the silence is deafening

Any of you who know me, will not be surprised to find out that me and silence do not get along very well. Right now I am home alone. I've turned off the tv and the only sound is the ticking of my keyboard and the ceiling fan going 'round and 'round.

And my thoughts. My pesky, self-incriminating, endlessly nagging thoughts. Seth's blog post about Romans 12:1-2 made me wonder... you'll be changed from the inside out... yet here I am, a new creation in Christ wallowing in doubt and loneliness. A child of the Most High God, redeemed by grace second guessing every decision she's made and every word she's spoken over the last few months.

And quite honestly, it's driving me nuts. The noise of the silence is too much. If you want me to know that you are mad at me, or upset, or hurt- just stop talking to me... you won't have to say a word, or point out anything I've done wrong because frankly, my mind is more than happy to fill in the blanks accordingly. I know what a wretch I am. I just wish I didn't remind myself of it so often.

It's quite a paradigm, isn't it. On the one hand seeking to be renewed and transformed by Christ... on the other hand knowing what a job He has ahead of Him. The scripture says we'll be renewed from the inside out. But if I'm honest on the inside I have a long, long way to go. Maybe I'm like the pharisees that only wash the outside of the cup but on the inside still full of filth? That's not who I want to be... I want to be a glass that's transparent so that when you look to me you see straight through me to the Savior that's cleaning me up... but boy do I have a long way to go.


friday flashback.... anniversary edition

Seventeen years ago at this very moment, a sophomore girl at the high school was a bundle of nerves. The cute boy at school she'd had her eye on forever had agreed to go with her to the Sadie's Hawkins dance that night. They were friends, and conversation usually came easy, but would it be different on a "date". Would it be weird and awkward? Will they dance? What if he doesn't like her? What if he does? And who picks a Friday the 13th to hold a first date? It was nearly more than a fifteen year old girl's heart could handle. She looked back over the school day, remembering every glance and smile they had exchanged that day. Please God, just let it be okay! Okay?

That night, Jim and I had our first date. We were both fifteen [but he was a freshman]. Was it awkward- you betcha! The first hour or two he hung out with his friends while I tagged along like a desperate puppy. But once the actual dance started, and the lights dimmed... his focus shifted to yours truly. Conversation came easily again. Dancing with him felt natural, right. And sometime that night we became BeckyandJim. By Monday morning it was apparent to all my friends that something good was going on. And leave it to Bev with her gift of blunt... "So, are you two dating or what?" Jim's answer, with a shrug "I guess". And it was official.

We were immediately inseparable, spending hours and hours and hours on the phone. Before long I was meeting his family, and this picture was taken on my first outing with the Boyles' clan in 1992. To this day it is one of my very favorite pictures of us. Even with the hair- mine the size of Montana (granted the wind had something to do with that) and Jim's little mullet peeking out the back- I can't help but smile with joy every time I look at it. His mom snapped this shot of the two of us during a boat ride, completely lost in each other. Completely happy. BeckyandJim.

Seventeen years. It's mindboggling, really. I look back and it feels like both yesterday and a lifetime ago. Seventeen years is a long time to spend with the same person, especially when you are just 32! I hope though, that seventeen years is just the beginning of our story. That some day we are looking back on fifty or sixty or seventy years together. It's not always been easy, and we've had our fair share of trials... but looking back I wouldn't change a thing. And looking forward I can't imagine life any other way.

the desert is what you make it

I have been following the story of Abby Riggs. She's a beautiful little girl with a big, big heart, an even bigger family, and a big fight on her hands- with leukemia. I read their blog every day for a couple of reasons. One... I pray for Abby multiple times during the day, as does Tali who's taken a fondness for this little girl she's only seen in pictures, and we like to know specifically what to pray for. The other reason... it is one of the most ENCOURAGING, inspirational blogs out there. Despite the fact that this family is facing one of the single most difficult set of circumstances a family can be put in, and the doctor's grim use of percentages and statistics... they have a hope in Christ that allows them to Praise Him in all things, even in the desert. It was as I read their blog about a week ago I first heard the Lord whispering, the desert is what you make it.

He confirmed this Word last Friday night as I sat talking to some of my very favorite Christian sisters about being in the desert, and no sooner had I shared this Word than a phone rang, and the person on the other end shared a sermon he had just heard about the desert and that in many ways, the desert is what you make of it. She was like Becky just said that! Blow my mind, God!

