Tuesday, May 31, 2011

God whispers, it's both a verb & a noun

My beloved friend Margaret Feinberg writes in The Sacred Echo, that God whispers so that we can be still long enough to listen. I've been drawn even more to this thought as I read through a HUGE God whisper by another beloved author, Ann Voskamp, in one thousand gifts. God speaks to us in the every day mundane things and I've been making a list, as I shared with you all on my last post.

So I received one such God whisper in the mail a few days ago. It was a belated birthday card from a lady who always signs at the bottom, "your American Grandmother". This lady is over 75 years old and for the life of me I don't know how she remembers my birthday. Whether I move from one college apartment to another, to now the home I share with my hubby & son, she ALWAYS finds my address! I mean, why keep up after 22 years? I think I know. She gave my dad a ride to the airport on the most tragic day of his life. She made the invitation for my family to come to the USA. She's always been there for us ever since. Like a little angel of the Lord reminding us of God's gentle hand when your world turns upside down and then explodes. But still, God speaks thru her persistence. Such is His love. He runs after me. No matter how far away I've gone from Him. No matter where I've been or stand today. No matter the juxtaposition of offending emotions in my small little heart. He's there. He finds my forwarded address and finds. Me. HERE.

The whisper was so loud in this card that I had to share it with you, friend. Because it's my turn to whisper Truth into your confused, tired, dried up heart, perhaps? Here it is. The card came late because it got returned to her. I've moved on her, again! But she insisted. Sent it back to me. Do you send God's message back to Him because you don't want it? Holy Spirit asks. But. God sends it back. RETRY! Try again to hear my love whisper child. You doubt? okay. Here again:

You're a Gift from God

Remember, you go nowhere by accident.
Wherever you go, God is sending you.
Wherever you are, God has placed you there.
God puts you there for a reason.
Christ goes with you and empowers you.
It is His Spirit that works through you wherever you go or wherever you are.
So believe this, and then go confidently in His name,
knowing that the love, joy, and grace of Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
will be with you always.

Enjoy the path God has you in! Walk forward with joy in the Lord!
He has you here for "such a time as this"!

You are loved, your American Grandmother, Donna Thomas

Monday, May 23, 2011

~one thousand gifts~

I know. *gasp* I'm writing again. Carlos Fuentes, one of my inspirations in the Latin American prose & fiction, told me one day that he believes in no such thing as inspiration when he writes, instead he believes in discipline. We must write daily, whether we want to or not. Practice makes perfect.

So, I was challenged, but the rebel in me sometimes doesn't obey just to prove the opposite. That I can still write well, even when I don't write often (or at all!) as it has been this past year! GAH!

Which brings me to my reason for writing today. Same thing happens with my journaling. I used to write so often, but then I had a baby...ha! (Insert first year of baby's life here. No more explanation needed) A few months ago, though, I started reading a life-changing book, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Challenging, thoughtful, riveting to the soul. One way that it moved a crazy small group of us who meet at the un-godly hour of 7am on Saturday mornings, was by starting a thankfulness journal, or gratitude journal. Ann talks about the Road to Emmaus and how Jesus was best recognized by the sad disciples at the end of the road, during the breaking of bread and giving thanks. It was in the moment of giving thanks that the resurrected and glorious Christ was seen to the naked eye.

So our author, Ann, was challenged by a friend, to start a gratitude journal. Giving thanks in order to "see" God perhaps, in her day? so our little group of women, we started one, too. I loved the formula because it didn't force me to write the long paragraphs that I'm resisting to write *lately*. It was like a grocery or to-do list.
I liked the simplicity. Looking for God's touch. God's provision. God's light. God's presence. God's voice. God's warmth. God's gifts. In the every day. In the mundane. In those little things that, if you aren't looking, you don't see Him walking by you.
Some seemed silly. Some deep & huge. All Him. And I found that in my "thanksgiving", I was starting to see Him, walking on the road to Emmaus. And so I've been searching for Jesus since December. I haven't lost Him, mind you, no worries. But, I've been looking closer, deeper, more intimately. Looking for not the same old-same old. And I've found Him. In this journal that I hope to reach 1000 gifts. Or perhaps I'll go beyond that and my children will read it as my gospel of how I saw Jesus face-to-face.

So now it's evening, and I'm following Dr. Fuentes' advice of writing with discipline. My son's asleep. My husband's tweeting. It's time to write. Short words. Short phrases. Words of Thanksgiving that feed my trust in Him. Open my eyes wide to see Him. Wanna see the silliness? I flipped back in my journal to see what happened "on the road" since I started writing...

#2. dirty, cakey, sticky sippy cups by kitchen sink, because it means my baby had milk to drink.

#10. God's angels protecting me during car crash in snow

#13. Dove chocolate

#60. hubby doing 3 loads of laundry

#62. warm folded towels

#78. road trip with kim roth

#80. daffodils at the monastery

#103. my son kissing me on cheek as i rocked him to sleep in the dark

#111. money to buy groceries

#145. nash's hair standing up when he wakes

#186. nash and abe strolling down the road in a gardening cart

#192. killing the tick crawling up my leg

#205. mediterranean bday dinner with my hubby

#222. hubby getting job after 3 years in the waiting room with God

#235. seeing a pregnant friend getting 3 free kids meals at Chic-fill-a

Silly Jesus. Showing Himself to me in the every day. Silly how much He loves me (and you). Will you look for Him on the road? Believe me. He's there. My eyes have seen His glory.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

abandonment & trust

"Ines was *burn* on the 16th of May, 1978 in Spain, but I was in Nicaragua at the time, and when her uncle called me with the news, it was around 9:00pm on 15th of May" my father is telling the story that he tells every year on the eve of my birthday. This time he's telling the story to my inquisitive husband. And oh, he meant I was "born" not *burn*. I didn't burn. Excuse his English-as-a-Second-Language accent. So, this is why he always calls me wherever I am on May 15, to tell me "today is when I got the call and I could hear you crying on the other end of the line. I was so upset that I couldn't be there with you and your mom, that I went by myself to have some pizza and a whole pitcher of beer to celebrate."

