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Archive for the ‘Women Encouraging Women’ Category

butterflybushc2ccdd_edited-1“When you work from faith, either you will step forward onto something solid, or you will be given wings” (Carolyn Weber, Surprised by Oxford)

Wordless for about 4 weeks, except for these words: “I’m doing a new thing in you” – waves and waves of new things, pushing me through new door after new door.

I’ve separated spider’s knots, transplanted a peony into a sunnier place, gone deep into Samson’s story, sat long and listened much to my two home-boys and their friends, been Surprised by Oxford – and in the surprise fallen in love with the imprint of our Lord in the classics more than when I was in graduate school.

“The mind is its own place, and can make
a heav’n of hell, a hell of heav’n” (John Milton, Paradise Lost).

How did I miss what Milton was saying when I was 22/23 years old? – that what you speak and what you think are what you get?

How is it I didn’t recognize how much faith and understanding was in Milton’s heart? Was it that I didn’t really pay attention to what the words were saying – what the words really meant? -or was I so busy being appalled by professors diminishing the faith of classical writers that I missed the faith of what they were really saying?

“‘Many of the Romantics knew  much of Milton by heart – how can you study these writers if you do not know what was in their hearts as they themselves wrote?’ Then he added, thoughtfully, ‘ While you are at it, I also suggest that you memorize the first few chapters of Genesis. So you know what was in Milton’s heart, too'” (Weber).

Some 30 years later, I find myself wanting go back – and learn anew, learn better and deeper.

In between being surprised by this delightful book, I’m still processing Deidre Rigg’s Jumping Tandem retreat, meeting  face-to-face blogging friends who have encouraged me heart-to-heart for the last few years. Attending the retreat was a stretching process in itself – stretching myself to walk outside my comfort zone – through the airport, so many states away from my family where I found warmth, caring and encouragement every step of the way. I remembered the 20-something in me, young, married – traveling with my husband to a glass-class in Holland, the fearlessly confident me who boarded a train for a day-trip to Belgium to visit a Carmelite cloister while my husband learned about glass-making. I remembered visiting historic places – undaunted about traveling to unknown places alone. 28 years of mothering these 5 sons – and two still at home, while it stretched others parts of me, left other parts of me un-worked. That weekend, I was stretched – and it was good.

I went on an afternoon photography walk with Laura Boggess, sat long and talked much with Brandee Shafer, Car-pooled from the airport with Dolly Lee, Amanda Hill, Tammy Belau. Maybe it’s the mothering in me – having carted around so many kids in my car so many years, so many rich conversations – but car-pooling with these women made me feel right at home.

I hung out with Elizabeth Stewart, Marilyn Yocum from my hometown, Linda Gibbs, Diane Bailey – and Christy Mac-Rodriguez, who didn’t really believe my luggage would arrive by 3 a.m., but sat with my on the porch in those awesome rockers and talked to me until mid-night.

I don’t think anyone really believe my luggage would show up any time soon – but after listening to Joel Olsteen on the radio for about 7 to 9 hours worth of driving to Louisville to read my books to elementary school children, visiting with my aunt – and flying out of Louisville because there weren’t any available in Nashville – I was optimistic, hopeful, full of faith – and at 2:55 a.m. that Friday night, after flight cancellations and new flights booked – the luggage arrived!

Lisha Epperson was part of this stretching. I was hesitant to walk through the doors of her dance session at the Jumping Tandem retreat, yet, it was the one session I knew I would deeply regret missing if I did not. Maybe it’s this fearless confidence I’m working on this year – listening to God’s promptings of what He wants me to do – and so I did – even though I hadn’t danced since I was seven. At seven, though, I didn’t realize I could dance for God.

I took my 52-year-old, apple-shaped, out-of-shape self – and reached way down deep inside to pull out the little girl who once loved to dance until someone told her dance classes had stolen her grace, and how someone had once told the girl developing in me “what’s up front” is what really counts – not the brain, not the heart, not the humor, not the me, just the physically endowed, girl-quality of mammary glands – and so I grew bent over, trying to hide the superficial, so wanting to be valued for the inside-stuff because that was where the most important part of me was.

I took my 52-year-old self a few weeks ago – into praise dancing with you Lisha– and danced for God – reaching high, bending low – stretching to awakeness. Lisha led us all in gentle, God-lifting encouragement, creating an environment that allowed me to retrieve something I’d misplaced long ago – and I was able to stretch deep, pull it back to me, and with ballerina hands turning, arms rising, palms outward, giving, reaching to offer whatever I have to offer to a loving Father, Lisha taught me, also, palms turning heart-ward to pull close what He gives . Lisha brought grace to brokenness – and that brokenness became grace – maybe not to the world’s eyes, but to His eyes.

