Thursday, March 31, 2016

When Love Looks Like Lillies

The first time Josh bought me flowers we were still in college and in the infamous geting to know you stage.  We had been dating for a couple of months when I got a phone call in my dorm room that a delivery was waiting for me at the front desk.  I had never before had a delivery so my curiousity was piqued, and I remember grinning from ear to ear when I saw a small but beautiful floral arrangment of lillies.

I love flowers.  Something about their beauty mixed with the fact that they are both fragile and alive at the same time speaks to me about a God who is creative and caring.  Flowers are unique and add color to the world.  I also like getting flowers from a boy.  And at this point in my life, receiving flowers from a boy other than my father had probably only happened a handful of times.  So I was elated!

As I walked down the hallway of my dorm giddy with excitement, I became the center of attention.  It was a mixture of joy and concealed jealousy - afterall, we are talking about a floor full of college age girls who all wished they would get a call from the front desk that a delivery is waiting for them.

As I got to my room, I immediately called Josh and absolutely swooned over the lillies that I had just received.  I told him they were gorgeous, smelled divine, and that I loved his creaitivity.  Most college boys would get roses or carnations, but he had really thought about it and gotten a flower that was unique!  He was quite proud of himself, no doubt, and as we were both poor college students, I knew that this a big splurge for him.

I hung up the phone, bent down to smell those divine lillies and breathed in all of the lilly goodness.  What followed was a litany of sneezes and the startling realization that I am allergic to lillies.

I am allergic to lillies!

Within 30 minutes my eyes were red and watering, I continued to sneeze at an impressive rate of consistency, and friends started to stop by to see just what was happening in my room.  It was decided that the lillies would have to live in my friend Wendy's room across the hall, and that I could only visit the lillies from a distance.

Of course I refrained from telling Josh any of this, but continued to nurture our new relationship with flattery and the occasional stretching of the truth.  I LOVED the lillies I told him!  They are continuing to bloom!  You are such a thoughtful boyfriend (afterall, I wanted the arrival of flowers to continue as this relationship progressed).

Now my Josh has one trait that I know well after 15 years of marriage.  If he finds a proven formula that  makes me happy, he will not veer from it.  And so the next time that he sent me flowers (a few months later) - guess what appeared at my door?  LILLIES!

Again...he sent me lillies.

Did I say anything about the fact that I would now be miserable for the next week?  Nope!  Because I didn't want to come across as a liar that first time.  So instead I did what most women would do, I tried to send other subliminal messages.  I said things like, "You know how much I love these lillies, right?!  And you know what else I love?  ALL flowers.  I love tulips and roses and hydrageas and peonies.  I just love ALL flowers!"  And guess what Josh heard?  "I love these lillies."

Because the next time he sent flowers...he sent lillies.

He said something about it being "our special flower" and that for the rest of our days he would send me lillies just so I'd know he was thinking of me.  Although I smiled bright, inside I was cursing!  For the rest of our days?!  Are you kidding me?  Have you ever omitted something or stretched the truth "for the greater good" only to watch as your plans unravel?  I didn't want to hurt his feelings or for him to think I didn't love the gesture!

But after the 4th delivery of lillies I decided to bite the bullet.  I told him I had a confession, and I think he braced himself for something truly aweful, and then I told him - I'm allergic to lillies.

To this day, I've never received another lilly until yesterday.

I walked into my office yesterday and was taken aback at the most delightful spring bouquet sitting on my desk.  It had pink snap dragons and purple spider mums...and yellow lillies.  Lillies?!  I glanced down at the note he left via yellow sticky notes and smiled as I read these words...


I was doubtful that one could remove pollen, but 24 hours later I'm happy to report that I'm clear eyed and sneeze free, and I'm enjoying these beautiful flowers that were hand picked by this boy that I love and our small Haven Joy.

And I started thinking this morning that love isn't always butterflies and special delieveries.  Most often, love is yellow sticky notes and simple gestures that say I love you "just because."  Love that lasts is honest even when you just want to protect the other person's heart.  It is faithful in the big and small, and it is putting in the work of love - going farther than is removing pollen from lillies so you can remember the joy of the past while enjoying the beauty of today.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

3 Simple Acts for When the World Feels Scary


I shuffled into the kitchen this morning rubbing my eyes and mumbling to myself about how I really should get out of bed earlier.  I grabbed a mug and stumbled to my Keurig as Josh said, "Did you hear about the terrorist attack?"  It only half registered as I said, "No - where?"  Brussels.  

Brussels.  Belgium.

