Five Minute Friday: Together

I return today to this weekly writing practice of Five Minute Friday: Five minutes on a weekly prompt, no editing, just free-flowing words and stream-of-consciousness. And a supportive writing community hosted by Kate Motaung – head over to fiveminutefriday.com to learn more.

As an extroverted introvert – or an introverted extrovert – this question of whether to get together isn’t simple for me to answer. I vacillate between wanting to be together with “my people” (husband, kids, family, neighbors, friends) and craving the quiet solitude that gives my soul space to breathe.

It wasn’t always such a dilemma. I was the “yes girl” all growing up, all through college, and beyond. Then I got married, and we were together all the time – 24/7/365 – and it was great, and it was challenging for us both. But we navigated around it; found ways to be together and to also enjoy being apart. Then twins came barely four years into marriage, and “together” was no longer an option. Their survival very literally depended on it. We were feeding round-the-clock and sleeping in shifts. We were all very together all the time, and it was beautiful and delightful and difficult. I found when given the option during free time, I didn’t choose “together” automatically anymore. I chose “alone” because it became a rare luxury.

But now – these twins are becoming teens, and I find I’m shifting again. I want to be together … and that’s where we all are this weekend, and I’m hoping “together” will be what they want as well in the years and decades to come.

Five Minute Friday: Chance

I return today to this weekly writing practice of Five Minute Friday: Five minutes on a weekly prompt, no editing, just free-flowing words and stream-of-consciousness. And a supportive writing community hosted by Kate Motaung – head over to fiveminutefriday.com to learn more.

“So you’re telling me there’s a chance?” this line from a movie whose title is long forgotten is what first comes to mind. I think the context is a desperate boy trying to convince a popular girl that she should go out with him, and she rebuffs him, but he finds some sliver of a way in through the way she words it.

Chance isn’t something I do a lot, in terms of using it as a verb, and at least not consciously. I recently told a friend, “I’m risk-adverse in everything except for international travel,” and that really does describe me. I’ll never skydive, for example, nor would I do the really crazy high-in-the-air roller coasters. Fun fact: I didn’t ride my first roller coaster until my early 20s!

“Just leave it to chance,” is a phrase I actually profoundly disagree with. I believe in a loving and sovereign God, so I really don’t believe that “chance” exists. There’s a purpose in everything, and a loving hand guiding us. There’s a mystery in this doctrine of providence that I won’t pretend to explain away or understand completely, and I’m the first to admit that I don’t always enjoy the idea of this truth. But if God’s character and nature could be perfectly explained, then He wouldn’t be God – more likely a figment of my imagination. So I won’t leave it to chance, but remind myself to trust the good, the bad, the hard, the confusing, the inexplicable to the loving care of a God who’s over it all and in it all and committed to working all for good.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. … If God is for us, who can ever be against us? … And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. … nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:28, 32, 38-39 New Living Translation

Five Minute Friday: Twenty

The essence of this weekly writing practice of Five Minute Friday: Five minutes on a weekly prompt, no editing, just free-flowing words and stream-of-consciousness. And a supportive writing community hosted by Kate Motaung – head over to fiveminutefriday.com to learn more.

Twenty years ago I was in my 20s. What an odd statement, mostly because it makes me feel so old! Although I wouldn’t go back to my 20s – let me make that clear – it was quite a decade of change. I graduated from college; taught school; volunteered in youth ministry and college ministry and bilingual kids’ ministry; pursued a different calling to seminary and counseling; got married; and lived in Chicago, South Carolina, and Philadelphia. I look back at my 20s as a decade of discovery – discovering who God made me (and who I wasn’t), who God was calling me to share life with, and how I wanted to serve the broken world in which I found myself.

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I’m going to be honest: as soon as my timer finished, I felt disappointed in how little I had written and I didn’t want to post this. Yet as someone who believes that vulnerability and imperfection actually creates connection and isn’t a barrier to it – I’m going to publish this post. Some prompts are more inspiring than others, and some days I write more fluidly than others. This is part of the struggle of being and becoming a writer. Too often it’s the polished words that find their way into my hands, and I have to remember that’s rarely where they began. Every book has a humble, often bumbling, beginning. So I’m reminding myself of that with today’s words.

