I ran across this picture from 1995. Back when we were a family with small children.
Chase was 7 and Bethany was 3. I was working for educational consultants that officed out of the preschool Bethany attended and I got to see Chase every day as he got off the school bus and came into my office. John was working for an a/v consultant and we lived in our starter home. (And WHAT was going on with my hair???)
These snapshots of moments in time capture where we were. What is more intriguing is what hasn't changed. That Chase is still adventurous. That Bethany still cares deeply. That John and I are still sharing the day-to-day together.
Old photographs are an awesome way to remind us of growth and change. That every phase has it's joys and sorrows. (I believe we were at a funeral that day.) And that the constants are beautifully amazing.
When I was young, missionaries would come speak at our church. Whenever people spoke about missional efforts there were typically lots of maps and numbers from the organizations that funded them.
It was almost like the debrief of a military campaign. Ground being gained. Ground being lost.
My perspective has changed a lot over the years about the goals. I no longer see the hardest task as external ground to be gained, but rather as internal ground to be surrendered.
We are often blind to what is inside ourselves that we keep out of God's reach. It would seem that a lifetime spent pursuing God is a lifetime spent uncovering that ground and surrendering it to Him. What I've found is that the surrender of our internal ground produces healed places. Parts of us that no longer function under the crazy rules the world lays out, but instead enjoys freedom to operate exactly as God intended it to.
The paradox is that much of the ability to "see" the unsurrendered ground inside ourselves is developed in time spent outside of "us." Time spent serving others or simply being alone with God.
I've had an on-again / off-again romance with synthetic hair for awhile now. It always makes me feel like a little girl playing dress-up. Or, like I'm wearing the coolest hat ever.
ANYWAY, last week, I had to run to the mall to pick up some items for work. As I was leaving, I passed a kiosk that sold hair clips. (Very sparkly hairclips, but I digress.)
The three women working there had fantastic hair with all kinds of bling in it. They coaxed me into the chair and went to work. When they turned me around to face the mirror... I LOOKED FANTASTIC. Like seriously movie star fantastic.
When I asked how much it would cost for me to leave the mall looking like that, they quoted me a price that wasn't something I could drop on a whim. However, it did reignite my interest in extensions and I've been shopping them. I even learned how to cut them online.
So...synthetic hair...game on! I can't wait to find just the perfect ones and start playing dress-up again.
David-the-Artist-Pastor shared an amazing quote this week from Phil Vischer, creator of Veggie Tales. (I confess that I have Silly Songs with Larry on my iPod. Why yes, my kids are too old to have experienced Veggie Tales. No, I do not think it is odd that a grown up would have bought this album on her own just because she thought the Water Buffalo song was funny.)
Phil Vischer writes: "The more I dove into Scripture, the more I realized that I had been deluded. I had grown up drinking a dangerous cocktail - a mix of the gospel, the Protestant work ethic, and the American dream...The Savior I was following seemed, in hindsight, equal parts Jesus, Ben Franklin and Henry Ford. My eternal value was rooted in what I could accomplish."
We are raised in a culture of doing. We work to earn a living. We work to earn God's favor. Even our rest is filled with activity. We watch television, we surf the internet, we play video games. We are measured by the things we do. We don't believe we are valuable simply in being who we are.
And so we spend chasing the carrots. Or we get so protective of our "me time" that we refuse to play the game and opt out.
David-the-Artist pastor drew a parallel between the prodigal son and his brother. Both wanted what the Father could give them. One by working for it and the other by taking it and running. But the Father? He only wanted the relationship with his sons. The rest was just stuff.
Most of us have obstacles to our dreams. We typically frame it in terms of a lack of something. A lack of time, cash, cooperation, support...so we shift the focus from our dream to getting the things we think are missing.
And I'm pretty sure there is a problem with that.
I once heard Erwin McManus say that "God has given you everything at your fingertips to accomplish exactly what He has for you to accomplish and to give you exactly the experience you need." (That's a paraphrase. I hope I captured the thought right.)
If we have God-inspired dreams in our hearts. (And I believe we do.) Then if they are seemingly impossible, it is because either we are defining the dream in a way that God never intended or that we don't have the creative capacity to see all of the possibilities of how that dream might play itself out. In fact, it might be that we get so focused on our own narrow interpretation, that we become blind to the paths forward--which may be many.
What if instead of focusing on what we would do if there were no obstacles, we focused on what is possible with the things we have in our hands? What the dream might look like in different formations... What if instead of locking God in a box of how things "should be" we released ourselves to see the joy in our gifts as they are and began to explore that.
I believe that when we do, wonderful things can happen.
I went to a yoga retreat this weekend that was all about being present.
We stayed in a literal cottage...(porch with rocking chairs and a red door...the whole bit.) The time was spent in a mix of yoga, meditation, vegan food and simply hanging out and talking. I loved it.
I'm always amazed at how good I feel practicing yoga. And it goes beyond the physical. The relaxation experienced isn't easy to articulate; and three days spent in that state is a luxury. As we drove back, the closer I got to the city the tighter my shoulders became. And by the time I had hugged John and finished telling him about the retreat I found I was in a full fledged panic thinking about the next week and everything I'm supposed to get done.
And while my mind can see that logically, nothing has changed between 10am this morning and 5pm this evening, I still feel tense.
Typically, I can handle fast-paced chaos. Not only that, but I have the capacity to thrive in that environment. One of the things that has surprised me about yoga is to learn that I prefer peace.
Part of the aim of yoga is to be able to carry the peace into the chaos so that external circumstances don't define the inner world.
I suspect I'm going to have to log a lot more hours on the mat to pull it off.
I had a dream the other night that a friend of mine learned he only had two years to live.
In the dream, he scaled back all of his goals to what could be done on that timeline and arranged everything to accomplish them in the time he had left. His wife and his friends helped him. It became a grand adventure that we were all part of.
All of the things that were limiting his dream had to be figured out. He had to make it happen within the constraints of current cash flow and with the talents of the people around him. There was suddenly no more waiting for additional funds, skillsets or for the market to change.
What would you do if you knew you had an expiration date in two years?