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2015: Wrapping it up

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While I didn’t actually wrap any presents this year, I really like wrapping presents.  I like the neatness of rolled paper (never folded), straight cuts, exact folds, and of course, invisible tape.  It appeals to my ocds and I experience a great deal of satisfaction in the effort, even in the challenge of the oddly shaped items (which if at all possible will be placed in a box).  I like the idea of a gift presented in a box covered with beautiful paper and a bow.  It’s just so….neat.

While this was the most unChristmasy Christmas I’ve ever had, there were still moments of concentrated busy-ness with a few preparations.  We love Jesus.  Really we do.  We just don’t make a big deal out of the season in the sense of decorating and gift-giving.  (This takes a lot of pressure off, but comes across as a bit Scrooge-ish to many.)  We gather with family for a meal, enjoy a game or two and the conversations and laughter, and if the little ones are with us we watch as they excitedly open their gifts. It’s a simple celebration that suits me fine.

As does the gift bag.  It’s simple and easy and requires very little effort.  It’s supposed to have creases and folds because that’s what makes it a bag, and therefore, acceptable in appearance.  It comes in many sizes and colors, does not need a bow (one less thing), and the gift within is hidden from view by tissue paper stuffed in the top which is intentionally messy.  I don’t know who came up with the idea that messy is how something is supposed to look, but thank you.  I can do neat, but let’s face it, messy is much quicker and easier and seems to come much more naturally.

It’s time to wrap up another year and honestly, it’s been a weird year for me.  Not bad, just different. It’s been uncomfortable in that it seemed to have many a wrinkle that I’d rather not have been there. The corners are still crooked and the end seems unfinished.  The invisible tape that is not really invisible at all simply shows my limited ability to hold some things together so that it will look acceptable to others. It seems I am still tempted to force an oddly shaped life into a standard box.  Somewhere along the line I believed the message that our boxes may differ in size, weight, and contents but they should still look like a box.  It was easy to convince me that the standard is a box because that appeals to my nature. Neat.

But life is rarely neat.  It’s more like the gift bag.  Creases are a part of it.  It comes in many different shapes and sizes and colors and designs and the treasure within is often hidden by something that actually looks pretty messy.  It’s challenging to accept messy in our lives because we feel compelled to fix it and make it look neat because surely that’s how it’s supposed to look.   No doubt there are things we need to fix.  But there are so many things that make our lives feel messy that we simply cannot fix. Our lives have been altered by many a decision and event, good ones and bad ones, and we are left with something that we didn’t expect, some good and some bad.

This year some of us had an empty seat at the table, a seat that will never again be filled.  Some of us had family that were not present in our lives because of hurt or anger or addiction.  Some of us were fighting just to survive, to keep our heads above water.  Some of us questioned our faith and felt as if the waves of doubt would overtake us.  Some of us had difficulties behind closed doors that no one knows about.  Some of us were alone.  Really alone.  Some of us had broken promises and shattered dreams and deep disappointments and unanswered prayers.  And most of us are finishing this year with things in our lives that remain messy, things we cannot fix and make neat.

This is exactly why Jesus came.  He knew that no matter how hard we tried to be good and make our lives neat and presentable, we would still be messy.  He sees the treasure within, He sees us for who we really are and loves us all the more.  He delightedly accepts the offering of our messy lives because just like the gift bag they are reusable.  He can still do something with them.

God has been with me all year.  He never left or wavered in His love and attention toward me.  But it is apparent that I will enter the new year with some things that haven’t changed, things that are still messy. I was thinking again this morning of the serenity prayer and that this is exactly what I need to pray, especially the first phrase, as I begin a new year:

God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Amen.

Through Grace accepting with serenity – utter calm and unruffled repose or quietude – the things I cannot change.  My messy life is His to do with whatever He will because when He looks at me He sees what Jesus has done and it is perfectly acceptable to Him.

I pray that you will join me as we enter a new year embracing the lives that we have, full of confident hope that God is working, even in the mess.  Be blessed.

2015:  Wrapping it up” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

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Do you see what I see?

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It was a good service.  I think.  I have to admit I was more than a little distracted.  It’s almost Christmas and deadlines are pressing.  I have orders to fill and it will take working every day this week to get them done on time, even working this afternoon.  Focus is easier as we lift voices and hands in praise but once my body is still the after effects of a rushed-because-my-alarm-didn’t-go-off-morning set in and my eyes long to close for just a few more minutes of sleep.

