7 03 2010

suitcase filled with damp, smelly workout clothes

leftover bits from day of hope – a dirty work glove, pieces of paperwork

blown out dirty tire with fix-a-flat running out of it

This describes my trunk currently.

I, much like my tire, am a bit deflated.  I was oh so proud of myself this morning – planned ahead, got a work out in before I would be able to see my friend and help her, for a change.  (I mean, being able to help someone else instead of people helping me.) Then, on the way of home from being SOOOOO helpful (please hear the sarcasm dripping from my tone, here) my tire popped and I had a flat.  My friend, and her valiant young men had to wait with me until someone could come pick them up.  And thus, the rest of my day. 

Not so proud of myself now.  Not feeling helpful at all.  

There is something in me that feels deeply shamed when I have receive.  When things go wrong, I immediately feel a failure.  Because no one else gets a flat.  We were desperately trying to wait to have to go buy a tire until Friday when my husband gets paid – not that we could really afford it then. It’s the same tire an entire group of friends kept following us around while we found some place to fill it up.  Oh the embarrassment my husband and I felt.  Can’t handle our finances.  Things going wrong – more of a failure.  Only failures get flat tires. (I hear all of your protests now.)  These are things that go through my mind.  A failure because I still don’t contribute income to the family.  A failure for so many things.  These little things going wrong, they are just confirmations of all of the things that I fear, and deeply believe I deserve.  I am supposed to be perfect.  I am supposed to only help others, they are never supposed to help me.  I am not supposed to have needs.  These are all things that I have been chatting with the Lord about – the deep places of brokenness and shame that I still carry – from childhood, from myself, from the world.  I am actually convinced, in times like these, that a curse follows me from my family, and Matt and the boys wouldn’t have to deal with any of this I hadn’t brought it with me. 

So, these are things I chat with the Lord about.  The outward places of affirmation and encouragement I was gleaning from this morning – gone.  My head/pride/shell of a self deflated along with the tire – left back at the side of the road by my father-in-law’s golf course.  Me, sitting here, knowing that a lot of me needs a lot more than a fix-a-flat – my usual solutions.  I need a mighty Savior that never gives up on me, and never places shame and embarrassment on me, or my high and lofty expectations.  He created me.  He loves me unconditionally.  From HIM I can receive.


6 03 2010

Yesterday I was lying bed, waking up VERY slowly on a day I planned to do nothing…I looked up and was staring into space when I realized there was a ginormous spider web all the way across the top of one wall.  The son was hitting it just so.  I had not even seen it – and that tells you how long I go without pulling out the duster and getting up in those high places.  (Embarrassing!)  SO…I pulled out the trusty duster and I dusted, and then I couldn’t stop dusting.  I could see every web and bit of dust…and couldn’t believe I hadn’t been noticing them all before.  It’s not really my favorite job, dusting…I realized that I often fail to get out the duster and keep the cobwebs away with my heart and my mind.  Sad, but true.  I would much rather clean the floor, because people will notice it.  I would much rather be busy doing things outside the house, or just reading a book or hanging out with my family inside the house…than doing the simple, quiet, somewhat inconvenient work of going to those high corners and hard to get at places inside of me.  Once I started, though, I couldn’t stop – and it was easier to see everything with those new eyes.  Then I realized that if my house hadn’t already been clean, and my day quiet enough, I probably wouldn’t have had the time or the space to even go get the duster out.  I would have been noticing the clutter or the laundry that still wasn’t done.  My lessons for the day:  make space in my life to deal with the hard to get at stuff.  Once I start, it’s easy to see.  Maintain the disciplines (go Alli!) or else I won’t even be able to see it all in the first place.  When all else fails, find someone that really likes to get out the duster and help you find the cobwebs and stuff you need to deal with (like my son – who’s new favorite job is dusting – or my therapist friend – who is regularly sitting down with people to help them see their cobwebs.)

Gettin’ real

5 03 2010

Yesterday I was caught up in the irony of ‘being real’.  

What is being ‘real’?  Am I somehow being less real because I am writing about blueberries and tomatoes than Cristin’s deep moments of processing?  I began to really think about things around me, and most importantly myself, in terms of ‘what’s real’.  

