Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Spirit Danced

I just returned from New Jersey, where I spent some time at the Crossroads retreat for RCA women of that region.  What a beautiful, diverse, energized group of Sisters in Christ!  My time with them was short,(see my previous post) but good.  I also led a workshop at Brookdale Reformed Church on Sunday.

Morgan was my highlight!  Morgan, dressed in a white leotard and flowing skirt. Morgan, so petite. Morgan, who looked to be about 14 years old. Morgan danced with all her heart and soul at the Saturday retreat.  As she danced she was transformed into this beautiful representation of the Spirit, leading us all into worship.  I saw Morgan with her mom, and only talked with her a little to thank her for leading us in worshiping on Saturday.

Sunday morning, as my new friend Deborah and I arrived at Brookdale for worship, we discovered Morgan was there.  She was putting the numbers for the hymns up on the board, getting out the bulletins, and helping prepare for worship.  I had the opportunity to talk with her and found out she had just had a birthday.  Morgan had turned 31.  Morgan also has some developmental disabilities.  At the workshop in the afternoon she shared that one of her frustrations is that people think she is a child and don't think she can do anything.  They are so wrong!

God packages his gifts to the Body in so many unique ways; and way too often we miss the gifts they are.  And often those uniquely packaged need to be affirmed that God has filled them with his Spirit and is working through them to touch lives.  Morgan and Christina were the two youngest at our workshop Sunday afternoon.  It gave me much joy to look them in the eyes and affirm from the bottom of my heart that God loves them and has a plan and a future for them: to affirm that I see God in them and at work through them.  I hope I get to hear the stories of how God continues to work in them.

We all struggle with those times we can't believe that we are a gift to anybody.  Times when we can't imagine why God has created us the way he did.  We also look at others and see them for what they don't have, rather than looking for the gift they are.  God tells us we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139:14).  Can we claim that as the psalmist did?  I KNOW THAT FULL WELL!  Wow, that is a challenge, but we honor our Creator when we believe it and live into it.

Sitting On My Hands

When God starts to teach you a lesson you had better watch out!  If you haven't read my previous posts about learning from my art teacher friend about watercolors you should go back and read those first.

At a retreat 2 weekends ago she walked us through an art lesson on watercolors and the need to recognize that you have to let go and let the water go where it will.  As we were painting our pictures someone would groan in frustration and Kathy would call out, "Sit on your hands!  Don't try to fix it.  You will just make it worse.  Work with it."  Another person would sigh and she would call out, "Sit on your hands! Don't try to control it."

We applied this metaphor to trusting God and letting go, and SITTING ON OUR HANDS.

So last weekend I was scheduled to fly out of Grand Rapids at 6:30 pm on Thursday for Newark, NJ.  Direct flight...not so much!  Between a weather system making its way across the country and a mess up by a ticketing agent I ended up with an overnight in Cleveland, and arrival time in Newark of 8:00 am on Saturday, where they proceeded to lose the luggage I had gate checked in Cleveland.  They did find it about an hour later.  Because everyone else had already arrived at the retreat center 15 hours earlier I then took a taxi for 90 minutes down to Long Beach Island.

During this whole 2 hour trip turned into 38 hours I kept saying to myself, "Sit on your hands.  See how the picture develops.  SIT ON YOUR HANDS!"  It was an amazing experience.  It didn't seem like anything very spiritual happened.  I met some nice people who were also frustrated.  I got to talk with my Haitian taxi driver for 90 minutes about life in Haiti.  I arrived at the retreat center smiling and ready for whatever God had in store.

The women there had been praying that I would be safe and arrive soon, or at least sometime.  My role at the retreat was minor, so it didn't impact the great things God was up to because I was 17 hours late,  but many of the women commented that I was smiling, and looked relaxed.  So I had numerous opportunities to share with them what God was teaching me about "Sitting on my hands," and trusting him to paint the picture he intended to paint.  It was a very good but short weekend.

The trip home was indeed at direct flight and all went well.

Then came Monday, and I felt like God upped the ante a bit.  Monday afternoon I got a phone call that a major event I was planning on for mid May was being cancelled.  Now this would always be frustrating, but Al is an interim pastor and right now he is between positions, waiting to see what God has in store for us next.  This conference in May was going to be a big part of our income for the month.  Once again I heard God say, "Sit on your hands."  God also drew me back to a Scripture He had given me a couple of years ago from Isaiah 48:4  "But I said, "I have labored to no purpose;  I have spent me strength in vain and for nothing.  Yet what is due me is in the Lord's hand, and my reward is with my God."

I'm sitting on my hands.  So what "mistakes" and "surprises" have been happening in your life?  I wonder what picture God is trying to paint.  I'm trying not to make a mess by fixing what needs to be worked with.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

God Likes a Good Story

I love it when things come together and you know God has been speaking. 

Remember my last (way too long ago) blog?  It was about my friend teaching me about watercolors.  Well, last night I was coaching someone around the all too familiar themes of wrestling with time, family, finances, while trying to live in our "Sweet Spot." 

We had been talking for over an hour, but before I closed in prayer I told her the story of Kathy leading a watercolor class at a retreat this past weekend.  I explained how the challenge of watercolor is that you have to let go of control of your picture.  You have to trust the water and the paints to create the picture.  If you try and fix the picture you just mess it up.  See where the water takes you...let

When I finished with my story she said, "You are not going to believe what my daughter talked to me about today."  Her daughter had turned in an art project too late,  She had tried to "fix" her watercolor and it had to be redone.  Her daughter was telling her all about what it was like to work with watercolors. 

My "coachee" said, "I don't know if I've ever had a conversation about watercolors before, and today I've had two."  I think perhaps God was telling his parable about trusting the living water once again...both for her and for me.

She then looked down at the doodling she had done during our session and realized that without consciously deciding to do it she had been doodling HOPE in many shapes and styles.  What was so powerful is that she knew God had chosen to speak to her at that particular time, and in that particular way.  She knew God loved her and could be trusted to paint a beautiful picture in her life.

Enjoy listening for the voice, looking for the signs and feeling the embrace of the One who created and loves you.