Today I Say Goodbye

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Today I Say Goodbye

In the hours before, I rehearse the dialogue
My monologue
Of how many tears we will hoard
Or how freely we will release the goodbye’s
What speed and pace and length will the salutation be

I know nothing of any of this
This path that we will walk
Only that it is you
Your countenance
Soul-filled redemptive beauty
Which I will miss

Circling the globe in search of words
To tell the stories of unfurled beauty
Marked by redeeming acts
Stamped with mercy’s seal

Two paths crossed like a jet stream’s tail
Go in peace to love and serve

Today I say goodbye
Today someone else receives the gift of a new hello

Oh, the way of the cross
The mystery of His love

I have practiced good bye a hundred times
Watch me
I still weep
Redemption’s beauty
Has come and gone and will come again
World without end
Amen

Peace of the Lord be always with you
Our soup is getting cold
One check, please
And also with you

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Thanksgiving In July

They move from event to event, stoic, chin-up with game faces squarely on.

Determined, fierce-competitors, steely-glass eyes starring the moment directly in the face without blinking. Unflinching. Taking on the challenges with grace.Brave. Unwavering. Strong. And appearing to all the world as though they have no fear.

Mighty warriors on the world stage. Grace on display in diminuative packages. And they amaze.

I watch these young Olympians strong-jawed and graceful, gymnasts who take my breath away with their poise, beauty,and skill packed in lovely small packages of pure muscle.

They are like marathon runners pacing their emotion. Pacing the celebration and victorious grins and all-out over-joyed thanksgiving for their wins, the milestones.

Because until they are finished, they must pack their bags and unwrap their wrist-wrappings and move to the next big event.

But I am not an Olympic gymnast. Very far from it. But sometimes if I am not careful I will move fists clenched and jaw tight from one event to another without stopping to rest in moments of thanksgiving and praise for God’s goodness.

And I have seen God’s goodness in many areas of my life. So I have to stop. And be still for long moments of the heart. To let myself catch up with my living. To let the soul soak in the worth savoring. Because I have seen break-through’s and they are worthy of noting with praising lips.

They are worthy of big Alleluias and Hallelujahs back to the Giver. They deserve a return of praise. They require a thank you note of the heart.

If I am not careful I will race ahead without engaging my heart and soul in a long grateful embrace. The moment worth the long savor risks being passed over. The answered prayer of the heart and lips risks going by without an outpouring of gratitude.

I will rush ahead of myself and God into the forward moving moments of life. Without rightful praise. Without rightful thanksgiving. Without giving the breakthrough its long celebration of being born into my life. I risk being stalled out and stuck in a place of forward moving living which races into the next without pausing and looking long on the beautiful miraculous milestones of God gifts of the now.

The now is so deserving. The right this minute is so worthy of marking and noting. And of celebrating.

I see these as the happy middles. No longer wanting to desire only the happy endings in life, but rather finding joy in the happy middle moments. The good stuff on the way. The stumble upon small things which are truly grand. Like the small Olympic gymnasts we pack a pint sized punch, these little life-moments are grander and more glorious than we often give them credit for. They are huge if we but stop and marvel.

Just because its good. And just because The Giver of Good Gifts, a holy God, has given with and in Love.

If I miss the opportunity to walk into His presence with praise, I miss a holy moment of intimacy with God. And we were made by Him to praise Him. The praiseworthy moments then, are just what we were created for.

And some just seem due a longer pause, a wider smile, and an even more joyful heart. I don’t know why they seem to stand out, accept that when you journey with Him and cry out to Him, and pray to Him, there are moments which feel so glorious. Maybe its the ones we thought we’d never live to see. Or maybe its the ones that come after long periods of drought or what feels like extra-long waiting. Maybe its the ones which look so transformative as to have God’s mark, His handiwork so beautifully displayed that we are in awe. Of His Goodness. And His Love. Maybe it’s the ones that have a bit of the prodigal son peppered in the narrative.

That God in His mercy works beautiful gifts into  every day is worth an outpouring of gratitude every day. But sometimes it feels hand-stamped,hand-delivered right to the door of our hearts. Because it is.

It always is when it comes from God. And thanks be to Him, the Giver of Good Gifts.

Counting gifts today. And it truly feels like Thanksgiving in July. And grateful to Ann and her book 1000 Gifts for helping point me in a grateful direction of the heart.

*a beautiful worship service yesterday with glorious music and a very very funny guest preacher. Joy in the laughter echoing all through the sanctuary.

*a transformation in a relationship. Restoration, love, and tenderness.

*a moment to mark and celebrate a moment with a mother in church which involved seeing great things in the lives of our sons.Seeing her beautiful tears of joy at God’s hand in our lives. A gift.

*Seeing my man/child in his new home loving His job and seeing glimpses into his future with his career. Feeling God’s hand of protection and love on his life.

*Hearing my middle son say how much he enjoyed our family day together, after not wanting to participate. Hearing him proclaim the joy in the day. Amazing. Grace. A mother’s heart hears how very much we are wired to be in relationship.

* Four of the five riding back from Charleston and my daughter looking out at the marsh and marking the beauty. Then, passing the river and marking the beauty. Her words of longing to be on the beautiful water. Seeing her mark beauty.

* Hearing my son sing in church.

*watching the Olympics with my family

*Mother-daughter time of fellowship with friends laughing and savoring and spending hours, the four, for a celebration of birthdays. It is good. Friendship.

