Friday, January 23, 2015

An Anchor for Our Soul

Recently during this month of Soul Dare, I blogged about yearning for more time to dig in deeper with God. I even mentioned that a week at a convent would be heaven right about now. In my mind, this would be the perfect answer to the stack of books that is calling my name and all of the deep thoughts that I have wanted to ponder,

Alas, convent life is not in the picture for me right now. I live smack dab in the middle of bustling life. And it's a good thing I do, or I would have missed a wonderful visit from a dear kindred this past weekend.

Lori and I have been friends for almost thirty years.


How is it possible that much time has gone by?

Lori and I met one summer at conference for pastors in our denomination. As daughters of pastors, we got to go to a special class of our own and although the details are a bit hazy after so many years, we met each other and the rest is history.

Actually, it so easily might not have been history.

I  have met plenty of people in my life on an airplane, in a store, at camp, etc. And while we had a connection and shared conversation, that was the one and only time our paths intersected.

But not with Lori.

That spark of connection -- I believe it was a "deep calls to deep" thing really -- grew into something as over the years we exchanged letters (the snail mail way before email existed), traveled to each other's home towns without our parents (she on a Greyhound bus and me in a car with family friends headed her way), found each other at youth camps and conventions and hung out, and basically stayed in touch with each other.

For almost thirty years.

At this point in my life, I can count on one hand the number of friends I have had that long and still have an active friendship with -- let alone can say I can be transparent and go deep with.

So suffice it to say that I treasure Lori's friendship.

It would take another blog to talk about the ways that God has allowed us to intersect each other's lives during times when we really needed it and I believe, in a way that no one else could.

After all, who better to understand the unique challenges and joys of being a pastor's kids but another pastor's kid?

Lori has been that friend to me.

And recently, Lori has walked alongside of me through a time of waiting for God to answer a prayer and dream of ours to move to a bigger house in the country.

She has been a faithful friend and cheerleader reminding me of the goodness of God and His perfect timing. A writer herself (among many other talents), she posted something I had written during this time of waiting on her blog. She cried with me over it and when God finally answered that prayer, she rejoiced with me over it.

So when she messaged me and asked if I were free this weekend to hang out and that she would drive up six hours from Escondido to see the new place, I cleared the proverbial calendar. Okay...I literally cleared it. And I believe God helped me to make this weekend happen. I've never been able to reschedule something or find a replacement so easily.

So when Lori pulled up Friday afternoon, I rushed outside to save her from puppy kisses greet her. And when we met up on my charming wooden porch that I've blogged and rejoiced about before, Lori had tears in her eyes. We hugged and it was "a moment."

(Lori...thank you for those tears. They were precious to me.)

Later she told me that she had turned down my street and caught her first glimpse of the farmhouse when Be Thou My Vision started to play in her car and she remembered (amazingly) that it is one of my favorite hymns.

Cue tears of joy.

As we walked inside, I babbled on excitedly as I led her on a tour of the house and all the outbuildings and trees and probably a wealth of minutiae that she graciously allowed. After we had toured everything and were back inside the cozy kitchen, she remarked on a sign that is hanging in our bedroom and where I had gotten it, etc.

I told her about how I choked back tears one Sunday morning during worship as we sang, Cornerstone, that has the words of the wonderful hymn The Solid Rock within its melody and lyrics. And okay, I didn't choke back tears so much as spitting them out of my eyes furiously when we got to the stanza,

"In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil."

I shared with Lori how repeating that refrain, "my anchor holds within the veil" became a silent vow from that moment on as the tumultuous journey of selling our house and finding our dream property sputtered on.

I told her about how I had always assumed that this verse cited my anchor holding within the v-a-l-e (a meadow or dale with a stream running through it,....ah, peaceful vale), rather than in the V-E-I-L (that which signified entering the Holy of Holies).

When I thought that through, of my peace being anchored in relationship with Him, it rocked my world even further. So when we moved into our farmhouse, I asked a friend to make me a sign with those specific words on it.

We both had a moment with that thought and then it was dinner time. We ate, we talked, we reminisced. We laughed. We went to bed and got up and enjoyed coffee, biscuits and some delicious handmade jams she had brought. We got dressed and made a beeline for my favorite little shop that recently expanded to a bigger location. I knew Lori would love it and sure enough, she did. She ended up buying metal letters that spelled out HOPE -- a word of hers for this season. We browsed antique shops (we both love old things) and had lunch at the tea house.

We shared more about life and what was going on with us on a deeper level. And I got to hear more of a Grand Dream that Lori is dreaming -- one that I can now encourage her through and towards. I can't wait to see God continue to lay out all the details He has so lovingly ordained.

Shortly, we had a great time. We headed back to the farm and for some reason, I had this desire to make comfort food while she was here, so I was making flaky pie crusts for chicken pot pie and quiche for the next morning while she told me about essential oils (a new business venture for her and a new interest for me).

Quiche is my new favorite and this is a mini version of the pot pie I made

All too soon, it was time to go to bed. Lori would be leaving the next day, but we had planned a special morning. Sunday morning came early and I got out my grandmother's linens she bought in Paris in the 1950's. I selected one place setting of each of my glass snack tray and cup sets. Then I warmed the scones we had taken to go from the tea house, steeped the tea (aptly called "Breakfast in Paris", no less) and set the table.

Lori takes amazing photos and even takes it to the next level by using a fun photo app to add character to them. So we enjoyed our breakfast a la Paris, looking at the white wonderland of fog outside. At some point, my eldest daughter stumbled out of the bedroom and joined us for some tea and quiche. It struck me then that Lori and I were her age when we met and the enormity of all that has happened in our lives since then amazed me. We played snippets of White Heart songs and hummed some refrains from other artists we liked back then.

