Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Little Bird

A month ago, I was sitting up in the balcony at The Muse in Wyndhurst. I had just gotten out my paper and pen to start what would be a painful journey: taking Moral Inventory of my life. Things that I did. Things that were done against me. All of it. Written down.

To say that I was nervous and scared and not looking forward to it would be an understatement.

I started writing and was soon distracted by the overwhelming feeling that I wanted to be far away from  where I was and what I was doing. Remember Forest Gump, when Jenny prays "God, make me a bird so I can fly far, far away from here?" That's what I wanted.

Then I saw something moving next to me and heard a noise. I wasn't sure what it was, but suppressed a scream as I convinced myself that whatever it was was going to surely kill me. Then it moved again. And chirped. And ran into the window.

A bird.

A tiny, brown bird.

A sparrow?

At any rate, the poor little guy was trying to escape through the window. Logic told me that it was impossible, that the little bird would never be able to fly out of the window. But, Little Bird didn't know it was a window. He could see through it. He could see trees and a street and the sky. But couldn't get through. He didn't know he was trapped. He thought he was free, but couldn't get to the actual freedom part. And couldn't figure out why.

As I sat and pondered Little Bird and his dilemma, I heard that Still Small Voice tell me, "Go help him."

"Um, no."

"Go help him."

"Birds are gross. I don't want to touch him. And I wouldn't know how to help him anyways. I tried to help many an injured animal when I was a child and they all died. Do you really want me to kill this creature?"

"Go help him."

"But I--"

"Go help him."

I realized that I wasn't going crazy. I pray and talk to God and have had God talk to me. It was possible that God, in this moment, wanted me to help this bird...... wasn't it?

I decided to go ahead and try to help the bird. I mean what's the worst that could happen? Then my mind thought of all the worst-case scenarios, which included screaming really loud if it flapped its wings in my face and embarrassing myself and  getting startled and falling over the rail of the balcony. Both were not ideal. So, I decided my plan needed to involve a "fall and scream prevention plan."

I got up.

I moved closer and closer. Slowly. So slowly that I felt like it was taking hours for me to get over to Little Bird.

When I finally got to the window he was flying through, I realized that I needed to be careful not to startle him, or he would fly up into the rafters and I would never be able to help him.

I raised my arms and inched closer and closer. Very slowly.

As I got closer, I closed my hands around him. His Little Bird Legs found my hand a few times and he chirped in a panic and tried to escape. But it was too late. I had made a cage out of my arms and my hands followed his movement. Closing in more and more.

When I finally got one hand on his body and trapped on wing, he had a full-fledged Little Bird Panic Attack. Although I was talking to him, he didn't know that I was trying to help him and was instead trying to protect himself from me.

I used my second hand to fold his free wing up close to his body. And I just held him for a second.

I turned his body so I could look him in the eye.

And that when it happened. I felt his entire body relax as he surrendered to me.

I was powerful enough that I literally could have crushed him in my hands. And he knew that. But, I was there to help him be set free. So, I just stroked his head for a moment and said, "Okay, Little Bird, let's go get freedom."

I walked carefully down the stairs and noticed for the first time that the entire cafe was silent. They were all watching me and Little Bird.

I shook off my embarrassment and made it to the door. I released my grip on Little Bird and he paused for a second before flying out of my hands. I haven't seen a bird happier to be free.

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I made it back up to my seat and sat down, processing what just happened and why on earth God cared so much about a bird that He told me to help it. Then I realized that I was the bird.

How many times have I thought I was free, but couldn't understand why I wasn't experiencing freedom?

How many times have I fought God, as if He hunting me down to destroy me?

How many times have I struggled against His grip before I ultimately surrendered to Him?

Freedom for the bird was something it never would have experienced on its own. It would have had to fly down in the middle of the cafe, towards people and go out a door on the complete opposite side of the building. Because of Little Bird's instinct to flee people, it never would have been able to be set free on its own. It needed help. It needed to surrender to my hand so I could free it.

I picked up my pen again a changed woman, willing to let God walk me through these extremely painful parts of my life for the sake of freedom.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Laying it Down

I am single.

I have come close to getting married, but haven't actually made it down the isle in the white dress.

I have never been a parent.

I have taken care of children, but at the end of the day I always give them back to their parents.

And yet God is asking met to step into becoming a foster parent to teenage girls.

He is asking me to lay down my independence, my "All the Single Ladies" attitude that somehow entitles me to live me life mostly for God, but still protecting this little section that is only for me. And up until now I have been able to do that with no consequence (other than a pile of laundry and boring chores that aren't getting done). Because up until now, it really didn't matter. Up until now,  I was responsible for only myself.

This part of it is scary. The season before I actually do anything. It took me a month to fill out and mail the application. But, the time is here. In a week and a half, I will begin training. I will begin the process.

I will step into the world of becoming something that I never would have thought for myself.

A single mom.

And through the fear and all the manymany question marks that float through my head, I hear this confident voice. God is saying to me, "Yes. This is the thing that you need to be pressing into. Keep moving. I will tell you what to do next."

And I read passages that guide me.  

"Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds."

In order for new life to happen, I must sacrifice. I need to lay down this life that I so pride myself in. This single life. I need to allow God access to all the areas of my life. All of them. Not just the ones that I want Him to see. But, I need to expose the hidden areas too. I need to allow Him to do a work in me so that I may die. So that I may literally lay down the life that I live in order that new life may spring up.

