You’ve Got My Attention!

You've Got My AttentionDistracted drivers kill over 3000 people every year, and they injure over 300,000. Their actions say that driving isn’t important enough to merit their attention. The average car in the United States weighs around 4000 pounds and is traveling anywhere from twenty to eighty miles per hour. It doesn’t take a degree in physics to understand that driving is dangerous business and demands all of my attention all of the time, especially if I am carrying precious cargo. My driving habits changed dramatically when my granddaughters got into my car. Love makes a big difference in the attention equation.

Distracted lovers are as prevalent as distracted drivers, but I don’t have any statistics on how many hearts they break. Checking the time, answering a call, sending a text, or taking attention away from a loved one says they are not important. They either learn they are not worthy of your love or you are not worthy of theirs.

I’ve struggled with unworthiness my entire life. I’ve always believed I wasn’t worthy of God’s love or anyone else’s. I knew God loved me because He had to, but my experiences with human love taught me I didn’t merit the attention love requires. As a result, I’ve always settled for less than God desired for me because I didn’t embrace His vision for me. My heart was molded by the way it was treated early on, and I connected to those who would love me the way I believed I deserved to be loved. I found myself in the arms of those who didn’t have the time or attention love needs to grow as God desires.

I wonder what would happen if our cars demanded our attention. What if they pulled off the road each time we were distracted? When Tyler was a toddler, he used to hold my cheeks together and get right in my face when he wanted my full attention. Mylah says, “Look at me. I’m talking.” Maybe we could get an app that would do the same on our cars and phones, or maybe we could simply stop for a second and think about how it makes us feel when we are in the presence of someone who isn’t present.

God is always fully present, but we rarely give Him the attention He deserves. He could very easily demand our attention, but He knows demanding attention is worse than not getting it. His world is filled with distracted lovers who run to Him when they need something or when they are hurt but forget all about Him when all is well. I am as guilty as anyone in that regard.

The world fills our journeys with distractions, but God fills them with beautiful opportunities to love. We must decide whether to love and let go of distractions or go with distractions and leave love behind. I can’t imagine I leaving this world wishing I had checked the time or my phone more often, but I fear leaving it wishing I had loved more.

Driving takes time and attention if it is to be done in a way that doesn’t hurt others. The same is true for loving, so take time today to stop and make sure those you love know you love them by giving them your full attention. God knows we miss so much when we are distracted, and He also knows that a loving presence is one that is focused upon the one being loved ūüôā

What Am I Missing?

Breaking the Mold

Breaking Free
“Breaking the mold” is an idiom that means to stop doing something the way it’s always been done. Molds take a long time to make and a longer time to break. ¬†My heart was molded to believe it was not worthy of love at a very young age, and it conformed to the limits of that mold for fifty-six years. It took a lot to break the grip that mold had on my heart, but God knew my heart and knew exactly how to go about breaking the mold without breaking my heart.

Labor Day has always been a turning point for me. I left my marriage of twenty-nine years on Labor Day 2002, and the holiday marked the beginning of a new school year for eighteen years of my life. It is fitting that God chose this weekend to show me that His Son’s precious love is the only thing powerful enough to break the¬†mold holding my heart captive.

The changes this month have been hard on my heart. God knew it was time to break free of the mold on my heart, but I wasn’t prepared for the pain. He began chipping away at that mold the week mama died. He could have broken my heart’s mold with a single blow, but He knew that would damage my heart beyond repair. Instead, He shocked it awake and took it on a five-year journey that would let His Son’s precious love do what only it can.

Hindsight is crystal clear, so I see God’s plan now even though it made no sense to me at the time. He allowed me to experience love He knew would break the mold that encased my heart and free me to be who He created me to be. The breaking was more painful than anything I’ve ever known. I was as empty and exposed as I’ve ever been, but there was a beautiful difference this time. Fear was not part of the pain. For the first time, I wasn’t afraid. That was due, in part, to being numb and not caring what happened, but a bigger part was trusting God in a way I never had before. I had no choice, and that is usually when I listen and trust Him most.

Christ’s precious love grows quickly when given space, and that was the message God had for me this morning as I saw the roots of His love reaching down into the depths of my soul and the beautiful branches reaching up and out in a way that made me forget all about the broken mold out of which it was growing. I wish I had an image that captured His this morning, but I don’t. The little tree breaking through the concrete is where my heart is now, but I know with the Holy Spirit’s help, His love will be reaching down and out and up as the tree below.

Reaching out up and down

Thank You God for breaking my brokenness and opening my heart as only You can.

