Monday, April 28, 2003

View from the Pew

I have a friend who sits in a different pew at church every week. Through the years, I've seen her bounce around from place to place. One week, she'll sit with me in my traditional spot (third row from the back, as far to the left as I can get); the next week she might be way up front or over on the other side. She told me once that she intentionally sits in the places of people who choose the same spot week after week (although she's taken occupied my place). She feels she's doing them a favor, breaking them out of their familiar routine, forcing them to experience worship from a different perspective. I always thought that was a bit pushy--I mean, why bump someone out of their seat who enjoys that feeling of comfortable sameness?

But this week I think differently. Because now, on the other side of my move to the new house, I can see that I had gotten so comfortable in my old surroundings that it was very difficult for me to move to a different place. My seat was chosen. My life was set. I liked my spot and even though the place I was moving to was a great blessing and something worth doing, my flexibility muscle had atrophied to the point that moving beyond the familiar was a great struggle for me. I've always thought of myself as very flexible and easy-going, but after this past week I know I need to change the "very" to "somewhat." I'd like to build back up to "very" so that I can accept with a smile and full gratitude whatever God has for me, wherever He wants to put me, however He wants things to look. I know in my heart that I really *don't* need things a certain way, at a certain time, in a certain pew. God is with us everywhere, every time, in all things. There is nothing we can do and nowhere we can go that is outside the love of God. So why do I cling to the familiar when I've got a relationship with the Known? I think I'll sit on the other side of the aisle next Sunday and find out. :) k

Thursday, April 24, 2003

Life and Life Again

I'm writing to you from a new house. Funny how unsettling it is to move from one familiar set of surroundings to new territory. When I was younger I didn't get nearly so attached to work often caused me to move from place to place; I didn't have strong family ties, so location wasn't central to my thinking. But today, with three kids (and several others I've adopted as my own), two dogs, two cats, a home business, neighbors, a church, friends, clients (oh, and a turtle), moving is a much bigger deal. I'm dug in. I'm connected every which way. I'm at least partially defined by those I see and know and visit with--I'm at least partially affirmed by my accomplishments at work, my vision of achievement, my understanding of the expectations of those around me. How much I need a strong inner remembering of "God with me"! How much I rely on knowing that God is opening these doors and then I step through them, listening much I count on God preparing the way and blessing our moments--and our future--with his love. When the change-stress grips me, I take a deep breath and say "Thank you," for where I am, what I'm doing, who I love, and those who love me. My outer circumstances have changed, but God hasn't. Thank you, God, for reminding me. :) k

Monday, April 21, 2003

A Personal Equation

This thought occurred to me this morning: I know God loves me. People, I'm not always so sure about. But if I believe there is that of God in everyone (and I do), doesn't it follow that there is the spirit of Love, for me, inside each person I meet? Of what (or whom) then shall I be afraid?

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

All the Best

When I was a little girl, I spent hours pouring over pebbles. It didn't matter where--on the playground, sitting beside a creek, in a driveway, or in the yard. I was always fascinated by the shape and color of the small stones I found. Much to my mom's dismay, I often had pockets half-full of dirty white or pink treasures. The smooth, white pearly stones were special to me, but the pink stones--which may have been a kind of rose quartz--were my favorites. They meant something really good; they meant I was lucky to find them; they somehow told me I was blessed.

I have no idea why, but this feeling and activity--watching for signs of blessing in the common world around me--has grown with me into adulthood. Today when I see a cardinal, I think "God loves you." When I see a rainbow in the sky--particularly those morning and evening rainbows that appear in high clouds on sunny days--I remember with gratitude the many blessings we're given each day, but that we often miss. When I hear certain strains of music, feel another's genuine concern, watch the miracle of forgiveness happen right before my eyes, I know God is very close. In the past, some people have said I'm looking too closely at things--studying those stones for blessings. But for some reason, that's the way I'm made, and that's what I tend to do, in my life, in my work, internally and externally.

