Indescribable

Big love

Big love. A peek into my journal.

How can one describe the depths and mercy and grace that is God’s love?

Lord, your love is indescribable, but oh, grant me words to try. Fill me with inspiration.

Your love baffles, defies explanation, astounds.

Your love whispers, clues abounding in its mystery, yet always slightly shrouded in the quest for more of it.

Your love thrusts hearts into the hearts of others, again and again, multiplying, exponential.

Your love overflows with empathy for the dust of mankind.

Your love erases, wipes away shame and regrets.

Your love paints, broad strokes of mercy and fresh color. Newness.

Your love grows, a seed planted early, coddled.

Your love reaches into dark and desolate hearts with acceptance and refreshing, vast.

Your love erupts from a wellspring of unending flowing, a source.

Your love stretches beyond time to everlasting past and ever-expanding future.

Your love breaks walls built brick-by-brick of hardness.

Your love explodes into earth with grace-filled moments more plentiful than sand-on-shores, powerful.

Your love wraps me in and secures me tightly, an envelope.

Your love lifts the wounded into bright places beyond clouds of turmoil, like wings.

Your love is a perfume to the faithful, a stench to the bitter.

Your love is a foundation, solid, deep, entrenched, unmoving.

Your love fills the bitter cup that compelled you to the cross for me, bitterness.

Your love caresses the soul and spirit with peaceful acceptance, sweetness.

Your love pierces, evokes tearful regret and fresh hope.

Your love is big. Bigger. Biggest. Larger than life.

Your love is safety, a harbor, a place to run to when battles rage.

Your love is free, though it cost you dearly, it bears no price.

Your love is costly, paid in blood and upon that tree, nailed there, yet not held there.

Your love? Desperately indescribable.

funk water

Just came back from a walk in the morning swelter, grabbed a cup, and filled it from the “special” filtered water tap at our sink. If you live in Florida, you understand—if you can get your hands on a reverse osmosis filter and spare yourself from the typical tap, do it.

As the water poured in, I noticed a funky little black slime thing, about the size of a thick thread, hanging from the end of the tap as the water streamed around it and into my waiting cup.

Gag me. It was a little sludge of moldy crud apparently fixed to the inside of the faucet. Who knows how long it grew there, unnoticed, invisibly tainting our drinking water. I toothpicked it out with soapy water, and hopefully can trust the flow as clean enough for human consumption.

Information streams into my brain like that water. It flows constantly as I read, listen, watch, converse, relate, and drink it all in. What kind of funk do I have growing around my faucet? Am I drinking it all in with prejudice smudging up against it? Do I judge, grudge, and criticize? Or is the slime of apathy silently oozing into my water?

Proverbs 4:23 reminds me to “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”

Lord, have mercy! Feel free to stick a soapy toothpick into my heart!

 

The Love Cup

The Love Cup summer 2011

The Love Cup - Summer 2011

I salvaged this coffee cup from a mountain of belongings left on the curb across the street after the family who abandoned the house two years ago came back to empty their overstuffed garage.

Neighbors and strangers alike later culled through the piles, unearthing DVDs, furniture, a laptop, entire bags of clothing (some with tags still on them), boxes of dishes, half a case of beer with a long-past expiration date, overdue library books (one conscientious kid said he’d return them), and so much more that the garbage truck people scheduled a personal return trip with an empty truck.

At first I wasn’t going to touch a thing, especially after roaches scattered when I picked up a box. But this cup caught my eye. I like anything with words on it, and the red cup with the lowercase lettering in a simple font said love.

But wait. Maybe I didn’t want the cup. Sure, the cup says love, a nice enough word, but the family who owned it didn’t know its meaning. Every time I would sip my coffee, I’d probably think of that family and the thoughts weren’t good.

The family was a living object lesson for the word dysfunction. Us neighbors had witnessed police cars, crying, raging, out-of-control teenagers, and the street-side gossip about the strange people in that house.