In my life, I can rejoice with my Jesus about the amazing men my sons are becoming and have the BEST time hanging out with them.  I can also just be SO annoyed by them the same morning (or even, God forbid, feel embarrassed by them).  In my life, I can do spiritual battle on the phone, fighting back powers and principalities that aren’t of this world.  (really?)  I can decide in my head that I am really ok doing life without a husband.  I can have a conversation that fills me with compassion and insight and makes me miss my husband more than anything in the same day.  I can hear stories that are real about children praying for healing of a deaf ear – and it WORKING, and believe it instantly.  I can see my God face to face and hear His voice clearly and question whether He exists.  I can be utterly joy filled over ‘happy flowers’ (gerbera daises in bright yellow and pink) and just kind of ‘eh’ over holy moments with the people I love the most.  I can sit in church and worship with Trey, his hands raised and singing off key, and know that Jesus lives.  

I guess I just think it’s funny, you know, the things that I find ‘real’ these days.  I am who I am…and I like it.  

I was listening to a Tim Keller sermon on Moses’ prayer to see God’s glory…for about the 100th time.  I realized why God had it turn on for me in the car when he started talking about feeling ‘real’ – and knowing that you MATTER.  We can’t know that we are real, that we matter, without the presence of God in our lives, and His Glory being with us.  Without that, even with all the power and success and material blessing in the world, we still won’t find meaning in life – we still won’t know that we matter.  Without God’s glory in our lives – the only truly ‘real’ thing – we will look to other people for love and validation and other things for our identity, and feel ourselves and know…and we will never get from anyone or anything what we really need – which is very simply – HIM.  HIS GLORY. 

 So, I need to rest in Him.  I need to believe that HE is the only real thing in my life…everything else will leave me empty.  Sometimes I still struggle with that – but I rejoice because I see that He really has taught me through all the stuff that felt so ‘real’ these last three years that all I really have going for me is Him.  Without Him…with me, in me, walking beside me, Me in HIM…it will all be empty and oh so unreal.  

I rejoice, because I know that the oh so real parts of me are all of things above, and so much more…and I am one complex human being.  And He made me that way.  And He is all that matters.

Getting off the Treadmill

4 03 2010

 I stood outside my door this morning trying to capture a picture of the sky – and my camera just didn’t want to focus.  There was a not a cloud in the sky I was looking at…not even the wispy hint of a cloud you can see in this picture.  Then I realized this picture is probably a better representation of my life – yesterday and today, anyway – than I originally anticipated. 

 The sky’s the limit.  Clichés like this get thrown at you as you are growing up – you can do anything – the sky is the limit.  With Jesus, there is no limit to the blessings and the freedom He wants to give you.   As I looked at the sky though, it’s empty pale blueness didn’t seem full of promise, it just seemed empty.

As I sit in this time of my life, I realized that I don’t feel the promise, I just see the emptiness.  I transition out of a year-out in ministry, convinced that I love finding ways to grow people in Jesus and take the church outside it’s wall, but also very aware that I have no idea how God wants to use me.  I end this year with no more clarity about my future, or what I am supposed to be doing.  What is my purpose, Lord?  Will there ever be a job – a career – for me? 

 When my husband and I got together we used to discuss how I wanted to travel the world and work and study abroad – and Matt always was gracious in promising to work it out for me.  Yet, he is the one with the career and lots of future promise, and a great purpose – and world travel!  As I leave for D.C., I can already feel the bittersweet emotion that fills me up…hints of regret and wondering, a heart that beats faster just at the thought of walking down Constitution Avenue.  There is a reality of knowing you were created for a place, or a way of life, and knowing that you can taste it but will not be able to stay and eat your own serving of it, at least not for now.

I was discussing with a friend yesterday the idea of resting in the Lord, and really trusting in my identity in Him – trust Him – His ways, His purposes for my life, His power and sovereignty, His goodness.  Once you can do that, it is such a place of deep rest, peace, and faith…you finally get off the never-ending treadmill we all run on to try and justify our existence to each other.  We say things like the recovering ex-convict maintenance person at church is equally as valued and important to the church and to God as our pastor is – but nothing, nothing in the world actually affirms that.  The only way that our maintenance girl will ever believe that TRUTH is if she is able to hear the whispers of God to her heart.  Certainly, she will never get off the treadmill of striving and searching for justification if she is looking for the world, even the world in the church, to affirm her value in the same way we do our leaders.  

