A Straight Gait

My gait has been off lately, and that’s forced me to focus upon my walking. I injured my left knee in junior high while doing a running broad jump, and it reminds me of that fall when I get a little over zealous. In March, I did enough damage to cause a limp. I favored my right leg for two months, and my limp stayed on after my knee healed. I didn’t notice it until last weekend when several folks asked me why I was limping. I decided it was time to straighten up my gait.

Focus is the key to correcting a bad habit, and my limp had evolved into one. I decided to walk slowly, keep my back straight and be mindful of my balance. It was going pretty well, but I wasn’t seeing or feeling the progress I desired. The process was painful because lazy muscles were having to pick up the slack, and dominant ones were having to give up control. It literally felt like a battle between my legs and me. The right wasn’t giving up control, and the left was cool with that arrangement. I was determined to get both in a straight line!

Fate intervened when I injured my right leg on Sunday. I was standing on my bed while putting up a curtain rod, and the phone rang. It was in the kitchen, so I walked over to the end of the bed and stepped down. I immediately felt the strain on my right leg. It hadn’t stretched like that since junior high, and it was not enjoying the lead in that moment of strange movement. I felt like kicking myself, and both legs agreed wholeheartedly. My stupidity had caused an injury to my “good” knee!! I had to smile in the pain because I realized this was definitely going to move my gait to the left!

Thank God my knee was not injured at all, but my pride and the muscles in my right leg were throbbing. The great news is that my gait is getting straighter by the day. It isn’t easy to focus on each step, but it’s worth the effort. The lessons of late have been about finding balance and getting my heart centered. Like my legs, it’s leaned and limped on both sides.

God knows I am a visual learner who needs hands-on experiences to fully grasp the lessons He has for me. I know He didn’t cause the injuries that led me to learn the importance of balance; my careless choices did that. I was showing off on the track decades ago, and I wanted to save a few seconds on Sunday when I raced for my phone. I got everyone’s attention when I landed on my knee, and I made it to the phone on time; but those decisions had consequences that went well beyond the moment in which they were made, as do all choices.

I’m not sure what God has in mind for me, but I know He wants my heart to be centered in His Son’s precious love. The center is where He is, and my heart’s gait will never be straight until I get there. That means making sure every step leads me a little closer to where He is.

imatter.silvercross knee pain

photo credit:imatter.silvercross.org

Angels and Ancestors

When I wake in the wee hours of the morning, I imagine those who came before me and let their love and prayers surround me. The beauty of love and prayers is that they never go away. Once prayed, a prayer lives on forever. My ancestors prayed for me, and I pray for my son, his family, and my grandchildren’s children and grandchildren. I believe in the power of prayer because I have felt its presence in my own life.

I’ve asked God thousands of times during the past thirty-five years to give His angels watch care over my son. I pray the same for his family, and will continue to pray for them as long as I am here and when I am with God. Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, His Father, praying for us. That is a humbling thought. Love and prayer join beautifully in the heart of a mother, father, grandparent, great-grandparent, aunt, uncle, etc..  God hears and holds each one of those prayers.

Hearts and lives are transformed by the prayers of angels and ancestors. I do not believe we become angels when we die. Angels are not humans who have passed into heaven; they are an entirely different entity, but I know they love and protect us because we are God’s children. I’m sure they are intrigued by humans. They celebrated Christ’s birth with abandon and showed themselves to the shepherds near Bethlehem because they could not contain their joy.

Angels and ancestors are not the same, but they do share a love for God and for us. I feel a connection with those who are still living, and I feel a connection to those who are with God. It brings me so much comfort to think about Benoni, Dice Ann, Flave, Anna, Jasper, Lilly Belle, mama, daddy, and all those who have paved my path with their prayers. I cannot imagine not having them in front of me on this journey, but if I didn’t have those dear ancestors, I would still have God, His Holy Spirit, and Jesus to pave the way for me. They are my ancestors thanks to Christ’s precious love, so I will never have to be alone.

