Friday, October 21, 2016

I'm Right Here

Dear Allison,

True confession: I have been writing this letter in my heart for the past month. Yes, it was a month ago today that we moved you into your dorm. I didn’t really think about that until just now, but somehow it seems appropriate that today is the day I feel ready to move these words from my heart to paper. I wanted to wait for awhile – I wanted to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we were both doing okay before I emoted about the process of letting go.

You are thriving – your texts and posts exude joy and life and scream, “I am where I am supposed to be!” This does not surprise me. We knew from the first day we visited that Seattle Pacific University had a special connection to your dreams and goals. What does surprise me, a little bit, is that I am doing okay, too. I’m not ready to say I’m thriving yet – at least not to the amazing degree that you are – but I am finding the courage and curiosity to ask myself what this next stage of my life is going to be about. You see, my definition of thriving for the past 18 years has kind of revolved around being your Mom. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. And then, it changes. That’s the way it’s supposed to be too. The thing is, nobody quite prepares for you that change. But here we are, a month later, and I am asking myself what thriving will look like for me in this next season. And I am still breathing and I am really, surprisingly, okay. Your Dad and I (and Buster!) are finding a new rhythm to life as the season changes. We think of you every minute but it is with joy and anticipation and excitement, knowing that things are exactly as they are supposed to be.

Another true confession: the last few nights before you moved in to your dorm, I did not sleep well at all. I woke up in the very early hours and laid there, listening to you breathe. I know that might sound creepy, but Moms do this all the time. Any Mom out there will back me on this one. I thought about how fast the time had gone. I even prayed for a few fleeting moments that God would actually slow time down for our last few days together. I know better than to pray this --- I contemplated praying it before, at the beginning of your senior year, when I realized how many “lasts” were ahead of us. I knew, however, that God seldom answers this kind of prayer. I also knew that any prayer I prayed to this effect ("Please make the clock move slower") would be immediately counteracted by the prayers you were praying for that same period of time to go by quickly. So instead of praying that time would go slowly, I asked God to help me savor those “last” moments. He did that throughout your senior year, and He was faithful to do it again on our trip.

You will never know how much those days meant to me on the way up to Seattle: the meaningful conversations, the reminiscing, the comfortable silences. I love that we went to the zoo and the giant bookstore, that we got to see a few of your friends at their colleges, and that I was there when you discovered Dutch Bros. coffee. And I love that God gave me a few snapshots along the way to keep forever in my mind and heart . . .

The first specific snapshot was Monday morning, our day in Portland. Driving around in the city was so crazy and so I dropped you off in a random spot while I went to park the car. (By the way, I still stand by my statement that I prefer places where each destination has its OWN parking lot.) It took a few minutes for me to find a parking garage and then to get to the downtown area.  I spotted you from behind, a half of a block ahead of me, just as my phone rang and you asked, “Mom, where are you?”
“Look behind you. I’m right here.”
A seemingly random moment. We went on about our sightseeing.

A few days later, we are at the new student convocation. You moved in to your dorm the day before. This evening is when we will say our goodbyes. We are listening to the president of the university talk about what amazing adventures lie ahead of you. At the same time, he reassures parents about the loving community of faculty and staff that waits to envelop our children into their care. You reach over and take my hand. It is the most precious, meaningful moment of my entire life. I know in a few short minutes they are going to ask you to come forward and be received into their community. I will be asked to let go of your hand and somehow find a way to be okay. I know you will be okay. But will I?

My mind swirls with memories of other times I have held your hand and then had to let go. The day you confidently sauntered off to Kindergarten, barely looking back at me. The evening when I dropped you off at a huge church event – you were eight or nine years old and you didn’t know a soul there. I asked if you wanted me to stay with you for a little bit, and you dropped my hand and skipped off, looking over your shoulder as you reassured me, “Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll find a friend.”  And you did.

