Friday, October 25, 2013

Five Minute Friday - Together

Tired today, but writing anyway.  Some days it feels like all you're doing, all you can do, is show up.  That's today.  But there is priceless value in faithfulness.  So here's to another FMF post, and writing free.

I can't seem to put two thoughts together today, so sitting to write is not high on my list.  Still I think I am finding that is what this weekly five minute exercise is all about... Will I still put one foot in front of the other (or in this case put hands to keyboard) even when I can't seem to get it together?

I say it to my students all the time. "Get it together!" has become a common quick correction.  But let's be honest, I have been struggling all week to get it together!  I am tired.  I don't really want to do this.  And yet, here I am.  I don't have any profound thoughts.  At least not yet.  But I think I have like two and a half minutes left.

And maybe it goes back to my Sanity Manifesto.  Faithful today.  Will I be faithful to what is before me today?  Even if I can't put two thoughts together, will I take a step out and do what I am called to do in this moment?  That's probably the hardest lesson in growing up.  We often have to do things we don't feel like doing.  We have to be faithful.  And in being faithful, the feelings sometimes follow.  And sometimes they don't.  But yeah, another way to say it is "show up."  Do it anyway and have a little faith that it still means something.  That God is still at work, even when I am floundering.  So that's all it is today.

Five Minute Friday

Monday, October 21, 2013

For when the Beauty is hard to see...

They spread the blanket out wide by the lake.

Two little girls who have become fast friends laughing free in the cold autumn air.  And the fireworks light up the sky, shake the ground.  And my heart could burst too.  When it's over, the darkness lingers and there is barely enough light to see, but full moon and stars bright and lake shining?  It's enough for rich laughter and a few imaginative rounds of Duck, Duck, Goose.  Sitting in the grass the one sighs in her mother's arms, "This is the life!"  And our only response is, "Yes, sweetheart.  You are so right!"  Then it's climbing rocks and hide and seek and angels descending and ascending and two little-girl voices reading Scripture off the wall and two women watching, praying for moments to be written on melting hearts, for surely God is in this place.  We talk, my precious friend and I, as we watch the girls play.  We talk of challenges and struggles and unending grace and stories written and unfolding.

And my little one, she had looked up at the angels and breathed it slow: "It's so beautiful!"

Yes, my sweet girl.  Yes!  It is all so beautiful.  And sometimes, little one, you'll have to look really hard to see it.  Because sometimes it's so far from perfect and so close to hopeless, and brokenness can be overwhelming and the battle can feel like it's going to overtake you.  But, precious one, remember this: Beauty and Grace will always be greater than the battle.  And God?  He's always bigger than the chaos and He will fight for you.  You need only be still. (Exodus 14:14) And these moments are the ones that echo through eternity.  He is always good, child.  And you are always loved.  I know I said I would, but the truth is, I may not always be able to keep you from falling.  It's hard to admit that.  We'll fail you, my love, and I'm sorry.  But these moments - the running, spinning, dancing, singing, all the Beauty - remember these moments because He is big enough and His arms are wide enough and His love is deep enough to catch you.  You'll always be safe because He is the perfect Savior.  You'll always be loved.  You'll always be wanted.  Life is beautiful, my love.  He is Lord and King, rich in grace.  He is Redeemer, lavish in His affection and generosity, and making all things right.  I would know, because I've seen it.  I would know, because I've seen you.  You've stolen my heart... and His!  Truly, He is good.  And all this?  GRACE.  Remember this, little one, and I will too.

We go home far later than we should, because who can count the minutes here?  And we will never be the same.  

Friday, October 18, 2013

Five Minute Friday - Laundry

Five minutes to write.  Throw perfectionism out the window...


So Sunday is always laundry day for me.  I sort and pile in and pull out and fold and hang, but never iron.  I probably should... But I never iron.  And there is something soothing in it.  A million little gifts.  Like the smell of clean clothes.  Or the warmth of sheets coming out of the dryer.  Putting in something messy and coming out with something clean.  Sorting things into piles.  Putting things back in their place.  And don't forget the amazing feel of fresh sheets at the end of the day.  A million little gifts.

Because I need those reminders.  That messes can be made new.  That work is worth the effort, even if it doesn't always seem like it.  That sticking through the mundane is good.  That it won't all fall apart if I break away from it.  It's good to find some semblance of order in a chaotic world.  It's kind of like how I go and scrub the dishes when I'm frustrated over our last phone call, because I just need to be reminded some days that I can make a mess of things but it's not the end.  There is cleansing and redemption of the worst messes.  I believe that.  I really do.  I don't live like it some days but I believe there is always Hope.  So here is my reminder and yours today.  Take your messy and let Him make it new.  Call it trite, call it cliche.  I call it true. We live on the brink of Redemption.


Five Minute Friday

Monday, October 14, 2013

Unfolding before my eyes - The joy of life open-handed

So I have this mental image of a blank piece of parchment and as drops fall on it like rain, colors come alive more vibrant and beautiful than my favorite Monet.  All this coming to light one drop at a time.  And I am watching in sheer delight.  Surprise!  Purples and greens and blues and blacks.  Surprise!  Landscapes of sky and mountains.  Surprise!  Life unfolding before my eyes.

