What’s in a Name?

When Mary Magdalene went to the tomb to anoint Christ’s body, she was filled with grief and frustration. She arrived at the tomb at first light, but it was empty. Jesus was gone. The others went home disappointed, but Mary lingered, longing to know what had happened to the body of her beloved Lord.

But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb;  and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”  When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”  Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher). John 20:11-17 NASB

This passage has always tugged at my heart, but it touched me even more deeply this Lenten Season as I witnessed the power of love in a new light. Mary didn’t recognize Jesus, but that isn’t surprising. None of us see what is right before our eyes, especially if it is something we are not expecting to see.

Henry Cavil, the actor who plays Superman in the new movie, stood in Times Square under a giant advertisement for Superman vs Batman wearing a tee shirt with the Superman logo on the front. His face was in lights above him, but no one recognized him. He was responding to criticism about Superman’s trademark disguise. Critics pointed out that glasses would never be enough to hide Superman’s identity from those around him. The experiment proved superman didn’t even need glasses; he could easily hide in plain sight because people do not see what they are not expecting to see.

Mary asked the man she thought to be a gardener what he had done with the body. He simply said, “Mary!,” and suddenly her world was changed forever.  One of the most powerful moments in the Bible, for me, is when she utters, “Rabboni.” She wanted to embrace Jesus, but He bid her not to come near because He had not yet ascended to His Father. Like Mary, I am beautifully changed when someone speaks my name in love. Being known heals and makes my heart whole. No one knows that better than God, and Mary learned its power that morning at the empty tomb.

The first time my son uttered the syllables “ma ma,” my heart melted into a puddle. The first time my granddaughters called me “Gigi,” my heart went to a new level of love. The children in my granddaughter’s kindergarten class call me “Gigi” when I visit or volunteer, and that fills my heart with joy. They squeal with delight each time they see me at school or out in the community. They act as though it’s been years since they’ve seen me. That delight is what love is all about, and it never gets old.

God delights when He hears His children say His name with love, but His heart is broken when His name is used to justify violence or spread hatred. His greatest desire is to be with us, and to know that we know how much He loves us. When we say His name and the names of those around us in love, His kingdom comes, and His will is done.

A name spoken in love brings joy into the world, and that is what Easter is all about What’s in a name? Everything!!

Happy Easter 🙂

 

 

 

The Silly and the Sacred

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t feel God’s presence in my life, but I vividly recall a time in my life when I turned away from His presence. It was a time when I thought I deserved to be deprived of His love. I know how ridiculous that is now, but I didn’t know it then. I saw God as a smiter at worst and a disappointed Father at best. I’ve come to know Him as a loving Father who delights in me the same way I delight in my son and his sweet little girls.

I hear God’s voice and feel His presence most clearly outdoors. I love sunrises, sunsets, mountains, oceans, trees, creeks, and all of His beautiful creation. In sweet moments alone with Him,  I know I am loved. I even captured what looked like His reassuring smile last year when I cried out from a dark and lonely place. He brought me out of my self pity with a beautiful sunset in the midst of some very ominous clouds and made me laugh. I have always had a very vivid imagination, but I’ve never been able to capture any of the images I see. You may not see the smiling fellow looking back at me in the picture below, but the image was, and still is, crystal clear to me.

Sunset Watching Me

If I find myself surrounded by dark clouds, I think of a sunset when God reminded me that light is brightest in the darkest hours. I am not a theologian by any means, but I do know God has a beautiful sense of humor. I have experienced it on many occasions. He’s the Master when it comes to teaching, and all good teachers know that humor is a very effective teaching tool. I’m thankful for an imagination that runs from silly to sacred at any given moment. God provides images that make me laugh and ones that humble and bring me to my knees in awe.

Mama had an imagination much like mine and so does little Lillyann. I used to be ashamed of the way I processed information, and mama warned me over and over that I wasn’t like everyone else. That made me keep the images to myself for a long time. Now, I’m thankful to be different, and I hope I’ll teach Lilly and Mylah to celebrate their differences. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we lived in a world that celebrated the same.

A New Perspective

I’ll be moving into an apartment in town in a few weeks, and my granddaughters have been less than excited about it. My son and his family are building a new home, and I decided to rent rather than build beside them. We’ve all lived together in a big house for the last two years, and Lilly told me that my new house had to be in walking distance of her new one. She said she liked my house now because she could walk to it inside her house. I like that too, but I’m also looking forward to having my own space.

Lilly will be six in a few months, and I wonder when that little toddler was transformed into a girl who uses words like ‘cool’ and ‘dude!’ I’ll only be a few miles away from their new home, but that seems like a long way to little Mylah. She’s three and said, “Gigi, I already miss you!” They both touch my heart in places no one else ever has or ever will.

Lilly was washing her hands in my bathroom last week and came out grinning from ear to ear. She looked at me and said, “Mommy said I get your room when you move!” She proceeded to do a little happy dance, and I burst out laughing. Suddenly, she was no longer a little lawyer trying to get me to stay. She was a big girl getting her own room! Mylah didn’t look very happy about the new arrangements, but I know she will enjoy the changes once she gets used to them. I know I will too.

Change is never easy, but a shift in perspective helps with the transition. Philippians 3:21 explains the change that comes when I trust God. He has the power to change me, but I must have the courage to let Him.

