Monthly Archives: May 2011

a steward of inconvenience…

My neighbor taught me a lesson a few days ago. A lesson about what it means to be a steward of inconvenience.
I call him neighbor, but the truth is I don’t even know his name. He lives down the road and around the corner from my home. I only see him in passing while I’m out walking; he’s a lawn person. You know the kind… those folks who live for the lush and green and blossom of summertime. Those who aren’t afraid to get on their knees and tend to the parcel of land beneath their feet. Those whose water bills double during summertime because of their love for landscaping. Those who potentially get annoyed when any one thing creeps in to wreak havoc upon their hard work.
Yep, he seems to be one of them; accordingly, I felt that he might be irritated by the presence of city water trucks last weekend. Several workers showed up on his front lawn to dig up, tear up, and fix up a broken water line that ran from the middle of the street onto his property. I made a few laps in their direction, noting the consternation on the face of my neighbor and his wife. They kept close watch on those workers, even more so on the lawn that was being dismantled; not a large parcel of land but just enough to inconvenience them both. I quietly regarded the scene, packed it away and didn’t give it much thought until I passed by again a few days later.
The scene was much different this go around. No more workers; no more holes in the ground; no more digging and no more corporate mess. Just a man, his hose, a loosely tilled piece of earth, and a patched, gravel spot where the asphalt had previously known fracture. I paused from my walking and commented to this unnamed neighbor about the condition of his lawn.
“Looks like they really messed up your lawn; I know how much work you put into it. Sure hope they found what they were looking for; sure hope it didn’t cost you much.”
His response?
“Just a little water line break and, no, it didn’t cost me a dime. Just a little patch of ground.”
A smile broke across his face, and then one broke across my heart. As I pushed on past his little patch of ground, I thought long and hard about what he had said; his gracious response wasn’t what I had expected. I anticipated his annoyance. Instead, he spoke his peace. In a few simple moments, he taught me something about what it is to be good steward of earthly inconveniences.
I get the feeling he understands something about the earth… about ultimate ownership and his temporary rights therein. About what it is to tend to earth’s parameters—the ones marked out for him by life’s trajectory; the ones that have become his responsibility for the earthly tenure granted him. And while his great love for his lawn is obvious to all passer-byers, what is greater is his perspective regarding the inconveniences that sometimes mediate their witness into the soil beneath his feet.
Rather than complaining, throwing a fit, and being annoyed by the freshly dug-up “brown” amidst the lush and green of a season’s hard work, my neighbor took it all in stride; took a hose in hand, and hovered over that little patch of ground. He bent to his inconvenience, bowed low and served the soil by watering it with his careful and willing stewardship.
I wonder how many of us could say the same… could live the same. Could see life and all its inconveniences with a similar posture of heart. A perspective that continually looks on the bright side of bothers—the right side—and that says…
This life is not my own; it was bought at a price, and it didn’t cost me a dime. Just a little patch of ground here and there. Just a little bit of soil that really doesn’t belong to me in the first place. Just a little bit of time; a little bit of water; a little bit of tending and bending to make sure that any temporary loss is replaced by eternal perspective, eternal growth. Eternal harvest that leaves our little patches of unearthed “brown” healthier, more vital, more vibrant, and more mature because of the tilling that’s taken place within.
What would it take for us to get there, friends? What if we looked at all of life and the little patch of ground entrusted to our care as the greatest, most precious holding of our hearts? What if, instead of collapsing with every uprooting that takes place in our lives, we just grabbed a hose, stooped low, and simply offered our hearts and hands to the re-growth therein? What if we could live there instead of staying mired in our annoyances? What if we simply consigned our gratefulness to the witness and grace of each new day we’re given, regardless of the intrusions that present themselves?
What if we could be a steward of inconvenience? A willing giver in the midst of taking. A joyful tender of disruption. A gracious gardener despite uprooting.
Indeed, a lesson given to me by an unnamed neighbor. I am thankful for its arrival—a small understanding applied to a great big life that just might make a huge impact for the kingdom of God.
Just a little patch of ground for Jesus. Beneath my feet; beneath yours.
Even so, my good, kind friends, keep to it. As always…
Peace for the journey,

PS: My friend, Cindy, is a good steward of her camera. I’ve ordered and used several of her cards that contain some of her photographs. I’d like to gift two of you with a set; if you’d like to be included in the give-away, visit Cindy and tell me which photograph you’d like. Shalom.

relying on a miracle… {growing a boy into a man}

relying on a miracle… {growing a boy into a man}

“One must not only believe in miracles, one must rely on them.”

