Not that anyone has asked…

12 03 2010

But I’d like to explain the name of my blog (because I think it is clever and profound in its own odd little way)

For those that haven’t notice it is called “Agents and Minipearls of Grace: thoughts from the heart of a ragamuffin.”

Why?  Well, I love Shakespeare’s Hamlet.  I think it is perfect on many, many levels.  However, I couldn’t tell you acts and lines any more than I can give you citations for Scripture.  The text says it, that’s all I know.  So anyway, just at the beginning, when Hamlet and his buddies are checking out the rumors of the ghost, said ghost appears and someone says “Angels and Ministers of Grace, defend us!!”

For a while I would say that whenever struck with a frustrating or troubling or dangerous situation.  It slowly metamorphosed into a less pretentious “Angels and Minnie Pearls!!”  Because what situation could stand against an old lady in a hat (with price tag in situ) bellowing ‘HOWDEE!’ to the world?

Then I began to consider Grace.  Those of us who have received Grace are called to bring that Grace to our daily lives.  To be the agents of Grace, even if we none of us are angels.  And yes we are called to be ministers but that seemed redundant.  And truth be told, I don’t like the Grand Ol Opry.  So I thought more on Minnie Pearl.  And a picture came to my mind of a necklace.

A pearl necklace whose pearls are graduated, with small ones at the ends and larger ones in the middle.  The ones on the end would be mini-pearls.  It came to me, as I thought on my life, that really even my most profound, deepest experiences of God’s Grace are just the smallest pearls on the necklace.

The tiniest pearls of God’s grace are life-altering to the point that the idea of experiencing one of the larger pearls…terrifies me.  The shattering “wreckless, raging fury that they call the Love of God” has visited my life.  It has shaken me to my core and indelibly marked me.  AND YET…and yet, I know that I have only touched the edges of what it means to love God and to be loved in return.

When we stop to think that the moments of Grace, the times of awareness that we humans have of God are just that: moments and times.  Our glimpses are just snapshots.  The reality of the ever-present, all consuming…the heighth and depth and breadth of  the love of God, the presence of things wished for and actuality of things unseen, they are beyond our ken.

God gives us His Grace in mini-pearls, so that we can grasp it and so that we can acknowledge that there are more, larger pearls we have yet to receive.

A rose by any other…

21 05 2020

Ten years ago today, I pushed for a step that I hoped would heal growing rifts.  I asked the state of Texas to terminate the parental rights of the twins’ biological father.  My husband and I then asked that the twins’ surnames be changed to ours.  My goal was to follow this with an adoption.  My goal was to prove to my husband that we loved him as though he were, in fact, their father.  He didn’t seem to grasp that we loved him and he should love the boys, if not for themselves, because he loved me.

It didn’t ‘take’.  Adoption never followed. The hatred and disdain he had for them steadily grew until he came to feel the same for me–at least I have to assume he did.  Their relationship was unable to be salvaged.

When I divorced him, I took back my maiden name. And I gave the twins the option of reverting back themselves.  Yesterday, Twin One did.  He no longer sports my ex-husband’s name.  And it got me thinking…

It’s one less person tied to him.  One less person who claims relationship with him.  I know what his response would be if told: “I don’t give a F*CK!”  And rather than anger at him or glee over getting some of our own back, I felt sorrow.  He will tell anyone who asks and he will tell himself he truly does not care but the reality is he cares deeply.

How broken he is.  I don’t know, though I have my suspicions, what happened in his life that led him to the place he is at.  Where he is convinced everyone is out to get him and no one truly cares for him.  Where he lashes out in anger at the most trifling offense. Where he sees others as commodities to be used and to be discarded when they either have no further use or are not willing to be used.

He now no longer has the tie of a shared name with this son. It was the only tie he hadn’t severed himself. Perhaps if he knew he would view it as freeing. Perhaps he wouldn’t care.

