Thursday, February 28, 2013

I just can't move on.

I've shared these words before, but each minute that passes I am more and more convinced that this is how Christianity should be lived out.  As these same minutes pass I am more and more convinced that we Christians do not walk this path, instead we walk the path of religion.  May God helps us.

"More Like Falling In Love"

Give me rule
I will break them
Show me lines
I will cross them

I need more than
A truth to believe
I need a truth that lives
Moves and breathes

To sweep me off my feet, it's gotta be

More like falling in love
Than something to believe in
More like losing my heart
Than giving my allegiance

Caught up, called out
Come take a look at me now
It's like I'm falling, oh
It's like I'm falling in love

Give me words
I'll misuse them
I'll misplace them

'Cause all religion
Ever made of me
Was just a sinner
With a stone tied to my feet

It never set me free, it's gotta be

More like falling in love
Than something to believe in
More like losing my heart
Than giving my allegiance

Caught up, called out
Come take a look at me now
It's like I'm falling, oh
It's like I'm falling in

Love, love, love
Deeper and deeper, it was
Love that made me a believer

In more than a name
A faith, a creed
Falling in love with Jesus brought
The change in me

More like falling in love
Than something to believe in
More like losing my heart
Than giving my allegiance

Caught up, called out
Come take a look at me now
It's like I'm falling, oh
It's like I'm falling

More like falling in love
Than something to believe in
More like losing my heart
Than giving my allegiance

Caught up, called out
Come take a look at me now
It's like I'm falling, oh
It's like I'm falling in love

It's like I'm falling
(Falling in love)
It's like I'm falling
Written by Jason Gray & Jason Ingram
Is this not Honest Love?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Honest Love.

Ann Voscamp, author of 1,000 gifts, a friend who has never seen me, but walked with me as I began to see grey until is was thick, heavy, blackness.  Always in my ear she would say, "Eucharist, always grace, always thanksgiving, always joy.  Always."  Some how I survived.

Instead of a new year's resolution she picks a word and spends the year making it hers.  Using it to bring life.  When I first learned of this habit I thought what a neat idea, but I'll never follow through, I'm to easily distracted.  Almost 2 months into this year the phrase "Honest Love" will not leave my brain.  I am finding it and the lack of it no matter where I go.  There comes a point where I have to stop and wonder if maybe God is trying to get my attention.  And if he is, well then, I had better listen up.

My heart theme for this year:  Honest Love.

I have no idea where this quest for understanding will take me but I shall pack my Bible, a notebook and my favorite pen.  I'll throw my hiking shoes on, grab my camera and begin the pursuit of Honest Love.

Make me walk in the paths of your commandments, for I delight in it.
~ Psalm 119:35

Monday, February 18, 2013

It's almost midnight, but I can't sleep.

There are hot coals and a small flame shining through the stove glass. As I sit looking out the window I see no moon but can see the snow covered trees. Pure and holy, full of Grace that snow, a reminder of how endless Jesus' love for me is. While these moments are serene and beautiful, that is not why I am awake.

Today a family of three came into the store. I worked hard to keep there glasses full, the table clean. I always initiated the conversation trying to show them I wasn't just working, but honestly cared for them. Never a smile, never a "how are you?" in return. And yet as they left I began clearing the table. Waiting in a small pile were three dollar bills, a bit of change, not even 10% of the bill but as I do every time I clean a table I thank God for the tip. However this time I also added in a, "I'm glad I had this table and my coworker didn't." Underneath the meager tip was a piece of paper entitled "Lost or Saved" with a cross on the front. As I piled it in with the rest of my trash I thought to myself, "Words, empty words is what they just gave me. Where was the love? The joy at least? Without love the words are simply trash or worse another weight on the receivers already too heavy burden."

Shortly there after two preteens, their mother and her parents were seated in my section. Just before they ate as I was taking an order at the other end of the dining room I heard grandpa say, "It's time to pray." Never did a cup run dry or a need go unmet as they enjoyed lunch. The bill was over $40 dollars, the tip was again less then 10%. As I set the table again my heart hurt because both families lived up to the reputation Christians have given servers.

A fellow server, obviously gay, served food in the middle of prayer once. Immediately after he walked into the wait station with, "Wow, I interrupted that family's prayer. They were probably praying for me anyway. I guess I just gave them more reason to."

