Sunday, December 25, 2016

"The china had never been used."

I pulled out dusty bins sitting on top of dusty bins in the basement.  There, in the back corner, I pried open the stubborn grey lid.  It hadn't been opened in 14 years.  I took each piece of newspaper out with careful hands.  My heart skipped a beat as I uncovered each delicate piece.  Time had failed me when it came to remembering the beauty in this box.
I had broken up with the man I thought I would be marrying.  I had come home, defeated and depressed. I had dropped out of college and I needed a fresh start. There was a bit of relief that the relationship was over.  I thought eventually I would love him the way my parents loved each other.  I thought it would grow.  Real love wouldn't come until much, much later.  
I decided to get my own apartment.  That seemed like the appropriate next step.  There was nothing that screamed "I'm fine.  It's fine.  I'M FINE!" like a place just for me.  I had absolutely no furniture except one chair.  I slept on an air mattress with a tiny hole and the heaviest part of my body would be touching the floor the next morning. I'm sure we all know which part that is.  Mawie, God bless that woman, bought me a mattress.  I decided to look for estate sales in the newspaper for some other furniture.  I found one not too far away and headed there hoping for the best.  
What I walked away with was absolutely EVERYTHING I needed for my space.  Barrel chairs, a white peacock sofa, kitchen utensils, sewing machine, dining room table and hutch.  I could go on.  Most importantly...I made 5 new friends.  They were elderly women whose friend had moved into a nursing home.  They were helping sell her stuff to pay for her move.  I called my mom and her squad and she told me to hold up until she got there.  What I was saying sounded crazy.  She has always been the one to double check my deals, one more ridiculous than the next (love you Momma!).  While I waited for my mom to arrive, those elderly women sat with me and told me about all the fun they'd had together.  You could see the pain when they mentioned their friend.  They were overjoyed to be helping me start my new life.  Before I left with my truckloads of things, the women gifted me their friend's fine china.  They wrapped it and assured me their friend would love for me to have it.  I've never taken it out of the paper. I've never had a formal dining room to display it.  I've honestly thought about it often and longed for a reason to use it. Today was that reason.
I decided I'm not a huge fan of a mystical fat man getting all the cred for my kids gifts.  Especially what it's taken to purchase them.  I decided that I won't lie to my kids when they ask if he is real but we just keep the Santa chatter to a minimum (not dogging ya if you go all out!).  I still wanted the magic of Christmas morning.  My friend Claire told me about her friend who's mom would make a royal birthday celebration out of Christmas morning.  Bran was on board and so, I ventured back to the dark, creepy corner of my basement to find some of my most expensive, beautiful possessions.  It was like the shepherds finding Jesus in the animal trough.  Just kidding guys.  
Whoever sent the Target gift card and the sweet note, I used that to buy an actual table cloth.  I've never bought one before.  The ones I had were other gifts from those sweet women 14 years ago.  I've been known to use a bed sheet.  I pressed white linen napkins from woman camp (woop! woop!), and set each place with the treasured china for my treasured souls.  
Today, we feasted and thanked Jesus for being born.  We opened gifts and were thankful for each other and food on the beautiful table. Team Ogilby welcomed it's newest member, Ferdinand, which can't be a coincidence that his name starts with "F".  Charlotte even read him a book to feel more welcome (he was terrified).  We hugged and meant it.  
I was honestly worried about this season.  Being in the same place as last year, but not having the "high" from all the paper man buzz.  My anxiety felt as if it was creeping up. I felt like all of that carried me through the season. And then my wallet and phone were stolen.  Again, I tried to keep a hopeful heart, but it was almost as if I would crumble if I took a long hard look at my position.  What happened next can only be Jesus.  Someone (I absolutely am better because you are in my life) bought me a new phone.  The Target gift card and note.  A new wallet with a check and card. Food, a new purse, and "candy cans" for my kids.  The breakfasts, lunches, and dinners with and from friends.  Money in the mail.  A bracelet in the mail.  A friend stopping by with socks, gift cards, paper towels.  Family giving me money they would usually donate to the fund my dad set up before he passed away to put towards Nepal.  Notes and chats and messages confirming from Jesus, in all His wondrous glory, after all my mistakes have been poorly laid out...He loves me.  He sees me and He knows me and He still loves me.  I'm so far from perfect that sometimes my breath catches when I think about my missteps.  I think that I shouldn't go to Nepal because I don't have my life together.  I screw up in mighty proportions.  All the while God could pull back His abundance, and maybe even He should...but they flow freely. 
To each of you in my life, sometimes I run out of ways to say thank you.  Nothing ever feels grand enough for the way my heart wants to burst out of my chest.  I hope you feel and hear my gratitude.  I hope you understand it when I don't have the words.  Merry Christmas.  Merry Merry Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Beautifully Broken.

