Monday, September 24, 2012

About Daddy.

I was tired, grumpy, hungry, tired and grumpy.  (Those traits tend to go together a lot for me.)  I'd been sitting in traffic for an hour and a half to get to the beach where my family was camping.  My day of thankfulness turned into a nightmarish day with anything and everything going wrong.  (Which wasn't all together surprising, seeing I had flippantly resolved to be thankful for anything and everything.)

When I pulled up in front of our campsite I snapped at my sister, pouted, and felt sorry for myself.  I know I'm not painting a pretty picture here at all, but in the interest of honesty, I want to tell the whole truth.

My dad was quietly observing my bad day and my bad attitude (Okay - my temper tantrum) from the get go.    He walked up and announced that he wanted to go get coffee and did I want to come? 

If anyone was less deserving of a coffee date with Dad at that moment, it was me. Seriously.  I'm not being modest here.  I was behaving like an absolute spoiled brat.

He actually wanted to hear my whole list of anything and everything I had to be thankful for - from the 3am wake up call to falling back asleep and being late for work.  Wrestling an old lock after I'd already realized I was extremely late, fighting traffic, a hectic day at the office.  He really wanted to hear it. 

He pulls me into random hugs to tell me that he loves me. 

He skateboarded alongside of me for two miles because I wanted to go running and it was already dark out.

He gave up an entire surf session to get me standing up on a wave.

Besides the part where he works and sacrifices to keep us all fed and clothed, he really cares about the little things - the ones that make all the difference in the world.

"Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" - Matthew 7

I've been overwhelmed lately thinking about how good my earthly daddy is.  As good as I've got already, the scope of my Heavenly Father's goodness - well, it's incomprehensible.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

When I'm not allowed to be miserable...

Everybody loves the Monday right? At least everybody loves to complain about the Monday. And a Monday with me working having a nasty head cold while my family is camping at the beach for the second consecutive week definitely seems like something to complain about.

All day I was determined to be miserable, and all day, without fail, it seems like God was trying to show me reasons to be happy.

Random strangers making conversation, time to actually sit down to breakfast, cheerful customers on the phone, my extremely cheerful coworker, the employee at Subway asking "how's it going, beautiful?" in his awesome South African accent.

The South African accent really clinched it for me. "Why do you insist on sending awesome things across my path while I'm determined to be miserable?" I whined to God.

"If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?"

"I know what you need before you ask."

So later on when Siri could understand me better with a head cold then she does under normal circumstances; when everyone I encountered everywhere I went was extremely helpful, taking time to joke and make small talk; when I acquired an unexpected car-pool for the long drive down to the beach, all I could do was roll my eyes.

That was my miserable Monday. I wonder how Tuesday will treat me? Anyways, as miserable as I was on Monday, I'm determined to be thankful on Tuesday.

When I told my dad about my resolve for gratitude, he laughed.  "Be careful what you wish for!"

Monday, September 17, 2012

Being like Jesus

The first time I noticed him was at least 8 months ago.  He sits in the Starbucks by my work every morning between 7:30 and 7:50 and holds court.  (The type of court that royalty hold, not the judicial type.)

There was always a different crowd around the corner table by the pick up counter with this gentleman as the common denominator, and after I first noticed him, I started to pay attention.  He listened to people. He encouraged them, laughed with them and hurt for them when needed.

I watched and listened as he helped one of his friends plan their much needed vacation and while he comforted another friend whose house was being foreclosed.  He would try to find something in common  with each person he spoke with, and not in an "I've already been there, done that" condescending sort of way, but more of an "I understand, I'm in your corner" sort of way.

In spite of my love affair with coffee, I'm not a regular at any particular Starbucks, so it took awhile before I popped up on his radar. 

First it was a few casual "Good morning!"'s with a smile and nod, and then a, "Oh, you ARE here!" when he saw me sitting outside.

This morning, sitting across from a motorcycle cop at the table next to me, he leaned over during a lull in the conversation. "And, how was your weekend?"

For some reason, his indiscriminate, gentle but relentless pursuit of friendship reminds me of Jesus. 