This was no ordinary family. At the risk of sounding politically incorrect, let me just state the facts. The head of the household was a middle-aged African American lesbian woman, a physician at a local hospital. The spouse was a white woman, a professional with a master’s degree who taught psychology at the community college. The two children were adopted as infants and were now teenage girls. Police were called on several occasions because of domestic violence and teenage misbehaviors. The family abandoned the house when one spouse couldn’t take the abuse any longer; either that or she was kicked out, I’m not sure. I hadn’t seen them for a few years until the garage cleaning day.

After they left, the free-for-all salvaging began and now I own this cup.

I decided to keep it, but before I could drink out of it, I made up my mind that something needed to be done about my word association with the family. It’s the love cup, after all, not the crazy cup or the trash cup or the guilty cup

Did I mention guilty? That was my part, and it came from this question: why didn’t I share the love of Christ with them while they were still here? Was there something I could have done to help that family? Ours isn’t the most sociable of streets, and to my discredit, there’s only a handful of neighbors who I regularly speak to. The D.F. (dysfunctional family) wasn’t one of them, although if we were both outside at the same time, I’d say hello and share pleasantries with whoever happened to be getting the mail.

But I never invited them into my home, never invited them to church, and never shared anything deep.  Like the love of Christ, for example.

The overwhelming, far-reaching, dirt-washing, guilt-cleansing, overcoming, tear-wiping, powerful love of Christ.

The same love that snatched me from the pit of drugs and partying and all of that emptiness back in the 80s.

The same love that reconciled my family after divorce threatened to split us apart.

The same love that sustains me on the path to eternity when I feel like giving up.

Meanwhile, I really liked the cup. But I really disliked its roots.

I live with my own dysfunctional people, and as school let out for the summer, I had made a personal decision about something unrelated to the cup. This summer was going to be different.  My teenage daughter and I have this mother-daughter-tension thing going on, and we can rub up against each other like a wet cat and a pit bull, and I’m not saying who’s the cat and who’s the dog, but neither is flattering. Having her home for the summer while I work from a home office means much less productivity and much more potential for the clash of claws and paws. That’s why I had made that personal decision; declaring my own theme for this summer.

And that’s when I accepted my new cup with gusto. I have assigned it a new meaning, and it’s the first cup I grab if it makes it out of the dishwasher in time for the morning ritual. Every time I see it, use it, wash it, and put it away, I think of that family, then of my teenager, then of my summer theme decision, and that’s when I recommit to living a life of unconditional love.

Coffee anyone?

Fragility. Chins up.

I usually read the news every morning, but today I was rushed and skipped it. Then during a break at work, I sneaked a peak at Facebook.

Praying for Japan said a friend’s post.

Nice of her, I thought. Wait. Maybe something happened in Japan? I didn’t mean to live under a rock but this was the first I’d heard.

Google News search results…8.9 earthquake, devastation, loss, tsunami, Charlie Sheen (oh please), Hawaii, more tsunami…

Hawaii?  My brother lives on Kauai! Is he okay? Did the tsunami hit or is it coming? What happened? IS HE OKAY????

For a few seconds I imagine my brother at best frantically working on wounded people at Wilcox Memorial’s operating room where he works, and at worst…at worst…I cannot imagine him gone.

Fragility.

It didn’t take long to find out—we texted, he posted his “we’re okay” status on Facebook, and my personal world is unshaken, for now. While Japan reels and her people agonize, I grab a coffee and go back to work.

Funny how as long as my personal world is unshaken, I can go on about my business.

But wait. Her people are agonizing.

I imagine a Japanese family. I imagine that he is at work and she is at home caring for her elderly parents. The children are at school. I imagine the world crashes in, and there is raging water and a roar and the angry jazz of electricity touching liquid as the power goes out and then silence and chaos and rubble where her house once stood. And he tries to call her but the lines are dead. And the children are crying as the teacher tries to gather them amidst the debris of toppled shelves and caved-in walls.

