A Beautiful Thing!

As I was eating gelato with friends yesterday, I said very seriously, “Toasted pistachios are a beautiful thing!!” We all laughed out loud, and I’m sure those walking by must have thought we were a little nutty ūüôā I looked at the ladies surrounding me and realized friendship is a beautiful thing. I am blessed with more than my share of dear friends, and I pray I never take any of them for granted. I also have three amazing sisters who are my dearest and oldest friends. God manifests His love in the laughter and tears of friends who share my path.

I had lunch on the river today with my dear friend Robbie. As we shared gelato afterward, I told her I felt nineteen again. I explained that God took my heart back to a time of innocence that renewed my faith and reminded me that I am still who I was at nineteen and always will be. It may seem an odd analogy, but I feel as though God picked me right up off the path and put me back down right before the intersection where I took a terrible turn away from Him.

I’m very thankful for the lessons I’ve learned over the past four decades, and I’m thankful for the lessons this week that reminded me that friends who hear my heart and love me with an honest openness are as good as it gets. My path has been overflowing this week. The connections and reconnections God placed in my path were just what my wounded heart needed. There is nothing better than having friends who share the pain and the joy of the journey. It is a beautiful thing indeed!

With Robbie on the River

Glass Houses

The saying goes, “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw rocks.” I understand and agree with the lesson of the saw, but I think “People who live in glass houses don’t throw rocks” might be a better saying. Exposing my heart to others and allowing them to do the same, causes me to put down my rocks. Rocks come from brick barricades built to keep me from exposing myself to a world that might not understand or accept me. Facades work as well as brick buildings when it comes to hiding, and I’ve done more than my share of hiding behind both. I have also tossed a rock when threatened. Fear is behind all rock throwing, so those filled with fear don’t fare well in glass houses.

Glass houses represent openness and allow me to share my story and let others into my story. They are the dwelling place of honest communion, but they are not designed for comfort. I never watched the reality show “Glass House,” but I know it was designed to let the audience determine what happened inside a house full of folks competing to win a $250,000 prize. ¬†It is more about exhibition than honesty, and that’s not what I’m talking about.

When it comes to God, He sees all and knows all. He loves me unconditionally and waits for me to realize that I’m living in a glass house. In Ecclesiastes 12:14, I hear words that remind me that nothing is hidden from God.

“For¬†God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.” NASB

Proverbs 12:22 reminds me of why I want to live in that glass house. Love makes me want to delight God because He certainly delights me.

“Lying lips are an abomination to the¬†Lord,¬†But those who deal faithfully are His delight.” NASB

My favorite verse, Psalm 51:6, humbles and brings down the facades and bricks around my heart. David captured the heart of God in a way that makes me want to open my heart as he did. He was not a perfect man, but he was a man after God’s own heart. That’s all God asked of him, and it’s all He asks of me. David knew the pain of living in a glass house, but he also knew that God teaches wisdom to those with open, honest hearts.

“Behold, You desire¬†truth in the¬†innermost being,
And in the hidden part You will¬†make me know wisdom.” NASB

The television show encourages inhibition and exhibition because that’s what brings great ratings. God encourages honesty and acceptance because it brings wisdom, faith, and delight. Nothing is better for my heart.

Carlo Santambrogio and Ennio Arosio.
Carlo Santambrogio and Ennio Arosio.

Nudging is Better Than Judging:)

I was shocked and embarrassed as fear spilled out of my heart yesterday. I wasn’t expecting the sudden flood of emotion when I talked with a friend about a situation that concerned me. It hit a nerve that made me realize I still have a lot of healing to do. They say when you’re jarred, you see what’s inside. I wasn’t prepared for the fear that came spewing out. It was like hitting an artery!

I ¬†was thankful to have¬†a sound board and honest communion as I struggled to get out of the quick sand that was surrounding me. I was drowning and didn’t like or understand it at all. I thank God for providing the space I needed and the tears that cleansed and released my heart.

It’s important to make room, and that’s what happened yesterday. God cleared, cleaned, and showed me the need to move on. Twain said a virtue not tested is not really a virtue, and I believe the same is true for fear. I don’t know I have it until my heart is confronted. It is frightening, and it helps to have company who understands. Hearing is the heart of witnessing and provides a needed nudge.

