We sat across from each other in the restaurant, cups steaming with our hot beverages. We talked as friends, sharing the details of life, catching up months of intricacies and essentials. It had been too long since we communed like this.
She told me about opening her home to neighbors, friends, people in general, and I listened, wondering how she did this so easily, so lovingly, so Christ-like. I’ve benefited from her gift of hospitality on many occasions, how she does it with ease, an open heart and an open home.
I pulled out of the parking lot with those thoughts lingering, asking myself if I could do that. Could I throw open the doors and invite the needy in?
It’s much easier to welcome friends, companions, those who share common ground. It’s not as threatening when I am familiar with the faces around my table and we chit chat. But what about the stranger, the alien, the widow and orphans, those less like me? What about those who are too troubled for me to offer an easy remedy?
Yet, aren’t they the ones God bids me to love? Isn’t that the way He loves me?
The call came late in the evening, from one with whom communication is mainly via text and cell phone. She asked if she could come spend the weekend, and the intonation of the words told me there was something more to the phrases she used.
In a vulnerability I don’t often have myself, she said she needed a place to stay for a couple of days, a safe place. After asking more questions and seeking Sweet William’s insight, knowing his perception is often better than mine, I said, “Yes. Come.”
She arrived with her baggage and burdens, her tears and her hurts. We opened the door when she knocked and said, “Welcome.”
That night as I lay in bed, I prayed for the peace that passes understanding to fill this house and fill our hearts, the very Presence of peace who brings comfort in chaos and provides shelter in storms. The Host who embodies the glad welcome and complete acceptance, was abiding with us.
My own heart opened a little bit wider. And it was all grace.
The old post is long gone so I stopped where I could remember it standing. Then I took off my shoes for this was holy ground. God hallows any place where He meets us, and this was my rendezvous with Him.
Before long I was on my knees, face toward the ground, tears streaming down, words uttered out loud. And I wondered what my neighbors might think if they saw me. It didn’t matter.
After a time of pouring out my heart, I arose and knew I was heard. God was near and gave me peace for a simple act of obedience.
I ponder prayer. Is it about me while at the same time being very much about God? Is the mere act of praying a way of Him drawing me to Himself? Does He encourage me to pray so I will seek Him and find Him because He is always seeking me? Do problems come our way to draw our attention away from things that matter little to focus on things eternal? Does prayer bring me to a point of total surrender when I’ve run out of my own options and have no strength left?
After years of praying, I’m still figuring out prayer, its diamond-like facets bringing color and beauty to my life. Just when I think I might have it figured out, the light changes, and I’m left in wonder again.
Like a parent who sees her child in distress and says, “Come tell me what’s wrong,” my Father bids me come and pour out my heart. I know He hears and I know He cares about what weighs me down. I lay my burdens on Him because they are too heavy for me. I trust Him to do what is right. I trust Him to love me and to love those I pray for. I trust Him to be strong and good. And that is enough.
At the place of the old post, I rose from my knees, put on my shoes and walked home, feeling lighter. I gave my concerns to the One who knows what to do with them. I prayed. My God heard. I know He is working whether I can see the intricate details of His plan or not. He is always working on behalf of His children.
Becoming. That is where I am. Already and still in process.
Viewing my life from birth to birthday, I see where I’ve been and where I am. The years impart wisdom that only comes from living out my days.
I am becoming more comfortable in my skin, wrinkled and sagging as it is. I see how God is working in me through experiences of trouble, joy, sorrow, hard work, celebration to become more the person He planned when He fashioned my DNA.
There were days of hiding behind my mother’s skirts, fearful of who I was. Days when I wore a mask to hide who I might be. Days of putting on a costume in effort to conform to another’s expectations. Each was uncomfortable, and without being able to put it into words, I knew it wasn’t who I was meant to be.
Like an onion being peeled, layers of covering slowly, sometimes painfully, fell away, the pretense and pretending of trying to please and appease, of trying to be like someone else. Only let me be who God made me to be with no apology.
In no way does this give me permission to be rude or offensive, to commit sin or disregard the doctrines of Scripture I believe to be good and right. Nay, in following God’s commands I walk in the utmost liberty.
I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments. — Psalm 119:45 NLT
I am free to follow where He leads, to use the gifts He gives, to accept my personality strengths, to recognized my weaknesses and cooperate with my Creator to change where needed.
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. — Philippians 1:6 NLT
I am not where I can be, fully who I was made to be. But I am becoming.
Christ in me, I become more and more, year by year, the woman He is calling out. “Will the real Peggy step forward and live out her purpose?”
