Thursday, December 5, 2013

Five Minute Friday - Reflect

Five Minute FridayI’m sitting online tonight with friends from coast to coast and all through the central states (Canada too!) and have just learned that this is our final Five Minute Friday of the year. Lisa Jo Baker has declared a December sabbatical, and while I will miss this company, I will stay in touch with what my girl Karrilee and I have started to call #bossysocialmedia, while enjoying a little more in real life time with family and friends.

But for tonight, we will draw close together here. We will capture our hearts and spill our thoughts, lives, hopes, and fears across page and screen as we play with one word for five full minutes.

Community can be a challenge. It can wreck you, break you, heal you, and complete you. This one – maybe it’s done all of the above for you. But it will still open its arms and welcome you in if you’ll allow it to. Come and visit and read. You will be blessed.

Since this is the last FMF post for the year, I'm allowing myself a little extra leeway.
I hope you'll give me grace. 
This is far more than five minutes. 
But I have things I want to say.

This week: Reflect


Time is a tricky thing. It moves so achingly slow in our childhood, and so frighteningly fast as we get old. Is it Latin? Or Faust? O run slowly, slowly, horses of the night! I didn’t quite grasp it the first time I read it. Now, I know all too well.

Sometimes the gears turn for good, and one things leads to another; one step follows one more, and God leads you out of a desert into the next Promised Land – the next thing He has planned for you.

This time last year, I was counting every minute our heater ran – measuring the meter of our small amount of dollars against the temperature gauge; demanding that we all put on “just one more layer” to try and keep the house at sixty-five degrees. Brrrr.

This time last year, I was only barely opening the door to an online community that would later welcome me in with open arms; where friendships would blossom; where I would see God work and lives change. Twitter scared me.

This time last year, I sat in cramped into a tiny classroom chair listening to a tired, well-meaning teacher tell me again how socially dysfunctional my daughter was; how she had no more ideas to teach her with; and how she wondered if our girl would be able to progress academically because of all of her issues. I was so angry.

Time can pass slowly in the desert. Heat overwhelms and the dry dusty reality of no water and no relief from the relentless onslaught of the elements make you cry empty tears of despair and longing for greener hills and kinder climes. But God finds us in these desert times, and when we are stripped down of all that we do not need to bear – stripped down so that all we can do is look up and look to Him for our daily bread and daily breath – sometimes, those are the times when He chooses to move mountains most miraculously.

This year,
I’m still chilled – but that may be a permanent wintertime situation for me. C’est la vie. The heat blasts away, and the only thing I’m watching is a roaring fire and toasty toes as my family stays comfortably safe within these walls. The dollars are not tremendous, but I am working and so is my husband. I breathe thanks for the eucharisteo that has happened here.

This year, the Twitter party does not frighten me to pieces as it once did. I fling myself randomly and joyfully in and out of conversations. I share lives with women I’ve never met through email, Facebook, Twitter, Voxer, Instagram (did we mention #bossysocialmedia?) and it is joy upon joy to have them in my life. I have met one who is close to my heart, write snail mail to others, blog with them, and am working on a special God-Sized dream project for a very  special friend who is miles away, but who feels like she’s right next door. I've had the opportunity to partner with them to do amazing like Laundry in South Africa and projects for mercy's sake in Kenya.

This year, I sat in a slightly larger classroom chair and watched a tremendously gifted teacher spill wonderful secrets about my girl. She brings such good things to the table. She’s a fantastic reader – above her level. She’s a good writer. She’s a great helper. She's doing well and she's going places. I almost cried happy as I sat there – overwhelmed and over time as we talked and smiled and shared. Then burst with pride and shared relentlessly online and watched over forty friends like and comment in support of my family and my girl.

In a few short days, I’ll be home again – home where my heart will always beat; home where my pulse thrums – and it will go both quicker than I like and at the same time, slower. I don’t want to chase time. I want to release myself to simmer and soak in each moment – capturing it not on film or online (though I’ll surely be doing that to), but on the canvass of my heart, where all of these things I do: waiting, hurting, laughing, aching, learning, praying, growing, singing, screaming, smiling, blending, being – embed themselves into the lifeblood of my heart and being.

I am becoming.


How to Join
Want to know about Lisa Jo Baker, how Five Minute Friday got started, and how to participate? All the details are here. No editing or second guessing. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community.

