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God “Outdreams” Me Every Time

As I left the Children’s Village and then the Guest House to venture home via safari the question by the children and staff was, “Will you come back?” Well that’s the question I’ve been asking as well. My intention is to return to Uganda but I’m also not about making promises and more importantly I don’t know what God’s timing is and when he will lead me back. I don’t know what my work would consist of in Uganda (though there’s plenty of it) or for how long I would go. I do hope to come back sooner than later and to continue to use my skills. The unknowing causes me a bit of anxiety – Does it mean that I haven’t been listening to God’s leading/direction and am I missing it other places in my life? Yet I believe He led me to Uganda and I went. They are the questions which stir in so many of our hearts as Christ Followers: What is God asking of me? How is He leading? What is He saying to my heart? However this time with the question of “Uganda” on my mind the anxiety is minimal. Isn’t this what God always is asking of us? “Let me guide” “Don’t be anxious” “I’ll care for you.”

His eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches me. The words repeat over and over in my head and quite honestly now I think of the Safari as I think of the animals rather than the sparrow. It’s true The Lord of Heaven and Earth not only cares for me but he gives me exactly what I need and more. He knows my love for children, serving, travel, adventure, and culture. Sometimes I find myself dreaming about what I believe would be an ideal job, perfect place to live, adventure to take, friends to have and then realize that God each and every time has outdone me. His dreams are better and are not dreams but reality. He has time and time again surprised me by the richness of his gifts of family, friendship, adventure, meaningful work, and moments that seem orchestrated like love notes. Here are two that he gave me.

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Into the Horizon

The snow continues to fall outside the window of parent’s home in Vermont. Miles and miles of white fields lay on the horizon. The night will prove to be brilliant once the clouds clear and the moon shimmers glistening on new snow. Fresh powder always seems to have a mystery of jewels as it sparkles. It’s been much too long since the snow has serenaded us. The world feels expansive with snow covered fields that seem an unending horizon.

In the coming weeks I’ll be moving a couple of towns away after 14 years in the same home. It’s been a wonderful place to live for a variety of reasons, however one reason that I will miss is horizon. Though I live in a town, a village of sorts, my bedroom is on the third floor of a home set on a hill. My bedroom window faces east and the sun regularly wake me up. No neighbors can peak into my windows and my shades are never drawn. Many mornings pinks, oranges, and reds are found on the horizon and it seems the masterpieces have been scripted just for me. I know that just beyond the window lays a village, fields, woods, a beautiful beach and the Atlantic.

Growing up in in Vermont brilliant sunsets are common though were never taken for granted. Whether it is the sun setting over Lake Champlain or settling for the night behind a hill, the canvas is continually changing. It seems it is always improving. Many a day my parents would call to us to see the display of beauty which God was painting. There is also a drive I love to take through the Champlain Valley with the rugged Adirondack Mountains and glimpses of Lake Champlain on one horizon and the soft Green Mountains on the other. Even as a child I knew that this display was magnificent.

On my way to work I drive through conservation and state forest land. Fields lay on both sides with perfectly set trees that solicit dreams of picnics, long walks and carriage rides. Often there are glimpses of deer or in the fall an expansive pumpkin patch. Horses find their way to barns for hay as I attempt to savor a few more minutes without reviewing a list of tasks and crises. My thoughts in the first few miles of this drive typically turn to God who it seems has orchestrated a perfect commute for this girl who longs for the horizon.

When I go too long without a view of the horizon there is something that goes amiss within my soul. My world seems smaller, the possibilities for the future bland, and my restlessness can’t be identified. With the horizon it’s easy to remember there are adventures to be had, relationships yet to be discovered, and a journey that is unfolding. The mystery of horizon is that it is ever changing whether it is jeweled snow, erupting pumpkin patches, dazzling sunsets, spirited sunrises or courageous explorers on a quest. I long to move into the horizon, to take the walks, hike and ski the mountains, kayak the oceans, swim the lakes, and meet those also on the journey. Each day there is new light, colors, people, and beauty to behold. My soul longs for the horizon and what lies ahead. My prayer is to move into the horizon knowing I will not capture it rather allow myself to be captured by the one who created it.

 

Waiting for Water

40 Year Difference – Fast Friends

I get out of my car in Boston to attend the Hillsong Concert. I’m with my friend Lyn who is about 20 years my senior. I’ve told her about my friend Joelinda who is not quite 20 years my junior. Joelinda has also heard all about Lyn. Though they have never met they tightly hug each other before I can finish any sort of introduction. Lyn has never been to Chipotle so we venture out for dinner before the concert. Joelinda quickly jokes with Lyn and teases her about this first time Chipotle experience wondering what rock she’s been living under. I can’t help but smile all night as the difference in ages never seems to rise. There is talk about school, worship, family, guys, work, and most importantly Jesus is interwoven through it all. They find other people they know in common and search for connections via smartphones.

My life feels rich as I stand between them in the concert. Joelinda is worshiping with arms wide and heart abandoned. Lyn is learning the words and smiling with joy being in the midst of youth and the Spirit. She’s wearing her Toms, worships with enthusiasm, and fits right in. I smile feeling blessed that my life has become intertwined with these women I admire. Through them I have become a better person. My faith and heart have expanded never to return to the same size.