It started to sink in a bit more.  I've been to Brussels.  I've walked through it's beautiful streets and I've eaten true Belgian waffles from a street vendor.  I got a tour from friends Peter and Laura and ate frites (french fries) with mayo in order to truly experience the culture.  I've taught leaders - amazing Belgian leaders, and I know this place.

Then another wave of realization hit me.  Drew - my co-worker's husband is spending the night at Brussels airport hotel because he has a flight in the morning.  Dawn and I were just talking about it yesterday...  Where were the bombs?  The airport?  I jumped on facebook because I know that's the fastest place to find news about friends, and thankfully Drew, Peter, and Laura had all checked in already that they were safe.

And yet...others will not get to check in.

My heart hurts for Belgium.  It is angry at the evil in this world.  It has so many questions.

And my first inclination is to let fear rise up. 

I open my Bible to my daily reading: Isaiah 26 and find these words
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

And I am reminded that in moments like these we must keep a sound mind.  We are to focus on the good God we serve.  To pray for the nation of Belgium, to ask the Lord to bear our own fears and burdens, and in all the emotions we feel to bring them to the only One who can keep us in His peace.

Evil would love nothing more than for people of His peace to be consumed with fear.  So I listen to His reminder: Fear Not!  Make a choice to expel fear with a reminder of His love.  Even when it makes no sense, His love is still real and stronger than any evil in this world.

And bring peace - kindness and goodness - to your world today.  It may look like a kind smile in the store or helping your neighbor rake leaves.  It may be doing a Starbucks run for everyone in the office or playing one extra game with your kids tonight.  What one thing can you do to remind yourself that God is still at work in the earth?

So today, I'm reminding myself to simply do 3 things: 
Fear Not
Bring Peace

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

When Your List Looms Long

I stood in my closet for a solid 2 minutes this morning making my list for the day and contemplating just how in the world I would ever accomplish even half of what I just wrote especially since I have a sick kiddo at home.  I literally just stared at this list for a while, and even though I made the list in pink marker in hopes it would make me feel better...I felt more stress than joy about what today would hold.  A sampling of the list included:

Grocery Store (when we are out of goldfish and fruit snacks I know it's time)
Sunday sermon prep
Purchasing furniture for the husband's new office
Work Emails that continue to ding on the phone although it's my "day off"
Prep for our community group tomorrow night
Get Hair Appointment

I'm sure your list looks different than mine, but knowing people (especially women) today, I'm certain that you have your own list...and you're actually probably chuckling to yourself thinking that my list looks like child's play compared to your own.  Right?!  We have LOTS to do!  So many things pulling at our time and some days I'm tempted to crawl back into bed and just ignore the looming words on the list.

So what do we do?  When the list is a mile long and the day seems like mere minutes?  How do we keep our joy...our SANITY?!  I'm not an expert, but here's what's saving my life in this area:

1.  Allow God to Be the Plate - If you are like me, you've likely often said, "I've got so much on my plate!"  God convicted me years ago that when I got too busy that I in essence made Him a side course on my overflowing plate, when in fact He wants to be the plate!  He wants to be in every moment of my days.  Of course He'll be involved as I do some sermon prep today, but He's not relegated to just those things that I deem sacred - He also wants to give me wisdom as I choose furniture or talk to my neighbors.  It's more of a mindset than anything, but so long as I keep Him as the plate, I find much more balance and peace in my days.

2.  Choose the Important Over the Urgent - I'm always tempted to choose the item on my list that is screaming at me the loudest, but I'm learning that usually the items that are the loudest are not necessarily what's the most important.  I also tend to procrastinate on the things I know God is directing me to do but scare me.  I've put off projects and dreams so I could cater to small urgent matters, and I'm more determined than ever to make the most of my days.  So what is it that is that thing that is quiet but that you know needs to be done today?  Go ahead and move it up on the list - you'll thank me later.

3.  Take Care of You - One thing on my list today that I haven't mentioned is that I made an appointment 2 weeks ago for a massage today.  It's a gift to myself after doing quite a bit of manual labor this last week, and as I made my list this morning I picked up the phone to cancel the massage.  I mean really?  I just don't have time for something so frivolous!  But then I stopped and realized that if I'm healthy I will be more equipped to tackle what is in front of me.  Now most days, I don't have anything nearly as luxurious as a massage, but I DO take time for myself everyday.  It usually comes in the form of coffee and a good book or sitting outside for 30 minutes to enjoy the sunshine.  And taking care of myself takes time, but it's always a deposit and gives me the strength to continue pressing forward.

I could list a few more thoughts, but these 3 things are definitely helping me to maintain my sanity when the list looms long.  What about you?  What is saving your life as you stare down your lists?

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