When I woke at five this morning, I smiled and thanked the precious loved ones I knew and those I never met. I tell them I can’t wait to see them so we can watch the coming generations together. I plan to pray with all my heart now and in heaven. The call to pray is a powerful call. I used to think prayer wasn’t enough, but I’m learning it’s like putting money in the bank for those I love. The interest accumulates at a very high rate over the centuries, and the balance just keeps growing in my heart and in the hearts of those for whom I pray.

Power of Praying

Prone to Wonder

The second saying in the Gospel of Thomas resonates with my heart because I am, always have been, and pray I always will be, prone to wonder.

“Jesus said: He who seeks, let him not cease seeking until he finds; and when he finds he will be troubled, and when he is troubled he will be amazed, and he will reign over the All.”

Wonder does, indeed, lead me into the troubling waters of confusion where God finds and takes me to a place I never could have found on my own. The Holy Spirit ignites wonder in my heart and stills my heart so I can hear the answers God has for me. His answers are never the ones I expect, but He patiently helps me see that He knows what I do not. I have also been prone to wander off when I don’t like or understand those answers, but He is faithful to bring me back to where He is. Wandering is part of the wondering process, and I’ve done more than my share.

Questioning and wondering are two very different processes. As wondering increases, questioning decreases. My faith grows when I understand that I don’t have to understand. It is the most difficult lesson I’ve had to learn because it required a shift in control. Wanting what I want destroys wonder because selfish searching leaves no room for wide-eyed wonder. Learning focuses upon getting as I question, but it is about receiving when I wonder.

There is a world of difference between getting what I want and receiving what God wants for me. He will let me live in either world because He will not force His love or His desires on me. I am learning to pray for His will and way and for the desires of His heart to become mine. I have also been ending my prayers with the plea, “Please don’t give me what I want dear God; give me what you want for me.” That simple prayer is changing me and filling me with wonder when I don’t see the way as clearly as I would like to see it. I know He has wonderful plans in mind, and I’m beginning to see that not knowing leads to the sweet amazement Jesus has in store.

Defining Moments

I am looking prayerfully at the defining moments in my life, and that’s helping me make sense of my journey. I have a penchant for paths that offer safety and allow me to hide. I grew up on a street that led to another right before it ended mysteriously. The dead end was clearly marked with a caution sign, but I couldn’t resist sneaking peaks at the old Victorian house falling apart in the midst of what had once been an impressive yard. Rumors were that the house was haunted, and the woman who lived there was a witch.

Mrs. Norton certainly looked like a witch with her long nails, crazy hair, tattered clothing, strange hat, and heavy make-up. My youngest sister and I loved to go down to look at her house and went inside once when she asked if we wanted a book. The inside of the house was in worse shape than the outside. Holes punctuated a floor completely covered with books, papers, and boxes piled high. Mrs. Norton was hiding from the world, and part of my heart could relate to her plight.

I didn’t know she was a former teacher who decided to retreat from society when her husband died, but I connected to her unhindered spirit and her fear of the world. She talked and sang when she walked up and down the street to get what she needed from the world, but she stayed hidden away the rest of the time. Some of the neighborhood kids made fun of her, but she never seemed to notice. I guess her years in the classroom helped in that regard.

A part of me envied Mrs. Norton’s freedom. She or her house never scared me, but I never went back for another visit. My sister and I endured a harsh scrubbing and a a long lecture when we arrived home, and Mama promised to tell daddy if we ever went back. It was Mama’s fear that kept me from returning to Mrs. Norton’s house. I didn’t want to scare my mama; like me, she was scared enough.

There are defining moments in every life that lead to dead ends, open roads, busy highways, and ditches. I’m learning my heart will only thrive where God’s love intersects with His world. Christ’s precious love abides in the center of a very busy intersection. In the world, intersections are not places to dwell; they are places to rush through or avoid when possible. Walking in God’s kingdom gives intersections and dead ends new meaning.

I am not always comfortable in the intersection, but I know I will become more comfortable as I come nearer the center where there is but one definition of who I am and Who God Is. In that beautiful moment when the journey takes its final turn, there will no longer be any doubts about direction. Until then, I know God wants His children to come together and love as His Son loves. When that happens, the journey will have new meaning and direction will be defined as never before.

The Center

Shall We Dance?