So says Dr. Barbara Walker, commencement speaker at my eldest son’s college graduation this past Saturday.

It was a beautiful day; one of the best days of my life. Over the past twenty-two years, I’ve often wondered if we’d make it here—to this one moment in time where ABC’s, 1-2-3’s, and 16 years plus of learning would culminate into rhythmic chorus to “sing” to me this mothering refrain that I shall never forget. The depth and witness of this memory has seared into my soul and birthed in me a fresh perspective about my remaining days, mothering days and otherwise.

One must not only believe in miracles, one must rely on them.

Where would we be without the daily, miraculous intervention of our God? Miracles come to us, most days without our ever acknowledging their worthiness. Certainly the big ones get the press—miracles of physical healing, relationships restored, prodigals returning home, financial blessing prayerfully sought after and received. But is that it? Are miracles limited to sacred flashes of light and bold strokes of God’s heavenly paintbrush? Can miracles birth outside the limelight of the spectacular and yet still hold the potent witness of the Divine?

Yes, I think that it is in these lesser staged moments when our reliance upon miracles bares its witness most profoundly. Our everyday living serves as the backdrop for some of the most weighty miracles ever given to us as God’s children. We may not recognize them as miraculous when then arrive on the scenes of our lives, but they are holy relevant and deserve a moment of prayerful, thankful, and humble recognition of the One from whom all miracles initiate. Accordingly, I take a few moments today to give praise for the miracle I witnessed over the weekend.


Some of you might not think that a child graduating from college is any kind of a miracle. I might agree with you if I wasn’t the parent who had lived out these last twenty-two years with my boy. But what would you say about this?

What about a child graduating from college whose parents are both cancer survivors? A boy whose father’s initial prognosis nine years ago didn’t grant him much hope beyond two years? A boy whose mother heard the devastating news that both of her breasts would be removed because cancer had taken up residency within her body? A boy who, at age five, navigated the critical, stinging pain of his parent’s divorce and who has, in recent days, navigated the pain of their life-threatening illnesses? A boy who’s changed addresses nine times in twenty-two years and who changed schools eight times before graduating from high school? A boy whose anger at an early age had his mother wondering if he’d ever cycle around to kindness? A boy whose strong willfulness would have James Dobson writing a second book on the matter? A boy who had to adjust to a step-dad… to live by his rules and to learn by his love? A boy whose bent toward perfection might have crippled his growth? A boy whose introversion might have kept him behind closed doors?

What would you say about him, especially if you knew him now?

No longer a boy, but a man named Nick. A man who, now, has cycled around to immense kindness. A man whose anger has turned into humility. A man whose will is tempered by his Father’s. A man who moves outside his introversion to skillfully function in an extroverted world. A man who is willing to live with one “B” on his transcript despite the “A’s” that surround it. A man who lives, loves, and laughs with all of his parents—biological and step. A man who honors his father and mother, his grandparents, and who actively invests his energies into the shaping of his younger brother and sister. A man who loves the Lord, serves the Lord, and wants nothing more than to be a man after God’s own heart.

Would you call that a miracle? Would you say that, despite all odds, his daily reliance upon God has given him a miracle? That his mother’s daily reliance has given her one as well?

I would say so. I do say so. I’ve relied upon the miraculous, keeping, daily grace of God over these past twenty-two years, and my heart tells me that I’ve just witnessed one of the greatest miracles I will ever know as a human being—

the miracle of growing a boy into a man.