I don't anticipate us becoming BFF's or anything, but I'd be willing to bet that there's a lot I could learn from this man about loving the people around me. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Things that matter

I drifted from conversation to conversation last night, contributing here, just listening there, taking it all in. The boys we like and how to determine and be content with God's will from the girls organizing their luggage in the van; the same old controversial issues and a bed time story around the campfire. The rules of five card draw and the value of each chip from the kids at the picnic table. (This last one being more of an argument than an actual conversation.)

Within two hours of arriving, my family had turned these two beach campsites into home. No wonder I felt a little bit lost as I started the 53 mile drive back to work this morning.

As I'm writing this I'm sitting in a coffee shop just ten minutes away from our house, but without the laughter, the conversations, the arguments - the life - it's just a structure, not a home. Four walls and a roof.

A friend posted a section of Psalms 139 this morning that I read before climbing out of my sleeping bag. My mind was socked in with a fog as thick as the marine layer that rolls in each night.

You have searched me, Lord,

    and you know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise;

    you perceive my thoughts from afar...
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?

    Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.

Merging onto the freeway filled with frantic commuters the thought hit me.  "The where doesn't matter... What matters is who you're with."

Yeah, I know.. earth shattering depth, right?  Well, I hadn't any coffee yet, so don't judge.

Anyways, I'm enjoying my day today, knowing that wherever I go I'm with the One who knows me better than I know myself.  Wherever I land in this crazy life, it can be home.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Wisdom from Socrates. (Or not.)

Have I mentioned lately how good God is to me?  I'm sure I've tried, but my words are completely inadequate.

Recently we (read: my Dad) have been discussing how even God's judgments are merciful.  The extent of God's goodness is unfathomable.

I read a quote by Socrates a couple weeks ago that kind of explained why we can't fathom God's ways.  (And before you go on thinking that I'm all refined and cultured because I read the great philosophers, I should let you know that I got it off of twitter)

"God created man in His own image, and then man turned around and returned the favor." 

It rings true when I realize that every time I'm trying to understand God and His ways I fail, because I'm stuffing His design and plan into a box that is limited by my logic.

My nature doesn't have the capacity to love and forgive and be righteous and just and merciful all at the same time, so when I catch glimpses of God working this way, it blows my mind.

Here's something crazy.  I've found that the things I've complained about the most (either out loud or to myself) in the recent past have ended up as huge blessings.

A little over a month ago I was really feeling sorry for myself that I had to spend my Saturday at the eye doctor instead of going to the beach with my siblings.  It was a pretty reasonable complaint.  Nobody else in our household has to wear corrective lenses, besides the reading glasses that my parents have started to rely on.  I'm the only one, and they caused me to miss a beach trip.  Definitely worthy of a first class pity party.

When I got home from the optometrist, Dad and Mom and my little sister were the only ones home and they were getting ready to go visit our Pastor, who was in the hospital.  I hate hospitals.  Almost as much as I hate missing beach trips, but on impulse I put my shoes back on and got in the car.

Before we left, he prayed for us.  I've always been blessed by his prayers.  He'd never end a prayer without asking God to "bless each and every one here in a very special and wonderful way."

It was the last time I saw him.  Pastor Sam passed away just a week later.  

Today, I'm really glad that I have to wear glasses.  I wouldn't have seen him that last time if I had good eyesight like the rest of my brothers and sisters.  (No pun intended)

In God's economy the hard things become the best things.  We have to give in order to get; die in order to live.  The whole glasses thing might seem trivial, but to me, it revealed another glimpse of God's character.

I'm definitely guilty of creating a god in my own image as Socrates observed, but I sure like the One who is completely opposite of me a lot better.

P.S.  Okay, so I googled the quote that I quoted earlier, and couldn't find it.  Maybe Socrates didn't say it after all.  Maybe someone else said it, or maybe the twitter user made it up.  Whatever the case may be, it still rings true for me.

"The trouble with quotes on the internet is that it is difficult to discern whether or not they are genuine." - Abraham Lincoln