Here we go again…

New Beginnings…a certain movement for practicing the Divine in the Daily.  If it weren’t for do-overs I would be lost.

I find myself in a place I have been many, many times.

Starting over.

Have you been there?

Today I have decided to practice receiving. I am receiving Surrender. Surrender is a thing I have never quite been able to muster up or possess. Tightly gripped hands have been my go to more often than not. I’ve asked more times that I can count for God to pry my hands open and give me surrender.  Although I believe the asking is right it has failed to work.

Just now, sitting under a sprawling oak tree, I felt a breeze and an invitation to receive. The whisper floated through my very being…”I am giving it to you as a gift.”

Head back, eyes closed, I whispered back, “Thank you.”

I think with a new beginning the imperative thing is to receive. I cannot fix what has been done. I can’t change the past nor control the future but right here in this moment I can receive…

Forgiveness

Surrender

Peace

The Do-Over.

Gratitude fills my heart.  Knees hit the floor. I listen. I listen for the still small voice.

“Thank you Jesus” are the only words that come. “I am listening.”

A new beginning.

Yes, I think I’ll take it.

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Goodness in the Midst Trauma

The city beautiful has just been cast into disarray. Sunday morning as I sat with my three children in church we heard the news.

“What, mommy?  What’s happened?”

I took out my phone and searched.

Terror has struck Orlando.

What happened is not normal. Or it wasn’t normal, here.  We have joined the world as one of the cities where a major act of violence has occurred. And yet in the few days since the news, I have seen firsthand, goodness in the midst of trauma.

I went from the sanctuary to a room where every Sunday my husband and I gather with precious souls who are seeking to love one another and put hands and feet to this Jesus Way of life. We processed the news. Some cried. Some asked, “how do we engage the younger generation?” Some grew angry. Some withdrew into sadness and maybe even fear. All may have had different reactions, however we all felt deeply and we shared in what we were feeling. It was in the sharing, in the togetherness, where I felt the Spirit move. The dear ones sitting in that circle Sunday morning are in the process of activating to help. One of our members has already been down at The Center volunteering. Here I see goodness in the midst of trauma.

Monday I was called on to go down as a counselor to be with employees at the workplace of one of the victims. As I walked into the room the first thing I noticed were the tears. Tears running down faces. Some weeping, some sniffling and looking down at the floor. Tears and laughter. Not just any laughter…the laughter of remembrance. The employees talked of days with their friend. They told stories. They held one another. I stood with them and just nodded and shared in their grief. Again, goodness in the midst of trauma.

This reminds me of the ultimate trauma…Adam and Eve, cast out of the garden, due to their own undoing. Separated. Finite. No longer enjoying what was “normal” from the beginning. They stepped out onto thorny ground to figure out life anew. But God. God was not without a plan. He was always looking towards the good He would bring through His son Jesus. He would ultimately heal. He would ultimately provide. This is the goodness I hope for in the midst of trauma. His provision. His healing.

None of these things lessen the blow of what happened. Lives have been lost. There are no words.  Stories such as these, of people banding together, (of which there are many in our community) is what will heal as we move forward. Our togetherness.  Love. Kindness. Working together to find ways to make change. This is the Hope of Glory, Christ in us…it is our love, our togetherness moving out to be a sort of balm in the chaos.

May we follow the example of the little group on Sunday morning…may we share and validate one another in what we are feeling and processing and from that place move out to help and heal.

~Maggie Jobson

http://www.pinnaclecounselinginstitute.com

 

 

 

No Erasing Necessary

So here it is, an apology.

The other night we watched Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind. In the movie one of the main characters “erased” her boyfriend in an impulsive move to be rid of him.

In all seriousness, I leaned over and said to my husband, “do you think you can really do that? Like, erase people? Cause I have a list I would like to get started on!”

People.

Life together.

Trust.

Love.

HARD.

As a wounded adult child I wrestle with people. When I first fell in love with Jesus I was so relieved because I (erroneously) believed that now it was me and Him. I had all I needed. I didn’t really need people anymore. Whew. Thank God. Me, Jesus and my Bible.

But, it didn’t work.

I still struggled with depression and anxiety and loneliness. I felt so alone. I would fall asleep holding my Bible in a desperate attempt to assuage the deep emptiness I lived with. As a Christian. Born again. Seeking God. Feeling so very alone.

What the hell?

So I relapsed.

Time and time again.

Searching.

Reaching.

Hurting.

Until…

People. Not just any people but dear ones with deep eyes meeting mine with a “me too.”

Things started changing. Things are still changing. As I let in the ones that God brings and in trusting them, trusting Him.

