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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Wait With Me

One thing that most of us have a difficult time with is waiting.  Right?  At a stoplight…in a check-out line…for test results.  Waiting seems pointless.  It can make us edgy, disgruntled, and anxious.  On the surface, the time we spend waiting each week simply feels like a huge waste.

But, could “waiting” and “silence” prove to be more than just fruitless time?

I often think that God is asking us to just sit in silence with Him, even though He may not be speaking any words or revealing anything at that moment.  Simply waiting with Him can bring peace and comfort.  True friends can wait with each other without saying a word.  He may just want us to rest with Him, assured of our love.

I recently had the opportunity to enjoy a juicy example of how waiting can prove fruitful after all.  We had planted a Satsuma orange tree about five or six years ago.  We were immediately eager to reap the benefits of our little citrus tree.  Nothing.  Year after year, we watered and nurtured it, only to have small green fruit the size of a pencil eraser grow and then fall off.

To be honest, we wanted to give up on that tree.  We had almost thrown in the towel because it didn’t bear fruit.  BUT!  Guess what?  This year, our little green fruit didn’t fall off.  They grew and grew…into nice, plump, juicy, ripe, orange, seedless, easy-to-peel, delectable fruit!  And, all it took was….yes….waiting.

Should we allow God to spend more time on us?  I think so.

Last week, God showed me another glimpse of how waiting can be rewarding.  I was at church, waiting in line to go to confession.  I was a bit antsy, since it had been, um, a little too long since the last time I stood in that line.  In the quiet of God’s house, I examined my conscience and reflected on the ways that I had offended the Lord.

While I waited, an elderly gentleman slowly opened the church’s door.  Step by step, he used his walker and carefully made his way to the line where I stood.  We exchanged smiles and then he told me a story.  He said he had just gotten back from the nursing home where his wife lives.  He told me that he fed her her supper and proceeded to tell me that his wife suffers from Alzheimer’s.  He said, “She doesn’t recognize me or even know that I'm there, but I still go.  I’ve been feeding her her supper every evening for the last four years.”

Every single evening for the last FOUR YEARS!  Of course, by this point, there are tears (big ones) welling up and I’m trying to fight them back.  I don’t cry pretty.  Never have.  When I cry, it’s ugly – it’s a big, red, swollen mess of ugly.  So, I managed to say, “Awww - she knows you’re there,” and then I quickly bowed my head to reflect on what I had just heard this man share with me.

I was so moved that I was able to witness an example of unconditional love – living in the flesh, standing right beside me.  This is also the type of love that Jesus has for us.  Doesn’t it all sound so familiar?  God, like this sweet man to his wife, is there, day after day, loving us and caring for us and sometimes we don’t even recognize that it's Him?  But, He still shows up.  Every.  Single.  Day.  This is God’s love.  And, I experienced all of this while “waiting” in line.  

After confession, I was reminded again of God’s beautiful grace.  My burdens felt lighter.  I was peaceful.  It always amazes me how the sacrament of Reconciliation can do that.  It’s like the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser – there is no stain that God can’t remove through His immense love for us.  Incredible (both the Magic Eraser and the Sacrament).

Instead of fighting it, when God says, “Wait with me,” I think I will.  I will learn to wait.  I've seen that wonderful things can happen while waiting.  My succulent Satsuma even says so!

No Sips next week, but have a very Merry Christmas!  Happy Birthday, my sweet, precious Jesus!  And, don’t forget to spread some sunshine in your corner of the world!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I Don't Feel Like It

Photo Credit:  mconnors at

Who else was wearing flip-flops and shorts while preparing their home for Christmas over the last couple of weeks?  I checked the outside temp. as we decorated our tree and it was a frosty eighty plus degrees – brrrr...UGH!  Needless to say, it didn’t “feel” like Christmas weather.  BUT, we did it anyway, and honestly, it felt great to see the lights aglow after it was all said and done.

Obviously, the weather isn’t the reason for this beautiful time of year.  It’s Jesus’ birth.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love the weather we’re having now and it does feel more like Christmas.  But, whether it’s eighty degrees or thirty degrees…He is still there (thank goodness!).  And, when my daughter prays, “I hope Jesus has a good birthday this year,” it truly melts my heart that she gets it.

Over the last few weeks, the anticipation has been increasing…so have the trips to town.  I’ve found that it has been very easy to lose focus.  It takes much more effort to be in the moment when we’re looking ahead to Christmas programs, family get-togethers, parties, Christmas cards, buying and wrapping presents…and the list goes on.

