Thursday, December 30, 2010

All Tied Up and No Place To Go

When I was ten years old I was picked on a lot for some reason. Oh wait...I remember. I was skinny, wore glasses and cried at the drop of a hat. A bully's dream target. On a really cold winter day I was hitting the tether ball with a friend at recess. Actually I should say I was trying to hit the tether ball. Physical coordination and I were not on speaking terms.

A couple of tough guys who were in the fifth grade decided they wanted the tether ball and my girlfriend told them they couldn't have it.

Tough Guys:  Get outta here. We're gonna play now.

Best Friend: (in a confident manner foreign to this writer at that age)   Can't have it!

KC: muffled giggle (thrilled with such bravery)

Now keep in mind I wasn't that one who said they couldn't have it. I simply giggled.  But to these boys, who I realized later had insecurities much larger than their bravado, the giggling was the ultimate insult. That and the fact that they knew they couldn't out-spur the wonderful and brave Linda, they instead turned their attention to the kid that cried.  At that exact moment I thought I had been saved from their anger by the ringing of the bell. Linda must have thought so too, because she dashed off into the building. The boys did as well, but not before they grabbed the tether ball rope and tied me to the pole. One of them looked over his shoulder and yelled. "What are you gonna do now?"
Within a two minute span of time I had gone from a giggle to being abandoned, tied to a cold pole while everyone else ran inside. I think they missed seeing me because I was so skinny the pole hid me from view. And so I did what I did best....I cried.  I recall being scared that no one would know I was missing until I was a frozen, blonde lump on the pole.

But HE knew. No not teacher, Mr. Setter. He was my hero. Not just that day, but everyday. He seemed to know I was tender-hearted (as my Dad called it) and he went out of his way to be extra nice. Sometimes girls like me can be invisible to teachers, but he knew I had not come in from recess and he went looking for me. So not only did he untie the ropes that held me to an immovable object, but he held my hand, wiped my tears and majorly kicked some fifth grade butt. Definitely my hero.

I thought about that story today as I looked back over a pretty tough year. And it occurred to me that Mr. Setter (Mr. Go Get Her) and that whole incident was not unlike what happened to me AGAIN these past few months.  The Great Distractor tied me up and turned me every which way but loose. He grabbed a rope that said Health and one that said Prosperity and entangled them with a hundred knots...leaving me to struggle in vain against them. One minute the pole was ice cold and my tongue stuck to it when I complained and the next it was red hot and miserable. And in my ear every morning he would whisper over and over..."What are you gonna do now?"

And I did what I do best....I cried. I cried in my coffee, I cried in my bedroom....but most importantly I cried while giving Him praise.

And HE heard me...the God of my childhood, the Rescuer of my Right Now. He knew I hadn't come home. He knew that I was missing. He knew exactly where I was.  And He arrived with a big fat knife with the word Redemption written on it and he cut those ropes into little bitty pieces and kicked some Great Deceiver butt. I'm not out of the woods, but He is holding my hand and He knows where He is leading me.  And when I think of what He has planned for me in this new year, in this new life....I can't help but giggle.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Story Time

One of the main reasons to tell your story is to make it easier for someone else to tell theirs. I like that sentence and I believe it is true. That doesn't make it easy to tell my story, but I am my sister's keeper and so I think of her...whoever "her" may be. I am thinking of her as I begin my road of words...traveling down them...sometimes skipping merrily, spreading laughter among the mayhem and sometimes jumping in ditches to survive the blasts from the land mines I set for myself.  I have wanted to do this for awhile...this spilling of guts that may help me understand the girl I was and the woman I became...and in turn perhaps shed light on "her" story. I would tell her not to be ashamed of what she has done....for she should see what I have done...and yet I have found grace and forgiveness and the  peace that is found in the shadow of the Cross.

The two things that most shaped me...for better and for worse...were being raised in the Southern Baptist Church and spending a lot of my youth in the microcosm of society known as the trailer park. These are descriptors...when attached to your not get you nominated for homecoming queen. But honestly, I was well into high school before I had an understanding of this stigma and how it could impact my life. My folks took good care of us and I always thought the trailers we lived in were oh-so cozy in the long Wisconsin winters...and with the exception of tornado season...I always felt safe. Mom, Dad, two sisters snuggled up on the couch watching westerns.  I kinda liked the idea that the trailer park was just John Wayne putting the wagons in a circle. 'Cept that we put it in a circle and then put cinderblocks under them and stayed put for a few years.  We were hard-working, honorable people just like the pioneers who headed west in their covered wagons. Our wagons had tin roofs and we only got as far as the west-side of town...but still.

The Church was a little more subtle in its sabotaging of my life. Here, in a place I thought was safe and different, ultimately came the confirmation that I was an outsider...not quite good enough...and that God himself was not pleased with my kind. Why else did he give tornadoes a hunger for trailer parks? It felt like when God cleaned house he liked to use His Heavenly Hoover on the likes of us....which totally confirmed the little messages I received along the road to maturity. I was powerless. I would never be anything special. It would be many years before I understood that it wasn't God who damaged me, but people. Flawed human beings who just happened to quote scripture and smile while not choosing me for their team.

Sometimes I am envious of people who didn't grow up with the words Revival and Evangelist in their vocabulary...who didn't have two uncles as Baptist Ministers and parents who were Sunday School teachers. Then I would have found Jesus later in life and what a revelation that would be! His Saving Grace would be new and fresh and I would have stood on the street corner proclaiming his Glory....which I suppose is not too late to do. But when you grow up with Him from the age of zero you kinda take him for granted. It was hard to grasp that He was the Savior of the World....honestly he sorta felt like a special, much loved uncle. Yes...that who he was...Uncle Jesus. It would take me over forty years to call him Abba....Father.

My earliest memory is of walking across a stretch of desert outside of Palmdale, California with my daddy holding my hand. I was two and half years old. We had moved to southern California for one winter, while my Dad completed a temporary construction job digging ditches. My sister, Julie, was born while we there.  If I close my eyes I can feel the hot desert wind whipping against me and I can see the vastness of the sandy spectacle. In the Bible when God has something special in mind for a particular person....a call to greatness that He needs to prepare them for...he sends them to the desert.  He sent me to one when I was two and sometimes I feel like he forgot to give me the Google map to get out. But that was a special day....I was in the desert with my Daddy...and today I am in the desert with my Father...the wind is beating the heck out of me....but it has not blown me away. I spend my days in preparation...growing in the grit that comes from being spiritually sandblasted and on the look-out....always on the watch for what He would have me to do. I sure as heck don't want the desert lessons to be lost on me.

So I invite you to take a trip with me. In this blog I will tell you my story. In this story I will hand you my heart. My sisters and I often tease each other and say..."Love yer guts!"  Which is in essence saying I love every single thing that is inside of you...even if it is yucky and slimy and I wouldn't want to hold it in my hand. And that's how my Lord God loves me. He loves my guts. And He's the one giving me the guts to begin Story Time.

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