150 years and Counting

   

We are in London for the 150th celebration. These photos are just a few from the International Congress being held with thousands of Salvationists from around the world.

 From the song penned by the founder, William Booth, 

“O Bondless Salvation……the whole world redeeming”

May we love the unlovable and serve the least and the lost. 

May the world know we are Followers of Jesus by our love for all mankind. 

Renew our commitment, strengthen our resolve and guide us clearly putting you above self as we serve you in our daily lives. 

 

  

 

 

  

This girl is gone….lord willing and all that

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Later tonight we’ll board our flight from Miami to London. Direct. More hours than I want to calculate now.

The melatonin is packed and ‘easy mix’ playlist on my iPhone ready with noise canceling ear buds.  Thoughts of how I’ll look after an overnight flight are banished from my mind. I figure I’ll be too tired to care and the hair will be good so what else matters ;)

We are going to the a giant birthday celebration. July 2nd marks 150 years of The Salvation Army. And for once, we’re calling a little attention to ourselves.

PR isn’t our strong suit. Most people will tell you that. I’ve been asked enough times, ‘why don’t we see your canteens on the news in disasters?’ or ‘why don’t you advertise the work you do?’ My answer is simple: we’re too busy doing the work. Our story is best told my others.

There’s that word: Others. The one word Christmas message our founder, William Booth sent to his officers (ordained clergy). That one word sums up what we’re about – others.

But this time, we’re taking time to celebrate these years that are still marked by service.

There will be officers and soldiers (church members), volunteers, employees, friends, family and the whosoever from over 120 countries The Salvation Army serves today. From the east end of London in 1865 to a worldwide organization that exists, still, for others.

We’ll alternate between meetings and sightseeing and cram all the good and new and old we can in the week we’ll have there.

Our list of places to see has been made and is subject to change. We hold it freely choosing rather to soak up the moments less planned.

In all my preparations for this, I’ve failed to prepare my heart. It struck me today, last-minute but not too late. Hit me that I’ve not included God much in my plans, the quite One I take for granted.

Lord, I’ve prayed for safe flights. I’ve prayed for the family there and that we’ll be able to help with the girls when get there. But….I’ve not prayed that in the midst of wherever we are I will see your hand spread across the gardens and the skyline. I’ve not prayed for your calm to be evident in my words and manner. Don’t let me only see you in the colors of the sky but in the smile of strangers and pigeons on statues. Help me know you are with me and around me. Today. Every day.

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Blogging won’t be a priority the few days but follow me on Instagram to follow our journey.

 

Five-Minute Friday {dream}

Linking up over at Kate Motaung place with a group of word-hungry bloggers for this 5-minute frenzy of free writing. Everyone is welcome to this party! Today’s prompt is dream.

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His aren’t your ordinary, run of the mill, dreams. No, his are Indiana Jones adventures or James Bond-style feats. If he wakes in the middle of a particularly exciting dream, he can go back to sleep and continue it, changing the course if he decides.

I guess it should come as no surprise, that even in dreams, we are not alike.

Nope, not even close.

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More times than not, my dreams aren’t remembered. I’d say I don’t dream much but science tells us we all dream, every night. But we don’t always remember our dream. That’s me.

My dreams are ordinary dreams. Most often I’m working out issues of the day. But there have been a few….

I’m a common sense, matter-of-fact, practical kind of girl. The kind who takes things as they are and tries not to make too much of things. Especially dreams. (I have been known to over think things. Just a time or two ;)

There have been a few times where I believed God used dreams to comfort me, to give me peace. And one very important time, the dream was to prepare us.

Maybe it’s the dreams we have in the light of day that are the most important. These are the dreams that become goals and plans and action. The dreams that turn wishes into work. And sometimes, this knowledge is the very thing that keeps them dreams.

 

 

Shine

“In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift. If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others.” ― Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child

God has this crazy way of bringing the most unusual things together, all pointing to Him and His grace. He uses people from different walks of life and different places in the world and none know the other but they are shining His light in my life.

For several years I’ve been watching men battling addiction, watching the painful journey of shining a light on their pasts. For some, the pasts was the deepest darkness ever known and addiction seemed the only escape. For others, the wreckage of their past was self-made. I’ve stood before them and assured them of God’s grace, of His love that is the only true light. I’ve talked about pasts they’d rather forget but needed to face and I’ve done this without facing my own.

