day long, the things no one sees, the things that seem to make zero difference in the world at large.  If I do them and nobody sees, does it make any difference?  Do I make any real noise?  After most of 2 years being fairly isolated due to the wonderful world of fibromyalgia, this question has resonated in my heart.  When confronted with the idea that I might never return to the “outside world” or workforce, what then do I contribute within my four walls?  

It’s a bigger question, reaching beyond those working life around chronic illness.  I’ve talked to two of my very dear friends this week who echoed these thoughts. 

Though in different seasons, both women wondered aloud to me whether what they were doing inside their four walls mattered.  Social girls, both, now navigating a season of solitary work for different reasons.  One friend is the homeschooling mom of 4, her oldest about to launch into the military.  One friend is another homeschooling mom who is also the full-time caregiver for her elderly mother. 

 Both women work behind the scenes, without recognition, without most people even knowing what they do.  But they put their all into it.  And then they get up the next day and do it again.  They each voiced to me the burden of the everyday, the sameness, the hard pieces of this season of in-between.  And they wonder if they make any sound in this world. 

But this is Holy work.  Truly.  I remind myself as I reminded them.  This behind-the-scenes-daily-sameness is what keeps life going.  This is the underpinning of it all; without these sacred routines of service and love, their loved ones’ lives would not work.  Nor would my loved ones’ lives.  

   In Matthew 23, Jesus calls the Pharisees out on their desire to do everything to impress other people, more concerned with the opinions of those around them than with truly pleasing God and serving others.  This is the opposite of the heart my sweet friends carry, these warrior women who love and serve God and their families fiercely.  But I know so many who understand this feeling of invisibility, myself included.  Know you aren’t invisible.  Know God sees and knows.  The work done within our own four walls is done not to be seen by society, but is done to bless those we love. 

We make our own sounds, sometimes only heard by those at closest range to us and by our Creator.  In serving them, we serve Him.  In loving behind the scenes, in doing this Holy work, we bless His heart.

 Whatever our season, we need to (meaning I need to) keep foremost in our mind the audience of One we truly serve, whether our voices and our noises echo outside our four walls or not.  They echo in eternity.

 

Facebook Memories and Trusting God in the “No”

Facebook memories are interesting reminders.  You know, those notifications that pop up and show you what you were doing that date however many years ago?  Odd what they dredge up in our brains.  This week couldn’t have been a more diverse spread of past experiences, these landmarks showing up on my feed, these reminders greeting me first thing in the morning. 

Five years ago last week I was in peak physical condition and hiked/climbed to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite with my husband and some stalwart and hardy hiking friends.  I remember that grueling day, hot and dry, 13 hours of constant physical exertion, spanning 20 miles of up and down, boasting a 5,000-foot elevation gain.  I had trained for months to be able to do that hike and felt an enormous sense of elation and accomplishment after finishing.  And exhaustion.  Let’s not forget the exhaustion.   But my life felt so full of “yes.”  Yes, I made it.  Yes, I trained hard and I did this hard-core thing.  Yes, I could do other hard things.  Yes.

 Two years ago last week I resigned from a job I loved because my then-new chronic illness had removed my ability to function in a normal way, removed my ability to do little more than be on the couch, and certainly removed the ability to keep up my busy and demanding job with its 45 minute commute on each end of each day.  Riding home from that meeting with my boss, one had I had dreaded yet accepted as something that must be, I remember feeling betrayed by my body and adrift as to what my life would mean going forward.  And my life felt so very much like it was full of “no.”  No more career.  No more being surrounded by people all day. No more achievement. No more strength to do even the basic things. No answers or healing. No. 

One year ago last week I was at the She Speaks conference in Charlotte, North Carolina along with 800 or so other hopeful Christian women speakers, writers, bloggers, and leaders.  What an experience!  I loved meeting these other amazing women from all over the country, hearing their stories, learning at the feet of some of the most genuine and successful speakers and writers in the business.  I left with a full heart but no book deal.  Which was okay.  But in the moment felt like a whole lot of “no.”  No, thanks, you don’t have enough followers.  No, this market is very hard to crack.  No, your heart bled out on a page isn’t quite what we’re looking for.  No.

