Monday, August 19, 2013

Qwerky house

There was a crooked man
Who had a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together
In a little crooked house.
Sometimes I feel like that man, only my house isn't so much crooked as it is qwerky...if that's how you spell it.

I really like our house, but it is a bit strange.  When you enter the front door the living room/dining room is to your right.  Ahead of you in a beautiful entryway is a huge built in mirror.  To you left is a beautiful open staircase which one would assume leads to a large upstairs...except it doesn't.  They did a really good job on this entryway!

The upstairs has lovingly been dubbed our Oompa Loompa rooms.  So named after the movie, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which had very small people working at it.  Our upsatirs bath has about a 2 square foot area where the ceiling reaches a magnificent height of 77 inches.  The bedroom , which is fairly long has a 1 foot stretch down the middle that is also 77 inches.  The rest of the area has sloping ceilings. Plus, the bedroom has track lighting with 3 lights right down the middle.  Thus they are named the Oompa Loopma Bathroom and Bedroom.

One of my favorite memories of the summer is Diedrick and Annika just belly laughing as they told me the story of Papa being up there with them, standing up to leave, promptly hitting his head on the first light, ducking for the second and standing up again too soon and hitting the third.  Sooo funny.

What is just as qwerky, is me.  I find myself taking guests and friends up there all the time to see what we have done with the Oompa Loompa rooms.  Often I come downstairs thinking, they must think I am really weird.  Why would I be excited about this qwerky little house?  Why would I think it is anything to show to others?  It's not big, or decorated well, or great in any way, shape or form.

Then I got a birthday card from Caleb and Sonja with a picture of a dog with his/her head out the window of a car, enjoying the ride.  Inside it read, "It's the simple things in life that make it good!  And Caleb wrote, "Mom, you're good at that--celebrating the simple things in life.  I'm thankful for your optimism and joy."  That rather made my day!

Some days I do that much better than others.  But it is a see the blessings all celebrate the goodness and grace of God.  To pay attention!!  That is a very hard thing for us to do.  Richard Rohr says, "We don't know how to take joy in the simple things anymore because, frankly, we are sated."  We are full, stuffed with too much...too much food, too much stuff...too much to experience and do.  Rohr goes on to say, "I think of all the pwerful experiences that I've had.  But only when I taste my experiences enough so they become realizations, do I change.  That takes time and space."

That is part of the reason I stop and think about the little things and how God speaks through them; how I can be changed by what seems like an insignificant story or experience...and how I can grow.  So thank you for listening to me and sharing my learnings, through whatever ways God chooses.

Shortest blog

I broke my toe.  God said, "Holly, sit down."  I'm sitting, Lord.  What next?  "Holly, listen."  I'm listening, Lord.  "Peace."

Saturday, August 10, 2013

1 am and Singing

Charlie sent me a text at 11:45 pm.  Now it is nearly 1:00 am and I'm still awake.  Charlie is 20 something...I am not.  Charlie, 11:45 is too late to send your best friend's mom a text.  But I love you anyway.

Charlie was part of the 20 something gang that descended on Holland this week for Amanda and Nate's wedding.  This wedding also brought our son Caleb and wife Sonja to town.  We got to play host to several of their friends.  This meant our house was filled with fun and laughter, comings and goings.

There was a campfire in the back yard Thursday night as people gathered for the weekend.  Good food and drink, and life stories to share.  Ten people crowded the breakfast table on Saturday morning and we heard more about the life of these 20 somethings:

Kelly has just returned from a year with YWAM in Bolivia and Brazil...what's next?
Stan finishes up law school in December and wonders, what's next.
Lindsay reported on life in Atlanta, working for DOW Chemicals.
Skates just got back from touring with a jazz band in Italy and France, and talked about the music he is making and writing.
James is hunting for the next job after interning and working with SoJourners in DC.
Kelsey is finishing up at Hope this year.
Charlie shared his engagement story, and about life on the farm in Virginia with Katie...and then?
Sonja helped us understand her work with Arabella and philanthropists and non-profit organizations.
And Caleb talked about The Table, the new church plant he works with in DC, and Williams wedding in Uganda.

This is an amazing group!  They are each so unique and gifted in such different ways, but they are united in heart and by the Spirit.  They are a Christ Community spread around the United States and at times the world.