All is completed in the order of service except for the final act of passing the offering plates.  It was in the stillness of waiting our turn that I saw them.  Just a few rows in front of me I could see a father holding his young son.  The boy looked into his father’s face as he quietly stroked his beard and patted his cheeks.  It was a precious moment, one that caught me off-guard as sorrow engulfed me without warning and I began to weep.  It would not be stopped and it took every measure of self-control I had not to give it full reign and wail loudly as I imagine our forefathers did when they ripped their garments and donned sackcloth and ashes.  My mind quickly assesses how this must look, a very odd time to be overcome with emotion, but the heart would have its way whether understood or not.  It would be hard to explain how in that moment I felt small hands on my face.  I suppose it’s something a mother never forgets.

She was just a young girl when the angel came and proclaimed to her and over her that she was one blessed and highly favored.  It must have been wonderful in that moment to know that God’s plan for her life was so important that He sent an angel to announce it.  I wonder if she expected that to happen again.  I wonder as she walked down the streets where her friends and neighbors turned away, embarrassed at her shame, did she look for another word from God?  I wonder as she and Joseph struggled with the newness of married life complicated by her “situation” if she spent time alone waiting for another angel to tell her they would make it through the learning how to love each other?  I wonder as she waved goodbye to her mother, climbed upon a donkey, and journeyed farther from home than she had ever been, was she watching the sky for a sign as the homesickness quickly set in?  I wonder as she cried from the pain of childbirth and fear of the unknown, did she beg Him to speak, to reassure her that this is exactly where He had planned for her to be?  I wonder if the angel’s words rang in her ears as she wept at the foot of the cross?  Sometimes this is what blessed and highly favored looks like.  Do you see?

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Sometimes blessed and highly favored looks like the one who sacrifices time with her children and grandchildren, friends and activities, as she tenderly cares for her elderly mother, wondering where she will find the energy for tomorrow.  

Sometimes blessed and highly favored looks like the one who rises every day with new resolve to stay clean, determined to rebuild what was torn down, resisting the constant temptation to give up, wondering when God will bring complete deliverance. 

Sometimes blessed and highly favored looks like the one with no new goals or plans as she sits in the discomfort of the stillness, wondering why God is silent.

Sometimes blessed and highly favored looks like the young mother with toddlers at her feet, another baby on the way, trying not to be completely overwhelmed in this life she dearly loves and wondering how she will get it all done.

Sometimes blessed and highly favored looks like a woman crying as she touches her own cheeks, enveloped in memories that overwhelm with both joy and pain, wondering what it will be like to see him again.

Sometimes blessed and highly favored looks more like dark, thunderous, lightning-filled skies than sunshine and rainbows.

It’s tempting to believe the message that to be blessed and highly favored is evidenced by our positions, our promotions, and our pocketbooks.  To proclaim it often to ourselves and over ourselves in hopes that our lives will be easier and more secure through our loud and upbeat proclamations of faith.  And as that may happen to some, it is still the least of it.  As I consider Mary and what it meant that she was blessed and highly favored above all women, I believe we have trivialized it and made it something it is not.

It’s been a year of getting real with God.  It’s been a year of examining faith and finding again the simplicity of the solid foundation and ridding myself of self-imposed boundaries and unrealistic expectations and mechanical worship.  I am not blessed and highly favored because all has gone well and my life has been spared the dark nights and the weeping and the difficulties and the pain.  I am blessed and highly favored because I have loved deeply enough for my heart to be broken.  I am blessed and highly favored because I have risked my heart and given my energies and failed miserably. I am blessed and highly favored because He has noticed my sorrow and saved my tears.  I am blessed and highly favored because He lowered Himself to be housed in me, never to leave me or forsake me, especially in the dark moments.  I am blessed and highly favored because I am no longer dependent on outward circumstances, people, or events to determine if I am blessed and highly favored.

Do you see what I see?

 

Do you see what I see?” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

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I have quieted my soul

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I knew before I left the house that the route to my destination would most assuredly include miles of bumper-to-bumper traffic before I reached the other side of Houston.  I set my mind to enjoy my trip no matter what and made sure to leave the house early enough to avoid the late afternoon rush hour.  I must admit there were moments which threatened my deliberate peace, but I was strong and resisted with my mantra “it doesn’t matter….you have plenty of time…enjoy the journey…”  I was prepared for the trip – I knew where I was going, had adequate fuel, snacks and water.  It’s easy to enjoy the journey when you are prepared.

