The Day…

Whoa! Today was just one of those days. Not bad, necessarily…

It was a… jump into a nearly cold shower after settling kids down for the 3rd time since the process of getting into the shower started, only to spend 3 cold wet minutes listening to shrieking while madly trying to get conditioner to rinse out… kind of day.

It was a… walking over the dozenth rejected cracker now smashed into the carpet, thus my sock, and pulling out the vacuum for yet another run over the floor… kind of day.

It was a… dog won’t stop barking… kind of day.

It was a… soggy wood, smokey cold house, one hand in the fire place begging the flames to stay lit, while the other hand kept the toddler away from the Christmas tree’s beckoning shiney ornaments wishing I had Mrs. Incredible powers…. kind of day.

Not without it’s treasures either…

It was a… toddler using creative problem solving skills when told he can either eat his crackers or sit on his potty, by pulling his potty chair into his bedroom and behind the rocking chair next to the crackers waiting for him on his bed so that he could both sit on his potty and eat his crackers too… kind of day.

It was a… 20 minute nap with sweet baby snuggles under fleecy blankets… kind of day.

It was a… my son deciding that sea serpents, stinky fart bombs, and magical hiding clouds are standard plays in the game of Battleship we played over cups of cinnamon pudding and sweet potato chips… kind of day.

Not without it’s conversations…

I don’t know what a heart attack is,” says my daughter, in the middle of a story about her PE teacher.  My son jumps in, “I do! It is when you have something you cant feel squirming in your stomach that you don’t know is there and it suddenly jumps up and shakes your heart.  I’ve had a heart attack before.  It’s no big deal.

Pooper hug you, me!” exlcaims the 2-year-old excitedly to me, arms raised high. “You hugged a pooper?” I asked biting back a laugh. “Yeah!” he proudly nods.  Clearing his throat my husband interjects, “Pooper is polar bear.  He finally got brave enough to hug the polar bear.” ~ at the zoo, for zoo lights, there was a large polar bear mascot walking around hugging kids.

Mom, I’m sorry for giving you a hard time today.” My son states with a sigh. “Yes, we have clashed a bit today haven’t we?  I need to work on understanding you better, don’t I?” I wrap an arm around him.  My son pauses, “Mom, how about you just work on not pushing my buttons and I will work on not getting under your skin?

And that’s just a recap…

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Reconcile

“TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS.” ~Hebrews 4:7b

Life is trial by fire.

I remember a time when I was in great need of friends, yet found myself without any.  When rumors flew faster than 747s and anger burned hot at things beyond me.  Those whom I would have turned to were absent, or separated by miles, the distance a gaping hole of loneliness.

I remember enough details to repent.  I remember enough words to ache.  I remember enough to be threatened by the dark threads of entangling bitterness.

Even after so many years have passed.  Even more so when new conflict stirs and hurt smolders.

Even here, between the trials and conflicts when life is at relative peace and friends are abundant and compassionate, even here my heart stirs with memory and questions taunt and I long to find validation and even vengeful compensation.

And in this quiet I must remind myself. “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” ~ 1 Peter 4:12

Because; “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” ~Hebrews 12:11

I must remember: for all the hurts inflected on me, I have inflicted at least as many on others.

And, if I allow it,  my experience of someone painful, if nothing else, is a reflection of what I no longer want to be – whether it is in my response to being hurt or the motivation behind what hurt me.  And the pain of each encounter, if brought before the One Who Heals, will teach me great compassion. Will train my eyes to see; it is deeply hurting people who cause hurt to be their language to others.

It is in these quiet moments, when life is at momentary rest from trials and conflict, when I hear His kindness speaking.  When I must remind myself of His response to my tongue of hurtful anger, of His patience, His gentle touch and kind reminder.  When I am safe to open up my entangled heart and let these moments of discipline, a habit of repenting, teach me a language of grateful kindness.

Then, if the opportunity arrises, I will be prepared to reconcile.

 

Waiting For Growth

“Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.” ~Romans 14:1

Love is patient.

My experience in the Church has taught me a lot about human nature.  Mainly that there are several types of people who can be found in any given church, and that everyone in a church is in need of transformation of some kind, and all are looking for that one perfect person who will preform this transformation for them.

Some attempt to be that perfect person.  In the Name of the Lord.

Most give homage to those some.  Placing them in positions impossible for them to maintain. Faith weakening, as belief is placed in human ability and God’s grace less relied on.

And we all grow weary of waiting for perfection and many are let down when those attempting perfection for the sake of the rest fall in their imperfect humanity.  Human ability failing.  Untrained eyes missing God’s provision.

Waiting for growth is a tedious, and almost always painful, process. Especially when we are waiting for that growth to happen in someone else.  The futility of placing our hope for change in the growth of someone else, gnawing and burning away threads of love between believers; it destroys patience.  Bleeds into disillusion. Grows through branches to bitterness.

My experience in the Church has taught me that no man can bear up under the responsibility of human worship and no man can meet all needs.  None but One.  His name is Jesus.  No one can stand in His place.