Before the days of ultrasounds and 3D imaging, I was left wondering if I would have a son or a daughter. When I became pregnant, there were no expectations of knowing until I could hear my doctor proclaim at the time of birth, “You have a boy” or “You have a girl.”
I don’t recall a secret desire for either. I just wanted a healthy baby. People told me they predicted a girl, something about the way I carried the growing life nestled under my heart. Some were convinced and gave me dresses at the baby shower given by the ladies of my church.
When I consider the morning sickness that lasted all day long, the girth of my belly, the stretch marks, the pain of labor and eventual C-section, it was all worth it. Seeing that beautiful round head as my doctor announced, “It’s a boy” veiled everything else.
The first time the nurse brought my son to the room and placed him in my arms, his eight pounds felt like the weight of the world. Realization hit me that I was responsible for this child. How could God trust me this much and was it really such a good idea?
I hoped to parent as I had been parented, with patience and kindness, lovingly nurturing my son and teaching him the ways of a world brand new to him. I failed a lot.
I was determined he would not be a shy child like I had been. I didn’t understand introversion, extroversion or personality types. What I knew was how I’d suffered from being painfully withdrawn. So I encouraged him to speak up, say hello, don’t hide behind.
One day while riding an elevator, this small boy of mine was friendlier to strangers than I was, and I knew I had nothing to do with that. This was who he was. His very own personality was blossoming before my eyes. I would discover him rather than make him into someone I thought he should be.
More than anything I wanted him to know Jesus loved him and to learn to love Him back. We went to church a lot. I read Bible stories. We talked about God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I tried to point him in the direction of the cross while being woefully imperfect at modeling Christ-like character. I prayed for him.
When it became apparent that he would be our only living child, I packed away the dolls, small china dishes, a little bed and high chair my dad made for me, things saved in case we had a daughter.
We made room for trains and guns, matchbox cars and star wars figures, drum sets and bikes that let him do tricks down our lane as he called, “Watch this, mom” over and over.
I stayed up hours at night with him to help with homework. I walked the halls of the school, confronting teachers and going to bat for him, mustering courage that didn’t come naturally to me. I fought for my son, my inner mama bear emerging if I thought he was being treated unfairly.
He grew into a handsome teenager and girls looked his way. I turned over the keys to my recently acquired, new-to-me blue Nissan Maxima so he could take his date to the prom. He never knew how often I stood at the window watching him drive away from the house, praying for his safety, that he would return home in one piece.
I tucked him into bed as long as he would let me. Sometimes after a tiring day of working a job and working a home, he’d be in the mood to talk, and I knew these were precious moments. I hope I patiently listened despite my weariness. I hope that’s what he remembers more than when I was in a rush, was frustrated or short tempered.
He became and man and chose a wife, and I knew things were going to be different for me. I determined I would love the other woman in his life. I also understood I had been displaced from being the most important one.
Years fly by, as they do. Time, distance, and circumstances have taken us on our own paths. He isn’t close enough to drop by for a cup of coffee like he once did. But when he calls, my world lights up. His laughter is sweet like honey. He probably doesn’t realize how his voice on the other end of of my smart phone is sunshine on what might be an otherwise cloudy day.
As I look back over the years since his birth, I see how his very first tottering baby steps were leading him toward independence. His first day of school, learning to drive, finding a job, going to college, all of that was designed to take my baby boy into adulthood, toward becoming a man able to stand on his own. Had I considered it, I might not have been so anxious for him to learn to walk.
After I sent my boy a picture of the birthday box I mailed on Tuesday, he texted that he had forgotten. My response was, “I remember. I always remember you, your birth, your life.”
I identify with Isaiah 49:15 where God describes his love for Zion like this:
Can a woman forget her nursing child, or lack compassion for the child of her womb? Even if these forget, yet I will not forget you.
How could I forget how he changed my life forever? How could I forget the child I loved when I only barely knew he existed? How could I forget this one who is always in my thoughts and prayers? I cannot forget.
I find it beautiful that the Creator gave us the privilege of sharing in the creation of life so we could understand on a smaller scale His magnificent, ever-faithful, unconditional love.
It’s my boy’s birthday today, and I thought of him first thing this morning, before I plugged in the peculator, before I washed my face or prepared to read my Bible. I thought of him. I can’t help but think of him. He is part of me in a way too mystifying to understand.
He has children of his own now and we have an understanding between us. His love for them mirrors my love for him. We get it, this inexplicable attachment and devotion, going deep into the heart and soul of us.
