The Butterfly and I

I recently chased a butterfly with my camera, while wearing flip-flops and bathing suit.  I felt silly but didn’t care. He was elusive for a while.  And then he wasn’t.  It was a male Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.  (Thanks, Google)

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Later I thought about the whole episode.  Mulled.  Pondered. God often reveals, when something leads me to think/mull/ponder.

This is what He taught me through this little butterfly:

1) Every picture has a backstory.  That day we took our little red boat out onto the lake. The plan was to go further than we ever had and check out islands on the way.

See the cute red boat, the beautiful scene, the tranquillity? What you don’t see is my husband standing in the water holding the boat in place, because there were lots of rocks near the shore that could create holes in the boat. The anchor would not hold. He stood in the water and held the boat for a long minutes so the kids could swim and I could explore and take pictures of butterflies and whatnot.  He’s a good man.

After the picture was taken, what you don’t see is how we climbed back into the boat , and the boat wouldn’t start.  Also, it had taken on an alarming amount of water in the bilge. The next minutes were tense. I started being grateful we were near the island, and I was seriously calculating how long two adults and three children could live on some bread, a protein bar, and trail mix.  And it was extra-tense considering we had just spent a ridiculous amount of money to have the boat serviced.  These words may have been gritted out uttered:  ”As soon as we get back, I’m getting rid of this boat”, and “It’s true, the best days of your life are when you get the boat and when you sell the boat!”.

Good news, the water pumped out and all was well.

So that pretty picture doesn’t reveal the moments of fun, laughter, patience, love, and then tension, fear, annoyance, and relief.  You only see the snapshot, and it doesn’t represent the whole day.  

When we talk to people, we often settle for a snapshot, don’t we? “Hey, how are you? Good, how are you?  Fine! so good to see you.  Bye!”  Staying on the surface is easy and comfortable.

There is always more going on with a person than what you see.  I try to be careful to pay attention, to really look someone in the eyes, and see more.  Don’t you sometimes want others to really see you? Don’t you want them to care and listen to you?

I believe that if you ask a little more than “How are you?”, it will often be welcomed. Asking is not difficult.  Be brave.  Ask.

Then listen to them.  Focused, laser-beam listening. And do you know what you will often find under the surface?

Honesty.  The real deal about how they really are.  It’s something we all long for and value, honesty. And it’s right there, just under the surface.

I encourage you to look a little longer, ask a little more, listen a lot harder.

This part is vital:  if someone shares their honesty with you, treat it as a treasure. Don’t throw it away, don’t trample on it, don’t share it without permission.  Hold it carefully in your hands and in your heart. Pray. Be trustworthy with it, because you have a piece of their heart in your hands, and that is a treasure.

2) Broken does not mean ruined.  The butterfly had a broken wing.

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He was broken, yet he still flew.   He was imperfect and remained bright and beautiful.

The analogy is obvious.  We are broken, imperfect, and yet Jesus loves us and sings over us.  Even when we ignore Him and don’t listen to Him and forget what He has done for us and get distracted by the world, still He loves us.

Don’t believe the lie that you are too broken and beyond repair for Him, or that you must first repair yourself and then come to Jesus.  He loves you as you are!

3) God does things for me that I never see.  I stealthily stalked this butterfly with my feet and camera with no success.  I gave up and looked to another subject to photograph. Amazingly, the butterfly then came to me!  He landed on the plant I was looking at:

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It was a gift to me, a visible, tangible gift.  A sweet little wink from the Lord. Loving and sweet, just for me.

What about the gifts from Him I never see?  What does He do for me that I am not aware of?  He is my Advocate.  What does he say for me?  and you? And my loved ones?

Maybe there is protection, like a delay that keeps me from being in a car accident. Perhaps the Holy Spirit prompts someone to pray for me.  I imagine battles unseen, fought by angels who have my back.  Who knows?

For all You do for me, seen and unseen, Lord, I thank You.

 

 

You Might Like These Blogs…

Right now I subscribe to about 12 blogs.  I’ll share some of them here and tell you what I like about them.  Ready?

DECORATING/DIY

Young House Love  http://www.younghouselove.com/

John and Sherry, daughter Clara, and dog named Burger.  They write about re-doing their home, one project at a time (working on 3rd house now).  I like this hugely popular blog because it’s honest, helpful (step-by-step instructions with photos with every project), they have great taste, and the writing is FUNNY and real.

I can read this, enjoy the decorating and projects, and leave unperturbed.  No hassle, no controversy.

Nesting Place  http://www.thenester.com/

One of my favorites of all time, and it all started with this sunburst mirror she made from paper. Paper!?  I have been following ever since.  She has impeccable decorating taste with a little quirk and humor mixed in there.  I love people that don’t take things too seriously.  She and her family just moved to a country home near Charlotte and renovations have begun…this will be great!

FLAT-OUT ENTERTAINING

Big Mama  http://thebigmamablog.com/

The name is not a good visual of the actual person.  She’s a slim Texas wife and mom, and funny as heck.  You read her posts and feel like she’s your friend that you like to hang out with and laugh till it hurts.  What’s this about meat juice?

I read this because it’s relaxed and makes me smile and sometimes LOL.  And I’m a tough crowd, people.

ENCOURAGEMENT/CHRISTIAN WRITERS

Lisa-Jo Baker   http://lisajobaker.com/

She has the undeniable gift of encouragement, especially to moms.  She consistently pours out words that are uplifting, strong, honest, boosting, caring, inspiring.  And shares her own journey of mothering with great love and humbleness. Her heart comes through in her writing.

