Beauties

It’s hard to imagine isn’t it?

Hard to imagine that anyone could miss it…

When we look at these girls, we cannot help but see their beauty, their potential, notice the way the room lights up when they enter.

Somehow though, living in a world that tells them otherwise, sometimes they forget.

It’s hard to fathom I know.

We took the weekend to remind them that they are:

Created.

Chosen.

Celebrated.

Cherished.

How about you?

When you have a week like I had this last week.

When the marriage is thread-bare and listless.

When you feel like the worst parent to have ever walked earth.

When you feel like you couldn’t possibly fail at anything else.

Will you remember that you can relax a little?

Trust that even when you feel overwhelmed, exhausted and inadequate, the One who lives in you is Greater?

Last week I forgot. It took telling someone else of this truth to remind myself and today when I opened my mail box there was a beautiful gift to remind me everyday.

THANKS (in)courage! I needed that.

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Country Chronicles: Incongruencies

There is something weird about me. Birds, when they get too close make me nervous. Birds, at a distance, are also some of the most beautiful things in the world. When a bird suddenly flies up while I am walking I jump and get really nervous. When  I see a bird of prey through my car window I am liable to pull over and watch for extended periods. I don’t get it either.

I blame the giant rooster from my childhood who survived the coyote attack that killed the rest of the chickens. He got some sort of post trauma injury and would attack us if we went in; even if you didn’t go in he would stare at you with eyes that I’m pretty sure glowed red and that would bore through to your soul if you stood outside the coop too long. Terrifying.

In any event, because of this jumpiness people might be surprised to learn that I’m becoming quite an ornithologist. The favorite things I’ve seen this week is the mating pair of mallard ducks that have moved into our little pond. I’ve made up whole stories about why they’ve moved to the country to get away from it all. The two of them sat quietly down there all week, every time I would drive in they would be sitting side by side watching the world go by. I’ve also been a little jealous that Joel and the kids spotted an owl of some sort the other day. We’ve narrowed it down to a Great Gray or an adolescent Snowy Owl. Yellow eyes and lack of tufts narrow it down to those. Our little bird feeder has become a favorite spot for all sorts of song birds and I chased away a woodpecker from my deck this week too.

This week we’ve also watched the land erupt with all kinds of kids, all over this place. Thursday night we seriously enjoyed hosting several care groups and once again realized how hard it is to be a teenager. Especially a teenager with disability. I watched a group of four girls talk about their experiences with a boy at school and the hostility he treats them with, the mock attention he gives, their perception is so skewed. It makes me want to stand up and shout at someone. Instead we invite them here. We try to live out family life well in front of them. Loving our children first even in the midst of all the chaos that is happening around us…could this be the first time they’ve seen a functional family? Could we light a small fire that they could warm themselves beside? Could that carry them through the week ahead? We hope so and as we watch care group leaders full of grace and patience I’m almost sure of it. Last night Joel spoke at church and about half way through the evening my throat stopped up as I saw afresh the passion with which he speaks of his call to the oppressed youth of our community.

I’m a little scared of marginalized teenagers to be honest. Its different from birds though…teenagers are much more beautiful face to face, one on one, if you dare get close enough.

Story Tellers

Jesus didn’t say very often “thou shalt not” but he said an awful lot of “there was a man” and he told story and people listened well.

And last night we listened well too…

Bea is 87. She throws her head back when she laughs and she talks about peace making and raising babies while her husband was at war. She paints pictures and the donates them to our youth group and by the end of the night she says “don’t worry about my name, you can just call me grandma if you want to”. And I say “this is a woman who knows how to pray” and the girls write their names because who could pass the opportunity to add your name to a list like that?

Teena has been married for thirty years and she talks about how her story started. Her voice is lyrical and her eyes dance and none of us can look away. I wish she could just keep talking. I wish I could sit and hear her story from start to finish and  in that I could hear, how it is, that one walks with passion and joy even in the mundane and sad. She knows.

The girls tell their stories and they are wise too and we learn from them and we remember how hard it is to be a teenager and how brave and courageous they are for living for Jesus even now.

I listen to the next table over and Fay and Janice speak gentle and loving and their voices lilt to me and calm me from here. Their eyes are both soft as they listen intent and they cover over all the words with love and they tuck their words in around the edges with moments of laughter. I watch them exchange prayer requests and emails and none of this is planned. They join hands around the table and they hold each other up and I know that this will be a sign post night for the girls gathered at table two.

I hear great questions from table three. Bonnie, Kendra, Rachel and Ashley sprinkle over the answers with wise and they shake their story over the top. The stories all weave together and we are one Body here and Great Story teller is making this body dance.

So where are you telling your story? If you aren’t, you must. There is something about standing back from your life and holding it at arm’s length that helps you to see the truth of it. Helps you to see Gods fingers in it. Sometimes you don’t even know the theme of your story until you say it out loud. Sometimes the miracle of a God led life drizzles off and settles in a puddle if you aren’t sharing it.

Thanks for letting me tell my story here…I look forward to hearing yours. And shyly…cautiously…I ask that I be able to start telling my stories more broadly? Maybe,  just maybe God could use this girl to share His stories with more women? More girls? I don’t know…but if he should. I’d be willing. I am applying for a scholarship to “She Speaks” … A conference all about women telling their stories to build the kingdom of Jesus.

She Speaks Conference