Monday, February 25, 2013

My version of 'footprints in the sand'

A while back, I wrote out my version of  the "Footprints in the Sand" poem. The mental picture had been floating around in my head for a while and I finally wrote it down.  The original effort was part of a weekly newsletter for my life groupers, college and 'career' age (whatever that means) at my beloved church (that I miss so much!). Today, a friend from that same church asked me to send her the same "story." She hadn't received the original email, but I had shared the thoughts with her during a women's retreat (beloved church!).
Anyway, as I continue to get settled into my new life as a newly re-married wife in a new state that stays at home (even though you don't have any kids???) and continue to explore this new identity...I am reminded, by reading my version of Jesus' presence throughout my life, that one day, this season will be part of my story too. And it is up to me to determine what kind of 'footprints' represent this chapter.
(Original Date: Friday 23 March 2012)
Do you know that story/poem about the footprints in the sand? The one that talks about the guy saying to Jesus "hey, why was there only one set of footprints here, during the hard times of my life???" and Jesus says (in a James Earl Jones kind of voice) "because, my child, that's when I was carrying you!" and you get all teared up thinking about those times?
Well, guess what, my "footprints" conversation with Jesus would actually sound pretty different. If we pick up the conversation right after he explains about carrying me, you would hear something like this:
Me: Ahhh...I get it. But what about over here, why are there two sets of footprints, and the one set is really deep and weird?
Jesus: That's where you were such a mess and so stubborn, that I actually had to drag you for a ways. (don't get all theological on me, it's my version)
Me: I see, thanks for that by the way. And what about there, where it looks like one set of footprints wanders off and then there are sandal prints next to that comfy looking log?
Jesus: That's where you were determined to walk away from me, and I sat and patiently waited for you to come back.
Me: Hmm...and what about the trail up there around that rocky cliff's ledge? Why only one set there?
Jesus: That's where you had to walk and you couldn't see me, but had to listen for my voice. You couldn't see around the next boulder, but you could hear me telling you which way and how carefully to step, and you made it through, see because there's no dent in the sand where your body would have metaphorically landed had you stopped listening to me, so--good job!
Me: Aw...shucks..thanks. And how about over there? Those two spots with the all the sunflower seeds next to them?
Jesus: That's when you were filled with doubt and laziness and had to decide if you were going to get up and walk on your own or not. I knew you were too "old" to be carried, so I sat and waited, and also enjoyed some tasty sunflower seeds.
Me: And here, why are the footprints so far apart? Were my metaphorical spiritual legs a lot longer here?
Jesus: Oh, Carrie, you are the funniest....No, no...that is where you were faithfully running after God. You were living as closely to him as you ever did, and were so excited about your "walk" with Him that it became a "run", and I simply ran along side you, like a friend or a coach in one of those Rocky movies, training you and encouraging and pushing you to run even were in the best shape of your life then!
Jesus: Really, Carrie? You went with that right now?
.....and we walk on down the pretend metaphorical beach, me pointing to different configurations of sand and Jesus explaining how very varied my spiritual walk with him was/is....
So, what are your "footprints" (feetprints?) like with Jesus? Is he having to carry you too much? Is he waiting patiently while you insist on taking your own route and getting stuck in the muck? Is he walking along side you, friend to friend, listening to you and talking to you and encouraging you as you carry yourself? Seriously, those of you who respond, I love hearing your answers. What does it look like for you?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Please respect my alternative lifestyle

Dear Friends,

It is with great pride, excitement, nervousness, and enthusiasm that I officially come out of the closet and announce that I fully believe in and want to live openly in an alternative lifestyle.  I know that this choice may not be a popular one, but it's mine. In fact, I don't even see it as a choice. It's more like a "calling." Or something. All I know is that I can not find any sort of happiness or satisfaction by keeping my alternative lifestyle a secret any longer. I know that you may worry, there are many people out there who will express anger, judgement, and disrespect for my choice to live this way. They will rush to react, they will assume that because I identify with a certain "lifestyle", that I must agree with some of the jerks who give our lifestyle a bad name.  I assure you, this is not true.  I affirm to you that my choice does not mean that I have abandoned the basic principles of how to treat other human beings. I have not forgotten the value of EVERY human life, even those that seemingly just want to put me in a closet and live their lives without considering how their actions affect me and others like me.  That's OK. I know that by living openly as an "alternative" kind of person, I will often be put under the microscope.  And I know that when I'm under that microscope, my flaws will be evident. After many years of shame and hiding my imperfections and trying to live a false life, I welcome the relief of living a true life.  I can no longer hide my human inability to live up to other flawed people's standards. SO...with that, I want to introduce you to my new Love. I have, in this lifestyle, FINALLY found the answer to never measuring up.  I have found the best dysfunctional relationship and plan to proclaim it loudly and proudly for whomever is within shouting distance. He tells me how flawed I am, all the time. And He tells me how I can't do anything without him, not anything worth doing anyway. He tells me that HIS plans are best for me and that I should just give up whatever silly control I try to have in my life and let HIM figure it out.  He tells me that no one else will ever love me like he does, that his love is different and special and will change my life. I know, you have heard of him. And you think maybe he is too controlling or too limited or that he is biased and hateful towards certain types of people. Those messages are not from me. I'm telling you, and you KNOW me, that he is not biased. He thinks we ALL are failures without him! See, he's equality all the way. Anyway, I think this lifestyle is really going to work for me.  There is freedom in knowing that I don't have to be (and never actually CAN be) smart enough, good enough, environmentally friendly enough, skinny enough, liberal enough, enlightened enough, rich enough, urban enough, or anything else that I have been horribly failing at not being enough of, there is freedom in knowing that I can never be enough. And I know that seems like giving up, that I am supposed to, according to everyone else out there, always be trying to be more, to do more, to have more, to achieve more, to know more.......more and more and more....but today, on my COMING OUT day....I say ENOUGH. I am not enough, but with HIM, with my LOVE, with the One who loves me in a way that many in this world will never understand, I am ready to live this weird alternative lifestyle. Don't you worry about me, He is Enough. Let me know if you've had enough, too. I'd be glad to help you come out and celebrate this alternative lifestyle. We could even have a parade!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Speaking of...

