Amnesia

Hailey’s laugh sounded like ice cubes rattling in a glass.

During a recent phone conversation, I expressed a concern about a heart matter to which she responded with a dismissive chuckle.

 “You’ll be all right,” she said flippantly. “It’s nothing.”

Over the past few years, Hailey and I shared countless conversations about dating, love, and solid relationships.

I encouraged her as she lamented, soothed her as she mourned, and laughed with giddiness as she celebrated.

But recently, she fell in love and gotten married.

And had taken a shot of amnesia.

Amnesia is a heady drink.

Part pride, part apathy.

A frothy spirit served in oversized martini glasses.

Brown sugar pebbles surround the rim while a maraschino cherry bobs back and forth on a wooden toothpick.

The sweet flavor delights the senses while its heavy composition is ingested.

And then memory… becomes a memory.

I think we begin to sip on amnesia after we’ve accomplished a goal.

Passed a test.

Been released.

Jumped a broom.

Gotten a raise.

Our history before that point suddenly becomes alien.

We become estranged from those who are not yet where we are.

We forget how complication feels.

We don’t remember what insomnia is.

The former struggle, tears, pain, and trouble are no longer things we can or want to relate to.

Instead, we lift a glass of amnesia in the air as a toast to the present tense.

I shrugged off the slight, knowing that the hurt was unintentional.

But it hurt all the same.

It is very easy to soak in present pleasure, current peace, and existing joy.

But remembering the battles from yesterday, the sores from last week, and the sadness from 2 years ago keep us grounded,

keep us connected,

And keep us grateful.

Praying that my memory has staying power. 

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The Sentence

You won’t make it home alive.

It was a slick gray morning.

Flaky shavings of ice fell from the sky onto the already wet concrete.

The windshield wipers sponged moisture away from the center of the window.

But I didn’t think it helped much.

All I could see was water pouring everywhere.

My aunt drove carefully through the bad weather.

But each swerve made my stomach cave.

You’re going to get hit.

That truck is going to drive right into the car.

I closed my eyes and prayed.

We eventually got to our destination.

And I arrived home…safe.

This had become a daily dance.

 In the morning, satan would whisper a lethal sentence.

I’d become fearful and tiptoe throughout the day.

At the day’s end, I’d breathe a sigh of relief, thank God, and fall asleep.

Only to wake up to a brand new sentence in the morning.

 A sentence.

A judgment.

A dictated doom.  

But God doesn’t doom.

Quite the contrary, He invites, delights, and saves.

God is never absent.

Quite the contrary, He is always present, always ready, and always protective.

And most importantly, God does not, can not lie.

satan is adept at masking untruths.

Making them feel genuine.

Having them masquerade as destiny.

But the devil can only impersonate.

 What satan says will never be true.

So since such thoughts of terror and fear always fall short of fulfillment because, due to their origin, they can never be fulfilled,  why believe it?

Why be shaken?

Bullet number 1 was The Sentence.

Weapon number 1 is the Truth.

—-

“So God has given both His promise and His oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to Him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us.”

-Hebrews 6:18

Playing with hope

About once a year, I play with my hopes. 

Hopes. Dreams. Future plans.

Everyone’s hopes are born differently.

Mine always begin as long feathery wisps that swirl and whisk into solid balls of light.

Glowing pearls that I can handle.

Press my fingers into their surface.

Bounce them against walls.

Toss them into the air and catch.

I play with my hopes once a year.

Cupping each one in my hands. 

Rolling each one between my fingers.

Sighing at their incandescence.

At  how beautiful they are.

But only in divine Hands can they be truly realized.

My hands are not the place for them. 

His are.

So in the calendar squares before I turn another year, I collect each of my hopes, dreams, and plans…

And drop them…

Permanently…

Into God’s hands…

Where they belong.

For He is more than fit to take care of them.

More than capable to mold them into His will.

More than able to turn them from the toys I play with into a life I walk into.

~In your heart, you plan your life. But the Lord decides where your steps will take you.

~Proverbs 16:9

Teapots

When I was a little girl, I had a tea set that I adored.

What I loved most about it was that it wasn’t the plastic toy kind.

It was real. White porcelain.

My favorite piece was the teapot.

It was so elegant with its spout shaped like a swan’s neck.

Smooth with pink flowers painted on it.

It was delicate.

But I, at age 8, was very remiss.

Within a year, the teacups were cracked, and some saucers were lost.

And the teapot?

Well, the teapot was chipped and scratched.

The spout I so admired had pieces broken off it.

I had used it so much and handled it so carelessly that its quality had deteriorated.

I feel like a teapot sometimes.

Full of warm yummy goodness and always ready to pour.

And for the past few weeks, I’ve been tipped over quite a bit.

Pouring for those who need a taste of currency.

Filling mugs with support for the emotionally deficient.

Topping off tumblers for the parched, the thirsty, and anyone who happens to have an empty cup.

Steadily flowing.

Always tilted.

But this teapot is just about empty.

Her handle is brittle.

Her spout is about to fall off.

Yet cups continue to request refreshment.

Still, palms pat the bottom of the teapot, hoping drops will dance out.

It can get weary doing for others.

It can get weary caring for others.

It can get weary being there for others.

It can.

It will.

Especially if you yourself are not being replenished.

But I’m learning that it is necessary to retreat.

Jesus did it often.

After healing the sick feeding the hungry, and speaking to the spiritually starved, He’d go off alone to be with the ultimate source, God.

The Lord never stopped His care for His people.

But He knew when He had to get away.

 It is OK to halt the flow for a spell.

Take it from a teapot.