After the last prayer, the last hug, I climbed on a plane to my hometown, then drove about 4 hours to where home is now – and without skipping a beat, stepped right back into a daily I’ve done for almost 29 years.

When I picked up the boys from school, the older of the two immediately had an allergic reaction – either to Mother Nature, a virus – or me. (Am I the only one who sees the humor from the coincidence in that? Surely, that kind of humor is not what finally-over-the-edge looks like?) It took 5 days for him to totally recover. Homecomings are never glitche-free, no matter how love-filled they are.

I am home, living in the regular of the daily – but there’s a thread of something new going on – a thread tangled Gd-intentionally up in this fearless confidence lesson He’s working on with me this year.

I’m not quite the same person who boarded the plane, though I’m living in the daily “same.”

There’s been no radical, immediate transformation. Just something happening breath by breath, as He draws me closer to where He’s leading me, showing me where the stones are, building faith for wings.

I suspect, though, what’s going on is all about the wings – and the faith required to use them!

“When you work from faith, either you will step forward onto something solid, or you will be given wings”(Weber, Surprised by Oxford)

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by Blue Cotton Memory

About 2 years ago, my family set off on a journey that took us to another place. God said, “Go” and we went. People would say, “But your house hasn’t sold yet. . . . your son isn’t out of high school yet… but…but…but…” I would answer, “God said, ‘Go.'” And, He wanted us to go now.

A few months before we set off on our journey, the author of “The V-Files,” encouraged me to start a blog. “It’s easy,” she said.

My husband and I have often wondered about, “Why” and what God wanted us to accomplish on this journey.

A dear bloggy friend suggested it was a test of obedience.

You see – this journey has not been a summer vacation or a get-away time. It has been a Odysseus journey, I guess, completing one arduous challenge after another. 

I have been frustrated because I have applied for jobs – and the doors just are not opening. It made me feel old, to be honest. 

The one area that has grown and doors have opened have been here – in the blogahood. A heart-felt thank you for every visit, every encouragement, every connection, invitations to write, always making me feel like I was contributing something valuable.

There are 3 “dreams” or “hopes” I have had in my life. I wanted to marry for a lifetime a Knight-in-Shining-Armor-kind-of-guy – and God blessed me. I want to show my children how to grow old loving the Lord (am working on it). Since I was 6, I wanted to be a successful writer. I have been thisclose to finding a publisher for my children’s book – only to have the publishing house sold. My editor was lost in the shuffle. You’ve heard of un-requited love? Well, I have felt un-requited success. I gave my dream to God quite a few years ago – my dream of being a writer.

“What God. . . . what do you want me to do?” I asked over and over again – more so in these last two years which seemed like painful limbo.

Friday, God took the blinders off my eyes. Eyes wide open to truth, I paused, amazed. Nothing goes to waste. I am not a failure. I am the goose girl unveiled.

God gave me these past two years as a gift. . . to write for Him. As I waded through tears, heart-wrenching moments, I wrote. Many of you were there with me. He gave me my dream. Bigger than I imagined. Maybe not bigger than many blogs, but Bigger than I dreamed.

You see, on Friday, my blog viewer statistics hit 75,000. 75,000 visits to read what God put on my heart. To bunches of you, that is just a drop in the bucket. But to me, who thought that well maybe I ought to just write for my children, store it away for after I am gone, that no-one wanted to hear what poured inside out – that is 74,995 more opportunities to let others know about the love of Jesus, 74,995 more opportunities to lift someone up with the love of Jesus when they are down, 74,995 to let someone know they are not alone, that they are beautiful creations of a loving Father, to encourage others to reach out of their comfort zone to Jesus love someone not their own, 74,995 opportunities to encourage a cultural shift in how we view men in our society, 74,995  opportunities to encourage mothers to not give up when they are challenged beyond themselves.

Little things can have a big impact. It reminds me of one of my favorite songs from Les Miserable, “Little People”:

“A worm can roll a stone
A bee can sting a bear
A fly can fly around Versailles
‘Cos flies don’t care!
A sparrow in a hut
Can make a happy home
A flea can bite the bottom
Of the Pope in Rome!”

All the while I thought I wasn’t achieving anything, I really was. All the while I thought my dream had escaped me, I was living it the entire time. Maybe you are, too!

Psst! Thanks for coming by every now and then and listening to what I have to say:) You bless me!

 “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4)

  “If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday. {11} The LORD will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail” (Isaiah 58:10-11)

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, {25} not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10: 24-25)

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