And as this new life springs up, God will guide me on how to love these sweet girls that just need a home, a place to be safe. A place to learn how to be loved. A place to learn how to love back.  

All this, I am willing to do because He first did that for me. It was God who first sacrificed His life for me. And after He died, He adopted me. He took me into His fold and has been teaching me what it means to be safe. And what it means to be loved. And what it means to love back.

And now it's my turn to give that to someone else.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

More Than a Father

I have struggled for as long as I can remember believing that I had love from a father. It's not that my father didn't love me. I believe now, as an adult, that he loved me as best as he could. There were just gaps, and unfortunately those gaps created hurt and pain. And eventually led to my belief that I did not have his love.

When I stepped into a new relationship with God last year, I finally allowed myself to be loved by my Heavenly Father. I finally allowed myself to belong. I think that at some point in time, I had given up hope that feeling cherished and cared for and pursued by a father was possible for me. Oh, how wrong I was.
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It's been two years since my father passed away. This has been a hard season of me processing through grief
and just allowing myself to feel the absence of my father, while knowing that God will use my pain for His glory and ultimately heal those areas that I allow to be exposed.

I think the biggest area that I have felt my father's absence is with my car problems. If you know me, you know all about my Jeep. You can hear it coming from down the street. It's not pretty, has had manymany issues over the years, but it has kept running.

Maybe it seems silly to you, but you have to understand that my father's love was often expressed in practical, manly ways. It never failed that I received a flashlight, fuel injector fluid and a nail/screw set for Christmas. Every. Year.

He was just the practical type. Sometimes it bothered me, but sometimes I found it endearing. He always reminded me to get my oil changed. He always bugged me to keep my car clean and checked my tire pressure. He always checked my fluid levels and kept everything topped off.
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When I returned to Virginia this summer, it was clear that my Jeep was barely hanging on. Honestly, it's been barely hanging on for the past few years. But, the noises coming from the Beast were a little alarming. So, the search started and the pennies began being saved.

Only hours after I looked at my budget and shot up a "I'm not quite sure how this is going to work out, so I really need you" prayer to God, I was contacted by a woman who told me that God had put me on her heart and she wanted me to nanny fairly regularly. When I shared with her that I had just been praying for God to provide more of an income for a car, she mentioned that they had one for sale.

It turned out that they were going to ask for about $2,000 for the car. Very reasonable, considering that it was a 2000 Camry with only 136,000 on it. But.... It would take me months to be able to afford it, and they were wanting to sell it within a month and a half. So, I just told them I would let them know, but not to hold it for me.

About a month later, I got a text from the wife. This is how it went down. God talked to her husband in his private prayer time. He told this man that I needed a new car and to sell it to me for whatever I could afford. I was blown away. I cried (obviously) and told her I would think about it. That night, I texted her the amount I could reasonably afford within the next few weeks ($800). Then she responded by dropping another $200 off the amount.

So, just to recap:

I talked to God.
God talked to the wife.
The wife called me to nanny.
I told her I needed a car (in a casual conversation).
They told me they wanted 2k for it (it was worth $2,600).
I told them I'd think about it (aka blew them off).
Time passed.
God talked to the husband (I found out this was a repeated thing until he eventually told his wife).
The husband talked to the wife.
The wife talked to me.
I calculated and told the wife (this was based on the amount i thought I could sell my Jeep for).
The wife responded by dropping more money (this, she said, was after much prayer again).

So, this whole time, I was feeling super encouraged by God. How many fathers would negotiate the price of a car down to a price that their daughter could afford? Probably tons of them. But, how many fathers would be able to negotiate the price and have it dropped from $2,600 to $600. None. That's right. None. Why? Because God is able to do so much more than our earthly fathers. It's in His nature. It's part of who He is. He is above all things. He is WAY bigger than the cost of a car.
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When I went to pay for the car and get the title signed over, I had money in the bank to pay for the car (another thing God did in an amazing way). I took my checkbook in the house and as I was writing the check out, the husband told me, "Hey, just make the check out for $1.00."

"Yeah, just make the check out for a dollar. If that's okay. I just kept praying about it and felt like God wanted us to just give you the car."

Once I regained the ability to move, I wrote the check. I expressed my gratitude and left in shock.

Here's the thing that I didn't realize until a few days later (with the help of my mentor): God chose to give me this car at a specific time. I've needed a new car for years. I've been searching for years. I've tried to get second jobs and failed. I've begged and pleaded for help, believing that He would help me when it was the right time. But it was in this season, as I approached my father's birthday and the anniversary of our last few conversations and ultimately the anniversary of his death, that I needed my Heavenly Father the most.

It was in these moments when my heart ached and the what-ifs clouded my head that I needed to be reminded that there was a Heart to which I belonged. And that Heart would anticipate my every emotion, my every move. And those emotions and actions would be coupled with His actions of love and compassion. And I know now, two years later, that if I had never lost my father I wouldn't be able to experience God in this way. God has unveiled my eyes to show me that because my father passed away, I am able to have a unique relationship with my Heavenly Father. How amazing is that?

Love and compassion.

In a way that exceeds anything that I could ever ask Him for.

In a way that exceeds anything that I could ever imagine.

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." (Ephesians 3:20-21)