Days That Shape The Soul

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If you were offered a chance to go back and revisit a day in your past, would you? Which day would you pick?

I asked myself this question yesterday as I sat watching a dozen or so wheelchair bound individuals swinging foam noodles at a balloon. I wondered what day they would pick if asked. Would a day playing the noodle game be worth revisiting – I wondered.

Our life is a masterful architectural linking of moments that together create a framework for our story, the story of our soul. No moment stands alone and yet each one carries its own weight while our heart and soul are being constructed from the inside.

Some days hold great experiences – events we wish would never end, while others are deeply sorrowful. And some days don’t seem memorable at all.

I’m not sure what day I would revisit if I could.

Happy days are easy to recall like the birth of my children, or trips to faraway places, but in the bigger scheme of things, I don’t need to relive them. They’re part of who I am and deeply rooted in my story.

I have many days I wish I could go back and do over. There are words I wish I hadn’t spoken and days poor choices affected the rest of my life. But admittedly those days are also deeply rooted in who I am.

The white haired souls at the nursing home are nearing the end of their days. Much of their time is spent alone with themselves – wandering the hallways of their memories. I asked one of the more lucid individuals which day she would revisit if she could. Her answer was simple. “Days can’t be separated from each other. Separating days would be like trying to take apart a fully baked cake”.

The mysterious soul within each of us – our eternal soul, is grown and shaped by our day to day life experiences. Whether encased in tragedy, celebration, boredom, or fairness – we become the unfolding of its masterful creation for God’s eternal use.

It may feel as though we’ve fallen victim to a faulty cake recipe. And some days might seem as though our only accomplishment is smacking a silly balloon around the room. But the truth is, every day is a gift. And the shaping of our soul is the greatest mystery we’re invited to read and write.

“Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of a great mystery.”
Annie Dillard

Back to School Days

#67 back to school

 

It’s been five and a half years since I walked off my school campus for the last time. And it’s been almost as long since my stomach stopped the yearly churning of anticipation that comes about this time each year. I have to admit – I miss teaching.

Teaching is an honorable profession. It’s also a hard profession. There’s never enough time in the day to get it all done. And never enough money in the budget to accomplish the lofty goals set.

I still find myself thinking the calendar year starts in September and ends when summer begins to fade.

No matter what day school actually starts – whether mid August or September, it’s a special day. A day of new beginnings – a day of fresh starts. I don’t know another profession that gets to reset all over again every nine and a half months.

I love the first day of school. You can almost smell the fragrance of newness children wear – new shoes, new backpacks, freshly sharpened pencils along with new hopes and high expectations.

Classrooms also feel new. Lucky teachers get a fresh coat of paint on old cabinets and are welcomed in by the tangy smell of steamed-cleaned carpets. Bright new name tags garnish children’s cubbies and blank bulletin boards wait to welcome works of art.

It’s a time of fresh starts, new beginnings and all the stuff real life is made of.

School is a place of learning for everyone involved. But so much more than facts are learned there. School is our first exposure to belonging to a community outside our natural family. Each year teachers are faced with the task of bringing cohesion to a group of unrelated little beings for the express purpose of ending stronger, smarter and healthier than when they began.

I miss the first day of school and all the excitement that comes with it – but most of all I miss the community and the challenge of teaching.

Teachers are blessed to link with the mystery of life. It’s a high calling and a sacred trust.

The smell of new soon fades to the expected odors of sweaty bodies and lunch sacks with day-old bananas. Many tears will be spilled, feelings hurt and mended, more than a few skinned knees attended to. New concepts will be taught – some caught, some to be grasped later. Meetings will be held and scared little bodies too.

And in the end – there’s an indescribable satisfaction that can’t be compared.

My hat is tipped to the brave souls entering the wonderful world of school life this month. Know that your classroom will be fuller than you thought – not because of the state budget, but because our Heavenly Father promises to send angels with his kids. When you serve your children, you serve God. When you link into the community called school – you touch the mystery of life.

 

 

My Brittle Heart Yearns To Be Soft

#42 love is patient

 

My brittle heart yearns for the softness of innocent trust. It squirms within the shell of experiences that mold it – waiting for occasional moments to beat with true freedom.

I know my heart was designed for feeling – for vulnerable encounters. Unfortunately like most people, I learned early on that along with vulnerability often comes pain . And pain drives me to the shelter of a hardened, secure place.

Our youthful hearts can easily becomes suspicious, self protective and old. Hard and hollow.

I admit it – my feelings get hurt. I wish I could say my tough exterior is made from some sort of righteous maturity, but it is not. I’ve learned to appear resolute and say the right words, but each time my heart is hurt the walls grow a little thicker. Just this morning someone hurt my feelings and didn’t even know it. I recoiled.

Proverbs 29:25 says, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe”. I don’t believe this verse is suggesting I avoid people and trust God. I think it tells me to trust God with every relationship, avoiding the snare of fear.

A soft heart loves at all times – even through vulnerable and difficult encounters. There’s freedom in openness and vulnerability – freedom in trust. Trust encased in love generates life.

By God’s grace I will continue to take a sledge hammer to the hard walls I hide behind every time I’m hurt. I know I’m kidding myself to think genuine love can seep through the cracks of a self protected heart.

Love, Real love, God’s love – oozes out of and overflows from selfless vulnerability.

 

Do You Believe God Really Sees You?

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He sees you, in fact he never takes his eyes off you. He watches – and even prays for you.

 

Give your heart the freedom to believe this today. Take a deep breath and consider what it means to have the author and creator of all you see take note of you. Believing this fact will change how you feel about yourself and how you live.

He sees your thoughts and your dreams.

He sees your good days and the not so good.

He sees your pain and your celebrations.

He sees your past.

He sees your future.

 

And the One, who sees you, loves you still.

 

In a world that constantly evaluates our performance and grades us accordingly – it can be difficult to believe God really loves us – scars, bruises, deficits and all. But he does. His love covers our shame and also lifts us from it.

The scripture says he loved us with a complete love – even before we knew him. Can you imagine?

His visible and tangible presence all around us opens our eyes to see him back.

There’s comfort in knowing he sees, but there’s power in seeing he knows.

 

He loves us in order to commune with us.

 

Picture the most powerful person in the world today. Odds are, you can’t imagine having an audience with that person – much less an intimate two way conversation.

The truth is, the God of the universe knows the exact number of hairs on that powerful person’s head and waits to listen to both of you.

Can you imagine.

We are wired for relationship by the one who fashioned us after himself.

He enjoys interactive conversations. He listens and doesn’t leave us for a better ear.

 

Yes, God sees you. He loves you. And He waits to be with you.

 

photo credit

Childlike Innocence & Our Relationship With God

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“At that time Jesus said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your gracious will.”

Matthew 11:25-26

We were all young children before we became ‘wise and learned’ adults. According to scripture we must return to childlike innocence in order to reclaim the secrets God has for us. Today I’m challenged to self evaluate and look to children for keys to divine understanding and relationship with my Heavenly Father.

Young children typically:

  • assume the characteristics of their parents.
  • remain in the moment spending little time worrying about and preparing for tomorrow.
  • are quick to forgive and don’t readily hold grudges.
  • rely on their parents as their only option for comfort in a crisis.
  • find enjoyment and wonder in simple things.
  • easily demonstrate love without conditions or bias.
  • believe what their parent tells them without suspicion or scrutiny.
  • live with enthusiastic expectation – and believe.
  • don’t have to work to learn the language of their parents, they simply do it by spending time with them.

 

Pondering these sobering and comforting words today ~

“And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3