Thursday, June 19, 2014

To Those That Send Me...

To get my juices flowing for a post on "Hospitality," I looked up the word in the dictionary.  Original idea, I know.  Here's what one of the definitions said: "Hospitality is to treat others with warmth and generosity."  Those words triggered a rush of memories and a flash of faces, faces that are to me the definition of warmth and generosity.  So this post goes out to those people.  You know who you are...


I didn't know that I'd need you like I do.

I didn't know how much your prayers and send-offs would bolster my soul.

I never knew that I'd only ever be able to go and serve the world because I was first served by you.

When you showed up at the church, arms ladened with food and pretty things, to send us off in style, I didn't know how much it would mean to me.

When you set up tables in the early morning hours and sold your things for me, I didn't know that I would crumble when you handed me wads of cash.

When you gave me pictures, cards and light-weight gifts, when you scratched "We'll miss you!" on chalkboards, I didn't know it'd melt me right through.

Keep reading over here...

Thursday, June 12, 2014

In Which I am in the Middle Fog

When I chose “embrace” for my One Word, I thought I knew what I was in for.  I thought I knew what 2014 would be about.  I wrote a list, remember?  Halfway through the year there are already some ironic twists.

Remember how I said I wanted to embrace people, just as they are, no longer wastefully wishing, “…if only they would....”  

Well, what do you know, the Father has flipped that one on its head.  Who knew that embracing others, their limits, imperfections and all, first means reckoning with and embracing my own. 

I strain against all the ways I am not enough, all the ways I should be more, how I should be beyond this struggle, how I know what I ought to do and yet I do the opposite.   

Who I want to be is the carrot ever dangling before me.  I trip and stumble along, ever reaching, yet never grasping. 

Grace whispers, “Do you dare to stop the straining?  To stop and embrace who you are now?”

Fear calls back, “But then the carrot will fade off into the horizon, and I’ll be left as just…me…the one with daily failures nipping at her heels.  How will I ever grasp the love, the joy, the peace, the patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control that I so long for?

Grace is wildly risky like that. 

Does a plant produce fruit by its own effort?  Or does it simply embrace what life gives it in each moment, the taste of rain, the kiss of sun, the harshness of winter, while the Maker does the work of growth? 

I don’t know… I feel like I’m half way through this post, this soul searching.  There's no conclusion, just lots of questions. At midway through the year, I'm in the middle fog of it all.   
So this is me embracing my own limits, calling this enough for now and to be continued…

How are you at embracing your limits?

Friday, June 6, 2014

In Which I Live the Story of Snakes and Storms

I’ve reached a point in my life when I no longer feel the need to do something just to be able to say I did it. 

When you’ve eaten dog intestines and ant-filled eggs, when you’ve climbed volcanoes and bungee jumped from towers, when you’ve back flipped from cliffs (in younger, limber days) and munched on scorpions, you eventually reach a point when you’ve done enough crazy things.  You have enough stories to tell.    

So when a friend said, “Let’s go sleep on the Great Wall!”  I whimped out and said, “Uh…how about we find a hotel near the Great Wall?”  I was promptly told that would defeat the whole point. 

Well, then. 

Eventually I gave in and signed up to go.  My friends are very persuasive. And I like them enough to spend my one night away from the kids getting the opposite of a good night’s sleep.  I must really like them.

So we’re sitting by the fireside, eating dinner (I do LOVE a campfire dinner), when Kristi says, “I hate to say this, but there are ... snakes right over there.”

I look over, expecting to see a couple little garders.  Suddenly I’m yelping, “Oh, my word.”   There, not a stones throw away, are two very large snakes (4 to 5 ft long and thick as a baseball bat). 

We have no idea if they are poisonous or not.  A quick google search says the chances are 50/50.  Splendid. 

We circle closer round the fire, keeping a weary eye and ear on the snakes that are romping quite vigorously in the bushes.  They are very … into each other.  We yell, “Get a room!”  And they pay us no mind. 

I’m debating how wise it is to sleep with not more than a few yards and a tent between me and couple of rambunctious serpents.  I start scheming how we can pay a couple of local village boys to come and be our hired hit men.

But my plans are interrupted by frantic texts from my husband.  “Are you ok??” 

I think, “How does he know about the snakes?” But I answer, “Yeah, why?” 

“It’s storming like crazy here.  The worst storm I’ve ever seen in Beijing.  It’s heading your way.  You need to take shelter now!”   

Our van dropped us off and won’t be back until the next day, so we have no choice but to scurry to our tents. We pull out the rain covers we said we wouldn’t need because there’s no forecast for rain.

We hear the thunder start growling in the distance.  It’s clearly moving fast. Within minutes the rain starts pelting, the wind whipping.  We dive into our tents, giggling with adrenaline fear.

Broken branches thunk against our tent.  Rain drives in sheets.  Lightening illuminates our tent.  A large tree right near our campsite uproots and blows clean over.  It was a long night.  

We awake damp at dawn with achy backs and creaky limbs, but glory, we’re alive.   I promptly remind everyone it was my idea to stay in a hotel.

But then we climb to where the Great Wall, a wonder of the world, crowns the mountains around us. 

We climb and breathe, life coursing through our veins.  And I think, “Well, I’ve got another story to tell.”

Photo Credit: Liu Shuquan via Compfight cc