Waiting to be…

“I have always, essentially, been waiting. Waiting to become something else, waiting to be that person I always thought I was on the verge of becoming, waiting for that life I thought I would have. In my head, I was always one step away.” Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life

I felt so guilty as I drug my family, friends and my God through the dregs of my eating disorder. I remember thinking so many times, “I’ll get this right tomorrow, then they will love me again.”

“I won’t be such a disappointment when I weigh enough, finish the program, eat cake with everyone, go out for pizza, etc.”

“God, I know you must be so fed up with me, so tired of my relapses and recurrent fears. When I finally get well, then you can use me. Then you can be glorified in me.”

A well-rehearsed Bible verse echoed in my mind, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15:8

How on earth can God be glorified in you? My heart accused me. You have so little faith, you can’t even eat!  What godly fruit are you evidencing? Why would anyone believe in your God? You’re a terrible example. 

No one else ever said those words, but I believed them deep in my heart. The feelings of failure served only to push me deeper into depression and deeper into anorexic habits fueled by fear and hopelessness. What if God gave up on me?

Just this morning, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to another Bible verse that I’ve known almost all my life. I can hardly believe I didn’t see the full truth, the full counsel of God’s Word before!

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23a

The fruit that glorifies God and that identifies me as His disciple is not my performance! It isn’t how well I demonstrate Christian behavior. The fruit that I marks me as belonging to Jesus is the fruit of the Holy Spirit, the very same Spirit that He sent to teach me all things and remind me of everything Jesus said and did for me. (John 14:26)

But the best news was yet to come. Jesus also said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” John 15:9

I began to trace the references of God’s love for Jesus through the New Testament. In John 11:42, Jesus was confident in God’s love and that God heard everything He prayed. In Matthew 3:17, the Father shouted from the heavens that Jesus is His beloved son and that He is pleased with Him. In John 15:24, Jesus said that the Father loved Him before the foundation of the world.

Hallelujah! Even in the midst of my darkest days, God still loves me. He sees a forgiven me through Jesus’ blood even when I despair and get discouraged. Because of Jesus, every moment of my life, I am loved, pleasing to my Father, heard by my Father – from the foundation of the world.

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Synchroblog for International Women’s Day

I (and you) have been invited to participate in a synchroblog to honor the Midwives and Patron Saints of our lives. Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day. Let’s recognize it from the perspective of those women who have nurtured our relationship with Jesus.

You can read more about Sarah’s invitation to this synchroblog here. Join us!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

It is impossible to contain the list of women-blessings God has placed in my life. Each of them has taught me, by example, how to lean into and walk by the Holy Spirit. In His presence we have become inseparable companions. I first tasted the delicious, life sustaining Fruit of the Spirit in my mom.

Mom embodies love. Hers is the love that most looks like Jesus to me. Through my ages, I leveled offensives at her, wrestled against all her wise restraints and even denied her love. And yet, in the darkest moments, her voice was calm and clear. Her voice ensured a future, a future encased in ceaseless prayers. When the light returned, from sliver to full day, she is still here, a confidant, a cheerleader, a voice of wisdom, undeterred love.

Joy! That would be my sister Rachelle. From her birth, I christened her, “Sunshine.” Nothing dims the radiance of Christ-life in her. She is infectious and real. Even her tears illicit a smile and resurrect courage.

My sweet sister Jennifer. Though it isn’t specifically a Fruit of the Spirit, it is Joy’s identical twin. Her passion for life, mesmerizes me and energizes me. In her I learn to press on, to finish the race, to strive.

Peace is my Grandmother. In 33 years, I have never heard her raise her voice. Her entrance settles the atmosphere of room to, “as it should be.” When Granddad passed away a couple years ago, her hurt must have gone deeper than anyone else’s. Yet, even then, she portrayed a calm, assertive, hope-filled peace.

Patience, that is Nanny, my adopted over-90-year-old grandmother. When I met her she warned me not to expect her to hang around too long. She was on her way to meet Jesus. But Jesus has seen fit to let her linger on earth, birthing and feeding the generation behind her.

Kindness. When my sister, Kelsey was little, she could throw tantrums five times her berth. I wondered if my parents had named her wrong. Kelsey means, “refuge, like a harbor, quiet waters.” She filled out her name. Mercy oozes from Kelsey’s pores. Tenderness, kindness and compassion are her signatures.

Goodness, is Tina. The face-to-face aspect of our friendship will be fleeting. Soon, my husband and I will move on to a new duty station, and her life will remain here with her family. But in the gifted days I’ve had with her, I have relished her goodness.

Faithfulness is, Dana S. When hell clutched at the heart of her marriage, God gave her a double portion of faithfulness. In her I have learned the humility and strength, twin foundations of faithfulness.

Gentleness. She might not even remember my name, but when I was little, my friend Grace’s mother let us loose in her home many afternoons. Even then, I marveled at her soft-spoken gentleness and its quiet power.