The only way she will ever leave the treadmill and begin to trust and believe is if she can hear the quiet whispers of God in her heart.

Can I hear those gentle whispers of God speaking truth to my heart, wooing me to leave the treadmill of self-justification and worldly value?  Sometimes yes, sometimes no.  

I can feel myself walking back toward the treadmill…I need help staying off of it.  Sometimes, even though life on the path of God, outside of the hectic buzz of the gym, is so much more fun and fulfilling, it just seems easier on the treadmill.  I am terrible at pacing myself and finding a steady rhythm on my own, and the treadmill does all of the work for me so I never have to learn.  Instead of having to judge distances on my own and just feeling good about my time running, I love the treadmill’s constant reassurance of my distance and progress. 

 Isn’t it like that with my life?  I love the affirmations of the world, judging myself against the easily seen and explained markers the world sets up for success, progress, growth, beauty.  It’s easier to judge myself against shallow, ungodly people and things, and find some justification for my existence there…than exist in the freedom and sovereignty of a God that cannot be easily explained to the world that doesn’t know Him. 

People from rain-soaked, cloudy places (in life and in geography) might look at the cloudless blue sky I saw this morning and see hope, promise, and Son.  When I looked at it this morning, I saw nothing – a blank slate…a lack of anything new.  I know there is promise there.  I am grateful for the Son, and warm weather, and for where God has placed me.  I believe in the goodness of my God, His sovereignty and His plan. 

The sky’s not the limit – You are limitless.  I believe, Lord.  Help me not to doubt.

16 11 2009

      His hands are his words. by Box of Light

        From ‘Box of Light’ (Flikr)

John 20:24

 24Now(AK) Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin,[c] was not with them when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them,(AL) “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”  26Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them.(AM) Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27Then he said to Thomas, (AN) “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28Thomas answered him,(AO) “My Lord and my God!” 29Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me?(AP) Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

This morning I am excited, anxious, and hopeful.  I have applied for my ‘dream job’; or at least the job that would be perfect for this phase of my life.  I would be able to help make a difference in the world, literally.  I would be able to do so on a schedule that would work with my most important job, raising my children.  The job combines my dreams and skills and education and heart in incredible ways.  It gets me excited just thinking about it.  It’s almost too much to hope for.  I don’t want to get my hopes up, only to have them crushed by reality.  I don’t want to believe that there is good future that matches my dreams and desires, because I don’t want to be disappointed like I am secretly certain I will be. 

I wonder, was this what Thomas was feeling?  He knew Jesus, and he must have been crushed when Jesus was crucified on the cross.  All of his hopes and dreams had been tied up in that man Jesus, and then he was gone.  Nothing had changed for Jerusalem, or for the Jews.  All that he had worked for and hoped for was suddenly gone.  Did he go into hiding, at least in his soul?  Did he choose to believe that Jesus was good while he lasted, but was secretly certain that nothing would ever come of it in reality?  Did he begin to wonder if it had all been worth it? 

Of course, Thomas was not there when Jesus first reappeared, and so he doubted.  He told everyone he would refuse to believe until he saw it.  How often do we say to ourselves “I’ll believe it when I see it.”  It’s our cynicism talking.  It’s our dreams squashed, the residue of hopes dashed and scars from dreams that never came true leaking out of the deep places in our soul.

Thomas was often criticized for his doubt…I can hear the words “doubting Thomas” with condescension and criticism dripping from its tone.  Me, I think he was just normal.  He was human.  He was sad and discouraged, and couldn’t see a way that the future he had hoped so earnestly in could possibly come to pass.  His doubt resonates with me today. 

It’s easy to stop hoping.  It’s easy to get caught up in what looks like reality, and be too scared to start believing in all the things our God has promised us.  Sometimes, we just need to see it to believe.  And yet…

Jesus reminds us that it’s easy to believe when we see…the real blessing comes when we believe, even when we can’t see it and touch it.  It’s called faith.  When we believe, when we trust, even when it defies all reality and sense as we know it…the real blessing and peace and trust really begins to flow into the deep parts of our soul.

Hope is a choice.  Believing is a choice.  Faith is a choice.  Today, I will choose to believe that my God is my savior, and He has only my good in mind.  Regardless of how things look ‘in reality’, my God has my back.  Whether or not I get my dream job, I am choosing today to believe that God has a future for me that is for my good. 