Mine isn’t marred by drugs or the mis-use of pain medications. My past doesn’t look too different from most Americans: parents divorced, poor decisions in my teen-age years, times where I walked away from God’s best for me. They seem trivial in the face of what some of the men have been through. And that’s added to minimizing my wounds, my fears, my shame.

A friend came along side to walk with me through this. To gently prod and ask some questions I thought there were no answers to. Questions about feelings and what I had numbed were named. It made me feel weak and what’s a good Christian girl doing feeling weak? It made me feel raw and vulnerable and ashamed of not being able to “get over it”.

from the side

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“You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.
(Matthew 5:14, The Message)”

I intruded on their weekly meeting. Again. But there they sit, in plain view as I walk past the dining room and I’m drawn to these two men. Externally, they are as different as can be. Short and tall, fair and dark. Add this blonde female to the mix and, yeah, we are those God-colors the bible talks about.

Mike and Dodd. I don’t know if Dodd is his first or last name which doesn’t matter because all I need to know is the light he shines brightly when he comes to share the message of recovery.

Mike, I know. He’s been in and out and in and out of our program and every time he’s been in he’s I’ve been drawn to his easy nature and we’ve hoped for his best seeing that something inside of him that we know is capable of more. And this time….yes, this time, Mike has taken fully hold of this light and has become, himself, a light bringing out the God-colors in our world.

I looked at the two of them yesterday and said, “I like hanging out with you two.” In our dining room on Wednesdays when they meet for their sponsor/sponsee time that I inevitably crash.

Thank you God, our loving parent who is the light inside us, a spark to share and set another light aflame. Thank you for letting us see and be part of the God-colors in our world. Help us see beyond the frame to how the colors spill out and over and can never be contained in what man has made. Let us light up the night so the darkness will be exposed and your way be made clear. 

The problem isn’t…..

The problem isn’t guns.

Or abortion

Or gay marriage

Or divorce

Or terrorists

Or democrats

Or republicans

Or global warming

It isn’t the education system

Or affordable health care

Or Facebook and Twitter

It’s a heart problem.

Hearts that refuse to share, care, give and open.

Hearts that would rather blame and name than accept and forgive.

Selfish hearts whose vocabulary seems to repeat a single word over and over: Mine.

Too simplistic, this notion the problem is in our hearts?

“Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.” 1 John 521

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Forgive us, O God.

Forgive your people who have let pride, selfishness, hate and greed take your place in our hearts.

Forgive our motives that are marked by political jargon and self-advancement.

Forgive our church talk that sounds like ‘we’re in and everyone else is out’. 

Forgive our complacency.

‘I’ve searched the land and found this David, son of Jesse. He’s a man whose heart beats to my heart, a man who will do what I tell him.’ Acts 13:22

“Don’t keep looking at my sins—erase them from your sight. 10 Create in me a new, clean heart, O God, filled with clean thoughts and right desires.” Psalm 51:9-10

Stumbling through another Father’s Day

Who ever knew these holidays, the ones to honor our mothers and fathers, could be the toughest of all. Hallmark doesn’t make a card for “The Dad Who Has Everything…..including a drug addiction and jail time.” Or, “Thank you mom, the best thing you could have done was put me in the foster home. I’ll always remember you for that.”

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Walking through the church doors the greeter would ask, red or white? The red carnation pinned to your lapel or dress (in the days when we wore ‘church clothes’) signified your mom was still living and the white, that she’d passed on. The moms would be asked to stand and little prizes given to the one with the most children with her in church that day. Sometimes the oldest would be recognized for her stalwart faith in raising generations.

Times changed and we don’t do that anymore. We try to be sensitive to the women who want nothing more than being a mom but can’t or are still waiting. So many reasons people can feel excluded so I suppose we just celebrate women and that’s good. Dads have never gotten the fanfare of mothers so maybe there’s not as much change there.

When we go through the calendar in our Rehabilitation Center, there are so many joys to share with these men throughout the year. Advent and the Lenten season are particularly special as some are new to the spiritual side of these holidays typically called Christmas and Easter. But I dread Mother’s and Father’s Day.

