Category: Five-Minute Friday

Comfort is a word with a double edge.

We are urged to get out of our comfort zone and curb our indulgence in our comfort foods, the pint of Ben and Jerry’s we crave at the end of a hard day….not our best go-to.

Comfort is familiar. It is routine and known and safe.

It is also complacency and hiding and avoidance. When does the contentment that soothes your soul become bad?

Harder still is the answer. The answer for me isn’t the same for you. And it seems to change, starting with the disclaimer: it depends.

It’s not that comfort is bad, maybe it’s that we don’t always look for it in the best places. To be honest, I’d rather toss back a few almond M&M’s than recall a verse of scripture or inspiring quote. Comfort=easy=lazy=not real comfort

Most would say it’s about balance. The truth about balance is that it’s elusive. It’s not 50-50 as I’ve mistakenly believed. We grab our doses of ease when we can. We stay in our zone. We lap up conversation with a good friend because it tastes better than ice cream and is calorie free. Or maybe we share the conversation over the sweet comfort of ice cream or cookies or pie – yes pie…with ice cream!

While we’re at it, let’s put our favorite play list on in the background and talk about the last good book we read. Let’s laugh at our silly mistakes. Let’s get comfortable with the rhythms of life and let’s make space for grace, the truest comfort.

 

 

Five-Minute Friday grace

She’s an only child and we are her playmates. I, the least willing to get in the cool water of the pool, to get my hair wet. Her pleas are urgent, “C’mon MeMe….pleeeease.” Play with me is all she wants.

missing her

I can make play about work more than fun. Chasing her on the playground means sweaty and sand in your shoes and hair matted to your face.

It means an extra close shave of the legs before heading to the beach and all the stuff that has to be packed. It means wearing a swimsuit that never looks good! All of this just to play.

Yes, all of this to play with our only grandchild. The one whose squeals of fun part the gathering clouds. Her smile melts my resolve and makes the so-called play refreshing.

Her Baba is her best playmate. They are fish in the water swimming down to be the first to get the toys on the bottom of the pool. They sculpt sandcastles on the shore at the beach and run fast into the tide coming in.

Let me be the gatherer of stuff and plans and time. Let me be the watcher of this show of fun between grandfather and granddaughter. This is how I play. This is my true delight. And to be drawn into it a bit more as an accomplice…yes, it’s worth the extra as joy always is.

 

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family Five-Minute Friday

How did I take one giant step playing Mother May I as a kid and I can’t do lunges on steady feet as an adult? I wobble and throw my arms out to keep balance ON THE FLOOR!

I stand straight. Fix my eyes on an unmovable point across the room and stretch out with one leg. Fixing my eyes on the edge of the frame on the wall, the unmovable, helps steady my move, helps stabilize my balance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wonder where they fix their eyes? On the horizon that never changes?

Our work in in the recovery community isn’t stable. Some days it’s like being forced on an out of control roller coaster. The dips and turns have your fingers wrapped in a death grip around the, so-called, safety bar. The minute it slows and you catch your breath it whips around another sharp curve and you wonder where that blood curdling scream is coming from only to discover it’s you.

Does that sound like your day? It’s called life. And I keep searching for that smooth ocean where I can stand balanced and enjoying the view.

Where can I fix my eyes? What will help hold my balance in this ever-shifting world?

“Now stay focused on Jesus, who designed and perfected our faith.” Hebrews 12:2a VOICE

In the Old Testament book of laments, where people were surrounded by difficulties, we find this hope:

God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
    his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
    How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
    He’s all I’ve got left.
Lamentations 3:23 the Message

 

faith Five-Minute Friday hope

 

When we were kids, one of my younger cousins would trade you his dime for your nickel. He thought bigger was better. That the size spoke its worth.

We laughed, pleased with ourselves for pulling something over our younger cousin. Trouble is, when we grew up, we let the world pull the same thing over on us.

We’ve bought into the stuff, the titles, the degrees, the labels, the whatever it is that’s being sold this week.

I know. I think I’m too smart for those pitches too. But I find myself trading my dime for someone else’s nickel too.

I’m looking for my place. I”m looking for status, for recognition but these are empty. They will never describe my worth or my value.

God-given gifts

The text we grew up on says this:

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Mark 8:36 KJV

Eugene Peterson, in the Message, expands on that as he writes with more context:

Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for? Mark 8:36-37

It’s why we shut out the 24-hour news cycle and close our laptops. It’s why I turned off notifications on my phone. At times, it’s hard. I don’t want to be the las one who knows the latest app or the political jokes the late night talk show hosts are making. But it’s fools gold. In the scheme of life, it’s worthless.

