Dear, Sweet Tenderheart

Creative Commons by  by Pink Sherbet Photography

I’ve admitted it before and I’ll say it again, I’m a crybaby.  I cry at Hallmark commercials, when a friend writes something particularly nostalgic in an e-mail, when my daughter’s feelings get hurt, when other’s feelings get hurt, when I realize how much God loves us.

I just break down.

That’s OK though, there’s a lot of people who don’t cry and they are toughies and there are things that I admire about that, mostly that they can get through something important without a river of snot coming out of their noses.  That’s good, especially when you’re in front of strangers.

But, sometimes it’s good when another person is crying to just let it all out yourself.  Case in point, I remember the day I went to see my counselor shortly after my world crumbled apart, she cried with me.  She saw the pain I was going through and she identified and she mourned with me.

I went to pick up Little A from school two weeks ago and it was the saddest sight: as I got closer to the jazzed fray of kids waiting to be picked up at the carpool cluster, I couldn’t find her at first–because she was hiding behind one of the portico pillars bawling her eyes out.  I leaned over her and asked, “What’s wrong, sweetheart?  Did you hurt yourself?”  She shook her head and managed to get out “I–I–I didn’t get student of the month-AGAIN.  Thi—-this was my last chance and I didn’t even get it.”

I put my arms around her and gave her a big squeeze and said into her ear, “I’m so sorry sweetheart.  I know how much you wanted that.”  It’s true, this is her second year in this school and she’s been trying so hard, getting all smiley faces on her progress reports, doing her assignments on time, but the truth is, the odds are tough.  There’s about 22 kids in her class, and only nine chances a year to be student of the month.  I’m not a mathematician, but factor in weather, her birthdate, the full moon and what she wore to school that day, I’m pretty sure her chances were a billion to one, well, that’s what it felt like, anyway.

We had to make a trip into the school office to drop something off and she continued to cry.  We’re standing there, patiently waiting for an audience with Ms. Smith, and her little friend, Brian*, from class comes up to her  and asks, “Why’re you crying?”  Little A tries to explain through tears and hand gestures and finally, he looks up at me with his tender, big brown eyes, “Why’s she crying?”  “Well, she missed student of the month and she’s wanted it for two years now and this month was her last chance for the year.  Pretty rotten, eh?”  Brian nods, his face falls and he tells me, “I’ve never been student of the month either.” And he puts his sweet 6-year-old arms around Little A, and embraces her, book bag and all.  He holds her for a few seconds and then Little A pushes him away a bit, probably a little embarrassed about hugging a boy in front of her momma and Brian looks up at me, and he’s crying.  And guess what?  When I see him crying, I start crying and here we all are in the school office, three empathetic messes.  Brian silently shuffles away and I call out “Thank you for the hug, Brian!”  And Little A and I try to put on our big girl faces, as I offer ice cream as a consolation on our way across the crosswalk.

Sidenote: She also got a scraped knee and a hole in her jeans that day, things just weren’t going her way…but somehow, ice cream helped us both cope with the disappointment.

Sometimes there’s nothing better than having a friend empathize with you, hold you close and agree, “Yep, this is about the most rotten day/season you could have and I completely understand.”  I can’t tell you how much that reaction that has helped me over the last few years and it makes me think of this verse: II Corinthians 1: 3-4 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort  those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

God takes what we’ve been through, those sometimes terrible and seemingly endless winters of our lives and turns them into sweet things–the spring of being able to hold someone close or lend a listening ear or just be with them.  It’s about the best gift you can give.

*name changed

Fundraising, Small Beginnings, and God’s Mathematics

As promised, I wanted to post a little update on “A Night for Orphans.”  Overwhelming success?  It depends on what you count as overwhelming–but a success nonetheless.  We raised about $550 towards a new duplicating machine for Adacar, had one child sponsored, and when it was all said and done and I learned A LOT.  About not relying on myself, on who and how to look to for help and once again, how amazing friends are to support you in your endeavors, and if you pour your heart into something and you share it, that’s all that matters anyway.

