This might be one of my favorite photos ever. I had no idea it was being taken. I wasn’t sitting in my usual spot at church (not that I even have a regular spot). I had surrendered myself to worship. My son-in-law led worship, and my daughter poured out her heart as she belted the lyrics. I didn’t notice so many details as I worshiped. It was only as I glanced at the photo after the fact that I recalled a few details. At the time, I simply surrendered.
I have written multiple blog posts about the sweetness of worship in this time of uncertainty and hurt. I still attend the church where my soon-to-be-ex and I served well, invested in others deeply, raised two daughters, struggled to grow in faith, and worshiped together week after week. He immediately left the church when he left the marriage. I didn’t forge forward and try to continue as was. I stepped forward with my hurt. I carried my shattered pieces with me, not to try to figure how how it all fit, but to simply worship – to trust God and his character and promises. To live out what I had learned in the light as I felt the world go dark around me.
Worship became more pure, and the more completely I surrendered, the more pure God made me. The more he clarified priorities and characteristics – who he is and who I could become with him.
This picture is a glimpse into the possibilities, the purity, the surrender of my life.
I recently snapped this photo of “my polar bear.” Of course, Kali of the St. Louis Zoo isn’t mine, but I enjoy visiting her every chance I get. Most times I’m in St. Louis involve a brief pit stop to go in the zoo’s north entrance, make a beeline to Kali’s pen (and most recently, see the new grizzlies along the way), take a few photos and check on her, then leave the zoo and continue my day.
On my most recent visit, I snapped a variety of photos that struck me because of their distortion. For example, this one looks as if Kali’s head is displaced from her body. It obviously isn’t.
Sometimes what we see is a distortion. Reality still exists, but we can’t quite see if for what it is. We can explain distortions. And when we become really good at it, we can actually shift our explanations into reality – or what we rationalize as reality.
Not every distortion is obvious, hence, the misleading component to distortion.
“Well, that’s at least possible.”
“I don’t see how that could be wrong.”
“I sort of like that better anyway.”
Distortions in and of themselves don’t seem odd. We need the correct image in order to identity when that image is distorted. We need to know where we are headed and who is leading us before we can identify the “mis” part of misleading. We all want to believe our perspective is right, but there is always room for more clarity and humility.
I thought my trip to the pharmacy would be quick. The doctor had called ahead.
There was a line, but I stepped up to the counter within ten minutes. Good news: they had received the prescription. Bad news: they didn’t have what I needed. Good news: they’d call other pharmacies in town. Bad news: they were busy, and it might take a few minutes.
I sat and waited, then drove to the next pharmacy.
Good news: yes, the first pharmacy had called to confirm the second pharmacy had what I needed. Bad news: the first pharmacy hadn’t followed up and actually sent the prescription. I sat and waited. One of the employees apologized after a while and let me know I could come back later instead of waiting, but I didn’t want to have to get out again once I went home. And I didn’t mind waiting. I caught up on some reading. And I watched people come and go.
I was there for about an hour and a half, and do you know what I saw and heard? Many grumpy people.
I get it: people aren’t very patient when they aren’t feeling well and need their medicine, but the people who were the grumpiest didn’t seem all that sick. I saw a few people who I could certainly understand if they had been grumpy – a woman around my age who was obviously going through cancer treatments, a young mom wrestling with her energetic kids, and an older woman who was pushing through the pain and not complaining one bit.
There were four pharmacists on duty and several support staff. They were working hard. Yet I heard multiple derogatory comments about them.
I tried to smile and thank the employees anytime they helped me. I hope it created a positive ripple effect among their other disruptions.
I haven’t always had much patience, and sometimes there is need for urgency, but let’s not forget our impatience impacts others.
Thanks to my friends who have parented alongside me.
Thanks to people who have parented me or my girls as if we were your own at times.
Thanks to people who influenced my mom into the woman she became.
None of the people I thank in this brief post are perfect. But we have shared adventures, memories, grief, struggles, silliness, inside jokes, and many smiles together. Our lives will forever be entwined.
It was Friday. I had just left work, and I had a short drive to meet a friend. I rolled down the window and savored the warm sun and brisk wind. My hair whipped around my face. I didn’t mind. Sometimes feeling the power of nature is energizing.
The wind, though invisible, demanded my attention, reminding me of God’s power and provision. Wind can be damaging but also cleansing. God’s power can be daunting and also comforting. God’s provision can be consuming and also abundant.
“In the wind” can refer to being lost or always on the move. But “in the wind” can also be one of the most settling, provisional places with God. His power demands our attention and directs our path.
Perhaps it’s TMI (too much information), but I walked into the convenience store bathroom…
One of the employees was cleaning. I know many of the workers, because the store is my regular fountain drink stop. The girl immediately stopped me from going into a stall, insisting it would only take a minute to wipe it down, since she has already sprayed the cleaner.
We talked as she cleaned, and we continued to talk while I used the bathroom. The casualness of the situation made me smile. I learned several things about her in those few minutes – time I didn’t think I had to spare since I was on my way to meet a friend. But the employee was comfortably sharing her plans, struggles, and uncertainties. I didn’t have much advice for her; I thought it was more important to listen and encourage.
I thanked her for keeping the bathroom clean – and for sharing a conversation – and went on my way with a smile. How could I not smile when God surprised me with the opportunity to encourage in an unexpected place?
We’re taught to not give up. We want to be stronger than that. We see quitting as a weakness.
Yet there are a lot of things it’s okay to give up. Knowing the difference and timing and approach is essential. We can choose the wrong things to give up (or hang onto), but we can also choose the right things in the wrong way. We can be inconsiderate of others, harsh, and disrespectful. We can be passive and cowardly. We can choose the wrong time, refusing to allow healing.
We need humility and discernment. We need to consider the impact our choices and actions have on others. We need to be honest with others and ourselves.
We need to realize who influences our perspective and how we filter incoming advice and opinions.
Give up something today. Commit to something today.