If he knew I was writing this, he'd kill me. Please don't tell.

Far away from my father before I even came out of the womb.

Fast forward a month after I was born, and I was back in Nicaragua visiting in person for the first time. Fast forward a few more months when the political situation in Nic was getting hot, and you will find my mom packing our bags (again) and about to jump into a Hercules airplane from the Spanish Air Force embarking with other Spanish citizens quickly being evacuated from Managua. My dad, mom and I are headed to the airport. We're all supposed to get on that plane. All, right? Well, we get there and my dad pretty much shoves my mom who's got me in her arms, into the airplane and says, "you're getting outta here, I'm staying. Go where you'll be safe. I can't leave the country. I need to stay." She's mad. Have you ever seen a Spanish woman mad?? She mad.

Far away from my father before I was 2 years old. Again.

Abandonment is a big word. It's a deep word. It's my wound. My father NEVER abandoned me. EVER. But as I look back at my life and other hardships, it seems that the devil would have me *feel* and *believe* that I was abandoned. And since they say little girls get their view of their Heavenly Father confused with their earthly father... I get stuck.

Did God really say....? the serpent taunts in the perfect garden. Plants the devil seed of doubt. In my mind what the serpent hisses is, "did your father really do all these things to protect you? if he really had loved you, he would've never left you..." and on and on the list of "if your dad really loved you, he would've never ___________"

And so it is with my Trust in God. FAR away from my Father before I even came out of the womb. Far because I have *felt* abandoned. Although, I've NEVER been. That's the devil trick. Making you *feel* things that aren't true. So you gotta wade deep in the murky waters of hardships, wounds, trials, tears, heart losses, mistakes, and wonder, "am I abandoned?" So then what do you do? You look for the Light to show you the way. The darkness doesn't have a switch to turn OFF. So then, you turn ON the Light.

Abandonment. Well then. If this happens, then I better get control of the situation. If not, who else will? So, I trust only me. Myself. And I. That's what you do when you don't trust your Maker. Your Creator. Then you hear things like, "made in His image. He is transforming you into His image. He rejoices over you with singing. He loves you with an everlasting love." So, I look at my father at over 1 year old, don't know who he is, I jerk away and my fingers grip my mom. And my mom says to my dad, "don't worry, she doesn't remember you, it'll take time, she has to warm up." Few days later you can't take me away from my daddy's arms. I wanna go with him everywhere. The opposite of abandonment. Daddy's little girl. Happy-happy-joy-joy. Isn't that our faith-trust? You come close. Intimately close.

You get so terribly close though, that the serpent comes hissing again. Then you find yourself at the door of that airplane. Not understanding. I'm getting in the airplane with my mom. Dad is staying. Months go by until I see my daddy again.

So it is with this Faith-Trust. I've come to grips with my wound. My faith is shot down if I allow myself to believe the lie that I've been abandoned. Multiple situations. I come close. I leave His side. Repeat. So why trust Him? Oh, but He CAN be trusted, child. He will never leave you nor forsake you. But if all I know is seeing my dad wave goodbye from the little window, with my nose pressed on the cold glass and the loud engines firing away before we take off, what do I do with that?

So the formula is this. I feel abandoned, then I know it's devil-lies. I struggle with trust, then I know devil wants to sift me like wheat. So Trust is my word against *feeling* abandoned. So then I pose the question to my God and shut devil's-filthy-mouth: Daddy, heavenly Father, did you really say that you will be with me forever even until the end of days? Oh yes, child.

I sit on my deck. My father drinking a glass of red wine telling stories about when I was born and I'm thinking deeper into the situation. Those stories don't bother me. I need to write them down to remember the details. Those times of separation do nothing to wound my heart now. But they did remind me of my wounds that I've struggled with. Giving my wound a name was the beginning of my healing process. Recognizing it when it attempts to come back into my life to paralyze me with fear was the next step towards freedom. I listen to my dad. Wounded man that he has been. But healed. Healed with the blood of the Lamb.

I don't drink the red wine. But I do remember the blood of the same color code. The one that gives me life. Heals the wound. Kills the word. Gives me Life-Trust. And I write my Life-Word down on a rock. I stand in front of the Remembrance Table. The Thanksgiving Table. Heart-broken at the beginning of the Road to Emmaus. Sad. But my heart burning as the God-skin walks alongside me. Listening to my loss. My grief. Reminding me to Trust. So at the end of the road, at Emmaus, I recognize Him. Recognize Him that in all those times of *feeling* abandoned, feeling lost and unloved, I never was. He was on the Road. I just never saw Him. So my abandonment-road ends with praise-trust.

Too much for tonight....too much for not having written in a while...too much for turning 33. Isn't that how old Jesus was on the road to Emmaus? Oh God grant me eyes to see you on my road.

melting in His peace,
~Ines de Maria