Enough

thank you1My youngest daughter and I drove in painful silence on our way to pick up some dinner. The last few hours had been filled with inconvenience and frustration, and I may have yelled at her a little, ok a lot, when she didn’t respond to something the way I wanted her to.

In reality, her response had been perfectly reasonable, but because I was grumpy from my day, I wasn’t thinking about reasonable. In fact, I had quietly been waiting for a moment like this when I could take out my frustrations on someone else, and she presented the perfect opportunity.

We pulled into the parking lot, and I probably sighed as I turned off the car and walked to the restaurant. As we rounded the corner, I noticed the same homeless man who often greets us upon our arrival. I hadn’t seen him in a while and wondered how he was doing. (This is the same man I wrote about here.)

As we walked, we could see him, but he couldn’t see us. I watched as he clasped his hands tightly, raised them up in the air, and with the most sincerity I had heard all day, he prayed. With closed eyes and head towards the sky, he humbly proclaimed, “God, you are so good to me. Thank you. Thank you for good people.” There was a humble disbelief in his tone as if he couldn’t believe that God would give him such a bounty.

And then he opened his eyes, surprised to see me standing there and smiled, “Well, Hi!! How have you been?”

We talked for a while and I asked if he needed anything. He smiled and told me he had dinner and then held up a Chipotle gift card. He closed his eyes again and said, “And someone just gave me this which will be great for tomorrow. I am so blessed.” And with an earnestness that is difficult to describe, he smiled at me and said, “God is SO good to me.”

McKenzie and I quietly walked into the store, and I stood pretending to stare at the menu while I fought the urge to cry.

I wrapped my arms around McKenzie, and she hugged me back, and I found myself wondering about gratitude.

Gratitude.

I ate three meals today.  I am embarrassed to say that I didn’t thank God for one of them. Not even a quick, “Thanks for this food.”

I am not saying this to beat myself up, but it’s important for me to think about it.

When was the last time I clasped my hands together with all of my strength and through tears just thanked God for being so good to me?

This man has no family, no home and isn’t always sure where his next meal is coming from, but he offered God more gratitude than I have in weeks.

Anne Voskamp recently told of a conversation she had with a little girl at a birthday party. The girl confessed to Ann that being at her sibling’s birthday party was hard because she knew she was “going to feel her tummy tighten into knots when everyone handed her sister all the presents, when her sister got the stage and the candles and the cake.”

I so appreciate that little girl’s honesty.

And I so appreciate what the little girl’s mom gave her to hold onto at that party.

A piece of paper that said, “I get enough.”

That she would get enough gifts and cake and celebrating.

Wide eyed, that little girl held up that paper to Ann and said, ““I am not ever losing this. Because I can’t forget it — or that’ll ruin everything: I get enough.”

I love that.

What would we say aloud if we were really honest?

I know the truth is that instead of telling myself that I get enough, I often hear myself saying, “It’s never enough.”

I always want more if I am honest.

Steve cleaned out the garage the other day and I found myself saying, “We need to work on the basement next.”

I am not even sure I said thank you for the garage.

I enjoy a fun evening with friends of deep conversation and connection, and I immediately want another night just like that.

I have a day to myself to read and pray and rest, and the next day I think, “Why can’t I have two days like that.”

I could go on….but that could get really embarrassing.

What if instead of always quietly thinking, “What’s next,” I was able to just say “Thank you.”

I get enough.

The man at Chipotle reminded me that it is often about gratitude.

A small shift in perspective that makes a huge difference.

I could easily look at him and think, “Gosh. A year later, he is still sitting in the same spot, asking for help.”

But couldn’t I say the same thing about myself? A year later, I am still struggling to remember that I get enough.

And today I am grateful for that angel of a man who reminded me that regardless of our circumstances, we can still be thankful.

And not just a “go through the motions, shoulder shrugging oh thanks,” but deep, sincere, humble gratitude.

I get enough.

Truth is I get more than enough.

Let’s not forget that there is always hope to start again.

St. Benedict once prayed, “Always we begin again.”

So today, I do just that. And with clasped hands lifted up, I humbly come before my Lord and say, “Thank you.”