I had been anticipating the retreat for months and with every mile that drew me closer, I could feel the pressures of the every day falling away.  As I drove onto the grounds of my destination an even stronger sense of quiet washed over me.  The kind of peace that you can drink in with every breath. Surrounding stillness that felt as if it were an alternate universe where tight muscles and tense nerves do not exist. Beauty of nature that softly beckons to let go of everything else and simply take it in.  A setting that clearly whispers be still and know that I am God.

I happily unpacked my things in the quaint, cozy room where I would spend the weekend.  There was plenty of time to get settled in and relax before the evening’s events.  I scanned my emails and messages to be sure that nothing important was left without a response and took a moment to review the latest social media posts.  It was there I learned of the attacks in Paris.  I quickly searched the web for more details as the sense of impending doom was knocking at my door.  This is our world and the inability to be prepared for these kinds of horrific acts strikes fear in our hearts.  The threats are bold and fierce and very real and we are at a loss as to what to do.

I gathered the initial facts and put down my phone.  Seeking Him quickly is the only way to turn away the fear of impending doom.  I offered up a familiar prayer of “God, I don’t even know what to pray!”  In times past, that would be the end of a quick “God help them.  God be with them.” prayer, but I have since learned to be still and literally ask God “What do You want me to pray?”  It is not hard to understand and pray for the immediate need for safety and comfort and protection for those who remain in the wake of the horror.  But somehow it still seems lacking.

In this great mystery that is prayer, God, who knows what we need before we ask, has chosen to involve us in a supernatural process.  The more I’ve grown closer to Him and the more I’ve sought understanding, the more it has become evident that I really don’t know very much.  Perhaps He will give me deeper understanding of why He involves us in the process.  Or maybe He won’t.  But He is teaching me more and more how to pray and that with or without understanding, He requires obedience.  If the bible is true and He is God and He knows everything and I cannot do anything (eternal) without Him, then it is very clear that I must learn from Him what to pray.

We can spend much time in worrying and fretting.  We can scream our opinions and blame our politicians, publicly shaming them for what we perceive as their lack of action to keep us safe.  We can cry and moan and fear for our lives, and spread the fear to those around us.  We can beg and plead with God to do something!!  But is that really who we are?  Is that what we are called to??

We must learn to quiet our souls.

Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty; neither do I exercise myself in matters too great or in things too wonderful for me.  Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with his mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me – ceased from fretting.  O Isreal, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever.  Psalm 131

Peace I leave with you; My own peace I now give and bequeath to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you.  Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.  Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.  John 14:27

It is clear that He intended for us to participate in this:  “I (David) have calmed…  (You) Do not let…”  We are able to bring our mind, will, and emotions into submission to His Spirit, which is the spirit of Peace. We must find that place of peace so that we can clearly hear His words to us and learn how to act in times of trouble rather than automatically react in our flesh.

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have perfect peace and confidence.  In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer – take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted!  For I have overcome the world.  I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.  John 16:33

There are days I ask myself why I am so surprised when trouble comes.  Duh.  Jesus plainly said there would be trouble in this world.  Our ability to quiet our souls and not be afraid comes from the confidence that we are not OF this world.  THIS LIFE IS TEMPORARY.  Perhaps it’s time for us to step back and get a new perspective.  This life has purpose and meaning and is important to God, but it is a wisp, a vapor in time compared to eternity.

What did God tell me to pray when I heard the news of Paris?  He told me to pray that in midst of the pain and chaos and grief people are experiencing that they would find Him as Savior.  He told me that the mission remains the same, Tell others about Me.  I won’t be traveling to Paris to tell others about Jesus.  But I will be putting feet to my prayers for those in my neighborhood.  It’s not just the people of France who are afraid.  It’s our families, our friends, our neighbors.  If we are afraid right along with them, we have no message of hope to share, no comfort to give.

Draw away with me.  Quiet your soul.  Pray whatever the Father tells you to pray.  Do whatever the Father tells you to do.  Find supernatural Peace in troubled times.  He is waiting…

“I have quieted my soul” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

Photograph by Kay Stinnett and cannot be used without permission.