Unlabeled

I was daydreaming on my way home from work when a woman caught my eye.

She was hard to miss.

A heavyset woman with red hair.

Bubblegum pink straps sank into her shoulders.

Her tank top hugged her torso.

The bottom of her shirt was folded up, causing piles of flesh to peek through; it looked like she’d dressed in a hurry.

She sat down next to a woman she knew, a blonde with skintight jeans covering a pair of crossed legs.

The blonde woman wore an incomplete ponytail. She had on a thin T-shirt that was cut in pieces and knotted in the center of her back, exposing a black bra.

As they chatted, I watched, hypnotized by their clothing and their complete comfort with it.

My mind struggled to make a connection.

What is going on with them?

I needed to label the situation and the people in it. 

And then the word flashed across my mind.

Prostitutes.

I sank back in my seat, satisfied.

But as soon as I did, Jesus immediately sat me back up.

How dare you assume?

You have no grounds to judge.

And even if they are, that is not their label.

They are Mine and they are loved.

I pondered my chastisement all the way home.

So many lessons from this little chunk of life.

The biggest one?

Leave people unlabeled.

Role

 I didn’t know that I was stepping into a role.

I stood in my aunt’s bathroom, smiling at myself.

My lips were covered in cocoa glass.

My eyelids shimmered with desert clay.

My lashes plumped from threads to ropes.

I was 13 and in preteen girl heaven.

My aunt, a make-up fiend, had bins full of cosmetics…

…that I helped myself to…

…every morning.

Since my aunt left early for work, my morning duty was to get her daughter, 4-year-old Cheyenne, ready for preschool.

I’d help her brush her teeth, pick out her overalls and put a few ponytails in her hair.

But once Cheyenne was ready, I’d turn on the television and sneak into the bathroom.

I thought I was slick.

Surely Blue’s Clues was more than enough to keep a little girl occupied and still.

But as I watched myself in the mirror, Cheyenne was peeking…and watching me.

As she grew older, she went from watching me to asking me.

“Can I wear your shirt?”

“Can I go with you there?”

“When are you coming back?”

And now at age 19, from asking me to seeking from me.

“What do you think about that? I know you’ve done that.”

“That really encourages me because you went there.”

“I don’t know what God wants. What should I do?”

I didn’t know that I was stepping into a position.

Rose was always the cute little girl on the pew, 3rd from the back.

A couple of years younger than me, Rose’s sparkling chatter during the sermon was always a happy distraction.

Now at 22, her vivaciousness was still there.

One Sunday afternoon, as we lingered in the church parking lot, Rose looked to the left.

A woman had just passed by, walking cuddle close with a man.

When Rose turned back to me, her expression was sad and familiar. 

“Has a guy ever told you that you were different?”

The question came from a spot I knew well, my hometown and my present address.

Our conversation became an ocean, deepening with each sentence.

Every sore she exposed, I found myself trying to soothe.

The hour grew late so I left her with a few final words.

She sent me an email days later, marveling about our conversation and saying that she  had always looked up to me.

 Look up to me?

Really?

I didn’t know that I had an audience.

I didn’t know that I was locked in a pose.

I didn’t know that my role as me, in good weather or in bad light, would be used as an example or cited as a source.

 I’ll strive to play my role the best way I can.

————————————————————

“Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.”

-1 Timothy 4:12

Pulling A Hagar

Josephine is staring down her 50th year of life and has never had a circle of gold wrapped around her left ring finger.

That fact bothers and saddens her.

As I tried to share words of encouragement, rancor crackled in her voice as she nearly cut me off.

“I’ve heard all that before,” she said. She quickly wiped away a tear before it could spill down her face.

“It used to help me. But I’m tired of waiting.”

Whenever I think of Christian women who are single, the train of thought always leads to biblical women who were childless.

Their stories of longing are abundant throughout the Bible and are rich with emotion.

And while the object of yearning is not the same, the intensity is.

Bitter envy, furious frustration, teary grief, and pure passion are seen in both wishes.

And the elongated duration of either condition, singleness or childlessness, can lead to pulling a Hagar.

Sarai, like Josephine, was tired of waiting.

The couple was well into their golden years; her husband, Abram, in his nineties and Sarai in her eighties.

God knew their desire and had promised Abram a son. But ten years had passed since then without the slightest hint of morning sickness.

So Sarai, anxious, impatient, and convinced of God’s forgetfulness, decided to fulfill the desire herself:

“Sarai, Abram’s wife, hadn’t yet produced a child. She had an Egyptian maid named Hagar. Sarai said to Abram, “God has not seen fit to let me have a child. Sleep with my maid. Maybe I can get a family from her.” (Genesis 16:1-2)

But Sarai didn’t get the family she wanted.

She got drama instead.

“When Hagar learned she was pregnant, she looked down on her mistress. Sarai told Abram, “It’s all your fault that I’m suffering this abuse. I put my maid in bed with you and the minute she knows she’s pregnant, she treats me like I’m nothing. May God decide which of us is right.” “You decide,” said Abram. “Your maid is your business.” Sarai was abusive to Hagar and Hagar ran away.” (Genesis 16:4-6)

Heavy yearning can blind eyes and invite trouble instead of turning it away.

I imagine that Sarai’s faith and hope had dwindled down to such a wisp that being a stepmother of sorts was better than being a mother of none.

But that arrangement was not arranged by God.

Sarai and Abram’s promised son eventually did arrive just the way God intended.

But the effects of Sarai’s tactic were still felt years later.

In the midnight moments, when the last drop of faith has evaporated, it’s tempting to pull a Hagar.

But it’s even wiser to wait for God.