I looked frantically in my purse.  Somehow.  Somehow I knew before I even looked that it was gone.  Since I was little, I've had this sense.  This nudge in my soul that something is off.  So many times, regardless of how many times it's right, I ignore it.  To type it and tell the world, (or the 15 people that read this) I know in the deepest parts of my being when something is about to happen, that I turn a blind eye...seems crazy.  Disregarding the fairly clear warning has sometimes led me close to death. Other times, heading the call that a valley is coming, I found a safe shelter to weather life's most vicious storm with complete confidence. Tonight...it was just a quick check that life was going to get just a little more complicated.
Last night I sat in that performance, the church I love so dearly, and felt overwhelmed with pride for the sweet people in my life.  I swept tears of joy from my cheeks at the revelation I got to share this with my dear friend Lisa.  How crazy that, in listening to that inkling so many years ago to travel to Jordan, it would lead me to a job where I would find my soul sister.  A girl who hears me.  A girl who sees things so differently but accepts my vision.  A love that transcends and binds and brings us to a place at the end of our own ideas. An honest, life giving friendship.  A church that continues to bust through myths of what religion should look like and a congregation made up of beautiful sinners.  A true place for the broken.
I'm not shaken that my things could disappear at a church.  My church.  It's still my safe place.  It's still my home.  It almost makes it that much clearer to me.  The broken are welcome here.  We don't walk out of that place perfect...just with the opportunity to soak in what God wants for us.  Last night, I was frustrated about my phone.  I laid in bed.  I couldn't sleep, even with 2 days of no sleep from a sick babe.  I started to fight the negative places and talk to God.  Out loud.  I literally said, "God.  I trust You.  I trust that You will turn this into good.  I trust that You know me and You love me.  I trust You want good things for me." I literally thought, I'll come out ahead in this somehow.  Somehow I will come out unscathed.  And once again...God spoke in better ways.
In that moment I realized when I dumped my purse in the aisle at Crossroads looking for my phone, I didn't see my wallet in the playback.  This wasn't going to be clean ending.  This isn't what I imagined when I prayed that prayer.  I hopped out of bed and ran to my purse.  I dumped it out on my living room floor and started to sob.  I cried that my life just got a little harder.  I cried that I told God I trusted Him and the story got more dramatic.  This isn't what I had envisioned.  Silly me.  God's never done. 
Lisa showed me how to google call my credit card and debit card company (and made all the phone calls I couldn't!!!).  This morning I woke up to such wonderful encouragement and offers for phones and help.  Even still, I went back to bed after dropping Charlotte off to sulk.  The bits declined their morning show to lay with me, love on me, and bring me their most favorite stuffed animals...all the while telling me I was their favorite part of the day with their little hands holding my face.  My friend Kate made us the most delicious pancakes and bacon and fed my kids lunch.  She listened. She empathized.  Our angel tree donations were IMMEDIATELY covered by wonderful, willing souls.  My friend Kelley was the first to respond.  Not only did she drop off the gifts to me so we could wrap them and still enjoy the giving, she brought me wine you guys.  And gave me $20 in case I needed something before my new debit and credit card came.  
I have sat in this humble place wondering which words to use to express the way God continues to blow my expectations out of the water.  I read Jesus Calling for today and I cried all the tears.  I'll happily type it out for you if you would like.  But I'll leave you with the first and last line for today's entry: Your needs and My riches are a perfect fit.  Rejoice in your neediness, which enables you to find intimate completion in Me.
Merry Christmas friends.  If you want to know more of this Love, I'd be over the moon to tell you all about Him. His birthday is coming up and to say I'm excited to celebrate the day He graced this earth would be an understatement.  This man continues to grab my heart, put it back together, and leave it better than He found it.