Friday, July 26, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Broken

Found a spot of quiet this morning, so joining in with Lisa-Jo and the other Five Minute Friday folks over here.  Come on over to read some beautiful pieces on the prompt: Broken.

Here is my offering:

In just two days, three men packed everything we own into boxes.  The speed at which they worked impressed me.  I would go run an errand and when I returned, the kitchen would be completely boxed up, which is a task that could have taken me weeks to accomplish.

“Could you show me your high value items?” the lead guy asked us as we walked through the house together.  My eyes scanned bookshelves, glanced into drawers, mentally ticking through our belongings. 

What do we own that is of value?

We do have a gorgeous set of Noritake china that my husband’s grandfather brought back from Japan after WWII.  And I suppose I have a few pieces of jewelry that you could say are “high value”. 

Walking through the rooms of our home, I thought how the high value items in my life were not going to be boxed up by these jovial gentlemen, but were, instead, sitting right there at the table, with bed heads and wearing jammies, eating their last breakfast in our little blue house. 

My husband, my children, the relationships we have been celebrating with good-bye dinners and see-you-later lunches: they can’t be wrapped in bubble wrap and placed just so in a box.  I won’t unwrap them on an afternoon in Maryland.  But I do hold them in my heart as tenderly as I hope those packers placed our china in a box.   

And if the china gets broken?  Or the pearls misplaced?

I’m OK with that. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

broken bread, poured-out wine

Nearly 20 years ago on my 21st birthday, my dear friend gave me a gift I treasure to this day, a book in which she wrote these words:

Dearest Amy, May this book help you grow closer to your Heavenly Father as you learn to be “carefully careless” about everything but your relationship with Him.” 

The book, My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers (or OC as I like to call him) is my favorite devotional companion (not counting the Bible, of course).  I am spending time with OC again this summer, finding gems on a daily basis.  Here is one from today:

“…I am free only that I may be an absolute bondservant of His.’ That is the characteristic of a Christian’s life once this level of spiritual honor and duty becomes real. Quit praying about yourself and spend your life for the sake of others as the bondservant of Jesus. That is the true meaning of being broken bread and poured-out wine in real life.”

I love the phrase, “broken bread and poured-out wine”, how it connects the elements of communion with living a life of service and sacrifice.  In the physical act of communion, we remember the sacrifice of Jesus as we chew and swallow the bread, as the liquid slips down our throats.  Chambers urges us to live our lives as committed-for-life servants of Jesus.  Jesus showed us the way to do this, not just in His ultimate sacrifice, but in the others-focused life of service He lived.

Personally, I like to keep my loaves whole and intact, my wine bottle neatly corked and stored on the shelf.  But living as broken bread and poured-out wine means, instead, being willing to be broken, divided, chewed, consumed; being poured out as rich liquid for the nourishment and sustenance of others.

This pouring out, this breaking looks different in our individual lives.  It can be asking a calm question instead of retaliating with a sharp word; responding graciously to an ungracious child; waiting patiently for someone who is serving us, at an appointment or a business, recognizing that they are people, valuing them over our schedules; signing up for the not-so-glamorous job at church; or forgoing sleep because a friend needs to talk late into the night.

I am reminded of Paul’s words in Romans 12:1, NIV:   

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

We are facing some crazy things in our lives right now, even over and above the cross-country move.  I long for communion, for the peace of abiding with Christ.  Living as broken bread and poured-out wine means that in the sacrifice, right there in the breaking and the pouring, is the communion I am desperate for.  Here in the sorting and parenting and the towering pile of unknowns, in the daily sacrifice of serving and interruptions and plans gone awry, there is Christ.  

Sunday, July 14, 2013

a little more clear

I remember the day had been long.  It was July 3rd, two and a half months after first learning my husband was selected to teach at the Naval Academy.  We lay in bed, quiet words passing back and forth between us.  We were still waiting for Naval orders making the move official, allowing us to schedule movers and plan a move date.  Since April, we had come up with enough scenarios and what ifs to fill a book.  That night it felt like we stood at the dark end of a long road, with no knowledge of what would happen next or which way to go.

When you are completely at the end of yourself, in that dark place of not seeing, not knowing, what then?

Fingers intertwined, we prayed together, acknowledging that no matter what happened, we loved God and wanted His best, wanted His glory and His good in our lives.  Our sleep that night was more peaceful than it had been in a long time.

The next day dawned sunny and bright, our favorite holiday, July 4th.  I was in the kitchen peeling peaches to add to the homemade ice cream.  My husband is the ice cream maker around here, so when I finished, I went to find him to tell him all was ready.  He met my eyes over his laptop, saying, “Just got my orders!  Ice cream is going to have to wait a bit.”

I literally fell to my knees in gratitude.  “Yes!” I exclaimed.  “Thank you, oh, thank you, God!

So, a week from tomorrow movers will come, pack our things, load them up and ship them off to the East Coast.  We have been preparing in literally a million different ways, but today after church things are going to get serious.  I am going to tackle the kids rooms’…and my closet.  Though we don’t have to do the actual packing, we want to make sure that the things that are packed are worth moving. 

It feels as though the things we are going through right now are searing something into the marrow of my bones, deep and precious things about God and His character, a clearer understanding of living by faith, trusting God moment by moment, not putting my faith and hope in scenarios I construct about my future, but like a trusting child, slipping my hand into God’s strong one, being content right there.