Now we’re here in this gymnasium amidst students and families and professors in academic garb. You are ready to venture off in to your new life. And God is asking me to let go of your hand one more time and entrust you into this community, these people who are promising to do so much more than educate you. As hard as it is, I know that it is right. So right. And every little letting-go that led to this moment has prepared both of us. (For the record, I'm pretty dang proud of myself for not clinging to your hand with all of my might while sobbing "Don't go!" I did it! I let go and I didn't even ugly-cry!)

As I release your hand, God reminds me of that moment in Portland a few days earlier when you asked where I was and I said “I’m right behind you.” He reminds me that this is the end of a season, but not the end of being your Mom. For the rest of your life, I will be taking your hand when you need me to, and letting it go when you need me to. I will be walking beside you some of the time, and walking behind you at others, always gently reminding you, “I’m right here. Keep going.”

Driving away from Seattle was the most difficult thing I have ever done. Don’t get me wrong: I have had more difficult things HAPPEN to me, but in terms of things I have physically had to do, that southward drive home takes the cake. I had to keep literally telling myself out loud: “You can’t stay here. You can’t take her home with you. You have only one choice: keep driving.”

So I kept driving, and I kept trusting. A Danny Gokey song came on the radio (yes, I was listening to my “Jesus station”) and the lyrics said:  

“Beginning. Just let that word wash over you. It’s alright now. Love’s healing hands have pulled you through. So get back up, take step one . . . Cause your story’s far from over and your journey’s just begun.” (Tell Your Heart To Bear Again, Danny Gokey)

How faithful of God to remind me that we both have new journeys ahead of us. I have no idea what my new journey holds for me. But I do know this: no matter what else comes my way, a HUGE part of my life will always be being “right here” for you, whatever that means.

Thank you for this amazing adventure. Thank you for sharing all of your joy and excitement with me. (By the way, I know as much as you love it, it will not always be perfect, so it’s okay when you need to gripe too.) Thank you for trusting me to be okay when you went away, and thank you for understanding when it made me a little bit sad.

You are finding what it is that makes you come alive (Howard Thurman), and I am so grateful to be a part of that.

Look behind you. I’m right here. I always will be.


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

 May I be the first to wish you a Happy Birthday?

I was not the first to greet you on that brilliant, magnificent day 18 years ago when you entered the world and changed my life forever. There were medical personnel (who I am eternally grateful for) who rushed you out of my tummy and off to be checked and re-checked before I even had a chance to hold you. Your Dad followed you around while they tested you and bathed you and made sure you were okay. I waited in the recovery room while the nurses brought me updates – your height and weight, your APGAR score, etc. Finally, they brought me to my own hospital room and told me you would be in shortly.

Can I just tell you that the second they put you in my arms was the most magical moment I have ever experienced? There isn’t even a close second. There are no words to describe the instant bond, the overwhelming love, and the ferocious desire to protect and nurture. You looked right into my eyes and I said audibly what my heart had been singing since the second you were born: “We’ve been waiting for you.”

Tomorrow you turn 18. You are poised at the edge of young adulthood. My mind is a whirlwind of thoughts and feelings: I am so very proud of you. I am so grateful for these wonderful, amazing years. I have regrets about the many areas where I could have been a better Mom. But all of those emotions pale in comparison to the overwhelming AWE I feel at having had a front-row seat to watch you become the person you are today.  To see how all the joys, sorrows, laughter, tears, accomplishments, disappointments, and victories have shaped you into this beautiful mixture of exactly who God created you to be.

My precious daughter, not a moment of your life has been wasted. God has used every second. You have trusted Him and leaned in to Him. He has never let go of you, and you have never let go of Him. Never lose sight of what an amazing blessing that is. Life will not always be easy (you are already well aware of this truth) but it is a little less painful when you remember that He never lets go of you.

So may I just say that it has been an absolute privilege and the joy of my life to be your Mom? You have brought joy and hope and purpose to my life. (Not to mention music, laughter, and silliness.) And with every breath, with every heartbeat, I say a prayer of gratitude that God gave me you.