 But I’ve learned, and been reminded by these Facebook notifications, that what feels like “no” isn’t really always a “no” in God’s view.  Often it’s a “this isn’t the right time,” or “I have something else in mind, something that’s a better fit,” or “let’s go this direction instead,” or “not with this book,” or “not with these people.” 

What feels like “no” is really God making space for a different “yes.” Making space usually means getting rid of what was or setting aside what we want or have, both difficult things.  But “no” frees up space whereas “yes” tends to fill it up.  

 As I walk through this life, God shows me over and over that a walk of faith, one that is focused on trusting Him more than getting the outcome I expected, is a walk of “yes.”  Yes, I will keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, author and perfecter of my faith.  Yes, I will go where He wants me.  Yes, I will move to Texas and watch what He does with it.  

Everyone has these elated, mountaintop (pun intended) experiences, those big “Life Is Yes” moments, and that’s amazing.  Keep those as milestones in your mind, tuck them into your heart, those things you can point back to, showing what God has already done.  (And yes, He did help me with that climb.  I’m still alive, aren’t I?)  

But in those times when life seems to be made up of nothing but “NO,” that is when your faith gets real.  Really real.  When you’re not aglow with achievement and gloriously-met goals, when instead you feel the chilly shadow of things not looking like you thought they would, THAT, more than any other time, is when we learn to trust.  And you can see beyond the immediate to the possible. 

 Because with God, all things are possible.  And His “no” leads to His best-for-me “yes.”

 

#beholder

I sit across from him, this burly, bearded man on the airport rental car shuttle, as I’m homeward bound from a tagging-along-with-James-on-a-work-trip adventure.  His baseball hat caught my attention: #beholder.  Curiosity piqued, I debated with myself whether to ask what it meant, need-to-know gal that I am.  Beholder of WHAT?  One’s mind reels with the possibilities.

Approaching the terminal, knowing the question burning in my mind may go unanswered if I don’t act quickly, I blurt, “So what’s the story behind your hat?  What does it mean?”  He blinked, surprised, and looked at me. Chuckling, with a half-smile nearly obscured by his impressive beard, he replied, “It’s a fictional creature in Dungeons and Dragons.  You don’t want to run into that guy…” and he proceeded to describe the floating one-eyed, tentacled demon creature who can wipe out all your hit points in one fell swoop.  Ok.  Not what I expected to hear from bearded burly guy.  He’s cordial, chats a bit more about a bunch of successful adult men getting together the play Dungeons and Dragons, wishes us a good trip, and swings his bag over the shoulder as he exits the shuttle, #beholder hat and all.  

 True to form, my mind kept going as we ride on to our terminal stop. After getting through security I sat, waiting to board our flight back home, trying to put down in words what that random guy’s hashtag on a hat sparked in me.  Not visions a floating eye demon, but a way of thinking about myself.  As a beholder.  

The dictionary defines behold as follows:

     See or observe (a thing or person, especially a remarkable or impressive one)

     Synonyms: watch, survey, witness, regard, contemplate. 

This is not a routine glance at a mundane thing.  Throughout the Bible, “behold” almost always precedes something amazing or terrifying.  Something God wanted His people to really focus on. Look hard. See what I’m doing. Pay attention. Sit up and take notice. 

I see. I witness. I bear witness. I behold what is blessed, what is hard, what is beautiful all around me. I behold the unfolding of God’s purpose. I behold the good- no, the best- in the people around me. I behold God’s faithfulness in the face of my struggles. I am a beholder of miracles, of growth, of joy, of the deepest sorrow and pain. I am a beholder of family and loneliness, of connection and drifting, not only in my own life but those around me. I sit up and take notice.

So what? you might ask. Everyone sees all that.  Yes, true statement. But. What do I do with it? What do you do with it? That’s the difference. “Behold” is the first part; there’s always an invitation that’s tacked onto that beholding, something we are to do with what we see. 

As we go through this world “beholding,” may we listen for where God wants us to get involved with what He’s calling our attention to, these remarkable people and situations.  May we be faithful in the next steps, not just seeing and walking away, but being willing to behold and then enter in and take up our part, whether that’s through action, encouragement, celebration, weeping, or praying for someone.  

