Friday, March 30, 2012

A Collision of Sorts

I think maybe I should put a "warning" out on my blog. Warning: this woman does not have it all together. In fact, I'm highly suspicious of any woman who pretends to have it all together. We don't. As women, we're all influenced by our upbringing and our past. Here's a little of what influenced mine.

I love my relationships with other women -- and I find I'm often drawn to strong women. I hope to tell you about some of them in future posts. I've learned a lot from them. I admire women that have overcome great obstacles in their lives. I look up to women that pull themselves up by their boot straps, fight against injustice and overcome their fears and insecurities. If I was totally honest, I would admit to being greatly impacted by feminism in my teens and 20's. As I started college, women were encouraged to be independent, self-sufficient and strong! That was deeply ingrained into my belief system.

Some of you may be judging me now. Ohhh....feminism -- that's a bad word! I'm just stating facts. We all have strong influences in our lives....things that shape and mold us. That was one of mine.

Of course, the inevitable "collision" came some years later as I focused more on my faith and my relationship with Jesus -- and He called me to be "dependent" on rely on His sufficiency. He showed me that He can do so much more through me when I am weak -- not strong.

His teachings always has a way of turning the world view on it's ear, have you noticed that?

Jesus is so patient with me. This is an area he's working on in my life....turning my independence into a greater dependence on Him.

Am I there yet? No. I laughed at myself not too long ago. Nearly every page of my bible is marked with highlighters....sometimes I write notes in the margins too. Just evidence that I have been there -- read the chapters...thought about it...hopefully, putting the words into action into my own life. I realized the other day as I was flipping through the book of Ephesians, that I had absolutely no highlighting in the latter part of Chapter 5 -- the passages on women being "submissive." Highlighting on almost every page until I got there. Chapter 5 -- none!

You may not struggle in this particular area. Good for you. I'm still a work in progress. What can I say?


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"A life lesson that was not wasted on me"

This has been such an issue for me. Control. I shared in an earlier post that for many years I tried to eliminate or "control" all of the risk out of my life. (That didn't work, by the way and also didn't make for a very fulfilling/purpose filled life.)

Sorry to those of you that might follow my blog, but I will quote Beth Moore quite a bit. I heard Beth speak a very strong word on this once. "ALL STRESS IS ROOTED IN A DESIRE TO CONTROL."

That statement hit me right between the eyes....because I clung to what I thought was control over my life.....control over relationships....control over circumstances....control over children.....control over my health. CONTROL.

And knowing how deeply I held that belief, God -- in His wisdom and in His grace, allowed something into my life to loosen the hold this lie had on me. Big, fat, ugly, indiscriminate, merciless CANCER.

About this time six years ago, I was in and out of my doctor's office getting to the root of some health issues. When the diagnosis finally came, it was Endometrial Stromal Sarcoma. A very rare cancer that only 600 women in the US get every year. The good news. It won't kill me, most likely. It's slow moving. Low-grade. The bad news. It has a strong track record for recurrence -- 50% of women diagnosed with this sarcoma, have it come back. It most often comes back 5-10- even 20 years after the original diagnosis. I'll have scans and chest x-rays every year for the rest of my life to watch for it.

I just think it's so interesting that God allowed something like this into my life ((and yes, I believe that anything that comes my way has passed through His hands first)) that would leave this huge element of "uncertainty" hanging over me.....some might even say -- this complete lack of control over my future health....hanging over me.

And no, I did not see it as a gift for several years -- but now I do -- it was a GIFT.

I finally got it through my thick skull that I never had any control over my life. None of us ultimately have any control over our lives. How utterly and completely ridiculous to think that I did. My life is completely in God's hands. He's been so patient with me to see this. It was a gift for me to realize that control is an illusion. Our only certainty in this life is a relationship with Him - complete dependence on Him.

So, when I feel my self getting "stressed" about anything, I remember what stress is rooted in -- a stupid desire to CONTROL.....and, I don't have any, so let's just move on, shall we?

