Tag Archives: Community

Merciful Days: Inspection Fear

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Inspection Fear

Heat-herding curtains hanging in the stair-well. Electric blanket on the bed. Drawers of summer clothes half-way traded for tubs of winter ones.  Outdoor play pieces and summer toys piled in the garage.  It’s Fall.  Suddenly.  Sadly. Unusually early.  The cold, rainy season is here.  And amidst all these season-change-over activities, I regretfully felt inspired to clean off a bookshelf and contemplate every book we own.  This resulted in piles upon piles of books waiting for new spots on our shelves.  (Or a trip to Half-Price Books if I can get my heart to admit that I’ve been treating books like they are family members.)

It was a mess.  An unending loop of uncompleted tasks. Daunting tasks that are great excuses for not completing other ones.  Like bathroom cleaning. Bed-linen washing. Meal planning. Homework supervising. Blog writing.

I haven’t quite got the hang of having a kid in school.  And our home is showing the fruit of my inadequacies. Our home looks like my heart and mind does.  Disorganized. Unraveling. Cluttered. In-process.

On Wednesday night I found out our landlord was coming to do an annual property inspection on Friday. [Continue…]

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Merciful Days: The Unbeautiful Beautiful

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Beautiful squareSimple streamers floated in the breeze.  Free Burger King crowns sat in an awkward pile.  Sidewalk chalk sticks dotted the driveway.  This was no Pinterest-worthy project.  No hand-made guest party favors.  No cutesy photo-booth props.  No fabulous fondant wrapped cake.  And yet, it was utterly beautiful. [Continue…]

ColoursofColor has a new name and a new home:  MercifulDays.com 

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Share My Journey

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Dear friends,

Thank you for sharing my journey this year on “ColoursofColor.”  Your reading, comments, and thoughts have been so encouraging!

I’ve done something big.  I made the leap to my own blog domain.  ColoursofColor has moved to www.MercifulDays.com

Merciful Days is about Faith, food, family, and other things I love.

I want to invite you to join me there.  To share life with me in this special way.  Because even though we are not actual neighbors, this amazing technology allows us to share life.  And even though we are scattered all over the globe we can be in community.

I would so love you to be part of my MercifulDays journey.

Follow on Email:  Subscribe to receive my new posts in your email by going to the home page www.MercifulDays.com

Follow on WordPress Reader:  If you are a WordPress user, add www.MercifulDays.com to your “Blogs I Follow” Reader list.

See you there!

– Jus

I Don’t Need Help

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Ecc 4v12aHe said the same words I’ve heard hundreds of times, “Do you need any help out today?”

“No, I’m fine thanks.” Came my automatic reply as I tried to pick up our over-tired 2-year-old and get the attention of our day-dreaming almost-5.

Because, I don’t NEED help.  I got this.  I mean, I have no excuse to feel otherwise.  I should be able to handle the life I have. I should be able to do things on my own.  I should be able to wrangle the kids I chose to have.  I should have all this in hand.  And I shouldn’t be a burden on anyone else.  I shouldn’t need help.  That’s right. Yep, I got this.

“Actually, having help out would be amazing.” I whispered.  “Because I never know what to do with the shopping cart when I have two little ones waiting in the car.”

His eyes were kind and he grew a smile as he spoke… [Continue]

COLOURS OF COLOR has a new name and a new home:  Introducing  MERCIFUL DAYS:  Food – Faith – Family – Things I love.
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Phone Call

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Eph 4_16bThe usual grey cloud covering is gone. The sky is clear. The sun is warm.  It’s a glorious day.  And yet, this morning I felt sad.

Sipping a cup of coffee without chatting to someone.  Preparing dinner without co-chefs.  Doing dishes alone.  After living life with 10 people, our little family of four is feeling sparse.

There’s a gaping hole in my heart carved by the deep desire to share life.  This morning I was thinking about dear friends who have moved away, and our good-old-days of youth ministry, and how good it felt to have a place to use my gifts as part of an awesome team.

This morning I felt… alone.

The phone rang and interrupted my lonely thoughts.  Perfect timing.

“I wanted to call last night,” She explained. “But I felt to wait.  The Holy Spirit had me call you today.”

Her call was about a project but as we talked she threw in side comments about my life, my motherhood, my gifts.  Amidst the business, she snuck in encouragement, and affirmation, and vision.  Her comments addressed the list of feelings I’d been having today.  This was not your garden-variety phone call.   It totally rerouted my day.  Somebody thought of me.  I am not alone.

Our church family is in a study about the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in the life of Jesus recorded in Luke and in the Early Church recorded in 1 Corinthians.  Yesterday’s message was about the type of life Jesus wants us to be living: A life of miracles.  A life that is overflowing with the power of the Holy Spirit.  A life that is open to, responsive to, and excited for the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Today’s phone call was that.  Perfectly timed. Full of prophetic encouragement. Flowing with Life.

Sure, it wasn’t a feeding of 5,000 or a raising from the dead.  But it fed and gave life to my heart.  And, thankfully, I matter to God just as much as the big miracle situations.

