Saturday, May 30, 2015

What if Jesus looks like Angie?


By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another- John 13:35
Seems simple enough, right?

Monday, Rex and I were sitting on our porch loving on Penelope when she walked across the street.  I had seen her the day before walking the same route with one grocery type bag and her soda.  Bolt, for the first time ever took off across the street barking at her.  I chased after him, not sure if he'd bite her or not since he hadn't left our porch before.  She stooped down to pet him while I crossed the street in my PJs to retrieve the naughty dog.  We chatted long enough for me to learn that she loves dogs, her name is Angie and she moved here from Ohio a month ago.  She doesn't drive, is afraid of background checks, the few people she knows in Roanoke aren't dependable and the hardest thing is for her to get to the grocery store.  My gut said to offer to take her to the store.  My brain said-

What if she's a drug addict
What if she takes advantage of you
What if she doesn't like background checks because she's a fugitive
What if she shows up at your door -every day
What if she won't leave you alone
What if... What if....

The eye contact was uneasy as I told her I hoped she'd be able to get to the store soon and said goodbye. 

A couple of years ago, Isaiah got really mad at me because I wouldn't give the man with the cardboard sign any money. He accused me of not caring about poor people.    I was irritated that every time I got stopped by the red light, I was having to have this conversation with a 7 year old.  Of course I care about poor people but he'd probably use my money to drink or buy drugs.  He probably doesn't need it anyway, he should get a job and work like I do. 

I worked downtown for years and was approached many times for money.  Being warned frequently for our safety, I often walked down the other side of the street to avoid them. Honestly, I was afraid of them and the what if's.

The homeless and needy wasn't my calling.  Well, not until God brought them into my arms as my sons.  That's when He started softening my heart, but not enough for me to truly love. 

I made donations to the Rescue Mission and somehow felt proud of myself that my children, who once lived there, were now safe and sound.  But interact with the homeless or EGRs (extra grace required) well that was still way out of my comfort zone.  Didn't going to their chapel service and donating some time count as "love"?

Shame, shame on me.

Jen Hatmaker, "Dear Christians, Please Stop Being Crappy", For the Love

After reading For The Love, it was clear to me that I excel in the crappy Christian role and I don't much like that about myself.   

A few weeks ago, while stopped at the light at Target that gut feeling took over and for the first time ever, I gave him what I had.  God called me to love. That's it.  It didn't matter what he did with it because it isn't my job to judge- so I pulled out all my cash, $3 which was a bit disappointing when I realized that's all I had and I handed it to him.  He blessed me and moved on working the line.  Isaiah said, "Mommy, you really do care about people" and my heart sank.  He'd been watching my actions, not my words.  What had I been teaching him?

Aren't you glad that God keeps changing

I told Rex I missed it. As soon as I sat down on my comfy porch I knew.   God literally put an opportunity right in front of  me to simply love my neighbor and I missed it.  With his encouragement  I threw my clothes on and went looking for her so I could fix it, but I didn't see her anywhere. 

Until today.  I was getting the mail and looked up the street.  I waited for her to reach my house and then called her name.  She crossed the street, sweaty and tired and said hi Robin.  I told her I was really glad to see her and that I tried to find her Monday to tell her I could give her a ride to the store.  I told her that I'd be glad to take her to the grocery store once a week.  I told her I was sorry that I thought it but didn't offer it on Monday.  We made a plan for Saturday morning. 

The what-if's still crossing my mind when another one struck me ----
What if Jesus looks like Angie?

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of worrying about the what-ifs that keep me being crappy.  I'm not called to patrol the decisions other people are making.  I just want to be love and I'm keeping it real people, that scares me a little bit because I don't know exactly what that kind of obedience looks like.  Maybe that looks like a ride to the grocery store or simply calling a lonely newcomer by name.  Maybe it looks like giving my last $3 to a man that for whatever reason is now begging for whatever he can get.  Maybe it looks like being more patient with my children and more attentive to my husband.  Maybe it looks like offering a smile and not being afraid to speak to people who by their appearance might scare me a little bit. 