18 years ago, I whispered to you: “We’ve been waiting for you.” And now, on the eve of your eighteenth birthday, I want to tell you this: “The world is waiting for you.” The world needs your strength, your passion, your love, your compassion. God has uniquely gifted you “for such a time as this.” And so with open arms and a grateful heart, I release you into this crazy, mixed-up, beautiful world of ours, knowing that I have done my best and that God is gracious enough to fill in the gaps and cover my shortcomings with His love.

I am your biggest cheerleader, your number-one fan, your soft place to land, and the place you can always come home to. Thank you for teaching me to trust wholeheartedly, to love with abandon, and to keep a song in my heart.

Being your Mom has changed me in all of the best possible ways. And you are one of the bravest people I know. Your birthday will always be one of my greatest reasons to rejoice.

You are doing with your life what only you could do. And THAT is brave.” -- Annie Downs

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

To Allison on your graduation:

There is nothing more I want for you this week than for you to feel celebrated. YOU DID IT!! Tonight, you will have your diploma. A mere piece of paper, but oh, what it represents. . . . hard work, stress, tough decisions, lifelong friendships, wonderful teachers and mentors, so much learning, so much questioning, so much deciding about what you believe and the kind of person you want to be . . .

You have navigated these years so well. I know there have been times you wanted to give up. Times when it seemed your hard work wasn’t going to pay off. Times when you wondered if it was all worth it. I hope as you walk across that stage tonight when they call your name that you will know, in the deepest places of your heart, that, yes, it was all worth it. I hope you will hear in your heart the voices of God, His angels, your family and friends, saying “Well done, sweet girl.”

I also know there have been times when I have missed cues about how stressed you were, times when I misjudged the importance of a given moment or decision, times when I was too eager to jump in with my own opinion instead of just listening. Thank you for the forgiveness and grace you have extended to me during those times. You have been an example to me.

God has given me some incredible gifts this past year as I have done my best to get ready to set you free to soar . . .  He has confirmed your decision to attend Seattle Pacific in some amazing ways. He has assured me that He has plans for me that will fill the void while you are away. He has reminded me in so many moments to stop and take a mental picture – to record in my mind and heart the gift that it is to be your Mom. Even this morning, when you were leaving, and you said, “This is the last time I’ll be walking out the door to go to school.” I stopped and thought about how many mornings there have been, how many times I’ve said “have a good day”. What I want you to know is how very grateful I am for every single one of those days.

God has also used His Word, as He so often does, to remind me of how our lives have come full circle.

At some point, I think in the last couple of years, Micah 6:8 has become your favorite Bible verse. “The Lord has told you what is good, and this is what He requires of you: to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.” It was the theme verse for your Jackson mission trip. It is one of the driving forces behind what you want to do with your life. And it holds a deep, rich meaning for me.

Do you know that you memorized this verse as a very young child? It was either Cubbies or Sparkies, so you were no older than 6. I remember working on it with you. I was always grateful that when you were given memory verses, there were always activities and questions that helped you understand the verse. You would learn what words like “just” and “mercy” meant. It wasn’t just about rote memory; it was about getting to know your Father.

Sometime after memorizing that verse, we were at the park for one of our Saturday play dates. You came over to me at one point very distressed because the other kids you were playing with were being mean to another child on the playground. You told the other kids to stop being mean and they wouldn’t. The other child walked away and you did too. You didn’t want to be a part of that. At such a young age, God gave you the courage to do that.

Later that day, I told you how proud I was of you for how you handled that situation. You said, “Mom, I just kept thinking about that verse I memorized about doing what is right and loving mercy.” I was speechless and so grateful that God was faithfully helping you hide His word in your heart.

Why am I sharing this with you now? Because it is an amazing example of how God works in our lives. Years later, this verse is a driving, guiding force for you, a “mission statement” for your life. We didn’t know back then what the future held, but He did. He was developing in you a heart for the oppressed, the abused, the misunderstood. And He has used EVERY circumstance of your life to shape you into who He wants you to be, to equip you to accomplish the purposes He has for your life.

So as you complete this chapter of your life, I want you to know, at the very deepest levels, that God is always working, always active in your life. There will be times when you can’t hear Him and you wonder why He is silent. There will be times when He feels distant. There will be times when you can’t make sense of what is going on.

