Somewhere towards the end of the second week I emailed my friend, “Why did I decide to do this? I’m crazy and have no ideas or inspiration!” And just like a friend that you chose, the ones that will be honest with you and not say the things you want to hear, she wrote back, “because you like to write and like challenges.” Really? I have obviously given her the wrong impression because I was done. But I said I’d do it and, well, even internet obligations are obligations so it became that.
I continued writing a post every day in October for the write31days challenge The Nester has put out to bloggers the past 6 years. Was I inexperienced and naïve? Over confident? Out of my mind? I’ve learned a few things about this along the way but more on that tomorrow.
I joined the Facebook group, 31 dayers, and found it to be an active group with plenty of sharing and encouragement. This group was filled with more goodness than I could absorb so I’ll be delving in after the challenge ends.
My schedule got away from me and then a computer issue but I kept on. At that moment, when all was catching up to me leaving me feeling empty of words to share, grace came.
“I want you to know I’m ok with not following through on a post every day this October. Forced art isn’t art at all.” Myquillin Smith, The Nester
And I took a break. I didn’t force the words and spent time away from the computer. I picked up needle and thread again because it gives me a kind of rest that’s hard to explain. I inked a drawing I’ll give my aunt and let my mind accept the grace offered.
Grace people are the ones who accept your limitations, your perfect imperfections. I surrounded myself with our community of grace people. These men in various stages of recovery hosted a costume party for the local church kids because grace gives to others without expecting anything in return. We received plenty in return as we got smiles and laughter and kids who didn’t want to go home at the end of the night.
Grace people give and accept. They love first and ask questions later. They take their cues from Jesus whose grace is what saves. The only grace that can cover our sins and promise an everlasting life of peace with Him.
Boots. Everywhere boots. And scarves. I expected the scarves. They’re a thing. But the boots, yeah, surprise. I didn’t get the memo on that one and my Chuck’s, well, just yeah.
Did I mention all I saw were the youngER faces and the long earrings? That whole birds of a feather and like attracts like thing had me feeling like my flock was flying in another place. Why did I think I could come to this?
Honest first thoughts. That’s me in new places. The whole new girl flashbacks from changing schools 13 times came flooding back as I felt lost and out-of-place. But then….
I was waiting with a few women for the doors to open Thursday night. Everyone seemed to have at least one friend with me. Except me. It’s up to me I decided so I talked first. And then she talked and then another and that’s how it happens y’all. You just start. Here’s the really crazy part, as we exchanged the basics and she asked what I did and I said I was with the Salvation Army SHE KNEW WE ARE A CHURCH! That’s big. Really big because even at all the faith-based conferences I’ve attended that may have only happened once. Or not at all I’m not really sure because I’ve been to a lot. Her response to me was “Oh, my husband was with that church. It’s the church he grew up in.” WHAT? Bless her.
But Wait…..there’s more
The thing at Allume is you don’t sit at the same table with the same people at meals and being alone and all that was good with me. So here I am at the table doing that talking thing again when another said, “And what do you do?” And (you see it coming don’t you) she said, “I LOVE the Salvation Army” and turns out we know some of the same people and she’s with Christian Leadership Alliance who I appreciate and have attended their conferences. And we both love Haiti and Jesus and that was really the thing here. We love Jesus and people. His people who are all people.
This little lady with a huge heart and smile took the stage and Logan just made my heart smile with hers and somewhere in the boots and scarves I was welcomed and knew I belonged. Here. Among the young mommies and sales reps and retired women and photographers and the ones still trying to figure it out (aren’t we all?) I felt welcome in the kind of way that says you belong. Right here. Right now.
There have been many introductions over the years. Living away from family has meant the introductions are often followed by the words “we’re just visiting”. The stay will have time restrictions. We won’t stay. Much as we’d like to move down the street from my cousin or sister or son and daughter, that hasn’t been our life. So we visit a few days at a time. Not wanting to outstay our welcome. Life is different when not spent together.
Our visits have taken us from one end of this country to the other and we’ve enjoyed the diverse terrains and accents. The colloquialisms and try’s no to remember if they say soda or pop in Arkansas and where is it they don’t serve sweet tea?
When we’re on the receiving end of the visits we get to do the touristy things we wouldn’t ordinarily do like take family to Elvis’ Graceland in Memphis or a ride up New River on the Jungle Queen in Ft. Lauderdale. We explore and show off a bit too. The restaurant featured on Drive-in’s, Diners and Dives. The beaches made famous in the movies of the 60’s.
We’ve been the guide and the guided. We’ve planned and gone along with the plans of others. We’ve revisited some places and marked others off the list. It’s all temporary. Visits don’t last, even the very best of ones.
It was the granddaughters 7th birthday party weekend. More Barbies have come to live with her and while her mommy and I were at the Paul McCartney concert she wrangled her Baba into several hours and multiple weddings for Ken and Barbie. As we shared our goodbye hugs this morning her face fell as she asked why we had to leave. Oh, how I know my little one. I’m weary of the visits and I just want to stay.
My thoughts turn quickly to mama knowing every visit there in recent years have evoked the same feeling of wanting to stay just a little longer.
My worries for her are soothed when I know the day is coming when her visit here will end and her stay will be one of eternal peace and healing with Jesus himself.
All of us can look forward to that time. All of those calling him Lord, Savior will find rest that comes with staying. A visitor no longer.
