Hope Deferred

Last weekend a friend and I were sharing our hearts with one another.  I talked about some areas for which I was asking God’s direction, but have not sensed His clear leading yet.  Waiting (which has never been my strong suit) had morphed into some feelings of restlessness.

We ended our time together praying for one another.  My friend prayed that even if it was not the right time for God to reveal the full answer to my prayers, would He show me some glimpses of His plan this week?  This week I have been amazed at how many times I have seen “a glimpse,”  or what is sometimes called a “God sighting.”

Is God more active in my life this week in answer to my friends prayer?  I don’t think God is the one who changed.

By sharing my struggle with my friend and praying together , I am the one who changed.  I have a renewed awareness of God’s Hand at work in my life, and confidence that He has not forgotten me.   And I have the gumption to wait for the full reveal in His good time.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.

Proverbs 13:12 NLT

Hope Rocks

Disability Privilege

As I grow in my understanding of urban ministry I have had to wrestle with the phrase “white privilege.”  As I’ve thought about that concept, I came to realize that Jerry and I live with “Disability Privilege.”

Friends, or those we meet, often comment on how much we are “on the go.”   The unspoken remainder of the sentence is “especially for someone with disability.”  Though some courageous commenters will ask “how do you do it?  Can you get an wheelchair on a train/plane or whatever means of conveyance we are awaiting?”

I don’t typically think about what we do as anything special or unusual, it’s just our life.  We travel several times a year for the ministry, both within our region and across the country.  We try to get away a couple of times a year for some vacation or rest time – we’ve spent that time driving around the US, relaxing at the beach, visiting family, hosting family, cruising to Alaska and some points in the Caribbean (different trips – ha!).  And we make sure we get to a number of baseball games each year and other local events.

We have a number of  friends who live life affected by disability and travel even more extensively, but honestly, we are part of a very small group.  The larger number of people affected by disability in this world struggle to get an appropriate wheelchair, support services, housing they can afford and maintain, reliable attendant care or transportation so they can secure a job.

Even on our worst days about 90% of people with disabilities around the world would love to have the “privilege” of working through our challenges.  It’s good for me to be reminded that we are blessed beyond measure.  Not because of anything about who we are, but because of the graciousness of our God.  It doesn’t even mean God loves us more than those who struggle – He doesn’t.  What it does mean is that we have the opportunity to use the blessings God has given us to bless others.  That is a fun and exciting challenge in which to participate.

To Whom Much is Given, Much is Required.  Luke 12:48

 

This Is My Brain . . .

This is my brain, and this is my brain coming out of overload . . . .

Lately I feel like my brain (along with my calendar and life) have been on overload.  Consequently I have had no margins to dream, think or write.  That’s not good.  Combine that with weather that primarily has been pretty dreary for a few weeks and I was left feeling pretty empty and void.

Thankfully this last week God blessed me three times (truthfully He has blessed me so much more everyday, but these three are of particular note) with:

  1.  Times of reconnection and fellowship with two friends whom I haven’t chatted with in ages.  Such deep sharing refreshed my parched soul.
  2. Being together around the Word of God with others who are the hands and feet of
    KBN
    Photo Credit:  Freeman Miller

    Jesus in the city of Philadelphia.  I never experience time with these brothers and sisters when my passion to know Jesus deeper and serve Him more fully is not fueled.

  3. Opportunities to be outside with days of sunshine and warmth.  Amazing how that readjusts the psyche, especially when the sunshine is enjoyed when taking a walk.

Today Jerry and I attended an event on the field at a minor league baseball park.  Walking along the all dirt infield we saw two places where shoots of grass were bursting from the the ground.

These last few weeks I felt like the infield, dry, flat and totally void.  After this week of blessings I see and feel new life springing forth from the barrenness.  And I am so thankful!

Coffee and Friendship

imageBreakfast is my favorite meal to eat out, but one I rarely have the opportunity to enjoy. I met with a friend for breakfast at a grocery store where they serve a buffet meal. We decided not to get the usual coffee that comes with the meal but instead go to the coffee bar nearby.

A customer standing there seemed to be waiting for the barista to make her drink. After several minutes the customer moved to the other end of the counter and after another minute or so wait the barista came and took her order and quickly got her drink (if you can call the thick green goop a drink).

Thinking it was our turn I stepped to the counter. No other customers were around. But then neither was the barista. She went back to the other side of the shop and resumed a task she was doing earlier. She also put a fresh pot of coffee out with seemingly no realization that we were waiting.

I gently called to her saying, “excuse me, could we get service?” She replied that she would be with us shortly.

After a couple more minutes we gave up on the idea of getting a specialty drink , instead filling our cups with the brews available to the public. As we finished she came to us and asked what we would like to order. I believe I was calm,but purposeful in saying, “We gave up waiting and just got regular coffee; I just need to pay you.” She apologized and rang up our order.

While paying I suggested that perhaps next time when she saw customer’s waiting she could look over and say, “I’ll be with you in just a minute.” or something to that affect. She replied she did that. To which I reminded her she did indeed, but only after I finally brought our presence to her attention.
Her reply startled me,”I didn’t think you’d mind waiting.”

