Hate Mail

photo credit: Today is a good day via photopin cc

photo credit: Today is a good day via photopin cc

The moment can come in the middle of the Costco parking lot. (Hypothetically speaking, of course.)

That moment when the line between keeping it together and losing it completely is a bit hazy and the behavior of one child is like a stack of hate mail sitting on your heart.

When you read the words of these imaginary letters they spew things like “you don’t know what you’re doing” and “here you go again” and “this will never stop” or “you can never change.”

These words sink deep and make a panic rise as you try to figure out just how to get that child out of the car in the middle of the Costco parking lot, when he’s having a temper tantrum and people are looking at you like they want to write a letter of their own.

Or in the moment when you feel like no soul in the world (or at least at the pool) wants to consider you a good friend. The kind of moment when you notice in aching clarity the laughter and smiles and girls night outs around you and you realize you’re just sitting on the side holding onto your kid’s goggles and the idea that the conversation you’re missing sounds very similar to “who invited you?”

I’m over at “Next Level Mama” today . . . continue reading here!

Lines in the Sand

photo credit: Lars Plougmann via photopin cc

photo credit: Lars Plougmann via photopin cc

There are two meanings for drawing a line in the sand. One is that you make a decision not to cross a certain point. No more movement forward, not one more step past it.

The other meaning is that a firm decision has been made and you cross that line and never go back.

Isn’t that interesting?

One line. You either stop right before it or go full-force through it.

We’re staring at that line right now. Actually, we’re staring at a lot of lines.

Lines in the sand, drawn by God. Our toes are inching their way forward–not out of stubbornness or fear–but just out of the sheer fact that some things take time. Some lines are closer than others. Some are on the horizon. But they’re there.

This weekend we are training to become foster parents. Come Sunday afternoon, a line will have been crossed.

Then we will do paperwork. And have background checks. And a home study. Physicals. These are other lines to cross in a few weeks. And we’ll cross them.

At some point in the near future, there will be another one. A bigger one. A major event like getting married or having a child or becoming a believer. The kind that divides the “before” and the “after”. This line is the one that holds the heart of a little one, who is hurting and scared and needing us.

I’m not sure how we will cross that line but we’ll do it. We may be on our knees crawling over it. And clasping hands with others who will help us through it. And raising palms to the only One who will be before it, in it, and after it.

What it looks like on the other side, only God knows. That’s an interesting phenomenon that comes when you decide to step over these types of lines. You can’t totally see over it and past it or through it. But I’m guessing that it’s beautiful. And hard. And messy. And undoubtedly worth crossing over.

We all have our own lines that we draw in the sand. Are you about to cross over one? 

These Boots Were Made for Teaching

IMG_2650I wish this story ended better. I want to say I wish it ended more gracefully but that’s not right. There was plenty of grace. I just wish ended better.

So. I have these boots.

They are cute. Brown with pink polka dots. Fit for the rain, functional. But sassy. I get compliments on them whenever I wear them.

I put them on yesterday morning because it was rainy and I just didn’t feel like having my jeans drag along in puddles, wetness creeping up my legs. That would be uncomfortable. Boy, if I only knew . . .

Despite the weather, my mom, who is in town for a few days, and I decided to hit a couple of stores. My pick–Goodwill. For some reason it’s one of my favorite places. I love how you never know what you’re going to find. So we went, in the rain. Me, in the boots.

We split off, each of us having our own mission in mind, and I found myself lingering around the shoes. Nothing for me but something kept me there.

That’s when they walked in. A mother and teenage daughter. Nothing was super unusual about this pair other than the girl was dressed kind of eccentrically. Something, something, started humming inside me about these two. They were talking about boots and I got the impression that regardless of fit, they were leaving with something. The girl tried some on. Too small. She tried another pair. Maybe. There weren’t many choices and from what I gathered, something was going to have to work. I couldn’t tell if they were homeless–I thought perhaps. Or not. But a desperation–not from them, but from me–pulsed in the air.

The humming wouldn’t stop. Oh, I know that feeling. That’s when God wants me to do something. And do it now. I sensed God saying to me clearly, “Give her your boots.”

“That’s ridiculous. My boots?” I stopped in my tracks. “I don’t think so,” I argued in my head.

Now just so you know, I cannot recall a time ever in my life when I have felt prompted by God to give someone an article of clothing off my back. This is not a regular occurrence.  And for the record, I also do not feel so much love for my boots that I could not bear to part with them. This was just an all-around strange request that threw me for a loop. The truth was I did not want to look stupid.

“Give her your boots.”

“Oh, no. No, no, no. That is so weird! They’ll think I’m crazy! Why would you ask me to do something so weird? And crazy?”

“Your obedience will be a blessing to them. And to you.”

I paced the aisles, keeping my eyes discreetly on them. I thought of a devotion I had read recently. And by recently, I mean I read it THAT morning.

“As soon as the priests . . . set foot in the Jordan, its waters . . . will be cut off.” The Israelites were called to step IN before the waters would part. They couldn’t walk up to the water and then watch the water part before they stepped in. It took a major step of faith. That’s some serious business. It takes guts.

We must learn to take God at His word and walk straight ahead in obedience, even when we can see no way to go forward. The reason we are so often sidetracked by difficulties is that we expect to see barriers removed before we even try to pass through them. If we would only move straight ahead in faith, the path would be opened for us. But we stand still, waiting for the obstacle to be removed, when we ought to go forward as if there were no obstacles at all. (Streams in the Desert)

So there I was, in Goodwill, wearing my boots. Arguing with God about giving them away.

I lingered. I listened. I continued to argue. I said “no” over and over in my head. I really am so stubborn.

Finally, I watched them leave. They had purchased a pair of light blue boots–whether they fit, I don’t know. All I know is that the girl didn’t leave in mine.

We left not long after. I started the car, windshield wipers furiously working at clearing my field of vision. I felt weary from energy wasted from wrestling in the clothing aisles. It reminded me of a story I heard from Beth Moore and the time God asked her to do something crazy. God asked her to brush a man’s hair at the airport and it’s probably one of the most awe-inspiring stories of stepping out in faith I’ve ever heard. God allowed her moment to become an incredible witness. She obeyed. Oh, how I wish I had too.

It took about 30 seconds before I spewed the whole story out to my mom–probably one of the few people who could understand my grief for something so bizarre. She listened and didn’t stop me or try to convince me I shouldn’t be upset. She simply told me it probably was not even about the boots. It was probably a lesson to teach me that I’m not quite there yet in obedience–the same place all of us are dwelling, in fact. She reminded me that God forgives us of those moments. Forgiveness is immediate with repentance. And you better believe I was repenting even as I watched those two women in front of me. Especially as I watched them walk out the door.

My sweet little polka dot boots. I have no idea if the girl would’ve taken them. Or if they would’ve looked at me like I was insane. I don’t think it matters. But I will look at those boots in a new way. They are now a reminder for next time. A lesson. A rebuke. A promise. A hope. I’m on a journey in those boots. I may be asked to do something strange for God. Actually, I will be asked to do something strange or crazy or out of the ordinary for God. I’ve been asked before and I’ve obeyed. I’ve been asked before and I’ve failed. It will happen again.

Off we went into our day. Onto another store, other moments. I walked the aisles, feeling lighter because of grace, but heavier because of experience. A woman walked past me and called back, “hey, I love your boots!”

I thanked her and thought, “oh, you don’t even know how much I love them now too.”