Running towards

Breaking news alerts and my attention is turned from whatever tasks seemed important at the time.  It was quickly apparent this would be so much more than merely breaking news.

The scenes on my TV screen are pressed into my mind.  Watching the confusion and hoping that by some incredible miracle no one has died, and then getting the heartbreaking news that several had already passed away.  Watching over and over the videos that are replayed of the first explosion, then the second explosion.  All  of us who are old enough to remember the footage on 9/11 remember the feeling of the second plane.  The second explosion.  The second ones will almost always mean this was not a horrific accident.  Someone did this.  Someone wanted to cause death.  Wanted to cause destruction, horror and terror.  Wanted to cause us to flee from our feeling of security.  Flee from familiar places.  Flee in terror away from it all.

What became clear so quickly to me when watching the new footage were the people running TOWARDS the explosions.  Towards the destruction and towards the horror.  However, can we run towards terror? Terror is defined as an intense state of fear.  Terror is defined as a destructive act cause to instill an intense state of fear.  When I saw those masses of people…police officers, race officials, fireman, marathon runners, bystanders, military…were they running towards the destruction because they were terrorized?  No.  I will answer with confidence because I saw their faces.  Their faces held determination, but not fear.  They ran towards the unknown because it is woven into who they are.  It doesn’t mean we feel guilty if we are one of the ones who run hard and fast until the horror is far behind us.  That is the most common human reaction.  The more I watch the footage, the more comforted I feel.  That was not my reaction after 9/11.  After that day, and for years, I was fearful of so much.  I lived in my own state of terror.

I pray I continue to feel comforted by remembering that among the billions of people on this earth, we are surrounded by those who are woven into humanity who will always run towards the horror to help and will not be terrorized.  I pray I can be one of those people, but I honestly don’t know. 

Evil is imbedded in our world.  It is also woven into humanity.  There are bombings, murders, sex slavery, labor slavery and so many other untold horrors that are hard to imagine in my cushioned life.  However, I will always have faith that there is so much more beauty and good woven into humanity.  I will also pray to have the strength to run towards destruction as those amazing people did yesterday in Boston.

May God’s love, grace and comfort blanket the victims and their families.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Yoga pants and justice

I have been going through an inside changing process over the past several years.  I was raised to be giving, to be loving, to be forgiving, to see the other side to every story….and I have tried to live that kind of life.  Sometimes I haven’t.  Many times I haven’t.  I have been a taker, a hater, a judger, an unforgiver, an only see my side type of person many, many times.  I could beat myself up each time I am this uglier side, or I could give, love, forgive of myself for those times and move on…be better next time.  So I keep going.

However, more specifically in the last few years I have dug deeper.  Looked past the barriers I placed up before, the bubble I placed my life in.  My eyes, heart and soul have been opened to things beyond what I saw before.  I saw the hurting, I just didn’t place myself right next to it.  I just watched through a window.  I was sad, but paralyzed.  I didn’t know how to move, so I didn’t.  Then….I just did.  I sat next to the homeless and listened to their stories.  I listened to ex-convicts.  To present convicts.  I listened to and held the poor, the orphaned.  I’m not glorifying myself, moreso, I’m pointing out that it just starts with listening to and loving someone outside of my bubble.  I didn’t save them.  I just listened.  I know most of them won’t ever remember me, but I remember them every day.

Today in the news, it’s yoga pants.  See-through yoga pants.  People are outraged.  People are demanding better pants.  The pants are pulled from store shelves.  We have a world wide yoga pant shortage now?  My heart is aching for further questions though.

Who made these pants?  Was it a child?  Did that child have parents?  Would we pay more for better pants if we knew the workers were treated fairly?  Who made the pants in my closet?  Who made my shoes?  Do we really care more about the see-throughness, then we do about some larger issues at hand?  Slave labor…child labor…orphans?  My mind goes farther, and I get mad.  When I get mad, I research.  When I research, it brings me to dark corners of the world.  Questions on company policy towards slave labor leads to child labor.  Leads to sex trafficking.  Leads to homelessness…orphans…immigrant mistreatment in the USA….it goes darker and darker.  Then I realized, I can research all I want.  I can get pissed.  I can also start doing something more.  More than “liking” every facebook page about these issues.  I can start acting on what these pages tell me.  I can demand answers and changes.

