Freedom

Pass the Peas Please

Posted by on Mar 14, 2014 in Freedom, Gratitude | 20 comments

dancing in rain

 

Telling children, “You need to eat your peas because children are starving in Africa” never works, does it? And yet, we still tend to use the same principle, even in our adult life – albeit not quite so obviously. Choking down a bad attitude or undesirable circumstance isn’t made any easier just because there are others who have it worse than we do.

Spending an extended amount of time in a vacation destination lends itself to observing a potpourri of people and lifestyles. Resort beaches are filled with travelers from all over the world. Accents and languages, even dress styles tend to melt into one group in a more relaxed environment. And yet, our universal internal struggles can still surface there too.

Island guests typically share a common desire for relaxation and especially, warm sunny weather.

Kauai owns relaxation. Kauai also owns green. There’s hardly a place on the island that isn’t rich with lush diverse chlorophyll-ridden beauty. It beckons the visitor to drink in moisture and rejuvenate dry, thirsty cells.

Green comes from rain, but rain doesn’t always line up with an expectation of warm weather.

We don’t want our peas, do we? Sometimes we want dessert first and no peas at all. Still, how can we complain about eating the peas when children are starving in Africa? Likewise, how can we complain about rain when we’re in paradise? And who doesn’t like green?

In a matter of minutes a sudden squall can empty a packed beach. It’s almost comical watching people run for cover like kittens from a bath, when we’re actually dressed to get wet.

I watched an elderly woman dance in the rain yesterday. She did more than choke down the peas – she made them look like the most appealing part of the meal.

She twirled, danced and raised her hands to the sky. Her tiny eyes disappeared in the folds of her smile as her face flattened upward – her open mouth seemed to savor each sweet raindrop it welcomed. I could hear a faint song. I couldn’t make out the words, but I understood the message. Her song expressed a kind of joy that seemed almost too private to witness – sacred, really. Her hands were not clutching, they were open. Receiving hands – with leathery fingers spread apart, extended for the full embrace, reaching upward.

I could hear the fork hit the plate – I wanted to eat the peas of grace, gratitude, freedom and joy she ate. Anyone truly watching her would.

The delight of her creator was visible as the skies opened in a pounding downpour. The joy of her dance seemed to lift her above the puddles. Maybe it was just me – but I’m sure I heard a choir join her exuberant song.

Heaven danced too, while a full meal was devoured with absolute pleasure.

 

“Jehovah, your God, is always in your midst, a mighty one who will save. He will rejoice over you with great joy; we will rest in his love; he will rejoice over you with singing” Zephaniah 3:17

 

When’s the last time you danced during your downpour of difficulty?

 

 

 

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A Look Backward and Peek Forward

Posted by on Mar 7, 2014 in Freedom, God Speaks | 18 comments

sunset best

 

Perhaps it was the two excruciating hours I spent in the chair – or maybe the lack of sleep worrying about the two hours – but I had a spiritual experience in a dental office today.

As she began chipping my front crowns away for replacement, my mind went back to the day they were first put on. I was 19yrs old. A few weeks before the accident, my life took a 180 degree turn from being an opinionated, agnostic teenager to a loved crazed Jesus follower – literally overnight.

The sudden shift from party-girl to church-attender was a bit of a shock to people who knew me. Everything about my life changed. All I wanted was to know more about my new found Savior. I wanted to learn how to live like the people I once mocked and now deeply admired.

My early obsession was to hear the voice of God like others said they experienced.

The day of my accident I heard it – unrecognizable at the time, but clearly his voice.

Without going into great detail, the Holy Spirit warned me not to go sailing that day. It was a deep sense that grew more intense the closer I got to the small sailboat at the shore’s edge. The thought amplified to the point I was certain, if I went along – someone would get hurt.

I ignored the unfamiliar voice, and placed my foot into the boat at the same moment a rogue wave hit it, throwing me forward and knocking out my front teeth.