Who's with me? 
Let's change the world people. 

Love is Louder! 

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another- John 13:35
Seems simple enough, right?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Oh What a Foretaste... 500 strong!

So this thing happened.  Way back on March 6, I was scrolling Facebook, minding my own business and that of my friends, and friends of friends, and the public at large. Okay, so maybe I was stalking strangers.  I won't tell.  
Anyhoo, one of my fave bloggers, Jen Hatmaker's post jumped out at me.  I'd never heard of a launch team, so I didn't really have any idea what I was getting into.
I clicked on the link, read the info and applied.  Now, in all seriousness, I never expected to be picked.  If I recall, it was late in the day so probably all the spots had been filled, but I was curious.  I'm pretty sure that I actually said that I hate to read on my application- unless it's life changing or true.  No pressure, Jen Hatmaker.  
I went to bed, and didn't think anything else about it. 
At the time, I knew Jen because of her blog posts, she had adopted and as a result was a multi-racial family and I had recently watched her family renovation show on HGTV.  I didn't know about INTERRUPTED, and only knew about SEVEN because my sister had told me about it and I really wasn't interested in giving all but seven of anything up.    
A few days later, I was deleting the hundreds of emails offering discounts on things I've never bought, and offers to donate to candidates I would never support, and discounts on clothing decades past my prime... and I almost missed it. 

The first thing that happened was the For the Love Launch Team Facebook group- and almost immediately I was in the private company of 496 women and the band of 4 (men) who initially had one thing in common.  The launch team.  5000 people applied for the launch team, and here we were, thrown together by chance.  I think NOT.

Soon a wonderful, unexpected and strange thing happened.  These strangers who I've never met became friends.  Prayer requests started showing up on the feed, and we began praying for each other.  Meet-ups of people in the same geo area started being scheduled.  Private messages offering support.  And, the quotes.  Oh those quotes from For The Love started coming across the feed (obviously from the over achiever, A personalities who read the e-version before I figured out how to get to it on DropBox).  I tried hard not to feel inferior.

I waited, and waited and waited and finally it came. 


The advanced copy- the one in print - the life-changing AND true words arrived.

I was so excited because I needed to know what crotchless yoga pants were, exactly what is horsecrappery and when can I use that word, and do I have a "spicy family" (Yes, definitely yes) 

And while the crafters and designers and wonderful women with creativity on their beams started making mugs and arm candy and T-shirts available, our lives became intertwined and connected when we shared that our loved ones were dying and kids were sick and miscarriages devastated and marriages are dissolving and jobs are lost and plans derailed and dreams dashed and kids out of control and new life is born and kids are funny, and dreams are launched, and weddings are coming and the encouragement to overcome fears and do the hard is all happening in that feed.  And I sometimes try to take it all in but its too much because, well,  all but 4 of us are women and that's a lot of words. And still,  I drink them in like a perfect Diet Coke on a hot day- I drink them in all hours of the day and night.  And I pray over each request whether I officially "like" it or not. 

And those words, in that red covered book, they've challenged and changed me.  I laughed out loud, and cried silently.  I took and still take it with me in the car, to the bathroom and next to my bed.  And with each chapter I saw ugly truth staring back at me from the mirror and beautiful truth in the faces of my family.  And the homeless man on the corner.  And those words opened up my God box and let Him out to be God.

Definitely life-changing and true.

So I'm running around asking my peeps, do you know who Jen Hatmaker is? Have you read her books?  Do you know about her blog.  She's like us.  You'll love her.  Check her out.  You've got to read this book. 


August 18th- that's the day.  Keep checking back here for updates and giveaways and sneak peaks. 