We are a culture drowning in a blame game.  Politics, big corporation outrage, this church, that church, no church.  What if we just stop for a moment and breathe.  What breaks our hearts?  I am searching mine, because I can’t search everyone elses.  Different things break each of our hearts.

International justice mission is a “cause” after my own breaking heart.  They expose, help fund change and celebrate victory over many issues of human slavery.  And I can do more.  I can start asking questions and demanding answers about every item I buy.  The whole supply and delivery chain.  Yes, it’s a pain.  I imagine it’s a bit of a pain on purpouse.  It’s easier to bury the answers so that people give up.  Who made the packaging of this item?  Who made the materials in the packaging?  Who collected the materials?  How were they collected?  That’s just the packaging.  However, if even one human being was abused, robbed, forced in labor in making any part of the product…am I ok with that?  No.

I’m going to start with me.  I know it won’t be easy.  I’m going to journal my journey in this.  I’ll write later how it goes.

What breaks your heart?

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Hands Like Mine

My Mamama lived in a brick condo building on Queen Anne Hill. You’d drive down a little driveway, behind the building facing the street and there was a car port. Her condo was upstairs. I feel like if I close my eyes and stay super quiet, find that place in the back of my brain, I can find the smell of her home. The only home I knew her to have before she was dying and moved closer to our house.

Her bed was big, fluffy and cozy. She would always stretch before she left that cozy bed because “that’s what you do when you get old like me” she’d say.

I remember books, stacks of things in her extra bedroom. Nothing perfect, or too organized. Never messy by a kids standards though. I do imagine that’s one reason why she loved having us there. Adult friends probably judge too much, and want things to be “just so”. I look forward to grandkids who will remember me by my not so perfect house. Every little pile was a little bit of a treasure chest. I don’t remember what was intermixed in that stuff. But I do know I’d ask her about this, about that, and she’d answer. I hope it made her feel more special about her piles of things. Nothing sticks out as exciting, but the memory of just seeing it all must mean something.

She had an 8 track player out in her living room, and I’d always put in her Roger Williams cassette and listen to King of the Road. Over and over and over…

There was a huge “picture window” that looked out east from Queen Anne onto Lake Union and the traffic on I-5. We’d sit on her couch at nights when I couldn’t sleep and watch the lights, the traffic…people coming and going from wherever people came from and went to in the 1970’s Seattle.

There was tea in her cupboard and orange marmalade jam for our toast. She would pour tea and we’d sip it together and she would treat me just like a grown up and listen to my endless stories. At Christmas season we’d sit at her dining room table and create beautiful ornaments that hang still on my mothers tree. She pretended mine were as pretty as hers.

We would visit her on Orcas Island, where she spent her summers. She had Nutter Butters, Fresca and energy for unending walks. She let me fall in love with Orcas.

She would lie in my bed and read me books when I was supposed to take a nap. She read me Curious George, and told me I was just like George…curious. She’d tell me that’s why I had so many questions (and she was probably thinking “and why you never sit still”). We’d stare up at the cloud pillow with rainbow ribbons hanging from my ceiling, that I’m pretty sure her sister made for me, and she’d tell me stories. I imagine half the time I’d relax enough to fall asleep, which was amazing for a kid like me, who saw no need for rest.

All of the blankets me, my sisters and brother, had on our beds were made by her. Mine was pastelish colors. I loved it, which is amazing, because I didn’t like pinks, or oranges, or yellows…I liked soccer, football, baseball and anything not girlish. She would probably have loved it to know that I had learned to sew, learned to play the piano, learned to be crafty. But I didn’t learn any of that, and I know she’d also love that too, because she wanted all of her grandkids to just be themselves.

