my pet rock

March 14, 2010

In the center console of my car is a small rock.  It’s smooth, clean, nothing terribly remarkable – although my friend Derrick did once ask why I had a pet rock.

When I fly to foreign countries, I take it with me.  No pomp or circumstance, I just slide it into my backpack and inevitably run across it while I’m running across the globe.

Yeah, I know it’s weird

But, it’s my boundary stone.

The old testament has a lot to say about stones.  It’s bizarre actually because you think God would have a lot more to talk to us about than rocks.  But no.  I have a favorite rock story too.

Yeah, I know it’s weird.

In Genesis 28, we interrupt Jacob on a journey.  He’s left his family and his home in search of a wife.  You can tell he’s nervous.  A kid that age at that time wouldn’t really leave his family.  Communities then were about more than just friendship, they were about physical safety, financial security, and spiritual consistency; but, Jacob had a rough home life and everyone figured it would be best for him to get away for a while.  At one point, he curls up for the night using a stone to rest on and has a dream.  It’s a wild dream; a vision of God like no one has seen yet.

He sees a God that is for him.  A God that knows him.  A God that is making a way for him. A God that says He’ll lead him…back home.

“I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

This is a radically personable God and Jacob knows it.  He immediately says “Surely the Lord is in this place…” and he takes the same stone he slept on, sets it up…and calls it the House of God.  the Gateway to Heaven.  And then he continued on his journey

It must have been some rock.  I wonder if it’s still there.

My rock is in many ways the same as Jacob’s.  I picked it up a few years ago out of a stream bed in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  I was there because, like Jacob, I had to leave home too.  Mine no longer existed – it crumbled a long time ago.  I found myself there on the road to somewhere else.

My best friend’s mom had gone into town and her step-dad was working in his office inside.  I started throwing rocks down a frozen stream and discovered the coolest noise.  I ran inside and got him.  You HAVE to hear this!  I’m sure I sounded ridiculous.  He obliged though.  We probably hung outside for an hour – we made a competition out of the rock throwing (he won) – we talked about the weekend – about some decisions I had coming up; about some bad ones I had made – about everything and nothing…

It was the most ridiculous and childish thing.  Had I actually thought about it before I dragged him outside, I would have.  It was uncool, unpolished.  That’s the kind of thing you do by yourself.  You know, the awkward, nerdy, unpresentable side of yourself….you don’t invite someone into that.  But as soon as I realized how I’d epically failed at being acceptable in his eyes – I realized he was right there with me anyway.

And I finally got God.  The God of Jacob who says “I am with you…”  The one who shows up in the middle of a road to somewhere else and totally redirects.  Sovereign.  Kind.  Engaged.

And with a promise…”I’m here and I’m not leaving.  I’ll lead you on an incredible path.  I’ll bring you home.”

That’s the thing about God.  He’s always in it.  He knows why we’re not where we should be and all the stuff that led us there.  He knows the person we are trying to be and the person we should be.  He sees the distance between the two.  He gets its.  But he’s unfazed.  And he’s there.

I didn’t really get that until that day.

So I grabbed a rock and slipped it in my pocket.  I keep it with me.  Because sometimes I just need to remember He’s here with me – even when I didn’t invite Him or think that’s the case.  It reminds me He can interrupt at any time because He knows EXACTLY where I am.  It says I can try to fool everyone else and pretend I have it all together, but He’s never confused about who I am or why.  It lets me feel evidence that He’s orchestrating time and circumstances to shape me into the person I need to be – and that He won’t leave me until He’s done what He’s promised…

“Trust in the Lord forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.”


how many hugs?

September 27, 2009

Bob is brilliant, intimidatingly so.  Janet is magnetic; her essence spills a disarming peace.  They love God.  They adore each other.  They look at and fall into the other like no two people I’ve ever seen.

Janet is Bob’s 3rd wife.  He left 2 marriages and 5 children in the wake of a version of himself that I never knew.  Bob is Janet’s 2nd husband.  She is dutiful, responsible, and sharp – the hard-working type you’d expect out of an eldest child raised on a farm.  For Bob, where caustic wit once was, there is now overwhelming compassion.  For Janet, obligation has been replaced by a freedom to love and give herself away.

To me, they represent trophies of grace, and were I only able to stand at a distance and watch, I could glean wisdom for a lifetime.

For some reason, they allow me access.  I have no idea why, which is a little unsettling.  I’m a master at manipulating people into loving me – but it’s never worked with them.  In the oddest of ways, at the oddest of times, they will generously open their life to me – and 10 times out of 10, I did nothing to earn it or make it happen.  It feels weird to be loved just because

I think that is grace.  And grace is disconcerting, as it should be.

They live in Wyoming.  Today they were in Florida.

I hugged Janet.  She doesn’t hug actually, she embraces.  Her tiny arms and slight frame somehow take you in.  She holds on longer than she has to.  I think she prays over people when they are in her fold.

It’s been a hard season for me.  She knows it.  I know it.  While I’d normally rely on her for advice and comfort, this time she’s rightly allowed me to weather the storm alone, with God.  Like all good mothers; she knows that this is where a lot of growing up happens – and it has.  It’s undoubtedly been rough. But in her embrace, I feel the nurture, the safety, and the warmth of a heart cheering me on, ready to bandage the wounds – so I can head back into a decisive battle.

I hugged Bob.  He laughs.  He always laughs at me.  I’m not really sure why he always laughs at me, but I guess I’m funny.  He says what he always says, “Saaaaaarah” then stands quietly, hands on hips, staring at me.  He made his name and fortune in litigation – he knows the ropes.  He knows by doing this I will tell him exponentially more about what’s on my mind than were he to ask a straight question.  And I do.  And he laughs.