But you have a history. A history of knowing that He is always working, always redeeming, always loving. That’s what we cling to during the dark times.

But now – now is a time to celebrate, to be happy, and to be grateful. So, tonight when you walk across that stage and receive that diploma, when you hug your friends and take thousands of selfies and feel like the world belongs to you, may you know I am celebrating too – celebrating who you are, who you will be, and the crazy, amazing, life-changing, incredible gift it is to be your Mom. I will never stop being grateful for that.

He is singing over you today. That is true every day, but especially today, may you hear Him singing over you.

You did it! We are so proud. He is so proud. We celebrate you today!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Alan Jackson, Big Bird, and C.S. Lewis -- A 9-11 Recollection

I wrote this four years ago to share with my writers' group in response to an assignment to share a 9-11 recollection. I decided to share it publicly (well, semi-publically) this year. This was written ten years after 9-11 occurred. Four years later, I am still amazed at the healing, grace and redemption of our story that we have found in Jesus. He redeems everything.

"Where were you when the world stopped turning?" Alan Jackson’s voice mourns as devastating images of the crumpling World Trade Center flash across the screen. I am sorting laundry that has reached epic levels. It is September 11, 2011. Ten years ago today the world changed. This date has become for my generation the "Where were you when . . .  " question. I am mesmerized by the programs of remembrance airing on this somber anniversary. 

My 13 year old enters the room, stops, and stares at the screen. For a split second, I think I should lunge for the remote control and quickly change the channel to something happier, more pleasant. But she is mesmerized now too . . . .

Suddenly, in my mind it is ten years ago. I can’t remember exactly what I was doing when I first heard the news. Perhaps I was sorting laundry then, too. It does seem to be the task that never ends. I do remember deciding not to go to work that day. Things felt too unstable, unpredictable. Allison, then three years old, seemed perfectly content with the idea of playing hooky from preschool and promptly planted herself in front of the television to watch Sesame Street. I slipped into the bedroom to watch more news.

I was glued to the screen as the world learned that the Pentagon had been hit. "What in the world is going on?" I mutter . 

I wander down the hall to check on Allison, who is now giggling because Elmo is talking to his goldfish, Dorothy. She's fine, oblivious. I return to the utter horrors being revealed on the other television set. Now a fourth
plane has crashed. I have never experienced a national crisis of this level. I am afraid.

But I have a preschooler who needs to be checked on so I shove fear aside and traipse back down the hallway. Big Bird is working on his counting skills. 12 cookies, 12 doggies, 12 flowers. 

She senses my presence. "Hi, Mommy".
   "Hi, pumpkin."
   "The number of the day is 12! I can count to 12!", she says exuberantly.

"That’s wonderful, honey",  I stumble back to the bedroom. Nothing has changed on CNN except perhaps things seem even more horrific.

"Oh God. My little girl is so innocent, so carefree, so happy. She has no idea what is going on. She doesn’t know that evil exists and that some people hate. How will I ever tell her this? How can I ever
help her understand this when I can’t understand it myself?" 

The rest of the day is a blur.

Somehow, life, as it has a tendency to do, goes on. The images of horror fade, and the rhythm of everyday life resumes. My joyful preschooler becomes a tween in the blink of an eye. I watch her grow with delight.

But then things begin to change.

It didn’t happen overnight. It was gradual, slow. But my normally joy-filled, optimistic child seemed to be losing her happy approach to life. She seemed a little more withdrawn each day. My heart so desperately wanted to believe that it was just normal adolescence, but there was a nagging concern that maybe it was something more. 

Unfortunately, this time period coincided with the one where Moms can do and say nothing right. In fact, I was convinced that in my daughter’s eyes, sometimes I didn’t even breathe right. I was walking on eggshells, afraid that if I tried to approach her, I would cause things to escalate and create a distance between us.

"God, I know I need to talk to her. I need her heart to open back up to me. But I’m so afraid. I don’t want to say the wrong thing or make it worse. I don’t have the courage to do this. Please help me."