So here’s an apology…out into the universe…to those souls who have tried to love me and I have pushed away…to The Soul who has reached for me through His sent ones and I have hidden my self from them.

I’m trying.

I’m leaning in.

Love.

The answer.

Always.

No erasing necessary.

Just Breathe

Today is one of those take a breath, then take another breath, kind of days. One of those days when “duty” is just propelling you. A day when the bed and a book and a cup of tea is calling my name seductively but reality stares me in the face and I have to rise up and make turkey sandwiches and referee my three kids, while at the same time swatting away little feelings of guilt about how they probably wouldn’t be fighting if I were a better mom. Or maybe if I had made them memorize more verses they would be more grateful, or maybe if their mother didn’t sleep in so much they would be calmer, happier.

As I was putting the groceries away just now I literally fell to the tile floor and on all fours took a few deep breaths. I thought this is it! maybe I am having a heart attack but most likely it was a wave of anxiety that knocked me off my feet. I whispered to myself, “it’s just anxiety, it’s just anxiety.”

Quickly my mind answered back “anxiety? What the hell do you have to be anxious about?” In my fix-it kind of way I instantly began to grasp for reasons…maybe it’s because…or maybe…oh, I know!…but alas. There was no answer.

I am probably not having a heart attack. I most likely just had a panic attack in the midst of living the life I’ve always dreamed of…go figure. So what’s the deal? Why does a 35 year old, married to her best friend, wife of 3 of the most beautiful children on the planet, with good friends and a strong support group, fall to all fours in her kitchen just to get a breath? I’ll tell you why…

WE ARE NOT HOME YET.

There are days when our pilgrimage on earth is like walking through mud. Our heads know that Jesus loves us and is the Light and believes that He might just break through the clouds today however our hearts and our bodies get weighed down. Shit just grabs on to the idol-making-magnet of our hearts. We fear death. We’re not sure our friends really love us. We get tired. We don’t have what it takes some days. We see people in pain, war, poverty… and yet…

There’s hope.

It calls out to me through a gentle breeze that rustles through the trees or through my little boy’s big brown eyes looking up at me. Or through a text from a dear old friend saying, “just got you on my mind today.” Or a simple “I love you mommy.” Or maybe even through making turkey sandwiches…

Love.

Even when we’re on all fours on the tile floor of the kitchen taking a few deep breaths, there’s still love and …

Love never fails.

Show me.

There is this temptation to be so overwhelmingly busy with good things (and not so good things) that we never slow down long enough to contemplate, to wonder, to muse.  So many days my head hits the pillow in a heap of wondering what the past 16 hours have all been about all to start it all over again as soon as the sun comes up.  I’ve heard all the lines, I’ve spit them right back.  All the chit-chat about seasons and such, chock full of cliches and a scripture thrown in here and there.  Yet I find myself longing for more.

The other night my husband was gone and I lay still and quiet.  I reached for the ancient words so much more than cliches and pat answers.  I read them out into the air above me.  Hoping they would make their way into my heart.

“Spirit in you.”

“Flesh vs Spirit.”

“In you.”

“The Spirit who dwells in you.”

What?

            Really?

                        How?

                                 Show me.

Where are these children of light?  Moved by Spirit, not by culture, empty words, or ways of life modeled from good-intentioned (and not so good-intentioned) leaders.  Where is the wind of God blowing and setting captives free?  

Is life more than full calendars, constant activity, incessant chatter and a greedy gathering of possessions?  

Show me.

I am struck by a conversation had at our kitchen table not long ago.

“I just haven’t seen the more of the Christian life lived out.  I don’t see what I want.”

I sat quiet.  My mind spinning.  How do I encourage this young girl when I feel the same way, yet maturity and time whisper “oh come on Maggie, every one is doing the best they can.”

Really?

This young woman is in Zimbabwe right now.  She spent her Christmas feeding orphans.  Her New Years on her face in prayer.  She’s seen miracles.  Her hands are dirty and so are her feet.

Yet I live like a King.

I have a list of people, who live like Kings as well, to whom I could go, to be comforted that my way of life is okay.

I could cry out that something is wrong!  And a committee of people would quickly quiet me and tell me no, no, it’s okay.  You’re okay.  We’re all okay.

And then I’ll just get busy.  Carting my kids from one activity to the next.  Planning “fun” events and distractions and working hard to avoid suffering or pain.  When crisis falls, no time for that!  Get back in the saddle…go, go, go.

All the while the self I was made to be, grows frail and thin, like muscles not exercised in many years.  The flame dies down to embers longing for a wind of change.  The flesh’s voice sounds more like a friend than an enemy, beckoning me to opt for comfort at all costs.  The sense of Spirit seems strange and scary and totally a figment of my imagination.

