Archive | June 2015

If you can kiss your elbow…

 

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Kylie and I were puttering around the house doing this and that and chatting away as we usually do. There is an ease to our conversations that pleases me.  We talk of the everyday and things of the future, particularly the much-anticipated swim party she will have for her birthday near the end of the summer. We talk of simple things and silly things and important things and sometimes things magical.

“When I was a little girl my grandmother told me that if I could kiss my elbow I would turn into a boy.”  I don’t remember what sparked this particular memory, but it still amuses me and thought it might amuse her as well.

“What??  Why did she tell you THAT?”  Not the response I’d expected.

“I don’t know.  But I tried and tried to kiss my elbow to see if it were true.”

“You wanted to be a boy???” this very girly-girl incredulously asks.

“I guess maybe I thought boys had more fun.  Or maybe I just wanted to see if it would work.  I suppose I believed that if turned into a boy I could kiss my elbow again and turn back into a girl…I don’t know…”   I tried to explain.

But even before the words had all escaped my lips, my brain realized that this conversation could have an entirely different meaning to this child if she is even remotely aware of what is happening in our world today.  Oh dear.  Do I just leave it alone, a little story that means nothing, hopeful that she will not remember?  I must say I was tempted to do exactly that.

What do you say to an eight year old about the headlines and the new stories when gender reassignment is now a reality rather than an impossibility?  I was wishing I’d never told the silly little story.  Without too many complex details, what do I tell her?  What do I really want her to know?

I want her to know that she is loved.  No matter what.

I want her to know that God knew her before her body was ever formed in her mother’s womb and that He has amazing plans for her life.

I want her to know that it is possible to live with God as the greatest influence in her life.

I want her to know that it is not the body that defines who she is, but rather her heart.

I want her to know that she will find her true identity in who He says she is.

I want her to know how to love others.  No matter what.

So I took the time to plant some seeds.  Seeds of love.  Seeds of confidence.  Seeds of truth.  Seeds of identity.  Seeds of trust.  Will she have questions about who she is as she grows up?  More than likely. Will she face struggles of confidence or fears?  Perhaps.  But I plan to be keep watering those seeds and teaching her how to find her answers in Him.

Jesus once asked His disciples, “Who do you say that I am?”  Not because He was confused, but had they received the revelation?  Did they really know His true identity?  Peter did and Jesus immediately told him that he could not have known except by the Holy Spirit.

The world is full of seeds.  Seeds of confusion.  Seeds of doubt.  Seeds of fear.  Seeds of hopelessness. It is a roller-coaster ride if this is our source of identification.  In our search for significance and the discovery of who we are, are we asking the right question of the right One?  We cannot truly know who we were created to be without His Spirit giving us revelation.

This is where we find the unshakable confidence in who we are.  This is where He reveals the purpose for our lives.  This is where our identities lie – in who He says we are.  But this is also where we lay down our own opinions and ideas.  This is where we abandon ourselves to whatever He wills, believing in His goodness and perfection.  This is where we die to self in order to experience really living.

Dare we ask of Him, “Who do You say that I am?

 

If you can kiss your elbow…” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

Photograph by Kay Stinnett and cannot be used without permission.

 

 

 

 

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My Father’s Day outing

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Father’s Day I went to the cemetery.  I hadn’t been since the funeral and would not have thought to go on that particular day if my sister had not asked.  She and my brother were taking my mom and asked if I wanted to go.  So I did.

On the drive out to my mom’s it occurred to me that people usually take flowers or something decorative when visiting a cemetery.  The thought of me taking flowers to my father actually amused me, as he would think that ridiculous.  A watermelon would have been more to his liking but I suspected that others who may visit the nearby graves in the following days would not appreciate a rotting melon in the Texas heat.  So I took nothing.

I wondered how I would feel when we got there.  Emotions have always been difficult for me.  Not so much in that emotions are difficult to handle, but rather the fact that I don’t experience a lot of emotion that frequently.  I have often found myself feeling simply indifferent in situations where others were overflowing with emotion.  Awkward.  I’ve many times attempted to feign the appropriate emotion for the circumstances of the moment.  Even more awkward.  Having never been able to hide my feelings well, when there’s nothing there it comes across through the blank stare, and this just seems downright rude to those who are expecting a response.

This was the first time I had seen his headstone and it suits him.  It is plain and simple as he cared nothing about aesthetics; it serves the practical purpose of indicating his name, the span of his life, and the fact that this is where his body was buried.  I stood there for a few moments waiting for even a small hint of the emotions that others seem to experience at times like these.  Nothing.  No particular memories came to mind, no stirrings of grief or love that were any different from any other day.   Daddy wasn’t big on a lot of emotion anyways.  His bones lay buried but I know he is not there, so this visitation seems a bit contrived to me.  I imagined that  he was watching us from heaven and saying “Go home!”, an image that made me smile and that only those who knew him will understand.

