Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Goodnight House and Goodnight Mouse

It is four days until moving day and all of our belongings are jumping into boxes by themselves while a roll of packing tape zips through the house, seeking cardboard that needs sealing. I WISH! Actually, it is all going pretty well and on schedule. It is sad how much I love those two words..."on schedule", but there it is and I cannot change who I am so instead I embrace my love of order and schedule.

That being said, I did linger a bit in our guest room as I packed up the tangible remains of the life of my mother. For those of you just tuning in here, my mother lived with me for the final year of her life and this month marks two years that she has been gone. The day after her memorial service, I took all of her things that I wanted to keep and shoved them into a closet in our guest room and so it has taken me a little while to touch and smell each thing before putting it in a box. I gazed around the guest room that she called home for her final year of life and remembered so many conversations we had and thought of all the old black and white movies we watched together, and I wondered to myself if the empty place she left inside me would ever stop aching. I suspect not.

My husband and I have lived in lots of houses in many different cities, a path we chose together nearly twenty-one years ago when we agreed to go wherever God said and pour our hearts and lives into others. But this is the first time I have felt sad about leaving a house. Some of our friends have had the experience of raising their families in one place, maybe even one house, and there have been times I have envied them. But just briefly. I love all the amazing people we have met and friendships we have formed by living in different places and, while this way of life wreaks havoc on your finances, it does bring heaven to your heart. Still, leaving this house hurts and I am trying to make time to feel what I feel, grieving a little over the ending of a season of my life that was searingly painful and deliciously wonderful all at the same time. How I am feeling reminds me of my very favorite children's story that my mother read to me when I was small, Goodnight Moon. Each page shows the little bunny saying goodnight to different things in his room until he finally tells the moon goodnight. It is important to say goodnight to the the places and seasons and people that matter.

Goodnight Lake City. Goodnight Christian Heritage Church. Goodnight house!


Friday, September 25, 2009

When God Closes a Home He Opens a Window

Let me start by giving credit for my catchy little title to my friend, Tim Smith. His sense of humor...it is so choice.

Now, down to business. If you are just tuning in, I have been chronicling our journey into the unknown and you can catch up by clicking here, here, here and here. We have been packing and praying, trusting that when our house closes in two short weeks we will not be homeless. Homeless was just not on our list of options. I am kidding of course, but my point is that we have been growing short on time (yesterday marked eight days left until moving day) and long on uncertainty. The amazing thing about following God is that even when circumstances appear uncertain, God is a sure thing.

Every time.

Just not according to my timetable, which we waved bye-bye to long ago.

So...the night before last we received an offer to move our family into the guest home of some very dear people. Wow! This offer will afford our family an opportunity to rest, pressure-free, and to "lie beside still waters" so that He can "restore our souls." This totally confirmed that the Lord wants us in Valdosta, GA for this season of time that we know in our hearts is still transitional. There will be more ministry ahead for us and we know in our hearts that God has us in a holding pattern for now. And holding patterns are not so bad when you know Who is holding you.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Why Am I Telling You All Of This?

So glad you asked...

Those of you who know me personally are aware that I am anything but mysterious. I used to wish I could be an enigmatic, elusive personality that people were dying to figure out. Yeah...that's never going to happen. I wear my heart on my sleeve and my opinions on the outside of my mouth, which gets me in a world of trouble. Wide open though I am, there are places in my heart that are seen by invitation only, and I am particularly careful about displaying the details of my life during periods of transition.

You see, my hubs and I have moved more than a few times in our almost twenty-one years together, and we have been the butt of more than a few jokes over the years. For so long the pain of being misunderstood overshadowed the beauty of knowing we had obeyed God. There were times I would forget that when it is all said and done, His delight in me is what counts.Yet somehow my heart has reached that wide-open place of acceptance. I have accepted who we are and the unconventional path He has called us to walk and I no longer look for the unexpected curves and contours of our life in God to mirror that of someone else. The virgin Mary would have never found another whose path resembled hers. And the truth is we are all "incubating" the life of Christ, but we must free one another to be the unique expression of that immense life, no matter how different from our own it may be. Oswald Chambers said this:

“God puts His saints where they will glorify Him, and we are no judges at all of where that is.”

What utter freedom, what unending abandon there is in that truth. He decides for me. And you. And no two paths are the same. The community of believers should be like an art museum where we gaze with wonder and appreciation at the breathtaking differences in the lives of each believer. And that is why I have opened this part of our life for you to see. I have written much about following Him at any cost and now I am giving you a peek at what that looks like for us and for our family, at least right now, at this moment. It's weird. It's unconventional. But it's real.

What about you? What is God doing in you right now?