But I care.  I cannot help myself.  I pray he will one day find peace.  I want forgive the pain he caused and ask forgiveness for the things I did that enabled it.  I pray my boys will find the grace to forgive what was done to them.

Jesus, though it is impossible for me to wholly forgive him, I would not deny him your grace.  I pray he would become wildly aware of your grace and that he would find healing.

It might just be…me

17 04 2020

Just a quick update:  I’ve discovered that I am the Adult in Charge, resulting in my giving myself permission to eat left over Chinese for breakfast as opposed to eggs and bacon.  It was a wild moment.  I’m continuing to develop a relationship with Church and am taking the step of volunteering on the next 4 Saturdays to sort food for distribution to the community. Work is going very well and so are our Walkies.  All in all, I’m starting to feel like a Human.

Which is a round about way to getting to the topic of today’s post.  Last night in our Ladies’ Bible Study we got to talking about how only Abraham was called a friend of God and no one called God friend.  I kept having John 15:15 run through my head.  Through Christ, we are called Friends of the Most High.

The topic came around to rejection by God, to the enormity of our sin keeping us apart from God.  And I cringed.  The idea that we might be unworthy and unable to enter into the presence of God.  That God might say “No more will I go with you because you are a stiff-necked person and I might just destroy you.”

And let me be clear about this, the Most High, the Great Gifting Giver, the Creator Covenant God is HOLY.  God is PURE.  God and sin cannot be together–and yet…

Christ who is God was made to be sin.  Just as Earth and Heaven come crashing together in the Cross so too do God and Sin, with the result that Sin is destroyed and God victorious. That’s a theological nugget to wrestle with.

The larger question, though, is why.  Why would a Holy and Blameless God choose to submit to the embrace of Sin? Love.  God is first and foremost Love.  God is sovereign but that sovereignty is shaped and plays out through God’s love. If the journey I have taken has taught me anything it is that I am loved by God and will never, ever, be rejected by God.  There is nothing I have done (nor, knowing me, will do) that can separate me from God’s love as shown in the Grace of the Cross.

In many ways, I feel like a child when I imagine myself in the presence of God. I totally trust that God has my best interest at heart and I am safe, regardless. I can see myself running about, bringing little joys, pieces of peace, moments of rest, niggling worries, gigantic fears, and instants of unworthiness to my Creator. God takes each of them from my hands, enfolds me in a loving embrace, and assures me that none of it can keep us apart.

Hear me, I know Who my God is.  I know the majesty, terror, awesomeness of God.  I know that I am nothing more than a Ragamuffin. I know that I am not actually worthy or able to approach the Throne.  I’m also profoundly aware that I in myself am simply not that lovable.  I’m really rather annoying. But my Creator loves me…profoundly.  God loves me for who I was meant to be, despite who I have been, and in hope of who I may become.  And God will never, ever, cast me aside.

I, in my brokenness, might run, might cast God aside, might create my own throne room of the self, but God abides. And God welcomes me home, everyday of my life.

Anyway, like I said we started talking about rejection by God.  And I decided to chime in with something that’s been percolating in my little pea brain: I do not fear rejection by God because it simply is not in God’s nature.  God deeply desires a restored relationship with humanity.  I do fear rejection by humanity and I do not trust that I can be accepted by them.

Now as I tried to express this, the timer on our Zoom meeting came up.  Rather than deciding to back down not press my feeling, I started talking faster and, naturally, louder.  Very aggressive.  Slightly unhinged, I’m sure.  In other words, pure Ragamuffin moment.  I’m sure the ladies thought I was… I don’t know.

One of the ladies brought up that God is sinless whereas humanity is sinful so we do run risks with every encounter.  I think that is true.  Finding Grace in God is finding an abundance.  Finding Grace in people is sifting through the silt for a nugget sometimes.  Consider how social media loses it’s collective mind when someone does a good deed or a random act of kindness–like the sighting of a living triceratops.