A Different Darkness

I love sleeping at my sister Linda’s house. I sleep ten hours and wake feeling great every time I visit. Many factors work together to create an environment perfect for sleeping, and my sister’s unconditional love is the biggest one. Another factor that intrigues me is the darkness. The room is void of light when the blinds are closed, and that is exactly what my body and mind need for a great night’s rest. Research shows I need lots of light during the day and darkness at night if I hope to achieve healthy melatonin levels and a circadian rhythm conducive to rest.

When my journey leads to a new path, I find myself in darkness. Fear normally comes as I leave my comfort zone. It’s like entering a tunnel with no end in sight. My heart underwent a big change a few weeks ago, and the path lead to unbearable darkness. I’ve never felt more alone or afraid in my life; I pleaded with God to find another way. He reminded me that He would never leave me alone and knew what was best for my heart.

God’s timing is always perfect, so I wasn’t surprised when the new path came as I was preparing to visit two of my sisters. God knows their love helps me find my balance. No one knows me like my sisters, and no one loves me the way they do. Their love is always great medicine for my body, soul, spirit, and heart. God also knows how much I love Topsail Island and how it affects my heart, so He made sure the weather was picture perfect the entire week I was there with my youngest sister Edie. The rhythm of the water rocked peace into my soul, and my sister loved me in a way that restored and renewed my heart.

I stopped at Linda’s house on the way to Topsail Island and again on the way home. God used the dark nights at Linda’s and the sunny shores at Edie’s to teach an important lesson. Darkness is different when fear is gone. Perfect love casts out fear, and that was so true during the ten days I spent with my sisters and God. I’ve come to the end of paths before, but I’ve never had the peace I had this time. My heart hurt, and I cried a lot of tears during those dark nights; but there was joy each morning, and I never once felt alone. As Lillyann would say, “God is always with us. Right Gigi?”

Right indeed little Lilly! God is always with us, and He knows exactly what we need. New paths are hard to start, but knowing God is there gives my heart the courage to move in a new direction. Living and loving will always require my heart to leave the familiar, but the darkness of a new path need not be fearful. My heart hasn’t adjusted completely to the new lighting, but its focus is upon the One who knows the way and assures me that I do not have to worry about what’s ahead. I only need to know Who I’m following. Christ’s precious love is a beautiful light in a dark tunnel, and it always will be. Sharing it with others makes the light even brighter, and that causes fear to flee and hope to surround in a way that changes the way I love.

One Brief Moment

A Kid Again
A Kid Again

The following poem was in my room on Topsail Island. I can relate to the poet because the island takes me back to childhood and allows me to be the me God created me to be. I am so close to God on the island and feel a sweet sense of healing each time I go. My sister is a big part of the healing I find there. We play much as we did when we were children, and there is nothing better for my heart than finding that carefree kid in me “for one brief moment.” It carries me beautifully to the next summer.

There is an island at the edge of the great wide sea

That stands like a bridge to eternity,

Where a child long ago ruled and roamed

As conquering king and lord of the loam.

There from a dune he could look o’er to Spain

As he played in her sun and drank in her rain

With never a thought to the mainland’s cares

Or the march of time and the change of years.

Oh, but the secrets of those sands and place

Where plovers waltzed and blue crabs raced

And pelicans were all pterodactyls then

And every new face revealed a new friend.

A sand fiddler was more treasured than gold

And there was no sound sweeter than the waves on the shoal,

And every passing mast held a buccaneer’s sail

And every cloud that flew by was riding a gale.

Sometimes when the breeze blows ’round just right

And the moon shows up with his ole pal the night

With the whiff of hushpuppies riding the air

A veil covers time and once more I am there;

At that edge, by the sea where I long to be

Where the blue and the deep ever call to me,

And the wind still blows in from the distant Spain

And for one brief moment I find that child again.


Worth the Effort?

Worth the Effort?I love searching for shells, smooth stones, and sea glass on Topsail Island. I keep my treasures on a wooden tray in my bedroom because the girls love playing with them. Looking at the shore for shells relaxes me as nothing else can. I love cleaning and sorting my stash because I wonder at the beautiful diversity before me. The entire process heals my heart and soothes my spirit.

I had to laugh while Edie and I were out searching. She’s younger and far more agile than I am, so she bends and stands back up easily. She¬†was bending over, finding beautiful shells, and handing them to me at a rapid pace. I found myself watching her rather than the shore.¬†I wasn’t getting my normal stress relief, but I was getting a kick out of her generosity. When I began pointing out shells and telling her to pick them up for me, she cut her eyes at me as only she can; but when she saw my grin, she knew I was messing with her. We both laughed and experienced an even better kind of stress relief.

Combing the beach takes a lot of effort; in fact, there are those who do it for a living. A decision has to be made in regard to each object in the sand. Is it really worth the effort bending over and picking it up with cost me?

God made it clear this week that He loves all His children and bends over backwards to pick up each and every one of them. He starts with the broken ones because they need His love the most, but He never wonders for a moment whether or not they are worth His effort. He knows they are!