Wednesday night rolled around. "Mom, I want to go to youth group tonight." She hadn’t wanted to go for weeks, but, rather than ask questions, I grabbed the keys and we hopped in the car. In what I now see as divinely orchestrated circumstances, they watched a video about a suicidal teen. As
she told me about the video on the way home, I realized God had given me the open door I had prayed for. (He's so faithful. Sigh.)  

"Have you ever felt that badly about yourself?" I gingerly ask.

The floodgates opened. It turned out that bullying she had experienced two years prior had a much deeper and more profound effect on her than I knew.

 "Mom, I can’t forget what they said about me and did to me. They made me feel so badly about myself and no matter how hard I try, I can’t get past it."

Healing began in that moment. We cried and prayed together and agreed that she should talk to someone on an ongoing basis about the bullying and its effects on her self image. 

We found an awesome Christian counselor who became a partner with us in helping Allison to reach her full potential. Allison forgave the people who hurt her with a grace that I can only aspire to.

I began to see her joy and optimism resurface. She had an open heart again.

So, as we watch the commemoration of 9/11, I have a grateful heart. We see a clip of rescuers finding a portion of the steel that remained erect and formed a rugged cross. There is beauty in the ashes. God can redeem anything. He has for us.

I am reminded of the scene in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, when Lucy asks about the character of the Lion, who represents Christ. "Is He safe?", she asks. 

The reply: "Who said anything about safe? Course He isn’t safe. But He’s good."

My daughter now knows there is evil and hate in the world. She has experienced, on a small scale, her own version of terror. But God is redeeming it.   

We are on the brink of 5 more years of adolescence.  Does our life feel safe right now? Not by a long shot.

 But is it good? Absolutely.

Monday, July 27, 2015

My Year of "Lasts" -- #1 -- Last Summer Camp Send-Off

The list is about a mile long – the things I would do to improve our tiny, 50-plus year old house if time and money were unlimited. To counteract the discontent and unhappiness that might accompany the mental compiling of such a list, I start a new list: Things I love about My House. It will be no surprise to those of you who know me well that at the top of this list is the view I have from my backyard. Since the day we moved in, I have loved sitting out on the back patio every once in a while to watch the sunset. Lately, though, I have begun to feel a sense of urgency about this ritual. Something is missing on the days that I am not able to sit and savor the last few minutes of the day. There is usually no place I would rather be when dusk begins to settle in than in my patio chair with a book or my Bible in my lap. It’s become a priority. Sometimes that has meant dropping bags of groceries on the kitchen floor to be put away later. Other times it has meant postponing errands in order to be home in time to see the day slowly slip away. Up until this week, I had no idea why it had become so important for me lately to have these moments of reflection, but I knew I needed them. Now I think I am beginning to understand why . . .

I put my girl on a bus today. She is headed to Hume Lake summer camp with her beloved youth group. There is nothing unusual about this – she has gone to camp in some form or another every summer (and most winters) since the third grade.  She has never been afraid to leave the comfort and security of home and head out on new adventures. When she came home from her first week away, at the tender age of 9, she told me “A lot of kids cried because they missed their Moms. I missed you, Mom, but, no offense, I didn’t cry.”  My emotions at that time were a confusing bittersweet mixture of joy that she had the independence and confidence to be away from me, and sadness with the realization that she was going to need me less with each day that passed.

There is a predictable and comforting routine that goes along with the morning the kids leave for Hume Lake. While waiting for everyone to get checked in, students gather in decorated T-shirts they made with their small groups (at least the girls have decorated Tshirts. I guess the boys probably don’t – but I never noticed. Hey, I only have a girl, so that’s the perspective this is written from.)  J   Parents sip coffee (or Diet Coke in my case), chat, and try to snap a few pictures until the buses roll away.

What made this year’s departure unique?  It is the last year that Allison will go to “summer camp”. It is the beginning of a year of “lasts” for us as she enters into her senior year of high school.  And I am realizing how these past 17 years my heart and my life have been intricately and complicatingly involved with hers. 