 

I believe my value will only be found of worth through the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

Am I a nice person? Yes

Do I want to make a positive difference in this world? Yes

Do I show my love for my family and friends with actions and words? Yes.

Yes, yes, we are good people. But Jesus wants more than good. He wants all. He is described as the pearl of great price. His sacrifice has paid the price. He alone makes us worthy.

 

 

faith Five-Minute Friday grace

Sometimes I have to pause and ask myself, “What’d you expect?”
Answer: I don’t know, but not this.
I never expected to be married at 20, our first baby at 21 and second at 23.
I never expected to find ourselves in full time ministry as, what I joke, was my husband’s mid-life crisis.
I never expected my parents to divorce or my mom to have Alzheimer’s.
But I did, we did, they did.
There were some hurts, anger, feelings of not knowing my way but also learning about God’s love in ways I never would have without these times in my life.
I try to keep expectations low, it’s safer that way. But they have a way of being invisible. You don’t know they’re there until you’re let down.
We’re facing a new time in our lives. As always, this husband who I could never have expected to be so what I need (aka wonderful!) is sailing through. But me, I didn’t expect this anxiety.
I didn’t expect the uncertainty. One moment I feel elated about the nearing future of retirement and what it promises. The next, I want to know the specifics. Now. I don’t want to wait. Are there hidden expectations waiting for me – again?
I realize I can expect to be overjoyed but that one doesn’t come natural to me. So I hold my breath a bit and overthink it all.
Until those words come that find a way of answering the fear:
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Eternal,
“plans for peace, not evil,
to give you a future and hope—never forget that.

faith Five-Minute Friday hope

Seems people with curly hair want straight and those with hair as straight as sticks want curly. Brown-eyed kids want blue and maybe the ones with blue eyes are happy as they are.

Maybe it’s human nature to want what we don’t have. Maybe envy is inherent in our humanness. It’s not a virtue and while I’d never admit to having the kind of envy the bible warns against, I come close when it comes to family.

I’m content with my brown eyes. I’m well-adjusted with my 5’4″ stature and while I’d like to have more eyelashes like my cousin does (how does she get them to separate so!) what I really envy are those who live in the same community as their family.

For too many years, seeing my parents and extended family was a visit. The meaning of that words implies its temporary nature. We can feel more familiar in a parents house even though we’ve never lived in it. I recognized that years ago. But I also knew my time with them couldn’t be more than a few days a year.

family meet up in North Carolina, 1991

Hudson Thanksgiving 2015

Today our family remains spread out across three time zones. Our children are in two different states and my siblings in two more. My heart would have us close enough that visits didn’t seem like, well, a visit. I long for a time when our house is the pass through, the go to and the foundation.

I want the same for you. For those who’ve stopped in for a visit, I hope you’ll stay. I’m appreciative of Annie and Susan and Linda and Sue and Judi and the unknowns who just click “like”.  Those of you who’ve stayed and settled in with me here on the blog. This is how we get to know each other. This is how we conquer the geography that divides us.

And this must be what Jesus wants most from us. That we aren’t merely visitors but that we make our home with him. What a good home it is.

family Five-Minute Friday

The men come to us wearing the truth of addiction. Its stench is a life rotting away from the denial they are caught in its grip. Their faces gaunt, their eyes flat, their hearts hollowed from its lies.

For too many food, rest, and a hot shower will cover addictions truth: it comes to destroy. They will, again, believe the lie they can do this on their own.

That lie sounds familiar because I’ve believed it too. I can do this, on my own.

I can be a good parent, a good teacher, a good friend. I can do this by myself. I’ve got this.

On my own, by myself, whichever way you’ve told yourself it isn’t true.

From our beginnings God said it wasn’t good for us to be alone. He created a companion, a helper. Later, as Jesus prepares to leave his earthly body and fellowship with his disciples, he tells us He will never leave us but send us his Spirit to be our helper.

We live with lies swirling around us. Sometimes it’s hard to discern the truth. Add to that a world that has decided there can be different truths: your truth and mine. How do we represent Jesus as truth when others say prove it or that they have their own truth?

There is a man in our program now who can’t accept God as his higher power. He needs proof. Give him a book, a study he can read, one that’s been validated in ways he accepts. This, friends, is a hard life.