Until then, I'm blessed because I think being on this team has given me a foretaste of heaven.  Strangers, from all professions and interests- church goers and church no-goers, wounded and healthy- men and women, young and old,  Baptist, Methodists, Catholics and none of the abovers but all who love Jesus and can in an instant be bonded together as sisters and a few brothers in Christ-worshipping and encouraging and praying each other through the hard.  Speaking truth without judgement, understanding that different is not bad.

I think that's what we'll find when we get to heaven- probably surprised at the diversity of who is kneeling giving praise to the King and singing Holy Holy Holy is the Lamb... because they understood- Be kind, Be you, Love Jesus!

For The Love,

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

"Our Soft Place to Land"

Today would've been her 93rd birthday.

Three years ago we celebrated big with an open house, huge cake and people she'd shown hospitality and love to her whole life coming and going for hours to love on her.  It was a wonderful day of celebration at the same time sad hung heavy because we knew the next day our lives would change and Alzheimer's would dictate next steps, not us.

As the evening turned to night, she and her three daughters-in-law danced in the kitchen while Billy Currington's, Like my Dog played on the CD player.  We made some memories.

It was easy to make memories with her.  She believed in 'cepting people just like they are and if she thought a nasty thought about you she didn't share it.  She taught me a lot about life.  Important things like how to cream peas and Lima beans and get the sauce just right.  Things like adding sugar to everything makes it better and you don't have to tell anybody it's in there.  Things like washing win-ders isn't done with Windex alone.  Bleach can be a perfume and apparently makes hands soft as silk. Oh, how I loved her hands.  She taught me how to hang Christmas cards and the 100 ways to use old pantyhose.

She taught me that hours spent in the yard, pulling weeds, plucking browned blooms and watching frogs play was a type of worship and watching a hummingbird fly is more entertaining than TV. But, that didn't mean you had to turn the TV off- we solved the world's problems watching Oprah and Dr. Phil.

She was more resourceful than anyone I've ever known, wasted nothing and could create a soup-to-nuts meal with hardly anything- always disclaiming it with "it ain't much, but make it out the best you can" the whole time you were convinced she had planned and shopped for days.  She'd refuse to use the brand new dishwasher and stand at that kitchen sink washing and drying all those dishes the old fashioned way.

She introduced me to her "little boutique" and taught me how to really find a bargain.  Oh, the hours and hours we spent on Saturday's going from one thrift store to another before finishing the day up with grocery shopping.  We'd fill the trunk with mine and hers, we'd tie mine up so they wouldn't spill and she'd pile hers on top of each other and let them fly wherever. Including her eggs and bread. She didn't care- it tasted the same whether it was smashed up or not.  I worried about so much more than she did.

And when she asked I better be "fine" or she'd fuss for me to tell her what was wrong and having a plan to fix it.  She'd go on and on with each of us, telling us we worked harder than anyone she knew- never taking credit for her own hard work or successes.

Rex and I walked into her room one last time Thursday night.  I took her hand and told her we were there.  We told her again that we loved her and then I told her it was time to dance- in heaven with Jesus.  And she took a deep breath- and did.

And in that moment, 93 years felt like 93 minutes and it was over too fast.

But as much as we adore her,  none of us would wish her another second here with Alzheimer's.  It's a terrible, ugly disease.  But now she's with Jesus, she's healed and she remembers.  Praise the Lord!

We met as a family Friday afternoon to remember and share her life - what a joy to sit with four generations in the same room- enjoying each other and spitting out memories that we shared together. She was the same with all of us.  She was, as Keith put it so perfectly "our soft place to land."

Who is she?
She is Iris Virginia May Powell Allen.
She is my husband's mother, my children's grandmother, my friend.

Thanks Iris for accepting me as I am and never trying to change me.  For being the best mother-in-law ever, and for teaching me so much about loving Allen men- what a legacy you left.

 I'll think of you every time I get my hands dirty in the yard, pour bleach, say I'm fine, see a green bathtub, eat a yeast roll- the list is endless.

Most of all, thanks for being our soft place to land.

We sure do love you!

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