I heard this recently, that the heart has secrets no language can ever express. Indeed it does. For I will never be able to describe in words how I feel about this boy of mine.
Let it be enough to say, he is my son and I love him.
Words of a song from my youth take shape in my mind, and I sing them to the trees.
More of You. More of You. I’ve had all, but what I need is more of You. Of things I’ve had my fill, and yet I hunger still. Empty and bare, Lord hear my prayer for more of You.
On retreat at a cabin in the woods, what better place to be? I look out to the treetops. The quiet is a balm. I fill up on nature’s nectar.
The early morning is my favored hour on the deck, before the heat of the day, sunlight filtering through leaves, birds serenading, gentle rain dripping to the forest floor.
When Maisie and I walk, she is in olfactory heaven. I wonder at her inquisitiveness, ears alert and nose to the ground. What scent causes her pause, creating a craving to investigate? What sound catches her attention enough to stop, stand still, and wait for more?
I too feel the yearning to pause in wonder while seeking and searching for truth. What lies ahead as one decade of my life ends and another begins? How shall I be alert to what lies ahead? How can I give heed to what my senses and my spirit are trying to tell me?
At this age I have more questions than answers.
Reading Jean Fleming’s Pursue the Intentional Life, I make notes in my journal.
I will not live wisely unless I am thoughtful, examining this one wonderful life, my motives, behavior and habits.
Preparing for tomorrow is different than worrying about tomorrow.
I can’t face old age when I’m old. I have to do that when I’m young. (I hope it isn’t too late.)
Life is a remarkable adventure, with twists and turns, wonder and mystery. The trail is winding and uphill, heavy with the weight of the unimaginable yet to be discovered.
The journey is dangerous and wild. Sometimes I’ve stumbled and face planted. Hopefully, I learned from my errors, picked up and gone forward. Around the bend is magnificence, and I don’t want to miss it.
When the road is uncertain and frightening, I will not walk alone, though the valleys are deep and the mountains high. My Shepherd leads. He started the quest and invited me to follow. He is my protection and prepares a table for me. He bids me rest and takes my hand when it’s time to press on.
The closer I get to home, the more I know what I really need, what I want most. It isn’t the stuff I’ve spent a lifetime accumulating. Not houses or land, bank accounts or possessions.
It’s Jesus. He is what my heart craves. He is what I need.
As I turn over the calendar blocks to July 1, I’m stunned that half the year is over. Is life moving at warp speed or is it my own illusion?
What do the next six months have in store? Only God knows.
What have I accomplished since January 1? Lists marked with completed check-offs attest to busy days, tasks and projects completed. The journal reflects daily activity and moods, the inner rumblings of a mind distracted some days and focused on other days.
My good sense tells me the moments spent with friends and family were the most valuable and enriched my life in ways not measurable. I expect that will be true of the next six months. How does one calculate the intrinsic worth?
So what do I want? From this day forward, what should I pursue? What shall I choose for 182 days left in this year?
Working through a new Bible study, I see how the Scriptures are full of questions. In a way, I knew that. God asks:
“Where are you?” “Who told you that?” “Where have you come from and where are you going?” He knows all the answers.
Somewhere, sometime, I heard I should not question God. Yet through my study I’m being made aware that God initiates relationship through questions. Maybe they aren’t harmful after all but rather a way to dialogue. Don’t I practice Q and A to get acquainted with a new friend? I often ask and dig deeper to understand, to comprehend, to get beyond a surface response?
Jesus invited inquiry. “What are you seeking?” “Why are you afraid?” “How much more will the heavenly Father give . . . ?”
Psalm 38:9 says, “All my longings lie open before You, O Lord; my sighing is not hidden from You.“
I wrote it on my spiral index cards, and I’ve looked at it many times during the last weeks. Sometimes what I want seems an impossible request. Sometimes it is difficult to put it into words, this longing too deep to be demystified. Sometimes it is too hard to say it out loud.
And so I offer it up to my Father who knows my heart and the thoughts yet to be formed in my head. He is completely cognizant of my soul and spirit, their inner workings, their conflicts, and the questions I have.
He welcomes my questions, the wrestling I occasionally do with Him. He tells me to ask, seek, knock. It is His invitation to bring all my quandaries to Him. He is not put off by them, is not stunned that I would be so bold, is not offended at all.
He offers the appeal: Come boldly to the throne of grace. Come with your questions, your struggles, your pain. Come with your proposed plans and decisions. Bring your “what if? and “what shall I do?”
God has answers to questions I don’t even know how to put into words.
“Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3