Tag Archives: church

New Vision

Farther back than I want to admit, I gradually began taking life on a need-to-see basis.

Remarkably, unlike my siblings who needed eyeglasses in grade school, I had exceptionally good vision well into my 30’s.

I remember one First Day of School in our newest neighborhood at the time. I wanted to look cool. I seriously was not, so I borrowed my sister’s new glasses from her. I can’t imagine what I was thinking, but after one morning looking through her glasses, imagining her worldview without them gave me a whole new understanding about Sister.

From then on I was proud of my amazing eyesight.

By twenty-five I had survived a parent’s suicide, became an abandoned spouse and a single, working mom. Blind, raging ambition driving me, I became a force to be reckoned with, and a Tiger Woman in the business world.

As a teen I’d turned my back on the God I’d heard about but didn’t see much of growing up in church. Decades later around the same time my eyes began changing, transformation also started in my stony, little heart.

As my vision began fading, the whole world seemed different.

After surviving a car collision that actually should have killed me, God had my full attention. I suddenly got over being angry at Him. Days later I longed to meet the Jesus I’d heard about years before.

Forget a nonchalant shrug, that day Atlas actually gasped. Sure, I didn’t suddenly decide to change. God had pursued me for years as He gently guided me along, but that’s a different story.

I began to realize all I had given up on as a child – thinking I’d imagined what I had once believed. I was thirty-something and already survived more anguish than most people can imagine.

Once I actually met Jesus I fell completely in love with Him. Weeks later I walked away from my high-paying, misery-generating job and law school. Hours afterward a heart attack pinned me to the floor, but I wasn’t afraid, worried or nearly done yet.

I was saved.

Everything in my life changed dramatically. Everything included needing glasses to read. And then for driving. Soon I needed trifocals.

Certain of God’s love for me and having good spiritual vision was genuinely life changing. I no longer needed to watch my back – for the first time since I was a kid, I knew God did. Like everyone, I continued to experienced more losses. Still, I stopped dreading what each new day might bring. And I no longer need my amazing eyesight to survive.

With God watching me closely, life on a need to see basis actually works for me.

How do you get through hard times?

“He (Father God, my Shepherd) renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.” Psalm 23: 3, 4 (NLT)

 

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Filed under Notes from the Apex

Flowing

I’d been in town long enough to miss “the gang” from church. I’m blessed with great friends, many from churches all across the country and we continue to keep in touch. But it was time to connect with the local church, meet people outside our family unit, engage in conversation and gain fresh perspectives on topics of interest.

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I don’t always find my niche right away. I’m all about relationship with Jesus, worship, studying the Bible, serving the community – and not much interested in dogma or following traditions for tradition’s sake. My habit is to return for services at each local church for at least three visits. The second church was walking distance, and an organization with which I’ve been aligned before.

Prepared for my first visits, I’d printed calling cards with my blog address and handed a couple out to people that seemed genuinely interested in the new kid in town.

RPP card

After the service on the next visit I was trying to appear casual with friendly greetings and nods while desperately seeking the Ladies Room. I saw a familiar looking woman waving and making a bee line across the crowded foyer toward me. My latte had my teeth singing Anchors Aweigh. Before I could ask her for directions she gushed,

“Roo, I’m so glad to see you! I meant to take a quick look at your blog…”

Sure I was breaking a sweat, “the best laid plans…” and “who has time to read lately? flashed through my mind.

Then she surprised me. “Well, I couldn’t stop reading. After chatting with you, I couldn’t imagine you in some of your stories!” My lower quadrant clenching, I couldn’t think clearly to respond. I smiled politely trying to not be too obvious looking past her for a sign – to a Powder Room.

Yep, she went on, “You can’t be a great-grand-maw. And some of the stories sound like you’ve been through h-e-double-hockey-sticks… I wouldn’t have guessed from talking to you… You’ve led quite a life…” My eyes began to well  – this was great for What’s Next, but all I could think of was, “Please Lord, don’t let anyone use that water fountain six feet away from us!

Even after she paused I couldn’t talk – ordinarily not like me at all. I’d talked with the lady a scant ten minutes including that very – long – moment. I literally lowered my head, checked my shoes, groping for strength and something to say more than I was actually praying. But then it came to me, the line I’d thought about for seemingly ages but never had the opportunity to say:

“Honestly, I loathe the thought of being known as ‘that poor woman who…’ Life is about What’s Next and making it better from anywhere…” For a nano-second I was pleased with the name I chose for my blog again. After a brief, dramatic pause I added, “Especially from a Ladies Room…” I hope I grinned sheepishly and didn’t grimace.

cup coffee hearts ABSFreepicsAfter I could relax again, we joked about ‘streams of living water’ and made a date to meet for coffee. She mentioned maybe I could show her what I know about blogging. That’ll keep us long enough for a latte. I have a feeling we’ll find more to talk about.