My truth is that Jesus is the truth. His life showed us and his word continues to reveal it. His gift to us is choice to believe.

faith Five-Minute Friday Salvation Army

Like the storm clouds that gather, their familiar gray turning an inky blue and looming heavy, so is this one word:

should.

I should move more
pray more
be more.

I should listen more and talk less.

I should
memorize scripture
keep a journal
have a sabbath day
know my neighbors
love everyone – E V E R Y O N E
love myself

The list could go on, and on, but I’m already exhausted. That word is gathering a storm of weight on me and it bears down.

The weight is in knowing there is truth there.

Here’s another list of shoulds few of us would argue with:

I should wash my hair
wear deodorant
schedule regular doctor appointments
and a little lipstick won’t hurt.

One list sounds like a burden of expectations set by others and one list is common sense. Okay, you get a pass on the lipstick thing.

There is a weight we carry in living our days. Or we can choose to carry it less as an obligation and more as a privilege, a joy even. And that’s where I falter.

We live in privilege. We have choices and access.  We have clean water and rows and rows of choice in shopping for deodorant, shampoo, even multiple versions of bibles.

It comes down to balance again. Are the shoulds keeping us on track or raining down on us like a storm? How can we be accountable to the ones that  feel like weight but can help mold us into God’s servant?

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”

Romans 12:1-2 the Message

faith Five-Minute Friday

Her eyes rimmed red as tears began to form. He sat in silence, empty of feeling having poured them out. Again.

It was quiet in Jenny’s office as we sat with our feelings, our pain. Another fatal overdose. Another life lost. Another friend, son, brother, gone. He was 28.

These times when we’ve poured ourselves out, when we feel empty of caring, these are the times we question: Is this where I should be?

I know we follow a Savior who emptied himself out but we are not him. We need a constant filling. So we gather in an office or take a walk in the bright sunshine. We pull close to another who understands this pain and we ask together if we can handle death’s sting.

Maybe this is the cross Jesus said we needed to carry.

We look for endless blessings and joy, the kind that doesn’t hurt, the kind that keeps us bubbling over. Somehow we have this notion that this is the life of following Jesus. It’s not. It may be a glimpse of heaven but on earth it’s fleeting.

That wasn’t the end of sorrow for me this week. More would come, Family would face unexpected life threatening illness and a mom would wonder how much more. It would continue to feel like a week of trials and questions we’re afraid to say out loud.

It’s Friday, but Sunday is coming. Resurrection Sunday is coming and we will proclaim:

He is risen.
HE IS RISEN INDEED

But He poured Himself out to fill a vessel brand new;
    a servant in form
    and a man indeed.
The very likeness of humanity,
He humbled Himself,
    obedient to death—
    a merciless death on the cross!
So God raised Him up to the highest place
    and gave Him the name above all.

Philippians 2:7-9 VOICE

faith Five-Minute Friday hope recovery

Enough is enough.

His words were heavy with conviction as he spoke to the room filled with 100+ people. Most were men, like him, addicts and alcoholics. It was a night of celebrating sobriety. One month, two, a year, 5 years and more. We’d celebrate program completions and we would share with cheers, encouragement and words of caution.

Mark was the resident manager. He lived upstairs in a private room among the others rooms that held six and ten. He reminded them to tuck their shirts in, be on time, shave….every day. He saw the literal good, bad and ugly of addiction. He lived it once himself.

Enough is enough.

Most of the time Mark is the full of smiles, everything is good kind of guy. His face is a bit too easy to read, however. This night, his heart was heavy for others struggling with this lethal disease and he spoke firm words of caution. He said it not as a plea but as a victory chant: Enough is Enough

Did you ever hear your mama say it? I’ve had enough of you. Or that’s enough!

Whatever it was we were doing, she wanted it to end. Now. No more. She’d had plenty, more than enough.

I remember well Mark’s earnest words of choice. A mantra, a note to self to stop the destruction, the lies, the flirting with death.

Mark knew, and we know, it isn’t so easy to change. We’re people who seem to crave more. And more. Stopping is hard because we can’t do it alone.

Sometimes, that’s the hardest part. Admitting we can’t do it and that we need help. It’s that way with life, not just addiction. We’re at our best when have others around us to share the burdens. Friends or professionals who we can be our true selves with. It’s the Jesus way of finding he is our enough.

 

faith Five-Minute Friday recovery