Monday, April 1, 2013

I'm a bit rusty, but here we go!

I flew into Boston today. BAH-stin, actually. I immediately activated my accent and got to it. I haven’t been here in about 12 years. Last time was with my entire family, and when you travel with Georgey Porgey (Papa), you have no need to know anything. You just show up, ready to be given a proper guided tour of any city, including sketchy restaurants only the locals eat at. He knows every street, every building, and most of the history behind things...or if not, he makes it up so you believe he knows it. It’s glorious!

But, this time, I'm my own tour guide, responsible for figuring things out, finding my way, and making this one kick butt adventure!

Last time, I was married, my mom was with me, and anytime I travel to places with memories, it can be hard for a little while. In fact, as I wandered through a store in Concord today, I could have sworn if I had looked to my right, my mom would have been standing right. next. to. me.

She was, twelve years ago.

My heart hurt.

My heart hurts.

I arrived this afternoon and proceeded to get my rental car. Now, I’ve become quite the savvy Priceline and Expedia shopper, so usually I get a rockin’ car for next to nothing. Unfortunately, this trip didn’t quite pan out that way. At least I did get a full size car for the price of a compact, but all they had were Dodge chargers. BOO! But I did figure that I could just pretend I was Ziva from NCIS. So, technically, ability to kick butt #1 - Check!

I promptly jumped in my driver seat only to realize I had no earthly idea where I was going. See, I haven’t thought about this trip one iota. Nope, not for a second. School has been so hectic since the end is quickly approaching, way faster than I wish it would, so, unfortunately, it becomes all consuming. One must make sure all their t’s have been crossed and all their i’s have been dotted. You’re trying to grab a hold of the students, hug them, cheer for them, challenge them, keep them going, yet keep yourself focused and doing everything required of a school teacher...which is bunches.

So, I packed for the trip 9 p.m. last night, and basically did nothing else except verify when my plane was leaving.

I’ve come to Boston to make a run-through an itinerary I have set for a summer trip I am taking with 8 students. I knew I needed to come and walk it out, make sure I remembered where everything is and map out some great restaurants and tours. So as I sat in the rental car parking lot, I knew I was glad I had come, so I stared at the yucked out parking lot that screamed BAH-stin, got my iphone out, plugged in Concord, Massachusetts, and put my Ziva mobile in drive.

Only to promptly hit the exit and see how I was going to immediately need cash for the toll road I was entering. Thankfully, I am apparently not the only nimrod who travels unprepared, with no cash in hand, because there were gobs of signs telling drivers where to go for fuel and CASH. 

I drove in circles, found my gas station, bought pistachios and water, only to be told no cash back would be given and he pointed to the ATM in his best Massachusetts growl. I cheered him on, told him Happy Easter, and told him I hoped the weather cleared. He rolled his eyes while saying, “Ya.”

I grabbed my cash, my stachios, and jumped back in my Ziva-mobile and hit the whirly, twirly entrances and exits of the BAH-stin freeway systems. 

Being the Texas girl I am, I popped open my stachios and fiddled with eating them, while merging and winding, and figuring out these crazy BAH-stin highways.

First off, they have toll booths every 3 miles and they charge you what seems like a gazillion dollars at each one! WHAT?!?!

I almost needed another ATM in the middle of all the toll booths, Good Gracious! I dropped 10 bucks just to go 5 miles leaving the airport. I made a friendly, “Wow! I can’t get over all these toll booths.” to the final money taker, and he responded, “Welcome to Massachusetts.”

I must say, not the best welcome. Rain, cold, wind, and toll booths galore.

But no worries, my stachio’s and I made it out, found our highways with no trouble and headed north? south? no WEST to Concord! The land of unbelievably quaint homes that are only found in movies with Kiera Knightley or Mel Gibson in them. The houses are yellow, red, and taupe; shingled, with barn doors, and huge trees, with a wisp of snow, and a lawn as far as the eye can see.

I long to walk up to one and knock and just ask if I could have a hot chocolate while sitting next to their fireplace...with their yellow lab as my pillow. But I don’t.

Concord takes you back in time. It takes you back to when thought and poetry and reading were king and reality TV and video games would have been considered complete nonsense.

I walked the streets, entered the inns, and crossed bridges. As I entered Minute Men National Park, it seemed like I was walking onto sacred ground. The clouds were low, twilight was approaching, and there were but a hand full of others on the grounds. It was a magical moment. It was a moment I knew God was walking next to me. At times, traveling alone can be hard, but then there's moments like that, and nothing can beat it.

As I strolled, I envisioned what took place there 250 years ago, and honestly it took my breath away. The courage, determination, the grit and soul-moving bravery to claim freedom, a new land, a new story for a people is truly remarkable. 

Today, we might move cities, buy a home, or start a new career, but few of us have planted a flag, stood behind a tree with our musket loaded, knowing we are seriously outmanned, outgunned, but resolved, determined, and ready to start a new life, change the course of history for a continent, a people, a nation, and go up against a seemingly invincible empire sending troops to squash every single one of us.

At times I wonder how I’d respond, how we’d respond if our backs were against that kind of wall...we people of TV watching, angry bird playing, cliff note reading, and instant gratification who seem to become more ADD by the day.

I wonder if I would have stood on that bridge, ready to defend it, fighting for the freedom that I wouldn’t even see, but for those generations after me.

As I walk these streets and wonder about the stories of these people, these hills, these homes, these times...I wonder about the stories of us, of our time?

What battles will we face? What hill will we stand on and defend? What great enemy will come hunting for us, and will we stand against it?

I don’t know, maybe our lives will only be about iphones and kettle corn, Starbucks (YAY!) and Range Rovers...but I tend to think they won’t be.

