Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Day 203 Forgive Assignment

July 28, 2015
Day 203

We arrive and we are finally home. We know we are complete and we are ready for our first assignment. We are excited, tingly, and pushing back our thoughts of grandeur. Focus on humility we remind ourselves. This relationship is all about Jesus. Yes, yes, yes, our inner thoughts agree. It is all about Jesus. We can not believe this is happening, our first assignment.

He paddles for us..
We move up to the booth where the assignments are being processed. While we wait in line we mentally list through our gifts, our advantages, our strong points. We have a feeling, this is going to be good. We move to the front of the line. We look into the boss' face. We are not prepared for His dreaminess, He is so handsome. We're completely lost in His gaze.  

He pulls us closer, almost snuggling, and it's a little uncomfortable, we want to stand tall for our orders. He's so nice and everything but he is really moving into our personal space. Is this really professional? 

We wait for our assignment. He speaks two words - Forgive and Repent. Pardon? Could you repeat that? There must be a mistake. These two words have nothing to do with our strong points, we plead internally. In fact, we have never done them well.  He pulls our faces closer to His and slowly says to us, "This is my job, Let me do this for you." His words penetrate and irritate all at the same time. He says so much with so few words.

We wonder how long this will take us, when can we move on to the next assignment. As if He heard our thoughts, with a glint in his eyes, he says,"Take your time."

Monday, July 27, 2015

Day 202 The Nyssens- Love Them

July 27, 2015
Day 202

The Nyssens; Rachel, Greg and their son, Francis, are a family worth knowing and dropping all things important when they visit from Seattle. We love this family, are inspired by this family, and honored that they make their way to our door when they arrive from the West Coast. Our time with them every summer looks different and every summer the difference adds another layer of love. 

Rachel refused to come for dinner with my first invite in 1986. At age 15, she was too cool to hang out with a pregnant married couple. Her family had moved from upstate NY and with that in common I decided to have them over, only to discover there were five children. That dinner was the beginning of many beautiful relationships within the Diamantopolus family. At some point she accepted every invite and Rachel and I have lived happily ever after.

Inviting the Diamantopolus family over was better than jackpot at Las Vegas. Rachel's mother, Linda, would become a vulnerable and authentic mentor, a faithful friend, an encourager and a woman who would inspire me to live a life of faith. Her father, Paul, would become a source of help and encouragement as well. He is a very giving man! This is a faithful couple who raised brilliant children and we have been privileged to do some lifetime together.

After high school, Rachel moved to Seattle. She was the wanderer, the writer, and the hippie of the nineties. She was also the twelfth employee of Amazon.com, the twelfth! (You did read this correctly, the twelfth). Rachel was not a fortune teller and had no idea that Jeff Bezos would become so powerful. In fact, just before he gave out his first stocks to his initial employees, she left Amazon. I sigh deeply every time I think about this. Really deeply.

She met Greg. This led to marriage. This led to a love fest in a brown van. Which led to baby Francis. Who knew? To this day my son Geoff has been the recipient of Francis' friendship.

Rachel and Greg moved to Reading, PA, shortly after their marriage and van tour.  And this began our adult relationship as married couples. There were many conversations between the four of us (or three, Lynn slept), and much activity in our basement where Lynn had a dark room. Greg would go down every day developing photos, upon photos, upon photos! Greg and Lynn shared much between them and though Lynn was never a conversationalist by night ( he begins his nightly sleep in a chair) he certainly gave Greg a fair share of information.

This past May we had the privilege of being with some of the Diamantopolus family in NYC when we went to go hear Francis play his trumpet for a competition at a High School jazz festival. What a trumpeter he is, his dynamics were amazing!

Greg, a photographer among many other talents, has blessed me in the early mornings these past two summers with an endeavor I have created called Photoeventing (give credit where credit is due, I know you're going to want to do this). Last year, Chris Palladino joined us and what a blast to ferry these two men with keen eyes to places I would not have pulled over for - a soybean field. To photograph with him is more than I can ask. I am in the presence of raw talent!