And then He drove the point completely home as I met with a client... a young girl who was in an accident that has left her paralyzed. Her paralysis is complete from the waist down. Life in a wheel chair, and at an age that is difficult under the best of circumstances. As I asked her about her injuries she looked me straight in the eye and informed me "I am not disabled. I just can't walk". Here she is, with every excuse in the world to feel sorry for herself. Three months ago she was like every other kid in her class, and then her world was turned upside down. No one would fault her a bit for being mad at the world, or the situation, or the people that she was with when the accident happened. No one would fault her for questioning God, or lashing out at her family, or alienating herself from friends. But instead she chooses to laugh because she realized while going for a stroll with friends that it was down hill all the way home- and her friends couldn't keep up with her.

What is she making of her desert? I have seen many, many people completely give up on life when things like this happen. I have seen people lose loved ones and give up on God. I have known of people who got sick and sank into a sea of depression. I know people who complain every day about everything that's wrong with their life, despite the fact that their families are healthy, they have a job, they can walk and talk and breath.

I can't help but think about the Israelites- led out of slavery and into the desert by God. He took them there, why? Because He wanted them to rely fully on Him and to learn to trust His word. He provided for them with food, water, light, clothes that never wore out... He met every need. Yet what did they make of their desert? They whined and groaned and complained. They grew bored with the food provided by the very hand of God. They asked to go back into slavery! They built false idols out of the gold and silver God had provided for them to take from Egypt!!! Think about that!

They made a mess of their desert. They made forty years of their desert. Had they trusted God and followed Moses, they could have made the journey in about two weeks! But instead they whined their way into forty years in the desert. They shook their fist at God and questioned His provision.

But it's easy for me to look at the Israelites and say "what in the world were you thinking!? I mean, really, He gave you manna from heaven! He was present with you in the pillar of fire! He invited you to know Him! What in the world were you thinking!?"

And then God directs my attention to my own life, and asks me to examine what I've made of my desert seasons. We all have them. We all have dry spells where we feel broken, alienated, alone, unloved, weary, afraid. Sometimes God has to take us into the desert to get us where He wants us to go. The Israelites could not get from the land of slavery to the land of milk and honey without passing through the desert- physically and spiritually. God's promise from the beginning of Exodus is that He will deliver His people into the Promised Land...but He knew they'd have to go through the desert to get there. He knew it would be necessary to prepare their hearts for the many blessings He was ready to pour out on them, so that they would not forget that He is the LORD, provider, deliverer, healer, restorer, creator.

Are you in the desert? What are you making of it? Are you shaking your fist at God and asking why He would deliver you from the slavery of sin and death in the the lonely heat of the desert? Are you crying and whining because the only thing you have to eat is the manna He provides you with, and what you really want is a steak? Are you taking the gold and silver He has on loan to you, and melting it into a golden calf?

Or are you taking the time to glorify Him? To spend time in His presence? To meet Him in the desert as Hagar did? Are you using the time to feast on His Word and learn more about Him? Are you praising him in the midst of the sand storm raging around you? Abby's mom and dad have taken the opportunity to tell even more people about Jesus. To share their hope in Him, regardless of what God's will for Abby's beautiful life turns out to be. And they are far from the only ones. There is a whole community of bloggers out there praising Jesus despite the struggles and tragedies in their lives. I encourage you to follow the link to Abby's blog, pray for her, and be encouraged.

Then think about your life. What have you made of your deserts? If you are there now, what are you making of it? He is there alongside you, whispering "follow me, trust me, know me, rely on me." Lean into Him, allow Him to carry you through this time... and make the most of your desert.


friday flashback.... dad

I promise today's post will be much more coherent and much less emotional than the one I posted yesterday!

I am so grateful to Uncle John for taking the time to put together a cd of pictures for me. As I flipped through the memories, I laughed, I cried... and I didn't want them to end... Each picture taking me back to a place I hadn't visited in a very long time. Over and over again, as pictures of Fireball, mom, dad, and me flashed across the screen I was reminded of how special my relationship with my brother is to me, how stylin' my mom was back in the day, what a cute kid I was at one time, and what a raging dork my dad was.
Seriously, folks. THIS was his favorite shirt...

That's right, reflective letters spelling out "BELLY" and an arrow pointing downward. I know, you are as green as his shirt with envy, aren't you? His fashion sense knew no bounds... I also have pictures of him sitting in our back yard - which at the time was across the road from Southside Park in Bicknell - wearing nothing but a pair of cut off shorty-shorts, white belly so proudly proclaimed in the above picture jutting out over the top of his pants, hair in an undefined poof jutting off the top of his head, and the confidence that he was looking good. The only way this outfit was ever improved upon was when it was paired with cowboy boots. Imagine that. I could post the picture for you, but it's early and you may be eating breakfast while you read this, so I'll spare you the visual. It's pretty amazing though, and it makes me smile.

This is another particularly special ensemble... seriously folks, this couldn't have been cool, even in the early '80s.