With Bob, when your almost not paying attention (usually in between the laughing) he will say the most incredible things that come straight from a father’s heart.  You know by his words that he has been listening, watching, taking note, and making sense of what the real issue is.  Like many before, his words today were the boundaries I needed.  I am as capable and intelligent as I have always been; and I will find a way through this.  I don’t think he knows how many lies have been silenced because of conversations like this with him.

I would have loved to sit over blueberry pancakes on their patio and listen and talk. I would have loved to tell the full stories of how God is growing me up and showing up in ways I never knew possible.  But on this day, the busyness of our schedules and commitments gave us only a few moments – so in half-sentences and hugs – we celebrated the God in whose story we live and trust.

As I was leaving, I said good-bye and stole another hug from Janet, then from Bob, then from Janet again, and another from Bob.  Clamped safely around Bob’s ribcage, he chuckled and said, “How many hugs are we going to have?”  “As many as I need” I quipped with a grin.

Then I let go.  I told them I love them.  I got in my car and drove away.

Their hugs give me what every great embrace, what every great relationship should – an arrow pointing the way to Christ.  After weeks of trying to pray, trying to talk to God and with God about what the hurt and fear and magnificence of this season was doing to my heart – I got in my car and prayed.  Suddenly, I knew what to ask and thank God for.

Somehow the way I am held and loved by them makes the heart of my heavenly Father so much clearer and my need for Him, and Him alone, so plain.

so how many hugs?

As many as I need  – to see, feel, know, and seek the only one that matters.

piecign it togehter

September 23, 2009

During an impossibly normal series of conversations, I happened on to the fact that I’m dyslexic. I’m 30, a college graduate (from a top 30 school), a successful executive, and I just found out I’m dyslexic. Far from life changing, this news is a bit of a relief.

Before starting grad school this fall, I put forward an honest confession to a set of borrowed parents about how stupid I really felt most of the time in school. I had deep, deep fears that I might not be able to cut it at such a prestigious new university (Duke!).

Dyslexia, at that point, had not even entered my mind as a possibility.

Stereotyped by most as a number or letter reversal disorder (which is part of it), dyslexia is really a sequencing problem – and since most of our letters and numbers are sequenced, reading and math present huge challenges. History is sequenced. Accounting is sequenced. Time is sequenced. So the confusion that stems from this beast is pervasive in a person’s life.

The most common set of symptoms or manifestations is called the 37 signs of dyslexia (Google away).

I strongly exhibit 26 of them.

I’ve had a couple days to digest this new bit of information, because really that is all it is. Dyslexia is considered by many to be a gift. Dyslexic kids, confused and unable to ascertain information, who have even the smallest measure of gumption, develop extraordinary compensatory measures to cope. These range from relational skills, high verbal ability, negotiation prowess, imagination, strategic thinking, story telling, and more.

I am no exception.

What really strikes me, as I piece together the nature of the disorder and my life experiences, is how staggering the effect of it is.

There are SO many events and circumstances I can easily point to, knowing my action(s) or reaction(s), can be traced back to the dyslexia. Those events and circumstances ultimately shaped some really good, powerful things in me.

And that means there are things that can massively shape our personality, our history, and our capacity – yet we may not even know they exist.

So what else do I not know? And do I even need to know it? This thing, having a name is such a relief, but it changes nothing in terms of my capacity.

Why does having a name make something such a relief?

Do we fight insecurity with fact?

Can we silence demons with a definition?

What is so freeing about knowing that I am inherently broken?

work it out princess

September 6, 2009

“it’s time to exercise your faith…we choose to believe He can do what He says He can do – and to believe He is who He says He is, not just in the bible and other people’s lives, but in our (your) everyday, every situation life.”

I said it all two days ago when i said “Let’s just call this the worst effing week ever.”  Posted via facebook status, I got a surprisingly high number of comments “me too” and “i’m sorry”. 

Maybe I brought it up for feedback, encouragement, morale support – who knows.  What I do know is the quote above was the first and lasting thing in my mind.

Everyone has bad days. Bad weeks. Hell, bad years.  But sometimes when I complain I wonder if anyone else realizes how hypocritical and or stupid i’m being? I profess to know a God who says all things hold together in Him.  I actively worship a God, in relationship, who admittantly takes me through a process of transformation.  He makes no qualms about putting me in danger, discomfort, and disarray for the purposes of ending/killing certain tendancies/instincts in me – so that I can have greater life, freedom, and experience love and genuine relationship.

And I complain. I wonder why things aren’t be orchestrated according to my every whim and desire.

In a very real sense He is acting according to my desire.  I asked Him to have His way – I choose to submit to this process.  I still get that choice every day.

He would never violate it because in doing it would violate me.  Choice makes us most human. And God is very pro-human.  It would be a lesser form of love – and God is very pro-love.

So as I’ve been thinking and praying about last week.  How horrible it is to “re-enter” a boring life, mediocre city, awful job, struggling relationships, and sub-par physical fitness after an incredible two weeks of new and exciting changes – I have considered only one thing. 

It’s time to work it out.  It’s time, as the wisdom of that spiritual mother in the quote above suggests, to step up – to work out my belief that God can actually do what He says He can do -and that He is doing it, and will continue to do it in my actual life. I’ve considered a theoretical God too long.  I know how I think He will act.

But now  I want to believe it. So i can see it. So i can experience it. So my life can be new, different,