Monday, December 21, 2009

Controlled Burn

Driving along the back roads from San Luis today, I enjoyed some rare moments of quiet. The hills were a lush, Irish green and the gray clouds hung in an ominous, drab sky. It was beautiful in a subtle way, framed in the silence of the countryside.

As I wound around the hills and into the clearing, I smelled smoke intermingled with the moist air. I inhaled deeply, and almost expected a little log cabin to appear with a wisp of smoke escaping from a pipe-topped chimney. However, the smoke I saw was thick and billowed from a ranch nestled at the foot of a nearby hill.

Scanning the horizon, I saw another cloud of smoke surging from the midst of another homestead. Then three more would spontaneously greet me before I reached home.

Controlled burns, I thought, finally catching a glimpse of the great pile of leaves, sticks and twigs being consumed beneath the puffs. I had seen them before, but it seemed uncharacteristic that there were so many going at the same moment. Perhaps it was the contrast of the drizzling sky that made them more noticeable.

I wondered how the landowners keep these blazes contained and it made me a twinge nervous to think that the flames could easily begin to consume beyond their boundaries and become a force of destruction.

Just an hour earlier, I had been sharing some realizations during a lunch date with a friend. My emotions and feelings often burn with intensity. When I have the discipline to control them, they are a useful force, fuel for my passions. And there are other times when I allow them to reach beyond their fences and burn those around me.

What I'm considering lately, though, is that emotions and feelings can be contained within a controlled burn lit by an external source. Instead of fanning emotional wildfires in my life, I want to submit my emotions to my Creator. I want to be saddened and angered by what brings sadness and anger to His heart, and not waste my time and energy getting incensed about things that don't really matter in the long run, in God's economy. My desire is for Him to continually ignite my heart within the bounds of His great love and mercy.

I want to be a controlled burn.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Bringing my Silly Back

This past year has been a growing one. I'm a processor by nature. I can be very intense. Sometimes I wish I could find an "off switch" in my brain, because I am constantly thinking things through... mulling over circumstances, pondering theology, contemplating ideas.

A little over a year ago, I saw an old friend. She is a friend, essentially from a different lifetime. Do you know what I mean? Someone who knew you back when... when you were you, but a you 20 some odd years ago? It's funny how some people are cemented in your mind in a certain way, and even though time has passed, it seems to stand still in your relationship for some reason.

As we were continuing our conversation and catching up, so to speak, we were discussing our lives and some of what God was accomplishing in and through us. And then she said something that I wasn't quite sure how to respond to.

"I always thought of you as a silly girl," she expressed... or at least something along those lines. It seemed as though she thought it was good I had grown out of my "silliness." And then she immediately looked as if she regretted what she had said.

I have done that thousands of times, so I really felt for her. While I can pull my thoughts together on paper, erase and rewrite until it reflects my true heart, I have a difficult time putting words together in "real time." Often flustered, I can't come up with the vocabulary I'm looking for, or even a coherent thought. I can be very socially awkward, but I've learned to live with it. And having an extroverted husband to compliment my clumsy interactions has certainly saved me on many occasions.

Enough with my babbling though, and back to the "silly girl" comment. I wasn't quite certain how to receive it, or if I even wanted to. Was it condescending? Was she attacking my character? Did she think I wasn't capable? Or was she simply astounded at the fact that God could work through someone like me? Probably the later, as I'm quite bewildered and humbled by that fact on a weekly basis... no, daily.

For a while, I settled on that explanation and moved on. However, I didn't get very far. I kept coming back to "silly." I hadn't ever really characterized myself as silly, nor had I ever necessarily been described that way by anyone else. Yet as I thought about my personality back then, I was a person who laughed with great delight, until I was crying and sometimes on the floor doubled over with glee. Joy came with so much ease and more frequently and freely before "life" happened.

I've realized, in the midst of a difficult season, that I miss that girl, silly or however I might choose to describe her. Strangely enough, God gave me two unexpected friends this year that have drawn her back into existence. I'm getting reacquainted and loving every minute of it.

Welcome back, silly girl.
I've missed you.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hello, December!

Last year, we all shared our favorite Christmas movies. I wasn't sure if Little Women counted, but you validated my choice! I haven't watched it yet this year, but it's on my list of things to do this December!

This year, I would like to know... what is your favorite Christmas song? And do you have a special memory that goes with it?

I think mine is the classic "Silent Night." It is just such a peaceful and simple retelling of the Christmas story.

In high school, I sang the second verse during a concert. All the lights were out in the auditorium, and it felt as though everyone in the room was holding their breath as my voice echoed in the darkness.

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight.
Glories stream from heaven afar,
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia.
Christ the Savior is born!
Christ the Savior is born.

Last year, a bell choir played a beautiful rendition. Just as the last note resounded in the church, a little newborn baby let out a tiny, perfect cry. It was so beautiful... it still brings tears to my eyes.
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