Valuable life lesson -- and it was not wasted on me.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

there's something about traveling with a group of people to the other side of the world....

There's a million things I love about going on mission trips, but of the best things about mission trips are the friendships that you make with the people who travel with you. There's something about traveling with a group of people to the other side of the world for a couple of weeks that creates a very strong bond. I have a special bond with these people that I know will last a lifetime. Okay...that's a dramatic statement, I know....but I'm finding that it's pretty true.

In 2009, our team organized at North Side Baptist Church under the leadership of Jerry & Sandra Hawkins. It was a small team - 15 people. We started meeting almost a full year before our trip - so by the time we actually left for Nairobi, we were a pretty tight group. During our 17-day trip to Kenya, we flew over 36 hours together, we worked side by side, drove hours and hours together on a bus, ate together, prayed together, worshiped together, cried together the end, had the experience of a lifetime...."together."

This team has enjoyed several reunions since we came home. I love these people. My friendships with them are some of the most valuable in my life.

Just four months ago, I joined a team from Newspring Church in Anderson that traveled with the 410 Bridge Ministry to Segera, Kenya. Newspring sends several teams every year to Kenya -
and even though I wasn't a member of the church, they had an opening on their November team and I was able to take it. What a great team! I didn't know any of them beforehand, but the experience of traveling and serving with them was incredible. What a phenomenal group of people!

Oh my gosh! I loved them all. Everybody got along well -- we laughed together, ate together, flew together, had the infamous 3 hour traffic jam in the city of Nairobi together, trekked out in the bush together, we sat out on the grass of some of most beautiful country you've ever seen together, shared our testimony in small, dirt floored churches together, led people to Christ together, saw the lives of special needs kids changed together!

Yes, it's a little "uncomfortable" to travel that far with people you may not know that well, but I'm SO GRATEFUL that I did. I love these people! At the end of my life, I'll think back on these friendships and remember my time with these people as some of most valuable experiences of my life.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

it's easy.....i imagine him in my living room waiting on me

My alarm goes off at the totally insane time of 5 a.m. every weekday -- on the weekend I sleep the late hour of 6 a.m. Some of you are rolling your eyes already, but what can I say? I'm a morning person. I love to be up before anybody else. Now, is not far away! I love that Scott sets the automatic coffee maker every night before he turns in so I can have a cup of coffee waiting on me. So, with cup in hand, I've grown to depend on my morning time with Jesus. A friend, Kirby King, inspired me to get consistent with a quiet time a number of years ago. Before then, it was hit or miss at best. What changed? Life got hard.

I'm a visual person. One of my pet peeves is when someone insists on reading to me. I rebel. I have to see it or imagine a picture of it in my mind. Only then, do I get it. So before my early morning got to be a routine, I imagined that Jesus was sitting in my living room waiting for me....waiting to spend that time with me. After I pulled up that imagine in my head, do you seriously think I would make Him wait? heck no! or worse, stand Him up and go back to sleep? seriously??? forget it! The alarm goes off at 5 a.m. --and I'm in there.

It's become the most important part of my day. I read my devotional out of Sarah Young's "Calling Jesus" -- ((highly recommend)) and then spend 30-45 minutes reading from my bible...and finish with prayer.

Beth Moore is my favorite bible teacher - and I heard her say one time that sometimes the best way to pray is just to go down on your face....until the carpet fibers tickle your nose. I found that's what I need to do. I pray out loud....just talking to Him about what's on my heart. He doesn't want a superficial prayer, He want's no bull -- He wants honesty, so I pour it all out...and many times, "it ain't pretty" -- but that's okay.

Coffee in hand - I never want to start a day any differently.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

love my bottle tree!

I love all things whimsical. I saw my first Bottle Tree at Brookgreen Gardens near Huntington Beach. As an artist, I'm attracted to color and glass - and I thought story behind the bottle trees was interesting. Folk lore has bottle trees being used to capture or repel bad spirits. The idea was, roaming night spirits would be lured into and trapped in bottles and morning light would destroy them. While that makes for a good story, I love the bottle trees because they're friendly and eclectic.