Christian, death, Encouragement, Faith, family, friends, God, grace, grief, loss, love, praise, prayer, sorrow, Spiritual, tears, Uncategorized

Good conversations

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This post is dedicated to Sue Rozell – my mentor, my sister in Christ, my friend who this week went home to be with our Lord.  I will truly miss our good conversations.

Lately I have been spending most of my time at home alone, focused on work and projects that have deadlines with not a lot of wiggle room.  I very much enjoy this time alone in productivity and gain a great sense of satisfaction in the creative process, but still I often lay my head down at night feeling that something is missing.  I realized driving home from my visit with my sister last week what it is: Conversation.  Really good conversation.

My husband is a night owl and I’m a morning person (not functioning quite as early as in days past, but most definitely at my best when the sun is rising).  It is not unusual that later in the evening he will approach a really good subject that could prompt some quality exchange.  I’ll know it is a worthy topic yet my response is often a pat reply because I simply lack the mental energy to engage.  I make a note to come back to the subject another day but the thought gets lost in the next day’s activity…

We need good conversations.  You know, the kind that make you think hard or perhaps even question your position on a matter.  Conversations where we are listening as much as talking.  Discourses that put our perceived barriers into perspective because they allow for differences.  Dialogues that stir our passions and ignite us to go deeper into the meaning of our lives.  Fearless discussions that open the paths to growth and change.  Words so rooted in love that they draw others into a refuge where masks can be dropped and freedom can be found.

In our day and time it is easy to miss the value of good conversations.  Technology that allows for the faceless relay of information has crippled us.  We often mistake social media posts for conversation, text our words of encouragement rather than take the time to call or visit, or email our responses to situations in order to avoid conversation.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the opportunities for communication that technology provides.  But I must admit, I’ve too often succumbed to the ease and efficiency of its use rather than allowing the inconvenience to my plans that real conversation may present.

I’ve known for a long time that I lack the skill to sustain chit-chat for any length of time.  I am easily bored with talk of things that are insignificant to me and that category is quite large.  I’m no fashionista, decorator, traveler, entertainer, philosopher or multitudes of other things.  I greatly appreciate the fact that God has gifted us each differently but I struggle in conversation when my very limited knowledge (and interest) of temporal things has very quickly been exhausted.  I can talk “sewing” quite well but even that only takes me so far…  Wow.  I sound reeaaaalllllyyyyy boring.

I love the opportunities I am offered to stand and speak or teach.  I am passionate about my God and my faith, ever-ready to share the things He has done in my life.  I love when the sessions allow for interaction and questions.  I no longer fear those who may disagree with my perspective because I believe in this life we have much to learn from each other. I thoroughly enjoy when someone takes the time on a break between sessions to seek me out and talk.  Really talk.

Through the years I’ve been blessed to have people in my life who have both gently led into and aggressively provoked deeper conversations.  Some have spoken truly profound things to me in the midst of simple conversations not knowing their words would have an eternal impact.  Others have come with difficult words that at the time left me speechless and feeling as if I were gasping for air, only to discover later that the painful truths exposed served to water seeds of needed change.  Many have come with exhortation and encouragement that helped keep my feet on the path that was and is mine to walk. We all need more good conversations.

I am mourning the loss of my friend and already missing the sound of her voice.  As I praise God for her life and say my goodbye, I pray that I will be half the woman of God that she was.  I want to brew more coffee and invite more people into good conversations in the hopes that some will walk away having found what I found with her – a hunger for more of Him.

 

Good conversations” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

Two Friends Young Girls Talking PAINTING BY CARL SCHWENINGER JUNIOR

Christian, coffee, Encouragement, Faith, family, friends, God, grace, love, Spiritual, trials

Just a glimpse

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I have a new friend who shared a very thought-provoking post on social media this morning.  As I sipped my coffee and read, I applauded her honesty and the willingness to be vulnerable.   She could have had her “moment” all by herself with none of us the wiser.  But I’m glad she didn’t.

It has been easy to enjoy her optimistic and encouraging personality.  I’ve left our conversations wishing I had half her energy!  She has an engaging way about her, a wonderful family, and a beautiful new home.  Yes.  She is one of those people.  You know, the kind who have it all with not a care in the world…the kind we frown at should a complaint ever escape their lips…the kind of which we often think “if they had my life, they wouldn’t be so chipper all the time.”   At least that’s what we think…

It takes courage to be real enough to share the less-than-perfect moments of our lives, to open ourselves up to those who may choose to criticize.  Her post was the second thing I’d read this week that reminded me of how little we actually see of each other’s lives and subsequently, how ridiculously foolish it is to judge someone based on the small glimpse we get.  The reality is that we are all in this together, this thing called life.  We all need an encouraging word more times that we let on.  We all have an ugly side that surfaces more than we would like.  We all struggle and mess up and make mistakes in the midst of our loving and serving and giving.  And we all need the same Grace to cover it.

