Tuesday, October 22, 2013

There's a hole in the bucket... dear Liza, dear Liza.

A few days ago, I overslept and got out of bed feeling irritated. Typically, if I get out of bed feeling agitated or stressed about my day, I'll quickly climb back into bed, spend a few sweet moments in prayer, reset my thoughts, and then get out of bed and try again. In high school, I used to be a little OCD about habits and routines, like unfolding my socks a certain way, getting dressed in a certain order, etc., but since those days I like to think I've loosened up a bit. Therefore, when I find myself doing things "just because my controlling nature says I should" I purposefully try to not do it. And, on this particular day I didn't climb back into bed.

But I think I should've. 

Running late, I quick brewed myself some coffee, knowing that the lack of a stimulant to jump start my brain would not help matters. As the coffee brewed, I finished getting ready. I went to pour myself coffee to go, but discovered all my travel mugs were at work. So I grabbed the tallest mug I could find. As I bustled out the door, I noticed a slight drip of hot coffee. I thought for sure it had to be because I was carrying it without a lid, with my hands full of other things, and at a pace slightly faster than a walk. However as the cup holder in my car filled with the hot coffee, I knew my driving was not causing that much of a spill. Come to discover that my coffee cup had a crack in it. 

It couldn't hold or retain what had been put in it.
(Taking this picture, I also noticed I forgot to put earrings in. One of my top 5 self pet peeves. Only snowballing my irritation.)

Thinking of how much I thought I needed the substance dripping through the cracks, I was reminded of a passage I'd read in a book earlier that week:

     "Someone would praise me for a performance, but the leaky bucket of my heart seemed unable to  hold onto the words. It couldn't. There seemed to be holes in my soul, spilling the one substance I desperately wanted to hold on to... But no matter how much praise I received, it was never enough to fill my deficient heart..." 

It made me think of a couple of things. 1. All of the things in life I try to hold on to that aren't mine to hold and 2. All of the things I want to hold on to that slip through the cracks of my heart. The author, Chhrista Black, goes on to say:

     "I was a walking bucket made for love, but there were massive holes torn in the bucket of my heart by the punches of the past, and the substance of love seemed to slip through me like an hour glass. The one thing I wanted I couldn't seem to hold onto." 

Lately I've been praying for deeper revelation of God's love. I finished a journal last week and decided to read through some old ones to see how God had been working in my life. And, what I learned in my time of reflection is that God loves me. It's written on almost every page of every journal I have. Different ways that He's revealing His love to me. Yet, instead of letting that truth settle in my heart bucket, it often seeps through, and I look instead to counterfeit affections to take its place or keep asking God for more revelation. I don't know why this happens or what it will take to change or absorb it. But because I worship a sovereign God who "works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28) I'm trusting His process.

And if it took my entire coffee cup leaking into the cup holders of my car to prompt me to realize that my heart is acting the same way, I'm okay without my morning fix in exchange for a fix of heart.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

See my footprints? Step in them.

Last Tuesday morning I woke up at 4:15 a.m. to head to California for The Leadership Institute's Journey retreat. Without any coffee in my system, I made it to the airport, through security and on the plane. Once the plane was completely boarded and our luggage stowed away, the pilot made an announcement that due to a flat tire, our departure would be delayed. I decided to rest my eyes - something my mom taught me how to do and modeled for me occasionally, including the time she "rested" her eyes at Memorial Stadium during Nebraska's comeback win over Wisconsin last fall. (Only a mom of 8 could fall asleep in a crowd of 70,000+ at a Husker game.) After about 30 minutes, the pilot announced that there was no solution in Omaha to our flat tire, and our flight was canceled. Suddenly, all of the well-poised business people on the plane transformed into savages, and a mad dash to rebook all of our flights at the ticket counter broke out among us. During the hour I stood in line, I missed both of my connecting flights, and was completely rerouted to Los Angeles.
I had joked with friends before leaving that I felt much more confident in traveling internationally and using African public transportation than my ability to travel to a major US city. And after 10 hours of air travel, renting my first car, and 2 hours of navigating LA traffic, my belief was confirmed :) . The process was a confidence booster, though, and I made it to Saddleback Church's San Juan Capistrano campus for The Journey retreat. 

While the teaching during each of the sessions was powerful, the most significant moment of the trip came for me during one of our scheduled times to be alone with God for an extended period of time. Knowing I had a few hours, a rental car, and that I'd never seen whatever ocean is on the west coast, I decided to find my way to the beach to hang out with God. 

I found a little spot in Laguna that was quiet, unoccupied, and gorgeous. Recently, I'd been feeling slightly overwhelmed with choices in life and struggling with a strong paralysis of analysis toward my life. I'm beginning to realize how captivated by fear I am at messing up or making a "wrong" choice than living captivated by God's love and the freedom in it. As I laid out my towel, sat down and got out my journal and Bible, I felt God telling me to set it aside and BE with him. I felt a strong sense that he didn't want me to DO anything.


I laid back on the towel and listened as God showed me the warmth of the sun on my face and  the beauty of the waves crashing against the shore. I watched the birds fly carelessly over the ocean, dipping down toward the water, pulling back up, resting on rocks and sandy beaches and then going back out. I was reminded of Matthew 6:25-27:

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?"

I laughed to and at myself for how ridiculous I am for taking myself so seriously. I began to think about the practicality of what it would be like to not worry, what it would be like to TRUST the Spirit within me, and how I could begin to do that. As I pondered these things, a family appeared on the beach and I listened to the children talking. "See my footprints?" the daughter asked her little brother. "Step in them."

My heart was overwhelmed as I thought of how that's it. My little feet will easily fit within the footprint of my Father. I felt my body physically relax, and I thought of what it would feel Iike to be a child. I wouldn't worry about planning my day because I would know that Dad would get me where I needed to be. I wouldn't be self conscious because it was my Father who clothed me. I wouldn't look for counterfeit affections because I would be so submersed in my Daddy's love that I wouldn't look for anything else. I would feel free to laugh, to love, and to live. I would be protected, provided for, and loved. 

And, I thought about how all of this is mine in real life as a daughter of my God.

Thank you Lord for slowing down my life enough for sweet times of revelation and reminders and simply to spend time together.