As much as her reply startled me, it was the reply of my friend that startled me more. She asked me (in private) what was going on with me and why did I respond that way? She actually snickered that we were together catching up with one another, so did a few minutes really matter?

I took a breath and realized (as you have probably already discerned) that it wasn’t at all about a wait for coffee or service. It was about a situation at work that had me so flummoxed that it clouded my processing and reactions.

What a precious gift to have a friend so willing to speak the truth to me. She helped me bring the situation to the forefront, spoke some wise words to me and enabled me to gain perspective and enjoy not only a rich time of sharing with my friend, but also breakfast and a pretty good cup of hot coffee!

Reflecting on Redwoods

There was much we loved about our life in northern California:  our home, our church (even to this day Jerry misses his men’s group that has never been replicated), our friends, the weather, and travel opportunities.  And it was the place where we were married and started our life together.  Such sweet memories.

One of my favorite places to spend a day off or to take visitors was Armstrong Redwoods.  I found such solace and communion with God there.  The coastal redwoods are majestic and stately.  As tall as they are (about 200-250 feet) it is surprising for people to learn that their root systems are very shallow.  You’ll never see a Redwood growing alone, they always grow in community; standing firm against the storms and elements because their roots intertwine with the trees around them.  Redwoods.jpg

Jerry and I felt that intertwining of our roots in community when we lived there.  As hard as it was to leave we knew God was calling us east.

When we first arrived in Pennsylvania we felt like a lone Redwood.  We had one another but that was all we had (within an hour’s drive). We felt the instability as the winds and storms swirled in those early years.

Today, nearly 18 years later I sit in a hotel just a mile or so from where we spent our first nights in Pennsylvania full of anticipation, exhaustion and a healthy dose of fear.  I still miss the people and beauty of northern California and am grateful for the broad root system that crosses the 3000 mile gap.  Yet we’ve grown stronger and richer as many beautiful Pennsylvania roots deeply intertwine with ours.

Who knew there were Redwoods in Pennsylvania?

 

 

Feel Good Stories Don’t Always Work for Me!

Ok, I may have to stop driving and listening to news, even the “feel good human interest” news stories. In fact, two of those that I’ve heard in the last week had me driving down the road shouting, “NO, NO, NO, NO!”

The first was a news story that a clerk in a chain pharmacy was found helping a customer who was blind do his shopping. Really? That’s news? Now don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with what this employee did. But is that seriously deserving of a news story? Have we as a society really sunk so low that someone who is paid to do customer service, and actually does that, is a hero worthy of a national news report?

The second story came this morning, and rose my ire even more. The audio portion of a video that has gone viral was played on the radio. Apparently in this clip a girl who was identified as a cheerleader and very beautiful took a large cookie to a student with autism and on the cookie it was written, “Will you go to the Prom with me?” One can hear the excitement in the young man’s voice as he read the message and responded with a jubilant “YES!”. The radio host went on to ask what was it about a girl who is so beautiful and had so much going for her that made her want to ask a student with special needs to be her date?

I almost had to pull over to vent without hitting anyone!

Prom Dates
 

Me and my favorite (and only) Prom Date!

 

Why do we have to emphasize the difference between the two students – and that one is beautiful and has it all together (or so it looks) and the other who has more obvious needs. Is it so impossible to think that perhaps this girl has a heart and has actually developed a friendship with this male student? Might she enjoy spending time with him? Maybe I am just brain washed from being married twenty plus years to someone who would be considered a “special needs student” in today’s systems. And I am proud to say some of the people I most have enjoyed spending time with through my life are friends who the world labels as “Special Needs.”
Yes, there is also the another possible side to this story. A mom of a student with special needs called in to the station and noted the rise in these types of stories and how they go viral so quickly. In her experience (a separate story) the typical girl who invited her son’s friend with special needs to the prom did it to achieve her 15 minute of fame – and then abandoned her “date” at the Prom. Oh may it not be so.

I appreciate that there are more news stories that paint people affected by disabilities and special needs in a positive light. I pray the story I heard this morning is legitimate and this girl finds she has the best prom date ever and thoroughly enjoys her time with her friend. Maybe I am just too simplistic, but can’t we all just treat one another with the honor, dignity and respect we each want to receive? Can we drop the labels and build bridges over the chasms of differences?

I know it won’t happen overnight, but maybe if each of us stop to think before forwarding a “heartwarming video or story” we may understand there is more than one side to every story (including the fact that I could be off base on what I share here).

Hope Realized

A few weeks ago I shared an anecdote about my missing pink and brown moose sock.  Imagine my surprise and delight when I brought in our mail and saw a small packet from a store that sounded “Alaskan” to me.  How fun to open it up and find these – a new pair of New Moose Socksthe EXACT sock I had lost!  Even more fun was to see who sent them to me, someone with whom I am developing a new friendship.

When I thanked my friend, she shared that she thought it would be a fun way to share a blessing with me. She was right!

No longer do I hope to find the errant moose sock.  My hope has been realized.  But now I have a new hope – about how God will work in our lives as my friend and I get to know one another more and seek God together.