“He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.” (NLT)

God could make me whoever He wants me to be at any given time. He has the power, but He won’t use it until I’m ready. I am ready, and I know little Lilly is too. Mylah will be soon enough 🙂

Lillyann

 

Bathing Suits & Boots :)

bathing-suits-and-boots.jpgDuring a sudden downpour yesterday afternoon, I caught myself daydreaming about playing in the rain. Mama used to let us play in the puddles after a hard rain, and she also told us stories about washing her hair in rainwater. I had the sudden urge to go outside and wash my hair in the rain. I was contemplating getting up and heading outside when a commotion outside my door brought me back to reality.

I got up to see what was going on and met the girls coming down the stairs in their birthday suits. They wanted me to help them get into their bathing suits quickly because mommy said they could play outside in the rain. I asked if I could play with them. They squealed with delight and said, “SURE!!!”

I got them ready and told them I would get on my suit and meet them upstairs. As I was heading up, they were heading back down. They needed boots for puddle jumping. Of course they did! I should have thought of that myself. In fact, I should have thought of going outside in the first place and invited them to go out with me!

We jumped in puddles, ran through the little river running down the drive, and got soaked from our heads to our toes. I can’t remember ever feeling as free as I did while we were holding hands and jumping in puddles.  Lillyann made the biggest splashes because she strategically located herself right in front of the deepest water. She swam in the deep end of the pool without help for the first time earlier in the day, so it was truly a wonderful day in the water. Her confidence level was peaking yesterday, and her spirit was soaring. Playing in the rain was icing on the cake for all of us as Lillyann took a big girl step forward, and Gigi took a giant leap back in time. Mylah got caught up in all the excitement and loved every moment.

Rain usually makes me sad and reminds me of difficult times. Having someone who understands my heart is having someone with whom I can watch the rain. I realized yesterday that it’s also nice to play in the rain with those who hear and see the kid in me. The girls definitely do that, and they help me hear and see her too. I love that about them.

Taking myself too seriously is a most serious sin. It bogs down my heart and keeps me from being who God created me to be. It was very freeing to let silliness have its way with me for a while yesterday, I needed to play in the rain with someone, and God gave me the perfect playmates. I know He was enjoying our laughter even more than we were, and that’s what I love most about Him 🙂

Is There a Doctor in the Heart?

Heart Doctor
Like all muscles, hearts are strengthened when stretched, torn, broken, and healed. Growing is a difficult process for all muscles, but the heart is especially vulnerable. It is the strongest muscle in the body and has the capacity to feel emotional, as well as physical, pain. No muscle understands “no pain, no gain” better than the heart, and no one understands the heart better than God.

God designed the heart to pump blood through the body. An average person’s heart pumps 1900 gallons of blood every day, an amazing feat which goes unnoticed until it stops. Hearts are also designed to love. God’s message this week was that love’s flow should be as involuntary as those 1900 gallons of blood coursing through my arteries and veins.

The difference between voluntary and involuntary muscles is control. With voluntary muscles, I’m in charge. I decide when and how to use them. I can make those muscles do what I want them to do. Involuntary muscles work without any input from me. My heart pumps blood without my help, and my lungs breathe on their own if all is well. Love flows best when I don’t try to control it. My worry forces love to clot or bleed out, but trusting God allows it to flow unhindered and in ways I could never imagine on my own.

When a heart stops, we panic and cry for help. If a medical emergency is in a public place, we scream, “Is there a doctor in the house??” Smart phones may have changed the way we deal with emergencies, but we still scream out because we don’t know what to do until help arrives. When it comes to love, there is always a Doctor in my heart. God is on call 24/7, and He knows exactly what my heart needs.

God and I both know that heeding His advice when it comes to love would cut down on the number of times I call out for help. He promised He would never leave me, and He is faithful to keep His promises. I promised Him this week that I would stop trying to control what only He can control. I also promised to stop worrying and let Him take care of my heart. If I keep my promises the way He keeps His, I won’t have to scream anymore 🙂

Love is the Way Out

I’ve never been nearer to God than when I walked up Indian Creek today. He made it clear that there are no endings or exits when it comes to love. Love is love, and that’s all there is to it. It isn’t something I can control or manage; it simply is. When Moses asked God His name, He replied “I AM WHO I AM” God is love, and there is nothing I, or anyone, can do about that.

Love doesn’t go away because it’s inconvenient. It doesn’t end because people change or grow apart. Circumstances do not change the nature of love, but the nature of love changes circumstances in a beautiful way. The surest sign of love is that there are no endings or exits, and that is taking some getting used to on my part. I begin looking for the exit as soon as I enter a building, and my heart does the same when I enter into a relationship. God showed me today that I can never deny or escape love.

Exits and endings are easy, and I’ve relied on them all my life. Love is not something from which I can escape; believe me, I’ve tried. Love is a gift from God and should never be taken for granted.  It is meant to be embraced with an open heart and cherished dearly because it is a piece of God’s own heart. It is the only thing worth holding on to in this world, and the only thing I can take with me into the next. 

Love will not be ignored, and it will not go away at my command. It becomes a part of who I am and cannot be separated from my being. Like the threads in a tapestry, love weaves itself into every aspect of my life. Unraveling a tapestry doesn’t make the thread go away, so God urged me today to leave the weaving in place and trust Him with the outcome. His outcomes are always better than my exits, so I plan to leave love in His hands and see where He takes my heart. I’ve done all the running away I plan to do in this life, and I’m no longer looking for a way out. Love is the way out.