Tuesday, February 16, 2016

not just monday



A beautiful thing happens behind the walls of 87 Church Avenue every second Monday.

Smiling, giggling girls play with hula hoops, soccer balls fly through the air, adults sit around a table eating popcorn, drinking sugar-laden tea and laughing as another tells us Namaste is the Nepali word for "Happy Birthday". Communication is not always smooth, stories take longer to tell and strange looks on puzzled faces are the norm. There is always laughter.  Most nights there is homework being done, stories told, games played and English language instruction.  We are from all over the world.  We all come for refuge, finding it with each other in this church building. We are a mishmash of community, a mosaic of different language, skin colour, faith, and tradition.  The things we hold in common create more unity than those things that would separate us. We are family and this building our kitchen table.

Recently we have had the chance to see so much more happen here than we could have imagined. No longer just a Monday place to congregate, now a different story unfolds. We hold the doors open while generous folks bring gently used belongings to share with those who are looking to begin life over. Those who've come from a conflict that feels worlds away have become a part of us; our own. People with names and kind faces, with outstretched, thankful arms, grateful for the little we can offer.  This a beautiful dance of giving and receiving.  We have the privilege to bear witness as this story plays out and blends with our own.  A kind of happy ending and renewal that can only come from the closure of one story and the beginning of a new one.

The world is showing up.  We welcome them in.  Our door is always open.

   السلام عليكم
As-salaam'alaykum
Peace be upon you
 


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Life



I wonder if you remember me.

I've been present in every instance of your life.  I was with you when you took your first breath; your eyes bright, your life spread out before you.

I delight in you.  I love seeing your face, hearing your voice, watching you grow.  I know every little thing about you.  What takes your breath away, what makes you angry, what you're really afraid of and how many times you've given up only to begin again.  There is no mystery in you that I cannot solve.

You have a knack for going from one thing to the next, waiting for your life to start.  You want desperately to truly live and you seek so much of who you are in places where you'll never find it. Those places leave you with a dismal contentment that comes and goes with the setting of the sun. I've cried with you in the darkest moments of your life, sat with you when you felt like you couldn't bear to take another step, when you thought you'd come to the end of yourself and there was nothing left.  I was there when you didn't see me or want me or could even sense I was there.

Do you how much I love you?  I wish you could understand just how much of you is tied to me.  I AM your life.  I don't want a picture perfect replica of you.  I want your mistakes, your embarrassing moments, your compulsions, your weaknesses, your secrets.  I see them all.  I want all that is misshapen in you, everything you hide behind, try to satisfy or fix.  I'm not turned off by you and I don't hold any of it against you.  There is nothing you could say or do that could ever change the way I feel towards you.  You are a treasure of immeasurable worth.

Give me your days.  I want all of them.  I will restore you.  I will never leave you or forsake you.  I make all things beautiful.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

needed things


And he is six and he walks into the kitchen, all tousled hair, sleepy eyes, and sweetness.  And we tell him. His face is so small and dear, so tiny and he doesn't understand the depth of our words.  In that moment I am 11 and instantly have wisdom beyond my years because of that look of innocence and because I know a little more than he.

And he is thirteen and he is confused, growing and lonely.  I'm driving us down the road and I'm singing a song of love for a God Who is beginning to fill in my blank and wrecked spaces.  He is dozing beside me, mumbling that I am a good singer, that he likes the song.  Yet I cannot be the arms that hold him because my own grief wells inside of me, by times, that I fear it may consume me.  He is still so small and young and yet he knows too much and has felt too much.  I feel I am his protector and I am not able to fix this.  I cannot be what he needs and there is an ache that I shouldn't know and I do and because of it I feel I am undone.