 

 

“…I see that the Lord is always with me, I will not be shaken for He is right beside me.” Psalm 16:8

 

Images courtesy *Unsplash, **ABSFreePics and original graphic by E.V.A. Lambert (c) 2016 for What’s Next

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Back On Track

roller coaster 3I’m gonna be honest, I began this piece from a posture of pain.

Reflecting upon a recent Sunday morning after a long, restless night. I had gone to a loved one wanting only a moment together. Simply put, I got an emotional kick in the gut instead. With that I felt like giving up on the relationship – again.

I’m usually pretty good at recognizing that I’m not the only human alive that’s confused, afraid or hurting – and I can be hyper-sensitive. That morning, feeling the sting of rejection, I quickly withdrew to get ready for church.

Despite the daunting I’d wrestled with the entire night before, I began feeling a little better in my busyness. I’d waved the offense aside, still not realizing I’d been derailed for some time.

roller coaster 1

I admit, seemingly rude, insensitive behavior, particularly directed at me by my loved ones is my right Achilles’s heel – yeah, I have two. Usually getting over that kind of slight takes me hours of speculation, denial, self-examination, confession, repentance… You get the idea. Still, I try to keep in mind that  “forgive us our debts (and offenses) as we forgive [others]*”  prayer and take the responsibility seriously.

So, without forgiving, putting hurt feelings to rest, there’s no way I could muster the nerve to go into the amazing presence of God and find peace in this crazy world. Getting there begins with prayer – fervent, effectual prayer from a pure heart.

I took a moment to shake it off again and clear my head. I picked up Bob Goff’s book Love Does**. Typically his light, lovely stories bring a smile at the very least and usually a hearty laugh.

Opening to the page where I’d left off earlier, words soon seemed to jump off the page at me:

“When you read the Bible, the people who loved Jesus and followed Him were the ones like me who don’t get invited places. Yet Jesus told His friends they were invited anyway. In fact, He told them that the religious people weren’t the ones who decided who got into heaven and who didn’t. He said the people who followed Him should think of themselves more like the ushers rather than the bouncers, and it would be God who decides who gets in. We’re the ones who simply show people their seats that someone else paid for.”

Bam! With the new perspective of my earlier attitude, having barged, uninvited into my loved one’s space I became humbled. She hadn’t come to me. Though she can own her attitude I realized my reaction to a perceived slight. I compared it to the person I want to be, stopped right there and got to my knees.

Later, during the ride to church I digested the actual glory in the whole scenario. God orchestrated the entire morning, likely the challenge I couldn’t put away the night before, if only to open my eyes to a truth I’d been overlooking:

“I’m more than a loser human, a Jesus fan and a wannabe Christ follower, I’m an usher to heaven’s gates!”

Have mercy.

That morning at church I payed closer attention to the people I see every week:

The friend, a mom who goes out of her way to drive me to church on the days both of my household vehicles are unavailable. This woman has a family to care for, a job and is our Small Group’s journalist. You gotta know she takes some hits. And yet she prepares, sometimes days before to secure my ride.

The friend who unfailingly seeks me out to hug me and share whatever time we have together. Another busy mom and grand mom, she also checks that I have transportation when I need it and she texts me notes of encouragement every few days.

The young grandmother, part of the church leadership team, head of the huge Visual Arts Department that includes the Worship Team. In her position she’s usually under somebody or another’s close scrutiny. Yet this woman always makes a point to say hello to me by name every time she sees me, asking how I’m doing. And she waits for my response.

At home I found a lengthy email from a foreign missionary friend who manages to enjoy the messages I send her in pigeon German, and she faithfully assures me she will pray for me too.

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Maybe I’ve gone over the top. Even so, I feel redeemed – yet again. I actually feel empowered to take my place at the Grand Entrance to heaven’s arena. We bloggers often refer to our roller coaster rides. I am especially delighted to share this one. Arms up, ready to scream for joy as the train creeps over the arch to the next drop and roll.

For the weeks since that Sunday I’ve been prepared for my days. Prayed up, my metaphoric vest neatly pressed, name badge, FORGIVEN, in place, flashlight charged and ready to stand with other believers, to show people the way. There’s a huge difference between feeling like we’re okay and actually feeling wheels rolling on the rails.

It’s good to be back on track.

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” Galatians 6:9 (NLT)

*The Bible Matthew 6:12 (paraphrase)

**Taken from Love Does by Bob Goff Copyright © 2012 by Bob Goff. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson. www.thomasnelson.com.

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Filed under A Door Ajar, Notes from the Apex