These young people inspire me to greater things!  They witness to the wonderfully diverse ways God engages His people in the world.  They challenge me to embrace life in expectation that God has more in store.  They also give me the opportunity to be an Elizabeth in their lives.  Remember how Elizabeth, Mary's older cousin, was given to Mary to mentor and encourage her when the angel came along and told Mary she would carry the Christ child?  Mary needed someone to believe in her when no-one else would.  I believe in what God is doing in these young people!

Not much gives me more joy than loving, and encouraging, and being with young folks.
My heart Leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. PS28:7

Lord, I thank you for the witness of your presence, power and purposes in the lives of your servants young and old.  Expand our vision of what you are and will do in and through each one of us. So be it!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Doing Work

In the month of July we were blessed to have our grandchildren Diedrck and Annika stay with us for three and a half weeks.  At the same time we have been rehabbing a house we are renting out in mid-August, so there were some days that I tried to be there to work with Al while the kids were around.  A couple of days just Diedrick went to help Papa.  When there was a good project for an 8 year old it was fun to watch him do "real work."  He took down a section of fencing all by himself, primed an area in the house that would have been much harder for an adult size body to paint, removed old carpeting from the outdoor porch...real jobs.  As long as he had "real work" he was ready to help, however, when there wasn't anything constructive to do it was not long before it was time to move on.

It was obvious as I watched Diedrick, but it also seemed like a parable of life.  When we know that we are making a difference, are contributing, and have a purpose we have more energy, are motivated, and easier to get along with.

In a conversation with Kaan, the Cambodian young man I talked about in a previous blog, I asked him who had the best job of the people he knew.  He responded, "Charlie."  I asked why it was a great job and he said, "Because every night he can go home and know he has helped somebody."

Kaan wants a job with purpose.  One of the greatest challenges for those of us in midlife and early retirement is to wrestle with the question of, "What will give my life meaning?"  "Where will I find the joy of knowing I make a difference in the world?"  "What have I been created for at this season of my life?"

The statistics on depression, divorce and suicide in midlife as concerning...they all go up.  People are wrestling with their identity, their place in the world, family, church, community.  The world tells us we are becoming less important, but God tells us we are to be becoming more and more Christlike.

Statistics also tell us that as we age we will be healthier and happier if we live a life of meaning and purpose.  It is very easy to stay busy...but are we busy with the things God is calling us to do and be? Jesus said, "I have come that they might have life and have it abundantly!"  He didn't add, "until they are about 65, or 75 or...."  In order to experience "abundant life" we have to be living with all the meaning and purpose God has created us for.

What gives me joy is helping others discover the wonderful creation they are, by the grace of God, and helping them find their God given passion.

Lord, give us good work...real that impacts the kingdom and the world for the Glory of you, O Lord.  So be it!

Holly Skirt

Today I am wearing my "Holly Skirt."  For those who have known me a while you know this skirt.  It is a patchwork, ankle-length wrap-around...all bright colors that are beginning to fade with age.  The shape is a bit droopy, as well, but I love this skirt!  It reminds me of the velveteen rabbit.

Anyway, I wear my Holly Skirt and it reminds me of who I am, and some days that is what I need.  It tells me again that the Spirit inside me loves to dance in worship (though my tradition rarely does.)  It reminds me that my Father enjoys me, which is often easy to forget.  It speaks to me of my freedom in Christ to be all God has created me to be, even when it seems the world does not value what I offer.  I reminds me that my joy, my security, my worth is all wrapped up in something Other -worldly; it's wrapped up in identity that cannot be taken from me as a daughter of the king, a child of the Father, a servant of the most Holy.

One of the things I could really use today is a good dose of,"my girls" and we would sing and sign and worship through songs like Blessed be your Name, and Praise you in the Storm, and Strength Will Rise as You Wait upon the Lord, and maybe even Praise you with the Dance if we can remember the moves :)  "My girls" by the way is a group of now young women who, when they were in jr. and sr. high school, worked with me in Brandon, WI, and we put sign language to music, creating liturgical signing.

I need a splash of color, a swirl around my legs, a song, to lift me up and turn my eyes to my Creator.

Isaiah 43 tells us:  "Fear not, for I have redeemed you;  I have summoned you by name;  YOU ARE MINE."

Lord, for what have you redeemed me?  To what are you summoning me?  Help me to delight in my relationship with you.  I long to be your faithful daughter and servant until my life's end.
So be it!

By the way The Velveteen Rabbit is a children's story written by Marjorie Williams that talks about the process of becoming real by loving and being loved, even when it hurts.  A good read for all ages.