Tonight I’ll spend a little time with some women who are struggling.  They are homeless.  The glimpse I’ll get into their lives won’t be about their happiest moments.  It won’t show me how gifted they are or what amazing talents they have.  We won’t sit down on comfortable sofas over nice warm beverages and talk about our families or what new furnishings we’d like to have.  We’ll have only moments to discover what their deepest prayer need is that they are willing to share with a stranger.  We’ll be there to minister to them and it will be easy for them to view us as “those” people.  You know, the ones who have it all together…

My prayer is that I will simply be real.  That in the moment God prompts me, I will be willing to share the less-than-perfect parts of my life so that someone I know or another who I will probably never see again can identify with me and draw some encouragement from the Grace I’ve found.  To believe if God can take my life and make something of it, that He can most certainly do the same for them.

So, hats off to you, my sister!!  Thank you for the reminder that it is seldom our perceived perfection that encourages others, but rather our everyday kind of humanity.  Makes me want to curl up in my hideously comfortable pj’s and relax…

 

Just a glimpse” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

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Making apple roses

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It was one of those days.  Oh, not one of those days that I usually complain about, but the kind that seem to be much more elusive.  A day that was full and busy yet strangely peaceful and entirely enjoyable.  I had a plan and lots to do and normally I approach those days with an over-complicated list and an expectation of perfection.  My nature is to map it all out with the end goal being production not fun.  But not yesterday.

Kylie had spent the night and I considered having her mom pick her up right after morning service as I had so much to do in preparation for our ladies event that evening.  But having only very recently received the Best Grandma Award

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I decided to invite her to stay and help me with the new recipe I had in mind.  She graciously accepted my invitation and after a quick lunch of mac and cheese and frozen chicken-somethings that neither of us liked, we began.  We measured and mixed and microwaved.  We stirred and patted and rolled and had more than a few tastes along the way.  We spread and poured and sifted until it looked as if a snow storm had blown through the kitchen.

And I watched.

I watched her concentrate as she placed single blueberries in just the right spot.  I watched the movement of her hands as she lay apple slices on the pastry dough and carefully rolled it into a flower.  I watched her delight as we took our apple roses from the oven and they were just as beautiful as the picture in the video recipe.  I looked at her little face with blueberry juice smeared on her forehead and sugar powdering her cheeks and experienced a depth of love and height of joy that perhaps only a grandmother knows.

                     Apple roses                    Apple roses3

My trek to the coffee pot this morning found me walking a little funny as my feet experienced the stickiness of spilled apricot preserves that remained after a rapid attempt to wipe them up.  The adhesive nature of my steps lasted only a few seconds as they were then quickly coated with the flour and powdered sugar that easily blended with the color of the tile.  I hate walking barefoot on dirty floors, but rather than let annoyance take over and begin the process of cleaning, I put on my slippers, fixed my coffee and replayed the previous day in my mind.  The evening was very, very good with Chandra Peele as our speaker.  I encourage you to check out her website Chandra Peele and invite her to your next ladies event!  But I’m sorry, Chandra, as much as I truly enjoyed and appreciated your wonderful message, it wasn’t the best part of my day.  The best part was that in all the “work” we had to do that afternoon, I got to enjoy my granddaughter.

I love that she wasn’t worried about making a mess.  I love that she is relaxed with me and unafraid of making mistakes.  I love that she is completely confident that I am there to help with anything she needs.  I love that she knows I will be pleased with her best effort and that is what makes the results perfect to me.  (I only wish that my children had known this me.)

I talk about her a lot.  A LOT.  I can’t help it.  Having children taught me so much about God as my Father, but having grandchildren takes it to a whole new level!  He reminds me when I look at her with love that is inexpressible that He looks at me the same.  He tells me again and again that I need have no fear of making mistakes or asking for His help.  He encourages me to relax and just enjoy His presence in all the “work” I have to do.  And once again I ask myself “Why do I make it all so complicated?”

