Month: March 2012

The Color of Spring

This week I had the great privilege of meeting a fellow blogger. The whole cyber friend thing has confused me for some time. Mostly because I know some of you more than I know half of the people listed as “friends” on my Facebook. Lou, from Subdural Flow II, was in the area for vacation. She lives in the midwest. She wrote and asked if we could meet at the ARC and could I give her a tour. YES!

Meeting her was like seeing an old friend. There was nothing unfamiliar about her. What a treat that was! Lou’s blog is about life, specifically, life as a parent of an adult addict. Thankfully, her child is in recovery today. Take a visit to her blog and read her account of our meeting. Our visit was too short and hopefully, there will be another opportunity.

Meeting Lou, that's her on the left and me in my SA office attire.

The new blossom of friendship. As good as nature’s blooms. Better because friends are longer lasting.

The two entwined this week through the camera lens. I’m glad Lou had her camera to capture this new sprout of friendship. It will be nurtured through our common heart for the hurting, the broken. We also have a common joy of nature. Our scenery here quite different from her midwestern one but all creation paints its own beauty.

Henry and I got these shots of the sunset over the ball fields near our house. Every now and then he’ll ask for the camera. He gets some nice pictures. He has a good eye. He also pushes the zoom past the recommended max. It worked great on the blooms of this tree.

Trumpet tree

Yellow tulips from Henry and a couple of colorful parakeets in the aviary of the Memphis Zoo we took last summer. Spring colors all.

Last March I was in St. Louis and captured these pictures of their spring just beginning to burst forth. The flowers breaking through the ground seem innocent in their newness, their pale color with just a blush of the deeper shade.

Daffodils
Spring in St. Louis 2011

My hotel room was across the street from the baseball stadium and it was opening day for the St. Louis Cardinals. I’m not a baseball fan but it was fun to see the city’s enthusiasm for their home team. Opening day – a sure sign of spring!

Busch stadium? Not sure its name
Opening day for the St. Louis Cardinals 2011

Two years ago I was in Kentucky helping a friend with a women’s retreat at a camp. My friend, Marty, had this pot of blooms on an old chair. A beautiful welcome to friends.

Kentucky welcome May 2010

In celebration of the new things spring brings, especially new friends.

This I Know

Love Wins

For years I planned and led youth programs. From scouts to high schoolers, bible study, church history, crafts, games, music, camps I was immersed in youth work. I attended the best youth conferences led by Youth Specialties. The opening session included some of the same information and ice breaker stuff year after year but always an opening a bit different too. Out of all the years I attended the only opening I remember is this:

Before a crowd of at least 3,000, three middle-aged men walked to the stage and sang:

“Jesus loves me, this I know. For the bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong. They are weak but he is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. The bible tells me so.”

There was no accompaniment. Just their average voices singing this children’s song. Jesus Loves Me.

The rest of the conference would be filled with bands like Jars of Clay or Third Day. Workshops about big flash youth programs or personal spiritual formation. There would be plate spinners, comedians and A-list speakers from the faith community. Topics of more depth or sheer entertainment to stay with me but I remember that simple song. The one I learned in Sunday School if not before.

Jesus loves me, this I know.

The point was clear. It all comes back to this: being loved. By Him. By the Son of God and God himself.

We are approaching passion week. Holy Week. The week we see no greater example of his love for us than that of his loved poured out on a cross for us. For me. Jesus loves me, this I know.

Because He loves me, I want you to know He loves you too. It is probably the paramount thing we want the men in the ARC to know. Jesus loves you. They may have never known true love from a parent or from anyone. I’ve seen the marks of abuse. The scars of addictions perpetuated by not being loved. The hardened hearts of love betrayed. But there is love. Real love.

Jesus loves me, this I know.

Vision Check

We don’t have to change what we see.

Only the way we see.” – Ann Voskamp

The memory stays with me. It was third grade. Alexandria, Louisiana. My class was having the vision test. I failed. I cried. It was the first test I had failed. From that time on I’ve had to wear corrective lenses. Glasses in elementary school ask for the boys to call you names. And they did. Though not until sixth grade and by then I could out run many of them.

Many of the men need corrective lenses and we’re often able to help them get glasses. Your world can become new when you see clearly.

I liken the Twelve Steps to clarifying our vision. The steps put into sharper focus who we are and who we can be. This would be our main desire for the men. To see themselves reflected in God’s love. To see clearly how he does care for them in spite of. In spite of addiction, abuse, deceit, criminal record.

Working their recovery program begins with a true recognition of who they are: addict, alcoholic, son, father.

It continues with the surrender of squinting eyes trying to put things into focus and allowing the higher power, God, to clear their vision. I’m not talking about physical healing but the surrender of our will for His. But yes, this is a kind of healing, isn’t it?

How sad for those that never have their vision checked and go on bumping their way through life. Or they refuse help to correct the vision and choose to squint while pretending everything is fine.

And how sad it is for us who never allow God to give us new eyes, new sight, clear vision. We don’t have to change what we see, only the way we see. I want to see people through God’s eyes. To see beyond labels and prejudices. And maybe see myself as he sees me.

free image

“Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.”  – Be Thou My Vision, ancient Irish hymn

Wordless Wednesday – Yellow

 “Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 28 And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you.” Luke 12:27 NLT

Yellow tree, variety unknown

 

Potpourri

We call it paradise

No, this isn’t a scratch and sniff blog post. Not that kind of potpourri. Rather, it’s a collection of things not linked. That kind of potpourri.