Self-Control. She wouldn’t believe me to hear me say it, she is far to humble and blind to her own graces. Beth has so many dreams, so many plans, so many places she wants to be and ministries she longs to start. At the moment, God has placed a loving hand on her shoulder and said, “Wait.” And now waiting seems like it’s been forever. But she is growing in self-control and her meekness to learn at the feet of Jesus is precious to me.

Time and space fail me to name all those women I consider to be my Spiritual Midwives and Patron Saints, but this is a start.

I thank my God every time I remember you.

wondering if i wander

is this living by the Spirit

unsure where i am and

untethered against next wind’s gust?

or

is this?

to live by increments

a divided clock and protracted heart

degrees of devotion to each good deed?

or

somewhere in the middle –

is there quiet and peace?

I know there is!

for

I have a shepherd who

promises quiet water trickles near

but though i trod, i fear.

how?

to walk with him without wondering

to walk with him without wandering

his Spirit in me?

Whistle While You Work

Don’t get wrong, I am fully aware that there are multiple occasions that warrant a good cry. In fact some of those occasions allow for screaming (if you’re alone) and stomping and banging on the counter tops. Traffic jams, (lots and lots of traffic situations) being stood up, stubbing your toe…

But, Snow White had a point, “Whistle While You Work.”

I never finished my traveling story last Tuesday from the airport. After I wrote to you, I continued to pace the terminal for another 2 hours. I arrived in Dallas about 3 hours later than I was scheduled and three hours itchier to see my new niece. On my trip home, I boarded the plane right on time, we sailed through turbulence and touched down three minutes past ETA. Then…we disembarked and I hustled to the baggage claim and the shuttle counter.

I had failed to consider that other people might want to ride my shuttle. Three other people to be exact. And we were leaving the airport at 5:30. And it was raining. Our driver gets credit for taking every possible opportunity to jut between bumpers and dart across traffic and cut the edges on construction zones. But even with all his assertive driving, I didn’t get home until nearly 7:30 p.m. Argh – 3 hours after landing.

Now I was three hours itchier to pick up my puppy. I ran into the house to find that it looked like a bachelor’s pad. No it wasn’t filthy, but Patrick doesn’t believe in putting the pillows on bed, dumping the trash or dishwasher, getting his clothes all the way through the wash, rinsing dishes or the coffee pot, sweeping around the litter pan or sorting the mail.

I saw myself doing it. I knew it was coming and I had a choice, and I chose to scream. I let the tears out of the dam and calling my husband names under my breath. Coffee, I needed a Starbucks to soothe my flustered-ness. Safeway has a Starbucks, is on the way to pick up my dog and I can pick up some veggies for dinner too. Guess what? I arrived at the store moments after a fire alarm forced evacuation and closed the store indefinitely. Everything, everything seemed determined to test my self control.

Like the metaphorical devil on my shoulder, a niggling little voice said, “It’s OK. You have every right to let your emotions erupt. No one is here to see it, so it isn’t really a sin. You are all alone on the east coast again. The rest of your family is still huddled around baby Kylie, swooning over her smiles and making up funny new phrases like, ‘mashing pumpkins’ when she poops.”

Whistle While You Work. Praise the Lord that He is bully enough to shout over my own fleshy voice.

Abby, just because Patrick isn’t here to hear you and no one can watch you put on a colossal display of anti-obedience. Sing, sweetheart. Praise me. I deserve it.

When Brave and I got home, I propped up my Ipod and let Pandora sing classic Christmas music. Within the first 3.5 minute song, “I don’t want a lot for Christmas, there is just one thing I need… Baby all I want for Christmas is you!”

The cheery refrain made me think of my sister Rachelle. She is my sunshine – an un-dimmable light. We love to sing loudly together in stores, in the car and anywhere else. Whistle (or sing) while you work. Suddenly, I grabbed Brave’s front paws and were swirling around the smooth kitchen floors in my socks and his slippery paws.

When Brave started panting and I skidded into the sharp edge of the countertop we slowed. But the crustiness of anger and loneliness were gone. Tonight, in half the time I feared the daunting tasks would require, I had paid the bills, sorted the mail, made the most of an empty fridge, folded laundry, brushed the dog and written to you.

So, this post does have something to do with lies. In a world where we’re told that we deserve to do somethings for ourselves, to express ourselves bluntly and without regard, to pursue happiness at all costs – I did not – you do not – have the right to indulge our flesh. When your personality divides along the lines of spontaneous reactions versus choices, chose Christ. Choose the fruit of the Spirit: self control.

Because even in the quiet of my kitchen I am in a constant dialogue with my Creator. May I speak in reverence, respond in love and bring Him glory.

P.S. Please forgive any typos you notice here. I strive to write professionally. However, tonight I’m writing through bleary eyes. There should be warning on keyboards: DO NOT USE THIS DEVICE WHILE TIRED, STRESSED OR UNDER THE INFLUENCE. But I wanted to talk to you tonight and promise you that we’re back on track here. I’ve got some great posts for you this month and a new slant on the theme of Predatory Lies in the new year.

Merry Christmas!