My thoughts recently have been simple – I don’t want to miss the deep friendship of people at different stages and ages than my own. My life is more complete, deeper, richer, and joyful because of them. If you don’t have a Lyn or a Joelinda in your life I encourage you to find one, two, three or more as your heart and faith will expand, never to return to “regular size.”

Great Souls at Prayer

Today my dear friend Gini is exhausted and uncomfortable she is 2 weeks away from reaching 96 and is ready to be with Jesus. She is a Great Soul. Today there was little she could focus on or receive comfort from. I read/prayed with her from “Great Souls at Prayer” a compilation of prayer by Mary W. Tileston. Her copy is well worn with personal notes and meaningful phrases underlined.

Today’s prayer:

December 12th: “Most Loving Lord, I offer my whole self unto Thee. Take, I pray Thee, into the hands of Thine unspeakable pity, both my soul and body, my senses words and actions; vouchsafe in all things so to direct and govern me, that I may ever flee every occasion of sin, and may so constantly cleave to Thee and to Thy commandments, that neither life nor death, nor anything which may befall me, may separate me from Thee – Amen” Treasury of Devotion, 1869

Cubicle Inspiration

 My office is moving this week.  My co-workers and I have been “hosted” at another site within the agency for over a year until reorganization of space occurred.  We will be moving to a new location and sharing space with a much larger state agency.  It is better for the clients we serve as we’ll be back in the city.  I will be leaving my windowless office with its door and moving back to cubicle land.  On the other side of the new building lies the ocean, that will not be my view, I do not have a window.  The rhythm of my work will need to change.  My door is non-existent therefore can’t be shut to my co-workers talk of retirement or to save them from my adventurous musical taste, podcast or Pandora listening.  I know they wouldn’t appreciate my music or voicemails I listen to on speakerphone.

There is a list or rules for our new cubicleville – don’t hang any pictures on the walls, don’t plug in any small appliances, and some rules about tape, tacks, and many others I am already concerned about.  In my other spaces, and the office I just left, I have put up very intentional pictures, quotes, and art that are reminders to me to keep my work in perspective.  I have loved my current bulletin board and white board – I look up and most often I gain a bit of perspective – it was very sad taking it down.  Other people post phone numbers, lists, reminders, etc.  I tend to post what inspires me.   I have been concerned about how I will make this new space one that inspires me to keep moving forward.   I have realized that a new set of headphones is needed sooner than later.   Here’s a glimpse of what I took down.

Miracles do not, in fact, break the laws of nature.  C.S. Lewis

 

This quote is next to a “life is good” sticker and a picture of an important kid in my life who has transformed me…she has not always believed life is good.

Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor.  It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life.   – Anne Lamott

 “If you make $50,000 per year, you are wealthier than 99 percent of the world.” Global Rich List as read about in The Hole in our Gospel  (www.globalrichlist.com)

 Children I have taken pictures of in Haiti, Moldova, and Mexico (these are just a few of many pictures)

Below is the picture of a man in Haiti and I love his smile and the TapTap behind him.  I know as I took it he was walking through a road with broken homes and businesses around him. 

 He wasn’t posing… there was joy in his step. 

I also keep a list of the Places/Trips I have been on in the past 10 years – to remind me that I’m not standing still – and usually I have on my whiteboard the next adventure to look forward to. 

 What inspires you in your office, kitchen, at your desk, or in your cubicle?

How do you keep your perspective and stay inspired? (possibly even in a  cube with lots rules and don’ts)

Embracing a Space

During the Month of May I started working on a home project. There is a landing down my back stairs where there is room for 2 chairs and a little table. Gini, my downstairs neighbor, has had visions of flowers and a place to sit off her second story apartment. I didn’t have visions of anything but mosquitoes.

Cleaning – Scrubbing – and getting a sweet blister I embraced the project of cleaning one Sunday afternoon. I literally washed the green off the siding and wooden deck. We have a mold, green, roof issue here at the house I live in, yet its home. After a couple of weeks I finally found just the right window boxes (no drilling needed), picked out containers, dirt, and flowers conducive to shade, and set to work. Hours later and my last drill hole made (for a hanging plan) there is a space outside I have already come to love. Looking past the peeling paint, tinted green in places, there is a new look to a once dismissed space.

Sitting out the past week I have been amazed at how I had written off this space. I had not thought it could or would be anything special. I had not seen the potential or value in it, other than a second means of egress to pass fire standards. Yet I have been able to reflect, relax, and restore. I embraced what I had dismissed as ugly, unusable, and not worth the effort. The space was there all along. My struggle has been that my apartment is too small, cramped and I wish for so much more where I live, including flowers and the option of a garden. This part was outside my door all along.

Like my new newly embraced and transformed landing I don’t usually want to wade into the areas in my life that I have overlooked, are full of mold and a buildup of neglect. I don’t want to have to clean, possibly scrub, and maybe even get a blister. However there is beauty waiting. Gini my dear friend mentioned her hope and vision in passing. I don’t want to miss embracing the space that was there all along… the physical space and even in my heart.

Have you overlooked space before – made a small change and been surprised at the beauty?