Or another server asked once what we did with the tracks people gave us. She stores hers in a box afraid that a hell might really exist and thinks throwing them away might put her one step closer to it. She also wonders who they are to judge her when they don't even know her. "What if I believed in God just like they do?" she said as she tucked the hard, cold words into her coat pocket.

It hurts that Christian after Christian show my coworkers that there understanding of Christians being stingy, smug, arrogant, and unforgiving is actually spot on truth.

There is no question in any of my coworkers minds that I am a lover of Jesus. I know for some of them to put me in the Christian category takes work, and I'm not sure they can even do it. Honestly when the word Christian comes up everything about me changes, a 50 ton rock lands in my gut, my skin twitches, and my shoulders sag.

A few times we've had straight up belief conversations. Those usually start with "aliens or no aliens," the conversation evolves into "creation or evolution," with some ideas that actually we came from mythological creatures thrown in. Belief talks are fun talks not talks of the heart. Talks of the heart is my reaction to daily life that makes them wonder what's different about me. Things I never even remember sharing with them will come back up weeks later in question format, "you do this, right?" a test to make sure I wasn't just spouting off some hogwash like those who pray a bit too loudly.

Today was a big step in our relationships. It all started with an awful night. The restaurant was full, maybe three tables were empty in the whole place. I was serving 11 tables at once. Turns out quite a few tables stiffed me. Just after the rush my shift manager decided that he wanted to leave no later then 15 minutes after close and insisted that I begin my closing chores rather then doing the normal dining room clean up. Please note close was 2 1/2 hours away. Then he began asking me every five minutes what I had left to do, for two hours he did this. Needless to say, much to my shame, the closer we got to close the more my attitude stank. In short I was a butt. I was still fuming at 1 in the morning. But as I dressed for work this morning I decided I had to do the right thing and apologize. So I did. At the hut word spreads like a wild fire, so those who didn't work knew and some even asked me about it. With those who asked details I emphasized that it didn't matter if I was justified in my anger I was still a butt. I was wrong.

I am no better then those Christians that leave tracks, but don't bother to ask how your day is going. I am no better then those who make sure at least half the restaurant know they are about to pray and then leave an awful tip. The good Lord knows I've done both. I am just as sinful as they are, but I live life honestly. My love is flawed, but my love is honest. Isn't that what Jesus wants? Honest love.

Before you pat me on the shoulder with sad eyes nodding your head at how horrible it is that other Christians do this, please, I beg you, think about the last time you were leaving a tip at a restaurant, the hairdressers, any interaction with a stranger, whatever, what did you do to show love? I can be blunt and ask this hard question because I have been that Christian before. My aha moment happened as I walked the streets of Budapest. A crippled homeless man sat on the corner with a cup reaching out for charity. I walked past. Stopped. Turned around put a track in his cup told him to have a good day and carried on. Instantly I was guilty. I did the deed but had no love, turning life changing words into proof that Jesus wasn't worth his time. That has forever changed me.
"I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians.  Your Christians are so unlike you Christ."
~ Mahatma Gandhi
If I speak with the tongues of man and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or clanging cymbal.
~ 1 Corinthians 13:1

Friday, February 15, 2013

EFA 3.5, I dare you

I loved every season as a child.

Mud season brought small lakes to our yard to which I would used an small old cement mixer as a boat and a stick as a paddle and sailed away dreaming of real boats and real adventures.

Spring brought frog eggs, tadpoles, and the wind on my face as I raced up and down the old courty road on my bike.

Summer brought camping, fire flies, beach time, and sun burns.

Fall brought branches cracking as I tromped through the woods to the little stream on which I was always trying to create a bridge that usually washed away prett quickly.

Even though those memories are dear it's Winter that beats them all.  Those cold months ment the swap was frozen which was perfect for a little slippin' and sliding.  The marsh just on the otherside of the trees made for a nice little snow field perfect for sitting in the quiet talking with God.  Every weekend I was on the slopes with my grandfather and at least one sibling or cousin.  After every storm a building of snow was constructed.  By the end of the year we had a complete town.  The first four storms were dedicated to building each of us our own house, from there we would build a hospital, school, store, and what ever else we could think of.  When we got tired of building we would go back to our houses to renivate.  Mom would kindly fill pitcher after pitcher of water that we could dump over the walls giving them a layer of ice to slow the melting process.