There were days and seasons when I didn’t fully believe it would happen; but always did I rely on the greater heart and hands of God to get us here.

One must not only believe in miracles, one must rely on them.

How is your reliance in miracles living this day? I pray that the witness and abiding treasure of my recent miracle will be more than enough to buoy you along in your belief. Rely on God with your everyday understanding and trust him for the outcome.

This one really blew me away!

Congratulations, son. I love you.

As always…

Peace for the journey,
Mom, aka ~elaine

My Breast Cancer Story…

Credit – Shirley Jones

As many of you know, I’ve been chronicling my journey through breast cancer since my diagnosis in August 2010. For a long time now, I’ve wanted to organize these posts into a format that might make it easier for first-time visitors to catch a glimpse of where I’ve been and where I’m headed. Several of you are referring friends and family members who are struggling with cancer to my website. I am grateful for the privilege of coming alongside all of you to share a bit of my story. In response to the “trust” I’ve been given, I’ve taken some time to arrange my previous posts to make it easier for you to navigate in-and-out of my story.

Readers who are familiar with my style of writing understand that my posts are less about cancer-related information and more about the working out of my thoughts/feelings. With that in mind, in addition to the managing of previously written posts, I’ve decided to include some further detailed information about my cancer with this post. When I was first diagnosed, it was important for me to find others who were experiencing a similar type of scenario; knowing that I was not alone buoyed me along in my journey of survival.

Accordingly, I begin with a time-line of major events that have occurred thus far:

August 3, 2010 / routine mammogram
August 12, 2010 / follow-up ultrasound
August 17, 2010 /biopsy of right breast
August 23, 2010 / diagnosis {invasive ductal carcinoma/right breast; ER-PR-positive, HER2-negative}
August 30, 2010 / MRI {personal decision to have both breasts removed}
September 1, 2010 / bi-lateral mastectomy with three lymph nodes removed {sentinel nodes tested negative for cancer during the surgery}
September 16, 2010 / initial visit with medical oncologist {cancer staged at IIB / tumor approx. 3 cm. in size}
September 21, 2010 / genetic testing {BRAC I & II} at Chapel Hill; results were negative.
September 22, 2010 / PET/CT scans
September 24, 2010 / MUGA scan {heart scan prior to start of chemo}
October 1, 2010 / port placement surgery
October 5, 2010 / January 12, 2011 / eight rounds of chemo; rounds 1-4 {chemo drugs Adriamycin & Cytoxan}; rounds 5-8 {chemo drug Taxol}
February 28, 2011 / Oophorectomy {ovary removal}
April 7, 2011 / follow-up MUGA scan
April 18, 2011 /hormonal “chemo” therapy begins with drug Arimidex to continue for five years.

Secondly, I want to direct you to a few resources that might be useful to you as a cancer patient and/or care-giver of someone facing breast cancer:
  • For those facing chemotherapy, The Chemotherapy Survival Guide {Readable, practical, and everything you need to know about chemotherapy; my husband read it as well. I suggest it for all care-givers.}
  • To sign-up for a free subscription to,Cure {a magazine dedication to cancer updates, research, and education; one of the few magazines I read cover-to-cover}
  •  For hats, turbans, scarves, wig supplies, TLC website

Suggested supplies to keep on hand {thank you,Darlene, for giving me this initial list; I’ve added a few of my own}: 

