Mountain Highs Don’t Eliminate Messy Lows

Two months of reprieve from Orlando steam and sweat.

My Rocky Mountain High has begun.

I love the chance to switch things up a bit. The opportunity to move to Ft. Collins, Colorado for our summer assignment for two months is a gift. We’ve been doing this for years–before we were parents. Hauling the kids out here and giving them the chance to experience significant change for a time has encouraged flexibility in all of them.

That and a deep love for hiking.

Landing in Denver brought back years of memories. People we’ve gotten to know, opportunities for growth, chances to serve. Heck, I had a baby out here because I didn’t want miss anything. I’d neglected to remind John that my due date was approaching. Another story.

Driving up to Ft. Collins, the darkness hid the mountains. They were there in the freshness of the higher elevation and cooler temperatures.

I was exhausted. I didn’t want to go to bed. I knew the two hour time difference would have me waking earlier than usual.

I was up before the sun rose. Hidden birds sang a welcome. The air was brisk. Standing outside, shivering, the sky began to lighten, and more birds joined in the chorus.

Then there was the dissonance.

A honking, squawking noise that didn’t blend with anything else.

Canadian geese. Lots of them.

There were families of geese, with small goslings trailing after their parents. Wildly waddling to keep up.

I walked further to get a closer look.

What I hadn’t seen in the dark was now quite apparent in the rising sun. Goose poop everywhere.

Especially on the sidewalk.

Geese have no problems with regularity.

The sidewalk had become their latrine. Globs of poo were everywhere. I had to be diligent to watch where I was going–barefoot–so as not to step in it.

What do they eat?

It was quite a challenge to admire my surroundings or watch a sunrise when I was being careful to not walk where I’d regret. So I stood still and watched.

A multitude of necks craned to watch me. When I took a step closer, the squawking and hissing began.

I wasn’t going any closer.

Walking to our meeting, everyone was doing the poop avoidance two-step.

That’s life. You find something or someone that appeals to you. Captivates your imagination in a way you hadn’t expected. You move toward it, wanting it to be what you hope.

The closer you get–the more the light exposes it–the clearer the mess around it becomes. Nothing is ever as perfect as we imagine.

This world can’t provide perfect. It can’t meet our expectations. It can’t satisfy what our hearts long for.

Only Jesus can do that.

Life isn’t a latrine. It’s a place for us to recognize what’s real and what isn’t, to grow in truth and become better for the experience. We all have our messes. Our personal latrine moments where we don’t show up well.

It’s why Jesus came to redeem us. To deal with the mess and ugliness we can’t.

I’m not that consistent with cleaning my bathrooms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sweet And Satisfying Silly

Nobody loves seeing a good thing come to an end.

We anticipate endings of things we don’t like. Tolerate endings of things that were hard but good.

Leaving behind people that have impacted our lives powerfully and well is bittersweet.

The group I work with changes annually. Not easy. It’s going deep fast with with people who are in transition, encouraging them in their growth and heart perspective and releasing them back into the wild.

That’s what it feels like.

Ending well makes all the difference.

So we end with a chance for those involved to share how the year has been for them. Sharing the good and the bad, the hope experienced and the unmet expectations embraced. Followed by a banquet and prom.

A Tacky Prom.

We’ve got folks spanning five decades in age, so partying can be serious business.

Unless you make it silly.

Silly brings out the best in people. An opportunity to play. Relax. Laugh. Not take life or themselves so seriously.

Even if it’s just for an evening.

People came in all kinds of tacky. Dresses held together with duck tape. Old-time cocktail dresses with more flounce and pouf than you could shake a stick at. Accessorized by sneakers. Crazy fun suits. Wigs.

Everyone walked around with a grin. Silly does that to people.

After dinner–because ending well always has to include food–we danced. To hits from the 70’s to now. Old and young alike kicking it. Bustin’ a move–many of us not realizing we had moves to bust.

Some people really know how to dance. We had a few internationals and others coming from overseas who taught us Bollywood style, salsa, Turkish dancing. Everyone had a style of their own. A fusion of flavors on the dance floor.