This weeks family day the four of us set out to make our first ever fort. Good days good memories.

When it was time to see if she was worthy of war I began to think of how much fun it would be if our besties were around.  To which I realized that we both love a bit of compitition, so why not compete in the ability to build a snow fort? Then I got to thinkin' maybe it would be fun for the rest of the winter to improve our fort and see if our friends can do the same posting pictures with each improvement.  And then I got to thinkin' maybe it would be fun if anybody and everybody, those with kids or without kids got in on the action..

So here's me saying to you, "I dare you"... (Assuming more snow comes of course)

The sweetest gifts of love on February 14th.

It was a comical night at work.  My head felt foggy or maybe like the buzz when you passed your alcohol limit by one.  A place I do not like to be.  Anyway, the customers were kind and actually nobody noticed my flaws.  My coworkers were sympathetic probably because they were inadvertently helping with my comical night--ie. starting the coffee without putting the grounds basket in place, causing only about 1/3 of the water to be caught by the pot itself while the other two thirds ran off the counter onto the lower shelves.  Actually all but one coworker was sympathetic, I'm good for her pride she says when I have these kinds of days.  And these are days not instances, it is impossible for me to make one mistake without making another.  But you know I'm always happy to see others smile...I owe my manager and coworkers cookies, for sure...It was a good night for all of us.  I was still chuckling as I walked through the front door to find this:

Strong man no where in sight.

My first card written by my oldest.  Beautiful.  Five years of his love flashed through my mind as I realized these cards were numbered before his heart finds another causing me to charish it that much more.

And then I moved on...

The love of a husband is indescribable.  While relishing the moment I inspected my handmade paper flower.  I began wondering where my husband was and for the first time noticed the ipad sitting there with a big button that said play staring up at me.  I couldn't imagine what else he could possibly do to show his love, but pushed it anyway, finding that he had recorded a song he wrote years ago for his brother, but knowing how much I love the song and wanted him to record it I realized my heart could still melt more for that man as I finished opening his gift of love by listening.

In the middle of the recording he rushed in saying, "No, that's not the right one.  What happened?"  Him feeling like a total failure with me in complete bewilderment.  Quickly correcting his mistake he grabbed the guitar and began a song I had not heard before.  A song he wrote of us...

Thursday, February 14, 2013

To my one and only.

Dearest Lover,

I sat many times wanting to write words affirming my love to you. I wanted to post it just as I was going to work so as the house quieted after the boys were tucked in bed you would notice. About a week ago I found a quote perfect for my love letter. But the more I tried the more it seems the quote is enough....

I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.
Thomas Paine.

You are that man Mr. Paine speaks of. Thank you.

Monday, February 11, 2013

EFA 3.4 - Finding the good in Nemo..

A snow storm so fierce that it was worthy of a name.  A snow storm that closed the Hut giving me a pajama day at home with my three most favorite people.

The storm blew the tarps off the wood pile and it looks like some logs too.

Oh wait!  Silly me, that is our wood pile!...Praise the Lord!

While Strong man worked hard shoveling paths and cleaning off the deck I took on the painful task of keeping the kidlets busy.

Aaah, yes so very painful...

Jumping, falling, and flipping off the deck brought back many childhood memories.  In my childhood house there was a deck coming off the second floor.  I would convince my wee little siblings to climb on up and jump off with me.  It was great fun!  Of course until Mom peaked her head out the door and much to her horror saw what we were doing.  She knew every ER personal by there first name so I'm sure it wasn't really what we were doing that she saw but what the effects of our actions were...Since nobody got hurt and since we don't have a second story deck I didn't mind passing it on to my children.

How in snow as deep as he is tall does he find a stick?!

~ A nice man who gave me $50 as a tip the night before as he knew the storm would keep so many away.
~ An unexpected family day.
~ A plow man that we love working hard to get me to work asap, only to find out work decided to close.
~ Fluffy snow for easy shoveling.
~ A strong man to do the shoveling.
~ Teaching my boys to love the snow.
~ Remembering times past when I was the child.
~ Warm tea, coffee, & lemon water to take the chill off the bones.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Happy birthday to me!...Again, EFA 3.3

Ah yes, I am deeply in love with Epic Family Adventures!  This week was in celebration of my birthday since I worked on the actual day.  It was a very impromptu celebrate by the seat of our pants kind of day.  I loved it.