*Finally telling my husband how very badly my heart desires a literal white-picket fence, and having him sweetly receive, and try to see where and how he can provide my silly heart’s desire for one.

*A loving text message filled with gratitude from someone in my life, early this morning. A welcomed-Monday morning sight for these eyes.

*Seeing the joy in a woman’s heart upon receiving home-communion yesterday. Seeing  the power in breaking the communion wafer for someone for the first time. The beauty. The holy of the moment. Grateful for the opportunity to serve. Seeing her touched by the love of Jesus.

Writing in community today with Ann, who is helping me develop a heart of gratitude. And I am joining with Michelle at Graceful today.

When Joy Is Contagious

I am standing at the kitchen sink peeling eggs for my man-child who leaves the nest for good in days. He will have an insurance plan a house, a job and wings spread wide before July yields to August.

And I wonder.

How did we get to a birthday which is a speed limit designed to save gasoline. That’s the collective we. Today is The Patient One’s birthday and it screams out for attention in the repetition of fives like an umpire yells “OUT.” One leaving, one growing older while I think back to springtime as I peel back memories while I peel back bits of shell.

I think on all these days and all these years and wonder where they are. The years line up in my mind. And I remember a Spring breakfast with a friend at The Flying Biscuit diner. Where words flew and peels of laughter rang out loud and I bridged the gap of over 20 years.

We re-connect after all this living, after all these years of life.  An un-planned, unintentional pause in a friendship that was deep and wide with laughter and growing up. A friendship put on ice,  left untended to and malnourished for over two decades.

A breakfast can last for three hours. And laughter and can be so loud that other diners feel the joy. And you can feel the years of separation melt away like a pad of butter on a heap of hot grits.

Life has bumped her around. Her story is riddled with hurt and pain. I knew via email  and phone calls wet with tears big chunks  of her story. Before we pulled up our stools for grits and eggs, my heart had begun to prepare for the re-telling as I looked into her soul, into those chocolate brown eyes.

I went believing that I would cry with her and show kindness and comfort. In the upside down economy and inverted paradigm of life, she was comfort and joy to me.  She was wisdom. Her story and her battles became my balm.

Her struggles became my new insight. And stories of her journey which the young me didn’t quit know or understand are heard with a knowing anew. By the me who is a woman with wrinkles and graying hair. Because story as teacher shifts perspective of the heart. And story with flesh and bones looking you in your eyes wraps new understanding around how we learn from each other— about life and living, joy and hardship, laughter and tears.

I hear. I listen. I receive. And she teaches. And she explains.

Loud laughter is the trademark of our friendship. And heads turn from patrons in the diner wondering how love can laugh this loud. How a deep down longing to re-connect souls and lives can rumble up and come out as bellowing belly laughs. How friendships full of grace and love can touch strangers, and joy becomes contagious.

The young thirty somethings or twenty somethings, I cannot tell any more, turn and say how special this thing is that we have. And we laugh and we say, yes we  know. They tell us how unique it is for friendship to show up like this. And there is bitter sweet in every bite.

What did I lose by loosing touch? Why do they smile and remark at our Joy? Why did I let this friend stay so far from my heart for so long? What bumps in my road could she have helped me with when I was bruised and roughed up if she had only known, if I had only reached out, if friendship didn’t take a break.

And how beautiful contagious Joy is  when we are vulnerable, and loud happy, and free to show remarkable love, extravagant love. And to share our stories, our lives, our authentic selves.

My girlhood friend told stories that my memory hadn’t held. Of us. Of me. Each telling of a slice of story transported me back to happy times of our teens.

But the most valuable piece of the three-hour breakfast was my single, childless friend taught me about being a parent. She shifted my perspective and my lense. She gave me eyes to see. And a heart to listen.

Her story and the story of one of my own children, they share common threads. And  I have been blind and unknowing and in need of a teacher. A teacher to show me how to bend in to love with a changed heart.

I learn in the loud and messy friendship pulled up to the counter.I learn in The Flying Biscuit about patience and perserverance and loving uniquely. And of loving the differences with a heart that embraces the fact that each of us has a story.

My friend is the teacher, the one with no children to raise, and she is teaching me a few things about being a parent. And about love.

The vast separation between us is closed in three hours. We are 16 and giddy girls laughing with tears rolling down our wrinkled cheeks. Salty love serving up Grace and contagious Joy touching souls over breakfast.

And I know anew to look out for wisdom and kindness  in the simplest of places.

And to expect healing to come when we least expect it.

We will not let twenty years wedge between us again.

And I will listen hard and seek  the lessons of life being taught through the stories being spoken and lived around me.

Looking to listen with an open heart, a bent ear, and a spirit seeking and longing for those moments of contagious Joy served up with an extra helping of Grace.

Thank you my friend for telling me your story and listening to mine. And giving me a chance to be your friend, anew.

Linking up today with Jennifer and Duane.

A Still Quiet Place

We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and private and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.

(from C.S. Lewis)  
   Friends, my Sunday hope for you as you see this day begin its end is that you steal away to a quiet place for peace and friendship…wishing you His grace as you……….                  

                                                    

Take a minute,

Seek the silence,

Search out solitude,

Find a friend,

Grab the good,

Rest in quiet,

Think on blessings,

Knaw on words,

Release worry,

Ponder gratitude,

Curl up in the comfortable seat of Grace

And speak your heart to a precious friend.

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