Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Zimbabwe Eve and Nanowrimo?

One year ago today, I was saying "trick or treat" to my Grandma J (because she told me to) and being given yet another donation for the next day's journey to Zimbabwe, Africa. Hard to believe. Not the donations...My sister has already made it clear what kind of grandma I have. But the fact that God brought me on an adventure that would change my life in more ways than I could have imagined. I will never get over how good and gracious He is. And the journey continues. From the depths of a mended heart, I am thankful tonight.

So now I stand on the eve of a different journey, one that I suspect will be fairly life-altering as well. Cue the novelist. My friend Jersey Beth (Bee) has happily convinced me to join her in a wild, month-long fling at noveling. 50,000 words. 30 days. 4 hours from now, 1 soon-to-be-regretted-horse's-mouth. There's no turning back now.

Bring it.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Big Weekend, Part II: Pat and Irene go to a Barndance

Two months from today is Christmas!!!

Sorry...just had to throw that out there. So, yes. Big weekend for me, part II.

My friend Bee, also known as Beth (since I have all but dispensed with my one-time penchant for anonymity), invited me to a barndance put on by the career group (translation: singles group) at the church we have been attending for the last few months. I all but called her a liar when she told me the event was mentioned in the church bulletin. My response was somewhere between 'Why not? It sounds too good to miss' and 'You will have to drag me, wild-horse friend'. But in the end, I could not resist the story of it all. And by that I mean getting to e-mail Jamey (#1 Sister) with a casual "Not much new here...Beth and I went to a singles barndance on Saturday" or getting to call Pal (one of a few whose name has stuck) and say something slightly less casual, like the "You won't belieeeeeve what I did today" that we have always loved so much. I have yet to do either one, actually. Procrastinator that I am. I also have yet to tell the padded out version of the story to my eager audience of imaginary grandchildren, which is strangely a sizeable motivator in the things that I must force myself to do. In short, I thought a singles barndance would make a good story.

I'm not sure that it accomplished said goal (although it would seem that the story continues in some ways . . .), but I did discover something pretty cool. A leftover something from the night before...the big fundraising event. I am not quite the unlocked-prison-cell-dweller that I used to be. When I say 'unlocked', I mean that I was free to go, but too afraid to leave the 'comfort' of my prison. I was stepping in places that months ago would have paralyzed me, and not feeling an ounce of the debilitating fear that I had always tried to blame on shyness or awkwardness. God's freedom is good news indeed. The prison door was opened long ago, but the captive still cowered. The door of the cage was opened, but the little bird just sang to herself and watched the world go by from her swing. You can call me silly, but I can't help it. There is nothing like God's freedom. I have to say it was a long, hard road, those few steps from the prison-cage to the open door, and I would not have made it if Someone hadn't reached inside and grabbed my hand. I can almost remember each step now...like crossing stones in rushing water. Every now and then, prison's "safety" calls, and I must deliberately choose to keep walking (or flying) away. But on my way, I'll catch a mirror-glimpse or a memory of where I was, and I sing inside: I have been released.

Anyway...about that barndance. To sum it up, Beth learned how to dance. I learned that I cannot dance. (Unless of course you count the danse ridicule that may or may not have been invented by the Frenchman who called us Pat and Irene). I learned that it is foolish to care about what you're wearing when it's so cold you never take your coat off. I learned that you should never bring pie to a potluck if there's a chance you could take it home with you. And yes, I re-learned that each of us carry a hidden story within us, and that things (people) are not always what they seem. Oh...and as far as I can tell, I don't have Future Wife written anywhere on my person. So...I'd say I learned a lot.

Big Weekend, Part I: Stretched and Blessed

Big weekend for me.

On Friday evening, I got all foofed up to volunteer at our first we-hope-it's-annual fundraiser for work. Normally I would have been scared to death, but for some reason, this time all I could find to be afraid of was the slightly teetering 3 dollar heels I was wearing. Speaking of 3 dollar finds...I have to say that my 3 dollar dress from The Underground (the Senior Cititzens Center thrift shop) made quite an impression on an even more teetering lady in her in-the-know stiletto croc pumps. I confess it produced a secret smile in me.