We also view our relationships through the lens of our experiences.  I am blessed that my life journey has created a trust in and love for the plans of God and an awareness of the all-surpassing grace and love of my Creator.  But it is my life experiences that have also led me to my fear of relationships with people. When the chief relationship of your life ends in… well, lets just say having a marriage go south as badly as mine did when marriage is supposed to be the place you are most accepted and loved, the jagged edges of your brokenness catch on every level of relationship.

To that end, I need to pray, seek, and trust the vision of God.  I need to stop viewing those around me with my lenses.  Can I dare to love as God does?  To accept each of you where you are and to trust that God has a reason for bringing us to one another?

Perhaps it isn’t you rejecting me but rather my pushing you away because of my fear. And I’m pretty sure God has no intention of my living in fear.  So, Dear Reader, it really might not be you, it might just be me.  Forgive me, please.

Be God’s,

Rags

 

3 devotionals converged in my email…

10 04 2020

And I grabbed the words not utilized…

It is Good Friday.  It is an unusual one, the whole of Holy Week really has been and promises to continue to be.  My friend JD Walt of Seedbed suggested that we might all stop what we might be doing today at 3pm and pray as Christ did at that hour “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit”. (https://www.seedbed.com/people-who-say-such-things-know-their-context/?mc_cid=145a32e449&mc_eid=97bbf725e3)

I realized that since I was at home this would be something I could do, so I set an alarm.  Then I turned to another devotional I’m following from The Falls Church Anglican (https://www.tfcanglican.org/holy-week-devotions/2020/4/2/station-9-jesus-addresses-his-mother-and-beloved-disciple).    And the song they linked to ‘Ubi Caritas’ almost exploded my heart in it’s simple and profound beauty.

So I thought I would pray at 3 and  do it whilst listening to this song.  Rev Ferguson’s point in his devotion that accompanied this song was that, just as Christ created the family link between his mother and the beloved disciple,  we are all drawn into new family in the Gospel, made to be sons and daughters of God. JD’s thoughts were about context.  He began thinking of those of whom it is said “all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.”  He extrapolated that to the way in which this time has us all standing at a distance, watching, gaining a new perspective.  And thus the prayer at 3pm, drawing our perspective and focus to this day.

Then my email dinged.  This one is from Richard Rohr.  I’ll be honest I’ve been reading for about a year and still can’t decide if he’s too esoteric for me or not but today he was spot on.  In fact, I’m just going to quote it:

The crucifixion of Jesus is the preeminent example of God’s love reaching out to us. It is at the same moment the worst and best thing in human history. The Franciscans, led by John Duns Scotus (1266-1308), even claimed that instead of a “necessary sacrifice,” the cross was a freely chosen revelation of Total Love on God’s part.

In so doing, they reversed the engines of almost all world religion up to that point, which assumed that we had to spill blood to get to a distant and demanding God. On the cross, the Franciscans believed, God was “spilling blood” to reach out to us! This is a sea change in consciousness. The cross, instead of being a transaction, was seen as a dramatic demonstration of God’s outpouring love, meant to utterly shock the heart and turn it back toward trust and love of the Creator.

I believe that the cross is an image for our own time, and every time: we are invited to gaze upon the image of the crucified Jesus to soften our hearts toward all suffering. Amidst the devastating spread of COVID-19, the cross beckons us to what we would call “grief work,” holding the mystery of pain, looking right at it, and learning from it. With softened hearts, God leads us to an uncanny and newfound compassion and understanding.

So there sat I, called to be a daughter of the Creator Covenant God, watching from a distance as the world suffers, trying to find a way to be about ‘grief work’ and growing in compassion and understanding, while a haunting Latin refrain filled my ears.  And so I prayed “Father, into your hands I comm…”

And I stopped.

