Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Nothing like Chipotle

I think about it a lot.  The bittersweet.

And I'm not talking about the saccharin kind; a movie or a book tying up everything
perfectly in the end and you feeling manipulated for having cried or angry for having watched.  Anything Jane Austen maybe the exception.

But the truest form.  Of bittersweet.
I experienced yesterday.

Hear me in that it has been a hard season - almost a year - my back stabbing with pain and sidelining me for months.  Procedures and therapy and now maybe even the surgery unsuccessful.  A day falling hard.  Hope diminished.  Disappearing even. The view from my window moving swiftly from winter-lingering beauty to stark reality and me catching my breath.  Unable to accept more disappointment.  Unable to understand the whys.  Wanting my life back. 

And I knew then and I know now others have worse. But for me, right now, it is taking my breath.  For the pain and the fear that it will never go away.

In the anguish, the dishevel, the bitter - not the sweet, a friend offers to bring over lunch.  And I caution loudly; probably not a good time.  For her that is.  But she is resolute and simply undeterred by my warnings of ugly.

Showing up shortly with a large brown paper bag brimming with Chipotle and throwing arms around me.   An incredibly sweet moment.  And then the food and the telling and the listening beginning to unfold those edges of despair lurking within.

Yes.  Sweet.

Oh, she would deny and find funny that of being sweetness.  To my bitter.

But she does the hard stuff.  Listening to the pain yelping; coming out sideways and backwards and confused.  But understanding.  It's just pain talking.  Helping to push me through to find healing in the connection and in the grace.  Helping me upright, regain perspective and birthing me back into hope.

Because life is often bitter.  Sometimes these experiences, the hard times, are later described as a gift.  But not today.  Not when the wound is deep and angry and healing seems far away. 

Isn't that what all good stories are made of?  The bittersweet? 

The telling of a protagonist having to overcome conflict.  Struggle always part of story.  And we relate and are inspired.  The reason stories are life changing. Helping us know how to live.

But when it hits us.  In real time.  The story looks different.

The bitter making us stronger but almost needing a narrator to get us out of our own story to see the picture better.  And our story good too.  Just not finished yet.  And that adversity - the bittersweet of life teaching if we allow. Within community.

Community.  A recurring theme for me.  The search for and the sacrifice required worth helping another through adversity.  Connection healing me.

This is why I scribble grace.  Because I know the answer in this life. 

But sometimes I can't find it.

Lives often so fractured when close friends and family move away.  And though their story and adventure is to be celebrated and embraced, those left behind must find a new normal.  A new friend.  A new community.  Those things taking time and commitment and transparency within grace.

In order to be known in the ugly and in the real.  And loved anyway.

I thought later.  How is it that someone can show up and see my messy and not be afraid of me?  That I am too much or not enough.  All at the same time.

It is a challenge.  A discipline even.  To come alongside someone else in their hurt. Or to be vulnerable within our own story. To embrace the bittersweet; those things in life we cannot control.  Things we would rather not have to endure.  But things that usually make us stronger.  And relationships deeper as a result.

Because when your heart is really broken - facing a death of any kind.  Someone is needed to stand beside us, carry us if only for a moment, and help us remember there is a sweetness to life even within the bitter.

Celebrating the bittersweet and deep friendship and grace that sees us through.

To hope again.  On the hard days.

Monday, March 17, 2014

What comes first?

Celebration comes second. 

And today.  Much celebrating.

The wearing o' the green.  Shamrocks and parades.
Honoring Saint Patrick.
And for a few hours everyone Irish.
Joining the festivity; worldwide.

Much like Saint Valentine.  And his day. 
The wearing of red.
All the glitz.  No pressure. 
This the wearing of green or red.

But first.

There was the suffering.

How it all started.

Saint Patrick.
Born into a wealthy Roman family.
In Britain.  Around 400 AD.

Kidnapped by a raiding party.
Taken to Ireland.
To herd sheep.
Against his will. As a slave.  

And so for many years.
Alone.  Afraid.  Frightened.  Cold.
Only a young boy.

And Ireland in this era.
The Middle Ages.
Corrupt.  Violent. 
A land of Druids and human sacrifices.

Along the way. 
While herding sheep;  a slave.
He began to pray. 
In desperation.

And God answered.
Giving comfort and meaning.

Then years later.

Engineered by God.

A walk to the coast.
A boat back to Britain. 
Back home. 

But changed by misfortune.

He decided to study.
To return to Ireland. 
His people now.
The ones who enslaved him.

As a priest.  Then a bishop.
Changing the fabric of Ireland forever.
Bringing hope to a people.

Bringing God.

And said by some.
Ushering the history of civilization
out of the Dark Ages.

The date of his death.
March 17th.
Worldwide celebration.

Known more for what he did.
And what he became.
Than who he was.

A Brit, a kidnapped teen, a person experiencing adversity.

Changing him.

Known now.
As the Patron Saint.
Of Ireland.


It had to come first.

Not something we willingly choose.
But in the broken of life
God uses for good.

In this story.

And often.

In our stories.
Turning adversity into good.

I raise my glass to St Paddy today.
And I raise my eyes to God.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What I will remember


You know
when you're in pain.

Hard to think.
Hard to see straight.

To see color. 
And hope. 
And light.

And so.

Good to know
the truth.
In my head all the time.
My body
telling me differently.
In a season of recovery falling hard.

And so.

Others struggling more than me.
And maybe others less.
But we all struggle.

And in the pain
when people reach out;
arms of Jesus surrounding.

I will remember this.

And so.

When I am better
to be arms
to another.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Thursday, March 6, 2014


Just because this blog is called scribbling beautiful grace.
Doesn't mean I always do it.

Yes.  To the scribbling.

But so often no.
To the grace.

I am a recipient gladly.

Of Grace.
Undeserved favor.  Unfathomable love.
From God.

A word costing so much.
But so often.
Taken so lightly.

Because I think I know best.
How the days should look.
The running of things.  What I want.
And what He should do.

What about that?

When there's not enough to suit me.
Disappointment running hard and deep.
The constant striving. 
To make the happy.

The un-worship of it all crashing down.
Unsettling.  Confusing. 
The whys bumping into each other.
On a daily basis.

But then.

The God-That-Is
getting my attention.
And not letting go.

And me.
Having to realign my picture.
Of God.  Of Grace.
Unraveling the illusions and the subtle lies.
The putting myself at the center of happy.
And the good life. 

Because a relationship.
This grace thing.  And He.
Full of glory.
Redefining happy.

I am finding sometimes in the pain.
When our lack outweighs the lies.
The pages turn.
And we see. Really see.
This Giver of Grace. 

Worthy of worship.
And trust.
All the time.

In my search.
C.S. Lewis reminding me.

Do I really think
he could be the grandfather
of the universe,
who, when the day is done,
'A good time was had by all'?

Is such a thing even possible on any level?
If we stop to think about it.
The ramifications of such a system.

Would we even want this for our children?
For ourselves?
A benevolent despot.  A grandfather figure.

Or One.

Whose divine goodness
and purposes go far beyond our imaginings?

Who suffered the most
to give me Grace.

All the time.

In my lack.  In my need.
In the deep dark of the night.
When I am scribbling darkness
without even realizing it.
Having to catch myself.  Redirect.

C.S. Lewis says it best.

"A man can no more
diminish God's glory
by refusing to worship Him
than a lunatic
can put out the sun

by scribbling

the word 'darkness'

on the walls
of his cell."

What about that?

God's glory surrounding and I scribble darkness.

The un-worship.