We stumble our way through these days, learning to follow their lead. They’ve seen our family, heard our stories of childhood and seen the pictures. We don’t hide our celebration of good but imperfect families and homes. They celebrate with us. And we hurt with those who ache from the dad who was never there or the mom who did put her sons in a foster home.

Before chapel, M, leaned over and told me his son had unfriended him on Facebook. This boy he loves and has been half way around the world to see, is hurt, angry, over his father’s relapse. M knows this. “It is what it is”, he says. And it’s the deepest kind of pain, I think.

A daughter messaged me asking if we’d heard from her dad. She was planning to visit him. Bring his grandson to see him for the first time. But his regular calls had stopped. Again.

chapel remodel

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J gave the welcome and this 20-something young man celebrating over a year of sobriety told us he hadn’t had a good relationship with his dad. His dad is still in addiction. “But I’ve forgiven him and I’ll call him today and tell him I love him.”

Grace? Amazing grace!

And so another and another stood during our time of sharing and thanked a God who has brought them to this place of healing, of restoring families, and making all things new. My eyes water while my spirit soars knowing God is always a God of love and grace and healing. He will make all things new.

Five-Minute Friday {fear}

Linking up with Kate, the gracious host of Five-Minute Friday. Stop over and share your voice.

This is about daddy. Because it’s time and I should think of him more often.

An outgoing prankster filled with charm, I imagine daddy swept mama off her feet as they married when she was but 16. He was already an officer in the Salvation Army and had to resign his commission to marry her. My aunt recently told me she’d been ask to talk him out of it but his mind was made up.

When they married, he joined the U.S. Army and served the minimum with them. Mama attended the Salvation Army training college and daddy was reaccepted as an officer. They served together in several appointments, even opening the Army’s work in two cities in Arkansas.

Stories of his childhood would spill out of him when we got together with his siblings or parents. Disagreements would likely happen about the version being told but laughter was the end result.

My love of music and photography were passed down from daddy. He had more musical talent than the rest of us, being very accomplished at the trombone and playing accordion. He could play piano by ear enough to pick out chords when needed.

Daddy moved fast. He coached church ball teams, took church youth groups on outings, picked up donations, opened thrift stores to help support the local work and handled business of the local units he directed. He preached on Sunday, sometimes also leading the songs as he played the accordion.

He let us listen to the radio of our choice at breakfast and in the car. He whistled. Often.

I scared him to death as I got older. I should have stayed with mom. He didn’t know how to raise a teenage girl and did it out of fear. Strict curfews and questions made me feel guilty of things not done. Dances weren’t allowed and being late 5 minutes once resulted in a scene I’ll never forget.

I learned early daddy wasn’t perfect. I never doubted he loved me. Never.

Performing my brother’s wedding ceremony

Well into his 50’s he called one day to ask my forgiveness. He was tearful. I was uncomfortable. I’m not sure what, specifically, he wanted forgiveness for. I don’t think I handled it well. He knew I loved him. I’m sure of it.

His last few years were sad. Poor health from diabetes brought an early retirement and he could never handle that mentally. He was depressed, trapped physically. He died at 63. It was unexpected even though he’d had problems. There was a relief of sorts. A relief knowing all of his sorrow was gone.

I marvel at how much my brother seems to know about him that I don’t. Last week Paul talked about daddy liking baseball. A sport I never remember him watching. I’ve already forgotten the team Paul said he liked. Boys and their dads. It’s different. Mama was right. Paul needed to live with dad after their divorce. Mama was mostly right. Daddy told me that. He told me he couldn’t handle that she was so often right. Big for him to admit to that. Sad he couldn’t live with it. Fear had its grip.

Father’s Day. Not the same attention as Mother’s Day. There won’t be as many cards sold or phone calls made. I was blessed. My parents weren’t good at marriage but they could have written a book on how to behave after divorce. For that, I’m thankful. For his laughter, his loving me as best he could, him teaching me to drive, him loving Henry and him loving God. All of that and more I’m grateful to my heavenly Father.

Full disclosure: This was originally written three years ago but never published. It obviously took over 5 minutes to write but less than that to edit today. It fit today’s word prompt, fear, and it fits our recognition of Father’s Day this weekend. Thank you for your kind grace.