My salty body surfaced from the sea with a blood covered face and hands raised high to the sky. Unashamedly I praised God – MY Savior, the one who speaks.

On my way to the doctor’s office he spoke again. The Lord softly told me, “My sheep know my voice”. It wasn’t until weeks later I learned this was a familiar verse from the Bible.

I don’t ever want to forget that day.

Lent began this week.

I came home from my dental appointment to a blog in my inbox from Jennifer Dukes Lee. I read about her decision to give up looking in the mirror until Easter in order to refocus her attention from herself to Christ. My heart was pierced. Just moments earlier, I was plotting how to avoid all human contact until the permanent crowns came in. I had been glued to my mirror all the way home, fixated on my ugly temporaries.

Jennifer’s words became a mirror to my brittle soul.

I want to return to the same innocent pursuit I had when my teeth were knocked out. Nothing else mattered to me, but his voice. I didn’t care what I looked like or who saw my toothless smile.

As crazy as it sounds, I was sad to say good-bye to my old crowns today. In some strange way I felt I was losing old friends. Although they have been a part of me for a long time, they’re NOT me, not even my real teeth. They’re space holders, in place of the real thing.

I believe today was a sneak preview of what’s to come. One day I’ll shed this temporary outer covering altogether, all my space holders.

We will take nothing with us when we go – none of the stuff we’ve accumulated or grown so familiar with – including our bodies. Today – now – is a good time to begin saying good-bye to the things we cling to. Things we THINK define us.

Lent helps to reposition our thinking, reevaluate what we cherish, and tear down the idols we’ve comfortably welcomed into our hearts. Imagine, old teeth coverings – one of my idols.

Thank you for covering your mirrors today, Jennifer. Thank you for turning a mirror toward me, so I could clearly see what blocks my view of seeing who I truly am – his beloved – his treasured sheep.

 

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all and no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” John 10:27-29

 

 

Linking up today with #TellHisStory

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Freedom to be Complete

Posted by on Jul 28, 2013 in Freedom, Joni and Friends, Love | Comments Off on Freedom to be Complete

Of all the lessons I learned at camp I think observing true freedom at a deeper level was most impactful. From mealtime to worship – the environment was saturated with raw and wonderful freedom.

 emma's parents enjoying a meal

 

I certainly didn’t miss planning meals during the week of camp. Three times a day we filed into the dining hall for another incredible feast. There was a sense of wholeness and family at mealtime. I was enriched to share my table with people in wheelchairs and individuals requiring assistance to eat. It was surprisingly comfortable and right.

 

Freedom during assemblies and worship was phenomenal as well. Kids were free to be themselves, noise and all. Amazingly, what seemed to be a recipe for chaos brought a refreshing liberty instead. We were free to be the complete body of Christ – every member fully accepted for who they were.

 

camp worshi[p

 

Freedom is more than lack of restraint. It’s expressive, energizing and inspirational. Webster defines freedom as, “The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance”.

 

One afternoon I watched a teen with Down syndrome spend a full hour talking into a cold microphone. He and his STM occupied an empty gym as Scotty spoke nonstop. Scotty is an orator and has something to say. I was envious of his unadulterated claim to such freedom.

 

Freedom doesn’t worry about what others think.

 

Camp fostered freedom through acceptance and the absence of judgment. Unfortunately people with disabilities aren’t always accepted and are often unfairly judged. Freedom gets stolen.

 

 

 jenny feels the bunny

 

We have the power to give freedom. I’m challenged by Scotty’s audacious ability to say what’s on his mind. It’s time we welcome people with differences into our everyday world so we’re free to be complete. We are not complete without the full spectrum of people groups we are as a society. All people need to be included; the crippled, lame, the blind and the different.  We’ll never be truly free until we’re all present and able to participate in all aspects of life together.

After all, they are us.

 

Freedom becomes comfortable the more we walk in it. I learned that at camp.

  

friends

 

Will you join me? Will you look for opportunities to empower people with disabilities to act, speak and be included without hindrance? Without ALL, we’re not complete.

 

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