I remember her taking me to Nordstrom for school shoes, but I don’t remember the shoes. I just remember the going. I can also walk into the downtown Seattle Macy’s (then Bon Marche) and feel almost feel a swoosh of air like I’m about ready to go back in time, walking hand in hand with her through that grand main floor (shoes were from Nordstrom, but the day lingered into wandering downtown).

I remembering gardening outside her garden. She held her hands in mine and said “Look at that, you have hands like mine. There is nothing wrong with dirty fingernails. If your hands are too clean, it means you’re not working hard enough”. For a long time, I thought she said our hands were alike, because we both had dirty gardening fingernails. As I get older, and look at my hands, the little age spots, the bluish veins, the increasing lines…I know she was comparing our hands, the long fingers, the shape. I wonder if she was hoping that long after she was gone, I would look at my hands and remember hers. And I do. My mom has them, and my older sister has them. We all love them and we all remember hers.

She taught me to walk along beach logs without touching sand. She taught me to be patient while beach combing to find agates. She taught me to use a typewriter, and those little white strips to correct mistakes.

I learned to be attentive and kind visiting her friends and listening to other people’s stories. That even the lady who fell asleep, right at her kitchen table, while we were visiting is worth being listened to. “She has narcolepsy…it means you can’t help but fall asleep”. A few years ago, I was asking my mom about the lady with narcolepsy who lived down the street from Mamama and would fall asleep. I found out she had a drinking problem. So, even long after you are gone, Mamama, I am still learning from you. Learning, that you still visit people, even with drinking problems. And that telling a little white lie to an 8-year-old about narcolepsy is just fine.

She made me milk toast when I was sick. She was 71 when she died of cancer. Milk toast can’t fix sucky cancer.

Some called her Lilian, some called her Lil. My mom called her mom…but we grandkids had the best name to call her. Mamama. She died before I was able to have long lingering conversations with her about life in-depth. I was 12 when she died, 7th grade. But her life didn’t stay stuck for me in my 12-year-old memories. It has grown up with me, so I can imagine things she’d say, advice she’d give.

Somehow, Mamama, you remind me to not work so hard at trying to live other people’s lives, that I almost miss out on living my own.

Happy 101st Birthday. I love you.

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Path

I sometimes get so overwhelmed with repeated mistakes, repeated sins, failures, fears, worry.  On my worst days, I tell myself I’ve wasted 42 years (or however old I am on that day I have said this to myself over the years).  I tell myself I haven’t learned anything.  And now, with Facebook, Pinterest and constant “reality” shows…we have “perfect” to compare our lives to.  Well, perhaps not reality shows…they sometimes make me feel better!

I realized this morning that I many times do this because I think I’m straying from God’s path.  It’s the whole unforgiveness of self thing combined with fear of the next stumble.  However, I am on MY path…and Jesus met me there.  He walks with me.  This morning, in a devotional, it says He walks before me AND with me.  Holding my hand.  On my path.  My broken, weed filled, rocky path that is surrounded by beauty.  Many days though, I don’t lift my eyes to see the beauty, because I’m looking down at my screwed up path.  I tell myself I ruined the path.  It was perfect and I ruined it….and I’ll probably keep ruining it.

My path was never perfect though.  God is perfect however, and He meets me on this path of mine.  He doesn’t wait for me to reach the top.  He’s not waiting down at the bottom.  He’s walking with me…holding MY hand.  He reminds me to look around at His beauty.  Some days I listen and look up.  Other days, I just focus downwards and feel empty and lost.  He knows the trail ahead, and keeps walking with me.

There are days ahead when big stuff will get in my way.  Sadness will get in my way. Fear will consume me.  Instead of rocks and weeds on my path, boulders will be there, and huge trees will fall across it.  He’ll still be there though.  Helping me get over it, around it, through it.  He’ll remind me again to look around and not worry and be overwhelmed about this imperfect path….enjoy the beauty of the moment…the beauty of the walk.