I learned commend.  The text today said commit.  These words are not the same.  So my little brain went haring off into thinking about the words.  Did I grab my Greek New Testament and Lexicon? No, they are still packed. As are my Websters and Rogets.  Yes, Dear Reader, you are about to be treated to an unsupported musing from my grey matter.

Commend:  Upon an introduction, usually in absentia, “Dear Person, I commend to you my friend OtherPerson, bearer of this letter…” It frequently denotes the idea of care and keeping.  I commend this to you. Not so much a recommendation of the thing but an appeal that you care for it and consider it.  So essentially, Christ is giving up his spirit and asking the Creator to hold it, watch over it, keep it safe, shield it in love.

yeah, I can go there.  I can see how at the end of this day, this life, Jesus would hurt in every single molecule of his being and the thought of his spirit being held by the One who most truly loves him would be a balm.

Commit: Give wholly to. Surrender. Defer to that chosen course instead of my own. Commit yourselves one to another. Christ is choosing once again, as he did in Gethsemane, to follow God’s plan.  He is through a battered mouth saying once more I am God’s in all things and I will stay true regardless. I am wholly surrendered to your hands.

Ouch.  This makes me want to play the God card–you know the bit where we want to believe Jesus knew the game plan all along and this was not a terrifying experience for him, even go the gnostic route and suggest that he was above the pain somehow. And yet… I’ve never been crucified nor whipped but I’ve been betrayed and abandoned, I’ve been in despair, I’ve been in moments of soul pain that were excruciating and it was in and around those moments when I could reaffirm most fervently that I was committed to life, committed to seeing this through, and most frighteningly commit to the plan I know God has but I cannot even begin to discern.

It was 3pm, the song was playing, and I began to pray.  I understood a little, from my distance, and I used both words.  Because my context is a world in need of a compassion and mercy that is somewhat beyond me and to be a part of this family means I need my spirit shielded in the loving hands of the Father and I need my spirit wholly committed to the work of the Father’s hands.

Be God’s,

Rags

 

 

 

Turn Your Eyes

08 04 2020

Multiple times this week I have read or heard references in devotionals about loneliness.  In this time of Social Distancing, I suppose it is a natural place for the pastoral heart to linger.  Because I am me, I’m pretty sure they are all looking at me because I am coming apart at the seams.  And I am looking at me.

I’m trying.  I really am.  I’m ‘going’ to Church for evening prayer every night.  I’ve even spoken up…once.  And I’m not entirely certain whether or not I embarrassed myself.  I occasionally have my camera on even.  But since my computer flashed a warning that it was clogging my internet, I usually leave it off.  So for the most part I’m joining as a greyish box with my name on it.  And I’m more focused on how that is perceived than on why I am there, because I am looking at me.

I’ve reached out to people I’ve ‘met’, not heard back and I fear I’ve square pegged it (square peg/ round hole).  I remind myself there’s the virus that could be the issue, perhaps they are not well or have family members who are ill.  And I do pray for them…just in case.  They may simply not be tethered to their electronic devices like a fetus and its umbilical cord–which I seem to be.  It’s also Holy Week so they may be occupied with many other things, as I should be.  But I’m looking at me.

I’m reading the morning and evening Holy Week Devotionals, listening to the midweek devotional.  But rather than letting the message really sink in, I’m filtering what I hear through the lens of my need because I am looking at me.

I know the pastors of churches are actually being run even more ragged and are in need of much prayer support in this COVID Season.  I am not lifting them in prayer as I ought because I am looking at me.

There’s lady who attends the evening prayers with a lovely French Caribbean (I think, might be further afield) accent.  She prays so fervently for us to see the Lord’s hand move in this Season.  My heart is lifted to hear her every time and my spirit leans in closer to join the incense of her prayers.  There is a world in need of Easter but I am looking at me.

And there, Dear Readers, is the Crux (it’s Holy Week; of course that was intentional).  When I rip my myopic gaze away from me, my situation, my fears, my insecurities and focus instead on what God is working on in this crazed place we call home, I forget to be lonely.  I forget to worry.  When I stop trying to earn the favour of the world and rest in the Grace that holds me, I can be most me and of the most use.  I need to stop looking at me.