So much has been written about the mother-child bond. So much about that bond cannot even begin to be put into words. After all, these human beings grow inside of us! (Or for adoptive mommies, grew in your hearts and souls and dreams until they arrived in your homes.) There is nothing like the overwhelming, scary, sacred, wonderful moment when you bring that life into the world and realize they are completely dependent on you. For everything. For their very survival. No pressure or anything.

For at least the first six to nine months, babies don’t even realize they are separate individuals from their mothers. The bond is that intense. The toddler years then become about them separating themselves and beginning to define themselves as individual human beings separate from their mothers. Individuals with a God-given destiny.

In retrospect, I realize my whole life since the day Allison was born has been about trying to make sure she has the skills and resources she needs to figure out a couple of things: who God has made her to be and how she is going to use her unique combination of gifts and abilities to make a difference in the world.  That has been my focus. With every joy and high point in these 17 years, I have celebrated and been grateful. With every difficulty and hardship, I have prayed that God would use those experiences to soften and open her heart, develop perseverance and patience in her character, and deepen her relationship with Him and her compassion for others. So the ironic thing is that as her life “work” has been about separating from me and defining herself for the past 17 years, it seems mine has become increasingly entwined with hers as I have done my best to give her everything she needs. It is a delicate dance and it is not always pretty. Sometimes I am amazed at how intensely my heart feels connected to hers. Not in a bad, enmeshed sort of way, but in a “this is what I am here for” sort of way.  I have absolutely no regrets about living my life this way for these years. Being her Mom has truly felt like the reason I was born. I am reminded of the Garth Brooks lyrics that describe a mother’s job as “making sure you’re always going to be alright.” That describes a Mom’s role better than just about anything I’ve ever heard.

I’m wondering these days whether the last few years of adolescence for a mother mimic in some ways the first few years of life for a child. Just as they as toddlers began to gradually disentwine themselves from us, it’s now time to gradually disentwine (I know, it’s not a real word) from our child’s life. My main goal these days is less and less about “making sure she’s always going to be alright”, because as I observe her on the brink of adulthood, full of anticipation and excitement and purpose, I know that she will be better than alright. She is ready to change the world in her own unique way. And the letting go, though difficult and at times painful, is mostly full of joy. It is launching her into the world, setting her free to be who her Heavenly Father created her to be.

Which brings me back to my sunsets and why perhaps it has been important for me to focus on them lately. To watch a sunset is to observe the end of a day. But inherent in a sunset is the promise of a sunrise – it is not just an ending, but the anticipation of a new beginning, a new reason to be joyful. And inherent in the sadness that the coming year of “lasts” might hold, there is so much to be grateful for. I am grateful for a daughter who has made this parenting journey so full of joy that I don’t want it to be over. Grateful for the assurance that she will still need me, though it will look different now. Grateful for Mom-friends in my life who I have had the privilege to watch do this letting go thing well – really well. And grateful for a faithful God who not only has a wonderful, exciting future ahead for my daughter, but who holds wonderful things ahead for me. That’s who He is. And that’s the promise I receive every time I watch the sunset. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Celebrating Feet

Celebrating feet (and Maundy Thursday)

I don’t like feet.  Not in the casual sort of “feet are not my favorite part of the body” sense, but in a “I will freak right out on you if you touch my feet or if I have to touch yours” way.  It’s bad.  If my poor husband rolls over in bed and his feet accidentally touch mine, in that brief moment before I talk myself down, I am wondering if “accidental foot touching” is an acceptable reason for divorce.  Okay, not really. Just using exaggeration to make the point --  I really don’t like feet.  

Ironically, I worked in a podiatry office for 6 years. The doctor I worked for prided himself on training all of his staff to be able to work in the front office (customer service and paperwork) and the back office (assisting the doctor and TOUCHING FEET). It is my claim to fame that I was the only employee in the 20-plus year history of that office to get exempted from having to work in the back office. I just could not do it. Luckily, I proved myself valuable enough in the front office to earn the only permanent spot there. J

I sadly have passed a little bit of this weirdness on to my daughter. But when she got a pedicure and told me it didn’t push her over the edge, I sang a little victory song in my head.  I might have passed it on, but it is a slightly improved, slightly less neurotic version of the “I hate feet” gene.