First, the sweet fragrance. Today, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise (a nod to my granny), I’ll be meeting a blogger friend. She’s not on WordPress so I’m not sure how I found her blog but so very glad I did. She writes about her journey as a parent of an addict, who is now in recovery. I have learned from her and I believe it’s helped me in the work I do. She’s opened my heart to another perspective. Normally, I would be nervous of meeting someone new but I feel I already know her and we have a common bond in loving people in recovery. We’re meeting at the ARC and I’m excited to show her around and put flesh to the words she’s read.

Hope

The other part of this potpourri doesn’t smell sweet. Though I trust the ending will be. I’ve talked about Adam before. His journey took an unexpected turn last year when he was run over by a forklift and one of the forks went through his leg. Last month I talked about his latest hurdle when he learned he would need another surgery. His 13th since last May. News of that hit him hard and laid him low. We had a difficult talk but one I hope showed him our support hasn’t  wavered.

Adam finally on crutches after months of physical therapy

This surgery was on his toes. He was operated on last Friday while we were out-of-town. I didn’t like that part. He sent me this picture today.

He can’t work for two weeks and light duty two more weeks. He was in a lot of pain earlier and was to get a pain block Monday afternoon. Since pain meds were his addiction this has been a problem for him throughout his recovery.

I’m proud of this 29-year-old. He’s come along way since entering the program over two years ago. He’s met his biggest challenge with this injury. It’s been a rough journey but I believe in him. More, I believe in the God who created him for a better purpose. I know he wants a better life. He’s tasted that and found it to be good. He still wonders why and I don’t have an answer that satisfies. Not every day. He knows he is loved. That’s enough for today. And we’re doing this one day at a time.

Simple Prayer

The song, written by a friend years ago, its tune rolling around in my head. The words mixed up, remembering some and drawing a blank on others, much like mama’s word salad. I remember singing it, the small ensemble of voices at church. It’s title self-descriptive: Simple Prayer.

“This is a simple prayer, from the depths of my heart, Lord teach me to be kind….(humming) teach me to honest about the things I try to hide….and teach me to….??? and let your spirit be my guide…..(more humming)…Lord, teach me to be true.”

(The humming where I can’t recall the words. Surely I’ve missed the best parts. Like many of my prayers, perhaps.)

It was a simple request for a simple prayer that has settled in my heart lately. Going into our prayer time last week Henry asked the men if any had a prayer request. A new man, young, said, “Pray for my wife and child.” That’s all. A few words. Simple. It struck my heart. Does he believe? I don’t know. Maybe he doesn’t know yet. But he knows prayer can’t hurt. He’s in a Salvation Army. Not a sign of the success he’s achieved. He needs. He needs God to hear his prayer for his wife and child. His plea has echoed in my mind. A simple prayer from his heart.

I grew up hearing people pray using different voices and words not ordinarily used. It was like they suddenly started talking like the King James bible: “We come before Thee…..In Thy precious Name…” It was too much for this tongue-tied little girl but I understood. This was what some did. Especially the older ones :)

We’ve talked about how to pray. With the men. They feel it’s too difficult to know the right words. But some of the most beautiful prayers I’ve heard are the simplest. It’s the heart. When the heart cries to God, in need or in praise, the words transcend. His word tells us the very Spirit of God speaks on our behalf. The simple words, the lack of words, our tears and sobs are carried by His Spirit to the heart of God. I don’t know how. I just believe.

I believe in the simple prayers. I believe in God.

Salvation Army Family Tree

Salvation Army Crest

The Salvation Army is a small world as evidenced by how many people are related. It’s commonly said, be careful what you say as everyone is related. So true. I’ve had as many as 10 relatives as active Salvation Army officers at one time. Some people boast of being 5th generation Salvationist. Our children were 4th generation on my side.

My brother at his Commissioning (ordination)

All of this means little more than it’s not unusual for some children to continue in the family business. I don’t mean to minimize their calling. It’s not unusual in many professions for offspring to follow in their parents footsteps. The same is true in Billy Graham’s family and many political families.

William and Catherine Booth had eight children. All of them carried on their parents work, except one born with severe medical problems, for some period of time. A complete, but brief, bio of each child can be found here.

It’s interesting that the oldest child and first son succeeded his father as leader (upon Booth’s death), however, he was deposed 17 years later by the High Council for being “incapacitated”. He was said to have become to authoritarian. More interesting is his sister, Evangeline, played a major role in deposing her brother and five years later became the Army’s first woman General.

Most of the Booths children didn’t remain in the ranks of The Salvation Army. The second son, Ballington, resigned his post in America when his father tried to transfer he and his wife to South Africa. Ballington in turn founded Volunteers of America.

Bramwell and Evangeline are the two children that have left the deepest mark on The Salvation Army. Bramwell with being credited as helping his father in the early development of structure and Evangeline as the first woman General and skilled leader.

The Army continues to be family centered. Perhaps it’s because we are unique in our combination of social services and ministry. Or the fact we’re relatively small. The average corps (church) would have less than 100 in their Sunday service. There are no “mega” Salvation Army churches though some, in America, may have a few hundred attend on Sunday.

We hold events regionally that help foster the family community. As a teenager I was in a car accident while on my way to summer camp in North Florida. I was with another girl giving me a ride from Ft. Myers. I was taken to the hospital because my forehead crashed into the windshield. By the time I was treated and released the officer from the  Salvation Army in Ocala, FL was there to pick me up and take me to the corps to wait. All my father had to do was call and tell the man what happened. Neither of us knew this man but we didn’t need to.

I suppose it’s in our blood, Henry and me. More than that, it’s where God has called us.