I have a lot to do today.  A lot to do this week.  And I’m already behind schedule.  But rather than take on the pressure of my own very-often-unrealistic expectations, I want to enjoy His presence in everything I do, confident that He is with me to help with anything I need and unafraid of making mistakes.  I may make a few messes along the way, but I can’t worry about that.  He invites me to enjoy Him and it is in this relaxed trust that I am more able to hear Him and follow where He leads rather than go my own way.

Making apple roses was much easier than I expected and most certainly more fun.  But it wouldn’t have been as much fun if I had been alone.  What do you have to do this week?  Remember, you are not alone.  Allow yourself to be loved deeply and don’t worry about making mistakes.  Be confident that it is in this trust that He will speak and lead.  Relax, refocus, and enjoy Him and understand that He is watching and enjoying you.

And for those who would like to try the recipe:  Apple Rose Tarts

 

Making apple roses” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

Photographs by Kay Stinnett and cannot be used without permission.

 

 

Christian, Encouragement, Faith, family, God, grace, grief, Jesus, loss, love, mothers, sorrow, Spiritual, tears

The silence speaks

If he had known the course his silence would chart, he would have spoken.  If he had known that his silence spoke to me lies of my unworthiness to be loved, he would have told me the very opposite – that he loved me more deeply than words could express.  His silence spoke his disappointment loudly and I was too young to understand that it spoke more about him and his pain than about me.  Through the pretense of the everyday as if nothing were wrong, his silence grew to be louder than any other voice my soul could hear.  And it broke my heart.

It was an excruciating pain to know that his eyes avoided mine no matter how close we stood, that his voice would not respond to mine no matter how clearly I spoke.  I stifled my cries as it was clear they would do no good nor bring about any change.  Day after day, week after week, month after month, the silence chiseled the fragile strands of any innocent childhood belief that I was good enough to be loved.

If he had known his silence would create in me a desperation that was easily wooed by sounds of false love, he would have spoken.  I had no warning that my opposition to him would cost so very much.  His silence taught me that the consequences of mistakes in love were to be feared and that I would have to work very hard to be good.  The emptiness left by the absence of the voice I adored most was mine to bear, and I while I gained sympathy from many who knew, deep inside I believed it to be just.  I believed I deserved it.

If he had known that his silence would teach me to be a pretender, he would have spoken because he despised pretenders.  But I had learned in his silence to put on a happy face and do the things before me as if it didn’t matter that I was broken.  By the time he spoke a chasm had formed, but we never talked about that either.  And in that chasm lay the belief that the key to love was to do and say and be what someone else wanted, and to keep silent about myself for no one wants someone who is broken.

I carried all that his silence taught me into the relationships I had and into my walk with God.  It’s easy to hear the message that God is angry when it is what you expect.  It is easy to believe that God can only approve of you if you do what is right.  It is easy to believe that you do not deserve His help if you do not do exactly as He commands.  It is easy to believe that His silence means you are unworthy of His love when silence is the very thing you fear.

My desperation and resulting failure at love were the very things that brought me to real Love.  Having nowhere to run and no place to hide and my pretense in shambles, my brokenness spilled out as if a mighty dam had crumbled.  Every sob I let forth was met with Tenderness.  Every sigh of unworthiness was captured by Mercy.  Every ache of unloveliness was comforted by extravagant Love.  Every effort to “do” was quenched by what was already “done”.  I found I was truly loved.

I am on a continuing journey of learning who He really is and what His love is all about.  And sometimes love is silent.  Like when a mother just looks at her child without a word because there are no words adequate to describe the love that rages inside.  She asks nothing of the child but to let her look, to not turn away.  I have learned that God’s love is like that.

I have to purpose to rest in His times of silent love because it is still easy for me to revert back to my impossible efforts and wrong ideas that I must somehow do something to deserve His love.  Just this week I was asking Him what to do with His silence, and He simply said

“My silence speaks:  Trust me.”

And I was not afraid.

 

The silence speaks” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

Bible, children, Christian, church, Encouragement, Faith, family, friends, God, grace, Jesus, love, mothers, praise, Spiritual, Uncategorized

To be known

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CJ and I have a regular route that we walk and run together.  I’ve mapped this particular course #1 because it is a large circle, preferable when one is navigationally challenged, and #2 because it is exactly 2 miles and easy to calculate my efforts when I’m inclined to do so.  I noticed this distinctly marked driveway on the very first time around and it made me smile.  It still makes me smile every time I see it.  I suspect it is the result of an action without much forethought nor concern for what the local home owners association would have to say about it.   Just a young boy with a can of spray paint upon which the thought comes to mind to write his name.