This is an amazing family. The gifts they share between all three of them seem a bit unfair - they got the goods. But they are humble and always share openly and freely about where they are at. They ask for advice without shame and are willing to go into deep laughter seconds after around a dinner table. We feel honored.

My lesson in all of this is that the relationships that have history are gold. These friendships are meant to hang onto. There is much that wants to wedge in and pull apart friendships. But to let it happen is shortsightedness on steroids. Don't do it. Hang on tight.
God has blessed us with this family and we are hanging on for the ride.

Last night we spent time with this family around their parent's pool. I was flooded with past summer memories going back into the 90's. God is indeed good!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Day 201 Choosing Love

July 26, 2015
Day 201

A single drop effects a wide radius on a single lake!

There have been some hard to things to handle of late. These hard things have given me ample opportunity to put into practice what I know to be of utmost importance - My response. And my response has a ripple effect. I do have the opportunity to effect for ill or good; my soul, my husband, my family, and my friends.

Am I mad? Am I bitter? Am I disgusted? These might be honest feelings and feelings are neither right nor wrong, they just are. However, my response to the situation should not be based off of these feelings but rather from a position of strength - solid ground. My faith is out of focus when my reactions are mad, bitter or disgusted. But when my eyes are on Jesus, my response to these challenging situations has the freedom to be based on the love of the Father and this makes all the difference in the world.

Yes, it is a challenge to keep my eyes focused on Jesus but when I do there is freedom and more opportunities for relationships to grow. Bridges are not burned. Jesus loved us deeply. We have miles to go in learning how to love like He loved. Though it would be easy to respond in a retaliatory mode, because He died for me, I chose love. This is true freedom.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Day 200 Tight and Lonely Places

July 25, 2015
Day 200

Hey, that pinches. I need to move over?
But this space is so tight! Why can't I have more room? Because You say You want to be so close?

Hey! Wait, why are you taking that away?! I need that. I don't? Why not? Because You say You are everything?

Why are they leaving? Where are they going? You want me to feel lonely? Why?
Because You say You are my only true friend?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Day 199 Unruly Children in Need of Discipline

July 24, 2015
Day 199

Jesse catching wind...

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Honestly, the amount of talking I do requires an inordinate amount of listening. You, my listener, should be awarded a medal. My words tumble out as if they were shoved into an unorganized, overstuffed closet. Such rude children, my words are. Does order matter to them?  Are you kidding? My words rush to get out and it takes so much energy and discipline to keep them in. Dinner time, kids! Stay in! No! My words scream. And so I choke on them again.

You, listener, are sometimes offended because of my lack of organizational skills. Sometimes you hear something completely different than what I had intended. Is it any wonder? It came slowly to me that maybe I should pay closer attention to the order of my words. Maybe I need to discipline my children and make them wait to come out. Children, single file please. No pushing, no shoving. Be good.

It was a shock when I realized, you, listener, did not want to listen...to everything. Here I thought we were having fun, that you were waiting by the phone for me to call and speak my words. You have other things to do? Really? My thoughts expressed in a jumbled heap a' mess do not matter to you? Hmmm, really?!

I read and define unknown words using context clues. Funny thing, I rarely let context rule when I speak. You misunderstood my compliment, my encouragement, because the space in which I shared it was completely out of context. Your confusion is understandable, my lack of context is avoidable so I need to pay closer attention.

There is no imminent timer ready to blare if I don't share. I can wait my turn but my words beg relentlessly to get out and now. I grow weary at their entitlement. They scream and throw temper tantrums. "Let us out! Let us out!" And so I relent. And it often ends up that I have to repent.

Words jumble and stumble out my trap door. Your silence, dear listener, speaks loud. So, I write in a feeble attempt to bring order to the court. Thank you, reader, for your patience as a listener.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Day 198 How Do You?

July 23,
Day 198

Dear Jesus,

How do you keep from slapping my face when you know what I am going to say before I say it? 

How do you keep on loving me when my heart is so full of messy, ugly, muddy, non-loving thoughts?

How do you keep from pulling me out of a social situation, just before I make a move, when you know that after the move, it is going to be a tough situation from which to extricate me?