 

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Face

So much has been filling up my heart lately.  That seems such a wierd statement altogether, because of course it isn’t actually my heart that is filling up, but it sure feels like it sometimes.  It feels like when we have so much on our minds, that is causing the swirling, jumping, dancing, pounding thoughts and emotions, to settle directly in my beating heart.

The news, facebook, email is bursting at the seams with political stuff…and want to call it something else, but in case I have grandkids someday who read this, I’ll call it stuff.  It overwhelms me, makes me sad, makes me pissed, makes me question.  Who have we become?  I’m not singling anyone out here.  Who have we ALL become?  At least “ALL” of us who I am exposed to…which is a lot of people due to the overactive communication.  Was it really worse when it took a horse ride or a train ride across the country, carrying our collective thoughts on actual pieces of paper?  Has the constant, total availability of communication REALLY made us better people? hmmmmm……  Again, I’m not singling anyone out here.  I’m talking about me, I’m talking about you.  Something seems comforting about sitting around a kitchen table in a small house, even a log cabin, talking with my neighbor about our differing views….and then maybe writing a letter to an Aunt Ethel who lives a long horse ride away asking her what she thinks.  Having her read it, pray about it, talking to Uncle Bernie about it, her neighbor about it, and then writing a letter back to me and sending it on the next pony leaving town.  I know I’m romantisizing the past, but so BE it.  It sounds relaxing and simple to me.

I constantly seek the face of Jesus.  The heart of Jesus.  I’m not just speaking “Christianese”, I really do seek that, not often enough, but much more often than I use to.  Actually, I have been asking for His heart a lot in the past several years and have talked of seeking His face, sung about seeking His face, but really I was after His heart.  But maybe His face is just as high up on the list of what I should be seeking.  Because the look on a face can speak a million words.  I’ve seen the face of a person who seems sooooo freaking happy, fulfilled, content, secure change in the blink of an eye with a few simple words…”Are you sure you’re okay?”….their face says way more than their words, and you just know they aren’t.  Their heart is breaking, but they have a thick, arrow proof wall surrounding it.  It’s the only way to protect the blows from piercing, but a face will give you a glimpse what is really going on past those walls.  It will show you what is really on the heart if you seek their face…ask them a question beyond “How are you?”.

If He was right in front of me I could see His face.  I could see the change in His expression when one of the children that He loves is hurt.  I ccould see His devastation at watching one child He loves hurt another child He loves.  I could see the utter horror when this hurt, these hurling words of hate, unforgiveness, disgust hurled against eachother in HIS NAME!!  UGH!  It makes me sick.  And you know what?  I’ve been on the person hurting end. I’ve also been on the other side…the crap side…the side that doesn’t love, help, forgive another person in His name and that is just sick.  It hurts me.  It makes me grieve for that moment I chose that.  And I know I’ll do it again, and that grieves me more.  It’s why I keep seeking His heart, His face.  Show me Lord, the change in your face when I hurt someone you love.  Show me when I don’t want to be shown.

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He brought 17

It’s so easy to get caught up in the numbers game.  How much money we make.  How many vacation days we have.  How many kids are coming to the party.  How many friends Facebook Happy Birthday’d me.  How many people say no.

I’m alway amazed at what is revealed to me through serving.  From putting on the shoes of someone else that has been serving me.  Man, those shoes alway seem a lot heavier than they looked.  How many times have my sarcastic, funny comments cut someone to the bone but they just smiled?  Conviction in this area is tough, because I don’t know.  So, I can’t go “make it right”.  I can’t always apologize because I am definitely a smart ashk a lot.  I’m learning more and more that there is a time and a place, and it’s not nearly as often as I think it is.

A few of us planned a ladies retreat.  I was pretty sure I had planned for one before, because, holy cow, I had helped grocery shop for it.  I am quite certain now, that gigantic sacrifice on my part was not quite the full extent of planning for the ladies retreat (btw…I’m being a smart ashk).  It takes prayer, meeting, changing plans, taking criticism, keeping a smile, encouraging, crying, laughing, praying more, cleaning, list making, more list making, cooking and  oh yes, a 90 minute grocery shopping trip.  This speaks nothing of the person who God has called to share, to teach, to speak.  I won’t pretend to know what those shoes feel like….if I’m ever called, I will know then~and I am certain I will be stretched, transformed and exhausted.