Others got out there and gamely embraced their inner melody and rhythm. Or lack thereof.

Everyone’s kids came in and joined us. Many of them knew moves to songs I’d never heard of. Little rockers, totally without embarrassment. Moving to the music and enjoying the opportunity to dance with the adults.

We danced for over three hours. I surprised myself by staying the course. Learning new moves and making some up as I went along.

I didn’t care about looking silly. Dressing silly made the moves easier. More silly is less threatening.

It was an opportunity to end well. To finish the year of transition in a way that was somewhat soul satisfying–for most. Hurt and misunderstanding are so tightly interwoven into our stories that no one really walks away from a personal difficulties completely unscathed.

Life is challenging.

But finishing well, even if all the t’s aren’t crossed or the i’s dotted, is a value Jesus has given us. When He gave His life for us on the cross, He hadn’t healed every sick person, hadn’t made this world what everyone had expected Him to.

Yet He declared, “It is finished” on the cross.

Finished perfectly.

When we follow through and finish what we’ve been tasked with as well as we can, we honor those we work with and for. Integrity.

And we honor God.

Nothing silly about that.

 

 

Precious And Few Are The Things That Matter

I’m not much of a jewelry kind of gal, but I have a few pieces that I consider priceless.

My engagement ring. John bought it from my uncle, a gifted jeweler, who created a simple setting that has been a reminder of how much I cherish my marriage.

I’ve a sister ring that my little sister created for herself, my twin and me. We all wear them as an expression of the tight bond between us. We’re connected by heart as well as blood, so this ring is special.

I don’t collect the stuff. It has to mean more than just being a pretty bauble.

I collect friends.

I’ve got this amazing job where I get to work with a team of folks I dearly love and appreciate. To top it off, every year we get a new group of people from all over the world to encourage, build into and enjoy. Folks I’d never have a chance to meet apart from what I do.

When the year is over, though, many of them move away. To start a new phase of life and ministry. To begin again.

This doesn’t make me a happy camper. Not being a camper by avocation anyway, I’m doubly unhappy.

As I get older, the more I appreciate the value of people. True gems sparking on the dark cloth of a tough world. Relationships matter.

Does that mean I get along with everyone? Heavens, no. I rub people the wrong way. I’m a tad opinionated and very wordy.

There are those who aren’t my cup of tea. Folks that I don’t naturally connect with–or want to connect with.

That doesn’t lessen the value of people. As our current group of new friends prepares to move on, I’m feeling the loss. Even if they all stayed, it wouldn’t be the same because a new group comes in and we begin the process of life coaching all over again.

Discovering the uniqueness of others is a gift we receive from God. It’s easy to jump to conclusions and trust first impressions. Before I know anything about another’s story. What’s gone on to bring them to this point. How they’ve been treated. What’s been expected of them. How they’ve been loved–or not loved.

I’ve journeyed life with the folks I’ve spent time with this year. I’ve learned to see the world through their eyes. Heard stories that made me smile and also brought a tear to my eyes. Saw character as people faced their circumstances and chose to deal rather than run.

The more time I spent with people, the more questions I was willing to ask them and not make it about me, the more I grew to know who they really were.

The more precious they became to me.

People are worth time. If I can take the focus off me to really see those around me, I’ll become a better person for allowing others in.

When I realize how much God enjoyed making each of us, with our personalities and talents, it reminds me that we all have something to offer others.

You can’t put a price on that.

 

FOMO No Mo’

I do love a good party.

Denver, Colorado. Isley turned seven. A birthday party with donuts instead of cake. Big-as-your-face donuts. Waffles and fried chicken. Celebration food.

Daughter Courtney and her husband, Michael, were the hosts and chefs. Their tiny house was party central for this extravaganza. Spectacular food. Stellar company. The entertainment centered around their two dogs–old man Foster, an Australian shepherd, and young pup Wally, a soon to be massive sheepadoodle.

Food, fun, frolicking in the back yard with the dogs. Could it get any better?

Yeah. I should have been there.

John, Heather, Jeremy and the kids flew out to Colorado to prepare for our summer training for Cru.

I’ve got a week left before I join them.

