Beyond Borders

courage. faith. action.


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Sally, tears and her new book.

So today, along with a slew of other women, I get the honor of announcing Sally Clarkson’s new book, Own Your Life.  It’s releasing in January 2015. I had the humbled privilege of getting a sneak peek into the book. I cried. Like ugly cried. Because… it’s Sally. And her words always fall like rain and wash over my soul. Comforting the hurting places, encouraging the scared places and because I secretly wish she lived next door. Right here everyday pouring into my life. But since she is not, I read her blog and her books, and her Facebook posts and pretend she is right here with me. And she always knows exactly what I am feeling. She is cool like that, because she and Jesus are super close, and He whispers to me through her. And this book, in so many ways, is going to be her best yet. I am so thankful she thought to write a book just for me.

Oh wait, I forgot, she wrote it for all of us. She says, “I want every woman to be renewed and refreshed in a personal life vision with the conviction that you can say with Paul : ‘I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus'”

Sally, I thank you for pressing on. For always pressing on.

For more information about her book check out Sally’s blog. To preorder “Own Your Life” go here…

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1414391285?ref%5F=sr%5F1%5F1&s=books&qid=1414120740&sr=1-1&keywords=own%20your%20life%20sally%20clarkson&pldnSite=1


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Christmas trees, Charlie Brown, and Advent.

It’s an unwinding of lights today. The Christmas tree stands with spiders and dust and broken lights and odors you just do not want in your house. It’s an unstringing. And Charlie Brown’s voice catches my ear. It’s full of sadness and longing. He wonders is Christmas all about money? About what and how much you get? He is searching for the real meaning of Christmas.

tree lights

tree with lights

The lights are a tangled mess. Who strung this pre lit tree? With each tug on the branches the dust billows around us like pig pen as he walks on to the set. Dust of Christmases past. This tree found it’s way into our home just a year ago, but it has known many Christmases. And Just like all of us it has a story.

As I unravel strings and cut clips the linger of stale cigarette smoke fills the air. Definitely a heavy smoker. A string dangles from a branch and I wonder what it held. The hint of air freshener wafts for a moment. Was it sprayed to mask the odor of cigarettes? I pull twisty ties that held newer lights tight to the branches. Did they want more light or was it because the lights lost their burn? Did children swarm on christmas morn filled with anticipation? Or, did the tree sit alone, haunted with memories of long ago? My arms are tired and my back is straining and all I want to do is toss this tree and go buy a new one. But Christmas trees don’t come cheap these days, so I press on.

tree clips

Charlie Brown’s voice echoes my frustration now, and where are you Linus? Where is your recitation? The words that bring the hope of glory. We desperately need those words.

I use the scissors against the lights, trying desperately to rescue the branches. With each snip, my head fills with events and headlines and controversy. I can feel the weight of darkness. The weight of judgments as to what is the right way to celebrate Christmas. I feel the weight of the self imposed pressure of the social media images of with perfectly decorated mantles and doorsteps. I feel the weight of the argument of who owns Christmas. Did the christians really steal Christmas? I feel the weight of the whispers in desperate times about cities that fight against themselves and whispers of doubt that there never really be peace on earth.

I’m pleading with Linus now. As if the words he recites will bring the peace. Renew the hope. Quiet my mind.

With branches finally freed from the shackles of string lights, I soak that tree with soap and water and vinegar. Washing away the dust and the dirt. The water flows muddy and the branches glisten in the sunlight.

tree clean

Today, the beginning of advent and I am unraveling. Unravelling Christmas lights, and the hopelessness and peace within myself.  And Ann, she reads these words, on the first Sunday of advent, as she invites us in and shares with us through video. She tells us how she wasn’t comfortable in doing so and the yes didn’t come right away, but God kept pressing and there she was because this…  “that If one person could have a more meaningful deep relationship with Christ this Christmas, that if somebody could experience more of an upside down Christmas and encounter Jesus in a fresh way than it is worth doing.”