Those might be the shiny objects to keep us distracted from the battle we should be facing. We might be so focused on the completely irrelevant while our true treasures are being taken right from under our noses.

I feel sorry for those who fight to keep the past alive. It’s quite the calling to preserve a time before. The rest of the world wants to push on, modernize, leave relics for the trash, and push for the new technology, the new way of living.

But then there are those, who inherently know that there is value in keeping hold of the
One of the Lanterns
past, in treasuring what so many want to throw out.

I’m grateful to those who have devoted their lives to keeping the stories of those who have come before us alive, to teach us lessons, to give us some sort of road map, an inspired notion of what our future can hold because of the link to our history.

I truly believe pursuing history helps enrich our present and, in turn, protects our futures.

I have a heart full of gratitude for those who see the value in it more than the rest of us, who no matter how small the crowds are, they keep shining their light, telling the tales, and preserving a treasure many of us ignorantly ignore or forget about.

On Saturday, I walked through Sleepy Hollow. The sun was still rising, so it was crisp, with a nice breeze, and the rays were poking through the towering trees. I roamed the narrow roads and traipsed up and down the hills. It took about 20 minutes before it dawned on me that I was walking through a cemetery, on a quiet morning, on the Saturday before Easter.

My heart was heavy, both from loneliness and remembering my mom, yet my heart was full from being in Concord, on a crisp morning, walking and talking to God on the Saturday... "The Quiet Saturday" before Easter morning.

The more I talked to Him, the more my heart opened up, my grief turned into gratitude, and my heart felt His touch, His presence, His hope.

I began meditating on our lesson from this past week in my class. We read “Lazarus being raised from the dead” from John 11.

That story is one of my favorites. It packs so many wonderful details, but I can’t help but extract 4 incredible truths from it. 

As I waked, I remembered those truths.

As I walked, I felt His quiet breeze.

As I walked, I heard His whispers.

I remembered from reading John 11, that Jesus had a plan. He knew Lazarus was going to get sick, He knew why, and He knew what the outcome would be. In fact, He even tipped off His audience about it, but they didn’t quite remember that when the sick became dreadful, and then tragic.

Jesus had a plan, which means, Jesus has a plan... both for me and for you.

Second, sometimes we have to wait.

The Scripture says, "So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was."

Lazarus was sick and getting worse, but Jesus waited, which means Mary and Martha waited.

They waited and wondered. Where's Jesus? Why is He not coming? Lazarus, the One he loved, is sick. Why won't Jesus come?

Personally, I hate waiting! Right now, my loneliness hurts, I mean physically hurts. My mom would have been 63 in 2 days. Being a single mom, and then without a mom, one’s intimate cheering section can become quiet. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve got more friends than I deserve, and my dad and his wife are incredible to me, but there’s something about a mom...that constant person in your corner.

Whichever way you slice it, it hurts. My loneliness hurts.

But Jesus has His timing. In His plans, He has perfect timing, and so often, that timing includes long periods of waiting.

But as we wait, as things hurt, and as our heart breaks, we weep, and guess who weeps with us?

Jesus does!

Which brings me to the 3rd truth from this story.

Jesus weeps with us.

Gosh that's a beautiful picture and an amazing reality.

He shows up, and He weeps right there with us.

That is a glorious, tangible, and comforting gift our Lord gives us.

He weeps with me.

He weeps with you.

When my heart is breaking, when my loneliness becomes palpable, when my confusion becomes overwhelming, or my grief is all I can bear, He weeps right alongside me. 

And then we come upon the fourth truth, and one of the most crucial ones in my book: My disbelief, my forgetfulness or distrust is not more powerful than God’s plans.

In spite of Mary and Martha not remembering that Jesus was doing something with Lazarus for His glory, Jesus still did it.

In fact, Mary even blamed Jesus, “If you had only been here...”, she fell at His feet, weeping...wondering, frustrated, grief stricken.

Jesus didn’t look at her and say, “Well, if you had just trusted Me, if you had only believed what I said a few days back, If you would have only...Mary.”

Nope. He didn’t.

By the grace of our glorious God who is good-beyond measure, He doesn't let our disbelief or distrust thwart His plans.

His plans were greater than their doubt and disbelief, or even anger and frustration.

Right now, in my life, that is one of the greatest truths I can hold onto. 

So often I feel like I have failed. My doubt was too strong, trust was not even present, my lack of ability, my faults, my disbelief, my frustration and impatience...they are just too much, too much for God.

But by His grace, I am not too much.

In fact, it is in the brokenness, in the moments of my disbelief, doubt, and grief, that He seems to show up in a way that knocks my socks off...not just in what He does, but because He was WILLING to do it in spite of me.

May this week bring us all moments where we fall at His feet asking Him to walk with us, and thanking Him for his willingness to do just that.

It's good to be back.

In Him,


Bless the Lord oh my soul, oh my soul
Worship His Holy name.
Sing like never before, oh my soul
I worship Your Holy name.

The sun comes up it's a new day dawning,

it's time to sing Your song again,
whatever may pass and whatever lies before me,
let me be singing when the evening comes

Bless the Lord oh my soul, oh my soul
Worship His Holy name.
Sing like never before, oh my soul
I worship Your Holy name.

You’re rich in love, and You're slow to anger,
Your name is great, your heart is kind,
for all Your goodness, I will keep on singing,
10,000 reasons for my heart to find.

Bless the Lord oh my soul, oh my soul
Worship His Holy name.
Sing like never before, oh my soul
I worship Your Holy name.

And on that day, when my strength is failing,
the end draws near, and my time has come,
still my soul will sing your praise unending

10,000 years and then forever more.

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