It’s not like I’ll be sitting  here, twiddling my thumbs. I’ve got a lot of work to finish up in a week. All of it necessary.

But I’m missing out on the fun they’re having in Colorado. I want to be there with them. Now.

And I want to be here to do what I need to do.

I can’t have it all.

I suffer from serious FOMO issues–fear of missing out. I’m a joiner in every sense of the word, so a family party somewhere sans me doesn’t sound like a good time.

It didn’t lessen the joy for any others at the party. I’d have loved a little moment of silence for me, reflecting on my absence. A smidge of sadness from each of them would have been wonderful.

Didn’t happen.

This has been my MO for as long as I can remember. I may not be able to come to something fun, but I want to be asked. Included. It reminds me that I’m known and valued.

It’s why social media is significant to people. It’s a platform of shared experiences. It makes people feel they’re part of something even if they’re not involved. Inclusion by default.

We all need to feel included. Wanted. Part of something beyond ourselves. No matter how introverted a person is, no one is made to be a hermit.

Belonging is built into our DNA by God. We need Him because we’ve been made in His image. Having and investing in a relationship with Him gives us the chance to become what He knows we can be. Whole and complete. Part of His eternal family. A significant piece of a bigger picture.

Not being part of something I want to be included in makes me question my value to others. Am I not a good enough friend? Did I hurt someone’s feelings? Did they just forget about me? I begin to hear the lie whispered, “You’ll never be enough.”

My value doesn’t come from being included by others. People forget. Misunderstandings happen. Folks don’t always get along. If I were to equate my worth with what other’s think, I’d be a nervous wreck one moment and smiling the next.

People and circumstances don’t define me.

The only One who truly knows my worth–and appreciates it–is God.

I won’t feel like I’m missing out if I’m loved and valued by God.

I’m part of His party.

 

 

Worth It Or What?

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There are times in life when anticipating something makes time travel at a snail’s pace, causing the excitement–or dread–to grow incrementally.

When the experience happens, it’s over so fast it’s hard to imagine it ever happened at all.

I waited years to go skydiving. Once I was given the gift from friends, it was another three months till I got to go.

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Waiting was interminable.

Then it was over.

So much excitement built into the before, did it make the after seem anticlimactic?

Not even a little.

Certain happenings in life usually are worth anticipation.

A wedding. The birth of a child. Military personnel returning home after deployment. A patient recovering from a long bout of illness.

For each of these, the wait was worth it.

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My whole experience in the air might have lasted seven minutes. Fourteen if you count the time it took the plane to reach 15,000 feet.

Not even a quarter of an hour. You waste that time in commercials in an hour-long television show.

Worth it.

I’m not a person who’s comfortable with waiting. Like most of my species, I want what I want when I want it. Being made to wait can be frustrating or make me anxious. It can get under my skin enough and make me angry.

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I grouse a lot when I’m made to wait. Not content to simmer in solitude, I share freely more feelings than anyone wants to hear on a subject few are truly interested in. It makes me feel better.

Some things aren’t worth the cost of the wait. When I’m disappointed by results of something I’d been anticipating, I feel a bit foolish for making such a big deal about it. I make a joke and hide behind humor instead of letting others feel sorry for me. Act like it’s no big deal.

When it’s worth the wait–like jumping from an airplane–the time of anticipation fades to nothing. Though it was brief, I’ll remember this for a long time to come.

Always with a grin.

God often makes me wait. I don’t often do that with a grin. Or even a positive attitude. I see others around me receiving blessings I feel I should receive. Getting answers to prayers that for me are left unanswered. For now. I ask. I anticipate His response. I have faith He’ll answer because I’m so sure it’s what He wants.

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Only to wait.

Waiting reminds me I’m not in control. During the skydive, I was along for the ride. Jeff, my instructor, was in control. I could do nothing but sit back and wait and watch what he would do to get us where we needed to be.

God is in control. He sees the big picture and knows what I need to go through to grow me to be who He knows I can be.

I don’t really want to wait for that either.

He encourages me to sit back and enjoy the ride. With Him.

What He has in store for me–and all who believe in Him–is worth it.

What are you waiting for?