I am human.  I am consumed with pride sometimes and I hang onto it until it is either ripped away from me, or gracefully taken from my open hands.  I started doing the numbers thing in planning this retreat.  How many are going to come?  How many aren’t going to come?  Surely people know numbers are important, because I wouldn’t want to buy the wrong number of bananas, taco shells or waters!  I need something to plug into this spreadsheet so I can calculate this grand weekend that I am planning….so that God can then come in and work.  But, He can’t possibly work if I don’t have enough sour patch kids or licorice.  I am human, so in order to not let my heart break at the “no’s”, I pretend to care about fruit, drinks, candy and coffee cups.  Thankfully, this is one of those times that my pride was gently taken from my open  hands.  He brought 17.

He knew this weekend.  He knew where it was going to be.  He knew it wasn’t going to be in the mountains no matter how long it took us to figure it out, but in a future home of a family we love, and in a city that two families who we love are going to be moving to.  He knew my beautiful friend Becky was going to be changed from the message she prepared to share with us, before she even shared it with us.  He knew the hearts that were going to be breaking walking in the doors.  He knew about the “yes’s” and He knew about the “no’s”.  He knew that I would learn about serving, things that I thought I already knew.  Becky, at one point this weekend, shared that months after moving from Texas to Washington, she  cried out “Lord, if I am stretched anymore, there won’t be anymore of me left!”  And he told her, “Becky, that’s the point”.  He knew that I needed to hear exactly that.

From my journal this weekend~

 Lord, so many times I offer up all of me, but every single time-I take myself back, piece by piece.  I want to say WHY WHY?!?!  But I know.  Because my eyes focus back onto what the world wants, what I want.  No what the world needs, what I NEED. What you are asking of me.

I wish I could know someday I won’t do this, but I know as long as I am on this earth, I will continue to take myself back from You, piece by piece.  Lord, I just pray that really hard prayer~reveal it quickly each time, convict me straight to my heart and bring me back to the place of offering my whole self to You.

It’s so easy to get caught up in what others aren’t doing, and what I am doing.  Instead give me eyes to see what others are doing and what I need to do.  Not out of guilt, shame or empty obligation.  But out of my love and devotion to you Lord.  So many times I get caught up in the mistakes I’ve made and feel like I have nothing to offer.  Satan tries to steal my joy and remind me of my sins, remind me of how much I’ve screwed up.  Lord, let these sins/screwups be a weapon You have given me to use against Satan-because I am FORGIVEN!!  Fear takes over but You have separated my sin as far as East is from the West!!  Not of this state, this country, this world-but for unseen eternal distance!!  It can’t find each other again.  Put that on my heart Lord, every time Satan tries to convince me they aren’t separated!  THEY ARE!!

Where you need me to be Lord, where I need to serve-Press it into my heart.  Lord, let it just be part of me, that knowing.  So that when doubt creeps in, anger takes over-I am quickly reminded that serving You is part of me, not just something I do.  Give me joy in serving others, that isn’t explainable.

Lord, thank you for this weekend.  For this sunshine.  For these women.  For the perfect way You messed up our perfect plans to create the perfect Ladies Retreat that you had planned for us.”

He knew when we were fretting over the weather report of rain, that it was actually going to be beautiful, glorious and sunny.  There would be sunrises that would take our breath away.  He knew that 16 ladies would each add to my life and show me His love.  He knew that ladies would share of their hurt, feeling separated from Him, about losing hope.  He also knew that we would pray for each other, and continue to pray for each other.  He knew that some of us were hurting but couldn’t bear to share it with anyone else, couldn’t find the words to speak about what was breaking our hearts, but He knew, He sees and He grieves with us, and He tells us to pray for those unknown hurts.