Fragility.

We are a fragile species, us humans. And somehow we are all connected. Sister Japan, I am so, so sorry for your losses.

After that horrendous December tsunami several years ago that took so many lives, I came across Luke 21:25 (NIV): “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea.”

Anguish and perplexity. That’s today’s news in Japan.

So God knew it was coming. Usually the God-themes that swirl about my subconscious are those of love, mercy, forgiveness, grace…you know, the happy thoughts. The “whatsoever is good, think on these things” themes. But on the other side of the lion/lamb paradigm, the mysteries of God are fierce and mind-boggling, and humans live in great fragility at his greater mercy. And in that Luke 21 scripture reference, we continue to read:

 “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

So as we reflect on our fragility and the suffering of our brothers, let’s do so with compassion, prayer, and chins up. It can’t be long, now.  Somebody’s coming.

She Speaks. Louder, this time.

She Speaks!

There’s this conference.

It’s called “She Speaks,” and it is for speakers and writers and ministry leaders and wannabe speakers and wannabe writers and wannabe ministry leaders. (Good thing the first three were the last three at one time.) (Figure that out.)

So I don’t know TONS about this conference because I have never gotten to actually go. But when you read the info at http://shespeaksconference.com it sounds like the kind of place where you can arrive and instantly connect with the friends you only just met because, well, just because we are women and that’s what we do when we share the same God.

So about this conference. My friend Julie likes to attend. She invites me every year. And every year I say, “I can’t, too busy at work, too busy raising kids, too busy being busy.”

Only THIS year is different.

I’m still too busy at work. Although you’d think that working for yourself means you give yourself time off. But I keep putting clients before me, and writing for their business or their newsletter or their sales letter or their proposal or their website or their resume. They seem to be getting what they need from me. Now I need to get what I need.

So THIS year is different.

I’m still too busy raising kids. Oh wait—kid. Two kids grown, one kid to go. So I drive her to school and to practice and to the beach (yup, we live in a beach town) and back to school and to a friend’s house and—oh, wait. She gets her license in three weeks, God willing, and hopefully she will pass the test by actually stopping at all the stop signs like I’ve gently (or not) reminded her for the last 11 months and 1 week. So…

THIS year is different.

I’m retiring as taxi mom. Forever. And I’m not sad about that. At all. Some of my more sentimental friends get sad about stuff like that and I certainly get sentimental about some passages, like my son’s wedding, but not This One. Taxi moms are overworked and severely underpaid.

So there’s this conference. She Speaks. And I’m going.

Because this year is different.

Can’t wait.

Oh, wait.

There’s this scholarship. You can read about it at http://lysaterkeurst.com/2011/03/she-speaks-scholarship-contest-2011/.  It’s a chance to win a She Speaks conference registration, which is incredibly, amazingly, generous. I’d love to win that!

Because, after all, this year is really, really different.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Hearing and obeying. Who, me?

Did you ever wonder why God doesn’t speak more often?

I did. Today.

Then I mini-ranted to God.  Why don’t you speak more? Why don’t you speak louder? Why don’t you speak to ME personally like you do to Joyce Meyers? She always says, “the Holy Spirit said…” blah blah blah.

And the Holy Spirit answered, “because when I DO speak, you don’t obey.”

Who, me?

And then I realized it was true. Except it wasn’t intentional. It was more like a bout of unbelief. Was that really God’s idea, or was it just mine? Oh, that was probably just me.

So then I said, “OK, Lord, I’m sorry.” Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.

Go start a blog.

A what?

A blog.

Oh, brother.  I don’t even know how.

You know how to find out how. You Google everything else.

OK, that’s not exactly what He said, about Google. But it might as well have been, because even I knew that I knew HOW to find out HOW to start a blog.

Ten minutes later, here I am.

What do I say, Lord?

I guess that’s next. For now, this is all I’ve got.

Anybody out there?