And without a doubt, expectations kill relationships, and I'm tired of acting like this life is my puzzle to put together.  Because all is grace and I am entitled to nothing and the greatest, truest, most joy-FILLED way to live is to open the hands and witness grace falling like rain revealing greater beauty than I can imagine.  

And I know who I am: Beloved and worthy and valued and made perfect in Christ.

But I am not and never will be deserving.

And yet He gives and gives and chooses me and gives.  I read it from her, soaked it in deep, and scrawled it across my Facebook page: Live simply - with great grace, no expectations, and lavish love.

And he and I talk about it between holes on the mini-golf course.  When you live with open hands, you lose your grip on the expectations, and all things become what they already are - pure grace and gift.  It is all joyful surprise.  And I can say, "Thank You for the gift of this moment and let me also be the gift.  Yes!  Be the gift through me!"  And the clenched fists have no place here, in this place of abundant grace and no expectations, of Life open-handed.  We can breathe here.  We can live here.  Where grace falls like rain, and we can watch the Beauty of Life unfold.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Five Minute Friday - Ordinary

"Life is running swift now.  Like a raging river, how it runs out... and this is the best part here in the beat of a Heart."  ~Gungor, The Best Part

Life is running swift these days.  I don't know where the weeks go anymore.  And the best part is taking time to slow down and abide in the heart of God.  So yes.  Five minutes to write again this week.  Five minutes to practice living slow.

We laugh long and hard at the way we are so much like old people.  Same ordinary places for dinner (at 5:00 pm).  Same ordinary late night coffee run (and yes, 8:00 pm is late night).  We sit and talk about the weather and local politics (not my choice) and we talk about work and the things we are learning and why I love community chorus and it's so good to just be here.  And yeah, it's ordinary.  But at the same time, it's so NOT!

Because there's a story being written here.  There is a gracious and BIG God at work right here between us and I wouldn't trade our ordinary times together for all the extraordinary riches of the world.  Because I know you are 100% present when we are together and I try 110% to be 100% present too!  Listening to all the little things and sharing in the details of life?  This is Community and in the ordinary of Community, God makes extraordinary things happen.  He uses us to refine each other.  To reflect His love.  To sanctify and shape and challenge and heal and change and restore and renew and REDEEM this world!

There is nothing ordinary about our lives.  Nothing.  Like there is nothing ordinary in the sunset I saw the other night... even if sunsets happen every night.  God is making all things new and He is writing some remarkable stories.  So yeah, let's do ordinary.
Five Minute Friday

Monday, October 7, 2013

Sacred Rain - Alive to Live

There is something decidedly sacred about rain.  It speaks deep of providence and faithfulness and peace and cleansing.  It calls us to move beyond being alive to actually Living.  Emily Dickinson said it: "And rivers where the houses ran/ The living looked that day."  She echoes my own cries to Look and to See and to be counted among the Living swept away by the Beauty.  So... on a Monday afternoon, a poem written from my stairwell during a steady Saturday morning downpour, a cry to Live and to See... enjoy!

Alive to Live
It runs
In rivers cross the concrete
And dances
Circles as it falls
Somehow puts to shame
The noise of a restless world
Reminds us we are alive
Commands us to Live
Mist swirls with a chill
And I can feel
And I can breathe
My heart like the parched ground
Soaking to overflowing
My soul
A glutton
Rivulets writing love on the heart
To stay?
I hope
As I breathe thanks
To Live now

Stephanie M. Frakes
September 28, 2013

Friday, October 4, 2013

Five Minute Friday - Write

And I feel like I've only barely made it through this week.  So five minutes of free writing helps me to breathe as I finish out.  Here's to one more week of trying to live in Freedom.  Freedom from perfectionism and performance.  Freedom to walk in the presence of God.


Sometimes it all seems so convoluted.  And when the anxiety rises it feels like the blood stops flowing.  And the stress can silence the tongue and stop the heart.  And the clenched fists... they hurt.  So I unwrap the fingers slowly.  Pick up the pen.  And when it feels like the blood has stopped flowing, somehow the flow of ink helps.  

And the words move from heart to hand to page and I am reminded of The Word.  The Word who became flesh and pitched His tent among us.  And the simplicity that He chose?  It makes my life feel a little simpler too.  Because in the wake of His Beauty chaos feels so small.  Things start to make sense and so I write and write and write.  And when I don't?  I feel it.  Because the flow of ink promotes the flow of the Spirit.  And Ann said it... write the gifts.  And my mentor in high school said it... write.  Oh yes.  That journal she gave me for graduation.  That one word.  Write.  Did she know that it would take me back to the One Word?  Martin Luther says you can change the world with a pen.  Maybe she knew that too.

So even when it's hard, I write.  Because it fills the soul and reminds me that He is writing my story and He holds my heart and He is good and gives good gifts.


Five Minute Friday