  • Thera-Tears Liquid Gel {saline for dry eyes; I used this one a lot during chemo};
  • Ayr Saline Solution {nasal gel for runny/stuffy nose};
  • Toothpaste and non-alcohol mouthwash such as Tom’s of Maine or Biotene;
  • Olive oil/Vitamin E oil {not mineral oil} for fingernails and toenails;
  • Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer {can’t say enough about this one!};
  • Straws, plastic spoons, and forks should you develop a metal taste in your mouth {I kept a set in my purse/car} for eating out;
  • Chemo-therapy shampoo to treat hair prior to fall-out, throughout chemo, and beyond {I use Brian Joseph’s Formula One Shampoo};
  • LMX cream {to numb port area prior to chemo needle going in; I globbed this on my port about one hour prior to treatment and covered with a 3M Tegaderm band-aid / available at most pharmacies};
  • Colace & Miralax for constipation;
  • Claritin {I received the Neulasta shot the day after my chemotherapy treatment; one of the unfortunate side-effects of the shot is increased leg pain. Taking a Claritin the day of the shot and a few days following seemed to help decrease the pain; please check with your physician before taking any extra medications!};
  • Water, fruit juices, tea {Fluid intake is CRITICAL for flushing out the chemotherapy toxins; even when you don’t feel like drinking, drink anyway! Trust me on this one.};
  • Mixture {1tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. salt, 1 qt. hot water} as needed for mouth sores and sore throat;
  • Epsom salts added to a hot bath for muscle soreness;
Other tips to keep in mind:
  • Your cancer situation is unique; not all cancer patients follow your prescribed course of treatment; not everyone will react the same way to various procedures. Therefore, keep an open mind when asking for advice from others; you’ll find the worst and best case scenarios at every turn, especially on the Internet.
  • Give yourself permission to rest as you can. Cancer treatments are exhausting; I found that days 4-6 post-chemotherapy were my worst ones.
  • Keeping a small notebook/journal handy helped me to chronicle my physical condition so that when the next cycle of treatment rolled around, I was able to somewhat “predict” (a loose, fluid science) what was coming.
  • Keep track of questions you have for your doctor(s) so that when you get to your appointment, you can articulate your thoughts with clarity.
  • Feel free to say “no” to a lot of extra-curricular activities; feel free to offer no explanations for your “no”!
  • Feel free to say “yes” to all offers of meals, babysitting, massages, cleaning, etc.! Practice saying “yes” in the mirror often, especially if you are prone to carrying a heavy load. Cancer is enough of a burden. Allow others to give to you; this is your “receiving” season.
  • If you have a primary care-giver living with you, set aside a time each day {Billy and I used my “tucking in” time as ours} to communicate with him/her about your most pressing needs. When the kids are screaming, the phone is ringing, and life is buzzing with activity, well, this is probably not the best time for clear communication.
  • Take your medications as prescribed by your doctor. Don’t think you can do without them or wait until you’re feeling sick to take them. Keep a schedule, get a pill box, or hire my husband to keep you on track. Honestly, most days I don’t know what I’m taking; I’m so glad to have him as my nurse.
  • Almost immediately after being diagnosed, I purchased a large 3-ring binder with ample dividers to keep track of all my paperwork {bills, EOB’s, bloodwork reports, lab results, helpful e-mails, plastic pages designed to hold business cards with important numbers, etc.}. I keep it on my desk and take it with me to important appointments.
  • When visiting a doctor, ask for a copy of all your test results, routine bloodwork included. As a cancer patient, I am responsible to educate myself regarding my condition; it can be all-consuming and confusing at times, so I’m relieved to have my “history” in print for future referencing.
  • Drink your fluids! Did I already mention this?
  • Let the answering machine get it.
  • Enough for now; I’ll add more as things come to mind.

Click on the following links to read some of my posts about cancer. Please note that when clicking on a link, there will be multiple posts. To read them chronologically, scroll down to the end of the page and read from the bottom-up. 

Below are some stand-alone posts {ones that are particularly meaningful to me}:

  • An Apology to Suffering
  • Another Side of Me {hair loss}
  • The Ugly Side of Me {part one}
  • A Bloodied, Beautiful Faith {the ugly side of me part two}
  • On Landing Safely Home {on finishing chemo}
  • Winter’s Work; Wind’s Breath {a tribute to my winter season}
My recent words of witness at Cape Fear Valley’s Annual Cancer Survivors’ Picnic:

I hope this is a help to someone; please feel free to pass along this information to anyone you know who might benefit from the reading. If you are a cancer patient and would like to contact me personally regarding your treatment, don’t hesitate to use the e-mail link on my side-bar or included within my contact tab. Also, be on the look-out for my second book, Beyond Cancer’s Scars: Laying Claim to a Stronger Spirit, due for a summer 2012 release. Lastly, thank you, all, for the privilege of sharing my life with you. These are good days to walk the kingdom road in such royal company. As always…

Peace for the journey,
post signature

standing near…

“The Spirit of the Lord told Philip, ‘Go to that chariot and stay near it.’ Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. ‘Do you understand what you are reading!’ Philip asked. ‘How can I,’ he said, ‘unless someone explains it to me?’ So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.’” 
(Acts 8:28-31). 
I returned to the chemo lounge this week for my bi-monthly port flush. While many of my cancer contemporaries have their ports immediately removed after their chemotherapy has ended, per the urging of my doctor I’ve decided to leave mine in for the next couple of years. The odds for my cancer’s reoccurrence are greater in that time frame, and I certainly don’t want to have to go through the surgical process of re-inserting the port. It was a painful experience for me (think of knives poking themselves into your neck); accordingly, I’ve decided to live with the inconvenience of my port for a while longer. Thus, the need for a bi-monthly return to the cancer center in order to prevent an infection in that area.
The last time I went there, I became physically nauseated when I made that left turn into the hospital parking lot; this time I did a bit better as I made the usual trek to my usual chair and waited for Nurse Angie (Sarah has since moved to Montana and is expecting her first child!) to prep me, poke me, flush me, excuse me—a process taking about ten minutes. This isn’t on par with my previous five hour stays, so there is little time to absorb my surroundings. But with this brief visit, I did notice one thing—one singular reality that struck me afresh and forced my heart to deal with one of the cold, hard truths about cancer.
It’s everywhere.
As I looked around the lounge at the twenty some faces that filled the chairs with their ample suffering, I realized that they were strangers to me—a whole new crop of cancer patients with whom I had no connection. Some asleep. Some dehydrated. Some reading. Some requiring the immediate attention of the nurses. Very few of them engaging with the process. Most of them keeping to themselves. And it made me tearful… made my heart hurt all over again for the reality of cancer and its debilitating effects. I wanted to hug each one of them; sit alongside of them; strike up a conversation, and leave a little bit of Jesus joy with my passing.
But I didn’t; really I couldn’t. I’ve passed the ownership of my chair onto others, and the hospital wouldn’t take kindly to my just “hanging out to be an encourager” especially since, technically speaking, I don’t have authorization to be there. So I left the hospital feeling sad; feeling lost; knowing that my cancer journey has made a huge mark upon my soul but has, also, left me feeling “hung out to dry” as it pertains to the days ahead. I don’t know what to do with it all, how to process its worthiness, how to take the lessons I’ve learned and how to graciously bestow them upon others… those cancer “others” who might benefit from having a “come alongside” kind of Philip at their side—someone who is willing to “step up” and help with the reading of life and truth and Jesus’ role in it all.
While re-reading the above passage of scripture last night (one of my favorites in all of the book of Acts), I was reminded again about the nature of the learning process—about what it is to be a teacher in the classroom of life and what it is to be student. Really, there are two types of learners when it comes to spiritual matters and otherwise.