He brought 17 and gracefully showed me it had nothing to do with having enough sour patch kids.

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Burbujas, Black Garbage Bags and Water

March 13, 2012 (started March 13 2:00pm…..couldn’t finish, so I’ll post today, March 19th….and leave it as I left it then.)

I am  home.  I am back in my house, back to my routine (except for the fact that yesterday we layed around doing nothing….so today I’m actually back to my routine!)  I really want to start some blog entries about our trip, about my feelings, but I know this will be hard to do…not eloquent I imagine, because my feelings are all over the place.

Part of me feels empty, not sure what to do with the complete difference between these two parts of my world.  Home, where I have everything I need all around this house.  It’s not a guilty feeling really…I know the answer isn’t to turn off my hot water, strip my house of everything, and take all the boys toys away…I really do get that.  It’s more of an longing of what I felt without all of those things.  I don’t envy those without, I don’t think envy is anywhere in my heart right now, there isn’t room for it.

I long to be at the orphanage with the kids.  Every single last one of them.  I long to be there, working my tail off all morning, just waiting like a little kid for recess time, when the kids would run up to the room where we kept all of our things asking “Burbujas (bubbles)? colors? Hogar (play) Kreeestin? Uno libre? (wanting a coloring book, and promising me they won’t take the whole stack…just one:)” Pushing the kids on swings,  walking around like I’m a 3rd grader not wanting the bell to ring.  When it rings, I’d hurry the kids back to line up and telling them “Juegan mas tarde”…Play later.  And then I’d find something to do.  Anything. Wanting to get every last possible project done for these kids, for the ladies who care for the kids 24×7 and love them all dearly.  But knowing there is no way to “finish it all”.  Part of my week there, I helped clean out rooms full of all sorts of stuff. Shoes, clothes, toys…some good, some not so good.  There were times I cried in anger and frustration at the condition of some of the things people had left for them.  Shirts with huge stains, underwear with holes, dolls with no heads, trucks with a wheel missing.  Why do people think these kids deserve these things?????  God would quickly convict my heart of being angry with people who I didn’t even know.  Didn’t know their intentions.  Didn’t know if perhaps some little girl gave her favorite doll, and somewhere along the way, the head popped off.  Who am I to know, to judge, to be angry?  God called me to Guatemala to serve, to love, to clean out these rooms, not to judge the contents.  We ran out of black garbage bags.  Normally I would just run out go my garage and grab a handful out of my Costco box of them and get back to work.  But not here.  Not in this room on the side of a room in Guatemala. When you’re out, you’re out…we had hours left of work to do, and wouldn’t be able to get garbage bags til the next day.  So, we would yelp in excitement when we’d dig through the mound of clothes and come across another black garbage bag to use for the clothes/shoes/toys that were unusable.  Yelping over black garbage bags~how I crave to be back in those moments right now.

An elderly man was walking down the road while were cleaning out these rooms.  He walked and looked like a 90 year old man, thin and frail, but he could very easily have been 60 years old. It was a HOT day and this man was dressed in a sweater and long wool looking pants.  He started talking to me, and to be completely honest, I was a little uncomfortable.  I searched around for a translator, found David and called him over.  He told me that the man needed bus fair.  I gave him the change in my pocket and asked him if he’d like a bottle of water.  “anything is wonderful”.  I went and got him a bottle of water.  As I handed it to him, he got tears in his eyes.  I hugged him.  He had an old hat on, and his royal blue thick sweater was dirty.  He was missing most of his teeth. His hands were worn and callused.  When I hugged him, I could have held  him for an hour.  It felt like I was  hugging a dearly loved grandfather.  I didn’t feel good because I felt like I was helping this man, I felt like he was comforting me, nurturing me.  He told me that God gave us all the same eyes, the same hearts, the same blood running through our bodies, that we look different, but we are the same.  We hugged again, and he walked away.  I pray that I will never forget those words, the feeling of his hug, and that I will never forget this mans face.

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