Waiting for growth is best done while practicing the habit of looking to Him.  When those we rely on are failing and disappointing, displaying their own imperfections, if eyes are trained on the Only Perfect One, on His constant work of transformation, on spotting His consistent and unending love, others’ failings and slowness to grow fades to unimportant.

When those we rely on fail us, and we are in the habit of seeing Jesus more often, we will discover ourselves to have grown.  Able to accept those still relying on their own strength with His love.  Able to bear the brunt of their falling with them.  Strengthening the threads of love between us, growing patience.  Increasing faith and deepening the healing of forgiveness.  Applying the grace God freely gives.

“Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves.” ~Romans 15:1

 

 

Walking A Mile

I see it in their looks.  I hear it in their tone.  I have been judged.

This used to send me into inner hiding, eyes darting down to toes, shame covering head.  Failure written all over my skin.

Pain has a funny way of reproducing itself when left unchecked.  One look at her and I knew.  My tone told him.  She was judged.  By me.  Injustice righted.  So I’d say.

Instead of feeling justified, I slumped lower in my own eyes.  Confirmed their judgements of me.  But judge others I still did… out of my sinking shame.  My desperate grasp to claw my way out of Judgement Hole.

Until one person, whom I was in the midst of judging, spoke.  In kind and pleading tones I heard a trail of words that brought me to my knees, a scene playing out before me that harrowed my heart and spilled my shame out through tears.

I surrendered. Under kind, accepting eyes and tones that held no malice.  The injustice done at my own hand, yet full pardon was all that was offered me.  In gentle coaxing words,  my aching shame decreased.

Now, I see their looks, I hear their tones and one memory filters in. I feel the heaviness of their shame, that all to familiar pain.  Tempting it is, to be drawn back in.  Eyes nearly reaching toes, failures’ echos. But…

Until I walk a mile in their shoes, I will never know enough to condem.   For in all the miles I have walked, full pardon was my only end.

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” ~Ephesians 4:23

Freedom Starts With Cutting Out Excess… again.

Yes, it is that time again.  As things start to spill out into open spaces and I am spending more time in frustration at the chaos than I am enjoying the inhabitants of our space, a clear signal is shooting flare bright above my head.

A warning beacon glaring to whomever will glance over and up, that all is not right and something or someone is lost here.  A pleading signal illuminating darkened corners of our space with the message that something wants to be found.  Needs to be found.

So it begins in this Paulson household.

As we did six months ago, it is time to go through our home with surgical precision.  Cutting all excess that threatens to be come a cancerous cell of ungrateful greed and gluttony.

Okay, that is a bit on the dramatic side… but as our living quarters have been greatly reduced, clutter is far more choking to our way of daily life than it used to be.  And, it is time to, once again, sort and sell or donate anything we have not used or played with or thought of in the past six months, and reassign new homes for all the stuff that has accumulated in piles and trails and tripping traps.

It is time to free those cluttered corners! And relocate my sanity and peace of mind so that I can find that missing laughter.

A Prayer For You

Beautiful one, that you may know where your value lay.

Not in the clothes you wear or the sent you spray.

Not in the size on your jeans or in the glint of your hair.

Not in your smile, your words, or all you achieve.

Beautiful one, your value is give to you by the Creator who called you into being.  Who died for you just for the chance to be near you. For the chance that He’d catch your eye, capture your view, captivate your heart.  May you know this truth in the depths of your mind.  May this truth be your strength in all the battles fought there.

Beautiful one, that you may know where your value lay.

That you cannot loose favor.

That you cannot dissuade His conviction regarding you.

That there is nothing you can do, no place you can go, no thought you can think, no size you could grow.

Beautiful one, you have captivated His heart and mind from long ago – before you were born.  There is no removing His love from His view of you.  No escaping His patient pursuit.  He will not force and He will not fade.  Your value is written on Him, His hands, His feet, His side.

May you know the deep deep love His heart beats with, may you hear its puls and know that sound is for you.

“You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.”

~Song of Solomon 4:7

Strength To Be

Awakened by promise.  A view of something spectacular, whispered inaudibly from heart to soul to head, heard by all living cells and pulsing within.   A dream to carry.  A yearning hope of what will be.

First foot falls on the road of determination, motivation swelling wide, and then the crashing wave of living life, so real, so fast, so exhausting.  So cold, so here, so swift.  It is here we sink or we swim.  To cling to this promise feels like sinking with lead.

The strength lies not within, not from all that propels toward promise or hope or dream.  From within comes fear, fading, waining.  Doubt troubles deep within the strongest of men.  Strength comes not by us, our passing one day onto the next, here one moment then gone with the rest.  Flowers in a field, bending, bowing, beauty and broken under torrent rains.

Isaiah 43:2

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.

Strength.  Found solidly on knee.  Strength lies in a secret; those secret hours in secret places where solitary heart finds beat of Infinite Being.  Infinite strength coursing through ages, infinitely long. Strength never wavering, never veering, always staying.  Strength, gentle, able, willing and strong.  Strength covering, coursing, filling, enabling.  Strength surrounding, protecting, defending.