Five Minute Friday: Trust

The essence of this weekly writing practice of Five Minute Friday: Five minutes on a weekly prompt, no editing, just free-flowing words and stream-of-consciousness. And a supportive writing community hosted by Kate Motaung – head over to fiveminutefriday.com to learn more.

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She looks up at me with eyes wide open, innocent, trusting, the question inherent – “will you take care of me?” And of course I draw near, hug her close, whisper a sweet sh, sh, sh in her ear. That’s the only language that makes sense to her as a baby. She doesn’t have words yet.

He looks across joined hands with me at the front of a church, and I know deep in my soul I can trust him. I say “yes” and “I do” and “from this day forward.”

Yet trust can be so tenuous. So difficult to build – and long and hard to maintain. When breached, it can seem impossible to come back from. Have you ever trusted someone who failed you? Have you ever broken the trust of someone you loved?

Yes, and yes.

So there must be One more steadfast than a human heart can be. One whose arms always uphold, who’s ever ready to deliver and stand beside and repair the breaches of trust – the holes in the bridge of this tenuous endeavor called “trust.”

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Five Minute Friday: Aware

Back by popular demand (you know who you are, friends – thank you for inviting back into this writing sphere with your encouragement last month!) – Five Minute Friday. Five minutes on a weekly prompt, no editing, just free-flowing words and stream-of-consciousness. I’ve been part of this community in its early stages, and it’s amazing what it’s become as of late. Curious? Head over to fiveminutefriday.com for more.

I’ve heard that a parent’s role is to be aware. To be alert, to notice, to watch out for impending danger ahead and warn or reroute as necessary. I’ve been told in my own journey of counseling that there have been blindspots in my own heart that I’ve not been aware of – that I’ve missed so much at times because of this lack of *awareness.* So to be aware is to be alert, but more than that, to be awake to life. Both its hard and its beautiful places. My own perspective can become so skewed – I’m trained by profession and calling to be aware of abusive tendencies in clients and to be aware of how my clients’ issues can bring up my own and to be aware of what’s not quite right so that I can help lead and guide and redirect to the best path forward.

But what God’s teaching me, what my counselor and good friends are inviting me into, is to bring my honed powers of awareness to the good and the beautiful. God is here, too, not just in the hard and the difficult and the sad. In fact, I think in today’s current cultural and political and international climate, to be aware of what’s good and beautiful requires *greater* powers of awareness than to notice what’s not right.

I want to be eyes wide opened to the good. I don’t want to miss a thing (thinking of lyrics by my favorite artist of late, Ellie Holcomb).

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Five Minute Friday: Rush

Five Minute Friday. Free-writing for five minutes on a given topic. Community link-up here – join us!

She texted me, “No rush!” And something inside me breathed again. How many times do I rush, rush, rush? Do I hurry, hurry, hurry? And I hurry making myself harried. I rush and become rash.

Instead, slow. What would slow look like in the midst of a rushing world? I think it feels like a wide open blue sky space when you’ve been walking through a torrential downpour. It’s like a quiet pond with a comfortable bench so you could perch and rest awhile. It gives time for soul work.

pond

A Quiet Pond” by Pietro Fragiacomo

It’s Sabbath every week. It’s sabbatical when needed – or maybe, before it’s needed. It’s vacation that is restful. It’s time away from the demands of your busy life. It’s daily moments to pause, to ponder, to stop.

Just to stop. To stop rushing even when the world around me tells me I must. It’s counter-cultural, and our communities are craving it. Someone, somewhere, to say and really mean it: “No rush.” Just breathe. And pay attention to your life – your one beautiful, wondrous life – and the lives around you.

To stop rushing is to start wondering. And to stop wonder-ing is to start rushing.