Stumbling provides opportunity for growth, and lessons that hit a nerve are the ones that stay with me. God knew I was ready to face the fears lingering from past hurts and move forward. He knew I needed the nudge I got yesterday. I once heard a minister say that was precisely what we are here to do. To nudge and be nudged is much better than to judge and be judged. It is at the heart of walking and witnessing in God’s kingdom.

The most difficult part of facing fear is seeing the need to move on. God showed me yesterday that I’m ready to take another step in the direction He has in mind. He’s always ready for me to move on, but I get sidetracked and make Him wait. I’m grateful for His patience. His ways are higher than mine, and I am learning that I don’t have to understand them. He doesn’t expect me to, but He does expect me to obey His precepts and live according to His Word. I cannot bend, stretch, or make them or Him fit into my plan. I have been guilty of doing just that.

When stuck at a fork in the road, a loving nudge is necessary. I can ignore the nudge, go my way and rationalize my decision. I can see the nudge as a push and get angry, or I can allow the nudge to move me gently in the direction God desires. The choice is mine, and there’s the rub as Shakespeare would say:)

Redefining Relationships

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, time is quickly consumed. Time with God becomes a quick plea here and a quicker thank you there. I’m beginning to understand the concept of praying without ceasing, and it isn’t at all what I expected. Being in God’s presence is the goal of prayer; being present with those I love is the goal of relationship. Words become less important as that presence increases. Being present is something with which I’ve struggled my entire life. I’m only beginning to experience the peace that prolonged presence makes when it comes to my relationship with God. I’m also learning that redefining relationships is necessary as I change and grow as God desires.

I’ve always thought of prayer as a time of getting on my knees and asking God for help and thanking Him for all He does for me. When I look at that from a relationship standpoint, I’m appalled. It shows a selfish, one-sided relationship that isn’t at all what God desires. Nothing shows love more than spending time together in honest communion or sweet silence where nothing needs to be said. God desires just that in our time together. Like me with God, there have been those in my path who take and never give. I’ve wasted a lifetime of love trying to make miserable people happy. It isn’t noble at all but selfish on my part as I become a martyr and get everyone’s pity. That’s a hard truth to see and absorb, but it’s one that God has brought home to me of late as I look at and see the need to let Him redefine my relationships.

Real relationships require self-differentiation, and that means I have to become who God created me to be before I can truly connect to others. In order to do that, I must let Him cut away all that isn’t who He created me to be. As a sculptor cuts away marble to bring out the beautiful image inside, so does God cut away at me until the beloved daughter He sees inside comes to the surface. That process is a painful one because unlike marble, I wiggle and resist the sculpting! The stillness of Psalm 46:10 is required for God to do His work, and I’ve found that God will bring stillness when I ask. I am learning to pray differently, and the results are powerful. I’m finding that honestly and fervently praying that His will, not mine be done is causing true change in my heart, soul, spirit, and body. I am beginning to see the results of His chisel, and it is amazing.

The need to please is gone. The need to fix is gone. The need to pretend all is well is gone. In the process, I find that guilt is no longer a source of motivation. I no longer feel the need to be who others expect me to be. I am the beloved daughter of God ¬†and love Him as never before. Love is the root of my obedience now, and I can live out that obedience in a way that will bring joy to me, others, and Him. I feel as if I’ve gotten off a treadmill and gotten on to a beautiful path. The journey isn’t a guilt-ridden run to nowhere; it is a walk in His kingdom that forms beautiful relationships based on honesty and love. My relationship with God is first, and it must be the model for all my relationships if the redefining He desires is to take place.

Redefining relationships is not an easy task. Some will go as they are clearly not what God desires and are toxic to me and to others. Some will dissipate because they will not survive the changes in me. Others will flourish and grow as God desires. Those are the ones I plan to nourish. There will be wonderful new relationships along the way, and I look forward to each of them. Redefining relationships requires that I look to God first and let Him redefine me. The rest will fall into place as I love and obey Him:)

The Lady Doth Protest Too Much, Me Thinks:)

