Saturday, April 28, 2012

Happy Birthday Leisha!

Leisha Danae Burrus born April 28, 1991
Twenty one years ago! 
Happy Birthday Baby!
I love you!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Happy Birthday to a Special Lady! (Rosalie Flickinger)

Fifty-four years ago today you were celebrating your 19th birthday!  And on that day a little girl was born into your life. She was special in many ways, but mainly it was because she was born on your day!  And because of that, you have always been special to her.

It wasn't that you got to spend that much time together, because truth be told, in the 54 years since then, you really only lived close to one another for 4 years of her college life.  But those were important years for her, first time away from home and all.  There were so many times when a conversation with you changed her perspective on life.  Whether it was a new awareness that "God can make it happen" or a faith journey that stretched you to trust Him more, this girl was watching. Her recipes files are filled with some from your kitchen.  Her memories are many of the summer she stayed with you: waking up late for school, talking about your work, or church, or movies.  Sharing picnics in your backyard or 'Sound of Music' night with the girls from her hall around your TV, and even a bridal shower in your living room.

Though miles separated you from the girl, she continued to watch you!
She watched you take the step to move to Minnesota.
Then build your dream house, only to let it all go a year later to move to Germany.
Or the time you came to the States to say good bye to your mom, only to have her pass away right after you got home and not be able to return.
She watched as you returned to Omaha- for the third time.  Once when you were in college, once when the girl was in college and Flick was teaching there, and now, once again, at the place where you two fell in love.  A place of beginning again!

Finally to 'retire'! (Yeah, right!) and then face some of the biggest life lessons yet!  You have continued to press into your relationship with your husband- Fifty plus years! She was watching and learning to press into her relationship with her husband as well!

All the while, you have continued to be faithful example of a steadfast hope in an awesome God! It hasn't always been easy! But you have always kept on!

That girl is so grateful that you have been her life, so grateful that your faith journey has influenced hers! Thank you for being you- for being authentic!

Happy Birthday Aunt Rosalie!
I love sharing your day!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I can hear Him singing!

She's invited me to come on a journey with her; a pilgrimage of  life from loss to gratitude, from isolation to communion, to intimacy.
The author of One Thousand Gifts has taken me full circle.
All the while her words have gently massaged my soul, 
drawing out toxins that have permeated the very core of my being, 
kneading in messages of promise, of HOPE!
modeling for me how to live fully- not perfectly- but completely
seeing with eyes that behold His gifts, his invitation to hear him say once again,
"I love you!"
gratitude upon gratitude leading to the miracle
the communion of extraordinary God with ordinary woman

This book I neither read quickly or flippantly.  Each page seemed to need time of its own to ponder- to question- to embrace! I wept! I smiled! I found healing and comfort, challenge and inspiration.  I rejoiced and grieved! For Ann- yes! Deep within myself- most definitely!  But for many others as well. Women and men who long for this kind of oneness with One who knows them inside and out and loves them still.  Yet the journey is not an easy one and many choose not to go there, not to do the work of 'noticing' for fear of what they might see,  for fear of the pain they might feel. 

But oh, what we miss when we silently back away from the angst and retreat to isolation once again. Most often it's that daily reminder of the 'gifts'. Noticing in a brief instant or in a series of moments that He has yet again reached out to me so uniquely to my needs and desires. But sometimes, when you least expect or when you are living most expectantly - there is this Kairos!  This moment when God takes up all the loose ends of your life and knots them together in the palm of His hand. Suddenly all the pieces of the journey begin to come together and take shape.  Your heart burns with longing and fills with gratitude all at the same time.  You know! You know!

Easter morning I read Ann's words (I record them because I do not want to forget the gift of that moment):

I can hear Him, singing, waking the world.  He's singing THAT song! 
The one I really didn't believe He sang!

"He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears.  He will rejoice over you with joyful songs." (Zephaniah 3:17)

He sings love!...I can see the song,...And I can see in: 
Love is the face at the center of the universe. 
A sacred Smile; 
Holiness ready to die for intimacy!
...He serenades, "How do I love thee? 
I count the ways!

In eucharisteo, I count, count, count, keeping the beat of His song, the love song He can't stop singing, this long song of longing. That he sings love over me?

What else can all these gifts mean?

Crazy, I know, but until eucharisteo had me write the graces on paper, in my own handwriting, until it alerted my mind to see the graces in the details of my very own live, I hadn't really known.
With every grace, He sings, 

"You are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you." (Isaiah 43:4)
"For you are a chosen people...God's very own possession." (1 Peter 2:9)

I was afraid? I would have let fears that He wasn't close, wasn't passionately caring, wasn't tenderly tending, keep me from seeing ...He chose me!

(I would love to record the whole chapter- but be sure to read chapter 11, The joy of intimacy in it's entirety.)