St Paul calls Jesus the first fruits from the dead.  Why? Because while we are all perishing, we who are called by his name are also bound for the Kingdom.  And it is important to note that Jesus stated unequivocally that the Kingdom was at hand.  It was on the Cross where Earth and Heaven met and melded, just as the Tabernacle foretold.  BUT if the Kingdom is come on Earth now, let’s be honest it’s a Shrek’s Swamp (real fixer upper but, hey, that’s a nice boulder).  There is no Angelic Band of Chips and Joannas with Heavenly Shiplap going to remake the world.  We’re it.  In the Final Consummation, when we are Resurrected and All is Made New and Set Right as God intended from the Beginning, it will be beyond anything we imagine but for now, we are it.

We who call ourselves Christ Followers must get our eyes off the sky and get busy building the Kingdom.  We must get our eyes off ourselves.  I must stop navel gazing and worrying about my place in this world.  I must be about bringing others to know the Creator of this world who called it good and them very good.  I must be about what Jesus was about.  I heard once that the Beatitudes aren’t just a feel good thing, it’s a job description–that is who I am meant to be and what I am meant to be about.  Not to earn a place in the Kingdom but because it already my home and it is where I am loved.

I will concede: I’d feel the building a great deal easier in the company of others but until I find my fellow Ragamuffins and Square Pegs–or at least the folk who tolerate and even love such–there is still work to be done.   If all I can do at this point is lean in to others’ prayers and whisper my own faltering ones with my microphone on mute and my camera off, then that is what can be done.  And part of my prayers must be that God expand my horizons, teach me to love others more, and give me strength to walk.

{Speaking of which, the Beast and I are learning to walk together again, so naturally I tripped over a manhole cover and he has been delivering lunging, guttural threats to every dog we see.  Truthfully, I think he tried to kill a reflection (oh, there’s a sermon in that).  Anyway, we covet your prayers for my ability to Stay Upright and his to Not Be Neurotic.}

Be God’s,

Rags

 

 

 

 

 

Asking and Imagining

05 04 2020

Ephesians 3:20-21: Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Well, Dear Readers, as you know I hit a few snags last fall that left me in a place where I had to set myself aside and trust wholly in God’s provision.  I have a penchant for living a vivid imaginary life.  Things I hope to have happen, people I hope to speak to, roles I dream of filling, that kind of thing.  And the Lord brought me up short one day, mid-imaginary conversation with a daydream, using the above verse.  I was keeping the narrative of what I wanted rather than surrendering to what God truly intended for me.  Now, my natural response to this was to quote Han Solo “Well, I don’t know, I can imagine quite a bit.”  God, true to form, did not quote the next line from Luke (“You’ll get it, I promise”), but rather chuckled divinely.

Seriously, people, if you are unaware of the Divine Chuckle, you aren’t listening.  I cannot be the only one who does reliably goofy and illogical things.  And God is indeed a good good parent.  God sees us in our little excursions, in our messes brought by trying to force our own way…and  God gives a shake of the head and chuckles with affection while extending a means to return to the proper way.

I began to cling to this idea of being given more than I could ask or imagine and true to form, spun right round to what I wanted it to mean–all my daydreams were pale shadows of what was really going to happen. It was going to somehow be better than being a world famous author and speaker having a wander through a vineyard with someone who had his own chuckle for my quirks and foibles…ahem…

Life kept moving forward and I kept seeing things unfolding.  My two new jobs were delightful and I was making a niche for myself, utilizing my gifts in ways my employers hadn’t anticipated when they initially hired me.  I found a place to live outside the City and closer to both jobs.  The results of the disruption of last Fall began to smooth out.  And of course then, the Pandemic hit.