Because this is advent. A Latin word meaning coming. Waiting. Waiting for the coming of christ. And we are the perpetual advent people. Always waiting for the coming of Christ. And she talks about the Easter people. The hallelujah people. The advent people. Always waiting for the coming of Christ. And I want this. I want to be this person always living in the wait. Always saying yes, even in the uncomfortable, because if just one person…

Charlie Brown is still searching. Where are you Linus? I am pleading with him as if his reading changes everything.

But isn’t this what Christmas is? The renewing of hope? Of the One who came to save the world from all its suffering? The only One who can bring peace on earth? The coming of Jesus, born in a manger? Do these words not change everything?

Because each year as we walk into advent and sit in the wait for Christmas morning, we sit and wait for the reminder. The celebration. Of He who came. Born in a manger. Of He who brought the hope of glory. Of He who died and rose again and is coming again.

And the arguments can beg who owns Christmas. And we can worry about all the unrest and when or if it will end? And we can judge and feel judged on our Christmas traditions, but really there is only one Christmas…

As Charlie Brown returns to the auditorium with his tiny little sapling, the Christmas tree for the play, he is ridiculed by the children. Their laughter trails as they walk away. Charlie Brown is desperate now, he is screaming it, what is the meaning of Christmas? Linus the only one left in the auditorium says “I can tell you…”

“‘And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.’” (Luke 2:8-14 KJV)

“…That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

 


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Some Days You Just Have to Let Go.

31 days a writing challenge

 

Calendars. I have several in my arsenal. My iPhone calendar, I use it only to for the ease of sharing our schedules and they are all tucked neatly in one place. But really this isn’t functional to me in the everyday. I have 3 school calendars. One with plans laid out for the week, one for daily schoolwork and field trips, and one to track the days we school. Yes, I am a homeschooling mom. I have a symptom tracker calendar to measure my health issues to report to my doctor. I have my dry erase calendar so I can see the whole month laid out in front of me, because I just need that old school visual hands on calendar, not just a bunch of dots that I have to click on to see what is planned that day.

With all these calendars one would think we would be organized. That schedules would run on time and we would make it to all of our appointments. That errands would be run and tasks completed each day as planned. You would think this would lessen the chaos. But in effect it can be quite the opposite.

When I try to hold tight to our schedule and plans for the day, it doesn’t leave room for the unexpected. No time for tired kids, sensory overload, migraines, allergies or for the simply off days where everything seems to go wrong. The more I struggle to stick to the plan the more power the chaos holds. The house fills with frustration and anxiety. Its not long before everyone feels it and the chaos is unleashed.

Some days you just have to let go of the day. Throw the calendar out the window. Let go of the expected and all the planned, because if not, you will soon be mourning the loss of a day. A day that could have been spent in the moment, being fully present in life instead of worrying that the day is slipping by and nothing is being crossed of the list. I have learned my calendars are simple guidelines for each day meant only for the purpose of helping me stay organized.

I am learning to be flexible. To bend with the day as it twists and turns. To be thankful for whatever and wherever it ends up when my head rests on my pillow each night.

 

We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9

 

This is day nine in 31 one days of finding quiet in the chaos. To view the whole series click here.


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Easter 2012

The sadness overwhelms. Tears well. And I swallow down hard. Images swirl in my mind. Thrashing skin. Thorns entwined. Broken body. Nailed to a broken tree. The words “Father if you are willing, take this cup from me.”

He didn’t take the cup, instead Jesus drunk it down. He took it and swallowed down all the pain and suffering. Took the punishment. And breathed His last breath.

His Father watching close. Watching His Son beaten and bruised. Mocked. Nailed to that tree. I imagine hot tears poured from His eyes, burning as they fell. He felt the grief. I wonder if He thought for a moment to put an end to this. The suffering and just bring Him home. But He didn’t. Instead He turned away and let the ugly darkness be put to death once and for all. And in all His glory He overcame this world.