Speaking of secret smiles...I have been holding one in all weekend long ever since I saw the crowd of people gathered in the cocktail-lit room for the benefit. To see that many people turn out on a Friday night in support of the work that you are lucky enough to be a hidden part of...Incredible. To be honest, it moved me to tears. I was totally overwhelmed. Not because people were lining up to say thank-you (to be honest, where I work, there is seldom a shortage of thank-you's), but because I felt like I was watching them catch the vision of what we're about. And because I am one who gets to carry out that vision every day (or night). I get to be the eyes and ears and arms to the people we're all trying to reach out to. How incredible that God allows that.

Now...lest you think I've come here to rub my job in your face, let me tell you what hit me the hardest about the evening. As followers of Jesus in this life, we are all called to be night managers, right? We work and watch in the night, right up until the final daybreak. Maybe our specific assignment doesn't feel like a particularly magnificent one at the moment...Maybe our work is all but invisible to most...But I believe that one day, God will overwhelm us with the fruit of hidden faithfulness. Perhaps what I witnessed last Friday in that sparkling, buzzing room is just a little reflection of what all God's workers will witness when they stand dumbfounded at the threshold of a heavenly gathering. All the lives that we had no idea God touched through us just because we kept about His work. I hope you're encouraged and challenged. I know I am.

The last thing to say about the evening is this. I had the prickly job of trying (with questionable success) to pin a boutonniere on our locally famous newscaster. She was very friendly and gracious about it...but a word of advice...If you ever find yourself in similar (teetering) shoes, don't preface your performance by saying, "I don't know if you trust me to do this...". Because they probably won't. Incidentally...now I know why the boy who was forced by my English teacher to ask me to our school's pseudo-prom chose to go the wrist corsage route.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Just Call It God

Chambers' words are for me today:

The test of a man's religious life and character is not what he does in the exceptional moments of life, but what he does in the ordinary times, when there is nothing tremendous or exciting on.

Here are some words I don't believe you will ever hear God say: "Let's just call it good." I remember my own father saying those words to me at various times throughout my youth, when I was drowning in sleepless tears over some insignificant school project that I couldn't get just right. Sometimes those words would be accompanied by a fatherly lecture on how I majored in the minors and minored in the majors (Jamey will chuckle at this, though I doubt she ever got that particular lecture). But I have yet to hear God say, "Let's call it good." God, unlike me, is not a perfectionist. He is perfection.

The tricky thing about perfectionism is, it is more often than not a futile attempt to please an impossible audience (everyone), or an attempt (also futile over time) to hide the imperfect self you can't face behind a perfect exterior. God's not interested in either, thank goodness. Everything He does is perfect by the nature of who He is. He can't be less than perfect. He can't try to be more perfect. He will never say, "Good enough. I give up. I'm done here." I think that I have actually asked Him to say that a few times. When each baby step up the impossibly steep mountain seemed too painful. When we would pass by a little green stream and I decided it would be a good idea to just make ourselves a home there and not go on. Nope. Despite my pleadings to the contrary, He keeps on making me press on, hold out, look up...for His very best. We're the children of a perfect God. Unless we demand our own good enough way, He will keep shaping, pinching, stretching...Excuse me for mixing my metaphors. But you catch my drift. I'm off to my women's study. God is good. Chambers is not bad either:

Getting into the stride of God means nothing less than union with Himself. It takes a long time to get there, but keep at it. Don't give in because the pain is bad just now, get on with it, and before long you will find you have a new vision and a new purpose.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Where Have I Been All Your Life?

Hello all who are left. I don't know what has possessed me to write something today. After months of silence, yet. You would expect adventurous tales, rollicking anecdotes, bittersweet melodrama or light-bulb revelations (or knitted masterpieces). You would be disappointed. And you probably would not know me. As it is, I cannot provide so much as an explanation for my absence. For some things, there are simply no excuses or explanations. This is not one of those things (not yet anyway); I just thought I would throw that out. For now, all I gots is a shrug, an 'eh', and the 'i-o-know' leftover from an angsty youth.

Anywho...Summer is gone, and with it, the first carefree days I have known in my adult life. Carefree because I discovered what my knees were made for, and because it was just one of those summer seasons in life. There is a place for every season though, and I am most-of-the-time eager to see what life's fall, and harvest, brings. More on that to come.