Today, I will choose to hope and dream and trust…and maybe someday Thomas and I can sit together and chat about how it felt to touch His nail scarred hands here on earth.


The Rock

13 11 2009

Stability by Bean*


Photo by Nigel Burmester

A dear friend took this photo.  It spoke to me so deeply.  Just the title says it all. 

Water swirls and foams around the rock, creating dips and peaks, light and dark all around it.  The rock, though, it sits regally in the center of it all.  The water wouldn’t look as beautiful if the rock weren’t it’s midst – it would be flat and uninteresting.  While the water around it tries with all it’s might to make the rock move out of it’s way so that it can have a straight path to where it wants to go, instead the rock stands firm, and cannot be moved.  It is a picture of stability.  It is a picture of beauty.  It is a picture of God.

Life so often seems like this.  The world and all of it’s circumstances, troubles, victories, and movement tries and tries to move us, to change us.  The things of life swirl around us and try to make us change or move out of the way.

We have a God, though, that is immovable.  Our God, the Rock. 

Proverbs 10:25When the storm is over, there’s nothing left of the wicked; good people, firm on their rock foundation, aren’t even fazed.  God is my rock foundation.  If I can stand firm on Him, all the swirling and violence of the world around me won’t move me.  The world won’t get the best of me because my God is the Rock of my salvation.

Isaiah 44:5-7:  “Have you ever come across a God, a real God, other than me? There’s no Rock like me that I know of.”
There is no other God like my God.  There is no other Rock that I can trust and rely on.

(lost the scripture reference): “I waited and waited and waited for God. At last he looked; finally he listened. He lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me from deep mud. He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn’t slip.”  Every day, if we let Him, God will lift us up onto a solid Rock – Himself – and we will be safe from the tumultuous stuff of the world. 

Psalm 62:1: ” God, the one and only— I’ll wait as long as he says. Everything I need comes from him, so why not? He’s solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul, An impregnable castle: I’m set for life.”  THIS is the truth that I need to memorize and write upon my heart.  I am set for life, because my God is my Rock and my Salvation.  I need to be willing, and happy, about waiting as long as He says.  UGH.  Why does the word WAIT keeping showing up?

Look at the picture one more time.  STABILITY.  Trustworthiness.  Love.  Faithfulness.  A Solid Rock.  There is no other like Him.  The swirling and tumult of the world can try to move Him, but He is immovable. 

“Come, let’s shout praises to God, raise the roof for the Rock who saved us!”  Psalm 95:1

Hello World!

13 11 2009

From Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon:

3175 yachiyl yaw-kheel’ from 3176; expectant:–should hope.

3176 yachal yaw-chal’ a primitive root; to wait; by implication, to be patient, hope:–(cause to, have, make to) hope, be pained, stay, tarry, trust, wait.

Let me introduce myself.  My name is Susan and this blog is an act of obedience; the process of coming to terms with who I really am and being brave enough to let the world see all of me.

I am a wife, mother, friend, elected official, daughter, passionate follower of Jesus, world politics addict, deep thinker,  food addict, marathon runner (in the fine tradition of ‘Run Fat Boy Run’), speaker, writer, conservative democrat liberal republican always making people mad, outspoken and timid, attorney, teacher, all around parodoxical crazy person.

I have chosen the name Yawkheel because I am expectant.   This word expectant also means to wait and by implication, to be patient and hope. I should hope – we all should hope.  Hope in our future, hope in love, hope in GOD.  My life these last few years has been a process of waiting.  Sometimes I am patient, sometimes I am not.  Sometimes I can hope – have faith in the things I cannot see, and trust that the God I know has a good future for me, and that He will cause the dreams and desires He has placed within my heart to come to pass.  Most days, I can trust that God will make a way where there seems no way.  However, it says right there in Strong’s lexicon that this same expectation and hope can cause pain.  Expectation requires trust and the strength to tarry (intentionally WAIT)… Always I am full of expectation and hope…often, I am not trusting and do not have the strength to wait patiently. 

The word expectant – Yawkheel – is complex and carries with it a wide variety of emotions and perspectives.  The things you will find in this blog will be equally varied and eclectic, just like me. 

 Thanks for joining me on this journey.  May we all learn more about ourselves and the great Emmanuel, God with Us.