I read this and feel like I’m linking arms and being supported through the toughest job in the world, being a mom.

Chatting At The Sky   http://www.chattingatthesky.com/

Her name is Emily P. Freeman and, by the way, her sister is The Nester (above).  This blog is deep, reflective, questioning, soulful, and also beautiful to look at.  She says things like this:  “Walking our fourth grade girls and our first grade son to school this week, I’ve been thinking about the end of the year – What do I hope they’ll be able to say about this year when the end of it comes? What do I hope to say myself?”  

This blog speaks to my own reflective and questioning self.  It often leads me to deep waters, so that even though I may read and then leave the blog, I take something with me and the Lord uses it in my own journey.

Allume http://allume.com/blog/

This is a blog, a ministry, a community, for Christian women, writers, authors, and bloggers.  It is full of encouragement, inspiration, and honesty.  Different writers tell about their struggles and triumphs with life, blogging, and faith.

There is also a very popular annual Allume Conference for bloggers and writers. This year it’s in Greenville, SC, and yours truly is going!

BLOGGING/WRITING

Amy Lynn Andrews http://amylynnandrews.com/

If you ever thought about having a blog, go here!  Around the time I was ready to start a blog, I found Amy Lynn Andrews.  I had no clue how to create a blog, and everything I needed to know was right here.  Her blog is FULL of all things blogging, and she answers every question you can think of about starting and building a blog.  She’s brilliant.

I read her posts to get the latest blogging/technical/cool stuff to do.  She does the leg work for me.  Big time saver!

MISSIONS

A Life Overseas   http://www.alifeoverseas.com/

This blog has a different writer everyday, and they are from all over the world.  It’s a fascinating blog, a place for missionaries to write of their experiences, their opinions, their struggles, their lessons learned.  And it’s real and valuable window into the missionary life.

I read this blog and remember, again, that I am too comfortable.

What about you?  Do you have some blog faves?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You are Great, God

My oldest son is 15 and he’s a musician.  He has abilities on the piano keys that just make me shake my head in wonder.  Usually it’s classical pieces he favors, and they are lovely, some haunting, all beautiful.

Today it was a different song and it touched the deepest part of me in ways he has no idea.  It was How Great Thou Art.  If some Bible verses are life verses, this hymn has become a life song for me.

He played, I was folding laundry, and from the first notes that sing “Oh Lord, my God…” I was flooded with feelings.  Each fighting for dominance in my heart…awe, grief, joy, kneeling surrender, gladness, sorrow for what used to be.  I used to almost dread hearing it, but no longer.

Here’s why:

My son is playing/learning/teaching himself a song that is for the Lord.  That is huge to me.  Music is incredibly powerful.  He doesn’t always fill his ears with music that is uplifting and full of praise to God.  Some of the music today makes me gag, it’s awful stuff. Playing songs of praise is worship.  Music that will, I pray, burrow deep into his heart and head and stay there.  I believe the Lord will use it to help him.

So my heart is thrilled when he plays for the Lord.  It’s what I have prayed for since he first learned the piano.  And at his age, in this world, oh Glory, it’s a battle for his soul, and I’m glad for anything good.

Hearing this hymn is a straight track to the place in my brain that holds memories of my mom’s funeral.  I can be instantly there, sitting on the pew beside my daddy and my husband, tears streaming, hearing myself and the overflowing church singing “Oh Lord, my God…”

Heavy memories.  But not unwanted.

Adult children have to make many decisions after a parent dies.  I chose the two songs that the congregation would sing.  Great Is Thy Faithfulness, that choice came quickly. I wasn’t sure about the second.  I prayed for help with it, because it was a big deal and there was little time.  Then, when I woke up at 2:00 AM with How Great Thou Art playing in my head, I knew.  Because that was God waking me up.

Describing what it was like at the funeral, during that song, is so difficult.  There was the joyful and heavy weight of the Holy Spirit as we sang.  Do you ever recognize that feeling of unity with others while praising God in song?  Like, yes, this is what we are made for, all people, together, worshiping the one true God.  And it feels incredible and right? That feeling was there, intertwined with such sorrow from so many.  It was powerful beyond comprehension.

For me, those moments in that song were a time of absolutely coming to the end of myself. Nothing left.  Only God remained.  I was singing and hurting and praising and I was free to let it all flow along with the words – the wrenching pain, the questions of why, the tears.  And then came the reverence and the knowing that You Are God and You Are Here, and here I am, giving You the weight of sadness even though I still feel it, and on my skin and in my being I feel the heaviness of Your Presence.  It’s like we are trading, right now in this church, and the weights meld together and in those moments it is a flow of awful and wonderful and You are all that is holding me together and there is the certainty that death is real and wrenching but YOU ARE and YOU HAVE OVERCOME IT. And I rejoice and feel the pain and love you so much!  And You. Are. God.  How great thou art, how great thou art.  May I never forget those holy moments, ever.

And finally, I’m touched by the song itself.  To me it says, oh Lord, I am in awe when I think of all You have made with your hand.  My soul sings to You, My Savior…How great You are!  How great You are!

So humble, those words.  It’s a perspective of “this is me (the created), and there You are (the creator), and whoa, I am full of awe!  My soul lifts to You and expands to You and I can’t help but praise You!”

I love it when we sing it in church, I just love it.  To God be the glory, forever.

P.S.  I enjoy learning the history of hymns, and you can read about the history of How Great Thou Art here.

Thoughts, comments?  Please, feel free to share them :)

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