Unless, 

Unless, I calm down.

Get quiet.

Engage my mind and connect it to my heart.

The breeze blows.

“It’s true,” it whispers.

“It’s true, and hard, and you have to fight. Everything is NOT okay.  You’re right.  There are no rose colored glasses to put on.  But there is hope and there is still time.  Time to get your hands and feet down in the mess.  Time to live.  Here and now. One day at a time.  Call the flesh, the natural instincts, what they are. Take the risk of the narrow road,  the way of the Spirit.”

Be what you wish to see…

 

 

 

 

 

A Walk on the Water

Recently I attended a retreat.  Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, we participated in a method of meditating on scripture called Lectio Divina.  In this kind of reading a passage of scripture is read out loud and followed by 3 minutes of silence; read again followed by 8 minutes; and then again followed by 15 minutes; read again and followed by an extended time of listening.  Lectio Divina is one of my favorite ways to fan the flame…the flame that at times flickers dimly and at others rages strong.

Lately, the flame has been more like burning embers in need of a log and a gust of wind…

That day, overlooking the ocean, the wind blew strong.

The following vignette came to me after meditating on Matthew 14:22-33–

 

Sometimes I don’t want to get into the boat and go to the other side…  

I think I am fine right here with you.

But you make me get into the boat and go to the other side.

Once we are far enough out that I can’t see the shore anymore, the wind picks up and with it the waves.

What?  We’re going under?  But Jesus put us in this boat and shoved us out?  Why?  Why would he do that?  Why would he have cast us off?  And in the middle of the night?  Is he trying to get rid of us?

What is that walking on the water?  Are we dead?  Are we seeing things?  A ghost!?!  Oh now this seriously tops all!

Everyone is screaming.  We think we might go under.  But…

“Take heart!  It is I!  Do not be afraid!”

I put my hand out to the others and beckon them to quiet down as if to say,

“I’ve got this.”

With a wink to John, I yell out,

“If it’s really you command me to come to you on the water.”  (yeah right, this’ll solve this dilemma).

“Come on.”  the thing says.

My friends eyes are large in their heads.  John leans over and says, “Peter, are you sure?’

I step out.

Jesus comes into focus.

His eyes are so calm.  

All of the sudden I catch drift of what is going on around me.

“This is crazy!  What was I thinking?  Humans don’t walk on water!  I must be delusional!”

Down

Go.

I’ve got no other choice but to cry out,

“Help me!  Save me!  I’m drowning!”

My chest never hit the water.  His hand…his strong steady hand reached for me and pulled me up.

“Peter!  Why!?!  Why did you doubt?”

His eyes gleamed so full of joy, so excited at my leap of faith.  He was almost laughing, not chiding me, but playfully reminding me that my doubt had been my undoing…His joy seemed to say “we could’ve had so much fun!  If you just would have believed.

I couldn’t stand when we reached the boat.  I collapsed at his feet and in a breathless huff said…

“Truly you are the Son of God.”

Laughter echoed over the now still water.

 

Yes, sometimes I don’t want to get into the boat and go to the other side…

but He shoves me off…

knowing He’ll come to me when the waves overwhelm me.

He’ll beckon me to step out.

And sometimes…

I walk on water.

~Maggie

 

Here we go again!

Don’t ask me where I’ve been.

Don’t ask me why I’m starting this blog again.

I just am..

here, now.

Just for kicks here is a recent paper I wrote for one of my classes…

We’ll see where we go from here!

Points of Grace”

July 22, 1979 was the day I was born. If an Angel in heaven was overheard, he might have been whispering to the others… “Here comes one of the Father’s trophies of grace, we’re going to stick close to this one.”

Deciding on which “points of grace” throughout my life to reference is difficult. I could talk about my childhood and how I experienced abuse both physical and emotional from the adults that were supposed to take care of me, and yet somehow, I didn’t turn out to be a serial-killer or a prostitute. I could tell stories of being so high on LSD that I thought I would surely die and somehow, someway, making it out of those dark days not a vegetable and with more brain cells than I actually know what to do with. I could go on and on about how I looked to guys to fill an insatiable need to feel wanted and cherished, all to end up used and broken, and yet here I am married to a wonderful man with three beautiful children. I see grace all over my experience as a pastor’s wife when I run to my pet idols, such as wine, shopping and nicotine to try to escape the pressures of ministry and just life in general, and He repays me with kindness and more opportunities to tell the truth about Him and myself in light of the Gospel. See, my life is supported by grace. It’s made up of grace. I swim in it. It’s all around me…behind me, before me. I can’t get away from it. Some onlookers may shake their heads and think, “man, that girl, she did not deserve to make off like that!” I have felt that from well- meaning “mentors” trying to make sure I was being “grateful.” All to say, the points of grace I have decided to talk about are more recent…the taste of grace still lingers from these life experiences and sharing them only makes the sweetness, sweeter still.