My mom educated us on how it came about that these were the burial plots selected for them and the relationship of my dad to a few who were buried near.  Our conversations were all concerning matters of fact, which worked really well for me.  I’m better with facts than emotion.  I loved my father very much.  A love that was a fact and most certainly an emotion, but an emotion that was more just known than openly expressed.  It worked for me and him this way.

For many years I believed I was incomplete, that something terribly important was missing from my character in my inability to feel what others feel and my incompetence in expressing the things that I did feel.   Some things can be learned and I have developed over the years, becoming a better, more compassionate listener and communicator.  I said better meaning better than before, not necessarily great.  But some things cannot be learned.  You either have them or you don’t.  The times that I have met the emotional needs of another are the times that God has intervened to equip me with a supernatural ability for the moment.  And I am always so grateful.

So this visit to the cemetery had me thinking more of myself than my dad…one more thing that seemed inappropriate.  But if there was anything in this life that my daddy wanted for his children it was that they be confident in who they are.  My battle for self-acceptance was a hard-won victory, one that he got to see before he left this life and I knew he was proud, even if he struggled to express it.

I left the cemetery assured once again that I am who I am because of God’s wonderful grace and that my dad most certainly had a happy day watching us talk and laugh and love.

 

Peeling the onion

I love how God orchestrates the details of our lives.  I had no intention of returning to work beyond the walls of my home but I knew when He was leading otherwise.  Once I determined to search for a job, my criteria was very simple and specific for the “right” position.  First, it had to be part-time.  I wanted to continue my business as a seamstress and I wanted to have time to write and speak and teach.  Second, I didn’t want to have to go through a great deal of training.  I know it sounds a bit lazy, but I just wanted a no-brainer kind of job.  Something easy.  In sharing this new direction with a friend, she suggested that I go by her chiropractor’s office as she thought they were looking for someone.  I did and they were and it was exactly what I was looking for.  Sweet!

So for the past few months I’ve been working part-time for a chiropractor whose practice expands into the scope of wholeness – treatments and consultations that go beyond structural adjustments and into the areas of nutrition and health.  (Talk about accountability in what I pack for my lunch on work days!)  His knowledge of how the body works (or doesn’t work) physically, mentally, and emotionally is vast and I am learning a great deal from our conversations. Being of a certain age and dealing with the challenges and frustration of this certain age have proven more than I’ve been able to manage as well as I’d like on my own, so finding this position is simply one more revelation of His perfect leading in my life.  I am finding answers.  Slowly.  One by one.  This is not my preferred method to arrive at solutions.

The doctor says that it’s like peeling an onion.  There are many layers and the only way to see all that is in the onion is to peel back the layers one at a time.  (He didn’t mention that there would be tears…) And while he is helping me uncover the real reasons my knee hurts and my arm aches and the extra pounds just will not budge, God is still peeling away as well…

And He’s uncovered a layer of discontent.

I truly am in the best time in my life, but I’ve found myself more irritable and frustrated lately than usual.  Some days I haven’t wanted to look deeper than the outer layers, so I’ve blamed my grumpiness on being tired.  A lot.  And I am tired, but God is peeling away whether I like it or not and showing me that this layer of discontent is one of the things that is making me so tired.

As I’ve taken the time to look at this layer, most of the things I am discontented with are small things.  A few are bigger things with which I am frustrated because there seems to be no progress.  And of course, last but not least, I am discontented with myself.  Again, nothing major, but a clinging dissatisfaction with my own personal progress.

As I turned to scripture to see what it had to say about contentment, a familiar statement by Paul first came to mind.  But then I came across another that I’d never given much attention:

Godliness accompanied with contentment is great and abundant gain.  1 Timothy 6:6

We can be saved and redeemed and forgiven and still be discontent.  However, this godliness that we’ve been given needs to be connected to contentment, for our good and everyone else’s.  It’s not easy to live with a discontented person…

Now the more familiar words:

…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances…I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…  Philippians 4:11-12

There is a secret to being content in any and every situation and it must be LEARNED.  This is the secret:

I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.  Philippians 4:13

and …Apart from Me – cut off from vital union with Me – you can do nothing.  John 15:5b

The Greek word for content is autarkes.  It means “sufficient in oneself, adequate, needing no assistance”

If I will learn that I am in vital union with Him – I cannot be separated from Him – and I draw my strength from this knowledge daily, sometimes breath by breath, I will be content.  He is enough that I need no other assistance.  He is in me and I am in Him and this fact alone makes me sufficient for whatever lies before me.

There have been a few tears in this peeling of the onion that is revealing my areas of discontent, and there will likely be a few more before it is all said and done.  But I will continue my education.  I will learn to be content.