She goes on to say:
CS Lewis argued that the most fundamental thing is not how we think of God but rather what God thinks of us... infinitely more important. Years of Christian discipleship, Bible study, churchgoing have been about me thinking about God. Practicing eucharisteo was the very first I had really consider at length what God thought about me- this ridiculous and relentlessly pursuing love, so bold. Everywhere, everything, Love!

"I have loved you with an everlasing love;
I have drawn you with loving-kindness. (Jeremiah 31:3 NIV)
In a thousand ways He woos.
In a thousand ways I fall in love.
Isn't falling in love always the fullest life?

Gratitude, gratitude, always eucharisteo!

I hear Him singing too!
How about you?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Lessons learned from a garden!

For so many years of my life, I have LOVED the first flowers of spring- daffodils, tulips, even dandelions bring me joy.  Their bright vibrant colors and entrance into a grey brown world give energy and promise of more sun to come!

Now dandelions have never been a problem.  My huge yard covers with them as soon as the weather allows.  But in all my years of living in this house, with a huge yard that I could fill to my content, I have never taken the time to plant any of the daffodil or tulip bulbs in the fall, so that I can enjoy their beauty!

Until now!  Last fall, I determinedly bought up a couple of different kinds of bulbs, threw them in the ground and hoped that I would see some color this spring.  (Yes, there is a reason that I have not done a lot of yard work.  I'm not very good at it.)  But sure enough, earlier than expected because of the beautiful early spring we have had, those bulbs sprang up in spots of daffodil yellow and tulip shades of yellow, orange & pink.

In the middle of my very unkept flower bed (pictures don't lie) I have found GREAT JOY! I look for time to go to the window, or step outside to breathe the fresh air and behold their beauty.  What a gift they have been to a winter weary heart!

At the same time that I have been enjoying this first...I have been experiencing another.  It's an inward growth that is laboring to 'spring forward'!  It's been hard and I'm finding myself waffling between wanting to 'give up' and desperate to make it work this time.  It's part spiritual, a lot emotional, with a smack of physical, and it is taking all of me to work my way through it.

But my trips to the flowerbed have been speaking to my internal growing place.  I'm learning some valuable lessons.
     1. These bulbs were made to produce one thing. They are either daffodils or tulips.  They don't try to be something they are not.
     2. Their colors and size vary and even change as they grow and enjoy the sun's warmth and drink the rain's sweet juice.  But they remain daffodils and tulips.
     3. They don't produce all year long. Just for a season!  They will always be daffodils or tulips, but they sometimes look like a plain old ordinary bulb.

Now to a proficient gardener, I'm sure I have much to learn about the beauty of a bulb.  But to me, much of the time, I don't even notice they are in my garden.  Yet when the spring comes, when it's the right time- they are the shining stars of the garden plot.  They give life and hope and joy to my heart!

Hmmm! So many questions come to mind.
Why do I try to do so many things? at once?
What is my one thing that I was designed to do better than anyone else in my world?
Why do I work to look like something different than I am?
Why do I keep on doing and doing, when my whole being craves to rest? to take in? to lie dormant?
Why do I think I have to shine all the time?

I'm sensing deep inside this bulb of mine that something is happening!  It's not my time to SHINE yet!  But the growth that is inside is beginning to push it's way up through the cold, hard, bare ground.

This season reminds me of another 'in the ground' time.  As Jesus appeared to be an 'ordinary human'- not able to save himself on that cross.  Yet he waited!  He allowed the death to come!  He stayed! He let the death be 'official'. I've learned that the Jewish belief was that the spirit hung around a dead body for three days hoping to rejoin with it.  But on the 3rd day it waited no more!

Jesus waited!  He stayed! No one could dispute he was dead! But then, when the time was right, life bloomed again. He was dead no more!  He rose up from the ground and He could be seen.  Not to everyone at once. Not with pomp and circumstance. But just to a couple, then a few more and then a few more! He was WHO He was supposed to be WHEN He supposed to be. HE brought LIFE to all because of it! Wow!

I feel like I've been in the ground- probably for 3 years just after Leisha died. I feel like the last few months, maybe more like the last 3 years, something has been stirring within me; something has begun the growing process.   I'm beginning to see a 'bit of green growth' pushing through the soil. It's not my turn to bloom yet!  But I want to be ready!  I will do the hard work!  I will wait and stay!  Lord, only you know who I truly am and what I am to be! Help me be patient! Help me be ready for my moment to shine as you made me too! Help me be part of helping others find your LIFE that you offer!

How about you?  What lessons are you learning from your garden?  What is growing in your flowerbed? Leave a comment to tell me what kind of bulb your are.  I'd love to hear!

Come on Sunshine! Hello rain! Let's get this garden growing! Easter is coming!