So it is no surprise that the story of Jesus washing His disciples' feet is not my favorite. It’s just uncomfortable for me all around. But I stumble through it, always hopeful that I can get past the intense grossness of Someone washing someone else’s feet.

The foot-washing debacle occurs on what is known as Maundy Thursday. I think I have looked up the word “Maundy” every year since my daughter has been old enough to ask me “What does Maundy mean?” every time Easter rolls around. So there I was again tonight, googling “Maundy”.

“Oh that’s right. It means ‘commandment’ and refers to Jesus’ commandment to His disciples (then and now) to love others as He had loved them.”  Why can’t I remember that? Why do I have to look it up every stinkin’ year?  (On a related side note, I read a cheerful little article today that described how our memory skills and abilities peak at age 35 and decline steadily after that. That means I am 18 years down the decline side of that mountain. Super.    Also, I’m really glad we can google word definitions now because I can’t read the small print in the dictionary anymore. Aging is not for wimps, friends.)

Anyway, Jesus was demonstrating His unfathomable love for His disciples by washing their feet.  What does that mean for me today? If I was there on that Maundy Thursday evening, I sure hope I would be able to overcome my wackiness and let Him wash my feet. But, really, it means something more.

It means letting Him have the parts of me that are hard, or “icky”. The parts of my personality that disgust myself. The fears and insecurities that cripple me. The aspects of myself that I would rather hide away.

Turns out He treats those parts with the utmost gentleness and tenderness. He understands. He washes them clean and makes them acceptable. He redeems them and uses them for His glory.

Hallelujah – what a Savior!  Happy Maundy Thursday – aka Fabulous Foot Day!  

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Celebrating Extravagance

Celebrating Extravagance

Tucked in to the middle of Holy Week, the Gospels tell  us that Jesus was having dinner with his disciples and some others when they experienced an interruption. A woman enters the scene – Matthew and Mark refer to her simply as “a woman” while John  identifies her as “Mary”. She apparently causes quite a stir when she breaks open a very expensive jar of perfume and anoints Jesus’ head, then washes His feet with her tears. The disciples were pretty indignant that she had “wasted” such an expensive item, when it could have been sold, and the money given to the poor.

A couple new things hit me as I read through this passage tonight. For one thing, this woman risked. A lot. She walked into the middle of a group of men who she knew would judge her, and gave what may have been her most prized possession. She must have known she was going to be criticized, ridiculed, and condemned. But she didn’t care. I imagine maybe she didn’t even see the others around her. She knew they were there, of course, but I picture her so focused on the One she loved, that she didn’t care about anything else. She was there on a mission and nothing could stop her.

Another thing. . . she washed His feet with her tears! I have read or heard this story hundreds of times, and it never crossed my mind how hard she must have been crying if there were enough tears to wash His feet. We’re talking Big Ugly Cry here. Again, she didn’t care. Oblivious to the stares and judgments of those around her who didn’t understand, she unabashedly poured out her heart. She wept at His feet.

Jesus, unlike the rest of the guests there, saw her heart. He saw the pure love of someone who had been rescued and forgiven. He told the disciples and others to quit bugging her (my paraphrase) because she had performed an act of great beauty and sacrifice that would be remembered forever. She had loved extravagantly because she had been loved by Jesus.

Oh, how I want to love extravagantly. To pour myself out for those whom God has given me to love. To give sacrificially, joyfully, and with a heart full of gratitude. The best way I am finding so far to do this (since I am sadly lacking in very expensive perfumes, and I’m pretty sure my loved ones don’t want me anointing their heads and crying on their feet anyway) is to simply be present. To lay aside distractions and listen with my whole self. To give up the idea that I have to have answers for every problem and just be there. Sit with. Accept.

I haven’t even begun to figure out how to do really do this well. But I want to. And I have been extravagantly loved and lavishly forgiven by the One who can show me how.