Jesus’ body lay in rest. His soul tormented. The punishment. My punishment. He suffered it.

The one so perfect and pure suffered, bled and died. Then lived in torment for me. Three days spent in hell. For me. This undeserving wretch. He did it out of His love for me.

And it is all glory.

For God so loves the world that He gave his only begotten Son,, that whosoever believeth in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16

And on that third day… He rose again.


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Thirty-one days Walking Through Darkness Day Twenty-five :: Moving Forward

I was clinging to the pain and sorrow. Because it was familiar. Because my thought was… if I let go of the pain, it meant letting go of my daddy and I was not going to do that. So I clung. But God could not let me stay there. He promises that over and over in His word. He was not going to leave me there.

On March 10, 2012, I saw this post by Jennifer of studiojru.com

20121028-085050.jpg

Photo courtesy of Studiojru.com

It wrecked me. It was if my daddy was talking straight through this photo. Reminding me of what he left behind for me. Those three songs. The words. That I needed to listen to them. Take them to heart and move forward. And that does not mean leaving him behind. Because he is always with me. Because Jesus took the nail. Because He redeemed us. Because eternity awaits. And this time here is just a blink.

This picture now sits among glass. Colored glass. Bottles. Vases. Some from my daddy, others I have found. A reminder of collecting glass when I was little. Walking the woods with my daddy. A reminder to keep moving. Pressing on toward the goal. And I am moving forward.

And God whispers, I’m here.
I am right here.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.

Isaiah 43:2


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Thirty-One Days Walking Through Darkness Day Twenty-four :: The Day My Daddy Died

20121025-232029.jpgI see the world in colors and song. I write of it often. But today. This day. As we begin the drive. All’s white. White so thick it’s smothering. The music. I know it’s there. The piano… the drums… I don’t hear them. My ears have fallen deaf.

The white it’s enveloping us now. It’s been just an hour since the call. An eternity could have passed and I would not have noticed. All sense of space and time is gone. I am just floating. Numb.

The white so luminous now, it’s blinding. There in the sky, in the midst of this white is one cloud. One. The most vibrant shade of pink. A pink so brilliant I have no words to describe. In that instant I knew. I knew this drive, one taken many times. This time will be the last. I know this. It’s tearing me wide open. I feel him leaving. Going home. He is halfway there. My head is telling me not to believe it. He will pull through… he always pulls through. But my heart knows this time… this time is different.

The fog succumbing to the rising sun. The surroundings coming into focus. My senses returning and I hear the piano, the notes slowly plunked out key by key. Rhythmic. The words. They echo in my ear. You alone can rescue. You alone can save. You alone can lift us from the grave. You came down to find us. Let us out of death. The time is drawing near.

It’s not my life leaving. It’s his. Suddenly the images of my life. My life with him. They flood… digging up potatoes in the garden, bow hunting, snowmobiling, building houses, peanut butter on date nut bread, peanut butter and crackers at midnight watching war movies on a school night, peanut butter english muffins, Charlie pride, creature feature and dr. Paul Berra, Barry Mannilow and wood shavings piled high in the basement, standing under a tree in the rain, home fries and bananas with sugar, exploring the woods and collecting glass, daddy’s little girl and dancing on feet, making dinners from Betty Crocker, fishing from the shore, sunsets and sunburns, walking the mile back to the car in thunderstorms, opening presents at 5 am Christmas morning because he could not wait another minute, birthday banners and pink 10 speeds, the words “I am so very proud of you.”

We are here now. I think I would rather stay here. In this car. I don’t know how to say goodbye. I don’t know if he is ready. There is so much more I want to do. To say. I cannot say goodbye.

It will only take a miracle now. And I know He can do this. God. This miracle. Is it fair to ask Him? To even think it? My daddy. He has suffered long. For us. For me. I watched him stripped him of everything he was. Then I see him. He’s leaving. He’s going home.