This morning after I dropped Cameron off at school, I was driving home through traffic. It was a perfect spring morning--I noticed the beauty around me and felt peaceful within. Suddenly inside, I heard: "All the best you believed is true," and I had an image of myself, gathering those wonderful little pink stones. I understood this to mean that all the times I hoped coincidences in my life were God communicating with me, it was Him. All the little messages I interpreted during a day's time to mean God was reminding me He was with me were true. All the best I believed--of God, of myself, of others--is real, and right, and eternal.

I hope this makes sense to you, wherever you are in your faith walk and however your draw God close in your day. All the best you believe of Him--and of yourself--is true. Next time you see a cardinal, or a pink stone, remember that.

With love :) katherine

Friday, April 11, 2003

A Moment

I have just finished reading The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence. Amazing, amazing. And attainable. I'm convinced. :) Then I ran across this quote, which made everything sparkle:

    I held a moment in my hand,
    brilliant as a star,
    fragile as a flower,
    a shiny sliver out of one hour.
    I dropped it carelessly.
    O God! I knew not I held an opportunity.

    --Hazel Lee

May we each enjoy many precious moments today spent whole-heartedly in the presence of God. :) k

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

And then...Joy

Yesterday was packed. I had a list of about 10 errands to run, one chapter to write, and one chapter to edit. Plus it was Cameron's first day of baseball practice for the season and we had to get Christopher ready for a four-day high school trip to Dayton, Ohio (meaning he needed to find all the clothes he wanted to take so I could make sure they were washed and ready). My approach to days like this, when work and life entwine so much, it usually very methodical and logical. I make a list, I set priorities, I make a plan, and I carry it out, step by step. But yesterday, because the errands were scattered all over town, I was trying to figure out the best route, the best way to approach all these things and get them done before baseball practice. Instead of my logic kicking in, I just felt frustrated. I couldn't make sense of it. For some reason, a clear route wasn't emerging. At one point, I thought, "This is silly. Why can't I figure this out? I do this all the time..." and I prayed about it and tried to leave it with God to solve.

By 2:00, the answer hadn't occurred to me. I looked at my list of things to do and tried to put them in a smart order. My frustration grew. The only thing I knew to do was the first step. I knew I needed to get something notarized for my daughter so I could Fedex it to her by the end of the day. That was my priority. That's all I knew. So I started there.

The people at the bank were very friendly--I didn't have to wait, everyone was pleasant. I felt my spirits pick up. Walking out to the car, I knew what I needed to do next. So I did it. After that was completed, I knew which task to work on next. So I did that. By the time I picked up the boys from school, most of the errands were done and a surprise by-product had appeared in my day: Joy. The boys and I laughed and talked. We stopped and had a fun dinner together. I got the rest of the errands done and Cameron delivered to baseball practice (a half-hour early, in fact; I had the time wrong) and the feeling of joy stayed with me through the night and I still feel it today.

Amazing how something I struggled with, something I tried to turn loose to God, came back step-by-step to bless me in such a wonderful way. I could see no answer but the next step, but I know now, sitting here, that when I stepped forward into what I knew to do, the next step presented itself. This is a good lesson for me, because I'm a map-maker, a planner...I like to have the experience sketched out before I jump in. But God has another way. And it mixes my own skills with his guidance; my listening with his speaking; my trusting with his leading; and my action with his direction. Thanks for the object lesson, God! And for a productive--and joyful--day. :) k

Thursday, April 03, 2003

And then...Peace

It's been such a busy time (this is an old refrain for me), and life sometimes seems to accelerate without my realizing it. One day I wake up feeling overwhelmed, out of time, edgy, and put-upon. The boys need to go here and there. I have this meeting and that meeting. A passel of deadlines pop up around me like spring flowers. My head hurts.

And then I remember God. And relief washes through me, along with the thought that, even in the midst of a busy life, my relationship with him is growing. I'm seeing him and feeling him more and more in my day. I think I'm beginning to understand "presence." The love I feel for others is ever at the ready--even for grumpy drivers and out-of-sorts clerks--and I know it's God changing me, loving me, healing me from the inside out. Life is good, right now. Life's seeming acceleration can seem to bring me stress for a moment, until I realize and embrace what's really going on in my life. I'm getting closer to God. And that's what I truly want.

Enjoy your day! :) k