the daily do

By now, it’s common knowledge….a done deal.

At least I’ve jumped up and down enough about it so that few could have missed the fact that my husband and I have just celebrated the 25-year mark of our marriage.  And when I say “celebrate”… I mean celebrate.

To those here reading who’ve “been there— done that” or know others who have and it’s no big deal, thank you for the grace I need to say it again. Because, in my family’s history I’m the first for known generations to make it this far and in this day and age of disposable-everything, it’s almost unheard of. 

And for us… well, it’s absolutely a miracle.

the daily do

I used to joke that if we had a dollar for every naysay that we’d ever make it this far, we’d have enough to take that trip to Greece we’ve always wanted! In fact— we’re “fairly certain” (wink wink) that God is calling us to serve the Good People of Greece someday! Oh but I digress…..

Let me tell you the one thing I could not see twenty-five years ago: today. Of course, how could I? But what I mean is that I could not see this day because it never occurred to me to think any further than the moment I was in. Call it youthful ignorance — it was more like being blinded by selfishness and some sort of “carpe diem” fatalism.

Even on the day I was married, I had zero concept of what it meant to keep a lifelong promise or to faithfully protect a relationship— I’d never experienced such a thing.

Covenant was not a part of my vocabulary or my understanding. But there I was; fresh-faced and ignorant, standing in the midst of a handful of family and friends, about to say “I do” to a man  I’d only known for 5 months.

Line Art Bride and Groom

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At this point, I’m not ashamed to admit— I truly had NO idea what I was doing.  Neither of us did. All I knew was to say “I do” then and to somehow wake up every day and say “I do” again no matter what else was going on. By the grace of God, and most imperfectly, I’ve managed to do it… so far, for twenty-five years.

The daily-ness of  this “I do”  has expressed itself in countless numbers of intentional and unintentional moments:  matching socks, wiping spills or gathering up the worn, sweaty tee-shirts draped across the lampshades to air out– AGAIN.  Putting down the toilet seat, wiping toothpaste off the mirror, working side by side in the kitchen or video editing while listening to the ruckus and row of three kids bouncing around the house.

There were long seasons…  seasons when it barely rose above a discernible whisper… drowned out and nearly crushed beneath the weight of a hundred other “I do’s” while an endless line of others stood on the sidelines shouting, “Do ME too!”.  In those seasons…blinded by false light, it nearly gave itself away.

It almost got lost in years of confusion, disappointment and broken promises…when “I do” was growled through clenched teeth, struggling to get past the pain inflicted by the many other hard and ugly words that set fire to our home, leaving ashes in their wake.

Then “I do” meant untold hours of tense conversations and wadded up tissues and searching hard for the wedding band which had been thrown across the room in a fit of rage.       It was under the piano.

In the midst of it all,  that wounded “I do” was met by the healing of I AM and was restored and recovered from the fires that threatened to consume but forged and fused it inseparably–and most intimately– instead.

No Easy Marriage

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And while we’re on the subject of intimacy….people, I thought I had that stuff all figured out. But twenty-five years has taught me that all those early years of “I do” behind closed doors were only scratching the surface compared to the intimacy of the ones we now know. 

It’s shocking really… how little I understood about this deep intimacy and yet how I craved and continued to seek it. I laugh now at how shy and exposed I felt when my husband took me by the hand and sitting side by side we finally prayed together. 

I had no idea—entrusting your unclothed body is little compared to being able to share your naked soul with one another. Truthfully, it’s been the trust shared and built between us here that’s made all the difference in every other area of our relationship.

This is what I could not see twenty five years ago.  I didn’t have the eyes for it. I had NO idea what it meant for “two to become one”.   I get it now.

It’s not that either of us is less than who we are by ourselves. It’s that blended and before God, we are each more than we could ever be alone.

And this “two becoming one” thing of marriage…it’s not some mystical and covenantal change of status found in the instant of that first “I do”.  No, it’s discovered all along the way…in the becoming… the daily choosing and the time it takes to get there— in every moment of every day and every “I do” that follows.

Love Makes

This past Sunday,  I stood on the beach holding hands with that man of mine and  together again, we prayed…thanking and praising God for our life together and for all it took to get us here. I cried just a little bit… so grateful for the miracle… for the privilege of this “I do” life together. 

I’m glad I didn’t miss it.

Doing the daily do,Lorretta signature

tossing tables in the temple

Ripening and rosy against a backdrop of blue, the morning sky is curling in and over itself unfolding the beauty of a new day before my very eyes. High above, those wispy, lacy-type clouds are swirling in and out of one another, caught up in a breezy dance scented with a hint of the coming rain.