I’ve wanted to photograph this signature for a while now but as it is private property and I intended to post the photo on the internet, I thought it wise to obtain permission lest I be considered some kind of creeper with a camera in the neighborhood.  I decided on my round with CJ Saturday morning that I would knock on the door and ask.  As I approached, however, there was no need to knock for the woman of the house was outside with her dog.  From the street I told her how every time I walk by her drive it makes me smile.  She warmly replied that her son had scrawled his name there years ago and while she felt she should probably do something to remove it and the now older teenage boy strongly encourages her to do so, she leaves it as is because it makes her smile, too.  She graciously permitted me to take the picture and I promised that I would drop by a copy of the blog once written.

One of my granddaughters is the age now that her son was when he made his mark.  She loves to write and gifts of paper and pen are always welcomed and treasured.  She writes her name and I love the perfectly imperfect way her letters and words form on the pages.  She writes little stories and draws pictures and writes simply for the love of writing, the strokes of the pen leaving an imprint of who she is now that will not be forgotten no matter the years that pass.  It is a bittersweet ache this grandmother’s heart feels as I watch her grow up faster than I would like.

It is not uncommon for children to write their names.  A lot.  On papers and tablets and books.  In the dirt with a stick or spelled out with rocks.  In the sand where the next waves will quickly wash it out to sea.  Carved in trees and picnic tables and more than a few desks.  And of course, the occasional driveway.

For some children perhaps it is a cry for help, a need for immediate attention.  But I think for the most part they are simply the declarations that  I was here.  This is me.  I am.   An unconscious, unemotional expression of the need to be known, a need we all have that deepens and most definitely becomes more emotional as we grow older.  We want others to know who we truly are, often before we even really know ourselves.  We sometimes seek relationships to complete us.  We enter professions where our talents and abilities can define us and accolades are our measure of who we are.  And while these things may bring a great deal of satisfaction and fulfillment it is not unusual to struggle with insecurities once left alone and all is quiet.  Who really knows us?  And if they did really know, would they still love us? Are me making our mark on this world in way that matters?

I think of how we look at our own children and see things they cannot see and know things they cannot know about themselves.  To know them is so much more than knowing what they do.  It’s recognizing the briefest of looks that crossed their face when no one else saw it.  It’s understanding their joys and pains when they have no words to describe them.  It is knowing that you’ve looked at that little face so many times you have every freckle memorized and would know if one should fade away.  And yet, we are still limited by our humanity when it comes to knowing another completely.

But there is One who knows.  He knew us before we were ever created in the womb.  He knows the very number of hairs on our head.  He calls us to come to Him as His children, unafraid in His presence.  We are fearfully made and unconditionally loved not because of what we do but for the simple fact that we exist.  We are accepted through Jesus as if we have never erred, sung and danced over with unadulterated joy in the heavens.  The impact we desire to make, the peace we search for, the fulfillment we long for is founded in a truth that is ours for the taking – we are known by Him.

 

To be known” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

Photograph by Kay Stinnett and cannot be used without permission.

 

 

Bible, Christian, church, Encouragement, Faith, family, friends, God, grace, love, mothers

Simple pleasures

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I can’t completely describe the feeling I had as I watched my 86-year-old mother ride a bicycle this week.  My first thoughts were filled with trepidation at the idea of a fall, but once she began those fears disappeared with every sure and steady push on the pedals.

She’d been telling us for several weeks that she wanted to ride a bicycle one more time.  I must admit, our first responses were not very encouraging.  We tried quite diligently to dissuade her, offering up a couple of “safer” options – what about a 3-wheeler?  a stationary?  No.  Absolutely not.  Nothing would do but that she ride a regular, old-fashioned bicycle.  (Had she not mentioned it at church where a friend provided the bicycle, I’m sure we would still be dragging our feet in order to fulfill her wish.)  Her mind made up and her plan in place, we could choose to participate or not.  Either way, she was going to ride a bicycle after church.