Those who know me, know I love to dance. I’ve always loved dancing and secretly dreamed of being a dancer when I was young. I love my Zumba classes because they satisfy my soul and allow me to be the dancer of my dreams for a few hours each week.

God always surprises me with His teaching methods, but this morning I had to laugh when He used the salsa to get my attention. So often, I take a step forward and immediately take one back. I step toward to the right and fall into the law, then shift to the left and find myself in the midst of license. As I was praying this morning about my frustration in going forward, stepping back, heading left, and then right, I heard salsa music. I was very serious about my situation, but God knew a little levity would lighten the load and get His point across effectively.

Salsa is my favorite dance. The Latin rhythms resonate with my heart, soul, spirit, and body. The side-to-side and front-to-back movements are very natural to me. God used those movements to teach an important lesson. He showed me that dancing is okay as long as I keep coming back to the center.

I have a friend who created an intersection model to describe where “the intervention of God meets the involvement of the person.” (John A. Tagliarini) God used his model to show me how my dance moves were as natural on the journey as they are on the dance floor. I’ve always seen the path God has in mind as a line, a street, a straight and narrow path stretching into the horizon. This morning, I realized the journey is more like dancing in the intersection. God’s intervention and human involvement meet beautifully in the intersection. It is where we find the image of God in our own hearts. Truth is found in the intersection. Christ is the heart of the intersection. The model helped me see that the Way isn’t a road; it is an intersection. I’m not expected to keep trudging along; I’m expected to find my way to the center and keep dancing!

I suppose I will dance around the intersection as long as I’m in this world, but I pray God will help me find and stay in the sweet center where Christ’s precious love enables me see myself and others as He does. The intersection is busy and messy, so it’s safer to find a place to hide in the corners far away from the center; but God knows that will never satisfy my heart. Salsa moves always come back to the center and so will the steps on my journey if I let God lead. God made it clear that He isn’t going to move from the center. If I want to dance with Him and love as Christ loves, I’ll have to get in the center too.

I Love Salsa

Weigh Me Down

An Anxious Heart-kevinmartineau.ca

Nothing feels better than weight lifted or pounds lost. It’s much easier to accumulate worries and weight than it is to get rid of them, so it is amazing when God lifts a tremendous weight. I’ve always allowed people and circumstances to weigh me down, but I’ve finally learned on Saturday that peace cannot be purchased at any price. It is, however, freely given if I will only let God have His way with my heart.

There have been many changes in my life over the past two years, and I’ve gained twelve pounds in the transition. Food fills and soothes my soul, but it leaves my body miserable. God helped me see that added weight is a side effect of allowing my heart to be weighed down. What’s going on in my heart will express itself in my body. A pound of fat contains seven miles of blood vessels, so each pound puts a terrible burden on my heart. Added fat literally steals my energy. When I have less energy, I eat more; and the endless cycle of weight gain begins.

One minute of frustration has the same effect on my emotional health as an extra pound of fat has on my physical body. Last week, I let others to rob me of my joy and deplete my energy. That got in the way of enjoying my beautiful family and my amazing new home. God made it clear on Saturday night that extra weight of any kind is my choice. He will not lift weight while I hanging on to it. There is a certain safety in weight, but there is no satisfaction.

God never adds weight; He lifts it. Jesus makes that clear in Mathew 11:28-30:

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (NASB)

It’s bad enough when I let the world get me down, but it’s inexcusable when I think God is the One putting the added weight on my heart. God sent His only Son to lift the burden of sin from my heart; how could I possibly think He would take that burden and replace it with another.

During our church service yesterday, we were asked to write down the dream we had for our children. That was very easy for me to do. I only want one thing for my son; I want him to know he is loved. God smiled when I wrote down my answer and reminded me that was the only thing He desired for me. I looked over at my son writing down his dream for his two precious girls and smiled too. I don’t know what he wrote, but I’m sure it had to do with love and not stuff.

Love lifts as nothing else can, and that’s why God sent His precious Son’s love. He knew it was what His weighed down children needed. This Mother’s Day was the best ever because my heart was as light as it’s ever been. Tyler’s unconditional love lifts my heart beautifully. Now, I just have to work on my hips!! He used to be a physical trainer, so maybe he will help me with that too 🙂

Tyler and Me 5-10-15