I am so thankful she made time to listen for God. So thankful she made time to call.

I’m feeling inspired and challenged: What opportunities is the Holy Spirit giving me today?  Will I hear Him? Will I say yes?

A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church. (1 Cor 12:7 NLT)
Under His direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. (Eph 4:16 NLT)
If we are living now by the Holy Spirit, let us follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.  (Gal 5:25 NLT)

What opportunities is the Holy Spirit giving you today?  What do you do to make space to hear Him?  What do you do to make time to do what He says?

The Gift Of An Open Life

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Yesterday I was part of the birth-support team for one of my dear friends and mentors.  This is the third of her deliveries I have been involved with.  Being part of her team is a gift I can never repay.  It’s an incredible experience that, these days, is often only available for daddies and sometimes other close family members.

I am not part of her family.  I am not a surrogate sister.  I really have no right to be in that room.

Here’s how it came about:
– For most of my life I’ve dreaded the actual “having” of birthing babies.
– Five years ago, my husband and I felt God show us it was time to start our own family, I actively pursued getting free from the fear of childbirth.
– My friend was pregnant and offered to let me walk side-by-side through her pregnancy and delivery.  I got to be part of doc appointments, ultrasounds, and regular chats where I could ask any (and many stupid) questions.
– Then came delivery day!  Incredible experience!  So many of my questions were answered just be seeing it all first hand.
– For the months after I was able to watch her care for her baby.  Each moment was a first for me.  I had never been around babies before.

Some months later I was thanking her, once again, and she invited me to part of the journey with their next baby, whenever that would be.  She was already pregnant but didn’t know it.

At that baby’s birth, I was seven months pregnant.  Being part of a birth team whilst being pregnant takes the experience to a new level!

I asked her to be part of my birthing team.  I also asked several other women if they would like to be there.  It’s not that I “wanted” a bunch of random women in the room.  It’s that I so highly prized my experience that I wanted to offer the same thing to other women.

Hear me now: I was NOT thrilled at the idea of laboring in front of people.  Who knows what I would be like?!  Jekyll or Hyde?!   I was NOT excited about opening myself to the potential judgement and criticism that comes when you allow people to be part of the most vulnerable times of your life.  But how could I not pass on the gift she had given me?!  Honestly, it was an honor to do so.

Fast-forward a few months: Our baby had a health issue and I had to have an early c-section. Only two people allowed in the OR.  I had to cancel my birth team.

Fast-forward two and a half years:  Our second baby was late and never came on his own.  Against my desire, I ended up having another c-section.  Birth team cancelled again.

Fast-forward a couple of years to yesterday: I’m back in the delivery room supporting my friend through the birth of her fourth baby.

I’m in that room despite my inexperience.  I had two non-labor c-sections.  I literally have no idea what she’s going through.

I’m in that room despite my inability to reciprocate.  She’ll never be part of my birth-team.  I am destined for only c-sections.

But I’m in that room with a purpose.  She wants me to be me.  Funny, helpful, loving me.  She has given me a place by her side.

What a gift:  To be part of “regular” births when I haven’t had any of my own.  To be valued for who I am, not what I’ve been through.  To be invited into the most vulnerable day of her life.

There is no way to measure how great her influence has been in my life.

I hope her example will inspire other women to open their lives to others.  Woman, share your ups and downs!  Invite other women to be part of your pregnancies and deliveries and early baby days.  Invite them to be part of your work.  Invite them to be part of your play.  Invite them into your grief and sadness.  Invite them into your successes and celebrations.

The way to gain sisterhood in your life is to become a sister to others despite the risk of it all failing terribly.  Isn’t it?!

I know, real friendship is hard to find.  I know, woman can be nasty.  I know, we’ve all been hurt.  I know, we all don’t want to try again.

But don’t give up on sisterhood.  Keep pursuing friendship.  Keep showing up and opening your heart.  Real, good, beautiful community is worth all it costs to get.

If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care – then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Philippians 2:1-2
Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as… models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. Titus 2:3-4

My community is not perfect.  In fact, I often want to run away.  There is conflict.  There are very hard times.  But I am determined to try to daily choose to  invest and seek love and give my all.  The heart of the Acts church is alive in all of us through His Spirit.  It’s so worth the effort.

How are you?  Have you committed to a church family?  Have you found ways to get involved and sow seeds towards friendship and sisterhood?  It’s hard work. Don’t give up.
Want to read through the Bible with me?  Today’s readings are: Psalm 106; Acts 11:1-18
The part that stood out to me today is:  “The Holy Spirit told me to go…” Acts 11:12 // Love being part of a kingdom and plan that is so big and spans the generations.

Innocent Murmurs

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The butterfly fluttering happened off and on all day last Friday.  Yesterday morning it happened again.  It was like my heart had grown wings and was trying to stretch out inside my chest.

My doctor listened today and said I have a “nice heart murmur.”  Um. I question her use of the word “nice.”  She referred me for testing so I have an appointment with a cardiologist in 1o days.  Testing will show if it’s a congenital issue or a developed issue.  I do have a co-infection that is known to reside in heart tissue.  We need to determine the source of the murmur to know how to treat it.