Time: 7:15ish pm, April 5th, 2013

The setting: All Souls Fellowship

The actors: One Nervous Organizer who has just come from the bathroom where she had been on her knees praying in the big stall that this night would be a success.

Enter stage left: Nervous Organizer, approaches evening’s MC and says, “Well, let’s get this party started.”  This may or may not have been the exact words out of the N.O.’s mouth and the Kind MC very nervously smiles and says, looking around at the small number of attendees and people trickling in, “It’s gonna be ok, it’s gonna be great.”  This is when N.O.’s heart sinks just a smidgen for half a millisecond and she decides that courage, fortitude, and blind ignorance is the best dress for the final performance.  N.O. gets texts:

-Sorry, I’m sick.

-Sorry, I just can’t make it tonight.

-What was the address again?

It’s ok, N.O. (N.O. is me) takes deep breathes and Sacred Harp starts singing and it is beautiful and it comes from the heart and it is earnest and I am reminded why they gather to sing together as often as they can because something about it it soul-healing…and the rest of the evening, really goes off without a hitch, and I am grateful.  And just like other events in my life, I think, “Whoo-hoo!  Wait, it’s over already?  How can that be?” Somebody take a picture.  And why can’t I have that time-out power that Zack had on Saved By the Bell so I could freeze time for just one minute to savor the moment?

I believe God’s purposes were accomplished no matter the numbers.  I’ve seen clearly that God’s mathematics never, ever make sense, but turn out to be so much better than my own.

And here was the best text I got that night:

Don’t be discouraged.  God uses small beginnings.

Zachariah 4:10 (NLT) Do not despise these small beginnings for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.

Care to share a time that things didn’t turn out exactly how you had planned but turned out to be the start of something amazing?


Our Responsibilities in the Family of God

Yes, I know, it’s been a while since I’ve written, my apologies.  The fundraiser has consumed my time over the last few weeks, but more on that soon, I’ve got to get this down while it’s fresh.

So, it’s on to the book of I John for today.

The first 3 chapters focus on light, love, and the family of God.  It goes without saying, like every other passage in scripture, that this is convicting, we cannot live as children of light–children of Christ–while we harbor hatred towards another.  It is spiritually impossible.   But for now, I’d like to concentrate on Chapter 2:12-17:

I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.  I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning.  I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.  I write to you dear children because you have known the Father.  I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning.  I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

So, let’s break this down:

1) Children: your sins have been forgiven on account of my name, you have known the Father

2) Fathers: you have known Him who is from the beginning

3) Young Men: you have overcome the evil one because you are strong and the word of God lives in you

This is such a beautiful picture of how a Christian progresses in his/her faith, it starts with the forgiveness of sins and truly coming to know the Father.  Once we know the Father, we can trust him, we are empowered, we can cull from the pool of knowledge of what we have seen God do and move forward unashamedly towards his purposes for us.  Finally, I think it’s very interesting and notable that the “father’s” description does not change in these verses, twice it says, “because you have known him who is from the beginning.” Fathers knowing THE Father, this is brought about in no other way except through spiritual maturity, continual testing and just plain knowledge.  So here is our charge, what do we do with spiritual children?  We teach them, we encourage them, we share examples with them, admonish them and encourage them to grow.  And for our young men and women in the faith?  We CHALLENGE them, we spur them on to greater heights, greater faith, greater delving in the Word of God.  Fathers, (and mothers!) I’m talking to you, now.  You can’t keep your light under a bushel, you’ve got to let it continually shine for the children, the young men and women.

A good friend of mine shared a story she wrote about her two-year-old daughter, how she is challenged in her own faith as she watches how this bold and reckless little girl approaches life–how she charges toward her daddy as soon as he gets home and leaps up, knowing he’s going to catch her, because he always does–And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident  and unashamed before him at his coming. (2:28)

photo licenced under Creative Commons, brianna.lehman