Achey Joy.

My heart is hurting.

No big disaster.  No tragedy.  Not even a close call.

But still…my heart is fighting for JOY today.

It’s achey in all the places coffee and a good book and my comfy blanket can’t reach.

Has that ever happened to you?  Life seems good, and yet

Children are sleeping & fed & not flunking,

the Dr. isn’t calling,

work is fine & even sometimes fun,

there are groceries in the cupboard and gas in the tank,

and yet.

I lift up the corner of my life and peak underneath, and there it is…

A harsh word.

An unmet expectation.

A momentary sting.

Hurt…

just sitting there – unspoken, untended, and unforgiven.

And left like that, all it can do is make my heart hurt.

Cause my heart to ache deeply.  As in, so far down that I almost forget it’s hurting.

Almost. 

Then it bubbles up, catches my breath and I have to fall to my knees,

scoop up all that hurt, and hand it to the only One who can restore the JOY.

No need for me to fight for it after all.

A gift freely given and deeply needed.

Today.  Tomorrow.  Every Day.

Grateful.

Strangers.

Today, I am struck by how KIND and GENEROUS and BIG and TRUSTWORTHY God is.

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The Husband & I. Has nothing to do with anything.
I just like this picture!

The church where the family & I attend and the Pastor Hubs  & I work started a new teaching series today, called “Welcoming the Stranger”.  It’s about Immigration.  Mostly.

Before you get all scared about it being political (like I might have done for 5 minutes), start yammering on about “the separation of Church & State” (like I maybe did for 10 minutes) and, well….you know the drill Fear takes us through.  Trust me.  It’s an important topic for people who love God & follow Jesus to talk about.  Some have even said this Immigration issue will be THE compassion/justice issue of our lifetime.

I don’t know about all that.

All I know is that today, I gathered with my church family & we sang & prayed & celebrated & learned about what God has to say about the Immigrant.  About the traveler.  About the foreigner.  The alien.  The Stranger among us.  And if you’re not aware — God has a lot to say about it.

Some of His favorites were Refugees.  Aliens.  Immigrants.

Like, Abraham.  Moses.  Ruth.  David.  And, oh yeah…

Jesus.

Really, God has a lot to say about it.

You should read His book.

But before you do that — I’d ask you to watch a story.  It will help you understand, as it did me — that God’s always got a plan.  And that plan transcends homelands and documentation and language and the world’s version of right & wrong.  As my Pastor (not the hubs one, just the Sr. one) said today, “Is the issue of illegal immigration an important one?  Absolutely.  Do we need to recognize that there are laws that need to be followed?  To be sure.  Don’t our borders need to be secured?  No doubt.”

To which I add a hearty, Amen.

But no matter where you stand on the Politics of the thing – here’s the deal…

Don’t ignore the humanity of the “thing”.

So, check out the story of Alexandar Najarian.  Also known as Dad to my MIL & Pappa to the Pastor Hubs. 

I bet you’ll see what I saw…

Extending a welcome, to a person who isn’t anything like you, who doesn’t speak your language, has radically different customs as yours, and might not yet know your God…

could change the trajectory of a whole family’s life.

It did mine.

I bet it did yours too.

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.    Hebrews.

 

Longing.

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Life!

“I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered to me, but now I’m more afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.”  Bob Goff

When I was younger – as in forever ago & sometimes 2 minutes ago — I was sure I would make a BIG splash in the world.  I couldn’t tell you if it was my personality or the way I was raised or an external expectation that kept calling my name.  All I know was that it was & still is sometimes, something way down deep inside of me that was longing for MORE.

Always.

And if it just stayed there, buried in my gut, sleeping like a hibernating Mama Bear,  I might be able to say to you — it’s no big deal.  But it never stays quiet for long.  This urge, this push, this MUST HAVE hum, almost vibration — that I can feel at all times — tends to want to take over.

And if I’m not careful, It will turn my ahead away from the people and things that really matter.  The people & pursuits that ACTUALLY give me life.  Who are usually standing right in front of me.  Like a kid on the midway, with 5 bucks in my pocket, I fall for it.

Every.  Stinkin.  Time.

So here’s what I”m learning to do.

I’m practicing the life-changing discipline of making the longing serve me.  I’m done being it’s servant.  Pushing, hiding, striving, jumping…when it says so.

And so, when I feel it picking up speed…

While I read someone else’s stories,

when I see pictures of someone else’s life & accomplishments,

& as I’m a part of other people’s celebrations…

                                                                                   I’M JOINING IN!

See, the LONGING wants me to believe that there is only LIFE if it’s ME that’s winning or accomplishing or celebrating.

But LIFE happens whenever LOVE wins.

And LOVE keeps winning when the people in my world, step up to their LIFE and participate in it.

And maybe, just maybe,  when that happens, because the longing is now serving me…

I will be there to whistle & cheer & cry & clap & yell at the top of my voice…

WELL DONE!!