She is in good health and has no reason to believe that death is at her door quite yet.  But just in case, she lets us know when she thinks of something else she’s added to her bucket list.  The list is made up of simple things. Some are places she’s never been but would like to go.  We’re not talking about traveling abroad or to places of historic significance, but rather the fact that she’s never eaten at Joe’s Crab Shack, and things like that.  But others, like this one, draw from the wellspring of vivid childhood memories which bring a smile to her face at just the thought of them.

My brothers and I were there to watch and take photos.  Friends from church hung around in the parking lot and cheered her on.  She didn’t know what all the fuss was about.  She just wanted to ride a bike.

I watched her ride and the simplicity of the pleasure on her face almost brought me to tears.  (Had I cried, she would have wondered what in the world was wrong with me, so years of training prevented me from yielding to emotions I could not explain.)  Even as I look at the pictures today, I feel this strange sense of happiness and pride and love and sadness all mixed together and there are no words that adequately describe it.  Now that she has a successful bike ride under her belt, she plans to swim and roller skate.  And with all the objections my rational brain is tempted to raise, I suspect that I will make every effort to help her do exactly that.  I will see her smile and be awash once again in emotions that stir me to my core.  But I won’t cry.  At least not where she can see me.

There is beauty in the simplicity of her heart and her life, a reminder to me to open my eyes.  There are simple pleasures to be enjoyed in this life and I don’t want to miss them.  She is teaching me still.

This is the day that the Lord has made.  

I will rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 118:24

Simple pleasures” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

Photograph by Kay Stinnett and cannot be used without permission.

 

 

 

Bible, children, Christian, church, Encouragement, Faith, family, friends, God, grace, Jesus, love, prayer, Spiritual, trials

In her shoes

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I caught her eyes several times during the service.  She struggled to listen as she was surrounded by her four children and the activity that invariably ensues when two or more children are in close proximity.  The chapel is simply the dining area with most of the tables removed and only chairs in their place.  She sat at the back with the other mothers of busy children, concerned that they were a distraction but longing to hear anything that might expose a glimmer of hope.

Their faces are like open doors giving a glimpse into their hearts.  I can see some are simply there because it is a place to rest in the air conditioning, a break from the routines of responsibilities they don’t want to do in a place they don’t want to be.  They are disinterestedly polite.  Some smile and nod in agreement as my words confirm what they already know.  Others are so tired from the physical and emotional demands of the day that they nod in a different fashion.  Anger and frustration burn in the eyes of a few as there is no longer a pretense that they are fine even when they come to church.  Especially when they come to church.

She was the farthest from me but it’s as if I can see in her face a silent plea. “I’m hungry!  Feed me something that will last until tomorrow!  Give me more than empty platitudes and churchy phrases!  Please make it real.”  Across the room expressions without words reveal she is not alone in her desire.

Does she know that I see her?  Does she see in my eyes that she matters?  As I look from face to face I pray that the women who sit before me know they are seen.  I haven’t walked in their shoes on the paths they have traveled, but I see these, my fellow Egypt-wanderers.  I have no stones to throw.  We’ve traveled paths we never planned and feared we would never find our way home.  We’ve found our feet unable to move through the muck and mire of our own selfish choices.  We’ve fallen under the burden of someone else’s choices.  We’ve choked in the grips of trouble, desperate to believe there is more than this.  More to life than the struggle.  More to church than a list of do’s and don’ts and the fear of going to hell.  More to God than children’s stories and greeting card verses.

Can she hear me?  Can she fathom the depths of the Love offered her this night?  Can she imagine a life of freedom purchased through Grace where no condemnation speaks?  Can she believe the stirring in her soul is His voice compelling her to come to Him just as she is, loved and accepted?  Can she find the Hope that is her future?

I watch as she walks toward me.  She is tall and beautiful and tired and ready.  Ready to reach out to a stranger who has not walked in her shoes but will take her hand and perhaps point her toward the way out of Egypt.  We pray and hug.  She takes a bible.  There is so much I want to say but there is no time.  We smile and say goodbye.  We will probably never meet again.

God, take me to a place in prayer for her where there is no hint of opinion or judgement, no arrogance that thinks I know what she needs, no pride that considers myself any different as you have delivered me out of my own Egypt-wandering.  Remind me as I pray that I haven’t walked in her shoes.

I am the Lord your God, Who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.

Open your mouth wide and I will fill it. 

Psalm 81:10

In her shoes” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

Photograph by Kay Stinnett and cannot be used without permission.