Is that hat for real? Maybe it had to be that tall to house all of his hair? And I love the fact that his wife beater is actually tucked in. Wow. But it's not just his mad fashion sense that earned him the title of world's most lovable dork... Imagine being in 3D or IGA (please tell me I'm not the only one that remembers 3D) and you realize that your dad is no longer with you. You quickly realize what's coming and you and your brother begin to look at each other, giggling with anticipation. Sure enough you hear him calling from the next aisle over "Elvira!!! Elvira wheerrre arrrre youuuuuu?" As you come around the corner, he comes limping toward you, who by this point are giggling uncontrollably, and your mother, who is doing everything within her power to ignore the site before. Not only has he assumed a limp, but both his glasses and his false teeth are now upside down. This may sound mortifying to many of you... but to us it was just another outing with Dad.

He didn't care if he was making a fool of himself. It was worth it for the smile. I kind of wish that he could see me now, grinning from ear to ear by the mere recollection of his antics! Picking kids up in the church bus, insisting on calling the girls "he" and "son"... just to get a rise out of them. Singing some of the worst renditions of God's music ever heard in the sanctuary of FBC. Being the biggest kid in the neighborhood when it came to sledding or the Fourth of July. Annoying my mom at every corner, but loving her with an undeniable passion at the same time. Those were the days.

I leave you this picture of dad and I. Seriously, could I get any closer to him? Man, I loved this man. I loved being with him, near him. I loved his goofy antics and his dorky clothes. I even loved that mass of hair (quite tame in this picture!). I loved the way he took care of us. And I loved the way he loved me.

I know he's somewhere singing praises and driving a heavenly church bus (think they have those in Eternity?). Or maybe he's sitting in a swing with a couple of oranges, waiting for the day he can share them with me? I don't know, but I hope God let him keep his mad sense of style, because Dad just wouldn't be Dad without it!

Love ya, daddy.


i can't breathe...

when i think about stories like this one. All-American family. One son, a daughter on the way. One day announcing the name of your baby girl, the next laughing about soccer practice, and the next announcing that you've had to take your husband to the hospital. He was admitted. Within two weeks he has gone home to be with the Lord. I can't even breathe when I think about the enormity of this kind of loss. When for the split second that I can stand it, I try to put myself in this young mother's shoes. But only for a split second, because I would go crazy to stay in that place much longer.

I think of Jim and how frustrated I can get about the most retarded things. How mad I get when I hear from Bev that we have plans with them- Jim and Garry have talked about it- but I haven't been clued in. (and I know you know what I mean Bev- I love hanging with you guys- and thankfully Garry's learned to text me directly to keep me in the loop!) How insigificant is that. How hurt I was when he got so upset about the ding we (being Zach, Mother Nature, and I) put in Thomas's door. How hateful I wanted to be in return. Instead of thanking God that we were having that argument IN CHURCH, where he wanted to be so bad he dragged our sick daugther to the service so he wouldn't miss it! How insignificant. How selfish. How self-centered. I know that the woman who writes the blog I linked above would probably give everything just to hear her husband's voice one more time, even if it is frustrated.

What if something like this happened to him? What would I do then? But I can't go there. I love him to the core of who I am. And even though we don't communicate the same way. Even though we love differently. Even though I get on his nerves sometimes and he on mine. Even though I get so focused on myself that I can't see beyond my nose at times... I love him. And I cannot imagine my life without him. I cannot. He is amazing. And it may sound cheesy, but he completes me... because he is who I am not. He is who God chose to finish the package. To tie up my loose ends.

I know that this post is going all over the place...and I'm officially into the ugly cry now. Please know that I am writing from a very, very deep place inside of me that goes untouched for the most part. But I just received the most beautiful gift. A plain white cd... it doesn't look like much... but it is full of pictures of my dad. And reading that blog, and then looking at those pictures, and I'm reminded of how temporary this life is. My daddy has been gone for two decades, but looking at those pictures I was the twelve year old little girl who just heard the words "your daddy is gone". And it was just like that. In a flash. No warning.

I know what God means by a "vapor on the wind".... I've seen the vapor vanish in a moment. But man, I do a terrible job living my life in the light of that reality.

Lord, help me to love better today. Help me to show my appreciation for the little things. Give me the grace I need to overlook small hurts and offenses. Help me love like you love Lord. I thank you for this day... I thank you for the breath you give me this moment. I thank you for the family and friends that you have put in my life that complete me. And I thank you, Jesus, than you understand what it means to be separated from someone that you love, and that you were willing to do that for me. Father, help me love through the annoyances, frustrations, and hurt... just like you love me. Jesus, make me more like you.