I love Shakespeare because His words tickle me. I have always loved the quote, “The lady doth protest too much, me thinks.” I thought of those words this week at a time I needed to be ticked. Powerful truth lives in the words of Queen Gertrude in Hamlet. Protest in this context isn’t what you might think. Wikipedia describes it well, “The phrase’s actual meaning implies the increasing likelihood of suppressed feelings for the contrary of that which is being argued.”¬†

Too much protesting is a sign that something is amiss, and the more I protest, the more likely it is that I’m guilty of what Shakespeare is describing. Unfortunately, I can relate! I protested too much and listened to far too much protesting this week. God used the line from Hamlet to teach lessons about placating and holding on. Shakespeare always gives me food for thought and chewing on his words reminds me to catch myself when I find myself protesting too much. My fear of imbalance and failing when it came to love kept my heart from being balanced. My need to lead and be who others needed for me to be kept me from being who I am.

As I begin my sixties, I plan to seek peace and be myself. Like Mylah, I’m new at navigating without holding on. We both are squealing with delight and optimistic about our new found freedom. I may fall and fail or get pushed down as little Mylah did yesterday when Lillyann got too rough with her, but I plan to shake off the dust and get right back up again just as she did.

The fifties have been a decade of finding, and I’ve found a lot. I began the decade leaving a terrible marriage, and I begin the new decade by celebrating my son’s marriage, a full circle of sorts. I see love and life in a new light and feel better about relationships than ever in my life. True love thrives on truth, and that is the best way to describe the lessons learned. Honest communion set my heart free, and I’ve finally found the courage to be myself and speak my mind honestly without worrying about what others may think. My problems with love stem from my fear of being who I am and not speaking the truth with conviction. A middle child tends to keep peace at any cost. That’s not true of this middle child any more; that’s not the kind of peace I’m pursuing:)

Truth stops the protesting that Queen Gertrude noted and enables me to find my voice and speak that truth with love. Knowing the truth about myself brings sweet stillness and peace and makes silence much simpler. I’m looking forward to seeing how this new freedom will affect my heart and my life as I let go of the baggage I’ve been carrying for six decades. I know it will help me live, as my dear friend puts it, a life worth living forever and love in a way worth loving forever too:)

Happy sixtieth birthday to me! It is a happy one indeed, and I honestly believe from the very center of my heart that the sixties are going to be the best decade yet:)

More Than Just a Walk:)

For over three years now, Rita and I have taken long walks in the woods. From our first walk, I knew I was with a kindred spirit and beautiful friend. Rita is so much more than family, she is an honest, loving companion who shares my journey at the deepest level. Our honest communion and true love for one another make a walk with her so much more than just a walk. It’s great exercise in beautiful surroundings, but sharing honestly and with love is the most important quality of those early morning excursions by the creek. As we walk and talk, I feel a connection that is rare, but possible, in this world.

Friends who hear my heart are my most valuable assets. They allow the transparency necessary to open my heart. It’s more than just a matter of confidentiality, it is true connection at the heart level that allows me to find the courage to be myself. It’s friendship that doesn’t judge or advise, just loves and listens. I’m a very wealthy woman when it comes to friends because I have several such friends who love, listen, hear my heart, and get me. The thing that sets Rita apart is the amount of time we spend together. Some weeks, we spend as much as eight hours walking and talking in the woods. Time is a precious commodity, and retirement gives both of us the luxury of having time to spend together. We also exercise together two additional nights and share a beautiful family.

Each time I see Rita, I delight in her! That’s what makes our friendship so special and our walks more than just walks. I don’t care if we’ve seen each other every day for a week or haven’t seen one another in two weeks, I have the same reaction. Delighting in one another is what God desires, and it makes life more than just a life. It makes a walk a sweet journey and helps me live a life, as Pastor John says, worth living forever:)

Rita and I are often apart as travel and winter cause gaps in our time spent together. When we reconnect, we just pick right up where we left off as though no time has passed. ¬†That’s self-differentiation at its best, and I love that most about our relationship. We are who we are and enjoy our time together. There is a natural flow to both our walks and our friendship. She has a very big heart and welcomed me right into it the very first time we met. She does that to a lot of folks, and I was saddened when she lost one of those dear friends recently. She loves with her whole heart, and so do I. I thank God for placing her in my path and don’t take a single step we take together for granted. Thanks to friends like Rita, I get to walk in God’s kingdom now and enjoy fellowship like that above:)