Time is precious, isn’t it?  Time is so precious that the good Lord gave it to us only one tiny second at a time.  Here lately, it seems that I’ve forgotten that.  I look too far ahead.  Maybe you’re doing the same?  I look to the next week’s festivities, the weekend commitments and many times, I forget to live in the precious, present moment.  Hurry here.  Hurry there.

As they say, inch by inch is a cinch, but yard by yard is hard.

My five-year-old daughter has become very intrigued by the whole concept of time.  We often discuss the differences between today, tomorrow, yesterday, tonight, last night, this week, next week, next month, and so on. 

So, to go along with the time fascination, she times me…everywhere I go.  I went to grab some lotion from the other bathroom and came back.  “Fifty-one seconds, Mom,” she said.  I got the supplies together to put her hair up.  “That took you ten seconds, Momma,” she replied.  REALLY?!  I do have to giggle at how she reports the time to me from a digital clock, though.  For 5:30, she’ll say, “Mom, it’s five, dot, dot, three zero.”  Love it…love the detail!

She’s also interested in years.  “How old is your car?  How old are Jesus, Mary, and Joseph?  How old is this house…in dog years?”  What?!  Looks like we need to work on that some more.

Needless to say, she’s brought “time” to the forefront of my mind.  And, because we only get a certain amount of it, I want to slow down enough to enjoy it.  How can I make my time and the time of those around me more pleasant?  There is something…something very magical that every single one of us can share and sometimes we just choose not to.  It’s a gift that each of us was born with and it doesn’t cost a thing to give.  It’s called a smile.

Just for the heck of it, I made a concerted effort to smile at ten random people the other day while shopping.  Of course, everyone was on a if under some sort of shopping spell.  The glitz and glam is alluring indeed.  Shopping carts were in a don’t-get-in-my-way-mode and the shoppers were in a daze, with their eyes fixed on the prize.  BUT!  A simple smile…well, it broke the spell.  Their shoulders relaxed, their cart speed slowed, and...they smiled back.

I’m serious.  Try it.  Even if you don’t feel like it…especially if you don’t feel like it…you’ll be amazed of the power it has…over you and them.

Another thing to try this season is a random act of kindness.  Do something for someone.  It doesn’t have to be monetary.  Sometimes, the very best gift we can give is ourselves.  The thrill of giving, rather than receiving, is delightful.  If you have never given anonymously, try it…it’s the type of giving when you don’t expect anything in return.  God sees and that’s all that really matters.

During the hustle and bustle, we also need to remember that we can’t do everything, but we can do something.  We CAN do something in our corner of the world to make a difference.  And, instead of complaining about what we DON’T have this season, let’s focus on what we DO have.  A positive attitude will draw out the best in us.  The more blessings we count, the more they seem to increase.

If we keep our eyes focused on the gift of Jesus’ birth, everything else will fall neatly into place because our focus isn’t on worldly things.  While we are preparing our homes and presents, are we preparing our hearts?  Are we making use of our time in a way that’s getting more than the tree ready?

I know one of the many things I will focus my thankfulness on is the simple fact that when we pray to God to watch over us, to take care of us, and to love us…that He never says, “I don’t feel like it.”  Boy, am I thankful for that!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Oh...Eye See!

Photo Credit:  ecerroni at

Last Friday evening, I was the lucky recipient of a beautiful treat!  I received a surprise pedicure…from my five-year-old daughter.  My allergies had gotten the best of me and both of my eyes were blood-shot red and swollen.  I could barely open them, so I escaped to my daughter’s dark bedroom for a moment of shut-eye in her rocking chair.

Shortly thereafter, I could hear my daughter walking down the hallway, but I kept my eyes shut and stayed very quiet.  She found me (busted!), but tip-toed back out.  (Really?!  That was WAY too easy…) Then, about five minutes later, she came back in and quietly turned on the lamp beside me.

She then proceeded to line up her “supplies” on the floor beside her.  I opened my right eye just enough to see paper towels, a stool for my feet, lotion, a bucket of water, a paintbrush and…a Bob the Builder toy sander.  I’m no good at solving mysteries, but I assumed a pedicure was on the agenda.  (A sander?!  Are my heels THAT bad?!)

The funny thing is that I didn’t see any nail polish in her repertoire of goodies.  So, I was ultra curious as to what kind of foot treatment this might be.  Then, she said, “Mommy, I’m going to make you feel so much better.  I even hung a closed sign on the door so no one would come in.  Just sit back and relax.”