I've seen bottle trees made from sculpted metal, but I like the more natural look.

Scott found a small cedar tree in the woods around our house, which we cut and trimmed the branches. Bottles can be easily slipped onto the shortened limbs.

Once my friends and neighbors knew I had a bottle tree, it wasn't long before new bottles started appearing anonymously on the tree! When folks come to my house & walk around to my back door, the bottle tree is the first thing they see. I like that.

Monday, March 19, 2012

When I saw his name on the program....

When I saw his name on the program, I just about jumped out my chair to catch a glimpse of him.   Ben Skardon.  My favorite teacher.  EVER.   I could have just stayed seated.   After all - it was 25 years since I was a student at Clemson.   It would be awkward.   He certainly won't remember me.   How old would he be now?  90's for sure.  

But.....I told you in my first post.    The "c" word has a way of changing you.   It was about ten minutes before the program that night would begin.  I had time.   And there he was.    Across the room.    He hadn't changed one bit.     There was no way I was going to miss the chance.  

I walked straight for him with my hand outstretched.     " don't remember me, but I just wanted you to were the best teacher I ever had.... I signed up for every class that you taught....including a speech class I never thought I would survive.  I was painfully shy - but you had a way of encouraging me that made me feel I could do it.  I've never forgotten you.   I just wanted you to know that."

He seemed genuinely pleased.    And while he probably "stretched" it quite a bit to say that he thought he did remember me, it didn't matter if he did or not.    I got to see Ben Skardon again - after all those years....and I got to tell him what he meant to me.      I don't waste those opportunities anymore.   They don't always come again.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

I saw her on an airplane..

I work with old people every day in my job - and see a WIDE range of how "well" or how "not so well" people age.   When I was in Kenya four months ago..... sitting in a group of kids on the grass, they asked me my age.    When I said  --52 -- there was an immediate and loud response (if you can draw up the image) of about 20 African children in unison -- "ohhhhhhhhhhhhh."   It was hilarious!

It's a strange season of life for me.  Our oldest daughter just moved to Charlotte to begin her dream job- and our youngest daughter is a freshman at Anderson University.    For the first time in 25 years, we don't have a child living in our home.....and naturally, I guess, I've started looking ahead -- at what kind of life I want for myself now that my children are grown and living on their own.

....and as I've been thinking about what I want to be in the years ahead of me, I realized.....I actually saw her on an airplane a few years ago.

It was 2007 - first mission trip to Kenya.    She boarded the plane in Amsterdam and flew with my team into Nairobi.   She was traveling alone....dressed in this cool khaki safari shirt & pants.   She had beautiful white hair - and a tanned completion    Her hair was pulled back into a neat braid down her back -- and her face had one of those wonderfully permanent smiles you see every so often.    She just looked very pleasant & peaceful.

A few members of our team struck up a conversation with her - and we learned that she flies to Africa several times a year to work in a ministry there.    Likely in her upper 70's or maybe even early 80's --traveling with a backpack - alone - and making a difference in the time that she's here.    I just LOVE that!

That's exactly what I want to be.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

I got it wrong for many years.....

I think I got it wrong for many years.....somehow I convinced myself that the goal of life was to be "comfortable" and free of as much risk and fear as possible.  

I really believed that if I eliminated everything from my life that made me uneasy, or scared or nervous, that was somehow a good thing.    Where in the world did that come from??

 It's true....I was a late bloomer in every possible way -- so naturally, I was late figuring this one out too.  Little did I know that eliminating most of the risks in life = a pretty boring life.   Oh, it's safe...and comfortable....but it's BORING.   That was one of the most important lessons that I learned a few years back from the "c" word -- (cancer.)  Yep....that was a valuable lesson.   Life is short.    I was put on this planet for a purpose.   It's best to get on with it -- time is a wasting!

So that's where the title of my new blog comes from -- because now.....I've learned that the best things in my life come when I'm extremely "uncomfortable!"