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

We Asked For This

I told you in my last post that all of the strangeness in which we are currently living is something that we asked for. Yes, I did end that sentence in a preposition. I can't be held responsible for my behavior at this time. You see, we have three sons, two of whom are teenagers, and we have been praying some big prayers for them. One year ago, the path of our life veered off into Timbuktu (figuratively, of course) and throughout this process we have asked God to show Himself to our boys in a big way. FYI-be VERY CAREFUL what you pray for! Never, ever do I want to demonstrate small living, small faith or a small God to my own kids. I want them to taste the immensity that is God and His Kingdom so that they will become obsessed with following Him anywhere, anytime.

And so here we are, stuck between the Rock and a God place, with no plan B. And we are watching, listening and waiting. These are perfect conditions for God to show up and show out. And my three sons are a captive audience for a God who never fails.

Check back in soon. I plan to tell you why on earth I am sharing so much of my personal life in such a public way.


A Tale of Two Cities...Taylor Style

The clock is ticking and we are fast approaching moving day. Our house is a flurry of cardboard, paper and questions and we are making every effort to move with calm assurance through a season that we do not fully understand in a way that honors God.

So, here is where we are. My hubs and I are considering two different cities and we are still not clear which one will be home. Truthfully, we need a miracle in the arena of housing and so we are waiting to see in which city God will perform this amazing miracle. And we now have...(you can hum to yourself while I count)...eleven days left until we have to move. We have less time than we originally thought because we realized we would have to move on a Saturday to have any help. Now, I realize how utterly ridiculous this must sound to most people and even our own three sons, who are used to us and the way God usually leads us, are looking at us like we have lost our everloving minds. But here is the thing...we asked for this.

I would explain what I mean but I am running out of time! Check back for the next installment of what has recently become my "reality blog"....


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Welcome to My Castle...But Watch Your Step

Lately, I have been considering the blogs that I am drawn to, the ones that I will read regardless of my busy schedule. And do you know what they all have in common? In each one the author is putting him or herself "out there" and what they write is real and authentic and I can't help but find that irresistible. I'm not talking about the embarrassing kind of self-disclosure that makes you want to crawl under your couch and hide, like when you watch The Office. I am talking about a real person who knows they are flawed and yet they let down their humanity like a drawbridge, inviting you to cross over the mote of outward appearance to see what the castle is really like inside.

I have avoided writing about my own personal life in any real detail for the past year or so because it is hard to give someone a tour of a castle you hardly recognize. The past twelve months have turned out to be one of the most surprising years of my life. My husband of almost twenty-one years stepped out of vocational ministry to pursue a business opportunity which turned out to be a vehicle that God used to pull us off to the side where He could tell us some things we needed to hear. And some dreams I thought were finally becoming tangible seem to be drifting off in the big, gray horizon, and I have been standing on the shore like Tom Hanks in Castaway, talking to myself and hoping that someone would show up and rescue me. It has been a costly year for us in more ways than one and a year that has shaken the foundations of my faith. And it's not over yet.

Our home, that has been on the market for eighteen months, has sold and we are set to close in twenty days. That means we have to move in nineteen days. And we have no idea where we are going. I said we have no idea where we are going. I would like to point out that this is actually the second time that we have been all dressed up with nowhere to go so I am not freaking out. I am going about my life, teaching my sons, writing, accepting speaking opportunities when they come and packing boxes, all the while breathing in and breathing out, expecting that God will show up before moving day and tell us where the heck He wants us to go.

I have written a great deal about risk, adventure and the perils of shore-hugging but what I want to say today, at this moment in my life, is that I am feeling a little seasick. And if I have ever given you the impression that launching out into the deep is only exciting and never frightening...well, I apologize. Sometimes it just plain sucks (sorry, Sabrina). I just wanted to set the record straight. Because I am nothing if not honest and authentic, and while that may not make everyone comfortable, I can at least lay my head on my pillow at night and know that I have been real. And real is seldom easy, usually uncomfortable and almost always messy. Welcome to my very real and very messy life. I will keep you posted...


Monday, September 14, 2009

Hi, I'm Larry...This Is My Brother Darryl and This Is My Other Brother Darryl"

So, I have been contemplating my life. Where I am now....where I will be after our house closes on the 9th of next month...how on God's green earth we have come to be at this place where we find ourselves. You know, things like that. Just for the record, I have no answers. But I do see that I am going to need a little more flexibility in my life. So rather than have a regular posting schedule here on my funky little blog that is read by tens of people three times a week come rain or shine, I will instead be posting whenever the heck I feel like it. So there.

I feel so rebellious, so dangerous, so....naughty right now! The idea of living life with no schedule!!! Okay, seriously, I need you to know that I will only be posting when I have something fantastic to say that is entirely fueled by my passions and not by a posting schedule even though this violates all the rules of growing a wildly successful blog. Fortunately for me, this blog of mine is not yet wildly successful so I can afford myself this freedom. If you do not already subscribe to this blog via e-mail or in a reader, please check out the right margin and do that now. You know you do not want to miss a thing here and I am just making it easy for you. No need to thank me.