It really needs to come and wash all this dusty heaviness away.

Unseen and yet unmistakeable, with all that I am, my soul is sensing the rising weight of a spiritual storm building on the horizon. A soul-shaking-and-awakening storm… at least it could be.

There are times when it happens like this. There are moments when there can be no more “business as usual” and something has to give.

Thumbing through my bible I come to one of those moments recorded in Scripture and like this morning’s sky, it curls in and over itself and unfolds into a new slice of beautiful wisdom I hadn’t caught before. But it’s caught me…      red handed.

Morning bee

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It was “business as usual” in the temple that day. You may know the story: money changers and animal dealers had set up their wares in the temple courts— sort of a “one stop shopping” experience for people to come in and take care of their ritualistic obligation to the law. Certainly, I don’t know the heart or the spirit of all that was taking place that day, but Jesus did and His reaction tells it all:

He’d had enough.

Turning over the tables and tearing through the place with a whip of cords, Jesus drove the profiteers out of the temple with a level of rage and fury that shocked everyone. (John 2: 13-20)

“Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables.”

Many were guilty that day. The priests, just doing their job, had laid such heavy burdens upon the backs of the people, who’s hearts had drifted so far from God into a largely ritualistic “get’er done” complacency. These and the traders too, who made a profit off of every exchange in the name of God and lining their pockets with every purchase.

Very little sacrifice.     Very little worship.      Very little … real.

Faithfulness to little things

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The focus of this moment tends to be on Jesus’ righteous indignation and divine rage directed at the ungodliness of it all. No doubt about it. Surely, there have been moments all down the line since then where those in Authority over the Assembly have sought to profit one way or another off their Calling under the guise of Godly organization.

If I’m honest, I have to check my own spirit here and recognize the times I’ve come close to doing the same in fact or in spirit. I know the sin has been mine before.

But what God revealed to me anew is that it’s not necessarily an “out there” problem taking place in a building or beneath a denominational label or title. It really wasn’t then and it isn’t now.             It’s all about location, location, location.

Jesus’s rage that day in the temple was not only for the obvious mess everyone was making out of God’s covenant, it was because no one could see what He could see: the heart of worship had grown cold, flat and stale and He knew the Father wanted so much more.

Relationship. That’s why He came.

The kicker comes when I recall that the temple is not some place outside of us, It’s within us— within me.. I am the temple of the Holy Spirit and in my soul, is where the Spirit of God resides. It’s where worship and relationship with Him begins and flows from and is then invited to gather with the same Spirit in others each time we meet.  At least that’s the way it should be.

Then Jesus comes nearer and points out where…
** I’ve set up short cuts to worship.
** I’ve allowed sin and selfishness to creep in and set up shop too near to God.
** I might be leading others astray or allowing more dependence upon me than God.
** I might be more focused on what’s in it for me versus the glory of God.

Before you know it, He’s using the conviction of His word and the prompting of the Holy Spirit to turn over a few tables inside my heart where I’ve been making subtle and outright exchanges.

Places where my worship has been compromised by pride and contaminated with selfishness.

Or it’s to drive out other things —situations or people who’d set themselves up between me and the true experience of God’s grace.

He’s not always gentle— sometimes He’s jealous and fierce.

God's special temple presence

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I need Him to be and I’m grateful for the times when Jesus comes near to inspect this temple and because He loves me and wants the best for me, He helps me put things in order again….for my good and His glory… and equips me to help others , and myself, face the inevitable storms.

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Linking with Lisha

iron maidens and the dragons they slay

A giant nearly ten feet tall stepped out from the Philistine line into the open,
Goliath from Gath. …”  (1 Samuel 17-4)

She cussed like a sailor.
She smoked like a freight train.

unnamed-4For awhile she drove an eighteen-wheeler from one end of the country to the other to earn her living.
She lived large, laughed loud and drank her whiskey straight.

When she set her mind to something, it was done— five minutes ago.
She tore apart several houses and put them back together the way SHE wanted them.
Sadly, sometimes it wasn’t her “house” and she left a trail of men in her wake.

She intimidated the crap out of me and yet,  I wanted to please her most of all.
I often felt like I didn’t and I’m sorry I didn’t understand her better.

She was my mother. The toughest thing going and to this day, a good bit of who she was remains a mystery to me. There are not many folks alive who can tell me much more than I know so I’ve gotten used to the fringes and shadows of what few memories I possess.