I packed up a dozen farm fresh eggs from our hens for Lori to take home and then we were off to church.

And then the crying began.

Have you ever had God just let loose with a stream of focused attention that leaves you breathless and awed before Him?

This is what happened to my beautiful, transparent friend.

From the very first song sung to the last, to the sermon topic and beyond, God quietly rocked Lori's world and I got to be there to watch it all go down.

It was almost too much.

The Kleenex flowed....and it was good.

One song in particular struck us both. Hope's Anthem which has been "my song" for awhile. I love it.

My hope is in you, Lord
I am steadfast, I will not be moved
An anchor, never changing
All my hope is in you...

It's a beautiful song. When we sat down, we compared notes about that song and I whispered to Lori that a scripture of this had come to my attention awhile back. We found it in Hebrews 6:19:

"This hope we have as anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil."

Now if you have been paying attention, you might see some words pop at you. The sight of them together in one verse brings tears to my eyes even now.

"This HOPE we have as ANCHOR of the SOUL, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the VEIL."

In short, God took my sign about the anchor of my soul holding within the veil, and put it together with Lori's word, HOPE.

Only He could do that.

Only He could orchestrate a weekend that we both desperately needed and put within it a farm, a virtual visit to Paris, a walk down memory lane, an anchor, a veil and Hope.

Only He could orchestrate two twelve-year-old pastor's kids from southern California meeting up in the middle of the United States and seeing in each other something deep that was calling.

And after all the laughter and tears and farewells and returns to our separate lives, only He could put this journal in my friend's path as she browsed in Target.

By the time she texted this photo to me, we were both laughing at the lengths God was going to in order to speak to Lori and yes, even to me.

I'm so thankful for a God who pursues us and comforts us in our sadness and confusion and the "not yet" for which we dream.

I'm thankful for that anchor I have in Him...steadfast and secure.

I'm also thankful for an almost-thirty-year friendship that has anchored me in a way that I'm not sure I was aware of until this weekend.

Which leads me to another scripture I clung to as I dreamed my BIG dream and waited for God to fulfill it. It's something I am passing on to Lori as she dreams her BIG dream. Here you go, my friend:

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory..." (Ephesians 3:20-21a)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Soul Dare: Day Whatever

 It was bound to happen at some point.

The practice of actually living life intersected my desire to blog every single day during this time of Soul Dare.

Part of me feels bad about this.

I wish I had the fortitude to set my alarm at a dark hour and rise up and complete my quiet time and then write about it for another hour.

I am actually a bit jealous of a friend who is able to survive and thrive on five hours of sleep each night. The things she can and does accomplish before the rest of the world awakens is astounding.

However, part of me understands that this is part of the tug of war I will always fight between my spirit and my physical body.

What I was able to do the last week before our enrichment classes started became infinitely harder once they began again. I intended to continue my quiet time and post later in the day or at night. But there was always something. Or I was just too mentally worn out to do it.

And while I'm a little sorry about it, I'm just glad that I have been able to (mostly) get up and do my quiet time every morning.

After all, this is what this Soul Dare is all about.

The dare to go dig deeper, go further, and love richer is all centered in carving out that quiet time with me and God. 

This is what is important.

Telling you what I feel is important...well, is less so.

Something that hasn't changed? Wishing I had more hours and time in the day to complete everything I want to read, write and meditate on.

I added in homework from our Tuesday Morning Bible Study. So now I'm also studying 1, 2 & 3 John. In addition, I seem to keep finding books I want to read like All In and The Best Yes and Own Your Life.

For the first time in my life, I wish I could check myself into a convent for a week and just dig deeper.

Alas, convent life is not in the picture for me right now. And so I will continue this war with my spirit and my flesh and an endless stack of books and devotional guides apparently. However, after so many years of not really even having the desire to have this quiet time (just being honest here), I am grateful for this struggle.

Here's where I am these days as we chug toward the station at the end of January.

I have been enjoying working on the January Joy Dare and adding to my 1000 Gifts.

I have been loving the prompts she has for each day for three gifts to jot down. It's added some much needed gratitude time in my morning quiet time.

I have also created a Prayer Journal out of a cheapo composition book and the remainder of the Duck tape that I used on my Daily Journal. The part of me that loves organization and uniformity was very pleased to have these two things that will always be a reminder of what God does in my heart in 2015.

I am using it to list prayer requests with a check box and the date and room to write how God answers each prayer and when He does.

I am also using it to write out prayers in the Psalms and the prayers of my own heart. I have to say that I am also thrilled that God inspired me yet again (the daily journal was last year) with another tool to draw closer to Him. It's like he wants me to spend time with him! (What will he show me NEXT year???)

And lest you think I'm only adding things to my own Soul Dare list, I'll be honest and admit that I am not doing everything I intended. While I love Ann Voskamp's Sanity Manifesto and Daily Planner, I have not got in the rhythm of using them.

I also decided to drop the liturgical readings in my Mosaic Bible since I realized that I am back where I started reading them last year. Since there is so much else to read, I decided to spend my time elsewhere.

Jesus Calling remains and My Utmost for His Highest remains. I might get to the point where I feel like I've circled around again and am reading something I've already read. But, I haven't gotten there yet. Especially when I get my socks knocked off by what I read today by Mr. Chambers.


If you have been following the Daily Walk Bible plan, then you will have recently read The Sermon on the Mount and Jesus' other teachings in Matthew 5. And you will be amazed at how Mr. Chambers boils down that chapter to its essence

"The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is, in effect -- Narrow all our interests until the attitude of mind and heart and body is concentration on Jesus Christ.
'Look unto Me.' "
And this is the essence of Soul Dare 2015 -- the very same thing in fact. However, you determine to do it and whatever that looks like for you.

Look unto Him.