The “Keep It Together” Club (All Mamas Welcome)

photo credit: caseorganic via photopin cc

photo credit: caseorganic via photopin cc

We had been up and down the aisles long enough. He’d gone through the Goldfish crackers and now he was waving the coupons in the air and dropping them to the ground like we were our own miniature ticker tape parade.

We had just moved to the neighborhood and this first-time mama was mighty proud to be successfully grocery shopping with the little one AND with such a valuable $10 off “Welcome to the Neighborhood” coupon in hand. Well, in his hand.

After meandering our way through the new grocery store we made it to the checkout. I glowed in the light of being such a fiscally responsible wife and mother. Oh, the pride I would feel when I handed over my mega-coupon! Physical proof that I was a successful, smart, good-steward-of-our-finances kind of woman.

Only…

(to be continued)

**Today I am blessed and honored to be writing over at There is Grace. Swing by to say hello and meet my new friend, Nancy! Click here to keep reading!**

 

Leap On, Soul Sister

photo credit: Camdiluv ♥ via photopin cc

photo credit: Camdiluv ♥ via photopin cc

Very few people read my post last week about my boots. If blog posts were measured in terms of sound, this one would’ve registered off-the-charts crickets. And that’s ok. I wrote it because I had to. I felt an overwhelming sense that I had blown it when God asked me to do something. It was one of those experiences when you hope your failure encourages someone else so they don’t feel so alone. Or like a mess. Or at least that they don’t feel so alone in their mess.

I kind of bummed my way through last week. Nothing was wrong but I just felt heavy. I looked around, wondering if I was going to say “no” to God with other things–things that were more important than silly polka dot boots. Wondering what He was going to ask of me and how I might just panic again.

But nothing happened. As we went into another store that week, I told my mom (joking on the outside but serious as a heart attack on the inside) that I wondered what God was going to ask me to give away this time. I felt relief when she told me to come find her if I felt compelled to give away any other articles of clothing and she’d be there to back me up. So, off I went, and I was not beckoned to share anything. For that, I was grateful.

I also heard from my wonderful mother-in-law and a dear friend in Buffalo and a friend from church. A few good people shared their similar experiences–both failures in obedience and some successes. I felt lighter. We really are never alone on this journey, are we?

And on Sunday morning, I woke up to these words from one of my soul sisters:

I wanted to say that I read your post about the boots the other day. We sang a song at small group fellowship that made me think of you and your boots: (from Oh How He Loves Us“We are His portion and He is our prize, Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes, If His grace was an ocean, we’re all sinking. And Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss, And my heart turns violently inside my chest, I don’t have time to maintain these regrets, When I think about the way He Loves us.” It just struck me how sometimes the lesson of opportunity lost is more powerful than the actual action. Anyway–I wanted to speak freedom and grace inside His love and care into you.

Oh, how much those words meant to me. A little more of the heaviness lifted.

I then looked back at the week, meditating on how much “nothing” had happened since the boot incident. I realized “nothing” was not an accurate description at all. My team met with our foster care partners for our church ministry and put dates on the calendar to begin the journey. My husband and I marked in our own personal calendars when we were going to train to become foster parents ourselves. We continued talks on expanding our family and how we both felt God calling us to parent more than just our three. Nothing? No, no. Everything.

In terms of taking leaps of faith, I did blow it with the boots. I’m probably going to do it a hundred times more. But I’m not going to blow it with caring for the fatherless. In fact, I’m already mid-leap and I’m not alone.

Amazingly, it doesn’t feel heavy or sad or scary. It feels glorious, like flying.

A Little Hemming, Here and There

photo credit: litlnemo via photopin cc

photo credit: litlnemo via photopin cc

She sewed me into my dress 10 minutes before we were to leave for the wedding. Our ride waited down below and I stood in our hotel room, obediently still, as the aunt of the bride lovingly stitched me in. The dress was perfect for me and when I had tried it on in the store, I turned and turned and looked and smoothed. It was perfect. Perfect for the occasion (one of my bestie’s wedding), black-tie, formal, out-of-my-comfort-zone fancy. I loved it and so I bought it. In expectation. In admiration. I bought it because I thought it was beautiful.

So when I slipped the fabric over my head, my makeup and hair done, heels on, nails polished, I thought I was finished. But what started as one attempt at closing a stubborn zipper, turned into 110 attempts at closing a stubborn zipper–each time revealing a long stretch of my spine, pale and exposed, beneath black material.

I had an alternate, less-fantastic dress in the closet. I thought of my options quickly as I glanced at the clock, feeling the seconds tick closer to our departure time. I want to feel beautiful. I should be practical. Is there any way to fix this? Let it go. But that’s when she offered to hem me in. She said she could do it quickly and carefully, no one would notice a thing. I smiled. Sew me in, how perfect.

You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.

I stood still, listening to her murmur to herself as she closed the wound in my dress. I would occasionally ask if she needed help but really all I did was be still. So often in life that is the requirement for progress, isn’t it? She finished moments later, revealing a smooth, clean line–barely noticeable and only to the two of us who knew about it. If I were discreet, no one would have to know. But really, what’s the fun in that? I knew I could tell this story in less than three minutes between the walls of a limousine.

I thought of all the scars on my body, ones that represent a place where I have been stitched together. There are three scars, one on top of another, where life was literally pulled from my body, crying, breathing, heart beating. Each of these places had to be put back together, loving healed as a piece of me carried out the business of living outside my flesh. I have several scars elsewhere, where a skilled hand needed to both open and close, remove and repair. Some scars are uglier than others. Some are almost flawless. Some are in between. They are a permanent part of who I am.

God has used these places or wounds or moments or tears to hem me in. I’m in a constant state of repair–either big or small or so tiny no one can see the work but me and God. I’m no seamstress but the visual of the Mighty One skillfully, tenderly enclosing me into Himself is a concept that takes my breath away. I think about the surgeon working tenderly on a heart of a newborn. How tiny–beyond tiny–any move the ability to save or destroy. I am that newborn. And my God is the One who saves. And once I am securely enclosed, I need not fear being torn apart. While I may feel a stitch loosen here, a perceived rip there, the thread that binds us is unbreakable. A chord, eternal.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

The hem: important elsewhere. I am drawn to the humility of the sick woman, on her knees, begging for just a touch of the hem of Jesus. Something simple, low to the ground, a part of the fabric to which no one gives a second thought, was an important conduit for God’s power. The fabric itself meant nothing. But the One who created the fabric–the One who hems us into it–is Everything. That kind of power should draw us to our knees as well.

A minute to spare. One last look in the mirror and out the door, stitching hidden to the world. I was proud to be enclosed, by needle and thread, by a woman who helped when I needed repair. The dress was still beautiful but it was altered now. Better. It had a story that would now carry with me. I allowed myself to be sewn in, secure. And undoubtedly I will again, countless times in this life.