Almost three years ago this coming August, my Grandmother, Mamah (to be exact), passed on. Mamah was not just any grandmother, she was really more like a mother to me. Sure there was just all kinds of dysfunction surrounding our relationship, which I am still working through, but I loved her, and she loved me. One week before she died, I traveled from Orlando to Tampa to be present at a very important doctors appointment. The whole experience was other-worldly for me but, the rain that day…you just should have seen the rain. Mamah’s little Silver Honda was dead silent as we drove to that appointment. I let my mom and Mamah off at the curb and then parked and ran through the drenching downpour so as not to miss a thing.

“I’ll go ahead and call in hospice”

What? Hospice? It’s time?

The ride home was even quieter, except for Mamah… “Damn, I thought I had more time.”

I am so glad it was raining that day, the rain was a gift.

Mamah got in the bed and death began to approach. She was slowly giving up. She always loved to bathe and so I asked her if I could give her a shower and wash her hair. She let me. She did it for me.

Later I lay next to her on her big king-sized bed, the same bed I had grown up sleeping with her in as a baby, a little girl and even as a college student when I would come to town to visit. Oh if that bed could talk! The conversations that have been had…the stories that have been told…man, we might be in the same league as Margaret Mitchell were we to write it all down! As I lay next to her that day holding her hand, I squeezed her hand three times, (One-two-three-had always meant I-love-you for Mamah. She had taught us all that from the time we were little) in that moment my grandmother opened her eyes and with a twinkle she looked at me as if to say, “yes, Maggie, love, that’s it, that will always be it.” Grace filled the room. It was Jesus, sweet Jesus. The room was quiet and still. He was there.

After Mamah died, (only 6 days after that rainy day doctor’s visit,) my 2 sisters and I got together with our mom to help write the obituary, etc. We ended up going out that night to mourn, to celebrate; to well, we weren’t exactly sure what. A few glasses of wine and a whole lot of reminiscing later we ended up at a pub way past all of our bedtimes. We took a table outside and continued to talk and cry and laugh and drink. After a while a girl about our age walked up to the pub smoking a cigarette.

“Excuse me,” I asked, “but could we all bum a smoke from you? You see our grandmother just died and she smoked her entire life and well, we just think it would be fitting.”

“To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” the girl said with a smile. “Sure.”

“Have a seat,” I said as I lit up. (that first one always takes me back to being on the roof in middle school, looking back I am just not sure how I didn’t fall off).

We began to get to know our new friend JJ, to love on her and just gloat over how well she knew the scriptures, which led to more questions and more stories. My sister Lela and I both told her that we were pastor’s wives to which she responded with more questions. We told her about our struggles and our victories and how we were human beings just like her. Grace abounded much that night. I am sure that I was “speaking in cursive” (a nice way for saying I was slurring my words). I am sure that my eyes were squinty and that I was not exactly that “together.” But let me tell you I remember loud and clear what that girl said as we were about to call it a night.

“I was just sitting on my stairs alone, smoking, talking to God. I was thinking, does He want me? Am I too far gone? What’s next for me? As I sat there I sensed God telling me to go up to Yeoman’s Pub. Which I thought was odd, but I obeyed. Now here I am sitting here with you three girls and you have spoken words of life to me. I am so encouraged. I know that He is with me.”

Now that is a point of grace. Jesus used our mourning in a not so “godly” way to reach one of his lost sheep. Oh to sing of this marvelous gift that has nothing to do with me! I love the story of JJ because it reminds me that His grace will always blow up the boxes I put Him in (and not to mention the boxes I put around myself). JJ has ended up becoming one of my younger sister’s very dear friends and was a part of her wedding recently. It was amazing to have her come up to me at Charlotte’s wedding and tell me how much I had encouraged her that night at the pub. Again, I was just blown away. I had felt so guilty for that night. So guilty for drinking too much and (for goodness sake) smoking!!! I don’t know why I’m surprised though…it always seems that when I feel that I deserve the very least, He showers me with love, favor and blessing and even sometimes, allows me to impact others.

Grace is a mystery to me. I will always wrestle with receiving it, however, it is something I cannot live without. My independent, self-righteous self would like very much to do it on my own but my gracious Heavenly Father will just not let it work that way. I am so thankful for the points of grace I have experienced through the years. Some of them have left scars, some of them have lifted me to places that I never imagined I would be. The one consistent theme however is just how much Jesus loves me (it has taken me a very long time to even be able to say that, but it’s true) and it is good, good news.