I was laid off from one of my jobs immediately.  The other moved me to mandatory telework.  It’s just me and Seamus.  I’m grateful to be home right now as we get used to daily walks again and learn our new community.  The squirrels here are cheeky and the foxes only slightly less so.  There are concerns: twin 2 remains in Dallas and twin 1 is in DC but without transportation to visit.  If sickness grabs me, things could get complicated.

However, unforeseen in this has been my budding relationship with a Church.  Because we are in this time of Social Distancing, worship is online, evening prayers are in a Zoom meeting, as is the ladies’ Bible Study.  Given the social anxiety I surrendered to during the course of my marriage, the incredible fear I have of being in new places and with new people, this is oddly ideal for me.  I am already feeling at home amongst these people, recognizing faces and names–though they might not yet know me.   When the day comes that we can gather in the building to worship together, I will go without fear.  I will also likely sob unashamedly during Communion (I do that fairly regularly anyway.).

This brings me to a slight segue:  This time is incredibly not what we are accustomed to.  During prayer this week, we read from Psalm 80.  The line my NIV translated “we may be saved”, the leader’s translation had as “we shall be whole”.  We are in a time of finding brokenness, not only in our healthcare system and in our governments but inside our walls as families learn to be together, inside our communities as we learn to care more for the least than we do ourselves, inside ourselves as we face being, in some cases, truly alone.    However, our Creator Covenant God wants to Restore us, Make His Face Shine upon us, that we may be saved, That We Shall Be Whole.  In this time of Easter, when we cry out Hosanna to King Jesus, when we survey the wondrous Cross where Heaven and Earth profoundly collide, when we shout CHRIST HAS DIED, CHRIST IS RISEN, CHRIST WILL COME AGAIN, and when we must bend our hearts and minds to building the Kingdom on Earth, we are called to see our brokenness, hear the divine love and know that it can be healed.  We who are called by Christ’s name are called to be broken together–and in that bring healing to the world.

I am not awing crowds with my words. I am not wandering through vineyards. I am not sharing a life with another (besides Seamus and he rolls his eyes).  This life is no where near what my daydreams are.  And yet…

And yet… I can honestly say that when I look at my life, when I consider the journey I have been on, God has truly given me more than I could have asked or imagined.  As the Pastor said this morning, God comes to reshape our expectations.

And God has made me whole.

 

 

Astounded & Amazed

01 11 2019

Silenced by God’s wondrous grace.

As I wrote last,  I’ve been facing a financial crisis.  My transition from one job to another hit a delay — in fact,  I’m still waiting to hear that I am able to start. I’m still facing not having a paycheck until December first.

 

I have dealt with both confidence and fear as I wonder how this will work out. Looking for the miraculous rescue… And the story of the man on the roof in a flood came to mind.  The man who turned away 3 practical demonstrations of aid because he was waiting for God to save him. When he succumbed to the flood,  he challenged God saying “I trusted you to save me!”  God replied “I sent help three times,  what more do you want?”

 

In my own case,  God’s assistance has been both eminently practical and divinely compassionate.

  • My second job at the winery has given me extra shifts as I wait for my primary to start.
  • Calls to my creditors have resulted in deferred payments with enough time to get my feet under me.
  • My church has come together to offer me funds toward gas and groceries

And then when the winery ran out of extra shifts for me,  it coincided perfectly with the onset of what may be the flu.

In short,  I remain Speechless: grateful and blessed by the provision of God and the Church.