The first learner is represented by the Ethiopian eunuch—a person longing to learn the truth, yet unable to fully grasp its meaning because of language barriers, historical barriers, familial barriers, religious barriers, traditional barriers. His upbringing hadn’t allowed him the privilege of first-hand knowledge. Thus, when it came to his understanding and the grasping of truth, he began at a deficit. It wasn’t his fault; it simply was his reality. Accordingly, he could have chosen to settle for current understanding—for the “reading” of the story without ever really engaging with its witness. This kind of thinking represents the first type of learner—a learner that never makes his/her way past the print on a page. A learner that chooses ignorance over understanding. A learner that never progresses past the first grade and that is willing to spend a lifetime reciting the ABC’s (a comfortable education) rather than moving onto writing those ABC’s into a meaningful manuscript (a sometimes less comfortable, more laborious and struggling education).
The second type of learner is also represented by the Ethiopian eunuch—a person longing to learn the truth and who is fully willing to accept the teaching of one more knowledgeable, more experienced—a teacher who is willing to come alongside, to step up into the chariot of elementary understanding, to invest personal energies, and to unfold truth in the light of practical, first-hand knowledge and experience. The student-learner who is willing to receive a helping hand as it pertains to furthering his/her education recognizes that, without the help of another, he/she is likely to remain stuck in earlier perceptions that will never really advance personal education. A wise student is willing to share the chariot with a teacher who has previously walked the desert road and who has leaned into his/her own personal learning as it pertains to all of life.
I have been as both learners on my journey through cancer. A student longing for truth but unable to fully interpret it because of never “having been this way before.” I’ve also been a student willing to allow a couple of teachers to join me in the chariot, because I understood that their previous learning would be invaluable to me in my own quest for truth. Like Philip, they have graciously “stayed near my chariot” and, per my request, jumped on board to answer all of my questions and to gently point me forward toward personal application of truth. I am a better learner and survivor because of their generous investments into my understanding. And I am grateful that when they, like me, looked around the “rooms” in their lives and saw a whole new crop of cancer patients, they didn’t shrink back from God’s calling to “stay near my chariot.”
It is my heart’s desire to walk in that same calling, for I have, like them, have walked this desert road. As I look around my “room,” I want to follow God’s promptings toward a chariot or two where I might invest this heart-hurt of mine—a stepping up and into the lives of other cancer patients who need the benefit of my previous education. A few people who might be willing to allow me some personal investment into their personal quest for the truth. It’s not always easy to find them, those who are willing to move past elementary understanding and into the struggling strains of furthering their education. Harder still, is finding someone who is willing to trust my desert heart with the teaching, but I believe that this is what God is calling me to—to stay near the hurting and to gently offer God’s grace, peace, and understanding for the journey ahead.
We’ve all been called to the same… to the “staying near” to a few chariots where we might be used by God to reveal his truth. Not everyone will invite us into their private confusion. Some are content to live within the parameters of their well-recited ABC’s. But every now and again, there will be a few who will bend to their learning, those who want to further the story and who will need the benefit of your previous desert walk.
They are everywhere… a whole new crop of confused and suffering patients in desperate need of our nearness to their pain. How I pray for eyes to see, ears to hear, hearts to listen, and then feet to step up… to stay up until the work of the cross is done. Even so, keep to it friends, and if you’re so inclined, let me know what chariots God is calling you to “stand near” to in this season of living. As always…
Peace for the journey,
a girl, her pink guitar, and a Sunday morning learnin’…