I challenge you this week to keep eyes open wide.  Be a #beholder (again, not the kind with the tentacles, thank you very much), then step in as God leads you.  Participate in what He is up to right in front of you.  Maybe we should make a hat to go with that…

 

Beauty in the Unexpected

A trip to the dentist office with my daughter is typically not going to be a big inspiration for writing, but you never know when something beautiful is going to land in your world.

We sat in the waiting room as a very elderly woman came in with the assistance of her companion. She was bent over, frail, using a walker with shuffling careful steps, silver haired, soft spoken. She settled into the chair quietly and accepted the magazine her companion offered to pass the time until the appointment. She had a slight expression of confusion on her face, seeming to not quite know what to make of being in the waiting room surrounded by unfamiliar people.

The receptionist called the elderly woman back to the exam room and she, her companion at her elbow, carefully made her way down the hall.

As my daughter was called and we began our journey down the same hallway, this amazing voice began to emanate from an exam room out of my eyeline. A rich velvety alto voice, strong and full, poured forth from seemingly nowhere. Rivaling Rosemary Clooney at her best, this voice, unabashedly and with perfect pitch, navigated lines from old standards and torch songs.

As I got further down the hall, to my great surprise I saw that this robust voice was pouring out of it the elderly woman from the waiting room. In the waiting room she had been near-silent and doddering, but there she was, sharing this incredible gift at the request of the staff who knew this unexpected beauty she possessed inside.

I sat in the exam room with my daughter, my brain spinning, as the a cappella concert continued. The little old lady ended her “set” from down the hall with The Star Spangled Banner and it was all I could to NOT cry.

My daughter laughed at me as she saw me digging out my notebook to capture in words what I had seen and heard. “That’s going to be a blog post, isn’t it, Mom?” Yep.

This little old lady and her songs stuck with me, hovering in the back of my mind. She was unaware of how her gift, coming from such an unlikely source, blessed total strangers within her hearing, just because she was willing to share. Just because she let her beautiful come out.

How often do we forget to tap into the unexpected beauty within us? Sometimes all it takes is an invitation and we are ready to let this treasure pour forth. Sometimes we forget it’s even there, or it remains undiscovered.

There’s beauty all around us and beauty God placed within us, just waiting to be discovered and shared. You have it inside you. I have it inside me.

Today, I challenge you to be that unexpected beauty in someone’s life, that surprise that they aren’t expecting, that sparkle that will change their whole perspective. Sing that song, write that poem, paint that image, dance!

It’s just waiting to be released. And you never know who you’re going to bless.

Let your beautiful come out!

 

Quiet in the Fireworks

Now stand quietly before the Lord as I remind you of all the great things the Lord has done for you and your ancestors. 1 Samuel 12:7 NLT
Doing anything quietly is completely counter to my nature, standing quietly before the Lord even more so.  When I stand before the Lord I usually have a laundry list of things to chat about, to ask Him about, to wonder about, to worry aloud about; a lengthy list of those things most in need His help in my life.  Not quiet.
But this verse gave me pause.  My list of questions, wonderings, and “help me!” items are usually driven by my fear, my worries, my wanting things to be better or at least different.  They are often centered on wanting everything to be taken care of my way in my timing.
They are not classified as standing quietly before my Lord, remembering all He has already done for me and for my ancestors, both physical and spiritual.
I don’t know about you, but I need reminding.  I need my eyes refocused on His resume, His nature, His track record.
He is faithful, He keeps His promises, and His timing is perfect.
Don’t get  me wrong, I know God is there to hear all of my ramblings and worries, ready to listen, ready to comfort, but this reminder, this invitation to pause and remember is a crucial part of the equation.  Standing quietly implies being focused and ready to receive, ready to listen.  Not distracted.  Not coming with my piece to say.  Not coming to be heard, but to listen, to hear, to remember.
Dear Lord, You are faithful.  Always.  Please quiet my soul as you help me remember.  Remind me of how, time and time again, you have cared for me, loved me, forgiven me.  Remind me of all You have done and open my eyes to all you are doing in my life and my circumstances right now.  Thank you for who You are and all You have done.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.