A full day, perhaps even overflowing with meals around the table, goody bags ready for the party, and the finale a mother-daughter night to see Paul McCartney. Enjoy? So much more than that.
No matter how many double-dogs or tipple-dogs you put in front of dare, they’re still words. Just words, until they provoke action.
Dares never scared me. I wouldn’t be tricked into such careless or risky behavior. I was the good girl minding the rules and not risking disappointment of a teacher or of just looking stupid. No, I’d take the sting, and fun, right out of those words “I dare you!”
Until I dared myself to risk my comfort and push beyond my safe circles to attend this conference where I’d know no one. I’d be the new girl again and Lord knows this has never been my desired role. All of the old anxieties return noticing all the ways I don’t fit and blind to the ways I do.
I made it through the opening session and will start a full day soon, fears still close at hand wondering why I took this dare. I’m not exactly sure, at this moment, but I think it had something to do with growing and learning. I could have taken another on-line class. I could have continued hiding behind my gravatar or Twitter name. I like the safety of both where the risk is limited to words on a screen and I sound more confident than I am. But for some reason I took this self dare. I’ll let you you know how it turns out. 😉
Linking up with Kate Montaug for Five-minute Friday.
The little voice calls out from an unseen position, “Look behind the door”. Of course daddy knew he was there all along. Another game of hide-and-seek where daddy was trying to give my little brother a chance but the excitement of being found was too much for him.
It seems kids are calling out to “LOOK!” and “watch me” and generally looking for our attention.
From my brother to our son to our granddaughter I can recall three generations of little ones wanting to be seen. Of their giggles giving away their hiding place. Of the little toes peeking out behind the drapes she’d covered herself with.
What we want but only being known by God can fill that longing. Only his Love completely satisfies.
Somewhere between optimism and pessimism is reality. Reality can look like pessimism to some but it is not. Reality tries to keep expectations, well, real. Not too high so as to be crushed by disappointment but not so low as to be considered pessimistic. That middle ground is where I firmly stand. It feels safe and safe is important. To me.
Faith, however, is not safe. Safe faith has few expectations. I know because I’ve chosen safe over more.
I’m looking ahead at the next few days where I don’t know what to expect. It feels like plunging into the deep to me as I head to a conference unknowing a soul there and not being the most outgoing person at new things. The chatter is coming from women much younger and they’re talking about sharing rooms and all the fun that will be and I am absolutely not sharing a room. I appreciate being at a time in my life where I know I need the personal space and quiet.
I’m heading out on the road alone, something I haven’t done in a few years. I expect it will be fine. But that is the limit to my expectations. Until I leave there to head to the granddaughter’s birthday party where I expect to see smiles and hear the laughter of a gaggle of little girls. There will be running and hugging and tissue paper being thrown out of gift bags one after the other. Expectations gleaned from previous birthday celebrations.
Experience can bring certain expectations but new things? New places, events, situations, bring reserve to this realist. They stifle my anticipation as I strive for inner calm and I wonder what I miss staying safe.
In 1978 Avis took a bold approach in their advertising campaign when they admitted they were #2. Second to Hertz. In their admission they made the claim, “When You’re No. 2 You Try Harder”.
That ad campaign worked for Avis but most of us don’t like coming in second. We want our teams to make the playoffs every year. Technology has us waiting in lines for “the next best thing”. Stocks rise and fall on who’s in first place, not second.
When it comes to products, second is often better than the first. As two smart men in my life have said, never get the first model. Wait for the second so the bugs can be worked out. The first is a prototype, the second is better. Not a good advertising campaign, however.
“Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. 4 Don’t just think about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and in what they are doing.” Philippians 2:3-4 Living Bible
Jesus’ life showed us about living second. Though he was the Son of God, he lived as a servant, humbling himself by washing the feet of his disciples, sharing a meal with dishonest people, speaking to a woman caught living in adultery. This is grace, the same grace he gives to us.
A few years ago someone shared a video with me from a group called I am Second. Their purpose is to share the stories of people, some famous, some like me and you, who are claiming their second place as they put Jesus first. That’s our rightful place, second. We don’t have to try harder. We don’t have to try at all. That’s what grace is all about. It accepts the broken people we are. I am Second.
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I’ve scrapped two drafts on this word, fear. There is nothing better I can say than what God’s word says. Besides, it’s Monday and you don’t need a long post to muddle through. Just this truth:
[ To Love, to Be Loved ] God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. 1 John 4:18 the Message
P.S. I just ran across this article on A Deeper Story that sums up our human fears in words that have me whispering a quiet yes, over and over.
This quote from Socrates was written long before social media, the optimum place to put our best persona forward. I try to keep my whining at a minimum on Facebook and no angry tirades unless my sports team has let me down and we’re in the season for that to happen regularly.
Those of you who know me from this blog or Instagram or Twitter or Facebook, yeah, you’re seeing the best me. The one I want you to believe I am all the time.
You’re seeing the fresh hair cut photo, professionally styled. You’re seeing the fully awake, happy , laughing, smiling me. I may share my sorrows and hurts but I’ll do my best to find a pretty bow to put on it at the end. I’ll make sure to tell you I still believe in love, in grace, in God.
Meanwhile, all the other people live however they wish, picking and choosing their gods. But we live honoring God, and we’re loyal to our God forever and ever. Micah 4:5
But we live honoring God.
We respect his word and his name.
We try to people of integrity and good character.
We live our broken lives imperfectly before God. We honor him when we call on his name and accept his grace and redemption. Forever and ever.