October Rain

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“The rain falls on the just and the unjust.”

 This is true.

 Only, when the rain falls on the unjust, we don’t feel it as much. It perhaps doesn’t look or feel like rain as much as karma. But, when the rain falls on the just, the delightful, beautiful souls that flavor life with salt and illuminate it with light… the clouds are heavy and the rain beats hard.

 October has been a grieving month for me for 12 years. I have missed and mourned one precious soul that inspired and motivated me to live intentionally and deeply the love of Christ. Her death marked a change in me. Her funeral served as a pep rally for the rest of my life. The void Aimee left demanded my fulfillment, and I would never be the same. Really. I remember leaving that memorial service, packed out with lives touched by her gentle and sometimes awkwardly large hands, knowing that the world had lost a powerful presence.

 I went home, picked my baby up out of her crib, and cradled her to my chest and cried. I had no answers. I felt just as fragile and dependent before God as the child I held. In some way I wanted to physically attend to her the way I needed Daddy God to spiritually attend to me. And as I rocked her, as I poured out my tears before a God that promised to capture each one, I watched the rain.

 There is no rain today, but the clouds are grey.

 Yesterday marked the death of another distinguished light, Sister Gussie.

 Cancer was her nemesis. Actually, that’s just the name for the battle of her final foe. To say that it overtook her is to declare her non-victorious, and I refuse to say that about my friend. Even as I close my eyes, I can hear her dear raspy voice – praying for me, encouraging me, speaking to my heart the lessons her older heart had learned so well.

 She taught me that weakness isn’t failure. She taught me that wrestling with depression isn’t being unfaithful to God. She taught me that whatever the season – be it stay-at-home mom of nursers and ankle-biters to a full-fledged minister traveling and pouring out more of yourself than you feel you can give – there is worth in it all. She lived it out faithfully – the silent and stalwart soul mate of a man that she loved unashamedly and sacrificially.

 In death, we have two choices, we can grieve and mourn these losses and relegate them to a memory, or we can see the void and commit to be a part of the legacy of living. We can see the rain as the lack of sunshine, or we can see it as the conditions that precede any rainbow. And, some days we might feel both… and that’s okay. Sister Gussie taught me that, too.

 Today I mourn. I allow my soul the chance to long for more time, more conversations, and more lessons that I cannot have. Again, my tears resemble rain, and I trust my Father is collecting them. My world is missing these two bright lights. But when the clouds of grief clear, my celebration of them will be to continue…to shine brighter, to love deeper, and to give more generously to make up for the voids that they have left behind.

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Not just an American Girl®

I have literally been stressed this Christmas. I don’t usually stress about trivial things so being hugely stressed over one toy on the list is mildly ridiculous. But I am. What is this toy? An American Girl doll.

My mommy heart wants my baby to be happy. I want to see eyes sparkle and feel love-filled hugs as she calls me the best mom ever! But my increasingly radical, compassionate heart just can’t see spending that amount of money on a toy! A toy that most likely will end up on a shelf in a few years time – forgotten and collecting dust like every poor outcast of Toy Story.

I’ve heard every argument that can possibly be raised. And I nod at their validity. I definitely don’t fault anyone for spending their money on an iconic doll for their daughters. But, I’ve researched the “knock-offs” and honestly… Imitations are getting quite good! Granted, there are no mega stores with play spots and tea rooms for these dolls, but they are quite beautiful, even more beautiful, in some cases, than the American Girl dolls.

But here is the thing, I’m not cheap. I see the value in good quality and want the best for my kids, only in the end is it an investment that will matter? In the past few months I’ve read some things that have me rethinking how much I spend and on what I spend my money. This quote from “God can’t sleep” by Palmer Chinchen pretty much wrecked me, “We must live generously, live simply… So that others may simply live.” That means living beyond iconic dolls with high price tags to meet more devastating needs, more life sustaining needs.

I want to leave a legacy, and I want my sweet, precious, priceless daughters to leave one, too. But, I don’t want it to be a doll. I want it to be a generous spirit, a heart that puts others needs before its wants, and a soul that understands that it’s not living to please itself… Quite honestly, dedicated selfless Jesus followers. I want to leave the legacy my ancestors left me, the one my parents worked to instill in me – The passion that made them stay on a mission field far away from the comforts of home for almost 30 years. That same passion inspired my oldest sister to volunteer in the Korean pediatrics unit as a teen instead of landing a high paying job teaching English, and gave my other sister the desire to get her Masters degree and mentor and teach kids with special needs, and has my parents still giving the clothes off their backs at times to meet the needs of those they come in contact with. That’s a lasting legacy. The one I want to leave my girls, and the one I desperately pray they leave to theirs!

So, after great deliberation and insight, I made a decision. We got the “knock off” brand doll. My daughter hasn’t unwrapped it yet, and I pray she isn’t disappointed. But, with the money I saved I bought one other gift – a goat. I’ll never see the goat, or milk the goat, or (thankfully!) have to touch the goat, but without really realizing who or where, we are going to meet a desperate need. And, hopefully with that small pittance of generosity, some family in a third world country will live to leave legacies of their own.

I’m not just an American girl. This land is not my home. I’m merely a traveler passing through, praying to leave the world a better place, and leaving a better hope for my children. For me, a doll brings temporary happiness.. A generous spirit ignites eternal joy.

You, too, can give a gift that sustains life. Go to this link: http://www.globalgiftguide.org and find out more about how you can, “Live simply so that others may simply live.” Happy shopping!

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