 Today started with the boys letting me sleep in.  I'm usually the last out of bed as I'm the last to sleep each night, but this morning I crawled out of bed just before 10 (I didn't even know I my body would let me sleep that late anymore.)  I broke my two week fast of  life with out coffee and listened to my boys laugh as they watched a favorite TV show of theirs.  From there they took me out for lunch to a place where only the birthday girl was allowed to kiss the moose and covered me in loving words with many hugs in between bites.

I was given the option of making a cake with my youngest or buying one.  I have never bought a cake before but we decided that maybe we could at least take a look.  After the boys picked out a three teared black and white wedding cake they were quickly redirected to something much smaller.  They found this:

Me:  I'm not sure you should cluster 29 candles....
Strong man:  It'll save time lighting them.

After the cake was decided on Laughter who loves to get me flowers said that was what he wanted to give me for my birthday, so he picked out "orange" (peach actually) and announced that he wanted flowers just like these ones on his birthday.

Man of the woods said he didn't really have anything in mind until we walked by my favorite candy to which he beamed with excitement at the thought of gifting it to me.

Strong man sent me shopping at Etsy for a necklace I have been eyeing for months.
Connor Necklace
Check out her shop: Instead of names mine will say "joy, grace, thanksgiving".

Along with gifts that express each of those boys love for me I was showered with hugs, snuggles, and I love yous all day long. 

Umm, yeah, is it safe for me to try and blow out that fire?

Yes, between the two celebrations this is a favorite on my list of birthday memories.  It may even be the best one yet.  I am sure without a doubt that I am adored by my three men and those are the best days.

~ Hugs from Man of the woods during lunch.
~ How flowers make Laughter think of me, always.
~ Man of the woods not wanting to get me just anything, but something he knew I'd love; Charleston chews mini.
~ A necklace to remind me of the God whose love I'll never see the end of and my purpose in life; to give thanks.
~ My three men.
~ Movie night.
~ Yummy cake with blue frosting.
~ To be debt free.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A full house makes a happy Momma

It's kind of ironic that an introvert like me would want to have people staying at my house, but I do.

Don't get me wrong I must have my own sanctuary of space. As long as I have that then I'm good to go.

So bring on the people.  Just last week we fit 12 people around our dining room table.  I breathed a sigh of joy as I sat down to dinner with these people.

Memories are being made.

For a time we have a family of four staying with us.  It is good.

Our household is now made up of more children then adults. 

And so we have lost a dining room and invented a play room.

The goal is to reign in a bit of the chaos, protect running feet from a fire place, and give all a sanctuary by making bedrooms off limits.

My laundry room has become a place for the Momma's to have heart talks while keeping our hands busy.  Each guest brings a bit of change, but love is being shown and hearts are being healed.

*Written a few weeks ago but never published.  The family of four have moved back to there own place.

Monday, February 4, 2013

A very happy birthday to me!

My birthday happened to fall on a Friday this year which also happens to be one of my work days.  So away I went dressed in black with the Hut logo stitched on my shirt and straws in my apron.  As I began work on Friday things began kind of slow so I started in on my assigned side work; cleaning out the cooler.  As I took out the chocolate milk I saw a clear container with my name flashing through.  This is what I found:

Two friends had dropped it off for me earlier in the day.  Feeling a bit like I had gone back in time to the prom I never attended I wore it all night as I served my customers.  It was good for conversation.  Because of it my coworkers realized this marked my 29th birthday.  Since we had a birthday party scheduled that night and since the left over cake was given to the party's server.  They snuck a piece out back put a candle in it and sang happy birthday to me.

I loved my re-gifted cake, even though they were very apologetic for not having done anything bigger.  Also giving me the advice that next year I need to announce well in advance my upcoming birthday.  Adding in the assurance that they would begin announcing there own birthdays at least 3 months in advance so I could have fare warning...My re-gifted cake and happy birthday song in the back of the Hut is one of my all time favorite birthday memories.  It was a good day.

~ Crazy friends trying to improve my tips with a rose.
~ Sneaky coworkers creatively celebrating my birthday.
~ Relationship building, and lots of laughs.