Nearly three years ago he asked me to find three songs. He was adamant that I do not forget. He knew then. He was making the preparations. This Easter. Just six months ago. He gave each of us a cd. Told us to listen to them. These three songs. I knew the songs. The words. He was ready.

My dad was not a man of many words. He kept himself guarded. His feelings and emotions. But he was not leaving this earth without telling us, giving us what he always wanted to give. These songs tell the story. The lesson. The hope.

He did not want us to live in regret or bound by circumstance. Never to doubt our worth, the deserving of the love of God. Not to waste a single moment here.

The lyrics of Johnny Cash
“Why me Lord, what have I ever done… to deserve even one of the pleasures I’ve known. Tell me, Lord, what did I ever do that was worth loving you or the kindness you’ve shown… Lord help me Jesus, I’ve wasted it so… Help me Jesus, I know what I am… Now that I know that I’ve needed you so help me Jesus, my soul’s in your hand.

He wanted us to know the truth. That God was. That God is. That God will always be. His promises are true.

The lyrics of Brooks and Dunn
“I raise my hands, bow my head. I am finding more and more truth in the words written in red. They tell me that there’s more to life that just what I can see. Oh. I believe.”

He wanted us to know the hope. Hope of a future. Hope of the freedom from the pain and struggles of this life. The burdens we carry. Hope in the knowing that He is now walking with Jesus.

The lyrics of Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton
“When I get where I’m going, there’ll be only happy tears. I will shed the sins and struggles, I have carried all these years. And I’ll leave my heart wide open, I will love and have no fear. Yeah, when I get where I’m going… don’t cry for me down here.”

Today I stand here as we celebrate the life of my daddy, the joy of him being finally home. I am overwhelmed with sadness. I miss him so much. I wear the customary black. It’s tradition. Etiquette. Black by definition is the complete absence of light, darkness. It represents finality. Sadness. The end. I wear it for my sadness.

But that day. His last day. I was given a gift. The one solitary pink cloud floating in the luminous white. Pink. The universal color of love. A symbol of hope. The embodiment of perfection of something. A single pink carnation says, “I will not forget you.” That cloud. Symbolic. Of my daddy’s love for me. The father’s love for me and my dad. The perfecting of my dad’s soul as he passed from this life into glory.

This scarf. It may offend some. It breaks tradition. But this pink. The pink in the cloud. The gift of his love. And God’s love.. The hope of a future spent in eternity. The knowing that my dad is walking in a new body. Waiting for us to join him. I wear it for him.

I love you daddy. Always.


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Thirty-one Days Walking Through Darkness Day Twenty-three :: The Choice is Yours

20121023-021719.jpgIt’s midnight. And as the second hand passed the twelve. The page turned to October 23. Twenty-three officially marks a year. One year. An anniversary. There will be no parties. No candles. No presents. No, this anniversary is of the day my daddy died.

They say this day ends the year of firsts. But is there really ever an end of firsts? Life is full of them. Because the world still spins. The sun still rises. The sun still sets. And even if you feel stuck. Life does not stop. And you can choose not to participate. Because it is a choice. Every. Single. Day. A choice to lean hard on He who controls the universe, or slip down hard and pull covers over head. Shut out the world that goes on spinning.

But He knows. He knows your sorrow. He knows the weeping. He knows it took everything you had in you to make it through the day before. He knows there is nothing left. And He offers a choice.

Joy. His joy comes in the morning. Joy. It springs from deep in your soul. It’s everlasting. It bursts you wide open. It comes despite your circumstance. It does not change it. Joy. It changes you. And it is a choice.

So, on this first year anniversary and all the firsts that will come… I choose joy.

 

 

 

And God whispers, I’m here.
I am right here.

 

 

…but joy comes with the morning.
Psalm 30:5