And he is sixteen and he is angry and hurt.  He hurls insults and I stand between he and the one who has caused the deeper wound.  I stand in the middle.  He is misunderstood and confused.  Trying to see beyond this thing that has grown to be insurmountable.  This thing that has shaped and will form his hard edges and the lines of his grief.  He is helpless against it.  I hide in a quiet place and pray for peace to settle into this house where I no longer live.  I too want to be free of these things and I'm beginning to stand taller in my brokenness as my God becomes my strength.  

And he is thirty something.  Driving in grief to be by the bed of one who has poured life into him, given him her soft, warm hugs, her encouragement and her heart.  She, who is an answer to prayer, walked in the shoes of someone taken too soon.  She did it willingly and lovingly.  Her kind influence on the sweet six year old boy.  How his heart breaks as he makes his way to be with her; to hug her, to tell her what she means to him.  Arms that embraced, words that encouraged and with a heart full and outpouring for children that were not her own.  She could give him more than I could, the child I was myself.  She walked into his heart and patched a little bit of the wounded bits, the needed things.


"You took over and set everything right;
    when I needed you, you were there, taking charge."
Psalm 9:4

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

pull


I've been taken in by Love.  My hopes, dreams, and desires are shifting.  Ambitions, or lack thereof,  cast a different shadow.  Less about the person holding onto the desire and more about the One who has set it in place.  Being washed in renewal of purpose and mind.  I am better version of myself.  A constant work in progress, rough edges smoothing, harsh tones coloring into softer ones, and "mine" becoming His.  The framework of my entire life is up for grabs.  Some things working faster than others.   

Truthfully, growing is painful.  Not everything is magical and easy to release to His care and touch.  I am stubborn with certain aspects of the shift.  Can I really trust the goodness of this One I claim to love?  I have a whole history of this mystifying dance with the Lover of my soul, of deep renewal, tiny baby steps of faith when I was so unsure of my footing.  I find it laughable that I can be hesitant to relinquish those things that have kept me listless, unable to move because of sheer stupid fear and pride.  That's what it always seems to come down to.  The heart will hold onto security to pass on opportunities to be free. 

God does not force an unwilling heart.  He is patient, seeing that harder lessons require more time, a different angle, a repeat performance or wisdom from the heart of someone else who has been where I stand.  He is magnificently beautiful to me and I fight against my own lack of trust in Him.  He has proven time and time again that He works outside the narrow parameters of my belief and is not contained by a lack of faith.  I'm thankful He tenderly woos me to move past the things I cannot fully comprehend in order to see the larger picture.  Where I have a shortfall of faith there is the perfect opportunity for Him to wow me.  His loving manner of working things out in stunning ways.

   

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

grasp



We live in a fairy world where we think everything should come easily, where things stay calm, no ripples on the water, no contest we can't win, nothing we can put our hand to that doesn't turn out just right.  But this is not the truth of where we stand.  This world is hard.  Relationships are messy.  People grow old and weary or sick.  It infects each one of us.  Nothing we do can protect us from the wear of this earth. 

Yet there is such beauty in this place; love and laughter, kindness and hope, joy and excitement. But I cannot have one without the other and so I dance between the two. Sometimes the steps falling into place, one emotion closely behind the other. Other times the separation of the two so vast I cannot see their connection. It's delightful and ugly in the same instance.  I carry the promise of new life in a body that daily is wearing down, the beauty of God working through the brokenness of me.

All of this is for the good.  He is beautifully confusing yet other times completely within my grasp.  A puzzle that unfolds and becomes clearer the deeper I trust, the longer I hold on, as I march through the mountains and valleys. He is a God who is actively transforming, reshaping, redeeming, refreshing, restoring. 


Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. 
You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. 
So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. 
Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, 
not deficient in any way.
James 1:2-4


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

rewritten ~ part two



I'm clinging to Your promise.  

i won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you

This can feel like walking on a beach of sharp rocks in thin sandals, every hard edge is felt underfoot.  A burden deeply rooted into who I think I am- the story I told myself to make it through.  A story full of exaggerated circumstances and victim armour I now find hard to discard.  Lies caught up in a reflex of survival, but that have no leg to stand on. The old life fortifications are being dismantled and I find there's a part of me that's fighting against it. Foolishly.  I've been duped by my own mind's eye.  What I always thought was the truth about myself was a pale shadow of the Wisdom of real, honest to goodness Truth.

you'll learn to live freely and lightly

About so much more than physical hunger, I am learning how to cope without reaching for a tangible, home-cooked, sugary something.  I'm learning to sit in my own discomfort, insecurity, doubt and weakness.  I'm looking for Him in the difficulty of just navigating a normal, mundane day. Allowing Him to rewrite my life of chaos and confusion.  Cultivating a life that thrives as I move further away from what was and step into what is.  I am an after picture of my life.  Not what I'm aspiring to reach but something that He is clearly showing me is evident now.  My outside appearance not a true reflection of the inward working but slowly becoming so.  Written on my face if nowhere else.   

learn the unforced rhythms of grace

Old habits die hard and I am so very stubborn.  I do tend to cling to comfort.  That comfort, in the end, has left me listless, hard of hearing, defensive and weak.  The running has slowed.  More like a saunter or stumble toward newness.  Smaller, lighter, freer steps. I'll be skipping in no time but for now I'm learning to be content with a slower, more intentional pace.  Some steps more calculated than others.  And in the end, His story will be the one that I tell.  My life an example of how His love can rewrite any story.   







Words in italics are taken from Matthew 11:28-30

Friday, May 16, 2014

"little" part one


The heart of an eleven year old girl still beats in an adult.  Somewhere.  She's alone.  Lonely.  She feeds her to keep her quiet when her crying gets too loud.  Her heart is broken and she can't find her way to fix it again.  She thinks if she could just keep everyone around her happy, the pain will dull somewhat.  Truth is, she only loses more of herself when she edits her character and her opinion to keep life at an even keel for everyone else.  She is tired of holding up her world, while time marches on and the wound gets deeper.  Her heart is tender but she makes allowances for those whose ways are a little harder than hers.  She keeps quiet because it matters more how she appears than what comes from her heart and mind.  She loves even more to be helpful with a smart idea if the moment presents itself.  She'll replay the conversation over and over when she is the hero and does the same when she's appeared foolish.  Only it's not pleasant and tends to wear her out.

She is tired of being an adult at 15.  She knows too much of life and not enough of play.  She spends her days taking care of her little brother, making sure he's eating and that his clothes are clean.  If she can keep the house tidy her father will be pleased with her.

Her little heart longs to be comforted.  She weeps at night for her mother, so certain if she could just feel her arms around her that things would be okay and life would make sense again.  This new way of living is confusing and unsafe.  She carries a heaviness in her heart or a dull ache that won't subside.  Her bedroom is her quiet place.  A sacred place where she can control the environment.  In her room she can be quiet and think.  She can pretend she's a normal girl with a normal life and normal concerns.   

This way of living has worn her down to a thread.  She fills the emptiness in her heart with food.  Food is not fuel for her body but band aids for her wound.  For awhile it takes the feelings away and she can deal.  So she thinks.  The trouble is she's needing more and more these days to numb that feeling and to shush the 11 year old her.  She wants desperately to stop but the hunger is there.  A fixation on filling herself beyond satiety, it's hard to stop when the shut off valve is stuck in the "fill" position.

The adult she has become knows that she can't keep living this way.  The little girl keeps throwing the adult off.  She's tried to keep her quiet for so long and now it's grown too difficult.  This ache has been a familiar companion for too many years.  For some reason a bad thing, because it's familiar, can be "comforting".    She tries to delve into this area of her heart, the part of her she's been ignoring and filling all at once.  She's been journeying, wanting to figure out the riddle of her life.  Something in her wants to be loosed.  A long process of peeling back layers, an unfolding she runs headlong into at times and other times runs the other way from.

These days she is running at breakneck speed.  Forward.  Done with the old, ready for the new.