Thank you. Thank you. THANK YOU.

Broken

mug handle 2

All Steve wanted for Father’s Day was the Laser Bond UV Light Fix It Kit. He liked his other gifts, but was like a kid in a candy store when he opened his new gadget. His eyes lit up as he wondered aloud what in our house might need a repair.

My favorite coffee mug broke a month ago. The handle popped off in the dishwasher, and I have been sad about it ever since. I put the handle inside the mug and moved it to a quiet corner in the kitchen. As I watched Steve’s enthusiasm fill the room, I suggested that my mug could be his first project.

Before I tell you what happened, let me tell you about the mug.

First things first, there is nothing quite like a perfect mug. It makes the whole coffee experience even better. Very few mugs achieve this feat in my life, but this mug did. The beautiful pottery has a great rim and is comfortable to hold. And it is a Young Life mug from my dear friend, Eve in Nashville.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Young Life, it is a Christian ministry for middle and high school students. Leaders build authentic relationships with kids and share the hope of the Gospel, not only with their words, but their lives as well. My own life and faith were deeply impacted by a Young Life leader who cared about me enough to spend time with me on a regular basis and encouraged me to ask any questions I might have related to God and life. Eve pours her life into young women and loves them right where they are. They want to know more about Christ because of the way Eve loves them unconditionally.

So obviously, this mug matters to me. Every morning, it not only offers a fabulous coffee moment, but also reminds me of hope and grace and faithful friends.

So Sunday night, after Steve did his “I love this gift” dance, he went to the kitchen to find my mug. With great diligence and determination, he used that new tool to put my mug back together again. And it worked! We all sat wide eyed and excited as McKenzie held the mug in her hand by the handle and it stayed together. I carefully carried the mug back to the kitchen and set it by the coffee maker, so it would be ready for me the next morning.

Mck Mug

 

Sure enough, I enjoyed one awesome cup of coffee. Until the second cup of coffee.

Steve stood next to the table, and we talked about the morning. As we talked, I picked up my mug, and next thing I knew, I was just holding the handle. Time stopped as Steve and I stared first at the mug and then at each other. Incredulous, Steve said something rude about the laser bond, but then resolved to try again after work because maybe he did something wrong. I confessed my fear about attempting another hot cup of coffee tomorrow morning.

And then, for the first time, I thought, “Maybe I will just drink out of a broken mug.”

And here’s why.

I hate brokenness. I can’t even articulate how hard it is for me to process not only all of the brokenness in the world, but also my own. I just want things to be fixed. I want to stop struggling with the same issues, I want to see redemption in the lives of those I love, and I want to stop seeing evil in the world and how it crushes us on so many levels. Read the headlines and you can literally feel the hope seeping out of your soul.

This Young Life mug always reminds me of redemption. It reminds of hope and healing and grace. It reminds of good people who love kids well and want them to know their worth. It reminds me of people who thought I was worth their time and worth hearing that God loves me. It reminds me that Jesus is with me and loves me, not because I am perfect, but because He is.

I confess that sometimes I forget this in the brokenness. I tend to get so overwhelmed by the pain I see around me, that I walk around heavy hearted and full of grief. If I am not careful, if I don’t take the time to sit in His truth, I can become a real hot mess. Just ask my friends and family.

So this morning, I thought, there will always be brokenness this side of heaven. I hate that and I just want to fix it. But sometimes even in our attempts to fix things, there is still brokenness. I might grow in one area of my life, but the next week, find myself in the same pit again…the one I thought I fixed.

So if I keep this broken mug, I see the brokenness, but the mug reminds of the Hope too. The redemption. The healing. The beauty. It is all there, just like in this life.

In Richard Rohr’s book, Falling Upward, he writes:

“If there is such a thing as human perfection, it seems to emerge precisely from how we handle the imperfection that is everywhere, especially our own. What a clever place for God to hide holiness, so that only the humble and earnest will find it! A “perfect” person ends up being one who can consciously forgive and include imperfection rather than one who thinks he or she is totally above and beyond imperfection.”

I don’t know if I will ever be able to fully embrace the brokenness, but I never want to forget the grace and mercy that walks in the midst of it. Sometimes we really need to sit close to the brokenness to find the redemption in it.