I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. Let's continue the conversation! 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Behind the Scenes - Just One Photo

Even though this blog post was on the back burner of my mind, I only took one picture on Thanksgiving Day. This is notable for at least a couple of reasons. I’m usually extremely prolific with photos, but my favorite (let’s face it, only really good) camera has been on the fritz for a long time and I haven’t been able to afford to fix it or get a new one. In lieu of that, I’m often Instagraming my way through events at least part of the time – for fun, for memories, and for hopes of finding something worth sharing later.

I just have one picture from our Thanksgiving celebration, and it means more than a million words that this is all I have.

Just one picture meant: I was so caught up and engaged with my family that thoughts of photo snapping, life documenting, and (gasp) even blogging escaped me for the afternoon and evening (well, mostly, I am a writer, after all).

Just one picture meant: this first holiday with my family-in-law after several years of estrangement was so joyful and real; all I wanted to do was be present in every moment with them and let the memories etch themselves in my mind and heart, not on my social media feeds.

Just one picture meant: the collaboration on the dinner was spectacular, and none of us could let it sit around long enough to take pretty pictures. We were hungry, and it was that good. Imagine stuffed mushrooms, spinach dip, fritta, the most succulent turkey you’ve ever had, fabulous gravy (I’m not going to lie, our gravy rocks), two kinds of cranberries, classic green been casserole mashed potatoes, and a sweet potato pecan casserole that might as well be dessert. Then actual dessert: lemon meringue and pumpkin cheesecake pies. I might have missed something, but it doesn’t matter. You get the idea.

Just one picture meant: laughing over Yahtzee and Chicken Feet (a family domino tradition) had us holding our sides and our heads. It’s a little crazy, and a little wild, and you have to hang on to the dining room table or it might wind up in the kitchen.

Just one picture meant: as a family, we held each other that night. In our hugs; in warm looks exchanged; in loving words shared; in the freedom of simply being together with no boundaries or history or baggage in the way – simply being.

Part of me wishes I had more to share, and I will tuck in this one picture of our bella-girl from four years ago (the last time we were together) just because she’s so lovely, but I don’t regret for one moment having just one picture from this past Thanksgiving. No. Not one bit.

I'm linking up with Crystal Stine and company again today; joining the Behind the Scenes link up –  where we show those photos – but tell the real story behind them. The sneak peek behind the scenes, a look past the edges of the photo to the real life behind it.

I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. Let's continue the conversation!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The First Candle – the Light of Hope

This year, my winter celebrations are piling up, one right on top of the other. With a ‘fridge still full of Thanksgiving leftovers, and four candles still burning brightly atop the Menorah, I’m about the flip the calendar over to December and usher in Advent. This precious time of waiting and remembrance before Christmas.

In the early church, Advent was celebrated with fasting ending with a celebration to signify the arrival of the Magi. In more recent times, we’ve become most familiar with the three purple candles and one pink, lit each Sunday leading up to Christmas.

My husband and I have always kept Advent as one of our family traditions and have enjoyed sharing it with our daughter. One of the reasons I love this season so much is that it puts the brakes on the rush to celebrate. These days, you can hardly get through the back-to-school rush before Halloween is on the shelves, then Thanksgiving, (Hanukkah if you’re lucky and more urban), and before you know it, Christmas. As in Christmas Eve. Bring me presents, piles of food, and lots of celebrating.

When you celebrate Advent, there is a bit of a pause before you go hurtling through the month that’s likely filled to the brim with fun, family-centered get-togethers, and gathering of friends around warm drinks and warmer fires. I want that breath. I want that pause. I want that small space of retreat to remember. I love to celebrate, but I want to recall with anticipation just what I’m celebrating. These are the traditions I cherish.

The First Candle – Hope & Prophesy 

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:2 & 6 ESV 

Because of this prophesy in Isaiah, and so many others, we have hope. The God who threw off the mighty robes of heaven to become Love come down to be wrapped in mere swaddling clothes in a meager manger – that God holds the ebb and flow of the universe in His hands. And in His heart, He holds a vast, immeasurable love for you and me. That love is at the heart of the identity of our relationship with Him.

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 1 John 4:9 ESV 

We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19 ESV 

Because of the relationship we have through Christ, we become part of the larger family – the larger part of the body of Christ. With that family comes a sense of identity and belonging that we may not have had growing up – knowing without a doubt that we have been personally created by a loving God who has a plan for your life. What is that, if not hope? 

Whether or not you light the Advent candles, I invite you to pause for a moment as the season begins and meditate on the prophesy and hope that was spoken into your life so many years ago, on the hope that is offered now – a connection with a larger family and the love of a Father who will never let you go, and the hope for a future – your future in the hands of Christ who loved you enough to die for you, that you might live through Him.