How do you keep yourself from throwing me under the bus when, covertly, I am about to do just that to one of your creations?

How do you keep from being disappointed when sometimes I lose focus about the clear message of the gospel and I sloppily share this distorted view with someone who needs to hear it clearly expressed?

How do you keep from throwing lightening bolts at me when I am stealing your thunder?

How do you keep from shoving index cards in front of my face with clear and specific instructions when you see my next major move?

How do you keep from audibly yelling STUPID when you see my stupid actions?

How do you keep from making food items fall off the isles in the grocery store when you want me to turn around and talk to that person I just pretended not to see?

How do you keep from pulling my hair when I act more like an insensitive wench rather than a grateful helpmate?

How do you keep from pushing me into someone's face when you know that I know that they need to know that you profoundly love them?

How do you keep from putting duct tape on my mouth when my prayers are so shallow?

How do you keep from yelling directly in my face while pushing me up against the wall when you have to reexplain over and over what your Spirit has been trying to tell me again and again?

How do you keep speaking to me when it seems like I hear nothing?

How do you keep giving me wisdom when I keep discarding the same piece of advice over and over?

How do you keep from giving me a whooping when I am being a dull witted mother?

How do you keep blessing me when I secretly don't want to see others blessed?

How do you keep giving me good gifts to when I am so stingy?

How do you keep supporting me when sometimes I seem so lazy?

How do you keep from speaking real slow and real loud when it looks like my stupidity has hit a record high?

How do you remain in my heart when I seem to be distant from you?

Why do you want to stay with me when I am so inhospitable?

Honestly, how do you do it?

All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Day 197 The Word that Lives

July 22, 2015
Day 197

The B - I - B - L - E , 

yes that's the Book for me!

I stand all by myself on the Word of God
(my brother's version as a wee little lad)

The B - I - B - L - E.

I study the Bible.
I read the Bible.
I eat the Bible.
I breathe the Bible.
I learn the Bible.
I fear the Bible.
I look for Jesus always in the Bible.
I look to the Bible as my mirror.
I am deeply grateful for the Bible.
I crave the Bible.
I am awed by the intense honesty included, the ugliness of humanity.
I am pulled to the Bible.
I ponder the Bible.
I mull over the Bible.
I wait long periods of time to understand the Bible. It doesn't come quick.
I want to know, intimately know, the Bible.
I need the Bible.
I hear the Bible.
I see the Bible.
I am awed by the Bible.
I am saddened by the Bible.
I am shocked by the Bible.
I drink the Bible.
I'm in a deep and abiding relationship with the author of the Bible.
The Bible has at least 39 authors.
The Bible was written over a span of fifteen hundred years.
The Bible with sixty-six books has a theme and they all tie together.
The Bible puts me in a rest mode even though life's activities are exhausting.
The Bible pulls me all around and rarely lets me land on a single understanding of an issue.
The Bible shows me my issues with a hope that pulls me to a place of action.
The Bible inspires me and calls me to do.
The Bible inspires me and calls me to be.
I live the Bible.
I honor the Bible.
I pay attention to the context of the Bible.
I observe the obvious details of the Bible.
I interpret the Bible based on the whole Bible.
The Bible is meant to be understood. So grateful for that.
There should be a warning label before any study of the Bible.
Studying the Bible is not a spiritual gift.
Studying the Bible is spiritual nourishment.
You live out a malnourished life when you do not consume the Word.
I am thrilled by the Word.
I am bathed, cleansed by the Word.
I am challenged by the Word.
I am pummeled by the Word.
I am changed by the Word.
I am consumed by the Word.
I want to dine with the author of the Bible.
I am excited to meet the participants of the Bible.
I am exhausted by the Bible to a place of surrender.
I am surprised by the Bible.
I love treasure hunting in the Bible.
I read the Bible in the good times.
I read the Bible in the bad times.
I see, I feel, I hear the theme of the Bible -
an unconditional, surrendering, counseling, comforting, cleansing love
that pulls me deep into the heart of love.
I love the Bible.