a girl, her pink guitar, and a Sunday morning learnin’…

I had a moment this past Sunday. Just a small one, but one big enough to linger throughout the rest of the day.
It happened while I was teaching a new song to the kids in my Sunday school class, Victory Chant. Per usual, I had written the words on newsprint and pinned them to the bulletin board. We talked through the song before hearing it for the first time, going over the pronunciation of unfamiliar words and the meaning behind the song. Satisfied that enough background had been covered, I cued the music and listened for their participation—those students who came with their parents to church that morning.
My students. The only kids under the age of eighteen in attendance. My kids… the only two sitting as audience to my instruction, well three if you count Preacher Billy. And I thought to myself,
Why in the world am I doing this, Lord? What’s the point? They get all of this at home. Besides, they’re not really listening. Why am I working so hard during the week to prepare a lesson when the only kids that come are mine and, sometimes, an occasional few others? Where are the crowds of yesterday, the audiences of many… my Tuesday night girls, my Sunday morning “ancients”? Why so few? Remind me again why this is important because right now, it feels more like obligation rather than adulation.
Like I said, a moment or two. A thought or two. A question or five… all cradled up within a single pause, and it was all I could do to finish the lesson. A lesson (oddly enough) about a doubting disciple requiring the proof of nail-scarred hands and a few words about “seeing as believing but blessed are those people who’ve never seen yet still believe.” People like us, living 2000 years beyond Christ’s resurrection moment—a people who’ve never “seen” the physical flesh of Jesus but who are devoutly tied to the truth of that moment in history.
The class ended. The earth didn’t shake beneath anyone’s feet, and my family moved downstairs for corporate worship where slightly more gathered in the pews for the 11:00 AM service. And there was a big hurt in my heart… an ample ache for previous ministry seasons now seemingly hidden, buried beneath the burden of hopes dreamed but not yet realized.
Did I miss it, Lord, what you seemed to be saying to me a few years ago? Did we miss it, Lord, what you seemed to be saying to us a season back? Where am I, where are we headed with this? This is hard faith, Father. This has been a hard year for us. How can I keep hope alive when all around me seems to be giving way to despair?
I wish I could say that God’s peace entered immediately into my soul, but it didn’t. Questions of faith usually initiate a wrestling out of thoughts before the Father prior to a peaceful conclusion being reached. This was the reality for most of my remaining Sunday. Wrestling. Struggling. Being mad and being sad. Feeling down and giving up. Wishing for more; expecting less. Thinking about yesterday; living in today. Wondering what’s the point of service if no one comes to be served?
And then I heard it… the point of my seemingly small, morning commitment.
Quiet at first, muffled behind wooden walls and closed doors. A strum of a pink guitar, and the voice of a pure angel named Amelia… trying her best make the out-of-tune strings fit the melody of a recently learned song.
“Hail Jesus you’re my King.
Your life frees me to sing.
I will praise you all my days.
You’re perfect in all your ways.

Hail, hail Lion of Judah.
How powerful you are.
Hail, hail Lion of Judah.
How wonderful you are.”
Her words weren’t perfectly matched with the correct ones, but her heart was… perfectly matched with the correct Word. She wanted to put some feet to her morning learnin’; in doing so, she put some feet to mine. She reminded me, again, of something Alicia Chole said a few seasons ago regarding all levels of Christian leadership:
“Focus on what is small not big; near not far.”
Small and near. My Sunday school class, my two kids, qualify. If they are the only ones who show up on Sunday mornings (per strong persuasion from their parents), then their hearts are ample, fertile soil to seed kingdom increase. When seen through those lenses, my teaching becomes less about mass production and more about investment into detail that will, eventually, harvest in larger proportion. I’ve got to believe this is what is at work here. Something I can’t see, but something that God sees. Something that is far beyond my current perception; something that roots at a higher level and that says,
No investment made on behalf of the kingdom is ever wasted. Every seed planted is a choice made for sacred increase.
I do believe this; I do fervently hold to the idea that our every interaction with another human being is an occasion for depositing the kindness, love, and truth of Jesus Christ. I try and adhere to this understanding, but there are times when reasoning gets cloudy. When God’s leading in the past—his thoughts regarding my “next”—seems slow in coming to fruition in my present.
So I step back today, again. I take a look around, breathe in the landscape of my life, and lean into the learnin’ of my Sunday. I hear the voice of a little girl in my mind; her name is Miss Amelia, but it might as well be Faith Elaine. Sometimes it’s hard to differentiate between the two of us.
A girl and her pink guitar and a God who is willing to be “sung” despite strings that are out of tune and words that sometimes get mixed up.
The melody is still the same. The heart is just as pure. And the Lion of Judah? Just as powerful and wonderful as he’s always been. Indeed, a moment this past Sunday. Just a small one, but one big enough to linger throughout the rest of the day.
I pray for the rest of my life.
Some of life’s most important ministry moments aren’t meant for the stage, friends. Sometimes, they’re best taught and lived in the smallness of a Sunday morning song. Perhaps you understand. Keep to it… keep seeding and living your difficult obedience, and I will do the same. God is faithful to grow the holy rest of it. As always…
Peace for the journey,
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