To be honest, there were many years I was flat out mad at her. Might have said I hated her. Hurt and disappointed by her choices and behaviors— and though it wasn’t her fault alone, I didn’t know how to process what I was experiencing.

In fact, for a while if you wanted to make me so mad I might punch you hard and cry harder, all you had to do was say I was a lot like her. That was enough to draw me out swinging. Not anymore.

So much more is clear to me now that I’m older with a fresh perspective on life and it’s struggles and also… now that she’s gone.  I realize now, we were both tragically misunderstood. I loved her more than I feared the pain of her rejection but somehow never found a way to break through.

I miss her. She was strong and amazing.  She was a tough cookie with a soft spot for the underdog, the downtrodden and the strays. And….in at least the best ways I can tell— I’m a lot like her.

She wasn’t a very big woman but recently I have begun to realize that the pain that once passed between us has cast a giant shadow over me for most of my adult life.     It was a giant I had to slay.      One of many actually.

“David asked …Who is this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?(1 Samuel 17:26)

Iron Maidens

 

People…     giant slaying is some downright dirty and difficult work.

 God has wrought so much healing out of this painful place of struggle in me as I’ve done that dirty and difficult work and I willingly open myself for Him to use whatever He deems useful to heal those deep wounds in others. It’s why I’m here. In the process of it all, I find myself now surrounded by a number of other “tough cookies”…. Iron Maidens is how I like to refer to us — as in the “iron sharpening iron sort of way described in Proverbs 27:17.

None of us exactly chose to be this way. None of us asked for this responsibility or the difficulty of having to slay some pretty terrible giants from our past in order to get here.  But none of us would have it any other way if God can use us. It’s the way we are and because we are His, this is also how He’ll use us if we allow it. Imperfect yet beautifully useful… restored for a purpose. Set apart for a holy privilege. Iron Maidens are brave.

***************************************The becoming

And you know writing through my brave here may seem like I’ve gotten a bunch of stuff figured out but if there’s one thing I need you to know — I’m mostly figuring it out as I go along.     Like everyone else.

There are days I’m just aren’t feeling it. Days when all the molehills become towering mountains covered with gigantic problems that seem tainted and flavored like my past. Those are the days when I’m not sure I can— or even want to fight the battle or slay another stinkin giant ever again.

It’s hard.   Me?      On those days I want to quit.
I feel unqualified to speak on behalf of God or to anyone else.
Maybe even like it’s not worth it.
It’s so much….bigger than me.
Sometimes I feel naked… because I forget Who’s really got me covered.

“Then Saul gave David his own armor—a bronze helmet and a coat of mail. David put it on, strapped the sword over it, and took a step or two to see what it was like, for he had never worn such things before. “I can’t go in these,” he protested to Saul. “I’m not used to them.” So David took them off again.(1 Samuel 17: 38-39)

The Sure Cure of the Light

In those moments, God shows me the truth of what it truly means to surrender… ALL.  He may use another person in my life to remind me of the preciousness of this place and the call to keep slaying those giants. Or He might simply meet with me in His Word, under a tree, “face to face as a man meets with a friend.”

But He reminds me that in His hands— everything about my life and journey is useful for this Kingdom call and the tools He’s given me to fight these battles with are ones I know how to use well.      They fit.

 David quickly ran out to meet him. Reaching into his shepherd’s bag and taking out a stone, he hurled it with his sling and hit the Philistine in the forehead. The stone sank in, and Goliath stumbled and fell face down on the ground..” (1 Samuel 17:48b-49)

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This early story of David flew home to nest in my heart this past week because this is the very same situation we must apply to any and all giants we must slay in the name of the Living God.

As I re-read the story God spoke and revealed there was more than one giant present that day. The obvious one— yelling and screaming and looking all scary, then David’s own family members who mocked and belittled him. He had to respectfully stare down the giant of a wrong authority-figure who wasn’t willing to face the giant himself…and there might have been the giant of pride in there somewhere too.   All these and more he’d face again somewhere down the line.

But the biggest thing God revealed is that in the end, it wasn’t a stone that slayed the giant that day. God could have done that Himself.     What killed the giant…… was obedience.

Faith in God and obedience to the call.   As David eventually learned,   it’s the only way to slay ANY giant.   In fact, it may be the biggest brave of all.

So…. what giants are you facing down today?  Let’s do this thing.

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This article originally appeared at  the Brave Girl Community…join me there?

and I’m linking with Lyli  and Holly too!