Five Minute Friday: Surrender

Five Minute Friday is a writing community I link up with most Fridays. It’s a five-minute free write on a given topic. Learn more about it here.

white flag

When I think of surrender, what first comes to mind is “raising the white flag.” Like surrender as a last resort in a battle when you realize it’s over and you can’t win. You declare that you give in and give up. So it’s no wonder that “surrender” isn’t something high on my list of favorite topics. I don’t want to give up anything to anyone. Not control, not time, not money … surrender seems to imply I’m giving over what I’d rather keep. But I know that in the Christian life, one of the central themes is surrender. The gospel hymn “I Surrender All” comes to mind. We sing about it sweetly in church, yet I think it’s more like the last act of a battle in reality. I would rather not have to surrender to God. But I do. And what changes this action from grit-your-teeth-and-open-your-hands to willing is when I look at God’s surrender for me. In a word, His love. I don’t surrender first. God surrendered all – His one and only perfect Son – in the battle for my soul and yours against an evil to the core Enemy. Jesus opened wide his arms in surrender at the cross. It was bloody and messy and awful, I imagine. But He did that so that I could be welcomed into God’s love. Surrendering to love is sweet and drives out fear. This surrender is less white flag and more like a lover’s embrace after a long time apart. Finally, you’re here, and I’m here, and we’re together at last. I think that’s true Christian surrender.

Five Minute Friday: visit

I’m joining in with Five Minute Friday – a five-minute free write weekly exercise. Find out more here.

Maybe there are fresh flowers on the dresser. A tray of goodies to welcome us. But it can be simpler than that – a warm embrace; plans made for our stay; a place for us to sleep; meals prepared. When we visit another friend or family member, it’s a treat to be with them. It’s about the company. Not the accommodations, per se. It’s a chance to have a break from our routine and join in another’s day-to-day life.

There are limits to phone calls, FaceTime, that make a face-to-face visit necessary. Precious. And harder to fit in now that we have to work around a school schedule.

A visit is an opportunity to be on the receiving end of hospitality. We leave with our spirits refreshed and our hearts full. Ready to return the favor sometime soon.

Five Minute Friday: truth

After many months of hiatus, I’m returning to the blog – joining up with Five Minute Friday, hosted by Kate Motaung. Five minutes of free-writing on a given prompt. No editing or overthinking. So here goes … 

It’s so important that I named my daughter after it. Alethia, meaning truth in Greek. It’s easy to lose; hard to find sometimes. Other times it’s staring at you in the face, and then maybe you don’t want to admit what it is.

Pilate asked, “What is truth?” in the face of Truth Incarnate, Jesus led like a lamb to die on the cross.

We ask, “What is truth?” out of confusion. Desperation to know. Refusal to admit it because then it has claims on your life.

streams

Truth should be sweet. Refreshing like purified water. There are so many half-truths and deceptions floating around our world. To discover truth in any form is beautiful. Or at least it should be.

But for me, truth too often seems dry. Unconnected to my life. Which is the furthest thing from the truth. It roots me, anchors me in storms. Telling it leads to freedom and connection and community. Even when it’s hard. Always when it’s coated in love. It’s how I grow. Receiving and telling the truth in love.

Truth isn’t dry when we remember it’s always to be joined to love. Many more will argue with truth who cannot argue with love. So let’s wed the two together, as they’re meant to be. And then truth is attractive – winsome – sought for – and secure.

Five Minute Friday: hidden

It’s been a good albeit long week of summer. We watched a summer movie ($1 at Regal), shopped for school shoes (already!), I had an interview on the Debbie Chavez show, we played at the pool a lot and did a lot of indoor activities trying to stay cool during a sweltering week. Today I take a break and return to the blog, joining in Five Minute Friday.

Five Minute Friday is my favorite of writing link-ups hosted by Kate Motaung. Her description draws me back every week, and the community of FMF keeps me writing – “This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write.”

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Hidden holds intrigue and promise, like a buried treasure waiting to be found. It’s a new life blooming within a mother’s womb. A long cherished love that awaits the right time to be expressed.

Hidden is also shame-tinged. It’s where I store my latest failure – bolted, safe, secure, for no one to see. If you’ve been abused, you know the burden of a hidden secret.

Hidden is good or bad, depending on what it is we are hiding and why. If it’s the latter – the long-buried secret – it needs the light for healing and freedom. Those sorts of burdens aren’t meant to stay hidden and borne alone. Speak about it with someone safe. Feel the burden begin to lighten.

If it’s the first – the type of hidden that’s like a treasure waiting to be found – I can think of no better analogy for what the Bible calls us children of God: “hidden with Christ in God.” We are God’s treasured ones, kept close and precious. Our glory is waiting to be revealed. 

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