So, there I sat, in complete enjoyment as my daughter pampered me in her own special way.  Now, mind you, the water on that paintbrush was VERY cold and the “painting” took place on my heels, the top of my feet, and my shins…everywhere EXCEPT my nails, but I am certainly NOT complaining!

After she was done, she left a maraca so that I could “call” her if I needed anything else.  Perfect.  A percussion instrument is certainly much more soothing than a whistle or bell.  I just love that spunky little gal!  My eyes didn’t feel much better after the pedicure, but my heart sure did.  If my eyes wouldn’t have forced me to be still, I would’ve missed this moment with my daughter, as her actions spoke volumes of love to me that day.

Over the weekend, my pathetic eyes continued to bother me and forced me into having an itty bitty pity party for myself.  I’m as blind as a cave cricket (I originally had “bat,” but did you know that bats aren’t really blind?  Who knew?!).  Anyway.  I always wear contacts.  But, because it felt like there were two cups of desert sand in each eye, I had to wear my coke-bottle glasses instead.

While that wouldn’t have been half-bad, my eyes are very light-sensitive and I always wear sunglasses when I’m outside.  BUT, it’s kinda hard to put sunglasses on over regular glasses, you know?  So, when I had to go outside, it felt like the sun shot hot laser beams straight through my pupils into my brain.

So, being focused on how miserable it was dealing with my eyes, I often wondered, “Could there be anything worse than losing our sight?”  I could barely open my eyes and didn’t enjoy the darkness.  Then, I remembered reading one time that the answer is, “Yes, there is something worse than losing our sight…it’s losing our vision.”  Hmmmm….great food for thought.

I do know one thing…I have a new found appreciation for my eyes now.  I thank God that they work for me on a normal basis, even though my vision is ridiculously FAR from 20/20.  More importantly, I pray that God will continue to open the eyes of my heart to see Him in the things and people around me.  Sometimes my eyes are “closed,” even when they’re open.

As C.S. Lewis said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen – not only because I see it, but because by it, I see everything else.”  What we see certainly does depend on the eyes through which we look.  Open my eyes, Lord, open my eyes.

What could we learn if we truly open our eyes and not only listen to, but HEAR, what we see?  Sounds strange, but it’s true if we think about it.  Blessed Mother Teresa has some great quotes about opening our eyes and hearts to see and hear those around us.  Here are just a few that inspire me:

“Spread love everywhere you go.  Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”

“Love begins by taking care of the closest ones – the ones at home.  Love begins at home and it is not how much we do…but how much love we put in that action.”

“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody – I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty, than the person who has nothing to eat.  The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.”

“We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.  Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”

My final thought on “seeing” comes from an e-mail that’s been going around about a little boy and his grandma’s pet duck (raise your hand if you have a pet duck…).

“There was a little boy visiting his grandparents on their farm. He was given a slingshot to play with out in the woods.  He practiced in the woods; but could never hit the target.  Getting a little discouraged, he headed back for dinner.  As he was walking back, he saw Grandma's pet duck.

Just out of impulse, he let the slingshot fly, hit the duck square in the head and accidentally killed it.   He was shocked and grieved.  In a panic, he hid the dead duck in the wood pile, only to see his Sister watching.  Sally had seen it all, but said nothing.

After lunch the next day, Grandma said, 'Sally, let's wash the dishes'.  But Sally said, 'Grandma, Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen.’  Then she whispered to him, ‘Remember the duck?'  So, Johnny did the dishes. 

Later that day, Grandpa asked if the children wanted to go fishing and Grandma said, 'I'm sorry but I need Sally to help me make supper.'  Sally just smiled and said, 'Well, Johnny told me he wanted to help you.’  She whispered again, 'Remember the duck?'  So Sally went fishing and Johnny stayed back to help.

After several days of Johnny doing both his chores and Sally’s, he couldn't stand it any longer.  He came to Grandma and confessed that he had killed the duck.  Grandma knelt down, gave him a hug and said, 'Sweetheart, I know. You see, I was standing at the window and I saw the whole thing.  But, because I love you, I forgave you.  I was just wondering how long you would let Sally make a slave of you.'”

So, like the little boy’s grandma, we need to know that God is always standing at the window.  He has seen our whole life and wants us to know that He loves us and will forgive us for what we’ve done.  We just need to ask.  He's probably just wondering how long we will let the devil make a slave of us.

Hmmm….so, as my eyes continue to heal, I hope to remember a few things.  I want to always look for Christ in others; to see God in the beauty of this world; to remember that God sees all; to hear what my children are saying through what I see them do; and to appreciate the presence of His “Son”light each and every day.