Speechless

27 10 2019
I’m being set up for having an incredible testimony to offer… actually I already do but God’s grace is on the increase.  Quick recap so far: in November of 2017 I escaped a very abusive marriage. Because of Texas law,  I wound up with a bunch of debt and not a great deal of spousal support. I found a position that would double my income but entailed moving from Dallas to DC.  God made that happen this past March. Doors flew open  and the way was made.
Unfortunately the job that brought me here was not something that could be long term.  And again God made a way with a new position with better benefits and an increase in income and also a weekend job.  And then the wheels came off.
First I realized that because of the difference in pay calendars I was looking at a half paycheck on 30 Oct and a half on the 15th of November.  I wasn’t sure how that would work.
Then I got a call at 4 on Tuesday the 22nd telling me I could not start my new position as planned the next morning.  The issue? My fault entirely.  When I was divorced,  I was returned to my maiden name.  I did not want to continue wearing the name of my abuser.  And yet…i could not being myself to go to the social security office and drivers license bureau to do the actual paperwork because that was shooting the deadbolt on the closed door of my marriage and as bad as it was, it hurt because of what it should have been.
So since my new job requires clearance,  until I get my id’s updated I cannot begin work.   Social security was easy but the DMV wants the new SS card before they’ll process the license.  So it looks like at best I won’t start until the first and therefore won’t have a paycheck after 30 October until the first of December.
I don’t mind telling you I initially panicked.  I thought I’d throw up.  But suddenly I felt peace and the chorus of Steven Curtis Chapman’s song Speechless was on my lips.
“I am speechless,  astonished and amazed.  I am silenced by your wondrous grace.  You have saved me you have raised me from the grave.  I am speechless in your presence now,  I’m astounded as I consider how you have shown us a love that leaves us speechless”
And as i continue in this,  I ricochet between fear and confidence. I’ve joked to my sons that at this rate I will only have my sanity, my dog, and my faith left at the end of this journey — and weirdly that’s ok. God has now pushed me to let go of the last bit of my past dreams I was holding on to by not getting my ids done– pulling me from the comfort of Egypt.
 I’m blessed because my second job has made space for me to pick up extra hours but it’s a service job so very low hourly plus tips.  I have no idea how this month is going to work without God’s radical provision.  But God reminds me that if i trust and believe,  He is willing and able to give me far beyond all I can ask or imagine.
As I told the young lady i prayed with this morning,  I need to say aloud that I believe and have confidence that God will make a way even if i can’t see it and have no idea how it can be done.  And I need to praise Him that I am no longer a slave to fear,  I am a Child of God.  And God has a soft spot for ragamuffins like me.
I am asking you,  and through you,  the church to join with me in prayer and expectation.  God is remaking me. He will make a way.  I can’t wait to see what He does next and I’m grateful for my journey so far.

Extraordinarily Present

01 08 2019
A new friend used that phrase to describe an early morning encounter with a cashier at McDonald’s.  “It was too early in the morning still to have become jaded by all the people that will take him for granted and be rude to him today?”

Yesterday evening I had had the wonderful opportunity to visit with a colleague after work but realized as I went to go home that I had left my book at the office, a circumstance both silly and traumatic.

Traumatic because I’m at a really good part in the book and was looking forward to continuing both yestereve and this morning. Reading makes the commute go faster and allows me the ability to tune out the constant buzz of the world around me.

Silly because the book is in part about being a member of community and moving through this world in light of the now and not yet Kingdom. So not advocating escape from or tuning out the world at all, at all. Also silly because part of what I’ve found to enjoy about DC, as you, Dear Reader, may have noticed, is observing the community around me.

Not having my book should encourage me to practice not only what it preaches but the idea of being Extraordinarily Present.