And that might lead to an even better cup of coffee every morning.

 

Sleep Walking

flower2

I stood in the quiet flower shop and watched the florist fill the counter with an assortment of beautiful flowers and greens.  He had taken pity on me when I nervously explained that I needed an arrangement for an event and basically begged him to help me. He offered some suggestions, and I quickly nodded yes even though I had no idea what the end result would be.

The store doors were open, and the refreshing spring air patted me on the shoulder in a reassuring way. I relaxed in the moment and studied the flowers the man had chosen, excited to watch the arrangement come to life.

I felt great respect for his confidence as he quickly picked the flowers and knew just where to put them.  He easily pruned certain leaves, trimmed stems, and added just the right amount of color. There is something peaceful about watching a person create his art.

Rather than enjoy the gentle quiet, I felt the obligatory nudge to make small talk and asked how many of these he must make every day.

He smiled and simply said, “A lot.”

I continued, “I bet you can make these in your sleep.”

He chuckled gently and said, “No, I really have to be there.”

He glanced up from his work, and we both just looked at each other.

It was the most profound thing I had heard all day.

A few minutes later, he handed me an exquisite creation, and I carefully carried it to my car. Several days later, I am still thinking about his words.

“I really have to be there.”

In the last few weeks, the arrival of spring has included a faster pace of life. I cannot tell you how many people have said things to me like:

 “Things are too busy. It just feels like too much.”

“I love spring, but I hate the schedule that comes with it.”

“My kids are so tired. There is just too much going on.”

“I am just holding my breath to get through this week.”

“If I can just make it until June, I will be fine.”

I think a majority of us just wish we could do a lot of this in our sleep. We put our heads down and with determination, decide we will just hang in there, and make it through this hectic time of year.

Other days, life just feels hard. People I love are hurting, there are no easy answers, and I feel helpless as I watch them suffer. It is tempting to just go through the motions, get through the day until things get a little easier or better.

But at what expense?

The florist stands at that counter eight hours a day creating gorgeous arrangements. I am sure there are moments of fatigue when his back hurts, moments when customers are demanding or rude, moments when the arrangement he envisioned didn’t quite work and he has to start over. I wonder if there are times when he just doesn’t feel all that creative.

But, as he said, he “really has to be there.”

Art and beauty require our presence.

Life does too.

We can definitely go through the motions and detach from it all, but what do we miss when we do that?

How do we choose to stay?

This is not the moment when you hear, “Cue the five easy steps for being completely engaged in every moment, even the mundane or painful ones.”

I don’t have five easy steps to share.

I could say, “Let’s all cut out three things from our schedule this week,” but how do you choose which things to eliminate? Do we take one child to practice, but tell the other we are skipping? Do we hand our boss the list he gave us with three things scratched out and say, “You know, I am feeling like I need to minimize some things in my life so I just can’t get to all of this today.” Wonder how well that would be received.

So I won’t say that.

I will say that in that moment of eye contact with the random, talented florist, I was reminded that I have been starting to check out a bit, going through the motions.

Last Sunday, my 13 year old asked me if I wanted to hit some tennis balls in our cul de sac.

It was a striking spring day, the weather was perfect, and my first response was, “Ah, I really have to go to the grocery store. I have a lot to do before dinner.”

And before I could even add to my long list, I heard, “You really have to be there.” And the memory of that gentle moment in the flower shop woke me up.

Hello? Earth to Lori. My 13 year old teenager had just initiated time with me, and I almost slept through it.

I put my pen down, looked at my daughter and said, “Do you know where the rackets are?”

We hit the tennis ball for fifteen minutes and her giggles refreshed my tired soul.

No, the time together didn’t solve life’s issues and problems and give me every answer I wrestle for, but it fed something hungry in me.

Fifteen minutes later, my daughter asked if she could come to the grocery store with me.

And my trip to the store changed from drudgery to time with my girl and even though my grocery bill was a lot higher than if I had just been by my tired self, it felt worth it.

My week is off to another busy start, but I am trying to listen to that voice that says, “You really have to be there.”

Who knew that angels worked in flower stores?