And by the way, the title has nothing to do with this post. I just like "Newhart" from the 1980's. Big perms, ugly sweaters with shoulder pads and Bob Newhart...what's not to love?


Friday, September 11, 2009

9-11-01...If We Were to Ask God

"What lies behind us, and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

All of the ceremony of a day like today stirs us to pause and to remember...

Where we were.

What we were doing.

How we felt.

And all the needless loss of life that day.

On this day each year, some will be overcome with thankfulness, forgiveness and hope.

Others will still be nursing hatred and judgment and fear.

If we were to ask God how He feels about what happened, I wonder what He would say.

Because He is "I Am" and not "I Was" or "I Will Be", I think He would ask us to look within and see how we have allowed the tragedies of yesterday and the heartbreak of today to change us and make us look like a truer reflection of His Image. And although I am certain the events of 9-11-01 broke God's heart, I imagine that today He is more interested in whether or not His children are looking more like Him and if we are allowing His image to be reflected on the lost and the broken, the sick and the poor.

These are the things I am thinking of today.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Most People are Crappy Listeners (or A Question We Should Ask God)

Most people, it would seem to me, are crappy listeners who are excellent at talking about themselves and completely oblivious to their inability to actively listen to others. If this is a gross generalization, then please forgive my painting with such a broad stroke. I am sure there is a huge colony of people who are excellent listeners, expertly utilizing correct body language and conversational cues, that live in some remote corner of Montana and I just haven't had the pleasure of meeting them.

And if most of us are poor listeners when it comes to our fellow man, then how must we behave when we enter the proverbial prayer closet? Pretty much the same, I would wager. So I ask you this: Have you ever gotten alone with God and asked Him this: "What do you want to talk about today, Lord?" (cue the sound of crickets chirping)

I decided to challenge myself with this and I have been asking Him to take the lead in our time together. It is astounding what comes out of this type of interaction with God. It won't lower your cholesterol 20 points or shave ten pounds off of your waist, but it will increase your vision and improve your hearing. And your heart? Well, it will be more tender than you could ever imagine. Go ahead...ask Him.


Friday, September 4, 2009

Friday Jumbles

--From the Department of Completely Useless Information, I am happy to inform you that if you have had or are considering having your dog neutered, there is help on the way so that his self esteem need not suffer. Click here to read about Neuticles if you are as concerned about your neutered pet's emotional health as I am about mine. "It's like nothing ever changed!"

--Tim Sanders (oh, I do respect this man) has written another great post on scarcity thinking in regard to the current recession. Take a minute to click over and read his words of life and encouragement.

--I'm not saying that extended periods of transition and trying to sell ones house are stressful, but yesterday I gave one of my high school age sons his younger brother's math test by mistake. He was NOT happy with me, but I am happy to report that my ninth grade son is, in fact, smarter than a fifth grader.

--And speaking of stressful circumstances, my dog Kramer...you know, the little fuzzball that throws up everywhere in my house? He had a seizure recently and , once I figured out he wasn't break dancing, I rushed him to the vet where he immediately returned to his normal state and peed all over the examination room floor. It's all good though...the doctor assured me that if this keeps up, I can purchase pills that he will need to take TWICE A DAY FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE.

--Hope you people have a blissfully happy holiday weekend. I won't post on Monday because, well, if the postal employees don't have to work, then neither am I. I will be back on Wednesday. Holla!!


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

In His Lap

When I was a child and it was my weekend to be with my daddy, I couldn't wait to get in his lap and feel his arms squeeze me close to him. Nobody could hug me like he did. The smell of his aftershave and the prickles of his whiskers on my cheek were medicine to my hurting little heart and I drank deeply every weekend that I spent with him, wishing that I could hug him every day. Little boys and girls need the lavish affection of their fathers.

These past weeks, I trimmed away some of the distractions in my life for a while so I could pull in, narrow my focus and curl up next to God. I don't mean this to sound spooky- spiritual or religious. I just mean it for what it is...a little girl who needs more affection from her Daddy and the only way she knows to get it is to cuddle up next to Him.

Somehow many of us become so swept away with the distractions of life that we forget how badly we still need to curl up in our Heavenly Father's lap and drink Him in. And sadly many of these distractions, some of them good things or, even worse, ministry things, become poor substitutes for what our souls desperately need...lavish affection from the only One who knows who we really are.

When was the last time you sat in His lap?


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hi...Remember Me???

Yes, my friends, I am alive and well. Rumors of my untimely demise have been greatly exaggerated. I have, however, enjoyed a wonderful month of solitude...well, as much solitude as one can enjoy living with three sons. I have really missed all of you wonderful people though, and I am glad to be back. I can't wait to share all of my highly important and life-changing thoughts with you. I am sure you have slept little over this past month in breathless anticipation of what I might write. Okay, seriously, I really do have some things to say...just not today. I might possibly have let September slip up on me. Don't hate me for it.
I will be back on Wednesday, as usual. Have a splendiferous week!