What does being Extraordinarily Present look like?  I think it calls to mind openness, observation, authenticity, and acceptance.
Openness to receive the world around us, to be aware of the warp and weft, the ebb and flow of each moment and series of moments.
Observation of the circumstance, the terroir that created the glass of life you now hold.  Looking beyond the surface to the whys, the whats, the whos.  Can you look at a person’s face and body language and put a name to the dominant emotion they are displaying?  Can you then alter your stance toward them with a compassionate eye?
And can you give that same compassionate eye to yourself?  Are you aware of what you are displaying in a moment?  How has your circumstance dictated how you approach the world and what the world sees in you?  Is it your best, truest self?  Or is it the “light & momentary troubles” of your life (See 2nd Corinthians 4 for definition) taking the foreground?
You, Dear Reader, are so much more than what you do or have done, what is being or has been  done to you.  You are more than your circumstance, whether you are in front or behind the McDonald’s cash register, whether first thing in the morning or last thing at night. You at your most authentic are Beloved, Created, Known, and Accepted by the Creator Covenant God.  The question is can you be that to yourself as well?
When you are able to accept yourself where you are on your journey, when you are open to what the world brings, when you observe the community in which you move, and when you seek the authentic in yourself and those around you, then you can be Present, Extraordinarily Present in your own life and the lives of those around you.

Perspective

14 07 2019

As I was riding home on the Metro late Friday, looking around at the myriad of other passengers from all walks and stages of life, I began to think. There was a group of moms with a young baby, three older women who’d been to a rally on behalf of refugees/immigrants, a security guard, a group of Hispanic blue collar workers, mostly drunk carousers, and a couple one of whom was of indeterminate gender.

It had been a long evening for me and I was tired. Bone weary, as I told my mom before I even went in to work that night. My ankle ached all the way up to my knee.

Naturally there were no seats, so I was standing–and those who know me know coordination is not one of my gifts. I was in full self pity mode. And then God decided to take me out of myself.

Micah 6:8 popped into my head and I began to think. What would doing justly look like Right Now?
What would loving mercy look like Right Now?
What would walking humbly with God look like Right Now?

I didn’t really have an answer beyond choosing to be present and see the people before me as gifts. And getting the grump off my face. Recognizing that I am blessed.

Perspective shift. So today as I go about the things I have to do, I will continue to ask those questions and answer them as best a Ragamuffin can.

Broken Things

27 06 2019
As we wander into any relationship, there are lines that have to be crossed.  Some people hold the secrets and hope to delay the other’s finding out about it.  The reasoning is that perhaps the level of attachment and the level of trust will be such to weather any resulting storm.
Some people jump in immediately.  The rationale is  that if we talk about and venture into the realm of those dark spots in our histories should we be found lacking and the relationship end, perhaps it would not shatter us further. Perhaps the end would come before the heart committed too deeply. (It won’t surprise most, that I am in the latter camp)
 Either way, we trust that sharing our broken pieces will not result in a broken heart… And occasionally, especially when you are commencing a relationship later in life the sharing of our brokenness is a mutual moment.  It can serve to draw two people together.  The question that must be dealt with when it happens early in a relationship is: has this created a false sense of intimacy?
As we talk to one another, we hear underneath the grinding together of the broken bits.  The veneer of matter of factness covering the pain of the memory. And the refraction of the light of Grace bouncing, dancing off the repaired soul.At least we want to believe that. Because we, too, have broken bits. Some because of choices we made and some were done to us. Done by trusted individuals, ones we believed the best of.  We want to believe that the one Who is intended to Be will win out eventually from the mask one hides behind.

Sometimes we choose to fear people who resemble the ones in our past who have harmed us.  But it is hard if not impossible to mass people into one label. So a person may share gender, eye color, hair color, race, socio-economic status, etc with the one or ones who have cause us harm in the past BUT… It is the individual who matters. It is knowing the individual that allows you to build community.

We have to choose that we can trust the word of someone’s testimony, the depth of their belief, the reality of their repentance and redemption. We choose to believe others and accept the person they were because of the person they are.

And they choose to believe that of us.

I’m very much unique. And very much a work in progress. I know who I am and more whose I am. I don’t group or label easily. My broken bits have been touched by the super glue of God’s Grace. There are still some weak joins. Some rough edges. More frailty than I want to believe.

My broken pieces have been placed back together and sealed by a love that transcends the mundane. I believe yours, Dear Reader, have as well. And perhaps, just perhaps they’ve been assembled in such a way as to fit together on our journey.