Heart Murmurs: “There are two types of heart murmurs: innocent murmurs and abnormal murmurs. A person with an innocent murmur has a normal heart. This type of heart murmur is common in newborns and children.  An abnormal heart murmur is more serious. In children, abnormal murmurs are usually caused by congenital heart disease. In adults, abnormal murmurs are most often due to acquired heart valve problems.” (www.mayclinic.com)

The term “innocent murmurs” makes me smile.  The double meaning is too awesome to ignore.

I’m prone to utter “innocent murmurings.”  I have a bad day and just need to vent.  Or I have doubts about God’s plan and just need to cry.  Or I have questions about life and just need to talk it through.  Most of what comes out of my mouth in those times is stupid.  But saying it somehow makes me feel better.  There’s something cleansing about actually forming the words that have been bouncing around inside my mind.  And once they push out of my mouth and float in the air, I feel good.  In those times I rarely, if ever, agree with what I say.  If someone were to record my conversation I would be desperate to destroy the recordings.  They are not words that should bear fruit.  They are simply innocent murmurs.  They should remain empty and purposeless.  I don’t mean what I say when I murmur about God, about people, about myself.

“An innocent murmer has a normal heart.”  At the end of the day,  I am normal.  Nice, loving, peaceable.  Innocent.

Last night a lot of people were hurt by a man.  He took a bunch of guns to a movie theatre and shot people.  Men, women, children, babies.  It’s so very, very sad.

Today I keep hearing people question, “What is this world coming to?”

I think we all know humans are capable of terrible things but we dare to believe that humans are decent.  We all have bouts of “innocent murmurings” that give us a taste of our darkness but it’s not truly who we are and we go back to normal life.  Because after all, “An innocent murmer has a normal heart.”  Normal.

What that man did last night is not normal.  It’s abnormal.  It’s bad.  It’s wrong.  It’s counter-intuitive.  It’s crazy. It’s serious.

“An abnormal heart murmur is more serious. … caused by congenital heart disease … [or] due to acquired heart valve problems.”

Yes this is serious.  And the question now is, why did he do it?  Was it something he was born with?  A congenital struggle or chemical imbalance or disease?  Or was this something he developed over time? An acquired anger or a response to pain or a problem in life?

This is a problem:  It’s so hard to know what is going in on our own hearts sometimes.  And just like I need a heart specialist, humans need a help to determine the source of our murmurings to know how to treat it.

For the word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are.  (Hebrews 4:12)

I have always had a hard time receiving correction.  I really like to be able to do self-diagnosis and thus avoid the public humiliation that comes when someone else points out an issue!  But there are some things that are beyond our own ability to see.  It’s hard to know what is going on in our own hearts sometimes.

Last night’s attack is a tragedy on two levels.  One: people were killed.  But two: a human being became abnormal.

When was the tipping point?  At some point the man would have simply had innocent murmurings.  What happened for him to leap from normal to abnormal?  When did he acquire this serious problem?

Of course, in the days to come we will all hear the man’s story and we’ll start to see how things unravelled to this point.  But this situation is stirring up a somber yet hopeful reminder: HUMANS NEED COMMUNITY.

We need to share life. To love and be loved.

We need to laugh together.  To share experiences and adventures.

Also we need the insights of others in our quest to live a normal, good, not-crazy life.

(I’m not saying we should haphazardly shout judgements and corrections at people around us.  Oh man, some people sure love to do that.  God has some important guidelines when it comes to Speaking Truth in Love)

What I’m talking about is: living in genuine loving community with people and having a culture of commitment to growing towards purity, goodness and holiness.  It is my firm belief this can only be done through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Only God can give us the Love and Wisdom to do this well.

Take good counsel and accept correction –  that’s the way to live wisely and well. (Prov 19:20)
Be alert. If you see your friend going wrong, correct him. If he responds, forgive him.  (Lk 17:3)

Isolation is not good for humans.  We get tweaked without knowing it.  It’s in our relationships with other humans that we can see ourselves.

Abnormal-hearted humans are dangerous.  And such a waste of a beautiful life… and then the lives of the others affected.

How did we get so off track as a human race?  We are one people but we act like we are barely related.  It’s dangerous that we think it’s socially “rude” to get all up in the personal business of others.  I understand that no one wants to be judged by a nosey gossip… but who else have we blocked out of our lives in the process?

Could it be that wise insightful loving community is the greatest need of humanity?  I know it’s one of my greatest needs.

I’m so grateful for the wise insightful loving community I am a part of.  This is why I’m a fan of church.  I know churches are filled with “interesting” people but I have found a fuller life amidst these diverse and unique people.  We are sometimes oil and water but we are bonded together by the Love and Grace of God.

Where do you get feedback and insight from? Do you have a community of friends that speaks with godly wisdom into your life?  How do you keep connected and avoid isolation?

Want to read through the Bible with me?  Today’s readings are Psalm 88; Acts 1:1-26