Isaiah 43:3

For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…

Becoming less convenient: a process

I keep mickey mouse chicken nuggets from Costco in my freezer.  And mac & cheese in the pantry.

I use more frozen veggies than fresh. Even in the summer.

I buy a brand of lotion that has relatively safe ingredients for when I don’t make our own.

I buy bread when I don’t get around to making our own, or when we are out of flour and yeast and down to pennies in our budget.

I bought chicken broth – the kind on sale and not the health conscious kind – when we ran out of the what I’d made at home.

My thought is that I can do what is possible now and grow into what will be possible tomorrow.  I don’t need to rush my growth or guilt my way to perfection. I am privileged living here.  While I don’t take that as lightly as I used to, I am accepting it as a gift for the days we are given to live here.  I have my goal in view and am making choices that will take us there.

I make choices.

We eat less meat.  And in general, we eat less food than we used to.  We haven’t gone hungry yet 😉

We don’t drink milk anymore.  We chose coconut and almond milks for cereal and baking.

We use butter sparingly, and not on bread unless it’s a celebration.  We used coconut oil for daily fair.

We don’t eat eggs as a meal, we incorporate them or bake with them.  We eat a lot less of them.

Cheese is a treat and an accent.  We use about a third of what we used to.

There are a lot of reasons we’ve chosen these things.  Convictions.  A desire to eat cleaner. When we can we want to buy organic which costs more and therefore we afford less.

It’s a process.

You cannot swallow a sea, but you can drain it one drop at a time.

Running From, Pushing In

There are moments in life when things make no sense and are uncertain, and confuse, hurting deep parts within. When things painful and things cruel and things unthoughtful and things ignorant and sometimes even things innocent, enter intimate sphere.

Times when minutes still and slow and when heart hurts in spills and floods, when heaviness leans down thick and thoughts are of how to get out of bed, get dressed, get fed, how to get through each craving hour.  When the hurt dulls and hiding seems the only relief.  Hours of dragging one lead-filled foot after the other.

And the words so often spoken, “Christian, press in!  Press in to Christ,” cut deeper and ache colder and leave a layer of guilt to blanket the rest.  Words that cause running from, hiding, deflecting, anything but to suffocate under the wool of guilt.

And God, glorious, holy, enthroned on high; God, Abba and Father, runs toward suffocating hearts. Gleaming in splendor and aching compassion His far to large finger begs to lift the guilt away, to unwrap the suffocation and to hold the hurting one.  To bring the dulling heart near to His own, beating, thrumming, longing one.  To comfort.  To heal, protect, restore and reassure.

His eyes blaze fire, impassioned with Love. He is fierce. He is Tender.  Mercy. Kind. Compassion.

He looks on those He has made, shaped, molded and known before they were knit together in secret, looks on them and longs for them.  A longing so bold, so desperate, from the Love He is and knows, so Holy and perfect – reaching and bending down, desire encapsulated.  Willing to lay down is Life just for the chance to be near.

Just for the chance that we, in our aching agony might not resist His tender touch.  That we, in our puffed up troubles might be drawn in by His kindness, might be captivated by His gentleness – should we release the blanket of guilt.  Should we release it, He made all possible.  Knowing us, knowing Him.  Comfort, peace.  A place to rest free from the burdens of running or pressing.

Just so we may know: there is hope for the weary, the hurting, the heavy.  Hope not in pressing or striving or even in believing, but just in being.  For the One who made you knows you.  The One who knows you can be trusted to accept you, simply as you are.

He sees.  He knows.  He accepts.

“…I have called you by name; you are mine.” ~ Isaiah 43:1b 

Today, This Moment.

The weight was there when I opened my eyes.  Mundane.  Usual.  Accepted.

The kids fought and bickered and I responded.  The weight riding low on my shoulders.  So low I sink onto the bottom step.  Children piling around me.

How did we get here?  It’s not a terrible place to be, but it’s not the dream either.  When did it become okay to be okay with this?  With these attitudes and these emotions? When did I settle for this?

The sent of a gift from a friend threads through the room.  A gentle, soothing reminder of someone’s thought and care.  The sented oil risking up the reeds, like incense without the smoke.  The raised offering of kindness from someone thinking of us.

And not of themselves.

My lungs breath in faint sent of joy.  Weight shifts, lifts.  In a moment of heaviness, weary of the dailiness,  rubbed raw from friction of growing, jostling, illuminating little lives all clamoring for more  – more than I have… I am drawn in by kindness.

This moment of transferring thought from self to someone else.  Transforming mundane to repeated purpose. Usual to consistent desire.  Kindness is an easy act of self-sacrifice.  An easy stepping stone from mundane to content, from usual to grateful, from accepted to transformed.

When we live our days for ourselves we walk with heavy chains weighted down by infringements of those we live around.  When we live for others we live free of the burden it is to be infringed upon.

The sweet sent of kindness gently reminds me of what if feels like to be thought of.

Reminds me of purpose.  Of where to go from here.