I was humbled when I realized loving like God would mean picking up every tiny piece of shell on all the shores in the world. I couldn’t do that on one stretch of Topsail Island in a lifetime.¬†I can, however, make an effort to pick up some of His broken children by being a loving presence in their lives. It takes effort, but it is worth bending my heart down and picking it back up again to experience the kind of love God desires for my heart. We wiggle out of His hands or bite like those pesky little gnats on the beach, but God picks us back up and loves us anyway. He always will, no matter what.

I could spend a lifetime searching for the perfect shell, but God knows I won’t find it if I pick up every shell on every beach in His world. They is no such thing as a perfect shell or a perfect person. He did, however, have one perfect Son, who made the effort to bend down in loving obedience so He could pick me up off the shore. I wiggle when I’m worried and bite when I’m angry, but He loves me anyway. He holds me especially close when I’m hurting because He understands my pain like no one else can.

I plan to tell Lilly and Mylah about all the shells, stones, and pieces of glass I found while at Topsail Island; but I want them to understand that shells, like people, need more love when they are broken. I think we’ll make a little shell hospital so we can wrap up the little hurt shells and give them the extra love they need.

Aches & Breaks

Healthy HeartAches and breaks don’t happen or heal the same way. Unexpected trauma breaks bones and hearts. The pain is immediate and unbearable, and shock leaves us reeling and wondering what happened!

Aches are seldom a surprise because they occur when I push my muscles beyond their limits or put them in awkward positions. I know the ache will come, but that doesn’t stop me or make the pain more bearable. The pain of an ache is slow¬†and prolonged. Rest is best¬†for aches and breaks, but neither hearts nor muscles want to stop doing what they are designed to do.

Heartbreaks are worse than heartaches because hope is lost in the break. The yearning of an ache hurts very deeply, but it doesn’t destroy hope. That’s the beautiful difference between the way heartbreaks and heartaches heal. My heart has been broken twice, but I’ve only experienced heartache once. I wanted to numb the pain, but I knew that would only prolong the healing and keep me from dealing with the hurt. Muscles, bones, and hearts do eventually heal, but only with God’s help. Pain is part of the process and cannot be avoided. No one knows that better than God.

Hearts and muscles grow from being stretched and broken, and the pain that comes from heartbreak and heartache will make my heart stronger if I don’t let it keep me from loving again. I can sit out when it comes to love and never hurt again, or I can give my heart the time it needs to heal and step back into love knowing that heartaches and heartbreaks are part of loving.

God is love, and He knows best when it comes to matters of the heart. He knows the pain of heartbreak and heartache better than anyone. His heart is broken every day, and He experiences heartache each time one of His children is hurting. He knows, and I am learning, that there is only one cure for heartaches and heartbreaks. Love and time heal all wounds and leave my heart stronger than it was before. There is a great deal of truth in the saying “It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

Escape or Rescue?

Getting Off the Coaster

I was caught up in the roller coaster rescue last week because I’ve always been afraid of getting stuck on one.¬†God used the image of riders hanging for five hours in a sharp turn far above the ground to help me see my heart was in a very similar predicament.

I can’t scream loudly enough to stop a roller coaster if I want off. I can easily catch the attention of the person controlling the Merry-Go-Round and get off; but the noise and excitement of a roller coaster drown out any pleas for help, so I’m stuck until the ride stops.

Five hours seems like a long time to be suspended in the air on a hot summer day, but God reminded me that it’s much worse for my heart to be left hanging by a thread. My heart broke when I heard Robin Williams committed suicide last night.¬†¬†I imagine he simply saw it as a way to escape.¬†I’ve been tempted to escape myself¬†rather than allowing God to rescue my heart.

Pain will always come with living and loving, and no one understands that better than God. My heart stopped in a very dangerous curve this weekend, and I found myself screaming for the ride to stop and for someone to get me off the roller coaster. God bid me to take His hand and trust Him to rescue my heart.

What’s great for a carnival ride isn’t necessarily great for a heart. The word carnival gets its meaning from the 1540’s when folks would make merry before Lent. It literally means “flesh, farewell.” Staying on the coaster is staying in the flesh and enjoying the thrill that comes from all those unnatural highs and lows that come with the flesh. Spirit offers a very different high which lasts longer and is much stronger than the flesh. God made it clear that the ride He has in mind for my heart is much better than anything I can imagine on my own, and His rescues are always better than my escape plans.

I know it will take some time for my heart to make the transition God desires, but I also know His transformation will be just what my heart needs. While my heart heals, I plan to keep the promise He makes in Psalm 30:5 very near my heart.

“weeping¬†may stay for the night,¬†but rejoicing comes in the morning.” NIV