Friday, September 27, 2013

Just saying "thank you"

Although I have a few to choose from, it seems like my new home away from home has been found.  CafĂ© Torino, in the heart of my new neighborhood, has quickly become my "go to" spot for some strategic work moments, as well as those moments which have nothing to do with anything besides sitting in an Italian coffee shop contemplating their offering of classes in Italian.  I'm as grateful for the provision of this place as I am for their skill in caramel latte's.  From here I can literally look upon our new residence and, this afternoon, I can look upon the latest gift provided once again by God's grace and the generosity of amazing people who choose to follow his lead.  Parked outside the window is our exit strategy from the world of Zip Car.  In other words we, after more than 18 months spent in our mass transportation odyssey, are back to the world of car ownership.  Not only is it a wonderful vehicle, the best part of it is that we didn't have to go through the usual car buying routine.  In fact we didn't have to buy it at all.  It is a gift from a friend of our mission here in South Lake Union.  Grateful doesn't seem to cover how we feel right at this moment.  It doesn't really cover the entirety of what has transpired over the past 10 days.  It seems, as I look back, that gratitude can apply to joy and blessing, but it also is possible to see it in the midst of pain and trauma.  In fact if it wasn't for the latter, I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't have been experiencing the former. 
Sometimes I need to be hit on the head, literally it would seem, to take in all that God has in store for us.  A little more than a week ago, after a cheap shot by an industrial dumpster, I ended up in the ER with a head injury.  It could have been, actually should have been, much more serious than it was.  In the end I came home with staples in my head and a new example of what happens when one is an idiot.  A few days later, the well meant and well timed question from a member of our group "hey would you guys like a car?" was put in front of me.  In normal circumstances I'm pretty sure that the acceptance of a gift of that magnitude would have been nearly impossible for us.  However, the memory of the panic over how one would get to an ER, while bleeding profusely from the head, without personal transportation was still fresh in our minds.  Zip Car came through for us in that instance, but then the added concern for bleeding in a car not our own still lingered long after.  That scenario had never occurred to me, nor had the scenario my wife possibly having to transport me to a hospital at night in an emergency situation.  Those all factored in, and without even knowing what the vehicle was, we humbly accepted the gift eagerly offered.  Another dear friend encouraged us to just say "thank you".  So we did. I'm not going to elaborate here on the vehicle, save to say that it's not your average used car and it only adds to our amazement at how God works in the hearts of people who understand that their stuff is merely God's stuff entrusted to them to be put to best use.  Grateful doesn't nearly cover it.
The lesson here, in my humble opinion is simply this.  Say "thank you" and accept what comes your way.  Don't be resistant. Experience gratitude.  If it becomes too difficult a task for you, just pay it forward.  Don't be the one needing to be knocked upside the head.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Searching and 50 years ...

A few weeks ago, my gorgeous wife and I spent a wonderful Northwest Summer day celebrating our
29th anniversary.  In a few days I will celebrate the day that my AARP card mailings have been seeking to validate...otherwise known as a half of a century of life on this planet.  If you are a friend or have read anything from me lately you also know that last month ended 13+ years of serving a wonderful community of faith because 3 days ago we began the journey of nurturing a new one into existence.  10 days from now we move from our home (75 years old,4 bedrooms and a yard) of 12 years to a townhouse (1 month old, 2 bedrooms and a sidewalk).  Whether you can keep up on all of the math or not, you must be able to sense a climate of change in our life. 
As my wife and I have reflected on all of this during a number of happy hours recently, one thing continues to resonate with us.  The only thing predictable about our journey is that it tends to be very unpredictable.  We are both alright with that, the planner in me and the seat of your pants in her.  If you don't stop to take it all in once in awhile, you could virtually miss it all...or at least much of the important parts.
In my pastoral artist role over the years, one continuing theme seems to span nearly everyone that I encounter, young or not, nice house or not, employed or not, married or not.  The theme is searching.  We who consider ourselves to be followers of Jesus, if we are not careful, can tend to look at others who are not as the ones "searching" or "lost".  More often than not its denial, destructive, or just plain crap.  My experience is that ALL of us are searching or lost to some degree.  Failed and flailing more often than we care to admit. 
As I look forward and back, past, present, and future I can see it in my own life.  The road to recovery begins with acknowledgment so I'll begin by acknowledging that I am always searching.  The difference, over the years, has become what I am searching for.  Its not hope, love, or meaning.  Those I have found through Jesus, my wife and my family, along with an assortment of characters who have come, gone, or remained in my story.  What defines my searching always seems to be the idea of living life itself, with everything that it offers.  When my wife and I look back on our life to date and contemplate the days before us, we are in total agreement that something that can never be said about us is that we didn't live life with everything that we have.  I am satisfied with that.  As 50 approaches, I am looking forward to far more than an AARP discount.  I am looking forward to living the next decade with more abundance that even these past ones.  It might just take me a bit longer to get going or a bit longer to recover...but I'm going to do it.  We are going to do it.  Living life more abundantly is still searching to some degree...but its in the right direction.  Ironically (or not) the one we follow is the one who has promised it to us.