Speaking of "starting fresh from here...." some amazing things have been happening. Once the crazyness dies down, I hope to be back to writing on here. But for now, enjoy some of my excitement. :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

It's good. Very, very good.

I was all prepared to write about how I love fall up until daylight savings kicks in...then I caught my last post (you know, a mere 8 months ago), and saw that it was referring to dark winter...signs of spring...and I did not want to get in the habit (if you can call 3 posts a year a habit) of being all nature, all the time. So, instead of telling the 3 of you out there that still crack this blog open from time to time all about how overwhelmed I am by the urge to stay in my house until April, I'll change my route (do you say "root" in your head? I for sure do NOT). God has been teaching me so much these past few months. My pastor has said, more than once, that he thinks it is a sign of healing when you can begin to serve again. If that is the case, then I think I have complete confirmation that I am 'healed' (and yes, I said that in my best televangelist voice, making the word two whole syllables).

Serving is a weird thing. It is the best way that I know to exhaust yourself unknowingly. (The arc trainer at the gym is the best way to exhaust yourself knowingly. Seriously, you never have to pick your feet up...) At least, that is how it has been (for the most part) for me. I had no idea, back in June, when I saw a little "ad" in our church bulletin looking for a "Shepherd" for the college/career age life group, that it would be THE perfect place for me to return to serving. I just thought it sounded interesting, and like something I would be good at. I mentioned my interest to a friend (who had just signed on to be the host family to this group), and that was the end of that. As much fun as it has been to get to know these guys, to plan activities and fun things and cook for them (you KNOW I am loving that) and hang out and reveal my dark competitive spoon-playing side...the best part has been the discipleship, the relationship building, and the intentional conversations about God, life, and all that other good stuff. It has been the biggest blessing to me, to get to meet formally and informally with some pretty amazing ladies. On my way to my first official meeting, specifically to disciple, I stopped by to see one of MY disciplers for a crash course in "what in the world am I doing trying to lead others and how do I get started in this???" And, in about five minutes, she set me straight with just a few thoughts and some wisdom.(I am so grateful for the ladies who I seek out discipleship from) The planned meetings go so well that I am 100% sure I have nothing to do with the process, the credit goes to God for sure, and the informal moments with the various members of our group have been very sweet and eye-opening for me. Our church is BIG on discipleship. The leader of our life group is BIG on discipleship. In just a short time, I have experienced a new level of it, and a greater appreciation and respect for the intentionality of it and the impact it brings. So much so that I have added "Do you DISCIPLE??" to my list of nosey questions that I throw into discussion at appropriate and sometimes more abrupt times. I am completely convinced that if you are stuck spiritually, if you are serving and worshipping and seeking God, but are not involved in intentional discipleship, you are missing the very thing that will get you "unstuck" and moving in the right direction. I firmly believe that every believer needs to be discipled as well as disciple others. What that looks like, as far as meeting times and formality, is not concrete. I just know from what I see in scripture that it is required. No excuses.
Anyway...that is where I am at right now. This is not the only ministry opportunity that I am excited to be participating in right now...but it is the highest of priorities at the moment. Mostly, whether referring to this area or any other aspect of my life, I am really overwhelmed by a desire to be doing what God wants me to be doing, and to not be wasting my time on fruitless things (more on that another time).
If I were a really corny person (no comments needed, thank you very much), I might make some comparison to this "season" of my life..or some other nature-related junk...but I'm not corny, so no worries.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Signs of Spring

Not to be too dramatic...or metaphorical...but after the longest, coldest, darkest winter of my life, just when I thought it would never happen...FINALLY, signs of spring. In no particular order, these are some of the things I've taken great joy in over the past few days or week:

  • Farmer's was the first day, and it was scant....but it was open and I went!

  • The best people I've ever worked with....things have really changed there, and after some layoffs and last days, we all met to celebrate our friendship (and watch Karina karaoke).

  • Cooking. Not just making dinner....but finding a couple of good finds at the Farmer's Market, (today it was mushrooms and homemade English muffins), thinking about those ingredients and then putting together a "project" with that. (Maybe I'll even post this later?)

  • My house looks beautiful. It's not my house any more, but after it burnt almost completely down last year, I never thought I'd see it restored to better than I could have ever imagined it. There is a small, small chance that I could rent it in the near future, but I'm not sure that's the right plan for me. It is good just knowing that it's been restored and is reaching its full house potential.

  • Family...I've been spending a lot of time with family. Not in the big event, make plans, travel and holiday stress type time...the time you can spend because you are now convenient, and more casual and low-key non-events can happen. Birthdays, random lunches, hanging out. It is good.

There are more signs...and even just feeling like writing again is a is good to be more myself again. That is maybe the most understated, simplified phrase I've ever written...but it works.